Saturday, December 29, 2007
The Kelvin-Florence Highway
I took a drive in the desert area east of Phoenix, Arizona, I had been wanting to see the Kelvin-Florence Highway, a road that looked from the maps to cut across some beautiful country in the low mountains about eighty miles east of Phoenix. I started from Gold Canyon, about fifty miles east of downtown Phoenix, and headed east on state hwy 60 toward the town of Superior.
A left turn onto state route 177 had me heading south toward the town of Kelvin, though some very pretty country and over roads that had a lot of curves and hills as it went along the Dripping Springs Mountains. The road makes it way to Kelvin, a small town across the road from the Asarco Ray copper mine, a huge open pit mine that can only be grasped with the aid of Google Earth. Look up Kelvin, AZ on that or another satellite map service if you want to see what I mean.
Turning west onto the Kelvin-Florence hwy you are next tot the railroad tracks that service the mine and run back into phoenix along the almost always dry Gila River. The road itself takes a different route, and crosses the river with a very long one lane bridge, followed by an uphill climb as you enter into the northern edge of the Tortilla Mountains, ending up crossing flat open desert about halfway across to Florence. Alos about halfway between Kelvin and Florence is an interesting set of rock formations, looking like a giant had placed pebbles out and tried to build something. A very pretty stopping point, if you can ignore the graffiti that has stained the ones closest to the road.
Finishing up the Kelvin-Florence hwy puts you on state highway 79, just south of Florence. Depending on your plans, from here you may turn right and head back to state hwy 60, and Phoenix, or you may turn left, and head south toward Tucson on the Pinal Pioneer parkway. For anyone interested in taking this route, the loop from Gold Canyon and back was about 100 miles, and keep in mind there were not any services or stores from Superior until entering Florence. Also keep in mind that with dirt roads out in the desert, even a small amount of rain may make the washes unsafe to travel, and the ride well be a little rough.