Morenci, Arizona: Phelps Dodge Mine


US 191’s fun begins as you climb up out of Clifton, through the mostly residential town of Morenci, then past the Phelps Dodge copper mine.

A viewpoint above the mine gives you the chance to try and comprehend the immense size of the operation.  Look at the strip mine above, and try to imagine an entire mountain standing in its place.  Then imagine this: the sprawling pit stretches across your entire field of vision, from left to right.  No one picture could capture it.

The Phelps-Dodge Mining Company offers a 2 1/2 hour guided tour of the operation, for around $8.  The mine’s webpage once creatively described the gaping open-pit mine as “where humanity and nature stand side by side”.  Unfortunately, the website that had information on the tour is now gone, so you’ll have to enquire locally about the tour.

This is a curve.  If you’re traveling the Coronado Trail, get used to ’em.

 I’ve read a wide range of estimates on just how many times you’ll turn the wheel as you navigate between Morenci and Alpine.  It could be anywhere from 400 to 600.  Bob Schaller with counted 435 (not including lesser curves, or “adjustments”).  I didn’t count.  Concentrating on the road and the scenery was more than enough to keep me occupied!

Note: This trip was first published in 2005.

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