Art of the Gila River Valley, Thatcher offers easy access to Coronado National Forest and the cool Pinaleño Mountains, home of the Mount Graham International Observatory.
Whether you’re hoping to explore picturesque desert or far-off galaxies, you can begin your adventure in Thatcher.
Stock up on picnic supplies – or, better yet, fill up with great Mexican food in the area’s collection of mom-and-pop restaurants known as the Salsa Trail. Then forget everything you think you know about the desert and head out to the Coronado National Forest surrounding town.
Covering more than 1.75 million acres, Coronado National Forest is known for the scattered peaks that rise dramatically from the desert floor. Going up to these “sky islands” is like traveling to a different ecosystem. In fact, you can spend the morning wandering among giant saguaros and colorful wildflowers, have a picnic lunch under the brilliant golden leaves of a cottonwood tree and play in the snow next to a secluded lake in the afternoon. Numerous interpretive trails meander through the forest and take you through historic sites that dot the mountainsides.
For an otherworldly experience, arrange a tour of the Mount Graham International Observatory south of town. Here, three research telescopes – including the Large Binocular Telescope, the world’s most powerful telescope – scan the dark, star-studded skies above Thatcher and its neighboring communities nightly.