Young Highway in Payson and Globe Arizona

Young Highway, a 74-mile road, from State Route 260 near Payson, Ariz. to State Route 188, passes through ponderosa pine groves and grasslands before suddenly changing to the saguaros of Arizona’s high desert. The road has large sections of unpaved road and guardrails. So, take the route slowly. Some attractions the traveler will see include Mogollan Rim, Roosevelt Lake, the town of Young, Salt River and the town of Globe.

Payson is the starting point for Young Highway. It is a western town with rodeos and activities like biking, hiking, horseback riding and sight-seeing. The Tonto Natural Bridge is in this town. 

At Mile 14, the first vista point appears. It is Mogollan Rim. This canyon-like expanse is the other popular and well-known attraction in Arizona. The road narrows as it winds around the rim, but it has many turnouts to stop and enjoy the scenery. 

At Mile 19, viewers will see a contrast in vegetation due to wildfires that scorched the area. After that, the road descends into the small town of Young. This town has less than 600 residents. It does have a nice restaurant, Antlers, the only restaurant in the town.

Returning to the road, the highway ascends providing another spectacular view at Mile 31 of Mogollan Rim. The Rim is an escarpment over 7,000 feet in elevation. The Rim drops 2000 feet into the communities below it. It contains forests and grasslands and is part of the National Forest System with facilities for camping, hiking and fishing. It is a rich haven for wildlife. As the road continues, the vegetation becomes less dense with more bushes and small trees.

At Mile 41, the road descends into the desert and McFadden Peak (7,135 feet above sea level) becomes the prominent viewpoint. Birds, deer and other wildlife congregate in several lush riparian areas and streams. 

Roosevelt Lake, the largest man-made lake in the state, has red cliffs and southern mountains, that surround it, offer amazing views. The road continues to wind through many curvy miles and requires the driver’s close attention though the highway passes through spectacular countryside. The driver will experience some especially sharp curves, as he or she descends toward Globe.

The saguaros and prickly pear cacti dominate from this point onward. From the desert, a short drive takes the driver to a one-lane bridge over the Salt River. The damming of Salt River formed Roosevelt Lake. 

Another short drive takes the traveler to Globe and the end of State Route 188. Globe is a small town of about 6000 residents. It is an old silver and copper mining town. The town has motels and hotels and also a casino. It is a mid-point of the Old West Highway and the ending point of the Apache Trail.

Whether the traveler plans to take a short drive to see one of the attractions along Young Highway or spend the day there, it offers memorable sights along the way. Plan to take along a picnic lunch and spend all day on the route. The scenery, particularly toward the end, is worth it.