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In 1864, President Lincoln tasked Lieutenant Colonel J. Francis Chavez to escort the new territorial governor of Arizona from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Prescott, Arizona. Unfortunately, there was no road between the two cities. One major obstacle was the descent off Arizona's Mogollon Rim into the Verde Valley. Chavez's navigation skills led to a stage route and thus was born the path of the Blue Grade Road. Today's hearty traveler can exit the interstate and climb the scenic Blue Grade in far more comfort than those who once negotiated the rocky passage in a rickety stagecoach. With excellent views along the way, the road leads you up from the lush Wet Beaver Creek area into a pine and juniper forest. Located in the Coconino National Forest, be on the lookout for elk, deer, bear, and wild turkeys. And yes, this is also cattle country, so watch out for cows on the road as well as where you step.
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