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Show Low
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The Show Low Destination is named after one of the area's cities, Show Low, and is located in central Arizona a few hours east of Pheonix. The name "Show Low" came as a result of a card game played in the 19th century to determine which of two local ranch owners would be allowed to stay in the area. One stated that if the other would "show low, you win." Following this, the deuce (or two) of clubs—the lowest possible card in the game—was drawn by the other man, resulting in his victory. "Show low it is," he declared, which was memorable enough that he decided to give the name "Show Low" to his newly acquired ranch. As such, Show Low is described to be "named by the turn of a card."[1] Other than Show Low itself, the destination is home to the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, as well as the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. The former acts as a reservation for people of numerous Apache tribes and currently operates a variety of facilities, including a Chamber of Commerce, casinos, a Language Preservation program, and a Tribal College.[3] Conversely, the national forests in the Apache-Sitgreaves area offer just over two million acres of outdoor recreation, with the most common attractions being hiking, fishing, hunting, and boating.

What Show Low is known for

The Show Low Destination—which is named after one of the cities in its borders—is located in east-central Arizona and contains features such as the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests and the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. Apart from Show Low itself, the region is home to communities such as Pima, Safford, Duncan, Springerville, and Whiteriver. Though the destination does not include Phoenix, Arizona, the city is only a few hours to the west. 

Show Low's admittedly unique name comes from a story about a "legendary card game" that took place in the 19th century. Two of the area's earliest settlers were Corydon Cooley and Marion Clark. They both owned portions of a ranch in the region, but they ultimately decided that there wasn't room for both of them in the growing community. As such, they decided to play a game of "Seven Up," with the loser agreeing to leave the ranch behind to the other man. Clark said, "If you can show low, you win," to which Cooley managed to turn up the deuce of clubs—the game's lowest possible card. Cooley stated, "Show low it is," and the name stuck.[9][11]

Many of the visitors to the Show Low Destination are seeking outdoor recreation. This naturally leads many people to participate in one of the various attractions at the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. Some examples of notable places in the forests include the Aker Lake Fishing Site, Blue Range Primitive Area, the Big Lake Dam Parking Fishing Site, and the Bear Wallow Wilderness. Fish such as Apache trout and Arctic grayling are possible to obtain at fishing sites. It should also be noted that the Big Lake Store near the dam offers fishing licenses, bait and tackle, boat rentals, and grocery items in case tourists forget to purchase anything before their arrival.[6]

Within Show Low itself, visitors can travel to one of the town's 18-hole golf courses (of which there are five within a 15-mile radius), its archery range, its bowling alley, or its casino. Other businesses in the city are geared toward athletics, such as an indoor aquatic center, handball and basketball court facilities, tennis courts, and lighted softball/baseball fields.[1]


Although the Show Low Destination is located in central Arizona in the United States, its climate varies throughout any given year. Summers are "warm and partly cloudy," yet they are not as hot as other regions in Arizona. For example, high temperatures during the summer typically range between 85 and 91 degrees Fahrenheit.[5] In contrast, Phoenix—which is only about 3 hours to the west of Show Low—experiences summer high temperatures between 107 and 112 degrees Fahrenheit, on average.[10]

The area in and around Show Low actually experiences snow each year. Snowfall is possible from October to May, though it is decidedly more common between December and March. January is the month that experiences the most, with an average of 2.6 inches annually. Rainfall is spread relatively evenly throughout the year, however, May and June are the driest months, with 0.3 inches of estimated rain per month during that time. Generally speaking, the "best time of year" to visit the Show Low area for warm-weather attractions is anywhere between early June and early September.[5]

One of the most prominent geographical features in the Show Low Destination is the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. Though there are multiple forests that constitute the territory, they are often "administered as one national forest" collectively. The forest encompasses just over two million acres in east-central Arizona and acts as the home for numerous species of local fauna and flora. Songbirds, waterfowl, fish, amphibians, and reptiles exist in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in relative abundance. Rarer species include mountain lions, black bears, or the "newly re-introduced" Mexican gray wolves.[8] Game creatures can be found both in the national forests and in the nearby San Carlos Apache Tribe Recreation & Wildlife area. Notable examples of game in the destination are turkeys, doves, quails, ducks, javelinas, and even larger creatures such as mountain lions, elk, Coues deer, antelope, or bears. It is required to obtain hunting tags in order to hunt any of the animals in the region. Such tags come through the San Carlos Recreation & Wildlife organization, and many of the tags are given out in a "lottery" format.[4]


Acting as the namesake of the Show Low Destination, the city of Show Low has a history that can be traced back hundreds of years. It is known that a "tribal village" was established in the area as far back as 1200 A.D., though it was ultimately abandoned for reasons that are unknown. It wouldn't be until the 19th century that Show Low would be settled in a more formal manner. Origins of the town are connected to Corydon Cooley, who was a resident of Virginia until his early 20s, during which he traveled to the New Mexico Territory. Cooley "married into the White Mountain Apache Tribe," effectively committing himself to stay in the vicinity for the rest of his life. In 1873, Corydon and his family moved into a small cabin near what is now known as Show Low Creek. Just three years later—in 1876—Cooley won a ranch during a "legendary card game" and subsequently named it "Show Low."[9]

The phrase "show low" came as a direct reference to the aforementioned card game. Corydon and his business partner Marion Clark had decided that the land was not sufficient for both of them. An agreement was struck that whoever won a game of "Seven Up" would remain, while the loser would leave the ranch behind. Far into the game—and with no clear winner in sight—Marion Clark declared, "If you can show low, you win." Corydon then proceeded to turn up the deuce (or two) of clubs, which is the lowest possible card in the game. "Show low it is," he replied, and the phrase inspired him to name the property after the event. The main street in the city of Show Low is named "Deuce of Clubs" to commemorate the card game.[1]

Apart from its namesake, the Show Low Destination contains a varied history with regard to the Chiricahua Apache people. Today, the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation stands as a home for people from numerous Apache tribes. Though the reservation saw a period of poor health and environmental conditions in the late 19th century (earning it the nickname "Hell's Forty Acres"), the San Carlos Apaches successfully improved living conditions in the reservation. Today, the citizens of the region operate a Chamber of Commerce, a Language Preservation program, a Tribal College, and a Culture Center, among other features.[3]