Traveling through Arizona is an experience not to be missed. From the low desert to the towering mountains, the state plays host to a variety of scenery, plants and animals. In this issue, we would like to take you the town of Prescott, which is also one of our featured Buzz cities. The town bears the distinction as being known as “Everybody’s Hometown”. Located in Central Northern Arizona, Prescott is a popular destination because of its mild four-season climate and year-round recreational opportunities. Prescott is approximately 96 miles northwest of Phoenix.
Prescott, founded in 1864, twice served as the territorial capital. The Governor's Mansion is now preserved at the Sharlot Hall Museum. With most of Prescott's early residents Northerners and Midwesterners, the town's architecture took on a distinctly Victorian look. Neighborhoods surrounding the town square are filled with restored Victorian-era homes, many of which are on National Register of Historic Places.
But, some of Prescott's historical buildings were lost during July of 1900 when a fire destroyed much of town's commercial district. However, the bouncy of Prescott's residents wouldn't allow the town's commercial area to pass away.
Courthouse Square in downtown Prescott.
Within hours makeshift structures were put into place and plans were under way to rebuild. Following the fire, most buildings in the downtown area were reconstructed of brick; previous construction was of wood.
No mention of Prescott's early days would be complete without mention of the famous (or some may call infamous) Whiskey Row. The street, actually known as Montezuma Street, received its distinction because of the numerous saloons that once lined the street. Today, however, charming shops have replaced many of the saloons. But, a few saloons still do exist. The Palace has been on Whiskey Row since 1877 and is considered to be the oldest saloon in Arizona.
Outdoor recreation abounds near Prescott. Five area lakes are located within 10 miles of the downtown area. The lakes offer boating and fishing opportunities. Additionally, the approximately 1.2 million-acre Prescott National Forest, which surrounds the city on three sides, contains a number of hiking trails and other outdoor recreational opportunities. Interesting areas to explore include:
- Goldwater Creek
- Granite Mountain Wilderness
- Prescott National Forest
- Watson Lake
- Thumb Butte Loop Trail
At approximately 5,400 feet, moderate temperatures (the average summer temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit; the average winter temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit), make any season is the perfect season to visit Prescott.
Watson Lake is located not far from Prescott's historic downtown.
For more information visit:
The Prescott Buzz
City of Prescott
Prescott National Forest
Seligman – A Drive Into the Past
Start Your Engines
A Day Trippin’ visit to Seligman kicks off our tour down historic Route 66 in Arizona. Each month we will be visiting a different town along Route 66 – Peach Springs, Valentine, Hackberry, Kingman and finally Oatman. Discover a bygone era as you drive down this American icon.
First a bit of a primer regarding the “Mother Road” before we begin our journey. The numerical designation 66 was assigned to the Chicago-to-Los Angeles route in the summer of 1926. That designation brought with it an acknowledgment the highway was the nation's principal east-west arteries.
After the designation came the creation. Route 66 was born when many of the existing roads from Chicago to Los Angeles were joined to create a continuous highway. It took 11 years for the route to be fully paved. And, when it was, the great highway stretched for approximately 2,400 miles and traversed 8 states - Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Throughout Arizona, Route 66 encompassed approximately 376 miles across the state, beginning at Lupton on the New Mexico line. A few miles beyond Kingman, the highway approached Oatman Hill, which was known as the last great obstacle before reaching the California border.
Travelers encountered a variety of terrain during their journey through the Arizona portion of the highway – windswept plateaus, cedar-studded mesas, rolling hills and deserts. Millions traveled down the road seeking the West. Along the way many small diners, motels, gas stations and other small businesses to cater to travelers sprang up along the way. Small communities the great highway ran through prospered.
However, in 1985 Route 66 was officially decommissioned when officials determined the route was no longer relevant. The route was essentially replaced by the Interstate Highway System. Efforts have been made to keep Route 66 still kickin’.
Arizona now can boast of having the longest stretch of Route 66 still in existence between Chicago and Los Angeles. Beginning just west of Ash Fork, the route separates from I-40 at exit 139 (Crookton Road) and becomes AZ 66 at Seligman.
The route then continues westward from Seligman through Peach Springs and the Hualapai Reservation to Kingman. Just west of Kingman, the post 1950’s route again merges with I-40; however, the original Route 66 cut through the Black Mountains.
(Right) The Annual Route 66 Fun Run, hosted by the Historic Route 66 Association, starts off in Seligman. The three-day event travels a 140 miles from its start in Seligman to Topock/Golden Shores. Started in 1988, the event draws hundreds of participants and spectators. This year’s event is slated for May 5th – 7th. And, best of all, the event is open to all street legal vehicles. For more information, visit www.azrt66.com
Now that you are up to speed on the history of Route 66 it is time to visit Seligman, which marks the beginning of the remaining stretch of Route 66 running through Arizona. This is a town where the past still lives. If you want to get away from it all and live life at a pace less than the fast lane, this is where you will want to go.
As of 2000, the town had 456 residents. Many of the town’s original structures still – motels, shops and restaurants – stand. A number of historic homes and cottages are in the process of being renovated.
And, to make things even more interesting – the town you can stroll through today was not originally located in its current location. The town, founded in 1886, was located more than a mile to the southeast of the present location. Most of the houses and structures were moved piece by piece to where they are today.
A must do is the Walking Tour through town. This self-guided tour takes you on a journey through Seligman’s past. Maps for the tour can be picked up at the Delgadillo’s Route 66 Gift Shop and Visitor Center. You can't miss it as you head into town on the main street.
If you are lucky, you might even be able to chat with Angel Delgadillo who is created with being one of the leaders in preserving Route 66. He lobbied the Arizona State Legislature in 1987 to preserve Route 66 as it ran through Arizona as a historic highway. In November of that year, the state dedicated US 66 from Seligman to Kingman as “Historic Route 66”.
Taking a stroll through town you can visit quaint gift shops, interesting restaurants and just soak in some good, old fashioned, small town hospitality. Stop at the Snow Cap for a tasty ice cream cone – just make sure to ask for a little humor on the side. Or how about the Road Kill Café? Doesn't it make you wonder what will be on the menu? Take a peak into the windows of the historic Seligman Sundries building.
The Seligman Sundries building opened in 1904 and throughout the years has played host to a theater, dance hall and trading post/soda fountain. At one time, the only phone in Seligman was located in this building. During the 1920’s cowboy Tom Mix even decided to make an appearance.
But don't limit your time in this unique town. Stay the night in one of the town’s historic motels. Pretend that you yourself are making the trek to the West and enjoy living a page out of America’s history.
Seligman is located approximately 85 miles from Flagstaff, Kingman, Prescott; 170 miles from Phoenix and 270 miles from Tucson.
Copper Cart 928-422-3241
Route 66 Roadkill Cafe 928-422-3554
Snow Cap 928-422-3291
West Side Lilo's 928-422-5456
Aztec Motel 928-422-3055
Route 66 Motel 928-422-3204
Supai Motel 928-422-4153
The Canyon Lodge 928-422-3255
The Deluxe Inn 928-422-3244
For more information about Seligman and Route 66 visit:
The Seligman Buzz
The Route 66 Buzz
Route 66 Association of Arizona
Sierra Verde Trading
Peach Springs – Gateway to the Great Outdoors
This month we continue on our journey down Historic Route 66. Last month, we kicked off our trip in Seligman, the town that marks the beginning of the remaining stretch of Route 66 running through Arizona. The state of Arizona is the only state which can boast of having the longest continuous stretch of Route 66 still in existence. Continuing down Route 66 the next town we will visit is Peach Springs. You will be treated to expanses of undeveloped land with spectacular views on the cruise to Peach Springs. In fact, many of Arizona’s scenic attractions are easily accessible from Peach Springs.
Peach Springs, located approximately 32 miles west of Seligman, is the next town you will reach as you travel down Route 66. The historic route runs directly through the center of the small town. Additionally, Peach Springs is the tribal capital for the Hualapai Reservation, which encompasses a million acres along 108 miles of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. The reservation, created by an executive order in 1883, features rolling hills, rugged mesas, forests, high cliffs and gorges.
Peach Springs origins were as a western terminal for the Santa Fe Railroad. During the early 1880's, the railroad established a water station to obtain from nearby springs the water necessary to feed their steam engines. The town would eventually become home to a roundhouse, shops, Fred Harvey restaurant, and a stagecoach line. During the heyday of Route 66, Peach Springs could boast of having several cafes, motels and other tourist-related businesses. Few of the Route 66 era landmarks remain.
However, a gas station opened in the 1920's still remains and is considered to be among the few continuously operating gas stations along Route 66. Peach Springs is also home to the Hualapai Lodge a thoroughly modern lodging amenity with a restaurant and a gift shop. Additionally, the lodge offers a number of tour packages to area attractions.
The Hualapai Lodge can act as a central stop for those touring the canyon. The lodge offers 60 oversized guest rooms with double and king size beds. In addition to overnight accommodations, the office for the Hualapai River Runners, established in 1973, is located at the lodge. Additionally, Hualapai River Runners is the only Indian owned and operated river rafting outfit operating in the canyon. You can select from one or two day rafting trips on the Colorado River.
Recreation Near Peach Springs
Grand Canyon Caverns
Approximately 8 miles east of Peach Springs you will find the Grand Canyon Caverns, formed in prehistoric times by an inland sea. Hidden more than 200 feet underground, the caverns weren't discovered until 1927. It took millions of years and evaporating water to create the beautiful formations found in the caverns – stalagmites, onyx, flowstone as well as large deposits of Selenite crystals, including helictites. Guided tours of the caverns are available daily, with the exception of Christmas, and last about 45 minutes. The caverns are privately owned and not a part of the Grand Canyon National Park.
Hualapai Indian Reservation
If you have a time for a side trip, it is well worth the extra time to sightsee the western reaches of the Grand Canyon, which attracts more than 7,500 guests monthly. A little less than 60 miles from Peach Springs, this section of the canyon is within the Hualapai Reservation. A variety of outdoor recreation experiences from off-roading to hiking can be found in this wilderness set among the grandeur of the western reaches of the canyon. At the Grand Canyon’s West Rim there are no buildings or guard rails – in short nothing that will obstruct your view of the canyon.
Plans are being made for the “Skywalk” – a glass bridge that will suspend visitors 4,000 feet above the Colorado River and extend over the edge of the Grand Canyon. Originally slated to open during January 2006, the opening date has been moved to mid-year 2006.
A stunning sight is the collection of three waterfalls located at the bottom of Havasupai Canyon, near the village of Supai. The village, which boasts of a population of approximately 450 people, cannot be accessed by vehicle. The trip must be made via foot or on horse or back as vehicles are not able to access this trail. The trailhead begins at Hualapai Hilltop, which is located at the end of Indian Road 18, approximately 68 miles north of Route 66. Be sure to bring plenty of water, food and a sturdy pair of hiking shoes, as there are no amenities or services at the trailhead. The trip from the trailhead to the village is approximately 8 miles and can take three to six hours to complete. Lodging accommodations include campgrounds and a 24-room lodge. Reservations are necessary to ensure overnight lodging. The town also has a store, cafe, lodge and museum.
The three major waterfalls in the area Navajo Falls, Mooney Falls and Havasu Falls are located within 2 miles of the village along the banks of Havasu Creek. The falls aren't only scenic, depending upon the time of year you can take a refreshing swim in the pools below the waterfall. The best times of the year to visit Havasu Canyon are from April to May and September to November. During these months, the extreme temperature changes and monsoon season can be avoided.
A view near the Hualapai Hilltop, the trailhead for the trek to the village of Supai.
Diamond Creek Road
Peach Springs is the starting point for Diamond Creek Road, the only existing road leading to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The 21-mile dirt road known as Diamond Creek Road will take you to the Colorado River as it traverses the western rim of the Grand Canyon. Dropping nearly 3,500 feet to the bottom of the canyon, you will be able to see the steep, colorful walls of the canyon as well as stunning views of Diamond Peak. The final two miles of the road are underwater. So, while the road leads to the bottom of the canyon, you may not be able to actually drive the road to its conclusion.
Buck and Doe Road
Buck and Doe Road (also known as Indian Road 1) will take you 50 miles down a partially paved turns to gravel road slightly east of Peach Springs to the Grand Canyon West. Buck and Doe and its side roads grant the easiest access to the wilderness, with many lonely canyons within a days hike. This includes Meriwhitica and Milkweed canyons.
Many recreational opportunities abound near Peach Springs hiking, fishing, and whitewater rafting just to name a few. Many of the unpaved roads require a permit. While in Peach Springs be sure to check with the Wildlife Preservation Office or the Hualapai Lodge to find out whether or not a permit is necessary.
For more information about Peach Springs and the surrounding areas, please be sure to visit:
The Seligman Buzz
Destination Grand Canyon West
Grand Canyon Caverns
A Journey to Kingman-
The Heart of Historic Route 66
This is the third installment in our trip down Historic Route 66 in Arizona. The state of Arizona is the only state that can boast of having the longest continuous stretch of Route 66 still in existence. We kicked our trip off in the quaint town of Seligman and then journeyed on to Peach Springs. We stopped at a few attractions along the way - Grand Canyon Caverns, Grand Canyon West as well as Havasupai Canyon and its beautiful waterfalls. This month the road runs to Kingman. But along the way we will make a few stops at towns along the route from Peach Springs to Kingman. So, sit back and enjoy the ride.
Truxton is less than 15 minutes west of Peach Springs. This was truly a community built around Route 66 when Clyde McCune opened a gas station and a cafe was opened by Donald Dits in 1951. Other amenities in the town sprang up over time to provide services to travelers. Some remain but many are gone. Today you can still find a gas station, small grocery, and of course, the Truxton Cafe and Frontier Motel.
Ray and Mildred Barker purchased the Truxton Cafe and its adjacent Frontier Motel in 1957. The hotel and cafe continue to operate. Stop in for a slice of pie and a Route 66 history primer.
Next stop is the tiny community of Valentine, which is about 10 miles from Truxton. The community was established in 1898 as Truxton Canyon and continues to be the home of the Truxton Canyon Agency Bureau of Indian Affairs. It wasn't until 1910 the name Valentine was chosen as an honor to Robert G. Valentine, who served as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1908-1910.
Still standing today are remains of two schoolhouses. The Indian School, which opened in 1917 and operated through the late 1930's. However, later on the school reopened and was in use until 1969. The second schoolhouse, also known as "The Little Red Schoolhouse," was built in 1924. A reminder of a different time when segregation was in effect, this school served students who were not Native Americans.
At one time, Valentine had a contract post office. As you can imagine, the Valentine's post office was busy place in February. Thousands of cards would be sent to Valentine for the heart shaped postmark.
Continuing on Route 66, Hackberry is a little more than 20 miles west of Truxton. The town's origins date back to 1874 when prospectors set up a mining camp on the east side of the Peacock Mountains. It was silver that called out to the prospectors. However, mining ceased in 1919 because of litigation among the owners of the Hackberry Silver Mine. The closure of the mine caused the population of the town to dwindle.
At Hackberry's General Store you can take a trip into the past. The store is a virtual museum of all that is Route 66. Photo courtesy of Kai Verner Knudsen.
Shortly after the prospectors/miners arrived on the scene, along came the railroad in 1882. This time, however, the cash crop was cattle as the town served as a debarkation point. The number of cattle shipped from this point was at one time the third largest in volume in Arizona.
Another scene from the Hackberry General Store. Photo courtesy of Kai Verner Knudsen.
The introduction of Route 66 changed the town's focus from a mining and railroad community to a community providing amenities for travelers. Today, there are only a few structures remaining such as the Hackberry Elementary School built in 1917 and in use through 1994 and the Hackberry General Store.
The store was given a new lease on life in the early 1990's and today serves as museum and visitor information source for all that is Route 66. Definitely a trip into the past, you will find a plethora of Route 66 memorabilia, history and lore at the Hackberry General Store. You will want to stop and stay awhile, see a piece of living history and enjoy a bottle of root beer.
Continue on Route 66 to Kingman, approximately 30 miles from the town of Hackberry. Kingman is by far one of the largest towns on our tour of Route 66 and, as with many other communities along Route 66, it roots are with the railroad. Initially, the community served as a railroad stop near Beales Springs in the Middleton Section along the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad route.
Other Kingman milestones followed: the town established in 1882; the first store opened in 1883; a new schoolhouse completed at the southwest of 4th & Oak streets in 1886; and selected as the Mohave County seat in 1887 by a county election.
Over the years, the Kingman continued to grow. By the early 1900's, the population grew to 500. A rich gold find in the Black Mountains, Gold Road, caused Kingman to become a center for mining activity within the county. Ups and downs followed within the mining community, but the existence of Route 66 and the railroad helped Kingman to rebound. One of the towns most famous residents was actor Andy Devine, who referred to Kingman as his hometown. Other Hollywood trivia includes the fact that Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were married in Kingman.
Today, Kingman is a bustling city that continues to grow each year. All of the amenities of a metropolitan city can be found in Kingman. But with all of the growth, the town hasn't forgotten its link to the historic Mother Road. Kingman bears the moniker of being within the heart of Route 66. Additionally, the historic downtown area along Route 66 has not changed much. A stroll or cruise to Andy Devine Avenue and Beale Street will let you live a slice of history.
Powerhouse Visitor Center
One stop that you won't want to miss is a visit to the Powerhouse Visitor Center, where the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona's office and gift shop are located. If you want to discover more about Kingman, the Powerhouse Visitor Center is the perfect place to spend some time as the Carlos Elmer Gallery, Memory Lane Diner, a model railroad store, an Old West store, Historic Route 66 Museum and the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce are also housed within the building. This is definitely a place you will want to linger to learn more about the legend and lore of Kingman and Route 66.
Even the building has interesting origins. Opened in 1907, the "Powerhouse" served as a centralized and consistent electric power supply to area mines. But, by 1940, the powerhouse ceased functioning as a power station and became a storage facility. The old powerhouse was renovated in the mid-1990's and once again began to serve Kingman, albeit in a different capacity. Also of interest, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Powerhouse Visitors Center is located 120 W. Route 66.
You will want to park your car for a little bit and put on your walking shoes to fully experience Kingman. A walking tour guidebook is available the Mohave Museum of History and Arts as well as the Powerhouse Visitors Center. You will see 60 properties listed on the National Register as historic structures. The walk includes the areas along Andy Devine Avenue from the Powerhouse to the Santa Fe Train Depot on 4th Street.
For more information about Route 66 and Kingman, please visit:
A Journey to Oatman -
There's Gold in Those Hills!
This month’s day trip is our fourth and final installment in our trip down Historic Route 66 in Arizona. The state of Arizona is the only state that can boast of having the longest continuous stretch of Route 66 still in existence.
We kicked off our trip in the quaint town of Seligman and then journeyed on to Peach Springs. We stopped at a few attractions along the way. After Peach Springs, we headed down to the road to Kingman. Now, it’s on to Oatman, which was once the last stop on Route 66 before crossing the Mohave Desert.
Oatman is located approximately 28 miles southwest of Kingman in the Black Mountains at an elevation of approximately 3,000 feet. The town was previously named Vivian because of its proximity to the Vivian Mining Company. However, in 1909 the town’s name was changed to Oatman in honor of Olive Oatman.
How Oatman Got Its Name
Olive, her sister Mary Ann and her brother Lorenzo were the only members of the Oatman family who remained alive after a massacre in 1851 by the Apache (some say Yavapai) Indians. While Lorenzo escaped, Mary Ann and Olive were taken captive and later sold as slaves to a Mohave chief. Mary Ann died while in captivity; however, Lorenzo was later able to locate and help rescue his sister near the present day Oatman. Olive went on to marry cattleman John Fairchild in 1865. In 1876, Olive and John adopted a daughter.
The mining industry helped to elevate Oatman's status to that of a boomtown from a tent-town mining camp. With a more than $10 million gold strike in 1915, the town's population swelled to more than 3,500 residents within a year. Oatman was at one time considered to be the richest gold mining district within Arizona.
But mining is a fickle industry. A fire in 1921 destroyed many of the structures in town and within a short three years later in 1924 United Eastern Mines shut down their operation. United Eastern Mines was one of the main mining companies operating at that time.
Route 66 helped to keep Oatman alive by catering to travelers. But hard times came once again in 1952 when Route 66 was rerouted through Yucca as the amount of traffic on the road couldn't safely traverse the steep, winding road. The town was bypassed by I-40 from Kingman to Needles, California.
But, Oatman's story is one similar to many small towns in Arizona that rebound and develop into charming and interesting tourist towns. This is partially because of the renewed interest in Route 66. By visiting Oatman today, you can experience a trip back to the Old West. It is estimated that each year approximately 400,000 visitors come to Oatman to live a day in the past. The town prides itself on keeping Oatman's atmosphere as authentic as possible. Staged gunfights and costumed dancers are all part of the fun.
Of course the wandering, panhandling, furry burros are the stars of Oatman. The burros wander freely throughout the town – even down Main Street. While the burros are quite gentle and even seem to be domesticated, they still are “wild” animals that retreat into the desert in the evenings. Descendents of the animals freed by the miners, the burros aren't afraid to come right up to you – in fact they are downright curious. Sometimes, the burros even stop traffic.
What to See and Do
Many quaint shops and restaurants line the main thoroughfare. You'll want to spend time just strolling the streets. No mention of Oatman would be complete without talking about the Oatman Hotel, built in 1902, and considered to be one of the oldest two-story adobe structures in Mohave County.
Throughout the years many people have stayed at the 10-room hotel, including film stars Clark Gable and Carol Lombard who spent their wedding night there in March 1939 after being married in Kingman . The honeymoon suite is still a major attraction. Throughout the years, the hotel’s name was changed a number of times with the moniker “Oatman Hotel” being settled on in the 1960's.
What's for lunch this curious burro wants to know.
Looming above the town is the Elephant’s Tooth, a white quartz rock formation. The rock formation plays an important role in town’s history. The formation acted as beacon to prospectors looking for the lucky gold strike. The presence of quartz, as legend states, often indicated gold and silver are often found near quartz.
Elephant's Tooth rock formation.
Also located near Oatman is the Gold Road Mine, which has been in production off and on for the past 100 years. The gold mine was one of the top producers in the early 1900's. More than $2.2 million worth of gold was reportedly milled through the end of 1907. Most recently, the mine was opened again in 1995 and was producing more than 40,000 ounces of gold annually. However, the mine was closed again in 1998 because it became more cost effective to mine gold elsewhere.
Today the Gold Road Mine is open daily for guided tours. On the tour, you will be able to view the 1900 drift that was the mine’s origin as well as journey directly under Route 66. This is definitely a unique tour – you will even be able to view actual gold still left in the walls of the mine in an area known as “Glory Hole”.
Are gold mines and shopping not on your vacation list to-do list? Try viewing the area around Oatman on horseback by riding through the Black Mountains. The trails used include trails created by the U.S. Calvary to connect Kingman to Fort Mohave. The Oatman Stables offers a variety of trail rides; you can even participate in a cattle drive.
Oatman is a unique town that could be considered one of the liveliest ghost towns and a place you will want to spend a little time. For more information about Oatman, please visit:
Start Your Engines -
It's Time for the 2006 Historic Route 66 Fun Run!
We've journeyed Arizona's Historic Route 66 during the past few months from Seligman to Kingman. In fact, the stretch of roadway can claim the bragging rights to be called the longest continuous portion of Route 66 still in existence. In Arizona there are more than 200 miles of the original Route 66 still around.
Now you are more than ready for the 2006 Historic Route 66 Fun Run. The Fun Run can be enjoyed both as a spectator as well as a participant. Last year's event attracted more than 800 entrants and included all kinds of vehicles from the old to the new. That's the "fun" of this road rally - any (and we really do mean any) street legal vehicle can participate.
Also, the event is not timed so you can take in some of the sites along the way. The one goal is to have fun and enjoy a bit of cruising on the Route. This year's event will be held May 5th through 7th. During the three days, participants will travel approximately 140 miles from Seligman to the final destination of Topock/Golden Shores.
How it All Started
This year's Fun Run marks the 19th anniversary of the event first held in 1988. The event attracts Route 66 and car enthusiasts from around the world and is hosted by the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona. A non-profit corporation, the organization is charged with the preservation, promotion and protection of Route 66.
The organization grew out of efforts to keep Route 66 alive and "kickin". In fact, the association operates a visitor's center in historic downtown Kingman. Located in the Powerhouse Visitor Center, you will find a gift shop and as well as a plethora of information. You can even join the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona. The association has more than 900 members from Arizona and around the globe.
The Fun Begins on Friday
The Fun Run is a unique experience with registration and activities beginning on Friday in Seligman. The festive mood helps to set the tone for Saturday’s big event. The day and evening ahead includes music and other entertainment. Stroll the streets and watch the cars drive by during the "Route 66 Cruising Parade". Enjoy visiting the unique shops and stop for a tasty ice cream cone.
And They're Off - Saturday's Start in Seligman
Saturday is the big day. By early morning, the portion of Route 66 is lined with hundreds of cars. What a sight - literally vehicles of all years, makes and models are ready to go. Everyone is waiting for the official send off. Engines reviving, car enthusiasts ogling and chrome shining - what a way to start the day! The town is bustling or rather bursting at the seams with people and cars.
Then, the big send off. Cars start to roll out of town and westward to Kingman. The journey is the goal not the pace. Along the way are the Grand Canyon Caverns area, Peach Springs, Truxton, Valentine, Hackberry and Valle Vista. Participants are encouraged to stop along the way and take in the sights of old Route 66.
The fun continues in Kingman. In the afternoon, the Fun Run cars are a part of the "Show-N-Shine", which allows for a closer look at the participants' cars. The daylong festivities carry into the evening with music, a street dance and cruise night.
Sunday's Start From Kingman
Once again participants line up for the great send-off. On this day's agenda is a drive through the Black Mountains to the historic town of Oatman. From here, Historic Route 66 is designated as a Scenic Back Country Byway. The final destination is the town of Topock/Golden Shores, which will host the Awards Ceremony and Farewell Reception.
The Fun Run is an event you won't want to miss for the ultimate trip on Route 66. For more information about registration and the event, visit the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona's website. Additional sources of information include:
It's Time for a Rim Country Escape
Rim Country is a short drive northeast of metro Phoenix but a world apart. May is the perfect time to pack your bags and head for the Rim. There are several unique communities near the Rim we will be visiting on our new Day Trip series Rim Country Escape. The mountain town of Payson is considered to be the gateway to Rim Country and its treasure trove of natural beauty. Payson, with a population of more than 14,000 residents, is one of the larger towns in Rim Country. The communities of Pine, Strawberry, Star Valley and Christopher Creek round out the remaining Rim Country communities on our itinerary.
A visit to Rim Country communities, which range in elevation from approximately 5,000 feet to 7,000 feet, places you amidst the largest stand of Ponderosa pine trees in the world as well as within one of only three pure air ozone belts in the world. The elevation and pure air makes the area the perfect retreat for visitors who want to escape the desert heat during the summer or to play in the snow during the winter. And, of course, to breathe in the fresh mountain air.
Rim Country garners its name from the Mogollon Rim, which is a 7,000-foot, 200-mile long escarpment with sweeping vistas. The rim stretches from southwest of Flagstaff to the White Mountains of eastern Arizona. Additionally, the Mogollon Rim marks the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau. A dirt road, once known as Crook's Trail or now known as Rim Road, runs along the rim and is considered to be the longest continuous “high road” in Arizona. The Army built the route more than a 100 years ago as a way to move troops and supplies to various Army posts. When completed in 1876, the road connected Fort Verde with Fort Apache.
The thriving community of Payson is the first stop on our trip. Located at the base of the rim, Payson is approximately 100 miles northeast of Phoenix and 115 miles south of Flagstaff. This town offers many of the amenities of the metropolitan areas, but still retains its small town roots. Enjoyable restaurants and comfortable accommodations are close at hand as well as boundless outdoor recreation. Payson is nearby to lakes as well as camping and hiking areas. In fact, three national forests - Coconino, Sitgreaves and Tonto forests - are close by.
The backdrop of the Mazatzal Mountains. Photo courtesy of by Sharon Jackson.
Payson is most notable as a real cow town even though some of the town's earliest residents were lured there to find precious metals such as gold. But, Payson never became a gold boomtown. Instead, the town retains the flavor of its Western roots including the legacy of its most notable resident author Zane Grey who penned novels during the 1920's from his cabin just outside of Payson.
Photo courtesy of Sharon Jackson.
Shopping and Restaurants
Payson's shopping and restaurants are unique. Many of the stores are independently owned rather part of a chain or franchise. For example, it isn't often you find shops in Arizona tucked into a Swiss style chalet. Known as the Swiss Village, you can't miss the "village" on the main thoroughfare in town - the Beeline Highway. Taking up most of the retail space in the "Village" is the Payson Candle Factory, which has been in business for more than 25 years. An actual factory is onsite where a variety of sculptured and novelty candles are created. You will also want to visit the quaint antique shops in town. Many of the shops are located on the Beeline Highway or on Main Street.
But, the independently-owned businesses in town aren't just aimed at collectibles. One such example is Dove's Nest Computer Solutions. Family-owned and operated Doves Nest keeps Paysonites computers up and running.
Payson also offers a variety of restaurants with everything from American to Mexican to Italian cuisine. Stop into Mackeys Grill for a burger or a slice of pie. The Beeline Cafe commonly brings visitors from out-of-town to enjoy a meal. Hungry for Mexican food? Then try out El Rancho. Cucina Paradiso is a good choice for Italian food.
Zane Grey Cabin
A must do while you are in Payson is a tour of the rebuilt Zane Grey Cabin. Grey’s original cabin was destroyed during the Dude Fire in 1990. The forest fire destroyed acres upon acres of land in Rim Country as well as the historic cabin located approximately 20 miles outside of Payson. The fire was started by lightening and consumed more than 75 structures before it was extinguished.
Not content to lose the cabin forever, the Zane Grey Cabin Foundation was formed to rebuild a historically accurate replica of the original cabin from photos. Items saved from the original structure are on display in the cabin, which is located next to the Rim Country Museum in Green Valley Park. Rocks from the foundation and chimney of the original cabin were incorporated into the rebuilt structure. While you are there, you will also want to visit the museum, which is housed in a 1906 Forest Service ranger station. You will find artifacts and memorabilia commemorating history within the area.
Tours of the cabin are operated daily with the exception of Tuesday. For more information, visit www.zanegreycabin.org/
Green Valley Park
Want to enjoy some of the moderate temperatures Payson can boast about? Then a visit to Green Valley Park is in order. Green Valley Park encompasses 40-acres with playgrounds and picnic ramadas. Three man-made lakes offer up more than 13 acres of lakes that are stocked with Rainbow Trout from May to October. A popular local entertainment venue is the park’s three-acre amphitheater.
4th of July Fireworks are held annually at the Park.
Payson is also home to the Mazatzal Casino where you can play bingo, keno, blackjack, poker or the slots. The casino is also another popular entertainment venue. The banquet facility is designed to accommodate up to 200 people. A well-stocked gift shop, the Dream Catcher, offers variety of souvenirs, clothing, jewelry and other gift items. For more information visit, www.777play.com/
The Great Outdoors
Just outside of Payson, the great outdoors await you. The Tonto National Forest encompasses more than 3 million acres that range from desert to mountain areas. The altitude within the forest ranges from 1,300 in the desert regions to 7,900 in the mountainous areas. In fact, the Tonto National Forest claims the title for being the fifth largest forest within the United States. Recreational activities within the forest include boating, camping, picnicking, fishing, hiking, trailriding and designated wilderness areas.
Tonto National Forest
Wilderness areas (a total of eight within the Tonto National Forest) include more than 590,000 acres of land – of which more 450,000 acres are within the Payson Ranger District. Your best bet to narrow down what to do and what to see is to get in touch with the ranger station located at 1009 E. Highway 260, essentially at the edge of town. The station is open Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 928-474-7900.
Keep in mind it is always good to check with the ranger station to find out about the latest fire restrictions. The restrictions prohibit most types of fire or fire-causing activities during the summertime. Campfires and charcoal burning grills are strictly prohibited outside of exempted areas. However, petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns and heating devices are exempt and can still be used within the restricted areas. For a map of the restricted areas, visit www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto
For Additional Information about Payson, visit:
It's Time for a Rim Country Escape
This month we continue our Rim Country Escape with a visit to the mountain communities of Pine and Strawberry. The communities are often linked together in name but each have a distinct personality. The town of Pine is located approximately 16 miles northwest of Payson, and Strawberry a scant 4 miles further north. But, even though the drive from Payson to Pine isn't too far, there are a few things in-between that you won't want to miss. Tonto Natural Bridge State Park – home to what is believed to be the world’s largest travertine bridge, the Shoofly Ruins as well as beautiful roadside scenery.
A visit to the Rim Country communities on our itinerary will place you amidst the largest stand of Ponderosa pine trees as well on one of only three pure ozone belts in the world. With all if its natural beauty it is easy to see why Rim Country communities are among the popular destinations in Arizona.
On the Road
The communities of Pine and Strawberry are located northwest of Payson on State Route 87. The drive is pleasant and takes only about 20 minutes. But, make sure to carve a little bit of time out of your day to visit some of the attractions along the way.
The ruins of Shoofly Village are located approximately 5 miles north of Payson on Houston Mesa Road within the Tonto National Forest. The Hohokam and Salado peoples populated the village about 1,000 years ago. By visiting the ruins, you will be able to view a partially excavated multiple-room site, which primarily consists of rock formations. The village has not been reconstructed. A quarter-mile interpretive trail winds through the settlement. A picnic area is also located nearby. For more information about the ruins, contact the Tonto National Forest Payson Ranger District at 928-474-7900.
Flowing Springs Road
Also located approximately 5 miles north of Payson is Flowing Springs Road, which leads to a Verde River Crossing. This area is perfect for swimming, and a little fishing. However, this is an undeveloped campground. You'll need to take the road ¾ of a mile eastward from the access point of State Route 87.
Tonto National Bridge State Park
Just 10 miles north of Payson is Tonto National Bridge State Park , home to the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. The Natural Bridge became Arizona’s 26th state park in 1990. The park’s facilities include walking trails and viewpoints, picnic areas and portable restrooms.
The bridge is more than 183 feet high over a 400 foot-long tunnel, a true natural wonder. You can stand on top of the bridge as well as hike below it for a better view. Three trails descend into Pine Canyon, close to the base of the bridge. Make sure to bring plenty of water and sturdy hiking shoes are the trails can be quite steep in some areas.
Pine Creek Trail - This mile trail leads to the Pine Creek natural area.
Waterfall Trail - This trail is about 300 feet long and ends at waterfall cave.
Gowan Loop Trail - This mile trail leads to an observation deck at the creek bottom. This trail is quite steep and rough.
For more information, visit www.pr.state.az.us/Parks/parkhtml/tonto.html
For the avid hiker a trek into the Highline National Recreational Trail starts from the Pine Trailhead, about a quarter of a mile south of Pine on the east side of State Route 87. The Pine Trailhead is located at the west end of the Highline National Recreational Trail, which is more than 50 miles long. This historic trail was established in the late 1800's to link the area’s early homesteads and ranches. The hike is well worth the scenic views to be experienced along the way. This trail is generally steep and rocky and along the way the elevations range from 5,000 to 8,000 feet. You will want to budget multiple days to complete this trail. Additionally, other hiking trails and spur trails provide access to the Highline Trail, which allows hikers to traverse the trail in segments and loops. For more information, visit Tonto National Forest Highline or Tonto National Forest Highline Detail.
Other trails, more in line with a day hike, can be accessed from the Pine Trailhead. Trails emanating from the trailhead include the Oak and Pine Canyon trails. The Oak Trail is approximately 5 miles long and is identified as being one of the more difficult trails. Portions of the trail are rough, especially after a heavy rain. Oak Spring is in a wooded setting. For more information on Oak Trail, visit Tonto National Forest Highline.
For complete information on trails in the area, visit Tonto National Forest Trails.
The Community of Pine
Welcome to the community of Pine. The community takes its name from the pine timber surrounding the area. Pine was settled by Mormon pioneers in 1879. A few years later, in 1884, the community’s first post office was founded. A charming community of less than 2,000 people, the main street through town is filled with charming shops.
During the major summer holidays – Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day – the Pine/Strawberry Arts & Crafts Guild sponsors their annual arts and crafts festival. The festival slated for July 1st & July 2nd will include more than 80 juried craft booths. The event is considered a community fundraiser. Proceeds from the event stay within the Pine/Strawberry Rim Country area organizations such as the local food bank, library as well the local search and rescue. Many other community events beckon visitors to the area. The annual Strawberry Festival (originally held in Strawberry but recently moved to Pine) is held the second week in June while the annual Fiddlers’ Jam is held in May. Visit "In Payson" for upcoming community events.
The area beckons you to stroll through the center of town, perhaps enjoying an ice cream cone from the local soda fountain. And, you might even find a treasure you can't live without in one of the antique shops. don't miss the “Old Settlers Shops”, located on the north end of town, which encompasses seven buildings including two cabins dating back to the 1800's. In fact, Visions Speaking Jewelry and Native American Crafts is located within a cabin designated as a historic landmark.
You can visit the town’s historic roots on a walking tour of the pine-clad community. The Pine-Strawberry Archeological and Historical Society organized the Walking History Trail of Pine. There are 19 locations to visit on the walking tour, each stop giving you a glimpse into the community’s founding residents. For more information, visit Walking Tour.
Pine is also home to the Pine-Strawberry Museum, which opened its doors in 1979. The museum was meant as a way to display artifacts from Pine's history as well as the history of the neighboring community of Strawberry. The displays include prehistoric artifacts found within the Pine and Strawberry valleys as well as items used by the area’s early settlers. During the summer, the museum is open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The Community of Strawberry
Pine’s neighbor is the community of Strawberry, just a few miles north on State Route 87. Strawberry’s elevation, more than 6,000 feet, is a bit higher than Pine. The community takes its name from the wild strawberries that grew in the area. Strawberry is a community tucked within the tall pines. In the areas outlying from the main thoroughfare (a.k.a. State Route 87), a number of cabins and homes are comfortably nestled.
Photo courtesy of Sharon Jackson
The area attracts visitors who are seeking the moderate four-season climate, scenery and wildlife. It isn't uncommon to see javalina, coyotes or elk from the decks of cabins set off of the more populated areas. The view overlooking Strawberry Valley, rising above Fossil Creek Road, is spectacular with large stands of pine trees.
For those who don't have a “getaway” cabin, the community is home to charming lodging accommodations. The Strawberry Lodge, on Fossil Creek Road, offers rooms as well as restaurant. For more information about the lodge, call 928-476-3333. An inviting lobby invites you to sit awhile and relax.
If you are looking for a little more privacy or a place where the entire family can stay in one place, you will want to stay at The Cabins on Strawberry Hill Resort. The resort offers 14 one & two bedroom A-frame cabins. One of the cabins’ unique features is the cabin living room, which is the vaulted with rough pine ceilings.
Other accommodations in Strawberry include the Windmill Corner Inn, an eight-unit motel. Each room has a private entrance and unique decor.
Strawberry is home to the oldest standing schoolhouse in Arizona. The small, one-room log structure was opened in 1886 and served as a school, social center as well as a church. The little schoolhouse had what would be considered an elegant interior for its time – wainscoting, wallpaper, 1” x 12” sawn floorboards, and a stone slate black board. Students used in factory-made desks that sat two people.
The school permanently closed in 1916. Throughout the following years, many of the structure’s removable items were removed and the structure became uninhabitable. It was only the log structure that remained by 1961. The log frame was eventually purchased and the deed placed in the hands of the Payson-Pine Chamber of Commerce. By 1967, the schoolhouse was restored by area residents to at least be weatherproof.
The Pine/Strawberry Archeological and Historical Society restored the interior and opened the school to the public in 1980. The interior looks much like it would have in the early days. Student desks, a teacher’s desk as well as other time period appropriate items are on display inside the schoolhouse. The Strawberry Schoolhouse is located on Fossil Creek Road and is open to the public from May through September on weekends and holidays.
Strawberry Valley Walking Tour
Similar to the Pine Walking Tour is the tour through Strawberry Valley, which is also organized by the Pine-Strawberry Archeological and Historical Society. There are 6 locations prominent in the history of Strawberry Valley to visit along the walking tour which meanders along Fossil Creek Road. Included are homes of the area’s first settlers as well as the Strawberry Cemetery. Visit Strawberry Valley Walking Tour for more information.
One of the popular recreation areas located near Strawberry is Fossil Springs Wilderness, which includes 11,500 acres of wilderness with a diverse riparian area. More than 30 species of trees and shrubs and more than 100 bird species have been seen in the area. However, the jewel the Fossil Springs Wilderness is Fossil Creek, site of one of the nine best swimming holes (as identified by Arizona Highways magazine) in Arizona. Fossil Creek’s origin is a cluster of springs that contribute up to 50 percent of the Verde River’s water during low-flow periods.
It was a little more than a year ago uninterrupted water flow began once again through Fossil Creek. Two hydroelectric plants, the Childs and Irving power plant, previously hindered the flow of water into the creek. The plants were built in the early 1900’s to provide power for central Arizona mining operations. However, previous to decommission, the plants were only providing 1 percent of APS’ total electricity. Prior to the power plant dismantling, the creek would have at times little to no water running through certain areas.
At the creek’s head the spring waters flow at more than 17,000 gallons per minute out of the earth. The 14-mile long creek travels over travertine basins that create fish habitats. Fossil Creek is among only a handful of streams in the southwest have travertine. Native fish, brought in by airlift, have been reintroduced to the creek. The multi-million dollar project has helped Fossil Creek to recapture its natural beauty as well as provide a model for future restoration projects.
Fossil Creek takes its name from rich mineral contents of its waters. Additionally, the water temperature remains consistent at 72 degrees. Fossil Creek is one of the few wild rivers in Arizona to have natural swimming pools, native fish as well as lush vegetation.
Fossil Creek can be reached from the Fossil Springs Trail, emanating from a trailhead located about 4 miles west of Strawberry on Fossil Creek Road, also known as FR 708. For more information, visit Fossil Springs or Hiking Trails.
Keep in mind it is always good to check with the ranger station to find out about the latest fire restrictions. The restrictions prohibit most types of fire or fire-causing activities during the summertime. Campfires and charcoal burning grills are strictly prohibited outside of exempted areas. However, petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns and heating devices are exempt and can still be used within the restricted areas. For a map of the restricted areas, visit www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto.
For Additional Information, visit:
The Payson Buzz
Arizona's Official Website
Pine-Strawberry Archeological and Historical Society
Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce
Tonto National Forest
Tonto National Forest Hiking Trails
Rim Country Escape
This month we continue our visit to Rim Country. August is the perfect time to explore Arizona's high country. Outdoor recreation abounds east of Payson, and that is where our focus is during this month's Day Trippin' installment. The onset of the monsoon has re-opened the forest areas east of Payson. So, pull out those hiking boots, pack up the camping gear (don't forget your fishing pole) and get ready to enjoy the last few weeks of summer.
A visit to the Rim Country places you amidst the largest stand of Ponderosa pine trees as well on one of only three pure ozone belts in the world. With all if its natural beauty it is easy to see why the Rim Country's recreational areas and communities are among the popular destinations in Arizona.
On the Road
It’s time to head east out of Payson on Highway 260. Just a short drive from town will place you among Rim Country’s Ponderosa pines as well as cool mountain lakes. In fact, much of the areas are within the national forests. Arizona has more mountainous country than Switzerland and more forest than the state of Minnesota, and many of these mountain areas and forests are within the highlands of eastern Arizona.
While the weather is almost perfect in Rim Country at this time of the year, it is advisable to be prepared for rapidly changing weather – this becomes even more important if you are hiking or off-roading. Monsoon storms arise quickly and can cause flash floods. Often these summertime storms are often accompanied by lightening. Watch the sky, and if you see the looming dark clouds avoid washes and other areas prone to flash flooding.
Roughing It - Otherwise Known as Camping
Campgrounds aplenty can be found east of Payson. The difficult part is deciding which campground to use. Some of the popular campgrounds include Lower Tonto Creek, Upper Tonto Creek and Christopher Creek campgrounds. Fees are charged at each of the campgrounds. Day use fees traditionally are $4 per vehicle. Camping fees vary from $6 to $17 per night.
Tonto National Forest Campgrounds
Several campgrounds close to Payson are located within the Tonto National Forest. This includes the Lower Tonto Creek and Upper Tonto Creek campgrounds as well as the Christopher Creek campground. As for the Lower and Upper Tonto Creek campgrounds, both sites are a bit rustic but you can't beat the views of the tall pines. The campgrounds are also popular fishing sites. Christopher Creek campground; however, offers more amenities and is billed as a full-service campground.
Lower Tonto Creek Campground
The Lower Tonto Creek campground, within the Tonto National Forest, is located approximately 17 miles east of Payson. To reach the campground, turn north (left) from Highway 260, just east of mile marker #269. You'll travel about a quarter of a mile and then turn left. This 17-unit campground is located on Tonto Creek and is a noted spot for trout fishing. The campground is open year round; however, there are no services available after Labor Day.
Hiking trail access is through the Highline National Recreation trail via the Derrick Spur trail.
Upper Tonto Creek Campground
Nearby to the Lower Tonto Creek campground is the Upper Tonto Creek campground, approximately 17 miles northeast of Payson on Highway 260. To reach the campground, take the first left (north) after Kohl's Ranch onto Forest Road 289, which is slightly east of mile marker #269. You'll travel about a mile to reach the site
The campground is open from April through November and consists of nine camping sites dispersed throughout a mature stand of Ponderosa pine trees. At the north end of the campground, you can access the confluence of the Tonto and Horton creeks. The campsite is equipped with picnic tables, grills, and drinking water as well as vault toilets.
Horton Creek and Derrick Trails
The trailheads for Horton Creek Trail and Derrick Trail are accessed from the Upper Tonto Creek campground. Horton Creek Trail is categorized as an easy, 3.5 mile hike that takes 2 to 3 hours to complete. Horton Creek Trail follows along Horton Creek, past waterfalls and stands of pine trees. For more information about Horton Creek Trail, Click Here.
Derrick Spur Trail is also categorized among the easier hikes. The trail length is much shorter than that of Horton Creek Trail at ¾ of a mile. It takes about 30 minutes to hike each way. The trail winds through Ponderosa pines. During the spring, you are likely to see a variety of wildflowers. The trail offers outstanding views of fall foliage during autumn. Derrick Spur Trail is also one of the popular equestrian trails in the area. For more information about the trail, Click Here.
Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery
Located not too far from the campgrounds – approximately four miles– is the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery, which is managed by Arizona Game and Fish. The hatchery and surrounding wetlands are a great place to hike as well as watch wildlife. The hatchery produces and stocks approximately 165,000 catchable Rainbow Trout, 400,000 Brook and Cutthroat trout and 150,000 Apache Trout each year.
Though the Hatchery is closed to angling, trout produced in the facilities are stocked in surrounding streams and rivers, including Tonto Creek. For more information, Click Here.
To reach the hatchery, take Highway 260 northeast of Payson to Kohl’s Ranch. Turn north (left) onto Tonto Creek Road and follow the signs to the hatchery.
The hatchery is for day-use only and is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily with the exception of holidays.
A riparian area near the fish hatchery.
Other Area Attractions
Kohl's Ranch Lodge
If roughing it in a tent isn't exactly your style, a stay at Kohl’s Ranch might be in order. Guestrooms and cabins – some of the cabins are located creek side - are available year-round. The lodge provides the perfect base for exploring the area. Kohl’s Ranch offers nearby fishing, hiking, horseback riding, jeep tours and mountain biking. Approximately 17 miles east of Payson on Highway 260 is Kohl’s Ranch, which is surrounded by pine forests on the bank of Tonto Creek.
The roots for Kohl’s Ranch extend to the Kohl family who purchased the 126-acres in 1917. It wasn't until 1929 that the ranch was turned into a resort that attracted visitors who wanted to get away from it all. While the Kohl family no longer owns the lodge, the same “get-away from it all” atmosphere remains. For more information about Kohl’s Ranch, Click Here.
Christopher Creek Campground
A littler farther east is Christopher Creek campground. To reach the campground, which is located approximately 21 miles from Payson on Highway 260 just east of mile marker #271 on the south side. The campground is open from April through October. Amenities at the 43-unit site include picnic tables, campfire rings, cooking grills, toilets, drinking water and trash services. Additionally, campground hosts are onsite seven days a week.
Christopher Creek runs through the campground. A popular activity along the spring-fed creek is trout fishing. The campground is also located near See Canyon Trailhead, approximately 3 miles to the east of the campground. The See Canyon Trail is not for the beginning hiker. Although it is only 2.4 miles long, the trail is primitive and the terrain a bit challenging. Additionally, the trail does cross Christopher Creek and is subject to flooding. A rule of thumb is to avoid the See Canyon trail if it has been raining.
But a hike on the See Canyon trail is worth the trek with a variety of plant life and scenic areas. For more information about the See Canyon Trail, Click Here.
Christopher Creek also lends its name to a small, charming mountain community of about 200 people located approximately 22 miles northeast of Payson on Highway 260. Many cabins and lodges are nestled along the banks of the creek - creature comforts set among the scenic great outdoors. Shops and restaurants are also nearby.
The area surrounding the community is a haven for those who want to hike, mountain bike, fish or go horseback riding. Or, those who want to take a little time to get away from the hustle of the city. It isn't uncommon to see elk, deer and squirrels. There are more than 51 miles of trails in the vicinity of Christopher Creek.
The community's namesake is French settler and explorer Isadore Christopher who lived in the area in the 1880's until 1903 when he sold his 160-acre ranch. The site remains a popular destination.
The hub of Christopher Creek is Tall Pines Market, which also doubles as the area’s post office. The market functions as a true country, general store with a little bit of everything from pet food to laundry supplies to video rentals. Hunting, fishing and camping supplies are thrown in for good measure. Game and fishing licenses are also available.
Christopher Creek is also the home to the Rancho Tonto Catch-A-Trout facility, a public day use fishing facility. Catch a rainbow trout seven days a week through September. Hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information about Rancho Tonto Catch-A-Trout call 928-478-0002.
For horseback riding in the Christopher Creek area you will want to visit Kohl’s Stables. The horseback trails are considered to be some of the most scenic in Arizona. The guided rides are one, two or three hours long. You can choose between a ride in the mountains or along the creek. The stables is open daily seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reservations are recommended on weekends and during holidays. For more information, Click Here.
A number of lodging accommodations are available in the Christopher Creek area. Accommodations range from rustic cabins to luxury cabins.
Elk Haven Cabins – 5 kitchenette cabins that are fully equipped.
Grey Hackle Lodge – 11 rustic cabins with varying floor plans. The largest cabins can accommodate up to 6 people.
Mountain Meadows Cabins – 6 cabins; 4 with Jacuzzis.
The Village at Christopher Creek – Luxury cabins with real wood floors, knotty pine ceilings and spacious living areas. Each cabin will accommodate 6 people. The square footage of the cabins ranges from 800 to 1,400 square feet. Some cabins are lakeside.
Tonto Creek Hideaway – Nestled along the bank of Tonto Creek. Fully equipped home provides accommodations for up to 6 people. Outdoor amenities include horseshoes, croquet, gas BBQ, firepit and picnic facilities.
For Additional Information, visit:
The Payson Buzz
Arizona's Official Website
Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce
Tonto National Forest
Tonto National Forest Hiking Trails
Williams - Gateway to the Grand Canyon
September is the perfect time to head to the tiny mountain of Williams, located a short drive west of Flagstaff on Interstate-40. From the towns railroad claim to fame to Historic Route 66, Williams is a charming town that you will want to linger in. Williams also bears the moniker of being the "Gateway to the Grand Canyon".
So, whether Williams is your destination or starting point, spending time in Williams makes a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of Arizona's metro areas. The town sits at the edge of a Ponderosa pine forest atop the Mogollon Rim. Surrounding Williams is the Kaibab National Forest. It's time to take life at a slower pace and enjoy the scenery, shops and restaurants with a visit to the past in the historic town of Williams.
The Man Behind the Town’s Name
Williams takes its name from William “Bill” Sherley Williams, an honest to goodness “Mountain Man” who traveled throughout much of Arizona in the 1800’s. Williams served as an itinerate preacher for nine years, followed by another 12 years on the frontier and additional seven as a plains and mountain man, according to comments made by his contemporary and acquaintance Zebulon Pike. Williams was killed in 1849 after the ill-fated Fremont expedition. Williams acted as a guide when the expedition started; however, his role changed over the course of the expedition that was to have traveled from Colorado to California beginning in November 1848. Williams ceased his guide functions when Capt. John Fremont rejected Williams’ recommended travel route.
Weather being what it is in the Rockies during the winter, trapped the 33-man expedition and brought it to an untimely end. Williams was killed on his way to recover any salvageable equipment.
A short two years later in 1851 the name Bill Williams was cited on a surveyor’s map. The result, an Arizona mountain and a river both take their name from Bill Williams. The town of Williams is located at the base of his mountain namesake – Bill Williams Mountain. The Bill Williams River is a scenic river in a little-known area of Arizona. The river flows from the Alamo Reservoir through the wild Buckskin Mountains. The river joins the Colorado River at Lake Havasu, just above Parker Dam. Located in the west central part of Arizona near Lake Havasu City, this is an area to be featured in an upcoming Day Trippin’ feature.
A statue of Bill Williams is located in Monument Park, on the west side of Williams.
For more information about Bill Williams, Click Here.
Williams was founded in 1880. A sign of a growing community, the town could boast of having a post office by 1881. The railroad arrived a short time later in September 1882. It was the Santa Fe line that helped Williams to emerge as a railroad and logging town. Williams also served as a cattle ranching center.
Williams at one time was a rough and tumble Western frontier town with its array of saloons and gambling houses. Vestiges of Williams’ past still remain today for visitors to enjoy. Old brick commercial buildings from the late 19th century line the main street. Not far away, small Victorian homes are amidst tree-shaded streets south from the railroad tracks.
Similar to Prescott’s history a fire swept through the town and the business district felt the greatest damage. In 1901, 36 commercial buildings, two hotels, and 10 homes were destroyed in the fire. The fire prompted a fire district to be formed.
The Great Train
Any mention of Williams wouldn't be complete without a nod to the railroad that has developed into the current Grand Canyon Railway. Originally completed in September 1901, the railway – then known as the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway – ran from Williams to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Approximately 65 miles of track ran from the town to the South Rim.
For many years, the steam train was a popular way to reach the canyon. Millions of people rode the rails throughout its heyday. But, in 1968, the train stopped carrying passengers. In 1974, after years of struggling, the Santa Fe Railway ceased service. Part of the railway’s demise could be attributed to the rise of touring by car rather than the railway.
The ambiance of traveling by train and seeing more than the highway never really disappeared. In 1989, 88 years after its inauguration, rail service to the Grand Canyon resumed and the Grand Canyon Railway was born. It’s all aboard from the 1910 train depot and on to the Grand Canyon. The train depot was previously home to a Harvey Hotel. The train depot and the railway line are on the National Register of Historic Places. Every year thousands of people board the restored vintage 1920’s coaches pulled by vintage steam and diesel locomotive for an experience that is not to be forgotten.
The train runs daily, which the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas, to the South Rim. The 65-mile trip takes a little more than two hours each way. A three-hour layover allows passengers to take in the canyon’s sites. The railway does offer stay and ride packages. A comfortable hotel is located adjacent to the train depot.
Historic Route 66
Route 66 also plays a significant role in the towns past. Arizona has the longest stretch of Route 66 still in use today. A portion of the original Route 66 still continues to be Williams main street. Williams was the last town on Historic Route 66 to be bypassed by Interstate 40, which happened in October 1984.
Quaint shops and restaurants line the Williams portion of Route 66. In fact, the entire downtown area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The downtown district covers six square blocks that includes the train depot and the Grand Canyon Hotel, a 2-story European style boutique built in 1889.
Williams offers charming historic lodging accommodations in addition to the Grand Canyon Hotel. The Red Garter Bed and Bakery accommodations in a restored 1897 saloon and bordello decorated with the 1890's in mind. The Bakery is located on the first floor and lists its specialties as scones, cinnamon rolls, croissants and Danish pastries. The Red Garter has a rich history as one of the most colorful establishments on Williams Saloon Road.
For a slice of Route 66 it is necessary to move forward to 1936 when the Gateway Motel was constructed. The motel was originally named the Del Sue Motor Inn and was the first motor court hotel in Williams.
Williams has its share of privately owned, non-franchised restaurants. Twisters Soda Fountain , a traditional 1950’s style soda fountain is located right on Route 66. It’s specialty – the Route 66 Beer Float. Another popular restaurant also located on Route 66 is Rod’s Steakhouse , which boasts of fine dining since 1946. The house specialty – slow roasted prime rib.
Another Americana restaurant is Cruisers Café 66, which is partially housed in a 1930’s gas station. The menu runs the gamut from steaks, spicy wings, and pizza to calzones. Route 66 memorabilia abounds at Cruisers. For more information about Cruisers call 928-635-2445.
Other Area Attractions
Grand Canyon Deer Farms
A popular attraction in the Williams area is the Grand Canyon Deer Farm Petting Zoo , located 8 miles east of Williams. In addition to the tame deer, which will literally eat out your hand, the farm hosts pronghorn antelope, wallabies, llamas, peacocks and a buffalo. The farm is open during September through November daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. During the winter, the farm is open weather permitting.
Wild West Junction
Wild West Junction recreates an Old West town. The recreated town includes the Territorial Museum, a saloon/restaurant, general store and the Drovers Hotel.
The Great Outdoors
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon
Williams is located a little less than 60 miles from Arizona’s greatest gem, Grand Canyon National Park . Williams with its amenities is a perfect starting point for visiting the park. The travel time to the park take about an hour.
The South Rim of the canyon is among the most scenic places in Arizona. Recreational activities abound at the canyon from hiking to tours by bus or air. The more adventuresome can ride to the bottom of the canyon by mule. Additionally, free shuttle buses will take you throughout the park beginning from Grand Canyon Village.
You will want to allot two hours to view all of the points of interest. The four routes include Hermit’s Rest, Village, Kaibab Trail and Canyon View/Mather Point.
The fee to enter the Grand Canyon is $25 per private vehicle and is good for seven days. The admission fee covers entrance to the North Rim and South Rim. For individuals entering by foot, bicycle or motorcycle is $12 per person.
Kaibab National Forest
The Kaibab National Forest surrounds Williams. Boarding both the North and South rims of the Grand Canyon, the forest includes 1.6 million acres that range in elevation from 5,500 feet in the southwest corner to 10,418 feet at the summit of Kendick Peak on the Williams Ranger District. As all of the national forest located in Arizona, popular activities at Kaibab include camping , fishing , hiking and, of course, wildlife viewing.
Four lakes within the forest are located near Williams – Cataract, Dogtown, Kaibab and Whitehorse lakes.
Cataract Lake, approximately a mile west of Williams, is a popular fishing lake stocked with rainbow and brown trout. Facilities at the lake include 18 campsites with picnic tables and fire rings, pit toilets, and a concrete boat-launch ramp.
Dogtown Lake is located approximately six and half miles from Williams. The lake takes its name form the extensive prairie dog towns, which once covered the open areas near the lake. The lake is stocked with trout, crappies and channel cats. Facilities at the lake include 51 campsites with picnic tables and fire rings as well as one group site and a concrete boat launch ramp. Vault toilets and water facets are scattered throughout the campground.
Kaibab Lake is located approximately 4 miles from Williams. The lake is routinely stocked with rainbow trout as well as brown and brook trout. Occasionally, channel cats are stocked. The facilities include 70 campsites with fire rings and picnic tables, vault toilets, water faucets and a paved boat launch area.
Whitehorse Lake is located approximately 19 miles from Williams. The lake is stocked with rainbow and brown trout. While this lake is located a greater distance from Williams than the other lakes, it is worth the drive. The campground near the lake offers easy access to scenic Sycamore Canyon. Hiking trails are also nearby.
Facilities at the lake include 94 campsites with fire rings and picnic tables, two pit toilets, and a concrete boat-launch ramp.
For additional information about Williams, visit
The Williams Buzz
Grand Canyon National Park
Kaibab National Forest
Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce
From Boomtown to Tourist Town
It’s time to hit the road and head for the hills. This month we visit a quirky town with quite a fabled past. In fact, the town once bore the moniker of being the “wickedest town in the West”. Jerome has transformed from its origins as a copper mining camp to a bustling tourist town with an artistic flair.
Built on the slopes of Cleopatra Hill high on Mingus Mountain, Jerome’s scenic views, original structures and interesting shops make the town a must see while you are visiting Arizona. Speaking of scenic views, on a clear day you can see the red rocks of Sedona, the Mogollon Rim and the San Francisco Peaks from the 5,000-foot plus elevation of the town.
A view from Jerome of the San Francisco Peaks .
Jerome is located in central Northern Arizona which makes it a short drive from the cities of Phoenix, Flagstaff, Sedona and Prescott.
It has always been what is beneath the ground that brought people to the area that became Jerome. Before Spanish explorers came to the area in the late 1500’s, the Sinaguas, Hohokams, Anasazis and Apaches were already familiar with the area’s rich mineral resources, especially copper. The Spaniards didn't stay long as they were interested in gold and not copper. However, there were rich deposits of gold and sliver in the area’s mines as well.
Three hundred years later came Jerome's notoriety from early copper mining claims. The town, founded in 1876, grew from a settlement of tents to a thriving mining community with all the “amenities” of the era. Mining claims organized by Arizona Territorial Governor Frederic Trittle were sold to the United Verde Copper Company in 1882. A year later, in 1883, the mining camp took the name Jerome after Eugene Jerome, who was a major financier of the United Verde Copper Company.
Mining in Jerome was never easy, but copper was produced in the area from 1883 through 1884 by a small blast furnace hauled into the area by wagon. However, large profits never materialized. Senator William Clark of Montana purchased the ailing United Verde Copper Company in 1883. Clark had new ideas on how to transport the ore for processing which would make the enterprise of producing copper more profitable.
In 1885, a narrow gauge railroad was constructed – hence the birth of the United Verde and Pacific Railway which ran from Jerome to Chino Valley (at that time known as Jerome Junction). This allowed the ore to be economically shipped out for processing. Clark also expanded the existing smelter. The changes moved the company from ailing to a profitable business. In 1899, the town was incorporated.
Jerome’s copper mines brought people and prosperity for the mine’s owners. In fact, at the height of the town’s population, Jerome was considered to be the third largest city in the Arizona. Jerome became a bit of a melting pot as immigrants – many from Eastern Europe - came to the area to work the mines. In 1894, Jerome’s population was estimated to be 500 people, mostly men who worked for the mines. As the population began to grow so did the number of saloons/gambling houses, rooming houses, bordellos, restaurants and stores. The railroad created a mechanism for workmen to bring along their families. By 1900, Jerome could boast of having three churches and three newspapers.
A particularly rich copper vein struck in 1915 by the United Verde Extension, which was owned by James Douglas, only added to the town’s population and prosperity. During this time Jerome’s mines were producing at an incredible million dollars a month and thereby earning Jerome the title of “Billion Dollar Mining Camp”. The mines were producing three million pounds of copper each month.
A home in Jerome. What a view!
The economic boom continued its upward climb. The population peaked at about 15,000 people in the 1920’s. The world needed copper and the mines of Jerome were ready and able to provide it. However, despite Jerome’s mineral wealth, it wasn't insulated from America’s Depression and during the 1930’s Jerome’s mining activities experienced a downturn. The 1930 census identified 5,000 inhabitants in Jerome. World War II did revive a demand for copper and Jerome’s mines underwent a bit of a revival.
However, the revival did not last long and Jerome’s residents began to move on. The early 1950’s it was no longer profitable to mine the copper ore of Cleopatra Hill and mining operations began to shut down. Jerome took on the status of a ghost town with the final blow the closing of the Phelps Dodge Mine in 1953. The closing of the mine and loss of jobs caused Jerome’s population to dwindle to roughly 100 to 200 residents. Jerome’s mining heyday was over and the town has yet to recover the number of residents it had at its pinnacle.
But, the remaining residents weren't content to let Jerome become forgotten. A drive began to promote the area as a historic “Ghost Town”. It wasn't hard to imagine ghosts inhabiting the old boarded up buildings. The entire town of Jerome was designated as a National Historic District by the federal government in late 1966.
Jerome’s population began to slowly creep back to life. This time it wasn't the mines that brought people to the area but rather the scenic vistas. During the 1960’s and 1970’s artisans were drawn to the area. Another plus, rents were cheap. Newcomers created artwork and began to open galleries. Eventually, Jerome began to gain a reputation as an artist community. Tourists came to visit the historic storefronts converted into galleries and stroll through the streets lined with many of the town’s original buildings. Quaint, charming, quirky, crumbling, leaning and sliding are all words that can be used to describe the buildings. It is amazing that so many of the original structures remain to this day considering the town is built at a 30-degree slope. Additionally, Jerome suffered through four major fires, which destroyed large sections of the town in its early days (1894-1899). As a result of the fires, the building code was changed in the early 1900’s and most of the buildings required to be of masonry construction. Most of the buildings built during this time remain in use today.
Jerome's infamous sliding jail.
Artists and Tourists
Jerome continued to gain popularity and during the 1990’s became a popular tourist destination. Today more than a half a million people visit Jerome each year to take in the sights as well as visit artist galleries, unique shops and charming restaurants. Key to the town’s success is the link to its past. A majority of the original buildings are still in use or in the process of being restored. Today Jerome’s population is within the vicinity of 450 to 500 residents.
The Jerome Historical Society, formed in 1953, plays an important part in keeping the town’s appearance as close as possible to the original – essentially making the town an outdoor museum. The society was able to negotiate with Phelps Dodge to not tear down significant buildings within the main part of the city. To further preserve the historic buildings, the society purchased the majority of uptown Jerome, which ensured Main Street would remain intact. Currently, the historical society owns eight commercial buildings.
Make sure to take comfortable walking shoes when planning to tour through the town. Being built on a steep slope, the streets throughout the town switch back from one level of homes to another. Narrow alleys and stairways connect different levels within the town. The view is worth the stroll. And, with so many of the original buildings still in use it isn't difficult to imagine you have stepped back in time.
The majority of Jerome’s shops are located along Main Street, Hull Avenue, Jerome Avenue and Clark Street. You are likely to find shops dedicated to all facets of art from pottery to painting and jewelry to home furnishings. A good stop to find out about the town’s shops as well as other attractions is the Mine Museum and Mine Museum Gift Shop located on Main Street. The shop and museum are operated by the historical society.
Jerome Artists Cooperative Gallery is another unique place to discover original artwork by Northern Arizona artists. The co-op is located on the first floor of a building that previously housed the Hotel Jerome. The hotel was the largest poured concrete building in America at the time of its construction in 1917. Currently, the gallery features 36 artists whose works represent a wide range of media.
Other shops that are a must see include:
Nelly Bly II – specializing in jewelry made from semiprecious stones and fine artwork.
Nelly Bly – handmade kaleidoscopes and art glass.
For more information about Jerome’s shops, visit the Jerome Chamber of Commerce
Jerome plays host to a number of taste bud tempting restaurants with a dose of history thrown in for good measure. No chain restaurants here. Hungry for a good pizza? Then you will want to try Belgian Jennie's Bordello Bistro & Pizzeria. The restaurant is named after one of Jerome’s infamous madams. The restaurant also features other homemade Italian dishes as well as an intimate atmosphere.
The Asylum Restaurant , located inside of the Grand Hotel, offers a more formal environment. The restaurant features a number of fine wines from around the world. In fact, the restaurant received an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator in 2002.
For lunch, the Red Rooster Café is an excellent choice. Specialties include a selection of homemade soups, salads, quiche as well as other baked goods. Hot and cold sandwiches are also served.
Jerome has no shortage of historic lodging options. One of the town’s original hotels, the Conner Hotel, is still in operation. The hotel was built in 1898 with 23 rooms. However, today the hotel features 10 renovated rooms decorated with antique furnishings.
The Jerome Grand Hotel began its history as a hospital. It was opened in 1927 as the United Verde Hospital and served the area until 1950. The hospital received acclaim in 1930 as being one of the most modern and well-equipped hospitals in Arizona. The hospital sat unused for more than four decades before renovations began. Sitting at the height of Jerome, the views are spectacular.
Other historic lodgings in Jerome include:
Ghost City Inn – originally a boarding house built in 1890.
The Surgeon’s House – the house was constructed in 1916 and served as the residence of Jerome’s chief surgeon.
Jerome Historic State Park
In the lower section of town you will find the Jerome Historic State Park, which consists of a mansion built in 1916 as a home for mine owner Jimmy Douglas. The house also served as a hotel for visiting mine executives. On display are mining exhibits as well as some of the home’s original furnishings. Set on a hill above Douglas’s Little Daisy Mine, the mansion overlooks Jerome and provides views of the Verde Valley. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 928-634-5381.
Gold King Mine & Ghost Town
The Gold King Mine & Ghost Town is the place to go if you want to see mining artifacts as well as other historic collectibles. You can also catch mining demonstrations as well as view the old saw mill.
For more information please visit:
Welcome to Red Rock Country
Last month we visited the historic mountain town of Jerome. Just a short drive, approximately 28 miles, from Jerome is Sedona. The city, famous for its colorful red rocks and scenic vistas, attracts more than 2 million people each year. In fact, Sedona took home the top honor in USA Weekend’s 2003 list of the 10 Most Beautiful Places in America. Perhaps, it is because 49 percent of the 19-square mile city is within the Coconino National Forest.
So, let’s wind our way to Sedona. Make sure you don't forget your camera! This is a trip you will want to remember.
Sedona is located in central Northern Arizona which makes it a short drive from the cities of Phoenix, Flagstaff, Jerome and Prescott.
Located at the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona was first settled by pioneers in 1877. But it wasn't until 1899 Sedona began to take shape with 80 acres of land purchased by T.C. Schnebly and his family. On that acreage, located on what today has become Los Abrigados Resort and Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, Schnebly opened a general store and hotel. The settlement continued to grow creating the need for a post office. Schnebly submitted two potential names for the postal station to the Postmaster General – Oak Creek Crossing and Schnebly Station. However, both names were rejected because the names were too lengthy to fit on a cancellation stamp. Schnebly then decided to submit his wife’s name – Sedona. The name Sedona was approved in June 1902. Sedona’s incorporation didn't occur until decades later in 1988.
Lights, Camera, Action - Hollywood Discovers Sedona
Sedona’s red-rock buttes, eroded canyon walls and mesas were a siren’s call to Hollywood and the perfect place to film a Western movie. The first film shot in Sedona was Zane Grey’s "Call of the Canyon" in 1923, which was a silent movie. The legendary John Wayne even filmed a movie in Sedona in 1945 – "The Angel and the Badman". The two movies provide a very partial listing of the city’s film credits. Since then, Sedona has been the site for more than 76 feature films. And, continues to be a popular spot to shoot commercials as well as television productions. Curious to find out more about the movies filmed in Sedona? You will want to visit the website for the Sedona Film Office for more information.
Sedona isn't only a popular place to film. It is also the site of an annual film festival. This year the Sedona International Film Festival and Workshop will be held in Sedona February 28th through March 4th, 2007. More than 125 films as well as workshops will be featured during the 5-day event.
Red Rock Country
What makes the rocks red in Sedona? The rosy hue comes from sandstone. From almost any vantage point in Sedona, you can view the colorful towering rock formations, which bear simple names based upon their unique shapes – Coffee Pot Rock, Bell Rock, Capitol Butte, Cathedral Rock and Three Golden Chiefs to name a few. Coffee Pot Rock marks the tallest point in Sedona at 5,600 feet. Sedona itself, at an elevation of approximately 4,500 feet, is situated at the base of the Mogollon Rim, which itself is comprised of layers limestone, mudstone and sandstone.
The Best Places to View Red Rock Country
The first thing to note is there are numerous ways to explore and travel through the area be it by an organized Jeep tour, on horseback, by air, on foot or by car. You will want to check out the Buzzin Links section of The Sedona Buzz to find out more information on how to best reach some of the most spectacular views in the area. The Buzzin Links section will also assist you with other information about what to do and where to stay while you are in Sedona.
One of the unique rock formations.
Schnebly Hill Road
Schnebly Hill Road, also known as Forest Service (FS) Road 153, is a primitive road best traversed by a four-wheel drive or high-clearance vehicle. The road ascends the Mogollon Rim and at its highest point, Schnebly Hill Vista, overlooks from an elevation of 6,000 feet the Verde Valley, Sedona, Steamboat Rock, and the Mingus Mountains . The road can be reached south of Sedona on Arizona 179, just south of the US 89A junction. Schnebly Hill Road ends at Interstate 17. The trip over the approximately 13-mile road is well worth the drive to take in the spectacular views.
Think of rock formations in Sedona and likely to come to mind is Bell Rock. There are many trails that lead up to Bell Rock from the parking lot at the base. It is approximately a mile to the top. To reach Bell Rock from downtown Sedona, head south on Highway 179 for approximately 5 miles.
The Airport Mesa area will give you a bird’s eye view of Sedona from approximately 500 feet above the city. From this point you will see an unobstructed and panoramic view of Sedona
and the red rocks. About halfway up the mesa is a small parking area from which several trails radiate. To reach Airport Mesa, head west out of Sedona on U.S. 89A and turn left onto Airport Road.
Cathedral Rock is another popular rock formation. In fact, Cathedral Rock is the most photographed formation in Sedona. From this area you can access a difficult but short trail that leads to outstanding views. The trail is less than a mile and ranges in elevation from approximately 4,072 to 4,680 feet. Cathedral Rock can be reached via west on Highway 179 through the Village of Oak Creek and making a left turn onto Back O’ Beyond Road.
Red Rock State Park
Red Rock State Park is a 286-acre nature preserve and environmental education center 5 miles west of Sedona, just off of Highway 89A on the Lower Red Rock Loop Road. Oak Creek winds its way through the park and creates a diverse riparian habitat with an abundance of plants and wildlife. The park also hosts a 5-mile network of trails with interconnecting loops, which lead to vistas of the red rocks and the lush greenery of Oak Creek.
Coconino National Forest
Red Rock Ranger District
The Coconino National Forest engulfs Sedona and encompasses seven wilderness areas, three of which are in the Sedona area. Hiking, horseback riding, camping, fishing, boating – the recreational possibilities are numerous amid the national forest bordering Sedona. In total, the Coconino National Forest traverses 1.8 million acres across Arizona, but some of the most scenic and colorful portions are in the Red Rock Ranger District.
To find out more about campgrounds, trails, boating & fishing, designated wilderness areas, scenic drives, picnic areas and archaeology sites, Click Here.
Oak Creek Canyon
Oak Creek Canyon is one of the most scenic canyons emanating from the Mogollon Rim. Additionally, Oak Creek Canyon is one of the few that has a paved road running through it. While traveling through the canyon, for a time you are actually gazing upwards towards the towering rock formations until you begin an ascent into Flagstaff. The road, Highway 89A, parallels Oak Creek from Sedona to Flagstaff and traverses some of the best scenery in Arizona. In fact, Highway 89A as it runs through Oak Creek was the state’s first designated Scenic Highway and was named by Rand-McNally as one of the most beautiful drives in America.
Slide Rock State Park
Nestled inside of Oak Creek Canyon is Slide Rock State Park . The highlight of the park are the natural rock slides which visitors may slide down. In fact, Life Magazine bestowed on Slide Rock the honor of being one of America’s 10 most beautiful swimming holes . If sliding down the rocks isn't on your list, then sunning along the creek side might be in order. Also unique is the partnership between state and federal agencies to care for the park. The U.S. Forest Service is responsible for the creek and waterslide while the Arizona State Parks Department manages parking as well as other amenities at the park. Amenities at the park include picnic facilities as well as hiking trails.
The one thing to keep in mind when visiting Sedona is that you are always in sightseeing mode. Sedona offers a wealth of natural resources that everyone can enjoy from leisurely drives to strenuous hikes. Throughout the city, the towering rock formations never let you forget Sedona is a magical place.
Don't forget to check out the resources listed below when planning your trip to Sedona:
The Quintessential Arizona Town
Last month our Day Trippin’ journey took us to the town of Sedona, famous for its Red Rocks and the surrounding natural beauty. Moving south, by about an hour and 45 minutes, we reach the tough and rugged town of Cave Creek. Natural beauty and an independent spirit are integral to Cave Creek, a town that has managed to keep its roots despite metro Phoenix’s growth. In fact, the town’s residents affectionately still call themselves “Creekers”.
Cave Creek is located just a short drive north of Phoenix and Scottsdale but a world apart.
How Cave Creek Got Its Name
The town of Cave Creek garners its name from a small nearby stream that flows for about 25 miles – bubbling up from springs located in the Tonto National Forest and winding through the town. The stream is unique because it is among the last remaining spring-fed, perennial streams located within Maricopa County. Additionally, the stream is believed to have taken its name from a unique 100 foot rock shelter carved into the west bank of a flood plain.
The “cave” has provided shelter for centuries. In fact, a skirmish in 1873 between Apache Indians and US troops occurred within the cave. But, the cave’s history extends to the pre-historic Hohokam people who built a system of irrigation canals along Cave Creek. The Hohokam also left their mark on the interior of the cave with chipped and painted artwork.
The Desert Foothills Land Trust now protects the cave and the surrounding area in an effort to preserve the town and stream’s namesake for future generations. Approximately 16.4 acres are included in this preserve area, which includes about a ¼ mile of the creek. The trust, incorporated in 1991, remains active in preserving land within the Sonoran Desert foothills. Today, the trust has created 13 preserves within the area.
Cave Creek’s Origins
Cave Creek’s First Residents
Cave Creek’s earliest residents were the Hohokam people who called the area home in the prior to 1450 A.D. It is unknown as to why the Hohokam disappeared from the area around 1450 A.D. Lack of rain, depletion of resources and overpopulation are educated thoughts as to why the Hohokam people moved from the area. However, their mark on the area remains. Scattered throughout the Cave Creek area are petroglyphs, pictographs, ruins as well as an extensive irrigation system. In fact, in the mid 1990’s, a dwelling – believed to be Hohokam – was unearthed underneath the road running through the center of the downtown Cave Creek. While this ruin is currently covered by Cave Creek Road, there are many other sites that you can visit in the area.
As with many areas within Arizona, mining – specifically gold – brought more people to the area in the 1860’s. In 1865, a wagon road in the Cave Creek area was created that allowed easier access to the mines. The big find near Cave Creek came in 1874 when William Rowe struck gold on Gold Hill, just northeast of Cave Creek, and established the Cave Creek Mistress Mine. Sadly, the Mistress Mine area, which was most currently used as a dinner theater, bed & breakfast, rock shop and New Age healing center, was destroyed in the Cave Creek Complex fire in July 2005. The fire scorched more than 240,000 acres.
Rowe’s discovery set off a modest gold rush in the area. Although the miners came and went, the area began to attract more permanent settlers. By 1886, a one-room schoolhouse was built beside Cave Creek to serve the area’s educational needs. However, mining began to decline in the late 1890’s.
The decline in mining brought about the next phase in the town of Cave Creek’s history – as a ranch community. Ranching (cattle as well as sheep) proved to be lucrative. Mother Nature had a say in the matter though. Extended droughts created issues and overgrazing made ranching a risky business. Eventually, the Cave Creek School was closed as the population declined.
During the 1920’s and 1930’s, Cave Creek became home to a number of tuberculosis camps. People sought out the area looking for a cure. The hope was that sunshine and dry air would be the key to the return of their health.
An increasing population called for the reopening of the Cave Creek School in 1930. The town took on a rowdier character during the late 1930’s when workers building the Horseshoe and Bartlett dams arrived in the area. The 1940’s and 1950’s brought visitors seeking an Arizona vacation at the area’s dude ranches, many which were previously cattle ranches. Spur Cross, Rancho Manana and Sierra Vista just to name a few. In 1986, the town was incorporated.
During the 1990’s as well as today, preservation remains a key issue in the area. "Creekers" know they have something special and are willing to do what they can to keep it that way. Zoning regulations, land trusts as well as political involvement are a few of the ways the area has been preserved for future generations to enjoy.
Cave Creek Museum
One of the best ways to find out more about the area’s history is with a visit to the Cave Creek Museum, located at the corner of Basin Road and Skyline Drive in Cave Creek. The museum houses an extensive collection of prehistoric and historic artifacts that give you a glimpse of how life used to be for the Indians, miners, ranchers and early pioneers. Additionally, the museum is also home to a cabin that was previously a part of a 16-cabin tuberculosis camp. This cabin is the last original tuberculosis cabin remaining in Arizona. For more information about the museum Click Here.
Historic downtown Cave Creek is located along the corridor of Cave Creek Road. The downtown area is north of Black Mountain, which takes its name from the color of basalt rocks on its western flank. Many unique shops, galleries and restaurants line the corridor. Cave Creek is well known for its artisan community.
Frontier Town, located in the heart of downtown, is a replica of an old west town. Shops as well as restaurants are located within the town. Frontier Town is also home to Black Mountain Brewery, which brews Cave Creek Chili Beer. You can satisfy your curious taste buds at Crazy Ed’s Satisfied Frog Restaurant and Saloon, which serves the beer.
Click Here to find out more information about Cave Creek’s shops and restaurants.
Cave Creek’s Natural Beauty
Cave Creek is unparalleled in its natural beauty. The Tonto National Forest, state land as well as county parks offer many recreational activities near Cave Creek. Residents of Cave Creek are aware of the beauty in their backyard. As a result, there have been significant actions taken to preserve the wilderness areas surrounding the town.
(Spur Cross Conservation Area)
Tonto National Forest
The Cave Creek area of the Tonto National Forest ranges in elevation from 3,000 to 4,400 feet. While hiking in the area you are likely to see several species of oaks, Manzanita, rabbitbrush, Hackberry and some riparian plants. And, don’t forget the wildlife. You are likely to see javelina, coyotes, deer, rabbits and snakes just to name a few. Mountain lions are in the area but are not often encountered.
There are a number of trails in the area ranging from easy strolls to more difficult hikes. For a listing of trails within the Cave Creek Ranger District of the Tonto National Forest Click Here.
Sears Kay Trail
A good place to view Hohokam ruins is along the Sears Kay Trail. The Sears Kay Ruin was first occupied about 1500 AD and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Archaeologists say the 40-room site was once home to a hundred people or so. The hike is a one-mile loop that is fairly easy, but can be steep in some places. The elevation change is about 300 feet.
Access to the trail is from Seven Springs Road.
Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area
The newest addition to Maricopa County’s regional park system is the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, which encompasses more than 2,000 acres. The Spur Cross area is a great place to view riparian areas along Cave Creek, archaeology sites, wildlife and remnants of old mines and ranches. Guided hikes through the area are popular and conducted on a regular basis. The park offers more than seven miles of trails ranging in length from 1.2 miles to 4.6 miles. Additionally, there are trails for hiking as well as horseback riding.
Cave Creek Regional Park
While this park is located within Phoenix, its proximity to Cave Creek makes it a popular spot. Cave Creek Regional Park is also a part of Maricopa County’s park system. The park encompasses more than 2,900 acres and ranges in elevation from 2,000 feet to more than 3,000 feet. There are more than 11 miles of trails that are available for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Park trails range in length from 0.2 miles to 4.8 miles.
As with the Spur Cross Recreational Area, there are a number of guided hikes available to fully experience the area.
don't forget to check out the resources listed below to plan you Cave Creek adventure. For more information visit:
Cave Creek Buzz
Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce
Cave Creek Museum
Desert Foothills Land Trust Preserves
Tonto National Forest
The Beauty of the Past Lives At Arizona’s
Last month we visited the quirky town of Cave Creek. Now, it’s time to head south from the metro Phoenix area towards Tucson, where one of Arizona’s historic treasures resides. San Xavier del Bac Mission is located approximately nine miles south of Tucson in the Santa Cruz Valley. But, the mission with its graceful towers and lofty dome is more than a monument to the past. Mass is celebrated at the mission and students still attend the mission's accompanying school.
White Dove of The Desert
The mission is located 120 miles south of central Phoenix.
San Xavier del Bac Mission
San Xavier del Bac Mission's Origin
The seeds for San Xavier del Bac Mission were planted with a visit from the Jesuit missionary and explorer Father Eusebio Franciso Kino in 1692. Eight years later the construction of a small church began approximately two miles from the where the mission stands today. The church, named San Xavier, was a flat-roofed, hall-shaped adobe structure built without stone foundations on an unleveled site.
It wasn't until many years later, during the late 1700’s, that construction began on the San Xavier del Bac Mission by Franciscan Fathers Juan Bautista de Velderrain and Juan Bautista Llorenz. Building the mission was an expensive proposition, but Father Velderrain was able to borrow the money necessary for construction with a collateral promise of wheat crops to be grown in the future. Construction began in 1783 and concluded in 1797. Father Juan Bautista de Velderrain did not live to see the dream of the mission finalized as he died at San Xavier in 1790.
The mission was named in honor of St. Francis Xavier, called the "Apostle to the Indies", for his efforts to convert to Catholicism people in India as well as other countries. The word “Bac” is taken from the Tohono O’odham - whose settlement the mission is located on - and means “place where the water appears”. The Santa Cruz River, which runs under ground for a distance, reappears on the surface nearby.
The Mission's Architecture
Little is known about the actual labor behind the construction of the church as well as whom the architect was. The names of the artisans who created the beautiful paintings and sculptures are also lost to time. Additionally, questions surround why one tower of the mission was never completed.
The mission is acclaimed to be one of the finest examples of mission architecture within the United States. Additionally, it is considered to be a blend of Moorish, Byzantine and late Mexican Renaissance architecture blended gracefully together.
With its white exterior and its striking appearance it’s easy to understand from where the mission's affectionate nickname, White Dove of the Desert, was derived.
Colorful and Rich Interior
The church consists of a series of domes and arches that create enclaves. Statues stand in wall niches, elaborate carvings adorn the walls and pillars, and paintings adorn the walls as well as the ceilings of the dome. An ornate alter is framed by a dazzling gilt of colors.
Over the years, the elaborate interior has required restoration. The most recent interior restoration was completed in 1997 and was a six-year project. Decades of dirt and soot from devotional candles lit inside the church led to a thick, dark build-up on the walls and statues. Restored were the east and west alters, the dome wall painting, the main alter, the choir loft and the sacristy.
Preventative restoration work is still done on a consistent basis to clean, repair and preserve as much of the church and mission complex as possible. Even the exterior of the church is whitewashed to keep its bright appearance.
In 2001, conservators Timothy Lewis and Matilde Rubio were hired to work on the interior of the church as well as clean and make the repairs necessary to the painted and sculpted art and walls.
Currently, the exterior is undergoing renovations. The majority of the work done to the exterior was to stabilize the mission’s walls and domes. The cost of the repairs exceeded 1.5 million dollars. However, as of today, the majority of the major exterior stabilizing renovations have been completed and the work is now centered on restoring the church to its original white color. The bright white color is helpful in keeping the summer heat at bay.
The Patronato of San Xavier funds many of the renovation and preservation projects at the church. A non-profit group founded in 1978, Patronato funds are used for historical research as well as scientific and educational purposes concerned with restoration, maintenance and preservation of the mission.
Visiting the White Dove
You can tour through San Xavier del Bac Mission, as it is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additionally, you will want to take the self-guided tour through the mission’s museum to learn more about the mission’s history. The museum’s hours are from 8:30 to 4:30 p.m. To the east of the church a small hill provides a wonderful vantage point for viewing the mission complex. You can also relax in the mission’s courtyard or browse in the small gift shop.
The mission isn't only an Arizona historical gem, but functions as a church as well. Mass is held Tuesdays – Fridays at 8:30 a.m., Saturdays at 5:30 p.m., and Sundays at 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. during the winter months. The mission is within the Diocese of Tucson.
To find out more about San Xavier del Bac Mission and Tucson, please visit:
A Trek to the West's Most Western Town -
Welcome to Scottsdale
Last month our travels took us to San Xavier del Bac Mission, south of Tucson. Now it is time to head to an Arizona destination that embodies the essence of this unique state – the heart of Scottsdale, which is a colorful blend between the old and new & the rustic and refined. But one thing remains constant, the "Western" atmosphere is alive and well in Scottsdale.
Scottsdale has grown over the years, to the south and the north. But, the heart of Scottsdale –Old Town Scottsdale, the Arts District and the latest project, the under construction - Scottsdale Waterfront – is where Scottsdale began and our February Day Trippin’ journey takes us.
Scottsdale takes its name from U.S Army Chaplain Winfield Scott who purchased a 640-acre parcel of land in late 1880, near the present day location of Scottsdale and Camelback roads. By December of 1888, the then unnamed Scottsdale could boast of having its first resident, Scott’s brother, George Washington Scott. Scott’s brother farmed the land (80 acres of barley, a 20-acre vineyard and a 7-acre citrus orchard). In 1893, Scott retired from the Army and joined his brother. Future crops planted by Scott included additional citrus and other fruits, peanuts and sweet potatoes.
By 1894, the growing area’s name was changed from Orangedale to Scottsdale to honor Scott. The name Scottsdale beat out other suggested names including Utleyville (after banker Albert G. Utley) and Murphyville (for contractor William J. Murphy). It is acknowledged that Scott’s efforts brought most of the early settlers to the new community.
Riders from the Hashknife Express ride down Scottsdale Road, which was once a part of Scotts' land.
Scottsdale’s First Schools
In fact, Scottsdale quickly grew to the point it was necessary for a school to be organized. In 1896, the community organized Scottsdale’s first school district. Of course, Scott was instrumental in the development of the school district. Three lots were chosen as a school site and a wooden building was constructed by townspeople. The new school opened with 14 students representing all eight grades. A year later another room had to be added to the schoolhouse to accommodate the growing number of students. By 1909, with the increased number of students attending the school, it became clear a larger building would be needed for the student population of 32.
A bond election was held in May 1909 and a $5,000 bond was passed to construct a new schoolhouse adjacent to the original building. The new schoolhouse, known as Scottsdale Grammar School, played many roles in addition to being a school. Throughout the years the building served as community social center, polling place, town hall, country court office and city library. Today, the former schoolhouse is most fittingly the home to the Scottsdale Historical Museum.
The Community Continues to Grow
Scottsdale’s growth continued to be near the location of Scott’s property. J.L. Davis constructed the area’s first store in 1897 near the present day corner of Brown Avenue and Main Street. By 1912, a Baptist church was formed. Prior to this time the church services were ecumenical. Growth accelerated during the 1920’s. In 1920, the number of businesses in Scottsdale increased from three to nine. New school buildings had to be constructed to house the growing student population. The area’s first newspaper, the Scottsdale Bulletin, was published in 1922. By 1951, the town of Scottsdale was incorporated.
Scottsdale’s growth continued and many other milestones were reached – Scottsdale Stadium in 1955; Eldorado Park & Scottsdale Airpark in 1967; formation of the Scottsdale Symphony in 1974; and the Molly the Trolly system in 1980.
Present day Old Town Scottsdale
Today Scottsdale has become a premier tourist destination with a variety of entertainment, restaurant and shopping venues. World-class accommodations, with spas and golf courses, are also readily found in Scottsdale.
Scottsdale has grown from a tiny farming community of roughly 2,000 people occupying one square mile in 1951 to a city with more than 220,000 residents living in area of more than 180 square miles.
Old Town Scottsdale
A Decision to Keep Scottsdale Unique
Old Town Scottsdale, located south of Indian School Road & east of Scottsdale Road, included an enclave of shops with a distinctive Western flare. Area business members knew they were on to something special. Shortly after World War II, Scottsdale leaders worked to promote a special identity for the area where Scottsdale’s first business community was located.
The Chamber of Commerce officially adopted a design theme for Old Town Scottsdale that capitalized on the Western image and lifestyle that continued to draw tourists to the area. The chamber went on to proclaim Scottsdale as the “West’s Most Western Town” in 1947. Scottsdale was the only metro-Phoenix community to embrace the Western atmosphere, which distinguished it from other tourist destinations.
The Rusty Spur Saloon
Downtown businesses were encouraged to use Western-style architecture for their buildings. Malcom White, Scottsdale’s first mayor following incorporation, was the first downtown businessman to “dress his business and himself for the winter trade”. Other businesses joined in the efforts to convey an Old West image. And, the efforts to promote Scottsdale worked. By the late 1950’s, Scottsdale had evolved into a major tourist destination.
Things To Do
Your Scottsdale to-do list is likely to be quite long. From walking tours and sightseeing to shopping and dining, you will be quite busy during your visit to Old Town Scottsdale.
One of the best ways to acquaint yourself with Old Town Scottsdale is by taking the self-guided walking tour. The tour takes about an hour to complete and includes the historic buildings located within the downtown area. There are 15 stops on the tour that winds itself throughout the downtown area beginning at the Little Red Schoolhouse located the northwest corner of Brown Avenue and Main Street. Points of interest include the: Mexican Imports Shop; Bischoff’s Shades of the West; Rusty Spur Saloon; Saba’s Western Wear; Porter’s; Sugar Bowl; Pink Pony; Old Adobe Mission; Cavalliere’s Blacksmith Shop; Los Olivos’ Mexican Patio; Old Olive Trees; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art; Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts; and Scottsdale Public Library.
Walking tour guide flyers are available from a kiosk in Old Town as well as the Internet. The tour flyer includes a wealth of information about each of the stops on the tour.
The Old Adobe Mission
Downtown Scottsdale has its own trolley system. The trolley is one of the ways to cruise around downtown Scottsdale when your feet become weary or to reach places that are a little further away. The city operates the trolley daily throughout the year from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., with arrivals every 10 minutes. There is no charge to ride the trolley. Click Here to view the route map.
Scottsdale Fashion Square
Fifth Avenue Shops
Marshall Way Arts District
Main Street Arts District
Scottsdale Convention & Visitors’ Bureau
Restaurants & Shopping in Old Town Scottsdale
Shopping and restaurants abound in Old Town. From finding the perfect cowboy boots to artwork to jewelry, there are a number of shops – many which are located in historic buildings. Downtown restaurant favorites and long-standing traditions include the Pink Pony & the Sugar Bowl. For a listing of shops and restaurants in the Old Town Area, Click Here.
Parada del Sol Parade
Downtown Scottsdale will play host to the Scottsdale Jaycee’s Parada del Sol.
You can’t think of Old Town without bringing to mind the Parada del Sol celebration, which includes both a parade and rodeo. For 54 years, horses and horse-drawn vehicles have paraded down Scottsdale Road. In fact, the parade proudly bears the distinction of being known as the “World’s Largest Horsedrawn Parade”. Past parades have included more than 150 entries and nearly a 1,000 horses.
This year’s parade will be held on February 24th at 10 a.m. The route runs north on Scottsdale Road from Oak Street to Indian School Road ending at Trail’s End. For more information, Click Here.
Parada del Sol Rodeo
Held in conjunction with the parade is the rodeo running March 2nd through 4th. The Parada del Sol is a PRCA Sanctioned Rodeo and consists of five performances. The venue is located in north Scottsdale at WestWorld. Click Here for more information about the rodeo.
Click Here for more information about events occurring throughout Scottsdale.
Just a short distance from Old Town is Fifth Avenue of Downtown Scottsdale. The area arts district from Scottsdale Road to Goldwater Boulevard combines the ambiance of Old Scottsdale with a number of restaurants, unique shops, salons as well as contemporary art and Native American art galleries.
The centerpiece of the Fifth Avenue area is a large fountain, which includes bronze sculpture of five horses. The fountain is one of the most photographed spots in Scottsdale. Created by Bob Parks, the sculpture pays homage to Scottsdale’s horse heritage. At one time Scottsdale was the premier location for the Arabian horse industry.
While many of the large horse ranches have given way to homes, each February the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show is held at WestWorld. This year’s event runs February 16th through 25th.
Scottsdale Arts District
Scottsdale has a thriving arts district. The Scottsdale Arts District is located on the west side of Scottsdale Road from Main Street to 3rd Avenue. This area of downtown features one of the largest concentrations of galleries in the country, showcasing artwork ranging from traditional to cutting-edge contemporary. Main Street features an eclectic collection of art, jewelry, and bookstores in addition to shops selling antiques from the West and around the world. Marshall Way is host to fine art and craft galleries, along with world-renowned jewelry stores and spas. Galleries and shops in this district are a draw not only for art collectors, but also for those looking for that perfect addition to the home or wardrobe.
Each Thursday evening the area plays host to the “Art Walk” from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Scottsdale’s “Art Walk” is a 30-year tradition. Each week, Scottsdale Gallery Association members host special exhibits for an informal come-and-go open house throughout the arts district. Click Here for more information about the “Art Walk” .
Currently under construction under at Scottsdale and Camelback roads is the Scottsdale Waterfront. In the heart of Scottsdale’s emerging downtown canal bank district, Scottsdale Waterfront will be the charming, just-see link between Old Town Scottsdale and Scottsdale Fashion Square. Once open, it will be the perfect place to dine at fabulous restaurants, shop at unique boutiques and retail shops and stroll along the banks of the Arizona Canal. Scottsdale Waterfront will also be the new home of the Fiesta Bowl Museum.
For more information about Scottsdale, please visit the:
Scottsdale Arts District
Fifth Avenue of Downtown Scottsdale
Parada del Sol
Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau
Scottsdale Historical Society
North Scottsdale -
It's an Outdoors Experience
Our February Day Trippin’ section took you to the heart of Scottsdale – the birthplace of Scottsdale. And, the town that bore the distinction of being known as the “West’s Most Western Town”. Shopping, entertainment, restaurants and a bustling historic downtown are all a part of central Scottsdale’s charm.
This month, we mosey a little further to the north – still the city of Scottsdale but with a distinctly different flair. In North Scottsdale, it’s all about the great outdoors with a variety of parks and preserves to visit. And, it isn’t just about the hiking in Scottsdale – there is a dedicated railroad park as well as a large multifunctional park built with the equestrian in mind. Sure there are world-class resorts and golfing amenities in North Scottsdale, but for today our focus is fun in the sun and scenic outdoors.
Growth Comes to Scottsdale
North Scottsdale was for many years considered to be anything north of Camelback Road. However, times have certainly changed. Scottsdale now stretches approximately 31 miles from north to south and encompasses more than 184 square miles.
The most recent population estimate is 232,929 people, with an identified upward growth trend. Additionally, the greatest amount of growth is predicted to be in the northern regions of Scottsdale.
But despite all of the growth, Scottsdale strove to keep its open spaces so that outdoor recreation is close by for everyone to enjoy. Approximately 30% of Scottsdale is dedicated to open space.
Scottsdale’s Urban Parks
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is unique indeed. Railroad enthusiasts have a home at the park that features a running, miniaturized replica of Century Narrow Gauge Railway equipment called the Paradise and Pacific Railroad. Park visitors can ride on the train, which travels the exterior of the park. In addition to the train, the park features a large carousel, railway exhibits, and of course, a park area with multiple playgrounds and ramadas. The 30-acre park provides something for everyone. The park is open daily with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission is free; however, tickets are required to ride the railroad or carousel.
How it All Began
The idea for a park began in 1967 when a prominent business family (Fowler-McCormick) donated 100 acres of a development known as
McCormick Ranch to the city of Scottsdale stipulating that the land be used as a park for the public to enjoy. However, it was Guy Stillman who was the driving force behind the development of a replica railway designed to be the centerpiece to the park. In fact, the replica railway caught the eye of Walt Disney who wanted to obtain it for one his theme parks. However, Stillman wanted to keep the railroad in Scottsdale. Stillman and other park enthusiasts founded the Scottsdale Railroad and Mechanical Society, which raised funds for the park’s creation. Funds from the city as well as the federal government also were used to build the park.
The park's main building.
And, on Oct. 4th, 1975 McCormick Railroad Park was officially opened to the public. Since the park’s inception, its attractions and amenities have continued to grow. When the park was originally designed, its purpose was to provide the ultimate in family fun and education, through the preservation of Arizona’s railroad heritage. In 1996, the park was renamed McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park to recognize the efforts of its founder, Guy Stillman.
The Main Attraction – All Aboard
The Paradise & Pacific Railroad is the highlight of the park. It is built and operated as an exact 5/12 (5 inches equals a foot) reproduction of a Colorado narrow gauge railroad. It is a one-mile ride through the park. The railroad features three steam locomotives; two diesel engines and several scale model cars. Tickets are a $1 per person with children under the age of 3 riding free You might want to consider purchasing a book of 12 tickets for $10, as many of the younger visitors will want to take the train ride again and again. Additionally, the ride tickets do not have an expiration date.
The train runs every half hour during weekdays and continuously during weekends beginning at 10 a.m. in the winter and 9 a.m. during the summer months. The time the train stops running for the day varies according to the month. Click Here for the ride schedule.
Scottsdale Charro Carousel
Another one of the beloved features at the park is the Scottsdale Charro Carousel, which features 30 carved and restored horses. The carousel, originally built in 1950, is registered with the National Carousel Association for the preservation of antique carousels.
Carousel rides run every half hour during the weekdays and continuously on the weekends. Tickets are $1 per rider with children younger than 3 ride free.
Two large playground areas and covered ramadas make the park the perfect place for a picnic and a little playtime. If the ramadas are reserved, there are large grassy areas perfect for relaxing. Additionally, picnic tables are located throughout the park.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park also is home to various exhibits. The Magma Arizona Railroad Engine No. 6 and the Roald Amundsen Pullman car are both on display. A rail car which once served as a baggage car houses the Railroad Museum. Other exhibits include the Gabe Brooks Machine shop, containing original machining equipment, and two Navajo hogans. The hogans are two of three that exist off of the Northern Arizona Navajo Indian Reservation. For more information about the park’s exhibits, Click Here.
Additionally, three railroad clubs are based within the park’s McCormick Ranch bunkhouse.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is located at 7301 E. Indian Bend Rd., approximately 4 miles from Old Town Scottsdale. For more information, call (480) 312-2312 or Click Here.
WestWorld has developed into one of the premiere equestrian centers and specialty events centers in the United States. The facility is comprised of approximately 120 acres with multipurpose facilities, polo field, covered area, horse stalls, barn area and multiple arenas. As you can tell, the park was built with the equestrian in mind. In fact, in the hearts of many long-time Scottsdale residents WestWorld will always be known as “HorseWorld”, the unique venue’s original name.
However, the name was changed to WestWorld in the 1990’s to identify that the facility was also a multiple-use, recreational area. And, you can find all types of events occurring at WestWorld. Hot air balloon shows, arts & crafts fairs, expositions, car shows & auctions, dog shows and even a wild burro adoption have come to WestWorld. The park is operated by the City of Scottsdale.
The polo field.
From January through May, you can always find a special event occurring at WestWorld. Click Here for WestWorld’s event calendar. Some of the largest events include the Barrett-Jackson car auction in January, the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show in February, the Parada del Sol Rodeo in March and the McDowell Mountain Music Fest in April.
There's Even a Golf Course
For those of you who have to have your golf, WestWorld also has a golf course. The Sanctuary Golf Course is adjacent to the park. Acclaimed golf course architect Randy Heckenkemper transferred the Bureau of Reclamation’s storm water retention area into a golf course with a 6,624-yard, par-71 layout that provides a haven for native plants and wildlife. Additionally, the 18-hole course bears the distinction of being the first course in the United States to attain the Audubon Signature Status. The course is open to the public and utilizes daily fees. Click Here for more information about the course.
Beyond the Amenities
WestWorld’s location is within North Scottsdale’s most scenic areas. From any vantage point in the park, you can see the dramatic backdrop of the McDowell Mountains. Plenty of blue sky awaits visitors. During the evening, the covered arena provides a wonderful place to sit on the bleachers and take in a beautiful Arizona sunset. There is nothing more pleasant than spending the day at WestWorld, whatever event you decide to attend.
WestWorld is located at 16601 N. Pima Road, approximately 13 miles north of Old Town Scottsdale. For more information, call (480) 312-6802 or Click Here.
The McDowell Mountains provide a backdrop for WestWorld.
Outdoor Recreational Parks – Take A Hike
While Scottsdale’s urban parks are a wonderful place to visit, there are also a number of parks which allow you to get up close and personal with the desert. Hiking trails abound in the northern sections of Scottsdale and are the best way to experience the natural beauty of Scottsdale.
McDowell Sonoran Preserve
The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a work in progress that will encompass more than 36,000 acres upon completion. Scottsdale’s growth spurt in the ‘70’s and 80’s promoted a citizen initiation preservation effort which has resulted in a plan to protect nearly one-third of Scottsdale. A special city tax was passed in 1995 as a way to pay for the acquisition of the land within the preserve. Additionally, some of the land has been donated. As of September 2001, approximately 79.5% of land has been acquired to be a part of the preserve. Once completed, the preserve will be one of the largest city-owned parks in the country, rivaled only the desert parks surrounding Phoenix.
While the preserve is technically considered a “park” there are no amenities and the land has been left in a natural state. Future plans do call for the development of the Desert Discovery Center, which will be located at the main Preserve Gateway access area.
The McDowell Mountains are considered one of Scottsdale’s most striking physical features.
The mountains cover more than 25 miles and are home to a variety of plant and wildlife. The goal of the preserve is to maintain the natural beauty of the area while providing public access and outdoor recreation opportunities for residents and visitors. Once completed, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve will provide an open space between the Tonto National Forest and Maricopa County’s McDowell Mountain Regional Park.
Access to Trails
There are a number of hiking, biking and equestrian trails within the preserve. But keep in mind, this is a wilderness area. Make sure to bring along plenty of water and to be aware of your surroundings.
Trailheads are situated at the periphery of the preserve. Currently there are two trailheads within the boundary of the preserve.
The Sunrise Trailhead is located at 144th Street and Via Linda.
The Lost Dog Wash Access Area was the first trailhead area to be completed. It is located north of Via Linda off of 124th Street. Lost Dog Wash does have amenities.
There are also additional trailheads that are outside of the preserve's boundaries but have trails that link to trails within the preserve.
The WestWorld trailhead is located on McDowell Mountain Road west of Thompson Peak Parkway.
The Quartz access area is located at McDowell Mountain Ranch Road and 104th Street.
The Ringtail access area is located along the Westside of 128th Street north of Cactus Road.
For a complete listing of trails within the McDowell Sonoran Preserve that are open to the public Click Here. Additionally, signage has been installed at trail intersections and other strategic locations to assist users.
The McDowell Mountain Conservatory does offer a series of guided hikes (at no charge) on weekends throughout various locations within the preserve . The majority of the hikes do not require reservations. Click Here for a listing of guided hikes.
The McDowell Mountain Conservatory works in conjunction with the city and helps to oversee the preserve.
Pinnacle Peak Park
Another visible and beautiful landmark in North Scottsdale is Pinnacle Peak. Situated near the base of the peak is Pinnacle Peak Park . Comprised of 150 acres, the park hosts a hiking trail that has an elevation gain of 1,300 feet. Hiking in the park provides spectacular views of the surrounding area. The park is located at Dynamite and Alma School roads.
The trail at the park has smooth tread with a number of ups and downs throughout the 1.75 mile trail. This is a one-way trail that does not loop around. You will have to turn around and use the same trail to reach the trailhead again. The trail can easily be completed within an hour and a half to two hours. Additionally, the trail is open to equestrians.
Click Here for more information about the trail.
Unique to this park is that it has three areas for rock climbing. You will need to make sure you bring the proper gear for rock climbing. The areas do offer climbs that require varying levels of skill.
Click Here for a map of the park.
For those who want to learn more about the desert and the uniqueness of the area, you might want to attend one of the guided hikes, which are offered every Tuesday through Sunday from November through April. The tours begin at 10 a.m. and last approximately 2 hours. Registration is not required; however, the tour is limited to 20 participants.
Additionally, the park offers special events such as Moonlight Walks and Wildflower Walks.
Click Here to find out more information about guided hikes and the park’s other special events.
Other Parks in the Scottsdale Area
Scottsdale has a number of parks throughout its jurisdiction. For a complete listing parks, Click Here.
A Hidden Jewel
Welcome to the Grand Canyon West
When you mention the Grand Canyon to most people, visions of the South Rim come to mind – and, sometimes the North Rim. Move over North & South Rim. The western portion of the Grand Canyon is getting a little extra exposure these days because of a unique bridge, a glass bridge to be exact.
The Skywalk at Grand Canyon West is Arizona’s newest attraction. The glass bridge, perched on the rim, allows visitors to peer 4,000 feet into the canyon. Essentially, the Skywalk provides a bird’s eye view of the canyon. So, let’s start on our journey to view the beauty of Grand Canyon West.
Grand Canyon West
The Grand Canyon is massive geographical wonder and stretches more than 270 miles. Incised by the Colorado River, the canyon bears the distinction of being one of the most studied landscapes in the world.
The North and South rims of the canyon fall under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. However, Grand Canyon West lies outside of Grand Canyon National Park on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. Located in northwestern Arizona on the south side of the Colorado River, the far western end of the canyon is approximately a five-hour drive from the South Rim. The closest city is Kingman, which is located approximately 70 miles from the western end of the canyon.
The Hualapai Indian Reservation occupies a large area of the western Grand Canyon corridor. In fact, out of the approximately million acres comprising the reservation, about 100 miles are along the canyon’s western rim. Traditionally, approximately 125,000 tourists a year visited Grand Canyon West. The Skywalk is expected to bolster the number of visitors.
The Skywalk, located at an area known as Eagle Point, is meant to be the centerpiece to the area known as Grand Canyon West, which is operated by the Hualapai Tribe. The Skywalk is just the first component of new developments for this part of the canyon. Plans include a tramway, “Indian Village” of traditional Native American homes, a three-story visitors center, restaurant as well as a luxury resort.
Click Here to access driving directions to Grand Canyon West and the Skywalk. Be prepared to drive down unpaved roads to reach the final destination, which is rather remote. While mileage may indicate a short drive time, you will want to add extra time for traveling down unpaved roads.
The Hualapai tribe has occupied the area around the western edge of the canyon for hundreds years. The tribe's name means “People of the Tall Pine”. Today the tribe’s population is comprised of approximately 2,000 members with a million acres along 108 miles of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. The Colorado River is a significant landmark for the Hualapai. A common binding creation myth among Yuman language family tribes is to have taken place at “Spirit Mountain” along the Colorado River, near present day Bullhead City. The earliest physical history of the tribe was found along the Willow Beach bank near Hoover Dam in the 1960’s and dates back to as early as 600 A.D.
The Hualapai Reservation is situated within three counties: Coconino, Yavapai and Mohave. The tiny community of Peach Springs serves as the tribal capital. The principal economic activities on the reservation are tourism based.
The Great Skywalk
Building A Glass Bottom Bridge
Talk of the Skywalk began long before it became a reality. In fact, the myth and rumor busting web site “Snopes” even featured an article about the Skywalk. While the bridge was still under construction, information about the Skywalk as well as the projected opening date was shared with the public.
The bridge was designed to give visitors a chance to see the canyon in a new way. The Hualapai tribe’s goal was to provide a balance between form, function and nature, while protecting the tribe’s culture and values. The decision was made to anchor the bridge to an area known as Eagle Point because it provided a better place for the bridge’s anchor.
The Hualapai community worked with David Jin to make the bridge a reality. Jin provided the estimated $30 million for the project. Work on the project began in 2005. At the end of March 2007, the bridge was opened to the public. When it was all said and done, the construction of the bridge used approximately 1,200 pounds of glass and more than a million pounds of steel. Eight columns reinforced with cement and rebar support the structure. And, more than 108 holes were drilled 30-40 feet into the canyon walls. When the structure was completed, Jin announced that the Skywalk can withstand the weight of 71 Boeing 747 airplanes.
Walk the Sky
The glass-bottom bridge juts out approximately 70 feet over the canyon and is suspended approximately 4,000 feet above the bottom of the canyon and the Colorado River. The horseshoe-shaped bridge has a glass bottom and sides, which are 4 inches thick. The glass sides and bottom provide a spectacular view of the canyon. However, you will not be able to capture those spectacular views with your camera. Visitors are not allowed to take photos while on the bridge.
Before walking on the Skywalk, you will need to don “booties”, which help to prevent scratches on the glass. Tours of the bridge are on a first-come, first-serve basis with the maximum number of people on the Skywalk at any one time capped at 120. Hours are from dawn to dusk. Tours of the Skywalk last 15 minutes.
Future plans for the Eagle Point area include a 6,000 square-foot visitor’s center on three levels. The center will include a museum, movie theater, gift shop and restaurants. In the meantime, amenities are rather limited. Access to the Skywalk is from temporary staircase.
There is a $25 charge to tour the Skywalk, which is in addition to the $50 entrance fee to the park. However, there are number of tour packages of Grand Canyon West offered by the Hualapai community. Points of interest in the Grand Canyon West area extend beyond the Skywalk. The area is a haven for outdoor activities ranging from hiking to Hummer tours. And for good measure, there are helicopter and boat tours available. Guano Point provides incredible views of the canyon and the Colorado River. The Hualapai Ranch offers wagon rides, cowboy games, petting zoo and a starting point to for horseback tours of the area.
Click Here for more information about the Skywalk and the range of activities available at Grand Canyon West.
For more information, please visit:
Grand Canyon Buzz
Destination Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon National Park
A Route 66 Icon --
The Historic Seligman Sundries
In the March and April issues of the Arizona Buzz News readers were introduced to the Historic Seligman Sundries, a Route 66 gem located in Seligman. The building has served as the tiny community’s focal point since the early 1900’s. Now, all of the renovations have been completed and the shelves stocked; it’s time for a visit to this venerable building located alongside Historic Route 66.
The Historic Seligman Sundries, recently opened, serves both as a gourmet coffee bar and a time capsule. What’s old is new at the Historic Seligman Sundries. It’s time for us to hit the road and head to Seligman and see what the “Buzz” is all about.
Seligman is located in northern Arizona, approximately an hour drive from Flagstaff and a three-hour drive from the metro Phoenix area.
Located on Historic Route 66 in Seligman
History of an Icon
The building has been a part of the Seligman landscape since 1904. Throughout its time, the building has served as a theater, dance hall and a social center in addition to functioning as a trading post and soda fountain. The building’s large size (approximately 2,300 square feet) made it a natural for high school graduations during Seligman’s early days. Another historical tidbit, during the 1920’s cowboy celebrity Tom Mix made an appearance with his horse. Rumor has it that the visit wasn't just to the building – Mix reportedly rode into the building.
In fact, the building is one of the oldest commercial structures in town. Additionally, the building bears the distinction of being on the National Register of Historic Places. Throughout the years, the building has housed Ted’s Fountain & Trading Post as well as the Seligman Sundries. Ted’s was known as the best place in town for malts. The Seligman Sundries, at one time, could boast of having the only telephone in town.
A postcard from the early days.
Lifetime resident of Seligman and Route 66 preservationist Angel Delgadillo shared the story of the building being the home of Seligman’s first, unofficial post office. The establishment served as the only mail distribution point until the Seligman Post Office was opened.
Renovating a Piece of History
Seligman is a community that prides itself on staying true to the past and keeping alive the lure of Historic Route 66. In fact, it was in Seligman that move to preserve Route 66 begun. Eventually those actions helped to garner the designation of Route 66 as a historic highway.
Seligman, unlike many towns that slowly faded away when Route 66 was replaced by other interstates, continues to thrive. Seligman now marks the beginning of Historic Route 66 in Arizona. Another interesting fact, Arizona can boast of having the longest stretch of Route 66 still in existence. Visitors to Seligman will find a main-street community with an eclectic charm. And, the allure of Historic Route 66 with a unique landscape of non-chain hotels, restaurant and stores.
The new owners of the historic building knew, without a doubt, their unique building must be renovated with extreme care. This charming building deserved no less than to remain the long-time icon it is.
Modernization was only made to such things as the heating, plumbing and electric systems. Of course, there was a little bit of a “face-lit” with colorful new paint and signage.
While cleaning and organizing the interior, a treasure trove of antiques and vintage product signs were found. It was a natural to prominently display those items. However, the centerpiece of the building is the original soda fountain. That too has been kept as close to the original condition as possible.
Putting up the new signs.
The final product – the building’s rebirth as the Historic Seligman Sundries and into a gourmet coffee bar, gift shop and a trip into the past. Memorabilia adorns the walls and aisles. A true history lesson.
The opening came after months of readying things for the first customers. The Historic Seligman Sundries doors were opened just prior to the 2007 Historic Route 66 Fun Run, which was held during the first week of May.
In just a short amount of time, it has become a local gathering place for community members of all ages. It also beckons to travelers from far and wide (as well as not too far away). The inviting atmosphere has made the Historic Seligman Sundries a place where tourists and locals sit together at the soda fountain chatting as if they were neighbors. It’s a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere that makes you want to return time and time again.
The “Sundries” also offers an environment that beckons you to browse through the memorabilia (perhaps even reminiscing) while enjoying a signature drink. Fossil Creek Trading Company’s coffees are served exclusively. Want an iced coffee drink? What about a fruit smoothie? Or, perhaps even just a plain cup of black coffee? Well, that and much more can be found at the coffee bar.
When you order your coffee drink you will want to take a look at the actual “coffee bar”. It was handmade exclusively for the store and is designed to match with the benches placed at the store.
Future plans call for the soda fountain to begin serving – of course – ice cream, malts and shakes. In the meantime, you can enjoy your coffee drink, tea, smoothie or hot chocolate while seated at the soda fountain counter.
Featuring a handmade coffee bar.
You will also find a variety of gift selections – from Fossil Creek Trading Company’s packaged coffee to Route 66 items to handmade jewelry. The beaded jewelry is handmade as are many of the other unique accessory items available. Featured coffee available includes a Route 66-themed line of flavored coffees; one for each state Route 66 meandered through.
The original soda fountain beckons to visitors.
There is also a unique line of coffee blends such as Mogollon Mudd, Mountain Blend and Red Rock Roast available. All blends are available as whole bean or ground coffee. Click Here for Fossil Creek Trading Company’s full line of products.
Once you experience the Historic Seligman Sundries, you will want to come back again and again. Enjoy your trip back in time! Hope to see you soon at the "Sundries".
The Historic Seligman Sundries is located at 22405 W. Historic Route 66.
For more information, you can visit the store’s website at:
Or, call: (928) 422-4795
For More Information About Seligman Be Sure to Visit:
The Seligman Buzz
An Arizona Wonder –
A Visit to the Petrified Forest National Park
Arizona is a place of natural wonders from the Grand Canyon to the beauty of the Mohave and Sonoran deserts. It is a land of contrasts with the cool and inviting mountains to the desert lowlands landscaped with giant Saguaro cacti.
Our Day Trippin’ journey this month takes us to a unique place indeed. The landscape of the Petrified Forest National Park is one of the most unusual and colorful to be found anywhere. Additionally, portions of the famous Painted Desert are located within the northern sections of the national park.
Located in northeastern Arizona, the Petrified Forest National Park is approximately 90 miles east of Flagstaff. The town located closest to the park, approximately 25 miles east, is Holbrook. The park is open year round with extended visitor hours in the summertime. More than 600,000 people each year visit the park.
Petrified Forest National Park
The Petrified Forest as well as the Painted Desert were millions of years in the making. In fact, geologists have deemed the park to have one of the best geologic and fossil records of the Late Triassic period in the world. In addition to providing a geological historical record (including fossils more than 225 million years old), included within the park’s boundaries are historical structures and archeological sites.
The Petrified Forest National Park is a treasure trove for geologists, paleontologists, archeologists, biologists, students and tourists. In fact, many scientific studies are conducted on a consistent basis at the park.
How The Petrified Forest Was Created
More than 220 million years ago the landscape was vastly different. Rather than the arid climate you encounter today, much of the area was swampland during the Late Triassic period. At this time dinosaurs roamed the area. The forest’s trees grew on the high ground above the swamp. When trees fell, they were washed downstream and gathered into piles within the backwaters. As time went by, the fallen trees were covered with silt, mud and volcanic ash.
Over time, water seeped through the soil. The water dissolved the silica in the volcanic ash and redeposited this silica inside the cells of the logs. The recrystalized silica formed petrified wood. The distinctive coloring is attributed in part to minerals such as iron, manganese and carbon.
Once again, the petrified logs were buried under thick deposits of sediments and water. A geologic upheaval occurred and thrust the lake bottom up above sea level. Finally, the petrified logs were exposed on the surface of the land.
The petrified wood located within the park and much of the surrounding region is made up of almost solid quartz. What forest visitors see today does not include stands of trees but rather rock logs scattered throughout the landscape. From the force of the geologic upheaval, occurring approximately 60 million years ago, the petrified logs were broken into segments.
Petrified logs are scattered throughout the park.
Creation of The Painted Desert
The Painted Desert extends beyond the borders of the park, forming a narrow, crescent shaped arc approximately 160 miles long. The Painted Desert begins roughly 30 miles north of the town of Cameron. However, the northern reaches of the park extend into the heart of the Painted Desert. The formation varies from 10 miles wide near its start to about 35 miles wide where it runs through the forest.
As with the Petrified Forest, the development of the Painted Desert is attributed to time, wind, water and geologic events which created the colorful formation you see today. This landscape of mesas, buttes and badlands, with its colorful bands of color, is comprised of layers of sandstone and clay. The layers of different colors occur because of the manganese, iron and other minerals in the soil. The minerals were dissolved into the sandstone and clay soil, which were deposited throughout different geologic periods. You will see the hues of red, blue, green, grey and purple within the formations. The best time to view the colors are near sunset when the colors seem to become more vibrant.
Standing on the edge of a vast badlands landscape, a Spanish explorer is rumored to have named the area "El Desierto Pintado" (The Painted Desert) because the hills looked like they were painted with the colors of the sunset.
Visiting Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park offers something for everyone – from people who want to drive the park’s more than 25 miles of scenic paved roads to exploring the wilderness area of the more than 50,000 acres. The park is worth visiting even if you only have a few hours for your visit. Of course, a longer visit allows you to truly experience the area.
The park’s origins extend to 1906, when a few acres were set-aside as the Petrified Forest Monument. The goal was to protect the petrified logs from being removed. In 1962, the site was designated as a national park. Protecting the park’s resources continues to be one of the park’s priorities. Law prohibits removing petrified wood or other natural and cultural artifacts, no matter how large or small, found in the park.
Park Fees & Operating Hours
Petrified Forest National Park stretches north and south between Interstate 40 and Highway 180. The park has both a north and south entrance, which allow for access via Interstate 10 and Highway 180. The north entrance is located approximately 25 miles east of Holbrook on Interstate 40. The south entrance is located 20 miles east of Holbrook on Highway 180.
For complete directions, Click Here.
There is a nominal entrance fee for the park; $10 per vehicle. To view a complete listing of fees, Click Here.
Park hours are extended during the summertime. From May 13th to September 4th, the park is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visitor centers hours vary. For a complete listing of park hours and visitor centers operating hours, Click Here.
Click Here to view a map of the park.
A Quick Visit to the Park
There are a few “must sees” even if you only have a short time to spend at the park. A drive through the park will allow you to see many of the park’s major points of interest. Along the meandering road there are numerous overlooks and viewpoints that you can stop at to take in the scenery or snap a few photos. Additionally, some of the viewpoints have access to maintained hiking areas. Overlooks and points of interest include:
Note: These viewpoints offer sweeping vistas of the Painted Desert.
The Tepees – Unique badlands type formations that resemble Native American tepees. Some of the “tepee” formations are hundreds of feet high.
Blue Mesa – Accessed via short loop road located near the “tepee” formations. No trail access is available in this area.
Jasper Forest – Large expanses of logs scattered over the wide valley. There is a good viewpoint but no access to hiking trails. You can reach Agate Bridge from this area. Agate Bridge is a complete unbroken log lying over a streambed.
Crystal Forest – Trail access is available from this point. However, this area contains much less petrified logs than other areas. Souvenir hunters removed many of the logs, which had crevices containing clear quartz and purple amethyst crystals, long ago.
Rainbow Forest – This area, located near the south entrance of the park, is one of the most densely-scattered petrified wood areas in the park. You can access the Rainbow Forest Museum from this area. Additionally, you can access hiking trails.
Click Here for more information about visiting the park.
An Extended Park Visit
A longer visit will allow you to spend time hiking the maintained trails, visiting the Painted Desert Visitors Center & the Rainbow Forest Museum, attend a ranger program and visit a wilderness area.
Maintained trails within the park vary in length from one-third mile to almost three miles. Pets are permitted on maintained trails. However, they must remain on a leash. Trails include:
Painted Desert Rim Trail
For more information about maintained trails, Click Here.
The park’s wilderness area encompasses more than 50,000 acres of land for hikers to explore. Additionally, horses are allowed in the wilderness area. The designation of “wilderness” means you will be able to experience the park with no vehicles, roads, trails, power lines, signs or buildings. Essentially, a designated wilderness is the highest level of conservation protection for federal lands.
You are able to stay overnight in the wilderness area. However, you must obtain a free permit for such stays. You can obtain a free permit at the Painted Desert Visitor Center, Painted Desert Inn or Rainbow Forest Museum. To find out more information about camping in the wilderness area, Click Here.
The majority of the backpackers access the Painted Desert at the north end of the park. Parking, facilities and an access trail are available at the Painted Desert Inn. Backpackers must hike north of the Lithodendron Wash (approximately an hour from the trailhead access) before setting up camp.
The Petrified Forest National Park is a great place to visit, especially during the summer months. It’s elevation of more than 5,000 feet fosters moderate summer temperatures. However, temperature changes can vary widely from day to night.
For more information about the Petrified Forest National Forest Park
& Surrounding Attractions, Please Visit:
Petrified Forest National Park
The Flagstaff Buzz
Exploring Arizona's Explosive Past
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Arizona is a place of many geographical wonders – the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Canyon de Chelly and the red rocks surrounding Sedona, just to name a few. But one that isn’t often mentioned is Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, a mere 14 miles north of Flagstaff. The park is a reminder the earth is constantly evolving and how significant geological events can change a landscape forever.
So, break out the road trip music and sunglasses, and head your car to the north. You have so much to discover. P.S. – Don’t forget your camera so that you can relive your journey for years to come.
Sunset Crater rises more than 1,000 feet.
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, established in 1930, encompasses more than 3,000 acres of land surrounded by the Coconino National Forest. The park was created as way to preserve the area’s unique geologic formations. In addition to the 1,000-foot volcano, the area within the park has rivers of hardened lava flows as well as hills of cinders. Visitors to the park are able to view first-hand the events happening hundreds of years ago that forever changed the surrounding area’s topography.
How the Crater Was Formed
The land northeast of Flagstaff was at one time a place of significant volcanic activity. There are more than 600 volcanic craters within the area. Sunset Crater Volcano is the youngest. Scientists place Sunset Crater Volcano’s initial activity between approximately 1040 - 1100 A.D. and continuing for about a 100 years. Eventually, ash, lava and cinders covered 800 square miles.
What is now a 1,000-foot high volcano began to form when molten rock sprayed high into the air from a crack in the ground, solidified then fell to the earth as large bombs or smaller cinders. Heavier debris accumulated around the vents as the eruptions continued. Two significant lava flows occurred, the Kana-a and the Bonito. As spectacular as the flows were, all living things in the path of the lava flow were destroyed. Approximately 900 years later, vegetation is still struggling to grow in those areas.
How the Crater Got Its Name
Legend says that 19th-century explorer John Wesley Powell named Sunset Crater Volcano because its rim of red and yellow cinders suggested the colors of a perpetual sunset. But, whether or not the legend is true, the crater is a beautiful place to visit.
Entering the Park
The Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument’s entrance is located approximately 12 miles north of Flagstaff off of U.S. 89. The park is open year-round, with the exception of Christmas. Hours are seasonal. From May through October, the park’s Visitor Center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and during November to April from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The scenic drive and trails are open all year from sunrise to sunset.
Admission is $5 per person and good for 7 days. Children ages 16 and under are admitted to the park free. Additionally, the entrance fee will also provide admission to the Wupatki National Monument, which is easily accessed from Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument from a 35-mile long road that loops back out to highway.
The Journey Begins
The first stop you will want to make is located close the park’s entrance. The Visitor Center is short distance from the main entrance. It is well worth your time to make a short stop at the center, where rangers are on staff to assist you with your visit to the park. Additionally, you can check on the latest weather conditions in the area. Weather can be a quickly changing phenomenon at this elevation. Dark skies and strong storms can move in quite quickly.
Visitor Center staff is also quite helpful in planning your visit to the park. Just let a staff member know what your interest is and they are likely to have an answer from what there is to see in the park to how the volcano was formed.
And, although you wouldn’t know it, an earthquake monitoring system located at the Visitor Center is sensitive enough to detect major earthquakes from around the world. Most local earthquake activity is thought to be caused by underlying volcanic movements.
The center also features an interactive museum exhibit and a small bookshop. There are also ranger talks, guided hikes and evening programs at the nearby Bonito Campground offered during the summertime. The campground is open from late May through October. For a schedule of events, Click Here.
Sunset Crater Volcano
Of course, the most significant attraction at the park is Sunset Crater Volcano. The looming volcano can be seen most vantage points located within the park. One of the best places to view Sunset Crater Volcano is from Bonito Park, near the park’s entrance. Other panoramic views are from the Lave Flow Trail and the Cinder Hills Overlook.
Some interesting Sunset Crater facts:
The crater’s height is 1,000 feet.
The diameter at its base is 1 mile.
The diameter at its top is 2,250 feet from rim to rim.
The depth of the crater is 300 feet.
Bonito Lava Flow
The Bonito Lava Flow is one of the first points of interest in the park. There is a small parking area where you can access an overlook, which allows you to view the lava flow area. What you will see seems surreal, a river of stone consisting of jagged lava that has been stopped motionless in time.
The formation was created when the Bonito Flow was unable to find an outlet in the surrounding cinder cones as it squeezed up from the base of the crater. This caused the lava to pool and quickly cool once it made contact with the air. This created the unique formations seen today. Even thought the formations are more than 700 years old, they appear to have been created in our time.
The “otherworldly” appearance also played a significant role in the space program. The Sunset Crater Volcano region was used to train the Apollo astronauts during the 1960’s. The area was used to simulate the “Sea of Tranquility” (the landing site for Apollo 11) as well as provide an environment that would be similar to the moon. A plywood replica of a lunar module was constructed on the north side of the lava flow. Astronauts trained wearing their spacesuits and collecting mock “samples”.
Rivers of Stone
Lava Flow Trail
Lava Flow Trail allows you a closer look at the Bonito Lava Flow from the base of the Sunset Crater. The trailhead, with an ample room for parking, is located about 1 ½ miles from the Visitor Center.
The interpretive trail is moderate, one-mile loop that takes you through lava flows and cinder barrens at the base of Sunset Crater. In addition to the one-mile trail, there is an alternative trail that provides a ¼ mile paved loop. The area is family-friendly with both trails providing interesting sights to see. The trails are accessed via the same area.
Before starting out, you will want to obtain one of the trail guide booklets from an
information stand. You can either purchase the booklet for $1; or use it and return it. The booklet along with markers placed throughout the trail allows you to completely understand the unique features along the way. A bridge at the beginning of the trail allows you to walk across the lava flow.
However, this trail does not climb the volcano, which is closed to hiking. To experience hiking a cinder cone, the Lenox Crater Trail is your best bet. From the top of the trail you can see the San Francisco Peaks, Sunset Crater and its lava flow. This trail is considered strenuous and takes about 45 minutes to complete roundtrip.
Cinder Hills Overlook
Not far from the Lava Flow Trail is the Cinder Hills Overlook. From this vantage point, you are able to view Sunset Crater as well as a series of red spatter cones. The red cinder-covered vents mark a fissure along which the most recent volcanic activity occurred.
Parking is somewhat limited in this area.
Painted Desert Vista
The Painted Desert Vista area includes a picnic area as well as a striking view of the Painted Desert. This is a pleasant place to relax amidst the pine trees. It is the perfect place to relax before visiting the Wupatki National Monument, which is located within a short drive.
Next month our Day Trippin’ adventure will continue to Wupatki National Monument, which includes a number of pueblo ruins. Throughout the park there are several ruins, which are accessible by car. The park includes some of the best-preserved ruins within Arizona.
When planning your visit be sure to visit Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument’s website to find out about ongoing maintenance projects being completed at the park.
For more information, please visit
Journey Into Arizona’s Past – An Archeologist’s Delight
Wupatki National Monument
Last month we journeyed to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, one of Arizona’s geological wonders. For September’s day trip we only need to meander a few miles from the national monument to reach our destination. But, within that short drive, you will find yourself going back in time by hundreds of years to a time when a highly sophisticated, early Native American society constructed dwelling places that remain standing. In short, it is an archeologist’s delight.
This month we visit Wupatki National Monument, which is located approximately 36 miles east of Flagstaff. The monument can be accessed either by the looping road that runs between it and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument or via U.S. 89. Another bonus, your admission cost for Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument can be used at the Wupatki National Monument when using the loop road. It is the loop road, which connects the two parks via a 35-mile long road, which we will use for our Day Trippin’ adventure.
This park includes some of the largest and best-preserved ruins located in Northern Arizona. This will be a trip you will never forget.
Wupatki National Monument
President Calvin Coolidge established Wupatki National Monument in 1924. The park was primarily developed as a way to preserve the
Citadel and Wupatki pueblos. However, the move also helped to preserve a number of lesser-known ruins that are scattered throughout the park. Monument boundaries have been adjusted several times since the monument’s inception as a way to include additional pueblos and other archeological resources. Today, the monument encompasses more than 35,000 acres.
The monument includes a Visitor Center where you can find a wealth of information about the area’s history as well as the pueblo ruins.
To visit all of the 5 prehistoric ruins located within the park you will want to budget at least 2 hours for the visit. If you are a bit short on time, your best bet is to visit the largest ruin, the Wupatki Pueblo. Ruins in the park include the following:
Visiting the Monument
The park does charge an entrance fee of $5 per person, which is valid for 7 days. Children ages 16 and under are admitted to the park for free. Additionally, the entrance fee is valid for both Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Wupatki National Monument.
If you plan to visit the park frequently, you might want to consider a “Local Passport”. The fee for the passport is $25 and it is valid for 12 months. The annual pass admits a passport holder as well as passengers in a private vehicle to several area monuments – Sunset Crater Volcano, Wupatki and Walnut Canyon National Monuments.
The monument is open daily from sunrise to sunset – this includes the scenic drive, trails and pueblos. The Visitor Center, located adjacent to the Wupatki pueblo, is open year round. However, it is closed on December 25th. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The area was a mosaic of Southwestern cultures. Life involved a sharing and trading among various peoples. Located at the crossroads between the Sinagua, Cohonina and Anasazi cultural traditions, the area is a virtual cultural brew – an exchange of ideas that were reflected in their dwellings and lifestyles. Life was harsh in this area – a region in which water was scarce. Early societies, undaunted by the harsh growing conditions, were based on farming. Archeologists bestowed the term “Sinagua” for the cultural tradition of the area. The term “Sinagua” literally means “without water” in the Spanish language. And, is a particularly appropriate name for people who were able to farm and live in a water-scarce region.
The Rise & Fall
The Sinagua called the area home during the 1100s. The civilization thrived. The area’s population by 1190 was close to 2,000. The Wupatki Pueblo was the largest of all the pueblos in the area. However, the area’s population began to shift to other regions after a relatively short time period – approximately 150 years.
Archeologists believe the population shifted to such places as Homol’ovi (near Winslow) and villages south of Walnut Canyon. According to clan histories, some moved east to the Hopi Mesas.
Wherever the Sinagua moved onto, they left behind structures we can still enjoy today. These are structures that allow us to peer into the past. And, provide us with wonder of what was accomplished in a region, which could often prove to be unforgiving.
Visiting the Pueblos
One of the first pueblo ruins you will encounter as you leave Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is the Wukoki Pueblo. You will leave the loop road and travel a short access road to the site. A parking area is provided.
The pueblo can be easily reached via a trail that is less than ½ mile round-trip. You will want to budget about 30 minutes for the visit. The ruin sets atop a wall and was built on an island of red sandstone. It remains well preserved even though more than 800 years of wind and rain have exposed the underlying stone structure. Archeologists believe that at one time the walls were plastered – with mud - inside and out. Additionally, those walls may have had designs painted on them.
The Wukoki Pueblo stands as sentinel overlooking a colorful but barren landscape. The three-story structure likely included a total of six or seven rooms that provided a home to two or three families. The open area adjacent to the tower was most likely a plaza used for daily activities.
The Wupatki Pueblo is the crown jewel of the ruins located within the park. Wupatki is a 100-room pueblo that includes a tower, community room and ceremonial ball court. Sophisticated stonework rose to four stories. Major building on the pueblo began in 1120 and ended in approximately 1195. It is believed the pueblo was home to approximately 125 people.
Throughout time, the pueblo has provided shelter to a variety of people. Broken pieces of pottery indicate the Hopi lived within the pueblo after the Sinagua moved on. During the late 1800s, Basque sheepherders stayed briefly. It was even home to early park rangers.
Visiting Wupatki Pueblo
One of the first stops you will want to make while at Wupatki Pueblo is the Visitor Center where you can obtain a brochure – the Wupatki Pueblo Trail Guide – that will allow you to complete a self-guided tour of the pueblo. As with guide to the Lava Flow Trail in Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, you can use the guidebook and return it or purchase the booklet for $1.
The trail guide booklet provides a wealth of information about the site. Points of interest in the pueblo are clearly labeled and you are able to easily find the corresponding information within the trail guide.
Additionally, the Visitor Center hosts a bookstore, restroom facilities and picnic tables. Interpretive programs also originate from the center. Ranger talks and guided hikes are scheduled daily during the summer and less frequently during other seasons. To view a schedule, Click Here.
The trailhead for the pueblo is located behind the Visitor Center. An overlook allows you to view the pueblo from above. However, the trail allows you to walk around the base of the ruin. The trail is approximately ½ mile round trip. You will want to budget at least 45 minutes to view everything. Portions of the trail are paved.
Wupatki’s Unique Feature
The most unusual feature of the pueblo is a naturally occurring phenomenon – a blowhole. Perhaps the blowhole was the reason for the pueblo’s construction at this site. On hot days, cool air rushes out of the blowhole with amazing force.
Traveling further on the loop road will bring you to the Lomaki Pueblo. Fine stonework garnered the pueblo its name, which means “beautiful house” in the Hopi language. The Anasazi built this two-story structure in approximately 1192. It is believed the 9-room pueblo housed two to four families.
Also located in the vicinity of Lomaki, on the sides of a box canyon, are small ruins that are thought to have been lived in by one extended family.
Lomaki & Box Canyon Pueblos Trail
At the trailhead there is ample parking. The trail is less than ½ mile roundtrip and is easy to navigate. You will want to budget at least 30 minutes to visit each of the ruins along the trail.
Box Canyon Ruins
Citadel & Nalakihu Pueblos
The ruins located closest to the parks exit are those of the Citadel & Nalakihu pueblos. The Citadel Pueblo sits atop a small volcanic remnant and follows the outline of the volcanic butte. It is believed the structure was built two-stories high. Whether or not the Citadel Pueblo was used as a defensive site is unknown.
At the base of the Citadel Pueblo are the remains of the Nalakihu Pueblo. The pueblo’s name translates to “house standing outside the village”. This structure had 10 rooms on the ground floor and three to hour more rooms formed an upper story.
The trail is moderate and is under a ½ mile round-trip. You can easily visit both ruins within a 30-minute visit.
Nalakihu Pueblo with the Citadel Pueblo in the Background
Wupatki National Monument is a unique place. It is a place where the past and the present intermingle. If you listen closely enough perhaps you will the voices of an ancient people.
For more information, please visit
Discovering Payson’s Past –
A Visit to the Rim Country Museum
Say Arizona and thoughts of the Old West aren’t likely to be too far behind. After all, it wasn’t until 1912 Arizona took on the status of a state, the 48th one to become a part of the United States at that. Going West meant finding adventure, fortune and, for a small number, notoriety .
Arizona has undergone many transformations in a relatively short time. Dirt roads have been replaced by major roadways and undeveloped lots have been transformed into luxury resorts. Despite the changes, vestiges of the Old West remain. There are places where the rugged individuality distinctive to early Arizona remains.
Payson, celebrating its 125th birthday this year, is one of those places. And, one of the best places to glimpse into the Payson area’s colorful and eclectic past is the Rim Country Museum complex, nestled in the town's Historic Main Street district.
The Rim Country Museum and the Zane Grey Cabin is our Day Trippin' destination for October.
The Rim Country Museum in Payson.
The town of Payson is located approximately 100 miles northeast of Phoenix, near the Mogollon Rim. What is the Mogollon Rim, you may ask. The rim is a prominent feature in north central Arizona, running for approximately 200 miles and rising to 2,000 feet. Rim Country, including Payson and the surrounding areas, is well known for its outdoor recreation opportunities and natural beauty. And, Rim Country acts likes a beacon to desert-dwellers hoping to escape the summer heat or perhaps glimpse snow during the winter.
Payson, originally known as Green Valley and Union Park, was officially established in 1882. But the area’s history begins before the town’s founding. Early residents were lured to the area to find precious metals. However, there was not a sustainable supply of gold, silver or copper to make mining profitable. Mining lagged but the draw to the area continued. Payson become a real cowtown (seriously, at one time cattle would roam the town’s historic Main Street), a lumber producer, a Prohibition deifier with its active “bootlegging” community and the gateway to Rim Country.
There is more to Payson than meets the eye. It is a place where the history is as interesting as the present. One of the best places to discover more about this unique area’s past, immortalized by the pen of Western author Zane Grey, is by a visit to the Rim Country Museum.
Rim Country Museum Complex & Zane Grey Cabin
The Rim Country Museum, under the auspices of the Northern Gila County Historical Society, is one of Payson’s jewels. Encapsulated in the museum is a timeline of Payson and the surrounding areas presented in an environment where visitors are made to feel as though they are a part of Payson’s history.
The museum is located in Green Valley Park, at the west end of historic Main Street. After a visit to the museum complex, you will want to take time to visit the park. The park’s centerpiece is its lakes, which are stocked with Rainbow Trout from October through May. The 40-acre park includes picnic ramadas, children’s playground and an amphitheater.
Green Valley Park
Visiting the Museum & Cabin
The Rim Country Museum and the Zane Grey Cabin are open Wednesday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The complex is closed on major holidays.
Admission is $5 for adults. Children under the age of 12 are admitted free. Discounted rates are available for students and seniors. Admission includes the guided museum tour as well as the tour of the Zane Grey Cabin.
The museum’s book and gift shop is one of the best places to find books and pamphlets by local authors that document the area’s history. Also, there is a nice selection of books on Arizona interests and attractions as well as Zane Grey novels.
Click Here for more information about the museum.
One of the museum's displays.
Rim Country Museum Complex
The Rim Country Museum is housed in buildings, which played an important part in Payson’s history – a Forest Ranger Station and residence, built in 1907. The structures are considered to be the oldest ranger station and residence still in existence in the Southwest. Additionally, a recreation of the two-story Herron Hotel – originally built in the early 1900’s – acts as the main exhibit hall. The original Herron Hotel was considered to be one of Payson’s finest buildings and was destroyed by fire early within the town’s history.
Other historical structures within the complex are the top of the U.S. Forest Service’s watchtower from MT. Ord and the Haught’s cabin circa 1904. The Haught family was instrumental in bringing future residents to the area. In fact, it was Babe Haught, along with his sons, who acted as hunting guides for Zane Grey during 1918.
The Haught Cabin
Touring the Museum Complex
You will want to allow sufficient time for your visit. Allow at least an hour for the tour (the museum & Zane Grey cabin replica) in total. The tour is guided and includes exhibits which enable visitors to walk a timeline from the indigenous residents to those who came along later.
Local legend and lore are incorporated into the experience. Even though the tour is guided, visitors are encouraged to ask questions as well as to take their time viewing the exhibits. Exhibits include artifacts and recreations of – life among the ancient peoples, Native American origins, the “Worlds Oldest Continuous Rodeo”, industries instrumental in building Payson, and Zane Grey’s life. The museum also includes a replica of a 1908 kitchen/parlor, blacksmith shop as well as hosts temporary exhibits of local interest.
Zane Grey Cabin
Zane Grey (1872-1939) is a name synonymous with Rim Country. The prolific writer initially came to the area to hunt. The area was so enticing Zane Grey decided to construct a hunting cabin in 1921 near the present day Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery, about 20 miles east of Payson. The cabin proved to be a place where Zane Grey could enjoy the great outdoors as well as work. He wrote several books during his time spent at the cabin.
Many of Zane Grey’s books featured Arizona. In fact, Zane Grey based some the characters in his books on people he met while in Arizona. He authored more than 60 books and affectionately called the state his “beloved Arizona”.
Zane Grey Cabin
The cabin was later designated as a museum, and annually attracted approximately 20,000 visitors. However, the cabin was destroyed during the Dude Fire in 1990. The fire consumed acres upon acres of land in Rim Country and more than 75 structures before it was extinguished. The Dude Fire also took the lives of six firefighters.
Reconstructing the Cabin
Not content to loose the cabin forever, plans were made to reconstruct the cabin. The Zane Grey Cabin Foundation was instrumental in helping to raise funds as well as oversee the development of the cabin. The decision was made to place the cabin in an area that would be more accessible to visitors. Today the replica of the cabin, which was opened to the public in 1995, is adjacent to the Rim Country Museum.
Care was taken to ensure the cabin looked as it did during the time Zane Grey stayed at the cabin. Items that could be salvaged from the original cabin were incorporated into the reconstruction such as the rocks from the foundation and chimney of the original cabin.
Touring the Cabin
The tour through the cabin is also guided. The replica cabin is a historically accurate reconstruction based on photos. Additionally, many items have been donated to the museum for display – Zane Grey’s saddle, early-signed edition of his books, and letters.
Throughout the tour, you will find out about the life of Zane Grey in addition to viewing the cabin as it looked when it was in use. Touring the cabin is a trip back in time. It is an experience that will allow you to find out more about early Arizona as well as about the man who was a baseball player, dentist and author.
For More Information, Visit:
The Payson Buzz
Rim Country Museum
Zane Grey Cabin Foundation
Walking on the Wild Side
Experiencing The Phoenix Zoo
Lions, tigers and bears – and monkeys, orangutans, elephants, zebras, giraffes, meerkats and many more other animals. There is a unique place in Arizona where you can take a walk on the wild side. The Phoenix Zoo, nestled in Papago Park, is a special park where you can view up close a variety of indigenous well as exotic wildlife. Any trip to the Phoenix metro-area would be incomplete without a stop at The Phoenix Zoo.
Put on your walking shoes and bring your camera as we Day Trip to The Phoenix Zoo.
The Phoenix Zoo
The Phoenix Zoo, developed under the vision of Robert E. Maytag, opened in November 1962. Originally named Maytag Zoo, to honor its founder who passed away six months prior to the zoo’s opening, the name was later changed to reflect its stance as a community-based zoo. The Phoenix Zoo has become one of America’s most successful, privately owned, nonprofit zoological parks. Additionally, it has garnered attention for its efforts on behalf of wildlife conservation and sanctuary.
The Phoenix Zoo is situated on 125 acres and includes approximately 2.5 miles of walking trails. You will want to budget at least three hours to see the 1,200 animals that call the zoo home. Among of the zoo’s nicest features are its exhibits designed to recreate an animal’s particular habitat. The enclosures are great for viewing as well as snapping photographs of the zoo’s wildlife.
The majority of the animals residing at the zoo, with the exception of the Rain Forest exhibit, are from areas with climates similar to the Phoenix area. You won’t find cold climate dwellers such as polar bears and penguins at The Phoenix Zoo. What you will find is a thoroughly family-friendly place to learn more about the creatures we share this planet with. The zoo also hosts a variety of special events throughout the year, one of the biggest events is the annual ZooLights, which occurs November through early January.
Click Here to find out more about special activities and events occurring at The Phoenix Zoo.
The zoo is traversed by four different trails with exhibits based on the zoned trail’s theme:
Arizona Trail – This trail is located closet to the admission gate. It features not only animals commonly found in Arizona but native plants as well. Special areas along the trail include the wash and riparian areas. The Arizona Trail is the perfect place to learn more about this area’s unique environment. Animal exhibits include the mountain lion, Mexican wolf, bobcat, bald eagle, owls, reptiles as well as others.
Native Plants Along the Arizona Trail
Africa Trail – Along this trail you will find one of the park’s largest features. The Savanna is a large, expansive exhibit that is home to the zoo’s Eland Watusi cattle, gazelles and giraffes. An overlook tower allows you to have a bird’s eye view of the created African Savanna. Other animal exhibits located along the Africa Trail include zebra, rhinos, ostriches, meerkat, lion, tiger and baboon as well as others.
Tropics Trail – The Tropics Trail features two fun exhibits: Monkey Village and the orangutan family. While touring through Monkey Village, featuring a number of squirrel monkeys, you have to ask yourself exactly who is on exhibit. This exhibit allows you to actually enter the monkeys’ habitat. You can watch the monkeys scurry on a vine or rope that is right above your head! These tiny creatures aren’t shy at all.
Note: Monkey Village does close during rainy weather, but you can still view the exhibit via a platform outside of the village.
The orangutan exhibit features a family – a grandmother named Duchess, a mother named Bess, a father named Michael and baby Kasih, who is a little shy of 2 years old. Watching the family interact is quite a treat. Little Kasih plays, climbs, and falls much like human toddlers do. Mom, Bess, acts like any mom would when her daughter strays too far or acts up too much. Actually, orangutans share 97 percent of the same DNA structure that humans do.
Orangutans are considered to be one most endangered mammals on the planet.
Other exhibits along the Tropics Trail are the Forest of Uco with the bear and anteater enclosure as well as the elephant, jaguar, Galapagos Tortoise exhibits.
Children’s Trail – The Children’s Trail offers a little hands on fun with Harmony Farm, which features a petting zoo. The farm also features demonstrations on farming and agriculture.
Click Here to view a map of the zoo.
Getting Around the Zoo
There are a number of ways to view The Phoenix Zoo.
The Safari Train is one of the fastest ways of viewing the zoo. If you are short on time, this is the mode of transportation to take. The 25-minute tour is narrated and provides an overview of The Phoenix Zoo. Tickets are required and can be purchased at the train station. The fare is $3 per person.
Bikes & Pedal Boats
There are a variety of bikes available to rent from a single seated bike to a “Cosy” bike, which seats a family of four. Rates are based on rental type. Rentals are available by the hour and half hour.
The pedal boats are a fun way to leisurely cruise the zoo’s main lake. The boats can accommodate two adult and two child passengers. Rentals are available by the hour and half hour.
Click Here to view hours of operation and rates.
The Phoenix Zoo is open daily with the exception of Christmas Day. Hours do vary upon the season. Admission is $14 for adults, $9 for seniors and $6 for children ages 3 to 12. Children under the age of 2 are admitted free.
For a complete listing of zoo hours and ticket prices, Click Here.
The Phoenix Zoo is located at 455 N. Galvin Parkway. The entrance to the zoo is off of Galvin Parkway, between McDowell Road and Van Buren Street.
No mention of The Phoenix Zoo would be complete without ZooLights, an annual event that is synonymous with the holiday season in Arizona. At night, The Phoenix Zoo is transformed into a glittering light display. More than 2.5 million lights transform the zoo; several new features have been added to this year’s display. This year the theme is aptly titled “Nature All A-Glow”.
It takes more than 12 weeks to install all of the lights and light sculptures. Installation begins in August and continues through the first week in November.
Light displays, light shows, music and entertainment are all a part of the fun. ZooLights runs from November 22nd to January 6th. Open nightly, the hours are from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets at the gate are $8 per person; $7 in advance. Phoenix Zoo members do receive a discount as well as a special sneak peak.
Click Here for information about ZooLights.
For More Information, Visit:
December 2007/January 2008
Putting on the Glitz –
Glendale Glitters for the Holidays
In February, all eyes will be on Glendale for the Super Bowl. But, during the months of December and January Glendale, well, literally Glitters. And, Glendale’s historic district is where we head for this month’s Day Trippin’ excursion.
So bundle up and get ready to enjoy an Arizona tradition.
The city of Glendale is located northwest of downtown Phoenix. While the city is a bustling area, it didn’t receive national attention until the state of the art University of Phoenix Stadium became a reality. Now, the stadium is home to the Arizona Cardinals and will be hosting the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, 2007 BCS National Championship and, of course, Super Bowl XLII. And, we can’t forget that Glendale is also home for the National Hockey League’s Phoenix Coyotes.
But long before the stadium and the new shopping venues, Glendale’s beginning was in the heart of the historic downtown area and Murphy Park. Similar to Prescott’s Courthouse Plaza, Murphy Park acts as the center of the historic downtown with city buildings and shops ringing the outer edges of the park.
Glendale’s beginning was during the early 1880’s when a project to bring water to the desert region as a part of the Arizona Canal Project began. With the development of the canal system, came homesteaders who settled near the canal. In fact, one early settler, William H. Bartlett, homesteaded land in the area that is now central Glendale. He started a 640-acre fruit farm in 1886, complete with a main house and 13 other buildings. It became known as the Sahuaro Ranch. Today, the Historic Sahuaro Ranch museum remains as a tribute to the history of the area. Click Here to find out more about the museum.
Construction projects continued, such as the development of Grand Avenue, and as result brought more and more people to the area. And, in February 1892 the area’s first residential area began to take shape. In fact, Glendale honored this time by celebrating its birthday each February 27th.
Glendale continued to grow and become one of the most culturally diverse cities in the metro area. The city’s heritage includes the early Hispanic settlers as well as Japanese and Russians who moved to Glendale from California. Today, Glendale is home to more than 230,000 people. The city experienced at 47.7% growth rate from 1990 to 2000. Glendale, as a result, has been named as the 19th fastest growing city for that particular time period. Today, it is Arizona’s fourth largest city.
To find out more about Glendale’s early days, Click Here.
Murphy Park, located at 7010 N. 59th Avenue, is in the heart of downtown Glendale. Murphy Park was named after Glendale's founder, W.J. Murphy, who donated the land in 1909. As well as serving as one of the city's parks, Murphy Park also is considered a town square, festival site and landmark.
Glendale Glitters began as a spectacular light display in Murphy Park and has grown into a multi-month event that is an entertainment and shopping venue. This year is number 14 for the event, which has developed into what is considered Arizona's largest free light display. More than 1.5 million lights blanket the park. The event is well attended and is must see during the holiday season.
The lights are lit nightly. So if you want to experience the park amid quiet darkness, your best option is to visit Murphy Park on a weeknight. It is a completely different experience than visiting the park on a weekend night. You can walk through the park and fully enjoy the lights sparkling in the night.
But, if you are looking for fun and entertainment, Glendale Glitters is the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights. Through December 22nd, Santa even makes an appearance! Or you can take a romantic carriage ride through the downtown area. There is something special about seeing the city from a horse drawn carriage. Or, you can spend time paring down your shopping list. Or, you can simply enjoy some of the holiday entertainment (the park has a large amphitheater) or participate in some of the other activities.
Additionally, the city streets adjacent to the park are closed during the festival. You can walk around without having to worry about traffic. However, one thing you will have to hunt for is parking. Plan on having to walk a bit to reach the park. The surrounding areas do provide street parking. Also, there is a free shuttle that runs from Glendale Community College's parking lot at 59th and Olive avenues to the downtown area. The shuttle runs from 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Glendale Glitters is never the same experience twice. Each weekend brings a new themed celebration. The festival hours are from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. each Friday and Saturday. More than 85,000 people attended the event's opening night during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
The theme for December 7th – 8th is “Gingerbread Nights”. A festive downtown will be decked out in gingerbread house decorations. Click Here for a listing of the performances slated for the Main Stage.
Jingle Bell Rockin’ Nights
When December 14th – 15th rolls around, the theme changes to "Jingle Bell Rockin’ Nights". This weekend will be packed with music, lights and entertainment. You can even take a quick dance lesson so you’ll look great while dancing in the street. Click Here for more information about this weekend’s entertainment.
The Spirit of Giving
The weekend before Christmas, December 21st – 22nd, the celebration’s theme is “The Spirit of Giving”. At this time, the Glendale pays tribute to the organizations and companies that give to the community. Click Here for more information about this weekend.
Ah, it’s time to visit a “Winter Wonderland”, the theme for December 28th – 29th. Winter Wonderland weekend will feature a children’s snow field, so bring the mittens and sip hot cocoa as you enjoy delightful winter fun not usually found in the Arizona desert. One exciting highlight of the event will be ice sculptures carved right before your eyes, created by Ice Sculptures by Armitage. Between 8-9 p.m., this dazzling artwork will be made from 300 pounds of frozen water! Many more “winter” activities are planned for this weekend. Click Here to find out more information.
A Very Grand Finale
Glendale Glitters is going out with a grand celebration. The Glendale Glitter and Glow Block Party is set for January 19th from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. A street festival atmosphere will abound with more than a dozen bands set to perform, street performers and more than 30 hot air balloons glowing.
Other Attractions in Historic Glendale
Glendale’s historic downtown is unique and great to visit during any time of the year. In fact, Glendale has been dubbed Arizona’s Antique Capital. During the festival many of the shops are open late. After meandering through the park, you will want to check out some of the antique and collectibles stores just across the street from the park.
In fact, you might even want to come back during the day to visit the more than 80 antique and specialty shops that area a part of the historic area known as Catlin Court. The shopping district takes its name from Glendale’s original residential area. Today, the area is filled with restored homes. Found out more information about Catlin Court by Clicking Here.
For more information about Glendale,
Discovering Arizona’s Heritage –
A Visit to Pioneer Living History Village
Phoenix has a time machine of sorts. About 30 miles north of Phoenix is a special place where history isn’t only learned - it is experienced. A place where you see how the pioneers who helped shape the Arizona we know today lived.
Pioneer Living History Village doesn’t have long musty corridors to traverse or exhibits behind glass, instead it is a town you can stroll through in the bright sunshine. So grab your walking shoes and join us on our Day Trip to Pioneer Living History Village.
How It all Began
The late 1950’s was a time when development of the Phoenix area began its great rush to progress. More and more people were coming to Arizona, and bringing with them the need for more homes, businesses and services. As a result, many landmarks were being destroyed during the process. And, a few select Arizonans knew that push for progress would only continue.
The roots of the village began in 1956 when a group of history enthusiasts started working on a plan to create a living history museum. Thus, the “Pioneer Arizona Foundation, Inc.” was born. On February 15, 1969, the first phase of the village was opened. Today, there are still founder’s plans to be implemented. The village is a non-profit organization operated by volunteers. It is volunteers who staff the village as well as provide for its upkeep.
Pioneer Living History Village
Pioneer Living History Village is unique. It isn’t a tourist trap and it isn’t filled with souvenir shops. Rather the village is as close as you get to the time before Arizona was even a state. Pioneer Living History Village is a replica 1800’s town with authentic as well as historically accurate reproduction buildings. Situated on more than 90 acres, the town includes homes as well as businesses that were commonplace in early territorial Arizona.
There are more than 25 structures in the village – everything from a church to a bank to a Victorian home. Each of the buildings is finished with time-period furniture. To add to the atmosphere, costumed interpreters share information with the visitors. The past comes to life through their stories filled with the information you aren’t likely to find in a textbook.
A replica building based on St. Paul’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Globe.
Preserving Arizona’s Past
Many of the village’s buildings are original structures from locations throughout Arizona and dating to the 1800’s. Many times as part of a volunteer effort, the structures were disassembled and then reassembled at the village. For example, the Northern Arizona Cabin, moved in 1967 from Newman Canyon with funding provided by the Women’s Club of Phoenix. Newman Canyon is approximately 25 miles southeast of Flagstaff.
The Northern Arizona cabin.
And, the original boyhood home of Sen. Henry Fountain Ashurst, the first senator from Arizona. Dating to 1878, the original cabin site was 100 miles from Prescott in a box canyon. The cabin had to be moved from its original site via an aerial tramway. A local life insurance company provided funding for the move and the reconstruction was completed both by volunteers and museum staff.
At times, the reassembling of an original structure could become quite intricate. A schoolhouse from Gordon Canyon, approximately 30 east of Payson on the Mogollon Rim, could not be reassembled until seven adzes (an obsolete tool used to hand-hew logs) were found. The one-room schoolhouse, which was used for students through the eighth grade, was used from approximately 1880 to 1922.
Additionally, the schoolhouse became the first completely restored building at the village.
Other original structures at the village include: a redwood farmhouse; the state’s oldest brick bakery (still under reassembly); the Victorian home; the 1880 Flying “V” Ranch home; an 1870’s ranch cabin; and the teacherage.
Reconstructing the Past
Reconstructing the past was not done haphazardly. Historical records, documents and photographs were studied and acted as the “blueprints” for the replica buildings. The construction of the replica Opera House went a step further when the original structure’s bricks were used in the construction of the replica building. The village’s bank houses the original vault from the Gila Valley Bank & Trust Company. And, one of the prominent structures in the village, the community church, is a copy of St. Paul’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Globe. Two of the church’s pews are originals donated by the First Baptist of Globe.
The Opera House.
Other replica buildings at Pioneer Living History Village include: a saloon, carpenter shop, print shop, dress shop, blacksmith shop, miner’s cabin and a barber shop.
The overall effect is that it is difficult to determine which is an original structure and which is a replica structure. Original and replica structures blend to create an authentic visit to Arizona’s past.
Visiting Pioneer Living History Village
You will want to allow at least two hours to stroll through the village. A map, given upon entrance to the village, identifies all of the structures. Additionally, placards at each of the sites provide a wealth of information about the structure. And, you will want to speak with the interpreters who can provide even more insight.
The village is also site for reenactments such as the gunfights. On a larger scale, when visiting, we were fortunate that it was on the day when there was a reenactment of a Civil War battle. You can check out the village’s calendar of events by Clicking Here.
The Victorian home.
Pioneer Living History Village is open Wednesday – Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the winter. Summer hours kick in June 1st and are observed through September 30. Summer hours are from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday – Sunday. As this is an outdoors venue, weather conditions do have an impact. It is best to call ahead when there is inclement weather to determine whether or not the village is open.
Admission is extremely reasonable. Adult admission is $7. Student admission is (ages 6-18) is $5. Children under the age of 5 are admitted free.
Pioneer Living History Village can be access via I-17, exit 225. The exit is approximately one mile north of Carefree Highway.
For more information, please visit:
Pioneer Living History Village
The Phoenix Buzz
Putting on the Glitz and Glam -
At the Scottsdale Waterfront
If you are looking for a place to be entertained, shop, eat and live in Arizona – you will want to check out the Scottsdale Waterfront. And, that is just what we are going to do during this month’s Day Trip.
The Scottsdale Waterfront is a 1.1 million-square-foot development (located in the heart of Scottsdale at Scottsdale and Camelback roads) that is quickly becoming one of Arizona’s newest and trendiest places to be. So get ready to view the desert a whole new way as we head out to experience the Scottsdale Waterfront.
Development along the canal.
Scottsdale is essentially a landlocked area. So, you may ask how could there be a “waterfront” in the middle of a desert? That’s where a common Salt River Project (SRP) canal comes into play. Developers saw the uncommon potential of the waterway and created a plan to develop the land bordering the canal into a blend of shopping, restaurants and residences.
The canal is one of many that are managed by SRP. And, the canal, which has blossomed into the Scottsdale Waterfront, has been around since the late 1880’s and functioned as an irrigation ditch (as unglamorous as that sounds). The canal was part of an interconnected canal system that runs throughout the Valley. Previously, the area bordering the canal was non-descript – and most certainly not considered to be a destination.
The transformation began in late 2003 with the approval of the Scottsdale City Council of the developer’s plans. The idea was to create an oasis along the canal that stretched between Goldwater Boulevard and Scottsdale Road; an oasis that came with a price tag in the hundred of millions of dollars. Today, the 11-acre development includes one eight-story and two 13-story residential buildings, two and three-story retail spaces and five acres of open space that includes an outdoor amphitheater.
A view from the bridge.
Additionally, the city of Scottsdale city constructed Southbridge, a pedestrian link between Westcor's Scottsdale Fashion Square and the arts and retail shops of downtown Scottsdale. The area was quickly morphed into a recreation and entertainment mecca.
Fast forward to early 2008. While the waterfront area has been open since 2007, the Scottsdale Waterfront made its formal debut during Super Bowl 2008. In fact, the area was highlighted in ESPN’s live broadcasts (on Southbridge) as well as the site for 944 magazine’s Super Bowl Village. All of this helps to confirm the waterfront and the adjacent area is the place to be.
Super Bowl Village
The waterfront retail and restaurant area takes advantage of Arizona’s weather – which can’t be beat during the early and late months of the year. You can stroll from shop to shop in the open air. Almost all of the restaurants feature an outdoor patio area. Open spaces with grassy lawns create a space for those who just want to take in the sunshine near the canal.
The Scottsdale Waterfront is also home to the commemorative monument for the Hashknife Pony Express, which has become a Scottsdale tradition. The statue, “Passing the Legacy”, is life-size and sculpted from bronze. It features a pony express rider from the past handing off a mailbag to a modern-day pony express rider.
“Passing the Legacy”
The Haskknife Pony Express is the oldest officially sanctioned pony express in the world and celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. Each year riders carry more than 20,000 first-class letters from Holbrook to Scottsdale.
Upscale Shops and Restaurants
You won’t find the everyday, run of the mill shops and restaurants at the Scottsdale Waterfront. And, the adjacent Scottsdale Fashion Square has hundreds of shops including high-end retailers such as Tiffany & Company, Nordstrom’s, Louis Vittan, Kenneth Cole, Gucci and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Click Here to find out more information about the shops and restaurants at Scottsdale Fashion Square, the largest shopping mall in Arizona.
Scottsdale Waterfront shops include Mahsa, Swoozie’s, Isaac’s Jewelers, Twist, Estilo as well as the more commonly known retailers such as Borders, Sur La Table and Urban Outfitters. Restaurants include Olive & Ivy, Pink Taco and Wildfish Seafood Grill as well as P.F. Changs and Sauce.
Click Here to find out more information about the shops and restaurants at the Scottsdale Waterfront.
Entertainment Close By
Scottsdale also can boast of being a popular nightlife spot. And, the Scottsdale Waterfront development is close to, and often within walking distance of, many clubs. And, it wouldn’t be uncommon to have a celebrity encounter while you are strolling through the waterfront area. Scottsdale has become a playground for many stars. You will want to check it out for yourself.
To find more out more about Scottsdale’s nightlife Click Here.
For more information about Scottsdale, you will want to visit:
The Scottsdale Buzz
Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau
Scottsdale Fashion Square
| | | | | | |
Copyright © 2006 The Arizona Buzz. All Rights Reserved.