A Word on Prominence
The measure of a mountain is sometimes more than its height.
The world’s tallest mountains are most often ranked in terms of
how high they soar above sea level, and hikers seek out their
summit trails and bragging rights like moths to lanterns. But is
sea level really a fair gauge? For instance, if you climb a 9,000-foot
mountain but the trailhead is at 8,500 feet, are you really gonna
brag? The great equalizer is prominence. Defined as the elevation
of a summit measured from its highest saddle, prominence is
basically a mountain’s wow factor – how far it rises above the
land below it.
The object of our affection: 5,280 feet.
That mythical threshold by which all mountains are measured. Clean air, cool weather and pine forests, it seems to promise.
Unbeknownst to much of the world, who see only our saguaros and sun-chapped Sonoran flats, Arizona is lavishly equipped for elevation seekers, with mile-high destinations throughout the state, from the upstate pinnacle of Humphreys Peak to the southern aeries of Mt. Lemmon.
And thebest part: Many of these mile-high delights are within easy reach from the Valley. Truly, 5,280 is low-hanging fruit for motivated hikers and motorists.
Hikes and Drives
What is a mountain good for, if not to hike it? Arizona’s abundance of high-elevation ambles makes for sublime weekending.
Hike the 5 Highest Peaks
Arizona mountains ranked by prominence.
1. Mount Graham, Safford
Elevation: 10,720' (6,340' prominence)
There are no trails that go to the actual summit of Mt. Graham in the Pinaleño Mountains near Safford. However, other trails lead to prominent peaks in the range such as Webb, Heliograph and Clark. Want a real challenge? Try this killer trek that climbs from bone-dry desert to spruce-covered peaks with waterfalls: Ash Creek Trail #301, 16.4 miles roundtrip, 5,240-foot elevation gain. Make base camp at Riggs Flat Lake, where you can fish for your supper and gaze over sprawling valleys and fir-fleeced peaks. www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coronado/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=25532&actid=50
2. Humphreys Peak, Flagstaff
Elevation: 12,633' (6,039' prominence)
The hike to Arizona’s highest point begins in a lush alpine meadow and ends on barren tundra. Humphreys Trail #51, 9.6 miles roundtrip, 3,363-foot elevation gain. Take it slow toward the end; the air is indeed thin up there. www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=55108&actid=50
3. Mount Lemmon, Tucson
Elevation: 9,157' (5,177' prominence)
The Santa Catalina Mountains “sky islands” hover over Tucson and the San Pedro River Valley, lending spectacular views. Mount Lemmon Trail #5, 11.6 miles roundtrip, 1,600-foot elevation gain. www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coronado/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=25676&actid=50
4. Chiricahua peaki
Elevation: 9,798' (5,149' prominence)
Rising over the boulder scrambles of Chiricahua National Monument, this peak offers views of the Willcox wine region to the west, and Mexico to the south. Make it a triple-header peak hike by adding on Fly’s Peak (9,667 feet) and Monte Vista Peak (9,373 feet), two of several high points along the same ridgeline. Crest Trail #270, 10 miles roundtrip, 1,359’ elevation gain. www.fs.usda.gov
Elevation: 9,466' (5,011' prominence)
5. Millerpeak, Sierra Vista
Located just a few miles from the Mexican border, this impressive peak is the southernmost mountain summit in the United States and is the high point of the Huachuca range. Crest Trail #103, 9 miles roundtrip (to peak only), 2,880’ elevation gain. www.fs.usda.gov
Most Scenic Hike
Woods Canyon Laketrail #336, Near Payson
Designating a superlative hike in Arizona spurs passionate argument. An informal poll of a Facebook hiking group overwhelmingly equates “scenic” with “water.” Hikers love walks along creeks, lakes and ponds for their abundant vegetation, wildlife and photo opportunities. The moderate, 3-mile loop around Woods Canyon Lake winds through reedy coves and moss-draped forests. The woodlands are dense, dark and rich in water and wild foods that could theoretically support and hide a mysterious creature. Bring your camera for the money shot. The lake has camping grounds, a store, paddle boat and kayak rentals, and fishing.
GO: From Payson, go 29 miles east on State Route 260, turn left on FR 300 (Rim Road) and continue 3 miles to Forest Road 105 and follow the signs to the lake. The hike begins at the Rocky Point Trailhead. www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/asnf/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=45331&actid=50
Best Under-the-Radar Hike
Mount Francis, Prescott
Prescott Circle Trail makes a 54.45-mile loop around Arizona’s own “mile-high city,” connecting suburbs, shopping malls and parks. Using both newly constructed paths and existing forest trails, the PCT provides easy access to previously little-known areas like Mount Francis. Veering off from PCT Segment 4, a dirt road ascends to the forested peak with Bradshaw Mountain views. The 7.8-mile hike is a little convoluted, so here’s the plan: From the trailhead, cross Copper Basin Road and pick up Aspen Creek Trail #48, follow the “48” signs 2.9 miles to the junction with East Copper Trail #260. Turn right (north) and hike 0.5 mile to a 3-way junction with a gate. Head up the road with the gate to the summit of Mt. Francis. Once done exploring the peak, head back down to the first shed with antennas and turn right onto the road below the power lines. Soon, you’ll pass through another gate. At this point, you’re on FR 9402D. Follow this aspen-fringed track to Copper Basin Road, turn right and hike roughly a mile back to the trailhead.
GO: From Phoenix, travel north on Interstate 17 to Cordes Junction and the turnoff for AZ69. Head into Prescott on State Route 69 (which will become Gurley Street) and turn left (south) on Montezuma Street. Continue 1 mile to Copper Basin Road, turn right and go 4.6 miles on Copper Basin to the Aspen Creek Trailhead on the right. Roads are paved up to the last 1.6 miles, which is on sedan-friendly dirt. cityofprescott.net/services/parks/trails/
Best Wildlife Hike
Wenima Wildlife Area
Elevation: 6,800', Springerville
Purchased by Arizona Game and Fish through its Heritage Fund project, this 357-acre site encompasses riparian habitat along the Little Colorado River corridor, sensitive floodplains and upland juniper-pinyon grasslands. It’s a haven for threatened, endangered and sensitive species including waterfowl, fish and mammals. Two hiking trails explore the property’s diverse terrain.
GO: From Springerville, travel 2 miles northwest on US 60 to the US 180/191 junction. From here, continue 0.25-mile north on 180/191, turn right onto Hooper Ranch Road and continue 1.5 miles to the parking area. Access road is sedan-friendly gravel and there are restrooms at the trailhead. The area is open daily from sunrise to sunset. No fees. The trails are located 0.2-mile farther up the road from the trailhead. Beavertail Trail (0.7-mile) is on the left before the bridge and Powerhouse Trail (1.5 mile) is on the right past the bridge. www.azgfd.com/wildlife/viewing/wheretogo/wenima
Scenic Drives: Fire Tower Trio
Fire tower lookout workers have their hands full during our busy wildfire season. Visitors are allowed in most towers when workers are on duty. Even with all the smoke, many lookouts enjoy company and will wave visitors up to their watchtowers for a tour. Proper etiquette dictates that you should wait to be invited up and not interfere with operations.
1. Apache Maid Lookout, Sedona
Standing 30 feet over its summit perch, Apache Maid Lookout keeps watch over the Verde Valley and Wet Beaver Creek watershed. From the base of Apache Maid Mountain, a 4.8-mile dirt road climbs 887 feet to the top where an oak-shaded picnic table sits below the 12’ x 12’ cabin on stilts that was built in 1961. A high clearance vehicle is a good idea for the trip. If the gate at the 3-mile point is locked, park in the pullout and walk 1.8 miles to the summit.
GO: Driving north on Interstate 17 from Phoenix, exit 306 for Stoneman Lake, FR 213. Turn right and go 6.4 miles to the signed intersection for FR 229. Follow FR 229 4.5 miles and bear right at a “T” intersection with Forest Road 230 to stay on FR 229. Continue 0.4-mile to a curve in the road where FR 229 swerves left and FR 620 bends to the right. Follow FR 620 4.8 miles to the summit. nhlr.org/lookouts/StateList.aspx?state=AZ
2. Greens Peak Lookout, Springerville
The high point of the Springerville volcanic field is a funny-looking, half-bald, half-aspen-covered cinder cone. The drive up Greens Peak rewards with vistas that stretch into New Mexico and soar over the peaks and grasslands of the White Mountains.
GO: From Pinetop-Lakeside, travel east on State Route 260 (toward McNary) to Forest Road 117 near milepost 380 on the left. Go 3 miles north on FR 117 to a “Y” junction at Forest Road 61 where there’s a “Green’s Peak 2 miles” sign. The mountain portion of the drive is 3 miles in length and is on maintained dirt. nhlr.org/lookouts/StateList.aspx?state=AZ
3. Signal Peak, Globe
Driving up the road that leads to the summit of the Pinal Mountains “Sky Islands” is a long, bumpy journey that rises 4,000 feet from the desert floor to tall pines. The 1930s-era tower stands 59 feet over a tiny historical ranger cabin and sweeping views of the copper mining communities of Globe-Miami.
GO: From Phoenix, take US 60 east to Globe. Follow the “Besh-Ba-Gowah Ruins, Globe Ranger Station” signs through downtown to Icehouse Canyon Road (FR 112). Turn right onto FR 112 and continue 1.5 miles to a stop sign and turn right onto FR 55 to Pinal Peak. At roughly 1 mile beyond the pavement, turn left onto FR 651 and follow it 10 miles to the gated road leading to Signal Peak lookout. If the gate is locked, you can walk one mile to the tower. FR 651 continues through Pinal Mountain Recreation Area before ending at 7,848-foot Pinal Peak.
Lose your inhibitions in the rarefied mountain air with this menu of mile-high diversions.
3 Best high-elevation adventures
1. Paddle the “Arizona Everglades”
Carnero Lake (9,000') is a 65-acre lake surrounded by extinct cinder cone volcanos. In summer, reeds, weeds and cattails sprout from its muddy fringes, delighting ducks and frustrating anglers trolling for rainbow trout. For kayakers in search of solitude, the quagmire makes for a beautiful destination with opportunities to view wildlife like osprey and elk.
GO: From Show Low, travel east on State Route 260 to Forest Road 117 near milepost 380. Turn left (north) and continue 2.5 miles on FR 117 to FR 117A, turn right and continue 0.5 mile to the signed turnoff for the lake. The access road is rough, but still passable by sedan. azgfd.com
2. Rent a Forest Service Cabin
Live the life of a forest ranger for a day or a week in a restored fire lookout cabin. The off-grid, rustic abodes range in style from bare bones to semi-luxurious. Here are two mile-high selections.
Kendrick Cabin (7,910'), Kaibab National Forest. Sitting at the edge of a meadow north of Flagstaff, this two-story wood and masonry bunk house offers a “semi roughin’ it” experience. The 1960s-era, three-bedroom cabin sleeps up to 10 people. There’s running water from May-October, an outside bathhouse, propane stove, fridge and barbecue pit, and an inviting front porch for watching the sunset with a cocktail.
Apachemaid Cabin (6,382'), Coconino National Forest. For more primitive, no-frills accommodations under a canopy of pines west of Sedona, this 1909 wooden house has been restored to maintain its frontier character. There’s sleeping space for up to six happy campers who don’t mind having to haul in their own water, ice chest, linens and utensils. fs.usda.gov
3. Go Tandem Skydiving
Why would anybody want to jump out of a plane from two miles over Arizona? “You have to do it to understand it,” says Alex Dixon, manager and part owner of Red Rock Skydiving in Cottonwood. “The coolest part of skydiving is a bit of a mystery – impossible to describe.” Dixon’s company “flight-seeing” menu offers jumps for all levels including tandem experiences for absolute beginners. After intensive safety instruction, jumpers are treated to a scenic flyover of high desert landscapes around Sedona, Flagstaff and the Mogollon Rim. Once at 10,500 feet above ground – which translates to 14,000 feet above sea level – jumpers exit the plane and spend the next 30 to 40 seconds in free fall before parachutes deploy for a smooth drift back to earth. 928-649-8899, redrockskydiving.com
Mile-High Bike Pick
In our quest for Arizona’s best high-elevation mountain bike trail, we established three prerequisites:
Climbs to at least 9,000 feet
Suitable For Most Levels of Expertise
Our Pick: Arizona Trail Passage #34
Anthony Quintile of Absolute Bikes in Flagstaff recommends a flowy, 7.7-mile section of Arizona Trail Passage #34 that runs from Forest Road 418 to Snowbowl Road. Start at Aspen Corner for a 1,000-foot downhill glide through some of the state’s thickest fir-aspen forests. Midway through, there’s an optional half-mile side trip to swampy Bismarck Lake.
GO: To access Aspen Corner trailhead, take US 180 north from Flagstaff to Snowbowl Road (FR 516) at milepost 223. Turn right and continue 5.3 miles to the parking apron on the left at Aspen Corner. From the opening in the fence, take the wider trail heading right, veer left at the first fork and continue straight to the Arizona Trail.
For those who don’t know a parsec from a pulsar, Arizona’s high-elevation observatories offer public programs in sky-watching skills. You’ll learn when and where to spot constellations, satellites, nebula and a re-boot of a rare five-planet alignment. Between August 13-19 there’s a last look at Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Mercury and Venus arcing across the evening sky. Though not as spectacular as its counterpart dawn event that happened this past winter, you’ll get to bid adieu to a planetary escapade that last occurred in 2005.
Home of the observatory where the planet – pardon – dwarf planet Pluto was discovered in 1930, Flagstaff is one of only three Arizona cities recognized by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) for its progressive policies on light pollution. IDA communities adopt smart night lighting choices to preserve Earth’s natural night-day rhythms that sustain healthy human, plant and animal life cycles. They’re great for stargazing, too. Public programs at Lowell include evening telescope viewing, multimedia shows, guided tours and tons of Pluto kitsch. 1400 W. Mars Hill Rd., Flagstaff, 928-774-3358, lowell.edu
Other AZ Observatories
Kitt Peak National Observatory, Tucson.
Elevation: 6,880', noao.edu/kpno
Mount Graham International Observatory, Safford.
Elevation: 10,400', mgio.arizona.edu
University of Arizona Sky Center, Sount Lemmon, Tucson.
Elevation: 9,167', skycenter.arizona.edu
Seek out scenic splashes and aquatic adventure on Arizona’s mile-high lakes.
Indulge in a lazy float and afternoon picnic at this secluded, 126-acre lake located high on the juniper-dotted grasslands of Anderson Mesa south of Flagstaff. Gusty mountain breezes provide natural fuel for wind surfing or nudging a tube over the lake’s mirror-like surface. The no-frills, day-use-only site has picnic tables, restrooms, stocked trout, water and a gravel boat launch.
GO: From Flagstaff, go 25 miles south on Lake Mary Road to FR 125 and follow the signs to the lake. High-clearance vehicle recommended. www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recreation/picnickinginfo/recarea/?recid=55000&actid=70
C.C. Cragin Reservoir
Formerly known as Blue Ridge Reservoir, this Mogollon Rim water spot looks and feels more like a river than a lake. Its serpentine flow laps at vertical limestone cliffs and rough-cut finger coves. With a strong backwoods flavor, the 70-acre waterway is popular with anglers and hardcore adventurers. Swimming is not prohibited here, but there’s no easy access, beaches or lifeguards. It’s best to dive in from a watercraft away from the boat launch area. In some spots, the water level is more than 100 feet deep, making this one of the most abysmal high-country lakes in Arizona. Make camp at nearby Rock Crossing Campground.
GO: From Payson, go north on State Route 87 to Forest Road 751 (4 miles north of Clints Well) turn right and continue 6 miles to the reservoir. FR 751 is sedan-friendly gravel. www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=54898
Lyman Lake State Park
If you’re looking to get wet, this White Mountain recreation hub offers a full menu of water-themed activities. At 1,500 acres, there’s plenty of space to water ski or skim the waves on a jet ski. Whether you swim, paddle, fish or ski, there’s so much to do here, you’ll want to “drop anchor” at the campsites, rental cabins or RV pads. The park has a convenience store, hiking trails and ranger-led interpretive programs.
GO: Located 11 miles south of St. Johns on State Route 191. azstateparks.com/Parks/LYLA/
Lake Mary Narrows Recreation Area
This 5-mile-long lake caters to the need for speed. Because there’s no limit on boat motor size, the narrow, linear course of Upper Lake Mary serves as a liquid raceway. Speed boats roar through the unobstructed channel, some with colorful parasail in tow. Even with power boats churning up wakes, there’s plenty of room for people-powered watercraft, and shore fishing for northern pike. Stay a while at adjacent Lake View Campground or bring along goodies for a cookout using the first-come, first-serve grills and picnic ramadas.
GO: Located 12 miles south of Flagstaff on Lake Mary Road. www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recreation/wateractivities/recarea/?recid=55044&actid=85
Lee Valley Lake, Greer (9,418’)
Wrapped in aspens near the base of Mount Baldy, Lee Valley Lake sits at the epicenter of two Arizona Game & Fish wildlife restoration projects. The 35-acre lake is tethered to three Apache trout recovery streams. One of only two indigenous trout species (the other is the Gila trout), Arizona’s state fish is only found above 5,900 feet and thrives in the cool waters of the East and West Forks of the Little Colorado River and Lee Valley Creek. The lake is stocked for anglers in spring. The lake also sits within the stomping grounds of reintroduced Mexican gray wolves. Since the timid canines were first released into the wild in 1998, their numbers have grown to 53 collared individuals spread over 19 packs (plus two rogues) in Northeastern Arizona and New Mexico. Camp nearby at Winn Campground or stay at any of the rustic hotels in Greer.
GO: From Pinetop, go east on State Route 260 to State Route 273 (FR 113), turn right and continue to the lake.
Leaving the city needn’t mean abandoning your culinary ambitions. A new and exciting dining ecosystem awaits you in the Arizona high country.
The Flagstaff Fivei
How good is the current dining scene in this forested Coconino County city (elevation: 6,910 feet)? So good, we’re ready to declare Flagstaff, pound-for-pound, the best food town in Arizona. With a population of 70,000, it surpasses Tempe (pop: 176,000) in overall culinary excellence, and blows Mesa (pop: 472,000) out of the water. Here are five must-visit Flagstaff restaurants.
1. Coppa Cafe: After lapping up the last, intoxicating molecule of chef Brian Konefal’s baked duck egg with beet risotto – made, meaningfully, with native Sonoran white wheat – our first thought was “This might be Arizona’s best restaurant.” It’s a theory that deserves scrutiny. Lacking the resources of such nouveau cuisine heavy-hitters as Binkley’s and Kai, Konefal uses creative local sourcing (nopales-infused butter, Coconino dandelion reductions, etc.) and mastery of Old World delicacies to open an enchanted wormhole between Bordeaux and Flagstaff. It’s absolutely transportive. 1300 S. Milton Ave., Ste. 107 A, 928-637-6813, coppacafe.net
2. Pizzicletta: Phoenix gets a lot of respect as a pizza town – Bianco, Pomo, Al Forno, et al. – and here’s one Venetian-style Flagstaff pie purveyor that would fit right in with that select company. Go big and get the house special sausage pizza “Bianca-style” with house mozzarella, garlic and big, fat, sinful dollops of mascarpone. 203 W. Phoenix Ave., 928-774-3242, pizzicletta.com
3. Diablo Burger: A seeming no-brainer for the title of “Best Mile-High Burger,” this Flagstaff original tops its grass-fed meat patties with a panoply of locally farmed, cured, baked, or otherwise created goodies, like the Señor Smoke with ancho grilled onions. Soon to be opening a Valley location, if the website is to be believed. 120 N. Leroux St., 928-774-3274, diabloburger.com
4. The Cottage Place: One rarely sees chateaubriand on modern menus, and when you do, it’s usually a mislabeled, garden-variety tenderloin. No such affront will occur at this New American institution, which takes classic staples like rack of lamb and Scottish salmon, and engineers them to perfection – including the chateaubriand, cooked low-tech sous vide style between cuts of chuck. 126 W. Cottage Ave., 928-774-8431, cottageplace.com
5. Shift Kitchen and Bar: If you’re an admirer of handmade pastas, spot-on craft cocktails and skillfully-tuned seasonal dishes – “silky corn soup with roasted watermelon” is our new summer serenity mantra – you’ll love this new, chef-driven bistro in Old Flagstaff. Sit at the chef’s bar if there’s a seat available (for the conversation and insights) and order the dreamy, Bataliesque smoked duck agnolotti if it’s on the menu (which changes weekly). 107 N. San Francisco St., 928-440-5135, shiftflg.com
Just Missed The Cut: The Turquoise Room
Chef John Sharpe’s celebrated nouveau-Native American restaurant in Winslow certainly belongs in any high-country culinary conversation, but it sits a bit below a mile high, at 4,850 feet.
10 Mile-High Inns and B&Bs
Summer heat got you down? Then head up – at least a mile – to cool down.
Here are some of our favorite high-elevation getaways.
Up On The North Rim
At 7,000 feet, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is about 2,000 feet higher than the South Rim. And while most vacationers have locked down reservations a year in advance to stay in the rustic cabins at The Grand Canyon Lodge, it does get cancellations. With a little persistence, you might strike it lucky and score a last-minute getaway. The best course of action? Call every few days and inquire. Located off SR 67. 888-297-2757, grandcanyonforever.com
Updated Victorian Splendor In Bisbee
It may seem counterintuitive to travel south to gain elevation. But mile-high Bisbee is Southern Arizona’s favorite summer escape. The Letson Loft Hotel – the longest-standing Victorian brick building in town – is also the poshest overnight option. Situated smack in the middle of town, this boutique hotel beautifully combines old Western historical character with modern amenities, making it the perfect place to explore Bisbee’s quirky charms. 26 Main St., 520-432-3210, letsonlofthotel.com
The Hippest Address In Prescott
Originally built as summer cabins around 1910 when Prescott was the territorial capital of Arizona, The Motor Lodge is retro cool both in style and climate – the town sits at 5,368 feet and has an average August high temperature (86.1 degrees F) 18 degrees below that of Phoenix. Just three blocks south of the action of the courthouse and Whiskey Row, the lodge offers 12 rooms, most with balconies, and each featuring its own eclectic décor. Bonus: loaner bikes, including a vintage tandem, for guests’ use. 503 S. Montezuma St., 928-717-0157, themotorlodge.com
An Urban Oasis In Flagstaff
On leafy North Leroux Street, the elegant Inn at 410 (elevation: 7,000 feet) makes a great base for exploring downtown Flag on foot. Innkeepers Gordon Watkins and Frank Balazsi are knowledgeable, genial hosts who whip up gourmet breakfasts for their guests that can be enjoyed inside or on the shaded wraparound front porch. Each of the 10 rooms is distinctive; Canyon Memories boasts views of the San Francisco Peaks. 410 N. Leroux St., 928-774-0088, inn410.com
Forest Bathing in Pinetop
The Japanese practice “forest bathing” for its restorative properties. Nestled in the White Mountains at 6,800 feet, Pinetop’s Whispering Pines Resort is a favorite with families who come for cool pine recreation in the Apache and Sitgreaves National Forests. Mogollon Rim attractions include eight cold water lakes, perfect for boating, fishing and skiing. Accommodations range from studios to 3-bedroom cabins, along with deluxe spa cabins that feature tub spas. 237 E. White Mountain Blvd., 928-367-4386,
An Après-Birding Bed in Hereford
If you’re into hummers – the winged kind, that is – there’s no place better to get up close with them than the Ramsey Canyon Inn. Perched at 5,600 feet on a Sky Island near Sierra Vista and adjacent to The Nature Conservancy’s Ramsey Canyon Preserve, it’s a birder’s – and hiker’s – paradise. In addition to birds, you’ll see wild turkeys, coatimundi and deer on this lush property. Each of the six guest rooms has been updated with bamboo floors and remodeled bathrooms; there are also three suites with kitchens. In addition to a gourmet breakfast, homemade afternoon pie is served. 29 E. Ramsey Canyon Rd., 520-378-3010, ramseycanyoninn.com
Kicking It on Route 66 in Williams
When traversing Northern Arizona’s Route 66, a little kitsch is in order. Thanks to its proximity to the Grand Canyon, The Lodge on Route 66 (elevation: 6,765 feet) hosts international guests in the time-honored tradition of motor lodges, but with the kind of contemporary amenities road-weary travelers appreciate: pillow-top mattresses, luxurious cotton linens and solid wood furniture. Hop on the Grand Canyon Railway, visit Bearizona or watch a staged gunfight in the downtown streets. 200 E. Route 66, 877-563-4366, thelodgeonroute66.com
Family-Friendly High Country at Jacob Lake
High atop the Kaibab Plateau at 7,925 feet in elevation is Jacob Lake Inn. Established by Mormon pioneers, the inn offers affordable, comfortable lodging that is perfect for multi-generational vacationers, many of whom return season after season. There are hotel and motel rooms, along with historical cabins. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is just 44 scenic miles down the road. Located off Hwy. 89A. 928-643-7232, jacoblake.com
Rustic Seclusion in Greer
The White Mountains offer trout fishing, horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking. But they are also a great place to kick back. With access to a sunny mountain pasture, the cabins of X Diamond Ranch are tucked among tall ponderosa pines at an elevation of more than 8,300 feet, ensuring a cool escape during steamy Valley summers – and a robust activity list for horse lovers. Call for directions. 928-333-2286, xdiamondranch.com
Rockin’ Out in Payson
In Rim country surrounded by the Tonto National Forest, Payson is very nearly the geographical heart of Arizona. Located on the banks of the East Verde River sits a quirky little B&B constructed of rocks from it called, aptly, the Verde River Rock House. It’s a quiet retreat – save the wildlife you may spy – offering friendly, homespun hospitality. The wine and cheese afternoon apps, the creekside deck, hammocks and a massage therapist on call mean you’ll chill out in record time. 602 W. Eleanor Dr., 928-472-4304, verderiverrockhouse.com.
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