52 Weekend Adventures-2014

Written by Wynter Holden Category: Travel Issue: February 2014
Group Mid-Level
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The “work hard, play hard” philosophy is easier to maintain when you can put a healthy distance between the two. From cannon fights and haunted happy hours to woolly mammoth kill sites and wintertime snowball fights, we’ve got a year’s worth of ways to make Arizona your playground – plus over-the-border escapes for every season.

1 Best Sleepover: 
Cat Mountain Lodge
Rural lodges often offer a stellar view of the stars, but few boast an actual observatory. With founder Kerstin Block – the co-owner of granola-crunchy resale chain Buffalo Exchange – in its corner, the 13-acre Cat Mountain complex is predictably eco-chic. Perfume-free laundry. Rainwater harvesting barrels. Basically, everything shy of recycled toilet paper. At night, the retractable roof at neighboring, shack-size Spencer’s Observatory opens up to reveal a Celestron 14” SCT telescope and Piggy Back 4” Stellar View refractor, plus one sweet springtime view of the constellation Leo and its backwards question mark mane. 2720 S. Kinney Rd., Tucson, 520-578-6085, catmountainlodge.com
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours (124 miles)
RATES: $129-$169 per night; guest house $770 per week (October 1 through May 15). Guided star tours are $100-$150 (up to 5 people), $25 discount for lodge guests.
TRAVEL TIP: Bring a shopping bag for antiques purchased at the onsite marketplace, located in a restored 1950s shopping plaza.
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

2 Drive to Die For: Kaibab Plateau Scenic Drive
Jacob Lake to North Rim
With only 10 percent of Grand Canyon visitors venturing to the rugged North Rim, the drive from Jacob Lake along Highway 67 is relaxed and crowd-free even during peak tourist season. The 44-mile stretch begins with thickets of tall Ponderosa pines, juniper and other northern evergreens. Jacob Lake Ranger Station, one of the oldest ranger outposts in the U.S., is just off the highway and offers an educational side trip on Kaibab Plateau history. Passing into the protected Kaibab National Forest, one sees thick pines and wildflower meadows dotted with purple clover and tiny columbine blossoms. Glimpses of the canyon are occasionally visible during the winding, hilly drive, but none can compare to the breathtaking vistas of Angel Point viewed from the road’s end at North Rim Lodge. fs.fed.us
DIRECTIONS: From Flagstaff, go north on U.S. Highway 89 to its junction with U.S. Highway 89 Alt. (about 110 miles); head west on U.S. Highway 89 Alt. across Marble Canyon to Jacob Lake (about 55 miles).
DRIVING TIME: 5 hours, 11 minutes (309 miles) from Phoenix to Jacob Lake. Scenic drive from that point is about one hour (44 miles).
LODGING: Set up a comfortable home base at the family-owned Jacob Lake Inn ( jacoblake.com).
KIDS: Leave ‘em.

3 Walk It Out: Hell’s Hole Trail
North of Globe
There’s a reason this 5.3-mile trek bears such a fear-inducing name – and it has nothing to do with Southern Arizona’s scorching summers. Steep drop-offs and thigh-pricking thorn bushes are among the dangers lurking at Hell’s Hole in Tonto National Forest’s Salome Wilderness. The climb tempts hikers like Salome beguiled Saint John the Baptist, opening with attractive views of juniper and pine forest before revealing steep slopes and switchbacks near Workman’s Creek. Most hikers stop at the area’s limestone cliffs, with only the most seasoned outdoorsmen braving their way through the thicket to Salome’s Creek. fs.usda.gov

Photos By David VeneziaDIRECTIONS: Take Highway 60 E; turn right on Highway 288; stay on 288 about 27 miles and look for a sign on the left for Reynolds Trailhead.
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 50 minutes (88 miles)
LODGING: Pitch a tent at nearby Rose Creek (no fee) or enjoy a quiet respite among the pines at Elk Haven Cabins 
TRAVEL TIP: The waters of Salome Canyon are still frigid in the spring months. Wetsuits are recommended if you plan on swimming or crossing during heavy rains.
KIDS: Leave ‘em.

Photos By David Venezia; Wild Wild West Con Tucson

4 Steampunk Convention
When fans of speculative fiction figured out they could live out their 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea fantasies in live action, steampunk was born. It’s a form of “interactive escapism,” says Khurt Khave, stage director at Wild Wild West Con III, March 7-9 at Old Tucson Studios. “Anyone can buy a cheap Superman costume, but a lot more imagination and ingenuity can be put forth to assemble a steampunk outfit.” This year’s Land vs. Sea theme ensures plenty of Amelia Earhart cyborgs in aviator hats and Johnny Depp doppelgangers with glowing cyber-pistols. Anachronistic events include make-and-take workshops, a masquerade ball and performances by Osiris dance troupe, San Diego band Steam Powered Giraffe, and Professor Elemental. Also look for tea dueling, a ritual stare-down that involves dunking a biscuit and holding out the longest before it dissolves. 201 S. Kinney Rd., Tucson, wwwc3.com

Photos By David Venezia

DRIVING TIME: 2 hours (119 miles)
FEES/RATES: Day passes cost $37 for adults, $31 for children ages 7-11; 3-day “Maverick” passes cost $59 for adults, $54 for 
children; $195 for Aristocrat tickets. Additional charges for special events and concerts.
LODGING: Tucson’s Sheraton Four Points and Hampton Inn are offering discounted hotel rooms to convention guests at $84 per night via the convention website.
TRAVEL TIP: Pass-holding Aristocrats score absinthe tastings, free steampunk ball entry and VIP lounge access.

PHM0214 WA4A5 Mountain Bike Tour
Most people know Sedona as a haven for New Age hippie types and snap-happy amateur photographers. With hundreds of miles of bike-friendly trails, the area is also gaining a rep for mountain biking. Over the Edge caters to roadies with a serious desire to shred the red, renting thousand-dollar cycles for the cost of an upscale dinner. Noobs start with a classic hardtail 49er, while seasoned pros can rent a Trek Remedy 29 All-Mountain or the Niner Jet 9 Carbon to tackle the expert-level Highline Trail. OTE pairs up with Hermosa Tours for on-demand private tours and a five-day single-track trek through Broken Arrow, Bear Wallow Canyon and West Sedona. 1695 W. State Route 89A, Sedona, 928-282-1106, otesports.com
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours (119 miles)
RATES: Bike rental $29.99-$79.99 per day; optional insurance costs $5. $1,075 per person for 5-day tour.
LODGING: With a bike wash station and discounts for OTE customers, Sedona Real Suites is the place to gear up for a ride 
TRAVEL TIP: Sedona’s unpaved trails can be a bit prickly. Wear leg armor and tote a tire kit to protect you and your ride.
KIDS: Leave ‘em.

6 Festival of the Arts
Oro Valley
Art festivals are always a gamble: You never know whether one will showcase surrealist paintings and dazzling diamond-studded titanium rings or hundreds of tacky bedazzled sweatshirts. Kicking off March 8 at Oro Valley Marketplace about six miles north of Tucson, the spring version of Oro Valley’s twice-yearly arts event falls into the former category. More than 100 vendors hawk everything from one-of-a-kind belly rings to no-water-required, zero-risk succulent gardens that even a black thumb could cultivate. After ogling artisanal goodies, head over to the Marketplace’s restored 77-acre riparian habitat for additional camera-worthy sights. 12125 N. Oracle Rd., Oro Valley, 520-797-3959, saaca.org
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 49 minutes (110 miles)
FEES: Free
LODGING: Amenities at the nearby Oro Valley Hotel & Suites include free hot breakfast buffet and a 24-hour sundries shop, plus access to bike paths and hiking trails (orovalleyhotelandsuites.com).
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

7 Beaver Dam Lodge
It isn’t a mirage. Tucked into a desolate corner of northeast Arizona within easy driving distance of St. George, Utah, and the Nevada state line is a quaint vintage hotel that once hosted cinematic Golden Age A-listers Jane Russell, Clark Gable and John Wayne. The 18-room resort underwent a major overhaul in 2010. While the charm remains, wireless Internet access and blackout curtains ensure today’s glitterati will have a pleasant stay. Built in 1989 with par-3 holes throughout, Beaver Dam Lodge’s 9-hole pitch and putt course is as easy and breezy as its serene mountain surroundings. 452 Old Pioneer Rd., Littlefield, 928-347-2222, historicbeaverdamlodge.com
DRIVING TIME: 6 hours, 20 minutes (376 miles)
RATES: Rates start at $80-$90 per night, plus taxes and fees. Additional charge for holidays and blackout periods. Golf course fee $25.
KIDS: Leave ‘em.

Photo By Jim David; Page8 Smoothwater Rafting
Colorado River Discovery’s half-day rafting tours are seriously Mickey Mouse: Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride offers choppier waters and steeper drops. This ride is all about the view. Striated orange-red rock cliffs and stony buttes form a breathtaking backdrop for a jaunt through Glen Canyon that begins at the dam’s base and ends at Lees Ferry. Tour guides steer a motorized pontoon through the canyon’s natural twists and turns, affording guests the opportunity to snap images of ancient Native American shelter sites and petroglyph carvings. Raft/helicopter combos and kayak tours (pictured) are also available May through September. 130 Sixth Ave., Page, 928-645-9175, raftthecanyon.com
DRIVING TIME: 4 hours, 27 minutes (273 miles)
FEES: $91 adults, $81 children ages 4-11
LODGING: Page offers a cache of national motel chains such as Best Western and Holiday Inn (visitpagearizona.com); a lush, garden-like atmosphere and vintage charm can be found at Debbie’s Hideaway (debbieshideaway.com).
TRAVEL TIP: Tack on adrenaline-spiking Hummer tours or helicopter rides for an additional cost.
KIDS: Children four and older are welcome with a parent or guardian.

9 Haunted Pub Crawl
Some say the haunted happenings in Bisbee are enough to drive a person to drink. That’s exactly what Arizona Ghost Tours has in mind with their three-hour-long Haunted Pub Crawl the last Saturday of every month. Trained “ghost hosts” share spooky stories and help guests look for signs of paranormal activity at four of Bisbee’s most spirited locations. “We have had some guests experience ghostly phenomenon on the tour, including apparitions in photographs,” says tour guide Renee Gardner. Listen for laughter from the former brothel above St. Elmo’s or commune with the quiet resident specter of Bisbee Grand Hotel. Other stops include Room 4 Bar and the Copper Queen Hotel’s saloon, the latter a turn-of-the-century spook magnet visited by SyFy’s Ghost Hunters. 7 Howell Ave., Bisbee, 520-432-3308, oldbisbeeghosttour.com
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours, 29 minutes (209.21 miles)
FEES: $20 per person; 21-and-over only
LODGING: Stay and play with the spirits in Room #315 (Julia Lowell Room) of the Copper Queen Hotel (copperqueen.com).
TRAVEL TIP: Pop in a day early and cruise Bisbee Addams Family-style in a tricked-out 1983 Cadillac hearse Arizona Ghost Tours purchased from a local funeral home.
KIDS: Leave ‘em.

10 Rim Country Fishing
The pristine waters of Sedona used to be the state’s hottest fishing spot. With permits in short supply, the action has moved to the rollicking streams of the Mogollon Rim. “Any guide that tells you they have a permit to fish in Sedona is probably lying,” says guide Jon “Scooter” Griffith, an Arizona native who spends so much time with rod in hand that he named his son Fisher. Griffith and his fellow anglers at Arizona Fishing Guides offer full-day excursions to the East Verde and Tonto rivers, regularly stocked by the Arizona Game & Fish Department. Lunch and top-of-the-line Daiwa rods are provided with a full-day trip. thearizonafishingguides.com
DIRECTIONS: Take AZ-87/Country Club Dr. 73 miles to Exit 13 toward Payson; meetup locations vary.
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 33 minutes (90 miles)
RATES: Full day $450 (1-2 people), half-day $325
LODGING: Stay creekside in a rural farmhouse at Strawberry’s Up the Creek Bed & Breakfast (upthecreekbedandbreakfast.com).
KIDS: Leave ‘em.

Photos By Richard Maack; Civil War in the Southwest11 Civil War in the Southwest
If the reality TV bidding wars of Auction Kings are any indication, America’s love affair with Civil War ephemera is still going as strong as Rhett and Scarlett. Arizona’s contribution: Picacho Peak State Park’s annual re-enactment of the Confederate push into New Mexico, led by Confederate brigadier general Henry Hopkins Sibley. More than 200 dedicated “soldiers” will storm the mountain on March 15-16. From canvas tents to prop cannons, everything on the battlefield is 19th-century appropriate. Luckily, the only casualties will be kettle corn and the occasional torn trouser. 15520 Picacho Peak Rd., Picacho, 520-466-3183, azstateparks.com/parks/pipe/events.html

PHM0214 WA7ADRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 8 minutes (75 miles)
FEES: $10 per car (up to 4 adults)
LODGING: Limited onsite camping is available for $15-25 per night; advance reservations suggested.
TRAVEL TIP: Period encampment access is restricted; join as a volunteer to get a behind-the-scenes look at life in the 1860s.
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

12 Dirt Road Races
If there’s one thing Arizona has in abundance, it’s dirt. Locals in Kingman took advantage of this earthly bounty by building year-round recreational facilities for off-roading and BMX. Arizona Playground’s dirt track hosts weekend practices, motocross endurance and scramble car races, the latter described by spokesperson Toni Swats as “a cross between a regular off-road car race and The Dukes of Hazzard.” We’re talking souped-up beaters flying through the air and nailing each other like bumper cars on a kiddie carnival ride. You’ll have to bring your own car, bike or ATV to play on this Playground, but it’s worth a little wear to go toe-to-toe with seasoned BMX and extreme rally veterans. 2501 E. Beverly Ave, Kingman, 928-716-0738, azplayground.com
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours, 16 minutes (181 miles)
FEES: Registration fees vary by race. Practices $15 per rider, $5 spectators.
LODGING: On site dry camping is available during race weekends.
TRAVEL TIP: Catch sand drags, monster truck rallies and additional races at the adjacent Route 66 Motorsports Park (facebook.com/kingmansanddrags).
KIDS: Bring ‘em. Specialty races host teens and peewee riders 
under 10.

13 Out-Of-State Escape: 
Texas Hill Country
People in the Lone Star State have a trademark swagger which, as President George W. Bush put it, “in Texas is called walking.” Develop a jaunty post-ride strut and get an eyeful of the state flower in bloom with Backroads’ five-day biking tour through Texas Hill Country. Riders on custom titanium steeds power through the winding roads and country lanes of Comfort, Luckenbach and Gruene, stopping at Sister Creek Winery and sipping Shiner Bock and Silver Star at a Fredericksburg brew hall (after a hard day’s pedaling, of course). With the myth that it’s illegal to pick bluebonnets debunked annually by the Texas Department of Public Safety, feel free to pluck a wildflower bouquet along the way. 800-462-2848, backroads.com
GETTING THERE: Fly into Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and take a shuttle or rental car to the meetup point.
FEES/RATES: $2,398 to $2,498 per person


Summer                                                                                                          BACK TO TOP
14 Best Sleepover: 
Grand Canyon Caverns
Peach Springs
Normally, there’s no such thing as absolute peace and quiet. If it’s not kids playing or horns blaring, it’s chirping crickets and howling coyotes. But silence is guaranteed at Grand Canyon Caverns’ underground suite, where the only sounds are the muted footfalls of daytime tourists and the steady “bum-bum” of your heart. What seems like the makings of an Edgar Allan Poe tale is actually a comfortable experience. Located 220 feet below ground, the 80,000-square-foot limestone room is stocked with creature comforts including seating areas with historical magazines and two cozy double beds. If you’re not keen on a sensory deprivation sleep experience, there are plenty of surface rooms available. 928-422-3224, gccaverns.com
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 N to AZ 89 N; merge left onto I-40 W. Take Exit 121; turn right onto AZ-66; turn right onto BIA-18/Hualapai Hilltop Rd. a few miles past Peach Springs.
DRIVING TIME: 4 hours, 8 minutes (208 miles)
RATES: $800 per night. 45-minute walking cave tours cost $18.95 for adults and $12.95 for children 5-12.
TRAVEL TIP: Wear layers and bring flannel pajamas to keep warm in the cave’s constant 57-degree temperature.
KIDS: Leave ‘em.

15 Drive to Die For: 
Mingus Mountain 
to Jerome
Mingus Mountain isn’t for the faint of heart – or the weak of stomach. This 11.5-mile stretch of Highway 89A is crammed with switchbacks and drop-offs, making for a tumultuous ride that’s more theme park roller coaster than leisurely Sunday drive. The trek begins with a climb up the 7,500-foot mountain slope. Dense undergrowth and steep cliffs crowd the narrow road before it finally opens up to awe-inspiring views of Mogollon Rim and the Verde River Valley. At the summit, release your iron grip on the steering wheel for a relaxed descent into Jerome. Don’t be afraid to stop along the way up: Even die-hard road warriors pause at pullouts with the excuse of photographing the view. arizonascenicroads.com
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 N approximately 61 miles to Exit 262 AZ-69 N; take a right onto Highway 89A.
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 35 minutes (92.18 miles). From there, the scenic drive is 11.5 miles.
LODGING: For information on Ghost City Inn, historic Hotel Connor and other tourist gems, visit the Jerome Chamber of Commerce ( jeromechamber.com).
TRAVEL TIP: Motion-sensitive riders should sit up front and focus on the horizon to minimize car sickness.

16 Hometown Fourth of July
A rural town of just over 3,000 residents, Williams hosts the kind of All-American, red, white and blue-blooded Independence Day celebration that city dwellers pine for. We’re talking succulent meats grilled on big honkin’ barbecue smokers, old-timey baseball games and vendors dishing up snow cones and berry pie. The event also includes one of the state’s longest parades, featuring cowboys on horseback and down-home marching bands blaring the modern equivalent of “Seventy-Six Trombones” with gusto. williamsaz.gov, experiencewilliams.com
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 N. Merge onto I-40 W via Exit 340B; take Exit 165 toward Williams/Grand Canyon.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 50 minutes (183 miles)
FEES: Free
LODGING: Test-drive the recently upgraded stone countertops, Spring Air mattresses and hardwood floors at The Lodge on historic Route 66 (thelodgeonroute66.com).
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

PHM0214 WA8A

17 Walk it Out: Paria Canyon
Vermilion Cliffs
The Grand Canyon may be Arizona’s iconic geological feature, but the desert-washed orange cliffs of Paria Canyon provide comparable fodder for landscape photography buffs. It’s an otherworldly experience walking through the dry riverbed surrounded by natural rock arches and hanging flora to rival the gardens at Babylon. At nearby Coyote Buttes, the sweeping sandstone formation known as “The Wave” undulates through the wild like the smooth strokes of a surrealist painting. It’s so well-traveled that hikers must obtain permits by lottery, making Paria an easier choice for day trips or last-minute plans. 435-688-3200, blm.gov
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 N to exit 340A; merge onto I-40 E; take exit 201 toward US-89 N/Page; turn left onto US-180 W/Country Club Dr.; turn right onto US-89 N; turn left onto US-89A N and cross into Utah; make a left onto Hancock Rd; turn left onto Co. Rd. 43; make a left on Maccasin Peak Rd, re-entering Arizona.
DRIVING TIME: 7 hours (376 miles)
FEES: $5 per person (per day); permits required for day and overnight use.
LODGING: Camping permits for the no-host White House Campground are available via blm.gov.
TRAVEL TIP: Canine companions are allowed, but owners must purchase a $5 permit for each pooch on the trail.
KIDS: Leave ‘em.

18 Mountain High Games
Payson’s annual Mountain High Games tap into man’s natural fight-or-flight response without the brain-bouncing brutality of football. Regular Joes (and Janes) are invited to discover their inner mountain men at Payson Event Center (June 6-8), shooting at targets à la Robin Hood and racing on thundering ATVs. In 2011, the games rose from the ashes of Payson’s defunct Sawdust Festival, a 30-year tradition in the former logging mecca. Now log-splitting and sawing are wrapped in among backyard barbecue activities like cook-offs and horseshoes. With 30 man-made obstacles and slippery terrain, the newly added Mogollon Monster Mudder 5K is as nail-biting as the final play of an NFL sudden-death overtime. Live music from local and regional rock and country bands adds to the fun. No flannel or knit caps required, but you might feel more authentically “mountain” while wearing them. 1400 S. Beeline Hwy, Payson, 928-474-5242, paysonrimcountry.com/mountainhighgames
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 37 minutes (92 miles)
FEES: $55 per person before May 1, $65 per person after that. Free admission for spectators.
LODGING: Further your outdoor education with hiking and fishing in the Ponderosa forest surrounding Kohl’s Ranch Lodge 
KIDS: Fit for teens.

Photo By Mark Lipczynski; Bullhead City Regatta

19 River Regatta
Bullhead City
Participants in Bullhead City’s annual river regatta have no need for speed. It’s more of a tubing parade than a race, drawing an estimated 40,000 floaters each year in tethered inner tubes or on themed mega-floats. This year’s theme is Aloha Regatta, so no doubt the Colorado River will be clogged with hibiscus flowers and tourist T-shirt-wearing ukulele players on Saturday, August 9. Float across the state line to Laughlin’s casinos for boozy, bluesy afterparties to help you get Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of “Over the Rainbow” out of your head. 2251 Highway 68, Bullhead City, bullheadregatta.com
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours, 49 minutes (213 miles)
RATES: Check website for rates.
LODGING: Stay al fresco at nearby Davis Camp (mcparks.com), or search for specials at Laughlin’s myriad resorts and hotels (visitlaughlin.com).
TRAVEL TIP: Don’t skimp on the SPF. With August temperatures often in the hundreds, participants roast like pigs on a spit during the nine-mile float.
KIDS: Children 8 and older are allowed in the regatta.

20 Murray Springs Interpretive Trail
Sierra Vista
The gap between education and recreation is bridged along the Murray Springs Interpretive Trail, an easy 1/3 mile hike featuring ten exhibits on life in the Pleistocene era. Check out photos of bison, mammoths, camels, North American horses and long-toothed cat bones discovered here, and learn how Paleo-Indians forged early weapons. This may be one of the best places in the Southwest to become acquainted with the prehistoric Clovis culture, named after the stone tools found at the site of ancient settlements (several Clovis “points,” or arrowheads, were found here). The age of the site is roughly 11,000 years old, but the trail is well-maintained, and even with kids in tow, most visitors can traverse the path in about half an hour. Perhaps you’ll even spot a fossil along the way – though as a protected National Historic Site, finds must be left behind for future generations to discover and enjoy. Benches and shaded areas dot the hike, but there is no drinking water available along the trail, so be sure to bring your own. 
520-439-6400, blm.gov
DIRECTIONS: Take I-10 E to Exit 302 for AZ-90 S; take a left onto Moson Road; entrance road is on the right.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 49 minutes (189 miles)
FEES: Free
TRAVEL TIP: To boost the fitness quotient, extend your hike east two miles to the more rigorous San Pedro Trail, which parallels the river through most of the San Pedro Riparian Conservation Area.
KIDS: Take ‘em.

21 Audrey Headframe Park
Think the Grand Canyon skywalk is one-of-a-kind? Check out the Audrey Headframe. Originally constructed in 1918, the wooden structure was once used to hoist ore and elevators up Little Daisy Mine’s concrete-lined shafts. Now part of a mining museum and public park, the sturdy headframe supports a clear glass bridge with Xenon under-lighting. Thanks to a unique mirror system, visitors can stand on the platform and see down to the bottom of the 1,900-foot-deep shaft – that’s 650 feet longer than the Empire State Building. It may not be the 6,000-foot chasm of the Grand Canyon, but Audrey’s transparent walkway gives the illusion of floating in midair without the skywalk’s $75 price tag. 55 Douglas Rd., Jerome, 928-634-5381, azstateparks.com/parks/jero/index.html
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours (111 miles)
FEES: Free
LODGING: Dig deep into local copper mining history at Jerome’s Ghost City Inn, built in the late 1800s to house mine management (ghostcityinn.com).
KIDS: Bring ‘em, unless they’re afraid of heights.

Photo By Nicole Roegner, A flight of craft beer at Lumberyard Brewing Company22 Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail
Beer is a hot commodity in Flagstaff; take a trip downtown and you’ll spot more breweries than grocery stores or gas stations. With the area’s awesome suds selection in mind, locals Geoff Barnard and Steele Wotkyns created a walkable, self-guided tour of Flagstaff breweries. The tour has since changed hands and expanded to include Grand Canyon Brewing Company in Williams and Oak Creek Brewing in Sedona, but the basics remain the same. Pick up an Ale Trail passport online or at one of the starting-point pubs and enjoy discounts off pints at Lumberyard Brewing Company, Historic Brewing Company, Mother Road Brewing Company and more. This adventure is best enjoyed in groups, especially since most travelers will need a shoulder to lean on after the fourth or fifth stop. flagstaffaletrail.com

Photo By Brian Goddard; "Head yeast whisperer" Urs Riner and "Captain Cooperage" Shawn MacKenzie of Mother Road Brewing Company

DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 N to Flagstaff until it turns into Milton Rd.; to start the trail at Beaver Street Brewing, turn right at W. Phoenix Ave. and again onto S. Beaver St.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 16 minutes (144 miles)
FEES: Passports are $5.95 each; flexible, reusable silicone pint glasses (optional) cost $10.95.
LODGING: Soothe your tired tootsies in a clawfoot bathtub at the historic Weatherford Hotel, built in 1900 and frequented by Western novelist Zane Grey (weatherfordhotel.com).
TRAVEL TIP: Bring a designated driver or charter a shuttle bus to destinations outside Flagstaff’s walkable core (flagshuttle.com).
KIDS: Leave ‘em.

PHM0214 WA22A23 Parasail...
or Ride a Weenie
There’s a boatload of pleasurable ways to navigate desert terrain: ATVs, dirt bikes, Can-Ams. The water sports at the Parker Strip leave them all in the dust. Run the water-toy gamut from kayaks to hydrofoils, wakeboards and trendy stand-up paddleboards at Parker Strip Boat & Jet Ski Rentals at Branson’s Resort – or feel the spray against your face while straddling the Water Weenie, a towable five-person raft that makes for a squeal-inducing ride (7804 Riverside Dr., Parker, 928-667-4837, parkerstriprentals.com). For something more gravity-defying, get flight clearance at River Parasail (pictured). For $55, you won't find a better view. 9080 Mohave Dr., Parker, 928-667-3939, riverparasail.com
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 46 minutes (170 miles)
RATES: Ski boats rent for around $350 per day; $50 per day for water weenie; $75 for hydrofoils. Toy discounts available with boat rental.
LODGING: Park your RV or stay in an air-conditioned motel room at Branson’s Resort (bransonsresort.com). Nearby amenities include a floating dock restaurant and the 18-hole Emerald Canyon golf course.
TRAVEL TIP: Want to relax and enjoy the ride? Relinquish control and tag along on one of Parker Strip’s boat charters.
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

24 Intro to Rock Climbing
If the contestants on America’s Next Top Model can hack rock climbing, anyone can. Bone up on the basics at Southwest Climbing’s introductory class, which focuses on rappelling, climbing movement and the Golden Rule of “leave no trace.” Students depart from downtown’s Manzanita Outfitters, visiting multiple crags around Granite Dells or Sullivan’s Canyon in an eight-hour day. Owner and senior guide Ben Traxler tailors each trip to the ages and fitness levels of the participants. “It does not have to be an extreme ascent of an intimidating north face,” he assures. Graduates of the initial two-day course might not have the skills to scramble like Spider-Man, but at least they’ll feel confident enough to leave the security blanket of an indoor rock climbing wall. 377 N. Montezuma St., #100, Prescott, 928- 899-4940, southwestclimbing.com
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 50 minutes (99 miles)
RATES: $315 per person (2-person minimum)
LODGING: After a full day on the rocks, soothe sore muscles in a Jacuzzi suite at Hassayampa Inn (hassayampainn.com).
TRAVEL TIP: Belaying, in which climbers use rope friction to limit falls, can be hard on the hands. Break in new gloves before hitting the Dells to ensure a comfortable climbing experience.
KIDS: Leave ‘em.

25 Granite Creek Vineyards
Chino Valley
Kit and Robin Holt started farming Chino Valley’s snow-covered soil in the ‘70s. Today, the family-owned vineyard houses four generations of Holts, flocks of wild birds and established grapevines that yield a handful of small-batch boutique wines. Granite Creek is Arizona’s only certified organic winery, with low-sulfite vino less likely to cause wine headaches. What qualifies as organic? “You can’t rely on chemical sanitizers or preservatives to stabilize your wine,” explains event coordinator Heather Bamberg. “You have to make it the right way the first time.” The vineyard hosts tastings and seasonally inspired lunches noon-5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays this summer, with live music Saturdays through November. 2515 N. Road 1 East, Chino Valley, 928-636-2003, granitecreekvineyards.com
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours (110 miles)
RATES: $10 tastings. Wines by the glass are $8-$10; bottles $20-$65. Lunch costs $7-$15 per plate.
LODGING: Hotel options in Chino Valley are limited. One of the closest Prescott-area options is Antelope Hills Inn, located on Highway 89 across from the Antelope Hills golf course (antelopehillsinn.com).
KIDS: Leave ‘em.

26 Out-of-State Escape: Denver, CO
The Mile High city may be known for its snow-capped peaks, but a naturally sunny climate and comfortable 80-degree temps mean summers chock-full of outdoor festivals and tourist-attracting arts. Peep mind-blowing sidewalk masterpieces at Larimer Square’s Chalk Art Festival, May 31-June 1, stop to smell the roses at Denver Botanic Gardens, or sample hip cuisine and hunt for hand-blown glass at the annual Cherry Creek Arts Festival on the July 4 weekend. denver.org, 
GETTING THERE: Fly into Denver International Airport. Rent a car if you plan on hiking around town or take advantage of the city’s renowned public transit system and light rail it to Larimer Square and other downtown hotspots.
FEES: Many summer events, including the Chalk Art Festival and Cherry Creek Arts Festival, are free. Admission to the Botanic Garden (York Street location) is $12.50 adults, $9.50 seniors, $9 students and children.


Fall                                                                                                       BACK TO TOP
27 Walk It Out: 
The Great Bisbee Stair Climb
The 354-stair climb to the crown of the Statue of Liberty is child’s play compared to Bisbee’s annual “friendly fitness walk.” By friendly, climb officials must be referring to the camaraderie that forms when two strangers stride side-by-side across nine sets of outdoor stairs and winding roads. In the 24 years since Bisbee Vogue, Inc. president Cynthia Conroy founded the event, it’s grown so popular that participation is capped at 1,500. The Bisbee 1000 kicks off Saturday, October 18, with a Beerfest, live music and the Iron Man Ice Competition, in which racers gingerly tote a ten-pound ice block up 155 stairs and down a steep trail (hopefully without getting frostbite). 520-266-0401, bisbee1000.org
DIRECTIONS: Take I-10 E to Exit 303; merge onto AZ-80 E; turn right onto Tombstone Canyon; veer right onto Curve St.; make a left onto Ohara Ave. and turn right to stay on Quality Hill Rd.
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours, 32 minutes (209 miles)
FEES: $100 registration fee per person for individual stair climb, youth or Ironman Ice Competition. Free to spectators.
LODGING: Get a head start up 18 steps to the Bisbee Ironman Suite, a 1,000-foot private retreat with full kitchen and clawfoot tub across from the courthouse, or stay at one of Bisbee’s historic hotels (discoverbisbee.com).
TRAVEL TIP: Area motels are often booked to capacity during the Bisbee 1000, so call for reservations well in advance.
KIDS: Children 10 and older can register.

28 Celtic Festival and 
Highland Games
Ever since Mel Gibson spouted his lachrymose “freedom” speech in Braveheart, America has seen renewed interest in Scottish history. More than just men in kilts – though you’ll see plenty of that – Tucson’s annual Celtic Festival on October 31 at Rillito Park will be a pub night replete with drinking and trivia. On November 1-2, the event branches out like the Tree of Life for a Scottish Highland Games event with step dancing, bagpipe competitions and live performances (past guests have included folksy Canadian band Enter the Haggis and fire troupe Cirque Roots). The games continue the 1800s royal traditions of caber toss and hammer throw, thankfully forgoing the historic “twist four legs off a cow” event. 4502 N. First Ave., Tucson, tucsoncelticfestival.org
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 47 minutes (112 miles)
FEES: $5 for pub night. Highland Games $15 per adult, $20 for weekend pass. $10 per day military/seniors, $5 children 6-15 (under 6 free). Parking fee $3.
LODGING: Located down the street from Tucson’s cheery Irish Pub, the luxurious Cactus Cove B&B boasts a waterfall pool and outdoor fireplace (cactuscove.com).
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

29 Red Rock Biplane Tour
A throwback to the Wright Brothers, Sedona Air Tours’ biplane gives flyers an eagle-eye view of Broken Arrow and Submarine Rock without the drawbacks of contained aircraft. Thanks to an open-air cockpit, you can snap panoramic pics without worrying about glass-flare. The rush of the wind on your face also decreases the likelihood you’ll be tossing your cookies overboard. Four tour levels are offered, from a classic flyby of major tourist attractions like Bell Rock and Devil’s Kitchen to a one-hour private exploration of the entire Verde Valley. 1225 Airport Rd., Sedona, 928-204-5939, sedonaairtours.com
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 5 minutes (118 miles)
RATES: Base cost ranges from $129 per person ($190 if flying solo) for the classic tour to $549 for the Ultimate Adventure.
LODGING: Come down from your Red Baron adventure and enjoy direct views of Cathedral Rock and the Snoopy formation at Red Rock Lodge on Oak Creek (redrocklodgesedona.com).
TRAVEL TIP: Dress like you’re going for a ride in a ragtop, with layers for warmth and a jacket to protect against the elements.
KIDS: Bring ‘em. Booster seats are available for tiny tots.

30 Yoga on the Edge
Grand Canyon South Rim
Living in our hectic modern world can feel as relaxing as sitting on a pincushion cactus. That’s why the quiet expanse of the Grand Canyon is the ideal backdrop for Grand Canyon Field Institute’s three-day yoga tour, September 12-14. Students will practice the art of asana, silent meditation in comfortable poses such as the classic Lotus sitting position. Campfires and nature walks in between classes reinforce the connection between land and body. While much of the instruction by owners Bob Hoffa and Kelley Ingols happens indoors, the true test of serenity happens on day three, when morning meditation is performed on the vertigo-inducing canyon edge at Shoshone Point. 928-638-2485, grandcanyon.org/learn/grand-canyon-field-institute

Photos By David VeneziaDIRECTIONS: Take I-17 N to Exit 340B to merge onto I-40 W. Take Exit 165; turn right onto AZ-64 N; turn left onto Center Rd.; make a right on Village Loop Drive and follow the loop around; make two right turns and Kolb Studio (meetup point) is on the left.
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours, 32 minutes (229 miles)
RATES: $250 ($225 for members)
LODGING: The rustic character and vintage charm of the circa-1935 Bright Angel Lodge make it a popular South Rim perch (grandcanyonlodges.com).
TRAVEL TIP: In addition to typical yoga gear like mats and meditation journals, bring sunscreen and comfortable walking shoes for outdoor activities.
KIDS: Leave ‘em.

Photos By David Venezia; All-Souls Procession31 All-Souls Procession
In Tucson, Halloween ain’t over until the dead people march. The first weekend in November, downtown streets are crammed with costumed revelers in skeletal face paint celebrating Dia de Los Muertos with ritual-rich parties, altar displays and street performances. The two-mile long parade draws more than 35,000 visitors. Floats honor the dead with crazy themes and eye-searing colors, while celebrants packed in like sardines chant, drum and dance in the streets. Toss a prayer for lost loved ones into a giant cauldron at the head of the hullabaloo and watch it burn in tribute at night’s end. allsoulsprocession.org

Photos By David Venezia

DIRECTIONS: Take I-10 E 109 miles to Exit 258; turn left onto W. Congress St.; turn slight right onto W. Broadway Blvd.; turn left onto S. Sixth Ave.; parade route begins on Sixth Avenue.
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 47 minutes (114 miles)
FEES: Parade is free; special event costs vary.
LODGING: Crash in vintage comfort at the TV-free Hotel Congress and watch the spectacle, (hotelcongress.com).
TRAVEL TIP: Bring a blanket or lawn chairs if you’re not marching with the procession.
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

Photos By David Venezia32 White Mountain Nature Center
At more than 11,000 feet tall, Mount Baldy is Arizona’s second-highest mountain. It’s also a haven for snakes, birds of prey and the recently introduced Mexican gray wolf. White Mountain Nature Center educates guests about the area’s animal inhabitants through expert presentations, wildlife hikes and workshops. Test the pH of Pinetop’s wetlands or get up close and personal with a trained peregrine falcon. The center’s annual wildlife festival, held in the fall, also features archery shoots and educational games for little naturalists-in-training. Check the center's online calendar for specific events, and download a free nature guide before you go. 425 S. Woodland Rd., Pinetop-Lakeside, 928- 358-3069, 
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours, 41 minutes (192 miles)
LODGING: Bring Fido and the family to a private lakeside cabin at Pinetop’s Lake of the Woods resort (lakeofthewoodsaz).
TRAVEL TIP: The 13-mile Mount Baldy Trail is an excellent side trip, but hikers will need a permit from the Apache Nation to continue past the east fork of the Little Colorado up to the summit.
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

33 Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival
Ever since the Wizard took off in an Omaha State Fair balloon, we’ve had a love affair with hot air. The Caballeros de Yuma parlayed their airship affection into a yearly mass ascension and fireworks display, lifting off November 21-23. Saturday and Sunday mornings, corporate-sponsored balloons take off en masse from Yuma’s West Wetlands Park. Saturday night, tethered and lighted balloons take flight in choreographed waves, glowing like gargantuan fireflies in the sky. Most liftoffs are pre-arranged; however, tethered rides are available for $15 at the Desert Balloon Glow. 2200 Water St., Yuma, 928-343-1715, caballeros.org
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours (187 miles)
FEES: Launch admission is one non-perishable canned good. Desert Balloon Glow entrance costs $1 plus one can of food.
LODGING: Yuma has all the usual hotel suspects from Best Western to Wyndham (visityuma.com).
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

34 Colossal Cave Mountain Park
Colossal Cave’s secrets go way back, from the time its underground passageways were carved by water to its settlement by the Hohokam. Even bank robbers knew its value as a hideout. Most visitors opt for the standard cave tour, a 45-minute guided walk past stalactites, cave “bacon” and other natural formations. The Discovery Tour amps up the Indiana Jones quotient with off-route exploration requiring climbing and a hard hat. 16721 E. Old Spanish Trail, Vail, 520-647-7275, colossalcave.com
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 17 minutes (142 miles)
RATES: Cave tour $13 for adults, $6.50 for kids 5-12. Ladder tour $25 daytime, $30 night or $45 including dinner. Candlelight tours $25, $45 with dinner. Age-restricted wild cave tours cost $55-$75.
LODGING: Relax with trail rides, nature hikes or yoga at Tucson’s Tanque Verde Ranch (tanqueverderanch.com).
TRAVEL TIP: Gloves are required for the more intensive ladder and wild cave tours. Knee and elbow pads are recommended.
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

35 Man Against Horse Race
Mingus Mountain
Legend has it the original Man vs. Horse race began after a Welsh townie boasted that a man could run as fast as his steed, over distance. At Prescott Endurance Club’s annual Man Against Horse race at Mingus Mountain, rocky terrain and an arduous climb to 7,500 feet give man his chance to best beast. Equestrians face off against foot racers in 12-, 25- and 50-mile runs. Riders often touch nose to finish line first, but local legend Dennis Poolheco gave two-legged entrants hope when he outpaced his equine competitors five years running. managainsthorse.net
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 N to Exit 262 for AZ-69 N; turn right onto Fain Rd; turn right onto AZ-89-ALT and continue approximately three miles to base camp.
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 40 minutes
FEES: Entry fees $25-$95 per rider/horse, $25-$85 per runner.
LODGING: Overnight camping and RVs allowed on-site.
KIDS: Leave ‘em.

Photos By Paul Gill; Coconino National Forest36 Drive to Die For: 
Volcanoes and Ruins Loop
Coconino National Forest
It’s been nearly a thousand years since the San Francisco volcano field near Flagstaff erupted in a fiery maelstrom of cinder and ash. Beginning along Highway 89 and circling back through the Wupatki National Monument and Strawberry Wilderness, northern Arizona’s battle-scarred Volcanoes and Ruins Loop tells the story in a mass of craters and cinder cones. Yawning stretches of grassland and low brush along the 36-mile stretch of paved road give way to crumbling ancient abodes, ending with colorful cones and lava tubes at Sunset Crater. www.nps.gov
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 N to I-40 E; take Exit 201; turn left onto N. Country Club Dr/I-40-BL; turn right onto US-89 N; take the Sunset Crater/Wupatki turnoff at FR 545 and turn right; scenic drive is 36 miles to US 89, plus 22 miles back to Flagstaff.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 19 minutes (149 miles) to US-89. The loop takes about 2.5 hours from Flagstaff and back.
TRAVEL TIP: Take an exploratory hike and have a hands-on meteor experience at Sunset Crater’s visitor center ($5 per person).

Photos By Jim David; Zion National Park37 Out-of-State Escape: 
Zion National Park
Utah’s oldest and most well-traveled park, Zion is dominated by sweeping pink sandstone cliffs and thousand-foot-deep chasms carved out millions of years ago by the Virgin River. Recreation opportunities are endless, from bird-watching California Condors that migrated from Arizona’s Vermilion Cliffs to tackling a 16-mile-long slog through claustrophobic canyons and swift river currents at The Narrows. To prepare for the journey, check out the visitor center’s water exhibits and 22-minute park overview. 435-772-3256, utah.com/nationalparks/zion.htm
GETTING THERE: It’s a straight shot up US-89 and across the Utah border, if you’re up for the seven-hour car ride. Most air travelers fly into Salt Lake City or Las Vegas and take a shuttle or car rental to Zion; the smaller St. George Municipal Airport is located 45 minutes from the park.
FEES/RATES: $25 per vehicle or $12 per person/bike for a 7-day pass. Backcountry permits for overnight stays cost $10 for 1-2 people.
KIDS: Take ‘em or leave ‘em.


Winter                                                                                                       BACK TO TOP
38 Best Sleepover: 
Flying E Ranch
Flying E recently nabbed a “Best of the West” nod from Cowboys & Indians magazine – and for good reason. Founded in the ‘40s, this working dude ranch, convieniently located an hour north of the Valley in the stylishly-worn town of Wickenburg, is a picturesque scene straight out of an old Western. True, there’s a heated swimming pool and hot tub, but those are merely meant to soothe riders after a full day of corralling or trail riding. First-timers start out with a slow, scenic trot through the surrounding hills, advancing to traversing steeper trailheads or assisting ranch hands. Hosts Andrea and Steve Taylor also offer seasonal cookouts and female-centric cowgirl weekends with line dancing and team penning activities. 2801 W. Wickenburg Way, Wickenburg, 928-684-2690, flyingeranch.com
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 19 minutes (58 miles)
RATES: Rooms are $325-$360 per night and family houses are $410-$420 per night (double occupancy). Additional fees for extra guests and trail rides.
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

39 Walk it Out: 
Flagstaff Nordic Center
Some hikers become couch potatoes during snow season, but Phoenicians are used to conquering the desert all year long. Flagstaff Nordic Center accommodates dedicated walkers with dozens of snowshoe trails for all skill levels, from the breezy Lower Dog Trail to the arduous 3.9 km Lava Trail. There’s also 25 miles of groomed cross-country trails and specialized 16-foot wide tracks for the ski set. Don’t want to hoof it? In 2013, the center added Pugsley fat-tire mountain bikes to its rental fleet, with 15 kilometers of winter biking trails open for the season. So get your winterbound rear into gear. 16848 U.S. 180, Flagstaff, 
928-220-0550, flagstaffnordiccenter.com
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 44 minutes (165 miles)
RATES: Multi-use passes are $12-$18 adults, $10-$12 students/seniors. 7 and younger free. Half-day passes are $10-$12. Snowshoe-only passes are $7-$10 or $5-$7 for half-day.
LODGING: Get off the grid in one of Coconino National Forest’s weatherproof yurts (offgridgetaways.com).
TRAVEL TIP: Leave your gear at home and rent boots, poles and snowshoes on-site; the Nordic Center even has mini sleds for pulling toddlers behind.
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

40 Drive to Die For: 
Sky Island Scenic Byway
Tucson to Summerhaven
Described by the U.S. Forest Service as “the biological equivalent of driving from the deserts of Mexico to the forests of Canada,” the 27-mile Catalina Highway is one of the most diverse scenic routes in southern Arizona. The trip kicks off with the traditional saguaro-studded desert landscape of postcards and travel brochures, winding through Tanque Verde and into the Coconino National Forest. Along the way, you’ll pass a continent’s worth of biodiversity, from mesquite trees and cholla plants to oak stands and pine forests. With a 6,000-foot change in elevation, the drive up Mt. Lemmon to Summerhaven is no picnic – though the picturesque, snow-blanketed evergreens may have you wanting to pull out a basket and stop for one. www.fs.usda.gov
DIRECTIONS: Take I-10 E to Exit 256; turn left onto W. Grant Rd.; make a left onto E. Tanque Verde Rd.; turn left on E. Catalina Hwy.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 7 minutes (123 miles) to the Catalina Highway. 27 miles to the summit.
TRAVEL TIP: Though open year-round, severe weather conditions on the Catalina Highway can cause roads to be temporarily blocked. Check local reports before heading out.
KIDS: Leave ‘em.

Photo By Jim David; Models provided by the Agency Arizona; Clothing provided by Eddie Bauer/Scottsdale Fashion Square41 Sleepover: Hannagan Meadow Lodge
Since opening in 1926, Hannagan Meadow Lodge has been home to many a quirky character – notably Hollywood gunslinger John Wayne, pyramid-building governor W.P. Hunt, and a resident ghost nicknamed The Lady of the Lodge. Wayne’s signature is rumored to be scrawled on the wall behind a fireplace, though owners won’t sneak a peek for fear of damaging its hand-carved mantel. Outdoor activities range from fishing and elk hunting to seasonal horse-and-buggy rides. For the quintessential Wild West experience, stay in one of the Lodge’s 10 themed cabins, chow on some vittles at the cowboy cookout (Saturdays, May through September) and saddle up with wrangler Bill McClain, who appeared in Western flicks with Danny Glover, Kevin Costner and Peter Fonda. Yee-haw! 23150 U.S. 191, Alpine, 928-339-4370, hannaganmeadow.com
DRIVING TIME: 4 hours, 43 minutes (250 miles)
RATES: Regular rooms are $85-$125 a night April 15-Oct. 31 and winter holidays, $65-$95 Nov. 1-April 14. Cabins run $150-$200 a night April 15-Oct. 31/holidays, $115-$150 Nov. 1-April 14.
TRAVEL TIP: Alpine’s elevation hovers around 8,000 feet, making breathing difficult during long hikes. Take frequent pit stops and drink electrolyte-enhanced water to avoid exhaustion.
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

42 Keepers of the Wild
Sensitive to the plight of tigers brought to heel in magic shows and zoos, Dutch magician Jonathan Kraft opened a small rescue park in Northern Arizona. Not your typical zoo, this open-air park is a sanctuary for more than 175 retired, abused or mistreated animals. Walk in a tropical rainforest of twittering birds or watch mountain lions at play on Cougar Hill. Guided Safari Tours are offered three times per day; hop aboard a Jeep on the 3:30 p.m. tour to see the park’s predators get their big meal – a slab of raw, red meat – and meet the primates of Monkey Village face-to-face. 13441 E. Hwy 66, Valentine, 928-769-1800, keepersofthewild.org
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours, 47 minutes (210 miles)
RATES: $18 adult, $15 senior, $12 child. $10 additional cost for safari tour.
LODGING: Follow the tracks of historic Route 66 to nearby hotels in Kingman (gokingman.com).
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

43 Cut Your Own 
Christmas Tree
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests
Somewhere along the line, hunting down a Christmas tree became as easy as a trip to Home Depot. Still, a few old-fashioned folks are committed to loading the kids into the Family Truckster and snatching an evergreen straight from nature’s tree farm. Arizona national forests including Coconino, Kaibab and Prescott allow families to pluck their own tree in approved cutting sites mid-November through December, with the largest number of available permits in the Apache-Sitgreaves region near Springerville. The trip will only set you back a small cutting fee plus the cost of gas, though you’ll have to bring your own saw, manpower and a shovel to fill in the hole. 165 S. Mountain Ave., Springerville, 928-333-6200, www.fs.usda.gov
DRIVING TIME: 4 hours, 6 minutes (226 miles)
RATES: 2013 fees were $15 for 10 feet and under; purchase two permits to obtain a larger tree. One tree per household.
TRAVEL TIP: Have an off-road vehicle? Cut a tree near Eager, AZ in the Springerville Ranger District of Apache-Sitgreaves and take a side trip to the Saffel Canyon Trail, 25 miles of moderate dirt road with a top elevation near 10,000 feet.
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

44 Sedona International 
Film Festival
In the indie world, movies aren’t just for escapism – or blockbuster box-office takes. Fill your psyche with thought-provoking documentaries, features and shorts at the 20th annual Sedona International Film Festival, February 22-March 2. This year’s 150-strong film menu, culled from roughly 1,000 submissions, includes The Girl on the Bicycle from Jeremy Leven (The Notebook) and Forrest Whitaker’s talked-about new thriller Repentances. Sedona also rolls out the red carpet for country crooner Brad Paisley, who wrote and produced a cheeky short, and Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon. Mary D. Fisher Theatre: 2030 W. State Route 89A, Suite A-3, Sedona, 928-282-1177, sedonafilmfestival.org
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours (118 miles)
RATES: Platinum All-Access Pass $990; Gold Priority Pass $490; 20-ticket package $210, 10-ticket package $105, student 10-ticket package $85.
LODGING: Get the celebrity experience at the 5-star Enchantment Resort (enchantmentresort.com) with its award-winning cuisine, or get the star treatment at one of Sedona’s down-to-earth lodges (www.visitsedona.com).
TRAVEL TIP: Test your celeb-spotting skills at Sedona Rouge’s REDS restaurant, a popular dining spot for past festival honorees (sedonarouge.com).
KIDS: Leave ‘em.

45 Tubing at Elk Ridge Ski and Outdoor Recreation Area
The grass really is greener at Elk Ridge, a park so keen on tubing that officials fitted a hill with synthetic turf so kids can joyously careen down it year-round. There’s no BYOT policy here. Because the tubing area is approved by the National Forest Service, rental is mandatory and included in the daily entry price. The park’s 37 ski-ready acres – located about 30 miles east of Flagstaff – cater to all skill levels, though its mild slopes are better suited for beginners and intermediate skiers wanting a refresher from onsite instructors. Elk Ridge is open weekends during the on-season, plus additional hours around the holidays. E. Ski Run Rd., Williams, 928- 814-5038, elkridgeski.com
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 51 minutes (179 miles)
RATES: $20 per person, $15 Children 4-12. $40 for a Family Pack (2 adults and 2 children).
LODGING: Mosey on down to Mountain Ranch Resort at Beacon Hill for horseback riding, hiking and other outdoor activities (mountainranchresort.com).
TRAVEL TIP: No need to pack a cold picnic lunch; Elk Ridge has a full kitchen in the day lodge.
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

46 Candlelight Tours
Fort Verde
The ghosts of Christmases past are alive and well at Fort Verde, originally a military installation for infantry soldiers during the Apache Wars, located between Phoenix and Flagstaff. Homes on Officer’s Row – listed on the National Register of Historic Places – look like the set of a period film. In December, their halls are decked in Victorian finery, with all the scarlet bows and dainty frills that a bustled and corseted housewife could muster. Follow re-enactors by dim candlelight through a surgeon’s apothecary, sparsely furnished bachelors’ quarters and the ornate commanding officer’s house, then regroup for war stories and hot chocolate afterward. Hey, it beats an umpteenth viewing of A Christmas Story on cable. 125 E. Hollamon, Camp Verde, 928-567-3275, 
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 30 minutes (91 miles)
FEES: $5 adults, $2 youth 7-13
LODGING: Rest your head at Cliff Castle Casino Hotel and continue playing in the darkness at cosmic bowling on Friday and Saturday nights (cliffcastlecasinohotel.com).
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

Photos By William Scot Grey47 Take a Blacksmithing Class
Camp Verde
With threats of global catastrophe or zombie apocalypse looming, the re-skilling movement has humans relearning survival skills that have been tossed aside in the modern age. Sewing. Hunting. Cooking food without a microwave. Go medieval on your complacency with Pieh Tool Company’s monthly blacksmithing classes, taught by Victory Forge owner Gordon Williams. Students of the intensive three-day course learn basic joinery, forge welding and tool making, with metalheads taking home a finished knife, cup rack, or sturdy paper towel holder that could double as a weapon come end times. 661 E. Howards Rd., Camp Verde, 928-554-0700, piehtoolco.com
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 30 minutes (91 miles)
FEES: $455 per person.
LODGING: Communal rooms above the shop are available for $30 per night and include continental breakfast, in-room refrigerator and Wi-Fi.
KIDS: Leave ‘em.

48 The Main Event
Just east of the Colorado River, the sleepy burg of Quartzsite is a popular resting place for cross-country tourists in rumbling RVs. However, come January and February, the self-proclaimed “rock capital of the world” becomes a lapidary Lollapalooza, hosting back-to-back concerts, gem shows and swap meets, with visitors numbering in the millions – an annual blowout known as the Main Event. Scour the festival for everything from tie-dyed clothes to Native American artifacts, then motor over to the annual Sports, Recreation & RV show to view upscale RVs that rival President Obama’s swanky Hemphill Bros. motor coach. Minus the Secret Service, of course. www.xpopress.com/QZ-ME-show-schedule.html
DIRECTIONS: Take I-10 E to Quartzite; take Exit 17 onto Main Street; start rock-hounding.
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 55 minutes (129 miles)
FEES: Free admission.
TRAVEL TIP: Much of the wilderness around Quartzsite is ATV-friendly. Rumble through the granite boulders of Indian Springs or venture to a 3,800-foot-high rock mountain in Kofa Queen Canyon (ci.quartzsite.az.us).
KIDS: Leave ‘em.

49 Snowmobiling at the Lodge
Mormon Lake
Snowmobiles have come a long way since Canada’s scary early 1900s “sled-with-a-motor” design. Today it’s a simple point-and-click pursuit: Press the big red start button, gun the throttle and you’re off. Knowing that navigation is the trickiest part, Mormon Lake Lodge offers snowmobile rentals with the extra security of a trained guide. Zoom through the hills and valleys of Coconino National Forest, with chill winds throwing up snow in a blinding storm. Teen riders 16 and older are allowed to take the controls with parental supervision, offering the potential for a driver’s ed course to remember. 1991 Mormon Lake Rd., 928-354-2227, 
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 50 minutes (170 miles)
RATES: $60 single, $75 double
TRAVEL TIP: Helmets are provided, but you’ll need to stock up on goggles and gloves before you head up (or purchase some at the nearby general store).
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

50 Sledding at Wing 
Just a few miles north of Flagstaff, Wing Mountain’s snow play facility offers a safe and organized place for kids (and kids at heart) to enjoy traditional winter fun. There’s plenty of sledding and skiing, and the occasional hotly-contested snowball fight. Build a snowman while sipping hot chocolate from the concession stand, or hoist an inner tube up the shallow, sloping hills and “whee!” all the way down. Wing Mountain is open seven days a week, weather permitting, with sled rentals available if you’re without your cherry-red Radio Flyer. 22600 Hwy 180 North, Flagstaff, 602-923-3555, 
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 43 minutes (164 miles)
RATES: $12 per car
LODGING: Warm up with Earl Grey and a roaring fire at The Inn at 410, a cozy B&B with nine rooms and suites (inn410.com).
TRAVEL TIP: Wait to visit Mother Road Brewing (motherroadbeer.com) until after you get back into town.
KIDS: Bring ‘em.

51 Out-of-State Escape: 
Sleighing Lake Tahoe
The holiday song “Winter Wonderland” could have been written about Lake Tahoe. Far from the boundless lights of Las Vegas, this skiers’ paradise is a cool spot for ice skating, snowmobiling, and old-fashioned sledding. Take a romantic ride on an antique European sleigh – drawn by draft horses, not reindeer – or bring the family to Squaw Valley the week before Christmas for snow tubing, holiday caroling and s’mores. Perhaps the West's most stunning wintertime playground. sleighride.com
GETTING THERE: Many casinos and resorts offer shuttle service to and from Reno/Tahoe International Airport.
RATES: One-hour private sleigh rides run $50 for adults, $45 for youths 11-17, $25 for kids under 11. 30-minute Group Sleigh Rides are $25 for adults, $20 for youths, $10 for kids. Contact Squaw Valley for activity pricing (squaw.com).

Photos By Abraham Karam

52 Rockabilly Reunion
Lake Havasu City
The 1950s were about more than just poodle skirts and bouffants. It was a time of pushing boundaries, from jelly roll hair and stiletto combs to Elvis’ trademark hip swivel. Hard Fall Hearts, the Booze Bombs, Johnny Cash tribute band Cash’d Out and more will resurrect music’s rebel days at Lake Havasu City’s annual rockabilly fest, February 14-16 at Windsor Beach State Park. Peep beautiful Betties who buck the Miss America stereotype with tats and killer curves at the pin-up competition, with the winner taking home a cash prize. The eye candy continues with Highway of Horrors’ juried display of more than 800 vintage cars and bikes, including hot rods and tricked-out T-Birds. 699 London Bridge Rd, Lake Havasu City, lakehavasurockabillyreunion.com
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours, 23 minutes (202 miles)
FEES: $10 per day, $25 for a weekend pass (includes car or pin-up registration)
LODGING: Try an old-school motor court like Havasu’s Sand Castle Inn or visit one of the area’s swankier resorts 
TRAVEL TIP: Start your day with a classic 1950s breakfast at Peggy’s Sunrise Café (peggyssunrisecafe.com).
KIDS: Bring ‘em.