52 Weekend Adventures - 2013

Written by Laurie Davies Category: Travel Issue: February 2013
Group Free

Mark your calendar and top off the tank in your getaway car: This menu of statewide escapes serves up everythingfrom zip lining to llama hiking to ghost busting, plus a hefty helping of hikes, scenic drives, festivals and more. 
New this year: a handful of out-of-state outdoorsy meccas for every season.


1. Best Sleepover:
Hacienda Corona de Guevavi

Wendy Stover calls her bed and breakfast “the Plymouth Rock of the West,” and it’s a credible claim. Hacienda Corona de Guevavi was first established by Captain Juan Bautista De Anza in 1728 and is the site of Father Kino’s first mission church in Southern Arizona. (De Anza’s mother was buried at the altar steps of the ruins that still stand today.) “He led the army that escorted Father Kino to Guevavi, the mission of sorrows,” Stover says. Today, sorrows are someplace else, as this romantic ranch perched atop 36 acres overlooking the Santa Cruz Riverbed offers a plush, private hacienda retreat. Murals of indigenous Mexican peasants painted by famed bullfighter-turned-artist Salvador Corona line the courtyard walls.
ELEVATION: 3,900 feet
ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS: 348 S. River Rd., Nogales. Take I-10 east to Tucson; merge onto I-19 south. Continue to exit 12, Ruby Road. Continue east 1.5 miles to Via Frontera; turn right. At the stop sign, turn left on South River Road. Drive approximately 1.5 miles to Guevavi Ranch gate; turn left and proceed across riverbed to Hacienda Corona sign.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 45 minutes (175 miles)
RATES: $199-$239/night (double occupancy)
INFO: 520-287-6503, haciendacorona.com
KIDS: Leave ’em.

Photo by Abraham Karam

2. Walk It Out:
Llama Hike Strawberry

“Back in 1988, having a llama was like being in the Arabian horse circuit,” quips Joyce Bittner. Today, Joyce and her husband, John, have 50 goats and nine llamas on their 5-acre slice of high-country paradise called the Ranch at Fossil Creek. John estimates he makes about 60 pounds of cheese and 25 pounds of fudge from goat milk every day. Joyce handles the one-hour or half-day guided llama hikes through neighboring Prescott National Forest or along the Mogollon Rim. (Note: You don’t ride the 275-pound pack animals; you walk alongside them.)
ELEVATION: 7,000 feet
ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS: 10379 W. Fossil Creek Rd., Strawberry. Take Highway 87 north to Strawberry; turn west on Fossil Creek Road. Travel 3.5 miles to the Ranch at Fossil Creek.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours (108 miles)
FEES: Half-day llama hikes cost $65 for adults, $40 for children under age 12. Lunch is included.
LODGING: Camp overnight in a Ranch at Fossil Creek yurt. For more upscale accommodations, try Joyce’s sister’s place, Up the Creek Bed and Breakfast (upthecreekbedandbreakfast.com).
INFO: 928-476-5178, ranchatfossilcreek.com
TRAVEL TIP: Take a cooler to keep specialty cheese or fudge purchases cool.
KIDS: Take ’em.

3. Scenic Drive:
Highway 177
Superior to Winkelman

The road to Winkelman meanders south from Superior along saguaros, arroyos, barrel cactus – and copper. This paved road twists, turns, ascends and dips with a nice mix of ease and texture, making it a popular choice for bikers. Twelve miles south of Superior, turn left at the Ray Pit Mine. This massive, multicolored terracing of marred, scarred landscape illustrates the tussle between man and Mother Nature, who gives up her copper at a cost. The pit plunges so deep that mining crews appear to man Tonka trucks below. To the west, aptly-named peaks such as Mineral Mountain and Copper Butte round out the ride to Winkelman.
ELEVATION: 1,972-2,646 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take U.S. 60 east to Superior; turn south on Highway 177. At Winkelman, take the optional return north on Highway 77 to Globe.
DRIVING TIME: 45 minutes (33 miles)
TRAVEL TIP: The Mescal Mountains OHV area near Kearney offers easy off-road trails through low desert terrain.
KIDS: Leave ’em.

4. Castle Dome Mining Museum

The Old West was fragile, not built to last, says Alan Armstrong. The historian has amassed a 50-building mining museum and ghost town on the site of Castle Dome City, which produced silver from 1864 to 1979. To gather artifacts, Armstrong rappelled 250 feet down a mine shaft sealed on his property since 1919. “It was like going into the Titanic. It was all untouched,” he says, adding that he found intact picks, shovels, powder boxes and a pair of Levi Strauss-authenticated 1890s buttonfly jeans. Other artifacts are reclamations, like the 1817 wood stairs in the saloon that Armstrong salvaged from a Jefferson Davis residence. Don’t miss the chapel and the jail, whose barred window nicely frames the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.
ELEVATION: 138 feet (Yuma)
ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS: 27550 E. County 15th St., Yuma. Take I-10 west to Quartzsite; exit onto Highway 95 south to mile marker 55. Turn east onto Castle Dome Road and follow signs for about 10 miles.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 50 minutes (185 miles)
FEES: $6-$10/adults, depending on how many attractions you want to see; $3-$5/kids ages 6-11.
LODGING: Hike up your history quotient with a stay at the Hilton Garden Inn Yuma Pivot Point (hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com) and walk the interpretive trail system behind the hotel along the Colorado River.
INFO: 928-920-3062, castledomemuseum.com
KIDS: Take ’em.

5. Saguaro National Park

Flanking Tucson, bifurcated Saguaro National Park is an earthen ode to carnegiea gigantea, the super-centenarian succulent that can reach a height of 50 feet and weigh as much as 8 tons. Scenic loop drives and miles of hiking immerse visitors in 91,000 acres of dense saguaro-studded landscapes at the park, located in the Tucson Mountains in the west and the Rincon Mountains in the east. Shutterbugs should arrive early for sunrise in later spring months when white, waxy flowers open creamy petals for pollination from bats, birds and insects.
ELEVATION: 2,180-8,666 feet (at top of Mica Mountain in Saguaro East district)
DIRECTIONS: To Saguaro West District: Take I-10 east to Avra Valley Road; turn west and drive 5 miles to Sandario Road; turn left. Drive 9 miles south to Kinney Road; turn left and continue to visitor center.
To Saguaro East: Take I-10 east to Houghton Road; drive 9.5 miles north to Old Spanish Trail. Turn right and proceed 3 miles to park entrance.
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 50 minutes (109 miles) to Saguaro West District; allow 45 additional minutes to reach Saguaro East district.
FEES: $10 vehicle permit
LODGING: Traipse through more saguaro stands on horseback at White Stallion Ranch (whitestallion.com).
INFO: nps.gov/sagu
TRAVEL TIP: Leave Fido at home; dogs – even on leashes – are not permitted.
KIDS: Take ’em.

6. Bog Springs
Madera Canyon

Untether from reality at Bog Springs Campground in the bird-watching mecca of Madera Canyon. With only 13 campsites, this quiet, exclusive setting is best visited in spring, when wildflowers and migratory birds, including the rare elegant trogon and the painted redstart, return. Most campsites offer wooded seclusion amid swaths of oaks and sycamores. While many trails emanate from Bog Springs, we recommend the Old Baldy Trail up to Josephine’s Saddle (trailhead is 1 mile north of campground). The thigh-burning, chuparosa-lined trail includes moss-covered outcroppings that speak to generous rainfall that attracts stunning varieties of birds.
ELEVATION: 5,060 feet (7,080 at Josephine’s Saddle)
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 to Tucson and merge south onto I-19. Continue 24 miles to the Continental Road/Madera Canyon exit. Turn east and follow signs 12.5 miles to the campground.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 30 minutes (150 miles)
FEES: $10 per night
INFO: fs.usda.gov/activity/coronado/recreation/camping-cabins
TRAVEL TIP: Sites are claimed quickly, so jump-start your weekend with a Thursday departure.
KIDS: Take ’em.

7. Willy Wonka Waterfall
Navajo Nation

If the winter snowpack is good, the spring runoff is spectacular at Grand Falls in the Navajo Nation. This 185-foot natural waterfall actually exceeds the vertical drop at Niagara Falls but slips by unheralded because she’s a part-time player on the Southwestern landscape. When flowing, the falls pour like a melted Fudgsicle from the Painted Desert into the Little Colorado River – providing the muddy raw material that Navajo potters downstream depend upon to ply their craft. Be forewarned: Grand Falls is as temperamental as it is impressive, reducing to a trickle during dry seasons.
ELEVATION: 4,760 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 north to Flagstaff; merge right onto I-40 east. Travel 15 miles to exit 211 at Winona. Drive 2.3 miles north to Leupp Road. Turn right and drive 20.3 miles to unpaved (and unsigned) Indian Road 6910 (between mile markers 5 and 6). Turn left and drive 9.4 miles on the rough, washboard road to the turnoff, which leads to an easy 1-mile trail and overlook with picnic tables.
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours, 15 minutes (184 miles)
LODGING: La Posada Hotel, Winslow (laposada.org)
INFO: navajonationparks.org/htm/grandfalls.htm
TRAVEL TIP: Leaving roads or trails is against Navajo law.
KIDS: Take ’em.


Photos by Madison Kirkman

8. Take a Glass Class

The Tucson Glass Festival, set this year for April 13-14, celebrates glass arts with demonstrations by artists who offer blow-by-blow commentary on their craft. Demos include everything from stained glass and sculptural flowers to goblets and beads. Participants can also get in on the fun with hands-on, make-and-take projects. Most festivities take place at Sonoran Glass School, with select artist demos at the Philabaum Glass Studio & Gallery.
ELEVATION: 2,390 feet
ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS: 633 W. 18th St., Tucson. Take I-10 east to Tucson, exit 259. Turn left onto W. 22nd Street. Turn immediately left again on the frontage road. Turn right on 18th Street and continue to the school.

Photos by Madison Kirkman

DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 45 minutes (115 miles)
FEES: $10 per person daily
LODGING: Sample another artistic genre at the nearby Hotel Congress (hotelcongress.com), where the Tap Room houses the largest private collection of Pete Martinez’s Western art.
INFO: 520-884-7814, sonoranglass.org
KIDS: Leave ’em.

9. Hopi Arts Trail
Hopi Villages

Potter Lawrence Namoki hails from Walpi, a Hopi burg still without running water and electricity. “I do everything by hand,” he says, holding up an obsidian rock he uses to patiently score his pieces until they are spit-polished. Like all Hopi art, Namoki’s pots tell a story that is tribal, spiritual and personal. Now, thanks to the Hopi Arts Trail, a self-guided collection of artists and galleries from 12 Hopi villages, travelers can find authentic Hopi art with ease. Leave high-brow inclinations behind – some galleries take a breathtaking step back in time, such as Hamana So’ohs in Old Oraibi, a village that dates to 1150.
ELEVATION: 5,000-5,500 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 north to Flagstaff; merge onto I-40 east 5.5 miles to Highway 89 north. Continue 62 miles to Highway 160 east to Tuba City. Take Highway 264 east and visit hopiartstrail.com for a locator map of galleries.
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours, 20 minutes (220 miles) to Tuba City. Allow three to four hours to visit galleries, especially if traveling to the farthest point on the trail, First Mesa.
LODGING: Moenkopi Legacy Inn and Suites, Tuba City (experiencehopi.com)
TRAVEL TIP: If you feel more comfortable hiring a tour guide, click the “tour guide” link at hopiartstrail.com.
KIDS: Leave ’em.


Photos by Lillian Reid

10. Historic Home Tour

Jerome’s 48th annual Historic Home and Building Tour gives visitors an inside sampling of delightfully redecorated domains ranging from upscale Victorian to mended mining shacks. Last year’s tour featured the pimped-out Sullivan Hotel, an 1899 brothel built by madam Belgian Jennie. At the time of her murder in 1905, she was reputed to be the wealthiest woman in the Arizona Territory. This is a guided tour with transportation. First tours begin at 9 a.m.; the final tour begins at 3 p.m.
ELEVATION: 5,435 feet


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DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 north to Highway 260 north. In Cottonwood, follow signs for Highway 89A; pass through five roundabouts and continue on Highway 89A into Jerome. (For scenic route directions into Jerome over Mingus Mountain, see No. 41.)
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours (110 miles)
FEES: $12/adults, $6/children. Tickets are sold on Main Street at the old firehouse.
LODGING: The Surgeon’s House, formerly the residence of Jerome’s chief surgeon (surgeonshouse.com)
INFO: jeromechamber.com
TRAVEL TIP: The tour is not handicap-accessible, due to winding paths and numerous steps.
KIDS: Leave ’em.

11. Lake Havasu Grand Prix
Lake Havasu City

Loud, fast and exciting, the Lake Havasu Grand Prix screams through this Colorado River reservoir at speeds up to 150 mph during the annual Pacific Offshore Powerboat Racing Association event. While the actual Lake Havasu Grand Prix is held Saturday, stick around for Sunday when boat manufacturers fight for bragging rights to the fastest pleasure-craft on the lake. The aerodynamics, adrenaline and insane horsepower make speedboat racing the king of boy-toy entertainment. The race – free for spectators – is held in conjunction with the Lake Havasu Boat Show.
ELEVATION: 575 feet
DIRECTIONS: Go west on I-10 to Highway 95 north. Once in Lake Havasu City, turn left on Palo Verde Boulevard. Turn right onto London Bridge Road and proceed to Lake Havasu State Park.
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours, 20 minutes (200 miles)
LODGING: londonbridgeresort.com or visit golakehavasu.com
INFO: Check golakehavasu.com for 2013 dates.
KIDS: Take ’em.

12. Easter Hunt and Picnic
Every spring, the great-grandson of MGM and Paramount Pictures pioneers Marcus Loew and Adolph Zukor puts on a show at Agua Linda Farms in Amado. Stewart Loew, with wife Laurel, hosts the Easter Hunt and Picnic on the picturesque farm that embraced organic farming before it was trendy. Mother Nature dials up blooming flowers and baby farm animals just in time for the event, which features the ubiquitous egg hunt, pony rides, petting zoo (with baby bunnies), you-pick veggies and hayrides, all in the shadow of the stately Santa Rita Mountains.
ELEVATION: 3,000 feet
ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS: 2643 E. Frontage Rd., Amado. Take I-10 east to Tucson; merge onto I-19 south to exit 42. Exit east and proceed south on the frontage road to the Agua Linda driveway.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 20 minutes (155 miles)
FEES: Check website for 2013 pricing.
LODGING: Tubac Golf Resort & Spa (tubacgolfresort.com)
INFO: 520-891-5532, agualindafarm.net
TRAVEL TIP: The Easter Hunt and Picnic is the Saturday before Easter (March 30, 2013); Agua Linda is closed Easter Sunday.
KIDS: Take ’em.


13. Yosemite
In spring, waterfalls gush but crowds trickle in this epic, glacier-carved icon. While the park’s upper regions don’t open till late May or June, you can visit the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and Yosemite Valley. A free shuttle makes zipping around the Valley a breeze; check out Tunnel View point, mossy Vernal Falls, and the highest cascade in the country, Yosemite Falls. Trained trekkers can tackle the 7.5-mile roundtrip hike to jaw-dropping views at the top of the falls.
ELEVATION: 4,000 feet (Yosemite Valley)
GETTING THERE: Driving time is 11 hours, 30 minutes, or fly to San Francisco or Fresno and rent a car.
LODGING: The classic, luxurious Ahwahnee (yosemitepark.com/the-ahwahnee.aspx), in Yosemite Valley, has hosted presidents and royalty.
INFO: nps.gov/yose




Photo by Abraham Karam

14. Lighthouse Hopping
Lake Havasu

From craggy coves along the Atlantic Ocean’s coastline to the once-harrowing entrance of the Erie Canal, lighthouses lit the way for seafaring vessels of old. For the past 12 years, the Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club has strategically placed baby beacon replicas along the curves and bends of Lake Havasu’s 30-mile shoreline. Some hearken to Colonial or Civil War eras, and they all generally retain a sense of scale (for example, the elegant black-and-white swirled, 30-foot-tall Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest on Lake Havasu, a nod to the impressive, 193-foot-tall Cape Hatteras Light in Buxton, N.C.). Ten lighthouse replicas can be seen by car, but the best way to see them is tooling around by boat.
ELEVATION: 450 feet
DIRECTIONS: Go west on I-10 to Highway 95 north. Once in Lake Havasu City, turn left on Palo Verde Boulevard. Turn right onto London Bridge Road and proceed to Lake Havasu State Park, one of several public boat ramps. (If renting a watercraft, visit golakehavasu.com/activities/boating/boat_rentals for a list of companies.)
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours, 20 minutes (200 miles)
LODGING: Visit golakehavasu.com.
INFO: lh-lighthouseclub.org
TRAVEL TIP: If you’re out at night, green beacons denote the California side of the lake, while red beacons illuminate the Arizona side.
KIDS: Take ’em.


15. Best Sleepover:
Mormon Lake Lodge

An Arizona classic, Mormon Lake Lodge offers the same cool, crisp summer escape for Phoenicians today as it did for families of the men who built Phoenix in the 1920s. The lodge, constructed to house the wives and kids of loggers, offers a high-country getaway rife with recreational pursuits including horse, bicycle, ATV and canoe rentals. Make reservations early to snare the circa-1917 Zane Grey or Babe Haught cabins, which retain century-old charm with pine wood interiors and minimalist furnishings. It’s requisite to dine at the Steakhouse and Saloon; just steer clear of the Rocky Mountain Oysters, a euphemism for breaded – and pounded! – bull testicles.
ELEVATION: 7,000 feet
ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS: 1991 Mormon Lake Rd. West Side, Mormon Lake. Take I-17 to Stoneman Lake Road; travel east for about 7 miles on the paved road to a T-intersection. Turn left at the yield sign onto an unpaved road (CR 462). Continue 8 miles to the next paved road, FH3 (Lake Mary Highway). Turn left and travel 7 miles to the south entrance of Mormon Lake Village. Turn left and travel 2 miles to the lodge.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 25 minutes (135 miles)
RATES: $59-$345 per night, depending on selection of motel-style rooms or private family cabins.
INFO: 928-354-2227, mormonlakelodge.com
TRAVEL TIP: Mormon Lake is often dry, but nearby lakes offer water recreation.
KIDS: Take ’em.

16. Walk It Out:
Blue Ridge Trail

For easterners, the phrase “hiking the Blue Ridge Trail” probably conjures images of coal mines and isoprene-choked Appalachian skies. But Arizona has its own Blue Ridge Mountain, tucked into Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests near the scenic summer town of Lakeside. Trail No. 107, an 8.9-mile loop, punches through towering pines to scenic vistas of the largest ponderosa pine forest on the continent. Immerse yourself in the clean scent, the crackling sound of pine needles, and the sight of scattered wildflowers. From trailhead No. 2, hike about 1 mile to a fallen tree, whose gnarled, twisted trunk forms four perfectly contoured bucket seats – a quirky and scenic little spot for a family picnic or photo.
ELEVATION: 7,100-7,600 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take Highway 87 north to Payson. From Payson, take Highway 260 east to Lakeside. Past Lakeside, turn left on Buck Springs Road, left on FR 182 and travel 1.5 miles to FR 187 to Trailhead No. 2. (Note: In summer 2012, FR 187 was unmarked, so hit your trip meter at the onset of FR 182, and look left for the trailhead parking area and trail marker visible to the left at the 1.5 mile mark.)
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours, 40 minutes (190 miles)
LODGING: After a long day of hiking, settle into Kobey’s Cozy Cabin, located just off of Buck Springs Road (kobeyscozycabin.com).
INFO: fs.usda.gov/asnf (search Blue Ridge Trail 107)
TRAVEL TIP: Allow about 5 hours roundtrip.
KIDS: Take ’em.

17. Scenic Drive:
Box Springs Canyon
Santa Rita Mountains

The summer monsoon season is a gorgeous but tricky time to tackle Box Canyon Road between I-19 and Highway 83 across the northern shoulder of the Santa Rita Mountains. Though heavy rains bedevil this “all-weather” gravel road, the swooping storm clouds that touch the tips of the Santa Ritas make the little grassland-lined drive one huge photo op for those with courage, vehicle clearance, and common sense. Near Box Canyon’s deep mouth, the narrow, steep ribbon of road feels European in contour but distinctly Arizonan in atmosphere. Watered kelly green ocotillo, Mexican hedgehog and prickly pear share the landscape with grassy ranch lands leading to Sonoita.
ELEVATION: 2,900-5,200 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take I-10 east to Tucson; merge right with I-19. At Green Valley, exit east at Continental Road. Proceed to Forest Road 62 (follow signs to Madera Canyon). Follow FR 62 (Box Springs Road) past the Madera Canyon cutoff, where the road bears left and turns to dirt.
DRIVING TIME: 45 minutes (10 miles)
LODGING: The Sonoita Inn (sonoitainn.com)
INFO: fs.usda.gov/main/coronado
TRAVEL TIP: Box Canyon’s cottonwoods and sycamores make this a fetching fall excursion, too.
KIDS: Leave ’em.


Photos by Abraham Karam

18. Zip Lining and Tree Climbing

Summon your inner Tarzan and play in the trees at Flagstaff Extreme, a new ropes course that monkeys through ponderosa pines at Fort Tuthill County Park. Spread across 12 acres, the course’s 72 high-flying obstacles – including a 400-foot zip line – require equal parts fancy footwork, upper body strength, and chutzpah. Of course, you’re harnessed and tethered to a main line, and rescuers are trained to reach you in four minutes or less if you fall. But with swaying log bridges, cargo nets, swinging ropes and zip lines suspended at a two-story vertical drop, you’ll discover that everyone’s a tree hugger at Flagstaff Extreme.

Photos by Abraham Karam

ELEVATION: 7,000 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 north to exit 337; turn left and follow well-marked signs.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 5 minutes (140 miles)
FEES: $42/full course (ages 16 and up); $35/half course (ages 12 and up); $25/kids’ course (ages 7-11)
LODGING: Loving the outdoors? Travel about 10 miles south on Highway 89A to Pine Flat or Cave Springs Campgrounds. Visit fs.usda.gov to reserve a site.
INFO: 888-259-0125, flagstaffextreme.com
TRAVEL TIPS: Take gloves. And “go” before you go. There are no port-o-potties in the trees.
KIDS: Take ’em if they’re 7 or older.









19. Taos
July brings the annual Fiestas de Taos and Taos Pueblo Pow Wow to this artsy burg steeped in Native American and Hispanic traditions. Explore Taos Pueblo (left), a UNESCO World Heritage site still home to a living community after more than 700 years. Browse the art galleries and take a driving tour of the area’s historic churches. Want to pair your visit with a trip to Santa Fe? See Great Escapes, page 54.
ELEVATION: 6,967 feet
GETTING THERE: Driving time is 9 hours, or fly to Albuquerque and rent a car.
LODGING: Settle in with a margarita and live music at the adobe-style Taos Inn (taosinn.com), listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
INFO: taos.org

20. Rainbow Rim Trail
Grand Canyon

The only single-track along the North Rim open to biking, the Rainbow Rim Trail is an 18-mile connect-the-dots kaleidoscope alongside the Grand Canyon’s palimpsest panorama. Flanked by grassy meadows and traversing through an isolated stretch of Kaibab National Forest’s ponderosa pine and aspen groves, Rainbow Rim’s winding pathways connect five points – Timp, North Timp, Locust, Fence, and your starting point, Parissawampitts. Keep your eyes peeled for wild turkey or deer.
ELEVATION: 8,250 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 north to Flagstaff; exit I-40 east and continue 5.5 miles to Highway 89 north. Continue 105 miles to Highway 89A turnoff; proceed 55 miles west to Jacob Lake. Once there, turn south on Highway 67 and go 26.5 miles to Forest Development Road 22. Turn right and continue 10.5 miles to FDR 206. Turn left; continue 3.5 miles to FDR 214. Turn right and go 8 miles to Parissawampitts Viewpoint.
DRIVING TIME: 6 hours (355 miles)
LODGING: Primitive forest camping is free, or book a room at the Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim (grandcanyonlodgenorth.com).
INFO: www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/kaibab/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=32207&actid=50
TRAVEL TIP: Pack food and water, and tell someone where you’re going. There are no services on this trail, and it’s outside of the Grand Canyon National Park boundary. Pick up a National Forest map at the Kaibab Plateau Visitor’s Center at Jacob Lake.
KIDS: Leave ’em.

21. Performances in the Plaza

In the summertime, there’s no place quite like Flagstaff’s Heritage Square, where artistic talent performs at Flagstaff’s only open-air theater for free. At this bustling community living room at the corner of Aspen and San Francisco streets, music fans enjoy indie grooves, folk guitar, reggae and rock on Thursday nights, while art/theater/dance performances set the table for a cultured high-country weekend on Fridays. And with popcorn and lawn chairs – some even bring sleeping bags – movie nights on Saturdays are like giant slumber parties.
ELEVATION: 7,000 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 north to Flagstaff; merge straight onto Highway 89A North, which becomes Milton Road. Approaching downtown, Milton turns east into Santa Fe Avenue. Go four blocks and turn left on San Francisco Street to Heritage Square.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 15 minutes (145 miles)
LODGING: Walk across the street to Hotel Monte Vista (hotelmontevista.com).
INFO: 928-779-2300, heritagesquaretrust.org
TRAVEL TIP: Get the most bang for your buck by timing your trip with Downtown Flagstaff’s First Friday ArtWalk.
KIDS: Take ’em. All movies are G or PG-rated, unless noted.

Photo by Brian Lilley

22. Orchard at Charlie Clark’s

Liberate yourself from the climate-controlled confines of your casa this summer and escape to the 2.5-acre shaded oasis of the Orchard at Charlie Clark’s Steakhouse. All gussied up this year for its 75th anniversary, the steakhouse is a landmark in its own right, having once poured White Lightning for Prohibition patrons. In summertime, the Orchard is the real reason to stay and play. Pass an afternoon sipping suds at the barn-to-bar conversion. Play horseshoes, then cut a rug on the outdoor dance floor. Or simply sit in an Adirondack chair and count the number of times Valley residents walk in and exclaim, “It’s so green.” Open 4 p.m. to close Wednesday through Saturday, May through September.
ELEVATION: 7,200 feet
ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS: 1701 E. White Mountain Blvd., Pinetop. Take Highway 87 to Payson; turn east onto Highway 260 and drive past Show Low into Pinetop. Turn right just before Pinetop’s stoplight, at Penrod Lane.
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours, 30 minutes (190 miles)
LODGING: Take in more White Mountain air at Lake of the Woods cabins (lakeofthewoodsaz.com).
INFO: 888-333-0259, charlieclarks.com/visit-the-orchard
TRAVEL TIP: Call before you go; the Orchard is a popular venue for weddings and other private parties.
KIDS: Take ’em or leave ’em.

23. Zoo by Moonlight

Nocturnal or crowd-shy zoo denizens often don’t play during the day, meaning an empty cage is all you’ll likely see. Enter Zoo by Moonlight, held at 8 p.m. on full moons during summer at Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary in Prescott. Bring flashlights and glimpse the sanctuary’s rescue animals, including a gray fox who irreparably damaged her feet while protecting her young during the 2003 Aspen Fire atop Mt. Lemmon, and “Cake Bear,” a cub who recently gained notoriety in Sonoita for breaking into somebody’s kitchen and chowing down on chocolate cake. Don’t miss the creepy-cool tarantula, scorpion and cockroach habitats.
ELEVATION: 5,360 feet
ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS: 1403 Heritage Park Rd., Prescott. Take I-17 north to Highway 69 north. Proceed 21 miles; merge right onto Fain Road. Take a slight left on Highway 89A, which turns into Pioneer Parkway. Turn left on Willow Creek Road and proceed to the zoo.
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 50 minutes (100 miles)
FEES: $5 for non-members
LODGING: Stay within walking distance of Prescott’s other nightlife, Whiskey Row, at The Motor Lodge (themotorlodge.com).
INFO: 877-778-6008, heritageparkzoo.org
KIDS: Take ’em.

24. Sound Bites Grill

Sedona has a new Uptown Girl. With live jazz, blues, funk and rock music, Sound Bites Grill props Sedona’s sleepy eyelids open late into the night. The restaurant also dishes up fresh, healthy entrées (try the scrumptious Red Rock chicken with spicy mango habanero) paired with an extensive wine list that includes a local favorite, Cornville’s Javelina Leap label. Go early in the evening to watch the sun set against the patio’s red rock backdrop. Take a tour of the guitar gallery, which features high-end six-strings signed by Bono and the Rolling Stones. Then settle in on Thursday through Sunday nights for live music.
ELEVATION: 4,500 feet
ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS: 101 Hwy. 89A, Sedona. Take I-17 north to Highway 179 north into Sedona. Continue to the Y intersection where Highways 179 and 89A meet; turn right onto Highway 89A. Sound Bites is located in The Shops at Hyatt Pinon Pointe.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours (115 miles)
LODGING: Walk to Hyatt Pinon Pointe (hyattpinonpointe.hyatt.com).
INFO: soundbitesgrill.com
KIDS: Leave ’em.

25. Dinner and a Show

The Grand Canyon Dinner Theatre’s madcap comedy Miss Kitty’s Grand Adventure is purring its way into the town of Tusayan. Set in the early 1900s, the curtain rises on an aspiring Harvey Girl who unwittingly triggers a diabolical money-skimming scheme, budding love, and a case of mistaken identity. As subplots converge, the devious and sultry Madame de Murska steals the show by going off-script and into the audience. “Don’t be jealous,” actress Evelyn Connors (de Murska) quips to the wife of a patron while lounging on his lap. “I’ve been on more laps than a napkin.” In the pre-show documentary, look for scratchy stop-action footage of an 1898 Hopi tribal dance filmed by none other than Thomas Edison.
ELEVATION: 6,612 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 north to Flagstaff; exit west onto I-40. Continue 28 miles; exit north onto Highway 64, continuing to 395 Highway 64 in Tusayan.
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours, 20 minutes (220 miles)
FEES: $59.95/adults, $29.95/children
LODGING: Grand Canyon Squire Inn (grandcanyonsquire.com)
INFO: 928-638-0333, grandcanyondinnertheatre.com
KIDS: Take ’em or leave ’em.

26. Demolition Derby

Payson’s rolling, pine-shrouded surrounds provide a serene backdrop for the metal-twisting, mud-flying, all-out auto annihilation of the Payson Demolition Derby. Contestants spend hours tricking out junk cars in hopes of being the last one revving. If you’ve never watched a derby, it’s pure fun, and just about the only place you’ll ever see a “Most Aggressive Driver” payout.
ELEVATION: 4,980 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take Highway 87 north to the first stoplight in Payson; turn left. The Payson Event Center is at 1400 S. Beeline Hwy.
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 30 minutes (90 miles)
FEES: $12/adults, $6/kids ages 3-11, free for kids 2 and younger
LODGING: Majestic Mountain Inn (majesticmountaininn.com)
INFO: Check paysonrimcountry.com for 2013 dates.
KIDS: Take ’em.


Photo by Abraham Karam

27. Scenic Drive:
Hart Prairie Road

Soaring to 50 feet tall and glistening with a golden glow, aspens shake while you rattle and roll along rugged but passable Hart Prairie Road. From the shock-absorbed comfort of your high-clearance vehicle, consider this: The route, also called Forest Road 151, was once part of the 12-hour stagecoach route that shuttled Grand Canyon tourists from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Just as then, the San Francisco Peaks stand sentinel above alpine meadows while elk, deer and prairie dogs make occasional cameos. Target late September to early October.
ELEVATION: 7,000-8,000 feet.
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 north about 140 miles to Flagstaff; take Highway 180 northwest to the well-marked Forest Road 151, Hart Prairie Road. Follow Hart Prairie Road north to Forest Road 418, then turn left toward Highway 180. Turn left and return to Flagstaff.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 40 minutes (160 miles) to Hart
Prairie Road turnoff
LODGING: Keep roughing it in a yurt or camper cabin at Off Grid Getaways (offgridgetaways.com).
KIDS: Leave ’em.

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28. Moab
Soft adventure options radiate from this central Utah hub like spokes on a bicycle wheel. To the northeast is Arches National Park, a sienna Shangri-La graced with more than 2,000 sandstone arches. To the southwest stretches Canyonlands National Park, punctuated with hoodoos and crackled chasms. Rim Tours (rimtours.com) leads easy-to-advanced mountain-bike rides through both parks. To the northwest, river runners put in at the town of Green River to canoe or kayak the eponymous, vermilion-cliffed waterway. Tag-A-Long (tagalong.com) in Moab offers river tours and rents gear.
ELEVATION: 4,025 feet
DRIVING TIME: 7 hours, 45 minutes (467 miles)
LODGING: Northeast of town but smack on the Colorado River, Red Cliffs Adventure Lodge (redcliffslodge.com) arranges horseback rides, Jeep tours, and rafting trips that depart from the front door.
INFO: discovermoab.com

29. Best Sleepover:
Tavern Hotel

Sleek, Euro-inspired decor defines the exquisite Tavern Hotel, a 10-room boutique inn nestled at the threshold to Old Town that signals Cottonwood’s rising chic factor. Owners and restaurateurs Eric and Michelle Jurisen – who also run Nic’s in Cottonwood, and Grapes and The Haunted Hamburger in Jerome – modeled the inn after the deluxe accommodation-and-service packages they experienced during their extensive travels. (Michelle will soon travel to Naples to learn the art of pizza-making in preparation for the couple’s newest Verde Valley eatery.) Expect clean lines, fine linens, and ambient lighting in romantic rooms featuring large walk-in showers and a pleasing palette of creamy colors.
ELEVATION: 3,300 feet
ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS: 904 N. Main St., Cottonwood. Take I-17 north to exit 287; proceed on Highway 260 12.5 miles into Cottonwood. Turn left onto Main Street (Highway 260/89A) to the hotel.
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 45 minutes (103 miles)
RATES: $169-$199/night
INFO: 928-639-1669, thetavernhotel.com
KIDS: Leave ’em.

30. Walk It Out:
Groom Creek Trail

A well-timed late October hike on Groom Creek Trail in the Prescott National Forest treats trekkers to fall-gilded Gambel oaks on the ascent through ponderosa pine and Douglas fir, culminating at the top of misnamed, spruce-tree-free Spruce Mountain. Serious hikers can tackle the 9-mile loop with a stop at the 3.5-mile mark atop the lookout tower, if it’s manned. Out-and-back beginners should amble at least a few hundred yards past a hitching post about 45 minutes from the trailhead, where westerly panoramic views open up above the tree line. Don’t miss the gravity-defying cluster of granite boulders about 10 minutes into the hike. Kids will love climbing through crevices and staking their claim to the top of the world.
ELEVATION: 7,651 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 north to exit 262, the Highway 69 exit. Continue north on Highway 69 to Prescott, where you will jog left on Highway 89 onto Sheldon Street. From Sheldon, turn left onto Mt. Vernon Avenue, which becomes Senator Highway. Continue 6.4 miles past the community of Groom Creek to the well-marked Groom Creek Trailhead on left.
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 50 minutes (110 miles)
LODGING: Groom Creek Lodge (prescottpines.org/home/groom-creek-lodge).
INFO: fs.usda.gov/prescott
KIDS: Take ’em.


Photos by Nicole Roegner

31. Rock Art Ranch
Joseph City

Rancher Brantley Baird came to Rock Art Ranch in 1945 to herd cattle. Now he steers visitors to Chevelon Canyon, where Native Americans immortalized hunting scenes, dancing men and “Cinderella” – a lady in a dress – on their Coconino sandstone canvas. Baird’s slice of private petroglyphs is so archeologically significant that University of Arizona archeology students spend five weeks on-site for doctoral work. “I enjoy showing people this dang stuff,” Baird says in a good ol’ boy twang as authentic as his collection of Native American artifacts, which includes Anasazi arrowheads and Navajo and Zuni jewelry. “We have stuff that the people from the Heard Museum have never seen.” Visits are by reservation only from May 1 to November 1.

Photos by Nicole Roegner



ELEVATION: 5,000 feet
DIRECTIONS: From Winslow, the ranch is about 15 miles away. Call for directions.
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours, 45 minutes (184 miles)
FEES: Depends on the number of visitors and activities desired
LODGING: La Posada Hotel and Gardens, Winslow (laposada.org)
INFO: 928-288-3260
KIDS: Take ’em (dogs can go, too!).




32. Meet America’s Toughest Sheriff

No six-term, Tent-City-touting sheriff can out-tough John Slaughter, whose occupational surname did double duty on his 150,000-acre cattle ranch and during his “judge, jury and executioner” tenure as Cochise County sheriff during the post-OK Corral era. Slaughter Ranch, a small museum in the well-preserved homestead, traces Slaughter’s sawed-off-shotgun-toting life from a time when violent Apache raids, cattle ranching and outlaw living converged. Time it right, and a cascade of fall colors from the very cottonwoods pictured in Slaughter family photos will be the backdrop for your picnic near the pond.
ELEVATION: 4,000 feet
ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS: 6153 Geronimo Trail, Douglas. Take I-10 east to Highway 80 east into Douglas. Turn left on Pan American Avenue, right on 16th Street, right on E Avenue and left on 15th Street. Follow until it becomes Geronimo Trail and continue 15 miles to a gate with the letter “Z” over it.
DRIVING TIME: 4 hours, 10 minutes (250 miles)
FEES: $8 entrance fee
LODGING: According to legend, Slaughter once confronted Pancho Villa, who, also according to legend, rode his horse up the steps at Douglas’ Gadsden Hotel (hotelgadsden.com). Check the chip in the seventh step – it’s famously from Villa’s horse.
INFO: 520-558-2474, slaughterranch.com
FUN FACT: Slaughter is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Douglas.
KIDS: Take ’em.

33. Shout ‘Stop the Presses!’

Kick your Kindle to the curb and turn back to a time when publishing was an art form, not an app. Printer and teacher James Pagels leads regular demonstrations on the frontier printing press used to produce Arizona’s first newspaper, The Weekly Arizonan, in 1859. On display at Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, the press is still operational, and volunteers can print you up a commemorative edition of the paper. The press required manually mocked-up type slathered in ink (upper case letters literally are found in the wooden upper case, lower case letters in the lower case). Call or check the website for demo dates and times.
ELEVATION: 3,200 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take I-10 east to I-19 south (exit 260) and continue south to Tubac, exit 34. Turn left onto Aliso Spring Road, which becomes Calle Barrio de Tubac. Turn left on Calle Acequia. Turn right onto Avenida Urritia.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 15 minutes (155 miles)
FEES: $5/adults, $2/kids ages 7-14
LODGING: Step farther back into 18th-century Spanish, church and military history at the Tubac Golf Resort and Spa (tubacgolfresort.com).
INFO: 520-398-2252, tubacpresidiopark.com
KIDS: Take ’em.

34. Go Ghost Busting

The folks who brought you Bisbee’s hearse tours are back at it – this time, with hands-on paranormal apparatus training for ghost-busting buffs. Every Thursday night, the Copper Queen Hotel Ghost Hunt offers a spirited paranormal overnight scavenger hunt through the haunted hotel’s hallways. Renee Gardner of Old Bisbee Ghost Tours equips guests with EMF detectors, dowsing rods and other tools for investigating apparitions; ghost hunters should bring a notebook, pencils, voice recorder, camera, tripod, pendulum, infrared thermometer, and bait (coins, balls or anything small and shiny) to lure the haunted out to play.
ELEVATION: 5,520 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take I-10 east to exit 303. Proceed east on Highway 80 past Tombstone. Approaching Bisbee, take the Old Bisbee exit, turn left on Main Street, then turn right on Brewery Avenue. Take an immediate left to The Copper Queen Hotel, 11 Howell Ave.
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours, 15 minutes (210 miles)
FEES: $257 double occupancy
LODGING: Copper Queen Hotel, copperqueen.com (Thursday night booking required)
INFO: 520-432-2216, oldbisbeeghosttour.com
KIDS: Leave ’em.

Photo by Abraham Karam

35. Cowboy Way Adventures
Wickenburg and Prescott

Whether exploring the final frontier in the sandy washes and steep canyons outside Wickenburg, or sloshing across the Verde River near Prescott, Cowboy Way Adventures tackles terrain steeped in history – without the steep price. While all-inclusive dude ranch rates can soar to $500 per person per night, CWA offers à la carte horseback fun, with by-the-hour pricing for rides lasting one to four hours. Wickenburg rides originate at Calamity Ranch, while Prescott rides embark from trailheads near the Verde River. At press time, a Sedona ranch was scheduled to open soon.
ELEVATION: 2,390 feet (Wickenburg); 5,360 feet (Prescott)
DIRECTIONS: Take U.S. 60 west to Wickenburg, where the road becomes Wickenburg Way. The ranch is located at 800 E. Wickenburg Way. Call for directions to Prescott riding location.
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 5 minutes (58 miles) to Wickenburg; add 1 hour, 15 minutes (60 miles) to Prescott
FEES: $40 for one hour, $65 for two hours, $85 for three hours, $110 for four hours
LODGING: Soak in more of Mother Nature on the banks of the Hassayampa River at Rio Tierra Casitas (riotierracasitasaz.com).
INFO: 928-277-9398, cowboywayadventures.com
TRAVEL TIP: Wear jeans, a long sleeve shirt and closed-toed shoes.
KIDS: Take ’em if they’re 5 or older.

36. Panic in Old Pueblo

Nightfall at Old Tucson transforms Tucson’s “Hollywood in the Desert” into a sprawling haunted house featuring live shows, a terrifying trek into a maze of tunnels haunted by cursed miners, and a Mayans-were-right, end-of-the-world cesspool where death, brutality and disease govern. Guests with heart disease or incontinence – no kidding – are cautioned from even entering. Open late September through late October.
ELEVATION: 2,390 feet
ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS: 201 S. Kinney Rd., Tucson. Take I-10 east to exit 252; proceed west on El Camino del Cerro. Turn south onto Silverbell Road, west on Sweetwater Drive and follow as it becomes Camino de Oeste. Turn west on Gates Pass Road and south onto Kinney Road into Old Tucson Studios.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours (120 miles)
FEES: $25/adults, $20/children ages 4-11
LODGING: Wind down in western, but refined, surroundings at the nearby Paniolo Guest Ranch (thepanioloranch.com).
INFO: 520-883-0100, nightfallaz.com
KIDS: There is a kids-only walk-through, but ample numbers of taunting fiends roam the property, making this a strongly objectionable outing for many families.

Photo by Tabitha Peterson

37. Late Leaf Peeping

If you hit the snooze button on fall colors a few too many times, Boyce Thompson Arboretum offers Arizona’s foliage finale. Peak autumn color occurs November 20-30, long after Northern Arizona’s aspens have disrobed. The 3-acre cactus garden has garnered a reputation as a haven for upland Sonoran desert plants, but golden honey locust trees and sycamores, blushing red Chinese pistachios and clusters of pyracantha berries lavish the supremely photogenic landscape with exciting hues. The suspension bridge over Queen Creek basks in the best color.
ELEVATION: 2,400 feet
ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS: 37615 U.S. Hwy. 60, Superior. Take U.S. 60 east to mile post 223, Boyce Thompson Road.
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour, 10 minutes (60 miles)
FEES: $9/adults, $4.50/children ages 5-12
INFO: 520-689-2811, arboretum.ag.arizona.edu
TRAVEL TIP: Pack a picnic; there is no restaurant at the arboretum.
KIDS: Take ’em.

38. Race through Space

Punch your (free) round-trip ticket to Pluto on Space Shuttle Polaris at Eastern Arizona College’s Discovery Park. À la Disneyland’s Star Tours, a flight simulation ride slingshots around the solar system with jostling drops and pithy narration. Go on a Saturday afternoon and stay through nightfall to peer through Discovery Park’s telescope. Built for the Navy in 1963, the Cold War spy cam couldn’t keep pace with the orbiting satellites it was supposed to track, so the military mothballed it. The telescope now sits in the shadow of Mount Graham’s Large Binocular Telescope, where world-class scientists peer back 15 million years in time.
ELEVATION: 3,180 feet
ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS: 1651 W. Discovery Park Blvd., Safford. Take U.S. 60 east to Globe; follow signs for Highway 70 to Safford. In Safford, turn south on Highway 191 and continue to Discovery Park Boulevard. Follow signs to EAC Discovery Park Campus.
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours (170 miles)
LODGING: Cottage Bed & Breakfast (cottagebedandbreakfast.com)
INFO: 928-428-6260, eac.edu/discoverypark
KIDS: Take ’em.

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39. Telluride
The quintessential Western mountain town (it was a haunt of Butch Cassidy’s), Telluride is a laid-back alternative to posh Aspen. You can bomb some of Telluride Ski Resort’s 125 downhill ski trails, or play it cool with Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing, and ice skating. Après-ski, thaw out at the buzzing bars and bevy of haute and homey restaurants.
ELEVATION: 8,750 feet
GETTING THERE: Driving time is 8 hours, 30 minutes, or fly to nearby Montrose, Colorado and rent a car.
LODGING: The luxe Hotel Madeline (hotelmadelinetelluride.com) boasts ski-in/ski-out convenience, two acclaimed restaurants, and a spa.
INFO: telluride.com, tellurideskiresort.com



40. Best Sleepover:
DD Gamble Guest Lodge

The 325-acre DD Gamble Guest Lodge on the Arizona/New Mexico border was born from Tom and Alicia Davidson’s dream to help fund their nonprofit, DMD Hearts and Hooves, a program that gives new meaning to “mobile minis.” The equine therapy program brings pint-sized horses to sick and elderly patients, who spend hours petting, brushing and hugging the horses. Back on the DD Gamble ranch, with 33 miniature horses and an eagerness to share them, the Davidsons teach guests how to drive a carriage along desert trails. The ranch’s rock house accommodations are cozy, and the Davidsons’ storytelling is engaging. Tom is a retired military intelligence specialist who speaks German, Czech, Vietnamese, Spanish, and French.
ELEVATION: 4,150 feet
ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS: 8374 E. Rock Spring Rd., Portal. Take I-10 east into New Mexico to Highway 80 south. Proceed past Rodeo, N.M., and back into Arizona just past mile marker 411 to Rock Spring Road. (When you pass Sky Ranch Road, you’re getting close). The DD Gamble is an old rock house and is the only driveway/house on the right side of the road.
DRIVING TIME: 4 hours, 25 minutes (285 miles)
FEES: $125-$240 per night, depending on meals and activities selected
INFO: 520-558-1088, ddgambleguestlodge.com
TRAVEL TIP: Want a more grown-up saddle? Check with the Davidsons about arranging a trail ride with Hideout Ranch, located a few miles away.
KIDS: Take ’em.

41. Scenic Drive:
Prescott to Jerome

This 35-mile asphalt slinky – one 12-mile section boasts 158 curves – requires the focus of a Zen master but rewards with epic views of Sedona’s rusty rocks, Mount Humphreys and the Mogollon Rim. The spin on Highway 89A begins in the chiseled sandstone spires of the Granite Dells. It’s game on as you enter Prescott National Forest, where the paved, two-lane road climbs 1,000 feet in 7 miles along hairpin curves occasionally fortified by Civilian Conservation Corps guard rails. Passengers can take in views of alligator junipers, ponderosa pines and the layer cake of rocky ledges. By mile marker 341, you’re up and over Mingus Mountain, perched above Northern Arizona’s geologic patchwork quilt before descending scenically into Jerome.
ELEVATION: 5,080-7,500 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 north to Highway 69 north. Near Prescott, take Highway 89 north to Highway 89A north (if you continue on Highway 89, you’ll end up on a much less scenic drive to Chino Valley) into Jerome.
DRIVING TIME: 1 hour (35 miles) from Prescott to Jerome
LODGING: The Ghost City Inn Bed & Breakfast, Jerome (ghostcityinn.com)
KIDS: Take ’em.

Photo by Abraham Karam

42. Walk It out:
Palm Canyon
Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

Secreted away in the deep gashes of Palm Canyon in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge are Arizona’s only known native palm trees. These California Fan Palms either descended from the last period of North American glaciation or were unceremoniously air mailed centuries ago from bird excrement. The boulder-studded, steep ascent of Palm Canyon Trail is tricky in places, but it’s easy to follow and full of surprises – including Kofa Mountain Barberry bushes, found only in Southwest Arizona. The palms are best seen midday in direct sunlight.
ELEVATION: 1,400-2,300 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take I-10 west to Quartzsite; turn south on Highway 95. Continue about 18 miles south to the well-marked Palm Canyon turnoff. Follow the dirt road east for 9 miles to parking area.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 30 minutes (154 miles)
LODGING: Best Western Desert Oasis, Ehrenberg (bestwestern.com)
INFO: fws.gov/southwest/refuges/arizona/kofapalm.html
KIDS: Take ’em.

43. Pole Knoll Recreation Area
White Mountains

Old logging roads pave the way for an 18-mile interconnected maze of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails at Pole Knoll Recreation Area. A powdery playground well suited for beginners, the trail system amounts to a tour of the knoll’s lilting topographical texture. Thick spruce, fir and aspen stands populate the north side, ponderosa pine and scattered oaks join in on the east, and meadows blanket the south and west slopes. The Red Tail/Osprey/Raven loop and the Meadowlark Loop offer entry-level trails that will assess your readiness for Summit Trail, a trickier track with rewarding views of Mt. Baldy and Greens Peak.
ELEVATION: 8,900-9,600 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take Highway 87 to Payson; turn right on Highway 260 through Show Low. Follow signs for Highway 60 to Eagar. From Eagar, turn right onto Highway 260 and proceed 13 miles to well-signed Pole Knoll turnoff.
DRIVING TIME: 4 hours, 25 minutes (240 miles)
LODGING: Hidden Meadow Ranch (hiddenmeadow.com)
INFO: fs.usda.gov, search “Pole Knoll Recreation Area”
TRAVEL TIP: The Sweat Shop in Eagar rents cross-country skis and snow shoes by the day (42 N. Main St., 928-333-2950). Also, take a camera to snap a photo of the map posted at the sign-in kiosk in case all the paper maps are gone.
KIDS: Leave ’em.

44. Tubac Festival of the Arts

Quality paintings and leather, glass and metal works share the road with urns of kettle corn and handmade soaps at this free festival, which showcases local shops along with hundreds of visiting artisans who prop wares under rows of white tents along pocket-sized pathways. Trail rides through town seem over the top, but they do pique the art-lite crowd. Point your car south, pronto: This year’s 54th annual festival is scheduled for February 6-10.
ELEVATION: 3,200 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take I-10 east to I-19 south (exit 260) and continue south to Tubac, exit 34.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 30 minutes (158 miles)
LODGING: Walk from the white tents to a boutique B&B, Tubac Country Inn (tubaccountryinn.com).
INFO: tubacaz.com
KIDS: Leave ’em.

45. Field to Feast Tours

“Eighteen million pounds of lettuce are harvested in Yuma for salad [packing] plants every day,” says Kurt Nolte, Ph.D., director of the UA Cooperative Extension for Yuma County, and guide for Yuma’s Field to Feast tours. That’s a lot of lutein. Strengthen your connection between plow and palate by scouring rows of romaine and arugula, kale and cabbage to pick assigned ingredients, which Arizona Western College culinary students transform into a scrumptious, vegetarian lunch while tour participants take a narrated drive along working lettuce fields. You can even take some of the produce you pick home.
ELEVATION: 120 feet
DIRECTIONS: Tours depart at 8:30 a.m. from the Yuma Quartermaster Depot. Take I-10 east to I-8 toward San Diego. In Yuma, take exit 1, Giss Parkway. Remain on Giss Parkway until it turns into W. Third Street. Turn right onto S. Fourth Avenue to the depot.
DRIVING TIME: 3 hours (186 miles)
FEES: $40 per person
LODGING: Best Western Coronado (bestwestern.com) is a few blocks away, or check visityuma.com.
INFO: Tours are scheduled January-March; see visityuma.com/field-to-feast-agriculture-tour.html.
KIDS: Leave ’em.

46. Wa:k Powwow

In the O’odham language, Tohono O’odham translates to “desert people.” And these desert people can dance. If you’ve never visited the architecturally intricate and ornate San Xavier del Bac mission, the 31st annual Wa:k Powwow ratchets up your reasons to go. The large, open plaza in front of San Xavier rocks with intertribal dancing, hoop dancing and drumming – all of which can be photographed, a seldom-allowed option for shutterbugs wishing to capture native dress and dance. The mission is open daily 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the powwow generally lasts all day on Saturday and Sunday the second weekend of March (March 9-10 this year).
ELEVATION: 2,390 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take I-10 east to Tucson; merge with I-19 south. Continue 6 miles to San Xavier Road, exit 92. Turn right and follow signs to San Xavier.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours (123 miles)
FEES: $9/adults, $7/kids; $3 parking fee
LODGING: Nestled in nearby Tucson Mountain Foothills is JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa (jwmarriottstarrpass.com).
INFO: 520-294-2624, sanxaviermission.org

47. Cut Your Own Christmas Tree
Arizona’s National Forests

Pack your kids (and a hand saw, axe and rope) in the car and inaugurate a new holiday tradition by cutting your own Christmas tree in one of Arizona’s national forests. Decide whether spruce, piñon or fir fits your fancy and pick your woodlands accordingly. In 2012, of 5,225 permits available, 3,400 were for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. Other participating forests include Coconino, Kaibab, Prescott and Tonto. In 2012, permits were available at Valley Big 5 stores starting October 27.
FEES: $15 permit fee
INFO: Visit fs.usda.gov/asnf and click the “Christmas tree permits” link or call the Christmas tree permit hotline, 928-333-6267.
KIDS: Take ’em.

Photo by Abraham Karam

48. Nellie E. Saloon

Crossing a covered bridge into the entrance of Nellie E. Saloon, you half expect a Mos Eisley-esque bartender to snarl, “We don’t serve your kind” while you catch a Han Solo-blasts-Greedo reenactment in a shadowy corner. No, this isn’t Tatooine – although a landspeeder would simplify the dusty, narrow dirt road leading to ole Nellie. It’s the base of the Buckskin Mountains, where Ken Coughlin has struck gold with his solar-powered saloon. The crowded energy, live music and look-we-found-it feeling at this desert watering hole make it a must-do destination. Hours of operation are way more complicated than the menu (the bar is closed during the week), so visit thedesertbar.com before you go.
ELEVATION: 400 feet
DIRECTIONS: Go west on I-10 125 miles to Highway 95 north (exit 19). Continue past Parker approximately 5 miles to Cienega Springs Road. Exit there and drive 5 adventuresome miles to the Nellie E. Saloon, aka the Desert Bar.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 45 minutes (170 miles)
LODGING: Bluewater Resort & Casino, Parker (bluewaterfun.com)
INFO: thedesertbar.com
TRAVEL TIP: Take cash. No credit cards are accepted.
KIDS: Leave ’em.

49. North Pole Experience

Arizona’s surreptitious “Area 47” teems with little green men and operates deep within the Coconino National Forest. All right, so maybe the little men are, in fact, green-jacketed elves, and Area 47 is only Santa’s top-secret, radar-ready sleigh hangar at North Pole Experience. The main NPX attraction is Santa’s workshop, where participants roll up their sleeves to build toys alongside Santa and his elves. After a swing through Santa’s Toy Hall of Fame and Elf University, participants are shuttled to Little America Hotel (also the starting point), where kids settle in for story time with Mrs. Claus while adults enjoy a nightcap.
ELEVATION: 7,000 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 north to Flagstaff; merge onto I-40 east to exit 198, Butler Avenue. Exit right.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 20 minutes (145 miles)
FEES: $55/adults, $47/children 18 months and older
LODGING: Little America Hotel (flagstaff.littleamerica.com)
INFO: 480-779-9679, northpoleexperience.com
KIDS: Take ’em.

50. Amerind Museum

A startling, peach-painted rejoinder to the boulders of Texas Canyon in Cochise County, the Amerind Museum (“Amer” for American and “ind” for Indian) houses a world-class collection of Western Hemisphere Native American art and artifacts. View impeccably preserved Native American moccasins, ceramic figurines, pottery, jewelry, and knife sheaths. A glass enclosure in the main gallery protects the pièce de résistance, the oldest intact Chiricahua-Apache basket on display in America. The basket was found in a cave on the Mexico-Arizona border in 1910 by a 10-year-old boy and preserved for his lifetime before coming into the museum’s collection. Don’t miss the bow and arrow that belonged to Geronimo.
ELEVATION: 4,630 feet
ADDRESS AND DIRECTIONS: 2100 N. Amerind Rd., Dragoon. Take I-10 through Tucson and Benson to exit 318, Dragoon Road. Proceed east one mile to the well-marked Amerind Museum turnoff.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 30 minutes (175 miles)
FEES: $8/adults, $7/seniors, $5/youth ages 12-18 and college students
LODGING: Settle into the historic Triangle T Guest Ranch (azretreatcenter.com), less than a mile away from the Amerind.
INFO: 520-586-3666, amerind.org
KIDS: Leave ’em.


Photos by Lillian Reid

51. Rhythm on the Rails
Verde Canyon

If your ultimate road trip involves great tunes, sensational scenery and a designated driver, Rhythm on the Rails aboard the Verde Canyon Railroad is your ticket. On this one-day diddy that hems the high cliffs of Verde Canyon, musicians playing various genres of music rove among the cars giving private concerts, while passengers enjoy fine wines and appetizer spreads that prove this choo-choo knows chow. Engineer your trip today – this year’s event is scheduled for Sunday, February 10.

Photos by Lillian Reid

ELEVATION: 3,750-3,825 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take I-17 north to Highway 260; turn west and continue 14 miles to Highway 89A (Main Street). Drive through Old Town Cottonwood past the turnoff for Tuzigoot. Turn right on Broadway, cross the bridge and proceed to the depot.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours (107 miles)
FEES: $125/person
LODGING: Explore lodging packages in Sedona, Cottonwood and Jerome at verdecanyonrr.com/packages.
INFO: 800-582-7245, verdecanyonrr.com
TRAVEL TIP: Can’t make Rhythm on the Rails? October’s Ales on Rails showcases Arizona brews.
KIDS: Leave ’em.

Photo by Abraham Karam

52. Cycle Patagonia

Bring your two-wheeler or rent one at Patagon Bike Rental (patagonbikerental.com), where you can pick up a map of Mountain Empire area cycling routes including Harshaw Loop (an easy 13 miles), San Rafael Valley Loop (a moderate 26 miles), and Kentucky Camp (an 18-mile trail to the remains of an 1800s mining camp). You’ll pedal both paved and dirt routes through lush forests and golden grasslands with views of sky islands.
ELEVATION: 4,044 feet
DIRECTIONS: Take I-10 south to Tucson. Merge onto AZ-83 and drive south to Sonoita. Turn right on AZ-82 and continue about 12 miles to Patagonia.
DRIVING TIME: 2 hours, 50 minutes (175 miles)
LODGING: Duquesne House (theduquesnehouse.com)
INFO: patagoniaaz.com/itineraries_3.html
KIDS: Leave ’em.