More Hidden AZ

Written by Editorial Staff Category: Web Extras Issue: September 2016
Group Free
Pin It
Cults of Arizona

People Unlimited Scottsdale
Leaders: James Strole and Bernadeane Brown (“Jim and Bernie”) 
Founded: 1996
Mission: Run out of a McDowell Mountain-area business park, this global group “... fosters a mecca on radical life extension and physical immortality for all those seeking to live an inspired, nourishing, ever-expanding life.”
Estimated membership: 130 Scottsdale-based members

Global Community Communications Alliance Tumacacori
Leader: Anthony J. Delevin (“Gabriel of Urantia”)
Founded: 1989
Motto: “A divine administration, new Millennium progressive church, and organic gardens & sustainable eco village.”
Operates out of a 165-acre compound along the banks of the Santa Cruz River.
Estimated membership: Roughly 100 people

Temple of the Presence Tucson
Leaders: Monroe and Carolyn Shearer (“The Messengers” of the “Ascended Masters”)
Founded: 1995 
Mission: “We seek to help you solve the mysteries of life and answer the all-important questions of who you really are, why you are here, where you came from, and what you came to accomplish.” The group's teachings are based on “Saint Germain, Jesus, Gautama Buddha, Mother Mary and many others.”
Estimated membership: 23-30 people

Peyote Way Church of God Willcox
Leaders: Reverend Immanuel Pardeahtan Trujillo, Right Sister
Anne L. Zapf, and Rabbi Matthew S. Kent
Founded: 1978
Mission: This nondenominational church with a sanctuary in the Aravaipa wilderness seeks “... to make the Holy Sacrament Peyote available to seekers in a safe environment.”
Estimated membership: Unknown

Secrets of the Strange Names

Mexican Water:
On the Navajo Nation in Apache County, 14 miles west of Red Mesa
According to Navajo legend, three Mexicans on their way to California camped in the area and dug a well. The location of that well is disputed – some say it's the source of the seep near the current Baptist church, others say it's somewhere in the Chinle Wash. 
Why: Pima County, near Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
At the time of its naming, this town sat at the Y-shaped intersection of State Routes 85 and 86. Arizona law required every town name to have at least three letters, so the founders added “wh” to the “Y.” ADOT has since turned the Y-intersection into a traditional T-intersection.

Central Arizona

Off-the-Path Oddities:

The Abandoned Domes Casa Grande: Locals will tell you to stay away from these bizarre, spaceship-looking concrete structures on the southern edge of Casa Grande, spinning tales of Satanic rituals and shadowy figures after dark. Believed to be constructed in the 1970s for some sort of computer business or data storage, most of these structures were never completed, and over the years, they’ve been subject to vandalism and speculation, and provided prime partying spots for teenagers and drifters. The structures are perfectly geometric, with no support beams, and some are quite large – big enough to house a fleet a cars. Everyone who visits this site has reported feeling uneasy, especially near or after dark. To get there, take Thornton Road south from Interstate 8, past the rural and rustic neighborhood to where the pavement ends. You can’t miss the structures, some of which resemble UFOs, while others emulate caterpillars in the desert landscape.

Shangri La Ranch New River: This family-friendly “clothing optional” resort is one of the oldest nudist resorts in Arizona, and existed in New River before the town even had a grocery store. Activities include hiking, tennis and swimming in the resort-style pool (no bathing suits allowed). There’s also a clubhouse for naturist mingling that includes a large dance floor. 44444 N. Shangri La Ln., New River, 623-465-5959,


Northern Arizona 

Hidden History:

Masonic memorabilia collection Prescott: Built in 1907, the historical Prescott Masonic Lodge on Cortez Street is now a collection of ground-floor stores and upstairs offices, but on the third floor at the top of the stairs (just outside the law offices), there’s a display case filled with Masonic memorabilia, including patches, pins, hats, jewelry, ledgers and photos, including some related to longtime active Mason Morris Goldwater. 105-107 N. Cortez St., Prescott 

Shrine of St. Joseph of the Mountains Yarnell: Though the shrine sustained damage to several building and stations in the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire, it is still worth a pilgrimage to see this walking path through the mountains adorned with several stations of statues including St. Joseph (patron saint of happy homes), as well as depictions of the Last Supper, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and Jesus on the cross, and culminating with a glorious bronze statue depicting Jesus rising from the dead. 16887 Shrine Dr., Yarnell, 928-778-5229,

Ancient Solar Calendar at V-Bar-V Heritage Site Near Camp Verde: The largest known petroglyph site in the Verde Valley, the V-Bar-V Heritage Site houses rock art made by the Southern Sinagua people between 1150 and 1400 B.C.E., some of which appears to depict an ancient solar calendar. Located 2.8 miles east of the I-17 and SR 179 junction on FR 618, 928-203-2900,


Secret Splash Spots

Caves under Beaver Falls Havasupai waterfalls/Grand Canyon area: Beneath the azure cascade of Beaver Falls, there are two underwater caves known as the Green Room and the Blue Room, named for the bright colors of light that pass through the water. The Blue Room’s underwater entrance is marked by a red arrow, while the Green Room is more difficult to get to and reportedly adorned with ferns. has photos and incredibly detailed directions – right down to a “Wet Route” and a “Dry Route” to each cave.


Secret Eats and Drinks

Perky's Overgaard: Rick and Barb Fain’s quaint, log-sided roadside stand along Hwy. 260 between Payson and Show Low (look for the giant sunflowers in spring and summer) not only serves a slew of caffeinated beverages from mochas to Italian sodas, but they also make a mean slow-smoked pulled pork sandwich (peep their smoker by the picnic tables). The small, log-sided dining cabin out back only seats about 10 people, but since you’re between small towns, there’s usually a seat available. 2848 Hwy. 260, Overgaard, 928-970-1199

Indian Gardens Café & Market Sedona: This is that place that everybody always drives by along Hwy. 89A among the stunning red rocks and shaded green forests near Oak Creek but never really notices. But it’s been there a long time – since 1947 – and locals know it as the place to go for a superb sandwich pit-stop. The dozen delights on their sandwich menu are all packed with fresh veggies and/or magnificent meats likes Boar’s Head roast beef and Beeler’s Ham. 3951 N. State Route 89A, Sedona, 928-262-7702,


Hidden Hotels

Grand Canyon Caverns Peach Springs:  If taking an elevator down 22 stories to sleep all night in a massive cavern that’s 220 feet underground sounds exciting to you, you’ll love these cavernous accommodations, converted into a comfortable suite that sleeps six and features a library full of old books and National Geographic magazines dating back to 1917. 115 Mile Marker AZ-66, Peach Springs, 928-422-3223, 


Off-the-Path Oddities

Eliphante Village Cornville:  Dubbed an “outsider art community” by Atlas Obscura, Eliphante Village sits on three acres near Cornville, and is studded with sculptures (animals, caverns over creeks, half-subterranean domes) made from rocks, gemstones, concrete, sand, wood and just about any other solid medium one can imagine, many painted with bright, bold colors in kaleidoscopic patterns. The primary sculptors are the late Michael Kahn and his wife Leda Livant Kahn (who now lives in nearby Cottonwood), but Eliphante also features several colossal creations by various artists-in-residence over the past 33 years. Regular events at this out-of-the-way artistic oasis include vegetarian potluck dinners, digital photo scavenger hunts and live folk-rock music. 1200 S. Loy Rd., Cornville, 928-634-2687,

Giganticus Headicus Walapai: There’s a 14-foot-tall tiki head half-buried in the Arizona desert off Route 66, and why not? Gregg Arnold crafted the sculpture in 2004 from chicken wire, metal, wood, concrete and Styrofoam, and it’s been drawing curious commuters to the parking lot of the old Kozy Corner Trailer Court ever since. Northeast corner of Route 66 and Antares Rd., 14 miles north of the Kingman airport. 


Southern Arizona

Secret Splash Spots

Secret waterfall in Madera Canyon Santa Rita Mountains, Tucson area

After rain or snowfall in the canyon, a stunning “secret” waterfall ranging from 12 to 25 feet cascades down the surrounding boulders. Follow Proctor Trail 200 feet (easy) to an unpaved trail on the right. Follow that a short walk to a stream, and then to the waterfall in Madera Canyon (


Hidden History

Lehner Mammoth-Kill site Hereford

Artifacts and bones dating back to 9,000 B.C.E. – including arrows, tools, mammoths and bison – were discovered here by local rancher Ed Lehner in 1952 and many remain on display. San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, 4070 S. Avenida Saracino, Hereford, 520-439-6400,


Secret Hikes

Ragged Top: North Gully Tucson

Warning: This hike in the Ironwood Forest National Monument (3.9 miles roundtrip; very difficult) to the summit of Ragged Top peak is a strenuous and steep adventure in bushwacking. Compass or GPS is recommended. Take the Red Rock exit (#226) from Interstate 10 and drive west for 13 miles. Turn left on Silverbell and drive 1.8 miles to a signpost on the right side of the road. Turn right at the signpost and follow the road to a cul-de-sac. Trailhead may be unmarked, but is visible from this spot.Visiting November through January is ideal. Desert Bighorn Sheep lambing season is February through April, and human activity can disturb the animals, so plan your hike outside those months.


Hidden Hotels

School House Inn Bed & Breakfast Bisbee

Located in a residential area west of downtown Bisbee, this cozy B&B is converted from a 1918 schoolhouse. Themed rooms include “The History Room” (complete with items like a war rations ticket and a letter by Abraham Lincoln), “The Art Room” (filled with oil paintings) and “The Library Suite,” with two rooms and a bath. 818 Tombstone Canyon, Bisbee, 520-432-2996,


Off-the-Path Oddities

God's Filling Station Mammoth

It looks like a gas station right down to the black-and-white checkered trim and awning, but the only thing they fill you up on at this roadside church is the holy spirit.

Labyrinth in the Desert (Rio Vista Natural Resources Park, Tucson)

This sizeable stone maze is around the corner from Valley of the Moon. “A bunch of us old fogies made it,” a woman named Estelle told us, as she watered flowers in a roundabout of the Rillito neighborhood. “The oldest was 82!”