Summer Getaways

Mike MeyerJune 1, 2014
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Golfer’s Paradise
With more than 250 golf courses and putting greens, metro Phoenix is among America’s choicest places to tee off – that is, until summer temperatures make even the earliest tee time a guaranteed sweat bath. Thankfully, the cool mountain hamlet of Prescott offers myriad options for bonding on the green, including the 2,000-acre Stoneridge (1601 N. Bluff Top Dr., 928-772-6500, at the base of the Bradshaw Mountains; and Hassayampa Golf Club, a member-owned facility sporting a Tom Weiskopf-designed Par 71 course (2060 Golf Club Ln., 877-845-0009, If you wax more Happy Gilmore than Caddyshack, the city-run Antelope Hills offers two 18-hole courses for a wallet-friendly $51.50 for non-residents. Insiders say the original 1950s course is a challenging run of parkland and bluegrass fairways, while the wide expanses and heavy mounding of the newer fairways make the south course less ball-busting. 1 Perkins Dr., 928-776-7888,

Parasail the Colorado River
The human kites lofted into the air by recreation outfitter River Parasail have been a colorful sight along the 7.1-square-mile Parker strip for nearly three decades. Anyone can suit up, no prior training required. After a brief instruction on how to steer and give hand signals, you’re ready to strap in. Friends are welcome to watch from the boat as you dry takeoff into the air, gliding anywhere from 50 feet to 500 feet above the water. Rides last just six to eight minutes. Still, that eye-blink can feel like a lifetime when you’re making like Icarus (safely tethered to the 12-person boat below, of course). Surprisingly, summer is the hot season for parasailing on the Colorado, perhaps because with a wave of your hand, the boat captain will slow down so you can dip your toasty tootsies – or your whole body – into the river’s cool depths. 928-575-5043,

Take a Dory Ride
Grand Canyon
Most Americans know Dory as the lovable, absent-minded blue tang featured in Pixar’s Finding Nemo. The dories used by O.A.R.S, the first adventure outfitter allowed to operate rowed tours of the Colorado River, are just as memorable. A curved and pointed bow allows rowers to tackle waves without the bumping and rolling of river rafts. The shortest tour (five days) starts in Sin City, traveling through Bar 10 Ranch for horseback riding and skeet shooting, followed by a scenic helicopter ride that deposits guests on the banks of the Colorado. With 13 low- to medium-grade rapids, this trip is great for newbies, while seasoned adventurers may prefer tackling 42 major rapids on the 225-mile ride from Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek. That trip takes nearly three weeks – almost as long as poor Nemo’s misadventures. 2014 trips start at $2,374. 800-346-6277,   

Rock Climbing at Sycamore Falls
Sycamore Falls typically dries up in late spring, but the adjacent canyon appeals to outdoorsy types year-round. Nicknamed Paradise Forks, this rock climber’s paradise is a Y-shaped columnar basalt formation sporting several shallow pools and waterfalls. The canyon is part of an 11-mile loop hike past the remains of an old sawmill, around the Pomeroy tanks and up KA Hill, which offers majestic views of the San Francisco Peaks. There are dozens of nautically-named descents down the vertical surface of Sycamore Canyon, including the 100-foot Mutiny on the Bounty, Ship of Fools and the popular Prow. Be aware, this ain’t no pleasure cruise. Established bolts are as rare as diamonds and the rock almost as hard. Seasoned climbers advise skipping the dicey sport and top rope climbs in favor of rappelling down traditionally with a tree-anchored line. Or you could just do the hike and forego the potentially spine-pulverizing shenanigans. Visit the Williams Visitor Center for more info. 200 W. Railroad Ave., 928-635-1418,

Stay & Sleep: The Red Garter Bed & Bakery
It’s not often you find a historic hotel with a past even more sordid than the ghost stories told by its patrons. The two-story Victorian brick building housing The Red Garter was originally built in 1897, with its first tenants a saloon and second-floor brothel. Ladies of the evening would lead wayward travelers up steep steps nicknamed “The Cowboy’s Endurance Test” and to their rooms for some down-home comfort. Owner John Holst converted the building’s eight upstairs bedrooms into four plush spaces with en suite bathrooms, upping the comfort factor. Still, the owners aim to keep western history alive “with each of the rooms telling its own story,” Holst says. For example, the Madam’s Room is etched with a circa-1903 bas-relief detailing cowboy travel routes. Rustling sheets and sightings of the house’s dark-haired resident ghost, Eve, happen on occasion, but any unusual nighttime events are easily forgotten once guests awaken to the blissful smell of brewed coffee and pastries from the bakery below. $135-$160 per night. 137 W. Railroad Ave., 928-635-1484,

photo by David Wallace

Slippery When Wet Canyoneering Tour
Salome Wilderness
Though nearby Theodore Roosevelt Lake is decidedly man-made – the Rough Rider himself dedicated its dam in 1911 – water within the 20,000-acre Salome Wilderness comes courtesy of Mama Nature. It isn’t easy to traverse this rugged landscape alone, and that’s where 360 Adventures comes in. The group offers a seven- to nine-hour guided tour through slot canyons, waterfall-fed pools and the breathtaking pink and white granite formations known as “The Jug.” According to tour guide Bruce Leadbetter, the best time for wet canyoneering is on a weekday. “Weekends tend to be a bit busier and we inevitably have to rescue someone that didn’t have the right equipment,” he quips. Good thing 360 provides wetsuits and full safety gear – though you may want to bring a waterproof camera for all the selfies you’ll inevitably want to snap. $430 first guest, $230 additional guest; $230/person for groups of 4 or more. 888-722-0360,

OUT-OF-STATE ESCAPE: Ranch at Live Oak
Malibu, Calif.
Once you make the journey to The Ranch, there’s no going back. Program Director Marc Alabanza designed the facility’s signature seven-day, no-options fitness program to “remove all decision-making for each participant.” Translation: pre-set schedules that start with a crack o’ dawn wake-up call, followed by stretching, four or five hours of hiking and fitness classes like boxing, weight training and yoga. Rest assured, there’s also scheduled time for napping, massages and eating, though meals are vegetarian and limited to 1,400 calories per day. Why surrender freedom for such a grueling regimen? Simple. According to The Ranch, participants typically lose five to 12 pounds of body fat and multiple inches off their waistline – enough to ensure a beach-ready body for summer. Tip: If staying on the grid is a must, the new Ranch 4.0 program offers diagnostic testing and The Ranch’s signature wellness programs during a condensed four-day stay at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village. $6,500 for weeklong program; $3,800 for Ranch 4.0. 888-777-2177,

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photos by Richard Maack; Valle Airport, site of Thunder Over the Coconino and the Planes of Fame Museum

Thunder Over the Coconino
The Model T may be Henry Ford’s best-known invention, but the Tri-Motor airplane was one of his most brilliant. The small personal aircraft, nicknamed “The Tin Goose,” included three separate engines to ensure a safe and smooth ride. Ultimately, 199 Tri-Motors were built; among their pilots were Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. Join their ranks on a vintage 1929 Tri-Motor ride at Valle Airport’s Thunder Over the Coconino X on August 23. Or grab a seat on the supercharged P51 Mustang and see why it was so successful in World War II (hint: Rolls-Royce manufactured its guts). Granted, you’ll have to be content to be a passenger, but it’s still a sweet ride. For those who prefer to keep two feet on the ground, the airshow offers plenty of earthbound activities including a car show, warbird flyovers and antique tractor displays. $12 adults, $6 children (includes free admission to the onsite Planes of Fame Museum). 555 S. State Route 64, 928-635-5280,  

Arizona H.O.G. Bike Rally
Route 66
In modern times, the iconic Arizona cowboy has replaced his trusty steed with a horse of a different kind – trusty steel. From June 5-7, Arizona’s H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) escapes to the highways and byways of Seligman, Williams and the Verde Valley, throttling their engines and cruising the open desert with not a care in the world. Guided tours are choose-your-own-adventure: Brave the 221-mile trek to Mormon Lake Lodge and back, or cruise leisurely past Seligman’s antique Burma-Shave signs with a stop for ice cream and grub. The event also includes nightly trivia walks, live music and a Saturday night bike show. Just off Route 66 in Williams, British motorcyclists Claire and Nick Kirby provide a hog haven at Sheridan House Inn (460 E. Sheridan Ave., 928-814-2809, The neat, stylish B&B boasts a complimentary motorcycle wash station and offers a free happy hour for H.O.G. guests Friday and Saturday night. Onsite registration $25. 602-955-2658,

Archaeology Summer Camp at Arizona State Museum
The life of an archaeologist seems pretty glamorous: digging in exotic places, unearthing ancient relics, fighting the occasional resurrected mummy or two. In reality, meticulous behind-the-scenes work is the meat and potatoes of an archaeologist’s job. Every summer, University of Arizona’s Arizona State Museum lets regular Joes make history by assisting real-life Indiana Joneses in a five-day, hands-on archaeology summer camp from June 23-27. This year, students will either work with animal bones found at President James Madison’s Virginia plantation or assist Dr. Dale Brenneman in translating the writings of 17th- and 18th-century missionaries who documented their experiences with the O’odham and Pee-Posh tribes. Spanish-speaking is a plus for that one, though there are plenty of English texts still ripe for modern translation. Both camps are full as of this writing, but interested parties can get on the wait list. 1013 E. University Blvd., 520-626-8381,

Territorial River Regatta
One of the perks of living near a river that flows year-round is having the ability to cool off at a moment’s notice. On June 28, Yuma residents will take ultimate advantage of their prime locale by floating and tubing from the confluence of the Gila and Colorado rivers down to West Wetland Park. This isn’t your typical Salt River mega-party: singles are welcome to tube down solo or make a daisy-chain with fellow river-goers. Many locals opt to put the “float” back into parade floats by creating themed mega-rafts pimped out with colorful decorations and characters. Floats have to measure less than 8’x8’ to participate, with prizes awarded for the entries that measure up in categories such as best nonprofit, best military and best business float. The Huck Finn-style adventure takes about three hours from start to finish, so bring plenty of sunblock and water, lest you end up as fried as a Kentucky chicken. $5 per person. 928-343-1715,

Wild West Days & Bucket of Blood Race
Drive Route 66 through Holbrook and you’ll spot the ominous Bucket of Blood Street, named for a legendary Wild West shootout that left a local watering hole riddled with bullet holes and Texas-size bloodstains. No doubt the instigators of that fight ran from the long arm of the law. How fitting, then, that Holbrook’s annual half-marathon, which begins at the Old Courthouse and winds through desert trails and rancher territory before crossing Route 66, shares a name with the grisly gunfight. This year’s run kicks off at the crack of dawn on July 11. If trekking 13 miles through barren desert terrain sounds more like punishment than adrenaline-fueling fun, try the shorter 10K trail run or put your pedals to the metal in a fun 20K bike ride. Races are part of Holbrook’s 32nd annual Wild West Days, a two-day, family-friendly festival featuring a classic car show, western shootouts and folklorico dancing. Festival is free; race registration costs $25-$55 per person, 928-524-6558,

Medieval Mayhem
Pinetop’s annual family-owned medieval affair ditches the hidebound “period Nazi” tradition of cosplay conventions – you know, making people don stuffy Elizabethan garb to welcome Vikings, fairies, elves and the like – in favor of something more authentic. From July 11-13, dance with the lovely Queen Julia and her royal court, scour the shire for booty with Captain Kilted Jack and sign up naughty kids for a good old-fashioned flogging in the stocks. (No worries, it’s just a flesh wound!) Performers include 3 Guys and a Bunch of Drums, belly dancers Ghazaal Beledi and comic musicians Far From Home. In lieu of the joust, warriors of the nonprofit Adrian Empire recreationist group will duke it out hand-to-hand wearing historically correct armor. The last fighter standing wins prizes donated by local artisans – and the adoration of every pint-size prince and princess in the crowd. Adults $10, children 6-13 $5, ages 5 and younger free. 933 N. Woodland Rd.,


photos by Dominic Valente; Pirates of the High Desert in Bisbee

Pirates of the High Desert
Arizona is landlocked, but its residents aren’t stuck being landlubbers. From August 8-9, Bisbee’s scurvy dogs break out the eye patches and spyglasses for a celebration of all things piratical. The event is sponsored by Old Bisbee Brewing Company, the first modern microbrewery in the part of town historically known as “Brewer’s Gulch,” so expect plenty o’ grog. Follow the treasure map and grab some booty (mainly food and drink specials) from Copper Queen Saloon, St. Elmo’s Bar and other local merchants. Plunder the wares of street vendors whilst enjoying live music and themed events, which include bed races, costume contests and a treasure hunt using old-fashioned dowsing rods. Pirate dress is encouraged, though no one will make you walk the plank if you show up in Bermuda shorts and a T-shirt. Cost varies by event.

Stay & Sleep: The Gardens at Mile High Ranch
Denver owns the nickname Mile High City, but at more than 5,000 feet above sea level, the funky ex-mining town of Bisbee also fits the bill. Its aptly named Mile High Ranch is a three-acre wonderland of vibrant jewel-tone ranch buildings, vine-covered arches and om-worthy statuary. Flora extends into the living spaces, whether in fern-green walls, natural wood plank floors or framed botanical prints. Most rooms come with kitchenette and attached bathroom, and pack extra spiritual punch thanks to chakra-centric decorating themes. (For example, stay in the crown-themed Unit 3 if you feel depressed.) Detoxify from the neck down in the ozonated sauna or take care of those pesky solar plexus problems with a little colon hydrotherapy. If that’s a little too alternative for your practical personality, more traditional massage and facials are also available. Rates average $70-$115 per night. 901 Tombstone Canyon, 520-432-3866,

OUT-OF-STATE ESCAPE: Utah Shakespeare Festival
Cedar City, Utah
A few things have changed in the theatrical world since Shakespeare’s day: Women tread the proverbial boards, scenery can change in the blink of an eye, and shows are no longer plagued by “the plague.” Sickness and misogyny aside, Cedar City’s Utah Shakespeare Festival recreates Elizabethan theater with an 819-seat playhouse designed after period drawings. From June 23 to August 30, guests can catch three tales of “love, death and everything in-between” in this theatre-in-the-round, including Henry IV, Part 1; Measure for Measure; and The Comedy of Errors, the latter re-imagined in the Old West. Pop by after a matinee for a backstage Repertory Magic tour and experience the intricate process of switching over the sets and lighting from day to night. Tickets cost $28-$73; additional $8 for tour. 351 W. Center St., 435-586-7878,

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Devil Dog Loop
The ferocity of U.S. Marines earned them the nickname “Devil Dogs” during World War I, but no one seems to know how exit 157 in Williams got its Cujo-esque name. Thankfully the nearby Devil Dog #117 trail loop in Kaibab National forest doesn’t require any military training to traverse. The low-stress 6.9-mile loop follows original 1920s and 1930s sections of Route 66 with remnants of old pavement scattered throughout. Runners can retrace a 1928 derby race route or stray from the path about 3/4 mile in for an endurance-testing climb up to an elevation of 7,700 feet at Bixler Saddle (part of Bill Williams Mountain). The entire loop is suitable for mountain biking; carry a repair kit in case the rubble takes its toll. No fee. Visit the Williams Visitor Center for info. 200 W. Railroad Ave., 928-635-1418,

Northern Arizona Trails and Ales
Prescott to Sedona
Outdoor enthusiast Matt Brown named his hiking company Rubicon after his uncle’s Sacramento brewery, a fitting tribute considering it was beer that inflamed Brown’s interest in hiking. “I was living with my uncle when I was 21 and drinking too much beer as a young adult. [I] decided I needed to get out hiking to get in shape,” he says. “Twenty-five years later, I am still in the hiking business.” Rubicon’s Trails and Ales Tour takes serious hikers on a five-day excursion across the ponderosa forests and granite dells of Prescott, down Sycamore Rim Trail near Flagstaff and through the lush wildlife areas of Oak Creek Canyon. Think of beer as your reward for all that exercise. Each night, guests unwind with craft brews at Prescott Brewing Company, Flagstaff’s Beaver Street Brewery and Oak Creek Brewing Company (dinner is included in the price, though you’ll have to spring for libations). Tour stops can be customized to suit each hiker’s tastes; lodging, breakfast and picnic lunches are also provided along the way. $1,495 per person (double occupancy). 800-903-6987,

Stay & Sleep: Inn Above Oak Creek
If you hit Secret Canyon (page 139) or another Sedona trail, consider a stay at the Inn Above Oak Creek, which boasts one of the most idyllic settings in town – and that’s saying a lot. The lush grounds are dotted with towering sycamores and oaks, and multiple patios offer views of Oak Creek and nearby red rock formations. The inn was completely remodeled in fall 2013: Gone are the whimsical names and quilted coverlets, replaced by 12 modern guest rooms with whirlpool tubs and panel beds, plus one 1,200-square-foot luxury suite. Escape down to the creek for a romantic hand-packed picnic or spend the afternoon lounging in a private hammock. Though the inn no longer offers an onsite culinary school, guests can savor a taste of Sedona via a 3 1/2-hour private gourmet dinner dished up by Cobalt Escapes ( or walk to the famed Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village for crêpes and a brewski. Rooms average $105-$155 per night. 556 Highway 179, 928-282-7896,

Backpacking Chiricahua & Monte Vista Peak
The idea of tackling a Southern Arizona hike during the brutal summer seems, well, suicidal. But you’ll find no death-by-trail solutions at the Chiricahua Mountains east of Tucson (pictured, right), which boast some of the best warm-weather conditions around. The area is jeweled with loop trails, from the easy 2.6-mile Echo Canyon run near Wilcox to Mormon Canyon Loop’s counterclockwise ascent through tall swatches of pine, aspen and fir. For a full 15-mile trek up to the highest peak in the Chiricahuas, take Mormon Ridge Trailhead (#269) to the Chiricahua Crest Trail. The peak’s 9,757-foot elevation often keeps summer temperatures in the 70s to 80s with tall trees sheltering fields of vibrant, cheerful wildflowers. Follow the trail back down past Mormon Ridge to connect with Monte Vista Peak Trail and you’ll be rewarded with awe-inspiring sky island views. The entire loop takes between six to nine hours depending on speed, offering plenty of time to pause for a picnic in the pines. Parking fee $5. Douglas Ranger District, 520-364-3468

Pumpkin & Bull Basin Trail Loop
North of Flagstaff
Taking refuge in a rickety, ancient house in the woods is a classic horror movie no-no – inevitably, its most recent resident is some wacko in a hockey mask. Stumble across an old sheepherder’s cabin in the well-maintained Kaibab National Forest, on the other hand, and you’ve found a gem. The Pumpkin Trail follows a herding route in use until the late 20th century through lush evergreens in the Kendrick Mountain Wilderness. Stop off on the connecting Bull Basin Trail and follow the spring to Kendrick Lookout Cabin, a circa-1911 outpost listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The cabin is open for public use. Pop in for a rest and get a taste of 19th-century life before making the descent down old logging roads to civilization. Taking both trails as a loop means an 11-mile hike with no water facilities, so don’t forget to stock up before you head out.

OUT-OF-STATE ESCAPE: Joyful Journey Hot Springs
Salida, Colo.
The last thing a Phoenician wants to hear in July is a phrase like “hot stone” or “140 degrees.” That all changes when you’re deep in the heart of Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Built atop a natural mineral hot springs, Joyful Journey is a place to escape from the daily grind of paperwork and family obligations and just breathe. The facility’s two pools are kept at a constant 98 and 108 degrees, the latter best for healing muscles made stiff and backs made sore by the day’s hike. Swedish massage and reflexology is offered on-site for an additional fee, with alternate therapies ranging from crystal treatments to Native Blanket Wraps incorporating Indian tobacco, sarsaparilla and soothing herbs. Continuing the New Age-y theme, overnight options include tipis and dome-shaped yurts like those found on the Mongolian plains. $116-$198 per night; $55-$105 for non-traditional structures. 719-256-4328,

photo by Jim David

Secret Canyon
OK, so Sedona’s Secret Canyon isn’t exactly the stuff of spy legends. Landscape photographers have long immortalized its gorgeous features, from hidden cave waterfalls to layered red rock cliffs that look like a Martian dreamscape. Besides the gorgeous scenery, Secret Canyon is known for its make-your-own-adventure setup. An 11-mile loop featuring four trails, the canyon lets hikers take the full trek through narrows, boulders and canyons or opt to turn around at any point. The lower trail offers an easy-to-moderate hike through sparse vegetation and manzanita groves. For a greater challenge, start at the Secret Canyon Trailhead and scramble directly down to the canyon, following the rocky riverbed to several sandstone drop-offs. Expect an obstacle course of fallen trees, small pools and narrow chasms until you spot man-made rock piles marking the main trail. Red Rock Ranger District, 928-203-2900,

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Camping on the Edge at Toroweap
Grand Canyon
North of the Grand Canyon, the trek from Toroweap Overlook to the Tuweep camping area is described by the National Park Service as an “uncrowded, rustic and remote experience.” Translation: This is hostile terrain without any creature comforts. If you get a flat tire – which a decent percentage of travelers do along this route – there’s no whipping out the cell phone to call for backup. The trade-off is a pristine, uncorrupted view of the canyon from a 3,000-foot cliff overlooking the Colorado (pictured, right). Partially dammed by ancient lava flows, this section of the canyon is one of the narrowest. Visit the Tuckup and Saddle Loop trails, marked by stacked rocks, for excellent views of the area’s red rocks and cinder cones. Tuweep Campground is the only place where overnight stays are allowed, though a permit is required for large groups. Luckily, rising temperatures and the threat of monsoon keep all but the die-hards away, making for an easier first-come, first-served experience. $25 per private vehicle; free on August 25, the National Park Service’s birthday. 928-638-7888, photo by Erik Harrison

Out of Africa Wildlife Park
Camp Verde
It all began with a baby African leopard named Saja. Out of Africa founders Dean and Prayeri Harrison opened a 16-acre wildlife park in Fountain Hills, later relocating to 100-plus acres up north. The revamped Out of Africa is home to hundreds of mammals, birds and reptiles, from the uncommon Addax (white antelope) to wolves, zebras and the über-rare Sonoran Desert tortoise. The Harrisons share their spirit of adventure by offering safari-like options such as a $20 Unimog Adventure Tour and VIP park tour with Sedona helicopter ride ($399 adult; $339 children 3-12). Crave an eagle’s eye view? Race high above the animals via the newly constructed Predator Zip Line. The super-fast triple line is heaven for speed demons, while the narrated zoo tour is a leisurely 2 1/2-hour jaunt across towers, bridges and runs. General admission $29.95 adults, $27.95 seniors, $22.95 students, $14.95 children 3-12. Zip line $89.95 per person. 3505 W. Camp Verde Bridgeport Hwy., 928-567-2840,

Cruise the Volcanic Fields
Driving through the 1,158-square-mile landscape of Springerville’s volcanic fields, it’s hard to resist comparisons to an alien landscape. Author Edgar Rice Burroughs was so fascinated with this bizarre terrain that he used it as a partial setting for John Carter on Mars. Though ancient volcanoes aren’t exactly a rarity in Arizona – most notably the San Francisco and Sentinel sites – few places in the world boast as many vents as Springerville (405, to be exact). Turn north at Forest Road 117 and take the dirt path to Road 61; follow the signs to Green’s Peak to enjoy panoramic views from 10,000 feet. In addition to a fireman’s lookout, the summit features a lava tube formed when molten rock carved a hollow during a post-dinosaur-era eruption. Visit for additional info.  

Stay & Sleep: MLY Ranch
Frontier novelist Zane Grey once said “of all the gifts that have come to me from contact with the West, this one of sheer love of wildness, beauty, color, grandeur, has been the greatest, the most significant for my work.” Grey’s “beloved” Arizona is visible in the open plains and mountain vistas of MLY Ranch, home to a historic log cabin originally homesteaded in the 1870s. Of course, much has changed since Grey’s day. MLY’s dual two-bedroom cabins, nicknamed Phoebe and Marmaduke, are stocked with modern essentials, from DVD players and Wi-Fi to barbecue grills primed for cooking Texas-size steaks. Hike the Apache-Sitgreaves trails or take a few steps down to the Little Colorado and set out a line. Guests with cowboy dreams can saddle up at nearby X Diamond Ranch’s riding facilities (928-333-2286,, which cater to all skill levels with packages ranging from a one-hour Tenderfoot trek ($30-$45) to a full day of cattle roping ($155) that’ll literally chap your hide. MLY’s summer cabin rental rates average $115-$155. 928-333-2395,

Drive the Agua Fria
Near Black Canyon City
Just 40 miles north of Phoenix, the 70,900-acre Agua Fria National Monument is a popular spot for bird watching, hunting and seasonal hikes. Come summer, the once-lush riparian preserve dries out, becoming a virtual Easy-Bake Oven for travelers on foot. The upside? If you’ve got a high-clearance vehicle with icy A/C, summer is the perfect time to take the old gal on a scenic drive through rocky grassland terrain. Look for native critters including deer and javelina, an extinct volcano and more than 200 prehistoric ruins and rock features along the way. There’s no off-roading allowed here, so you’ll have to stay on the proverbial beaten path or take a hike. One of our favorite pit-stops is Pueblo La Plata, an early stone settlement that originally boasted 80-90 rooms. Little is left now except square-shaped piles of rocks, but trained eyes have found pottery shards and the remnants of terraced fields nearby. 623-580-5500,

OUT-OF-STATE ESCAPE: Treasure Island
South Padre Island, Texas
Admit it: Ever since you saw Errol Flynn flying down the sail of a pirate ship in Captain Blood (or the recreation of that scene in the ‘80s flick Goonies), you’ve longed to be a buccaneer. South Padre Island has the next best thing – an honest-to-goodness replica of a 17th-century Spanish galleon. Although Osprey Cruises’ Black Dragon boasts GPS and a top speed of 12 knots, the 75-foot-long ship maintains an authentic feel thanks to a scurvy crew of eyepatch-wearing scallywags and 10 faux cannons that recreate the sounds of a battle straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean (501 E. Maxan St., Port Isabel, 956-943-6283, Meanwhile, landlubbers lacking sea legs can take advantage of nearby water recreation opportunities including South Padre Island Sealife Nature Center’s edu-taining dolphin tours ( and Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort, which features kid-friendly tube chutes and water rides plus a swim-up bar for Mom and Dad (100 Padre Blvd., 956-761-1160,

photo by Mark Lipczynski

Enjoy the Snowbowl Chairlift, Sans Snow
Long after the powder melts and the ski bunnies return to hibernation, the scenic Agassiz chairlift at Flagstaff’s Snowbowl keeps on chugging. Take the 25-minute ride up 2,000 feet and enjoy panoramic views of the San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff’s pine forests and the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. Rangers stationed at the top provide background info on the area and its geological history, including the eruption of a lava dome some six million years ago. From there, visitors can take the chairlift down, stop to play 18 holes at the disc golf course or hike down into the Kachina Peaks Wilderness. Though Flag’s summer weather seems idyllic, bring sunscreen and a jacket to protect against the whipping winds that can often be found at Snowbowl’s 11,500-foot summit. Lift open Friday through Sunday (and Monday holidays) May 23-September 1. $15 adults; $10 students and seniors; 7 and under (and 70+) free. Golf $3 per disc/$8 per set. 9300 N. Snowbowl Rd., 928-779-1951,

photo by Jim David

Seneca and San Carlos Lakes
San Carlos Apache Reservation
Originally the largest lake in Arizona, San Carlos Lake has been hit hard by drought in recent years. Water levels remain low, but with 158 miles of shore, there are still excellent fishing and recreation opportunities available. Boats and personal watercraft are welcome with a permit, and nearby Seneca Lake (pictured) is stocked with catfish and red-ear sunfish during the summer months. The Salt River also cuts through the Apache’s 3,000-acre reservation, providing opportunities for excellent day hikes as well as tubing and kayaking – best after the monsoon rains hit. Tip: Contact the Apache Recreation and Wildlife Department to check lake levels and access before visiting. $10 permit required for most activities. 928-475-2343,

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photos by Richard Maack; Ronne Roope, founder of Tours of Jerome (above left), at the Connor Hotel in the town of Jerome (above right)

Spirits of Jerome Tour
Incorporated in 1898, Jerome was once a bustling mining town of 15,000 residents. But after the mines ran dry in the early 20th century, its population dwindled to less than 500 souls – and some of them never left. Increase your chances of meeting Jerome’s loitering deceased by taking a five-hour trek from Sedona through historic Cottonwood and Clarkdale. With the aid of a Spirit Guide and an EMF reader to measure magnetic fields, amateur paranormal investigators are turned loose to search for the ghostly apparitions of strangling victim Sammie Dean, unfortunate miner “Headless Charlie,” and Jennie Bauters, the murdered madam who haunts the halls of her former brothel with a feline in tow. Tour stops include the Mile High Inn and Grill and The Connor Hotel, once home to a false storefront that hid ladies of the infamous “Husband’s Row” and their prey from prying eyes. $110 per person. 928-639-4361,

Take an Eco Workshop
It’s difficult to determine whether Paolo Soleri was more dreamer or doer. He designed an Italian ceramics factory and the Paolo Soleri Amphitheatre in Santa Fe, yet his pet project Arcosanti has been under construction for more than four decades. The building continues even after Soleri’s passing, thanks to onsite educators, researchers and students of an intensive five-week workshop program offered throughout the year. Classes cover basic principles of architecture and “green” building, plus the day-to-day operations of an environmentally-friendly community. This one-week lecture period can be attended separately, or students can progress to the next phase: hands-on building. Each participant is assigned to a construction or maintenance project, with intermittent field trips to Soleri’s former studio, Cosanti, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. To get a true taste of life on the “arc,” dorm rooms are shared and offer no heat or air-conditioning – making this as much of a survivalist adventure as it is an educational experience. $550 for one week; $875 two weeks; $1,550 five-week program. 928-632-6233,

Sheep Is Life Celebration
Navajo Nation
With everything in our modern world just one touch, click or credit card transaction away, it’s easy to imagine Generation Samsung crumbling should disaster strike. Native Americans, on the other hand, have passed down traditional skills that make survival an easy task. Learn under the tutelage of Diné masters at Diné Be’ Iiná’s annual Sheep Is Life Celebration (June 16-21). Fiber arts workshops are offered throughout the week: Learn how to spin and dye wool, felt a warm scarf or weave a Navajo rug in traditional patterns. Friday and Saturday’s family-friendly festival is free and open to the public, with weaving and felting activities, vibrant traditional storytelling and Diné foods and crafts. Workshop fees are $135-$610 (including materials and loom rental, if applicable). Diné College – Tsaile Campus, 1 Circle Dr., 505-406-7428,

Artist Open Studios
Like Phoenix, the laid-back northern outpost of Flagstaff has a burgeoning arts community that opens its doors to the public every First Friday for a street party/gallery bash. Once a year, members of the Artists’ Coalition of Flagstaff allow guests an up-close and personal look inside their studios, giving them a tour through the creative process. One stop might find a ceramicist hand-molding a cone of clay, the next a mixed-media artist collaging newspaper particles. The tour is self-guided, allowing you to make on-the-spot decisions about staying for a painting demo or heading to the next studio. Photography, jewelry making, pottery and painting are among the arts represented at this year’s Open Studios (August 23-24). Check for maps online or at local galleries. Visitors can also stop by the Coconino Center for the Arts to preview artists’ works and plan their tour route. Free admission. 13 N. San Francisco St., Suite 103,

Stay & Sleep: Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort
Perfect for a rainy day escape, the Navajo Nation’s newest casino marries tradition with enough modern amenities and conveniences to lure locals away from the city. Located just 15 minutes east of downtown Flag, Twin Arrows houses more than 1,100 slot machines, an impressive array of mystery jackpots (a perk of Navajo casinos), plus live music, six onsite restaurants and daily poker tournaments. For newbies, there’s a pro version of War, the classic battle game we remember playing under blanket forts at childhood sleepovers. The architecture of Twin Arrows is worth a look even if you’re not keen on Keno – don’t miss the gorgeous, Navajo-inspired tile work and impressive lobby chandelier, the latter a bejeweled white, turquoise, yellow and black megalith with a mirrored circle below that gives the illusion of walking over a deep chasm. 22181 Resort Blvd., 928-856-7200,

photo by Anne Wittke; Flagstaff Folk Festival

Folk Festival
Folk music is kind of like the fiction section of a library. Just as there are fictional mysteries, dramas and romances, everything from Jewel to Austrian polka can fall under the “folk” heading. With more than 100 musical acts scheduled to take the stage at Flagstaff Folk Festival (June 28-29), there’s bound to be at least one subgenre that strikes a chord. Sets last 25 to 35 minutes, with multiple indoor and outdoor venues running acts simultaneously. Performers aren’t paid (though they typically sell CDs on-site), which means it’s a mixed bag of newbies, amateurs and pros. There are also plenty of jam sessions to keep guests in line and their instruments in tune. Anytime your ears are in overdrive, take an auditory break in the quieter Coconino Center for the Arts and Arizona Historical Society Pioneer Museum, both of which are free with Folk Fest tickets. $5 per person; $15 per family (per day), 2300 N. Fort Valley Rd., 928-606-2064,

McMinnville, Ore.
News flash: Napa Valley isn’t the only West Coast locale to offer sun-dappled vineyards and instant romance. With east- and south-facing slopes and a climate slightly drier than the average Great Northwest town, McMinnville, Ore. draws vintners and oenophiles like flies to mead. Here you’ll find the 128-acre Brittan Vineyards and pinot-centric Noble Pig, along with Red Ridge Farms in nearby Dayton. Most Willamette Valley wineries offer tours and tastings; the McMinnville AVA ( publishes a list of wine-related events in the area. Of course, affairs of the heart cannot exist on Merlot alone. While in town, treat your lover to bouquet de mesclun panache, pave de saumon aux lentilles vertes “du Puy” and other tongue-twisting tantalizers at Bistro Maison, the award-winning eatery from French chef Jean-Jacques Chatelard (729 NE Third St., 503-474-1888, End the day with free chocolates and more wine at Third Street Flats in the Historic McMinnville Bank (219 NE Cowls St., 503-857-6248,, a posh downtown boutique hotel arranged à la European apartments. Tres chic, non?

OUT-OF-STATE ARTS ESCAPE V.2: Sensuous San Francisco
San Fran is a city of earthly delights, from dining on locally-caught crab at Fisherman’s Wharf to watching the sexy sisters of Red Hot Burlesque heat up Mission Street. The sights, the sounds – for a stimulation junkie, there’s nothing like it.
See Me: Pier 39’s interactive 7D Experience combines a roller coaster and an arcade shooting game for a marriage made in sensory heaven. Building M – Level 1, 415-445-0916,
Hear Me: With 176 speakers and seating in the round, AUDIUM’s Friday and Saturday night concerts are a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Live performers direct taped noises that echo off the walls, creating a symphony of pure sound. 1616 Bush St., 415-771-1616,
Touch Me: Get touchy-feely at the newly relocated Exploratorium, where you’ll find hands-on science exhibits and a Tactile Dome that immerses the visitor in total darkness (think Seven Minutes in Heaven without the teenage awkwardness). Pier 15, 415-528-4360,  
Heal Me: Stop to smell the roses and exotic endangered flora at Golden Gate Park’s Conservatory of Flowers (100 John F. Kennedy Dr., 415-831-2090,, followed by a visit to State Bird Provisions, named Best New Restaurant of 2013 by the James Beard Foundation. SBP’s menu changes frequently, but you can always count on fun taste bud ticklers like roasted bone marrow, duck and fontina croquettes or black sesame ice cream sandwiches (1529 Fillmore St., 415-795-1272,

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