Have a hankering for travel in 2022?
Get your wheels turning with our annual smorgasbord of in-state escapes for every weekend of the year.
Original photography by Scott Baxter, Kevin Kaminski, Mirelle Inglefield & David Zickl
Slough Off 2021 With an Epic Hike
The problem with New Year’s Day hikes? Everyone does ’em. That’s why we like White Rock Springs, a 23-mile journey through the untamed Superstition Wilderness. It’s unlikely you’ll run into crowds, giving you space to reflect on those New Year’s resolutions. No need to hike all 23 miles; the 7-mile jaunt from First Water Trailhead offers gradual ascents to viewpoints of the saguaro-studded landscape.
If You Go: To access First Water Trailhead, go east from Apache Junction on AZ-88 to First Water Road, turn right and drive 2 miles to the parking lot; 480-610-3300, fs.usda.gov/detail/tonto
Suit Up for Snow Fun
No self-respecting Phoenician “suffers” through a sunny, palm-shaded winter without the obligatory snow-play weekend in Arizona’s north country. For that, head to Sunrise Park Resort to zip down pristine slopes on skis, snowboards and snow bikes.
Fees: $59-69/day, Mon.-Thurs.; $67-77/day, Fri.-Sun.; $599/season
If You Go: 200 Hwy. 273, Greer, 855-735-7669, sunrise.ski
Skip the Stairs, Take a Golf Cart
The town of Bisbee sure loves its stairs. They cascade down hills, ladder up buildings and curve around alleys. It’s a novelty to climb them once. After that: tiring. To explore Bisbee in comfort, sign up for a golf cart tour offered by Bisbee Tour Company.
Fees: 30-minute tour, $15/person; 60-minute tour, $30/person; 90-minute tour, $40/person; 3-hour tour,
If You Go: 8 Naco Rd., Bisbee, 520-477-7329, bisbeetourismcenter.com/the-bisbee-tour-company
Welcome Tucson’s Newest Brewery
While we’re fans of MotoSonora Brewing’s craft beers – especially the roasty, toasty Esprit Turbo Ordinary English Bitter – it’s the taproom’s road-trip theme, complete with vintage vehicles, that sets MotoSonora apart. And for your road-trip themed tip: The best parking is found in the back alley.
If You Go: 1015 S. Park Ave., Tucson, 520-416-6686, motosonora.com
The jam-band-happy Gem & Jam Festival takes place, somewhat purposefully, when the Tucson Gem & Mineral Fest is in full swing. The three-day music event caters to the 55,000 artsy nomads who drift into town to scour for precious gems with workshops, visual artists’ booths and gallery installations.
Fees: $189/person for three days; camping passes sold separately
If You Go: Feb. 4-6, Pima County Fairgrounds, 11300 S. Houghton Rd., Tucson, gemandjamfestival.com
Browse Vintage License Plates
Even if you’re not a collector of old auto stuff, you’ll be impressed by the Hackberry General Store’s thousands-strong selection of U.S. license plates, acquired over the decades from travelers near and far. A bucket-list landmark for Route 66ers who pilgrimage here to wander the grounds filled with antique cars and road-trip memorabilia, this place was also the home of famous Route 66 muralist, Bob Waldmire. On a Sunday, kick back with a cola to the talents of a local man who plays guitar on the store’s porch.
If You Go: 11255 Route 66, Hackberry, 928-769-2605
Tour the Best Museum You’ve Never Heard Of
Though small and far from showy, the Bullion Plaza Cultural Center & Museum offers one of the most insightful looks at Arizona history of any museum in the state. Housed in a former 1920s-era grammar school for Mexican-American and Apache children, the center’s nine permanent exhibits touch on everything from mining and ranching to Mexican and Native cultures.
Fees: Suggested donation
If You Go: 150 N. Plaza Circle, Miami, 928-473-3700, bullionplazamuseum.org
WINTER LODGING PICK
The Wilde Resort and Spa is all about, well, the wild. (A carefully curated “wild,” of course.) The boutique hotel’s sprawling grounds mimic the Sonoran Desert, the spa features outdoor soaking tubs, a rooftop terrace opens to the sky and The Grove – an outdoor gathering space replete with fire pits and Adirondack chairs – sits in sightline of Thunder Mountain.
If You Go: 2250 W. SR-89A, Sedona, 928-264-7246, thewilderesort.com
Shred Sick Trails
That’s mountain biker lingo for “ride with little or no concern for the safety of your person.” The Spence Basin Trail System offers more than 30 miles of tight, single-track routes that ribbon through Ponderosa pines and around boulder outcroppings. Post-ride, down a pint with other hardcore (or wannabe hardcore) cyclists at Soul Ride Bike Shop & Taproom.
Fees: No trail fees; from $6/pint at Soul Ride
If You Go: To reach the Spence Springs Trailhead from downtown Prescott, drive north 5 miles on Montezuma Street (which turns into Iron Springs Road) to Spence Springs Road, then turn left; 928-777-2200, fs.usda.gov/prescott. Soul Ride Bike Shop is located at 230 S. Montezuma St., Prescott, 928-445-1662, soulride.bike
Brave the Badlands
The term “badlands” conjures to mind stark spaces untouched by humanity. As defined, though, badlands are simply dry terrain where rocks and clay-rich earth have eroded. What that leaves behind isn’t stark but striking – fine-grained stratas of vibrant color. See for yourself at the 93,500-acre Painted Desert. Start at the visitor center for an 18-minute orientation film, then soak up the bold-hued views (at sunset, if possible) along the 6-mile Park Road.
Fees: $25/vehicle, valid for seven days
If You Go: The Painted Desert is located within Petrified Forest National Park. Access the visitor center at Exit 311 off I-40; 928-524-6228, nps.gov/pefo
Dine and Stay on the Salsa Trail
Safford and Surrounding Areas
More than a dozen restaurants compose the Salsa Trail, a food-forward trip on the Old West Highway (US-70), where salsa reigns supreme. Start at Casa Mañana for chile rellenos, then hit up El Coronado for salsa-dressed enchiladas. Next up: La Paloma for a cheese crisp blanketed with – what else? – homemade salsa. Finish with chicken mole and a glass of Arizona wine at La Unica. Then fall into a food coma at the Cottage Bed & Breakfast in Safford.
Fees: From $10/entrée; Cottage Bed & Breakfast, $130/night
If You Go: Casa Mañana, 502 S. First Ave., Safford, 928-428-3170, casacrave.com; El Coronado, 409 W. Main St., Safford, 928-428-7755; La Paloma, 5183 E. Clifton St., Solomon, 928-428-2094; La Unica Restaurant & Tortilleria, 142 N. Haskell Ave., Willcox, 520-384-0010; Cottage Bed & Breakfast, 1104 S. Central Ave., Safford, 928-428-5118, cottagebedandbreakfast.com
SPRING LODGING PICK
book a room at the Verde Valley’s hippest hotel
Park Hotel has good bones. The modern-day requirements for a snazzy boutique hotel come naturally to the Park’s 1915 building: exposed brick walls, copper ceiling tiles, tall windows trimmed in thick crown molding, plus today’s equivalent of the requisite saloon, a craft brewery on the bottom level of the hotel.
Fees: From $185/night
If You Go: 921 Main St., Clarkdale, 877-560-7701, clarkdaleparkhotel.com
Camp in the Chiricahuas
With hoodoos perfect for rock scrambling, plenty of shade and gentle deer as neighbors, Bonita Canyon Campground at Chiricahua National Monument makes for an easy family campout. Join one of the daily campground programs, which launch mid-March, or pick up a free Discovery Daypack (field guides, binoculars, magnifying glasses) for the kiddos and take off on a self-guided
Fees: Park admission is free; camping costs $20/per site, per night, reservations required
If You Go: E. Bonita Canyon Rd., Willcox, 520-824-3560, nps.gov/chir
Step Right Up
The traveling Carnival of Illusion show is one part magic, a dash of vaudevillian theater, a wand’s shake of winking humor and a lot of audience participation. When they’re not performing in Vegas, catch the act in Tucson at the Scottish Rite Grand Parlour.
If You Go: Show dates are April 2,16 and 30; 160 S. Scott Ave., Tucson, 480-359-7469, carnivalofillusion.com
Meet a Harvey Girl
There’s much to admire about the historic La Posada Hotel – Mary Colter’s architectural designs, for one – but a chance to meet an original Harvey Girl? Priceless. The volunteer-led Winslow Harvey Girls act as meet-and-greet ambassadors of the hotel, giving tours and talks that illuminate the life of Harvey Girls, waitresses who worked at Fred Harvey Houses on the railroad in the early half of the 20th Century. When you see Janice Stewart, ask the spunky octogenarian about the time her dance partner spun her around, flinging her shoe into the Grand Canyon.
Fees: From $129/night
If You Go: 303 E. Second St., Winslow, 928-289-4366, laposada.org
Spring Wildflower Viewing
Track New Blooms
Pack a picnic and hit the 9.8-mile Groom Creek Trail in Prescott National Forest for prime wildflower viewing. Traverse the loop counterclockwise from the trailhead for less incline, then enjoy a well-earned lunch – and a sweeping panorama – at one of the picnic tables at Spruce Mountain Lookout.
If You Go: From downtown Prescott, drive 6 miles south on Senator Highway to the trailhead on the left; 928-777-2200, fs.usda.gov/prescott
Sleep in a Cube
Shash Diné recently out-glamped their other popular Navajo-land accommodations with a new luxe option: The Kyoob. The industrial-style, square-on-stilts structure is all windows and minimalist décor, and comes with the same amenities (Navajo meals, area tours) as that of Shash Diné’s covered wagon and hogan lodgings.
Fees: From $310/night
If You Go: Hwy. 89, Navajo Route 6211, Page, 928-640-3701, shashdine.com
Praise the Parallelogram
What you’ll see at the hyper-niche Math Models Museum: a 1950s Munro calculator as big as a microwave; a Babylonian wooden abacus; a 30-foot slide rule; and teaching models from the Richard Baker collection, one of the few and most extensive math model collections in the U.S.
If You Go: Department of Mathematics, The University of Arizona, 617 N. Santa Rita Ave., Tucson, 520-621-6892, math.arizona.edu/about/display-case
Experience the Newest Wine Country Hot Spot
Be the first in line to check out Arizona winemaker Maynard James Keenan’s most recent addition to his wine empire: an 8-acre hilltop winery and restaurant near Old Town Cottonwood, tentatively named Merkin Vineyards Hilltop Trattoria. Picture terraced grapevines, a bustling trattoria and Verde Valley vistas. ETA: May.
Fees: To be determined.
If You Go: caduceus.org
Sleepaway Camp for Adults
Hosted by Arizona Sports League, Camp X serves up legit summer camp for adults. Classic camp fun includes s’mores and hiking; less traditional offerings include a Bloody Mary bar at breakfast. The main event, though, is Saturday’s sports tournament, a daylong series of games – some more athletic than others – like soccer, volleyball, corn hole and flip cup.
Fees: From $250/person, includes food and accommodations
If You Go: May 27-29, Tonto Creek Camp, 235 Camp Tontozona Rd., Payson, azsportsleague.com
Find Your New Favorite Swimming Hole
Not all swimming holes are created equal. What Bull Pen lacks in a sandy beach (bring shoes for the rocky shores) it more than makes up for in a dive-worthy 10-foot depth and slickrock water slides. From the trailhead, it’s a 9-mile trek to the pool on the West Clear Creek Trail.
If You Go: From Phoenix, take I-17 north to SR-260, drive east for 8 miles to FR 618, turn left, follow FR 618 to FR 215, turn right and drive 3 miles to the trailhead; 928-203-2900, fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino
See the World’s Smallest Church
Just a block from Winslow’s tourist-heavy Standin’ on the Corner Park hides the World’s Smallest Church. At 7 feet by 4.5 feet and with just enough room for two seats and an altar, this open-air chapel is very, very tiny. Smaller than a flatbed Ford, in fact.
If You Go: 116 E. Second St., Winslow
Toast to Tiki Time
Tiki isn’t a trend at Kon Tiki. Opened in 1963, it’s one of the oldest tiki bars in the country. Tropical cocktail concoctions come in all manner of vessel – coconut shells, ceramic mugs resembling Polynesian statues – and 1960s globe lights hang in snug fishing nets. Could it be that the “Welcome to Paradise” sign over the door is actually a portal on the time-space continuum sending you to the middle of the Pacific Ocean circa 1965? Let’s hope so.
Fees: Cocktails from $7
If You Go: 4625 E. Broadway Blvd., Tucson, 520-323-7193, kontikitucson.com
SUMMER LODGING PICK
Unwind, Old Hollywood Style
When the Hassayampa Inn was first built in 1927, local citizens each bought $1 shares to fund the project and Hollywood movie stars like Greta Garbo and Clark Gable sought quiet, albeit still glamorous, refuge here. Today the grand hotel boasts a spot on the National Register of Historic Places thanks to its restoration of architectural details such as hand-painted ceilings and etched stained-glass doors.
If You Go: 122 E. Gurley St., Prescott, 928-778-9434, hassayampainn.com
Raft the Colorado River
Raise your hand if you’ve navigated the waters of the Colorado River. Really? Nobody? Then it’s time for a splurge excursion. Even though Arizona River Runners – one of the best guides in the Canyon – offers rafting trips as epic as eight days, the three-day adventure gives you everything you need, from a 50-mile romp over the rapids to a leisurely night on a ranch.
Fees: $1,545/person, includes transportation to/from the river, all food, lodging and gear, plus a scenic helicopter ride and horseback riding; fee does not include entrance to Grand Canyon National Park ($35/vehicle, valid for seven days)
If You Go: 602-867-4866, raftarizona.com
Travel to a Galaxy Far, Far Away
You can’t miss it: a giant orb rising from the desert just outside Kingman. An abandoned alien ship perhaps? Or a secret NASA installation? Built in 1953, Area 66 is neither of those things. It once housed a business engaged in real estate scams, but now the 40-foot-diameter dome is a UFO museum, gift shop and convenience store. Slated for late 2022:
A retro diner with a movie screen showing classic sci-fi flicks.
Fees: Free for now. The owner is doing a bunch of awesome renovations, so that might change.
If You Go: 12716 Alamo Rd., Yucca, 928-592-5200, area66.com
Eat With Your Hands
There’s no shame in a road trip centered around pie. Especially when it’s the perfect little empanadas at PIEbar AZ in the Payson-adjacent town of Strawberry. At this new bakery slash coffee shop slash beer and wine bar, order at the counter from the menu of sweet and savory pies, then grab an outdoor table for people-watching at the Strawberry Inn.
Fees: From $4/pie
If You Go: 5096 AZ-87, Strawberry, 602-882-1442
Pitch Your Tent by Big Lake
Perched at an elevation of 9,000 feet and nestled deep in a forest of pines, spruce, firs and aspens, Rainbow Campground beckons families in search of a cool-weather respite. Bordering the 450-acre Big Lake are 165 campsites with showers and restrooms, plus a general store with food, firewood and boat rentals.
Fees: $20/per site, per night
If You Go: From Show Low, take SR-260 east for 42 miles to SR-273, then drive south 30 miles to Big Lake Recreation Area; 928-333-6200, fs.usda.gov/recarea/asnf
Build Your Own Luchador Weekend
Celebrate the spectacle of lucha libre, the Mexican wrestling tradition that’s as much about fight acrobatics as it is flashy theatrics. First, dine at Buena Vida, a new luchador-themed restaurant with killer tortas. Then, cheer on the técnicos (you know, the good guys) in a live lucha libre match at The Rialto Theatre.
Fees: From $8/entrée at Buena Vida; $12/person for lucha libre tickets at Rialto
If You Go: Buena Vida, 919 N. Stone Ave., Tucson, 520-476-7159, facebook.com/buenavidatucson; The Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., Tucson, 520-740-1000, rialtotheatre.com
Kayak Blue Ridge Reservoir
The waters of Blue Ridge – a manmade reservoir in Rim Country – do a pretty fair impersonation of a river, twisting and turning through a tree-covered canyon. So you’ll need to “put in” at the dock – there’s no shoreline from which to embark. But the lack of beachside access means you also get a peaceful day in nature with only other kayakers, canoers and anglers for company.
Fees: Free for day use; $16/night to camp, no reservations needed
If You Go: From Phoenix, take AZ-87 north to Payson, then continue on AZ-87/AZ-260 to FR 751 and drive 5 miles to Blue Ridge Reservoir; 928-477-2255, fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino
Churn Your Own Butter
Arizona dairy Danzeisen recently opened up a creamery in Payson. The “milk menu” features all the faves – including strawberry and chocolate – sold in Danzeisen’s classic glass jugs, plus milkshakes, stack shakes and cold brew. Most notable: The make-and-take butter classes, where you’re handed a pint of heavy cream, a jar for your butter and one-hour access to the mixers.
Fees: $15/person, reservations recommended
If You Go: 500 S. Beeline Hwy., Payson, 928-363-4100, danzeisencreamerystores.com
Snap Pics on the Selfie Trail
Hurting for a lack of good high-country selfie spots? The City of Flagstaff to the rescue! The mountain city’s recreation planners recently curated Flagstaff Picture Perfect Cool Spots, aka the Selfie Trail, a roundup of more than a dozen iconic places in Flagstaff at which to Instagram yourself. One example: The neon sign at Galaxy Diner on Route 66. Be sure to tag #Flagstaffselfie.
If You Go: Locations around downtown Flagstaff; flagstaffarizona.org/blog/selfie-trail
Backpack the Petrified Forest
For the daring adventurer ready to explore remote backcountry, there’s Devil’s Playground at Petrified Forest National Park. How remote? Only three permits are made available each week; the trail markers are inconsistent; and a “hike at your own risk” disclaimer is posted at the park. But the reward for intrepid backpackers is sweet solitude and the mesmerizing beauty of rock formations seen by very few.
Fees: $25/vehicle, valid for seven days; backcountry permits available every Wednesday on a first-come, first-served basis
If You Go: From Phoenix, take I-17 North to I-40, head east to Exit 285, then travel 19 miles south on Hwy. 180 to the park entrance; 928-524-6228, nps.gov/pefo
Race Rubber Duckies
Lake Havasu City
For nearly 30 years, the Western Arizona Humane Society has hosted the Duck Derby, a family-friendly event to raise funds for the animal shelter. Plunk down five bucks to “sponsor” a numbered rubber ducky, who is then propelled – along with thousands of other plastic ducks – via motor wake in a race under the London Bridge. If your duck crosses the finish line first, you take home $1,000.
Fees: $5/duck (aka, ticket)
If You Go: London Bridge, 422 English Village, Lake Havasu City, 928-855-5083, westernarizonahumane.org
Learn Your CBDs
It was only a matter of time before food-and-wine pairings morphed into food-and-cannabis pairings. Leave it to Cloth & Flame, the company behind Arizona’s popular experiential culinary events, to host an, ahem, elevated cannabis dining experience. The new High Country dinner series features a CBD- and THC-infused meal and allows guests to adjust their cannabis comfort level by turning on or off dosed elements at any time.
If You Go: 480-428-6028, clothandflame.com
Greet the Ghosts of Criminals Past
AZ Ghost Tours leads the living on a paranormal walk through the haunted Old Gila County Jail, which incarcerated inmates from 1910 to 1981. Though the tour guides make no promises of spooky activity, there have been sightings of shadowy figures in the building, and loud bangs and footsteps heard when nobody is around.
Fees: $10/person, reservations recommended
If You Go: 149-177 E. Oak St
Dunk in a Hidden Hot Spring
The shallow pool of Kaiser Hot Springs – a secret oasis in the unimaginatively named but still-lovely Warm Springs Canyon about 60 miles northwest of Wickenburg – heats up to a cozy 100 degrees and is obscured from view by an army of saguaros and chollas.
If You Go: From Phoenix, drive west on I-10 to US-60, continue on US-60 to Wickenburg, then follow US-93 northwest. Exit at Burro Creek Bridge, park on the east side of the bridge and follow signs for Kaiser Spring Wash.
Motor Along a Scenic Drive
As afternoon fall drives go, the Stockton Pass Scenic Drive isn’t particularly long and it’s not shrouded in autumnal color. But it does deliver gorgeous only-in-Arizona scenery in spades – rolling savanna grasslands, deep valleys, jutting mountains and endless desert horizons.
If You Go: Stockton Pass Scenic Drive is a loop starting in Safford. From here, drive 17 miles south on US-191 to AZ-266. Turn right and follow AZ-266 for 12 miles to Stockton Pass Picnic Area, then continue 7 miles to Bonita. Next, drive north on Aravaipa Road for 40 miles to Klondyke Road. Turn right and head east for 32 miles to US-70. From here, follow US-70 14 miles back to Safford.
Take the 800-mile Challenge
AZT in a Day unites the public in a statewide “team” that aggregately hikes, bikes, rides or runs the length of the 800-mile, Mexico-to-Utah Arizona Trail in a single day. Think of it as a relay race for our state’s very own National Scenic Trail. Simply register to complete a passage and then track your race-day progress online. In years past, the event has come thisclose to completing all 800 miles. Let’s make 2022 the year.
If You Go: Sat. Oct. 8; 602-252-4794, aztrail.org
FALL LODGING PICK
Stay at a Working Ranch
Fourth-generation rancher Wink Crigler has been maintaining her family’s 1890s homestead X Diamond Ranch for years. And she now welcomes the public to not only visit the working cattle ranch but to stay in one of six cabins on the property, shop the ranch’s market for range-raised beef, fresh eggs and locally grown produce and join guided fly-fishing excursions on the Little Colorado River.
Fees: $140-$245/night for cabins that sleep two to four; $410/night for cabins that sleep eight
If You Go: 300 Southfork Rd., Eagar, 928-333-2286, thexdiamondranch.com
Tunnel Through a Mountain
Apache Junction to Show Low
Set aside plenty of time to experience the Salt River Canyon Scenic Drive. The route whisks you through the historical Queen Creek Tunnel carved into a rugged mountain east of Superior, meanders along the picturesque Salt River Canyon and concludes in the White Mountains, rife with fall foliage this time of year.
If You Go: From Apache Junction, follow US-60 through Superior and Globe, then on to Show Low. To return to Phoenix, backtrack via US-60 or head east on AZ-260 to Payson, then follow AZ-87 south to Phoenix.
Sip Sun-Powered Brews
Lake Havasu City
Thanks to 1 billion days of sunshine (OK, more like 200 days), it comes as no surprise that an Arizona brewery earned top honors for its solar initiatives. Toast an IPA brewed with solar power at Mudshark Brewery to congratulate them on their win as America’s Favorite Solar Craft Brewery, awarded by Solar United Neighbors’ Brews from the Sun Competition.
Fees: From $7/pint
If You Go: 1095 Aviation Dr., Lake Havasu City, 928-453-9302, mudsharkbrewingcompany.com
Dance With Your Festie Besties
Crop tops, fishnets and glitter eye shadow take center stage at the Dusk Music Festival, a warm-vibe, free-love, two-day weekend of electronic dance music (EDM) with some rock and indie bands thrown in for good measure. The 2021 lineup delivered heavy hitters Jimmy Eat World and Diplo.
Fees: $85/one-day pass; $149/two-day pass
If You Go: Nov. 13-14, Jácome Plaza, 101 N. Stone Ave., Tucson, 323-908-0607, duskmusicfestival.com
Stretch Your Legs with a Stegosaurus
Bypass the traditional rest stop and instead pull over at Rattlesnake Ranch. This kitschy roadside spot displays metal sculptures of life-size (almost) dinosaurs, Gila monsters and snakes. Roam the grounds, take pictures and admire the craftsmanship, but be respectful. The “ranch” sits on private property, and if the gate’s closed, keep on driving.
If You Go: 4655 E. Dragoon Rd., Benson
Schedule Date Night
Trees hang heavy with plump Medjool and Hayany dates at Martha’s Gardens Date Farm. On a guided tour of the family-owned property, learn about growing, harvesting and farming these sweet fruits, then stop by the farm store to stock up on date bread, local salsas, regional honey, dried fruits and nuts and a date shake for the drive home.
If You Go: Nov. 1-Apr. 30; 9747 S. Avenue 9¾ E., Yuma, 928-726-8831, marthasgardens.com
Holiday Shop for the Friend Who Has Everything
We’re fans of a gift shop that really leans into its souvenir selection. Which is why The Rusty Pine Cone just might be the best store ever. A standing lamp with a tree-log base? Need it. Yard art sporting aluminum frogs? Want it. Fire bowls that look like geodes? Why not? The Rusty Pine Cone earns bonus points for offering goofy photo ops and renting e-bikes. Plus, every weekend from Thanksgiving to Christmas, the shop celebrates the season by hosting a Santa’s Workshop.
Fees: Prices vary
If You Go: 3788 AZ-87, Pine, 612-467-9959, therustypinecone.com
Discover a Forgotten Town
What was designed as a swanky resort community now crumbles into disrepair at Seneca Lake. In the 1970s, the San Carlos Apache tribe invested half a million dollars in a vision of an all-inclusive property featuring a hotel, golf course, riding stables, campground and trading post. But when the tribe defaulted on their loan, construction came to a halt. All that stands today is an abandoned gas station, a collection of cabins and paved drives leading nowhere.
If You Go: From Phoenix, take US-60 east to Globe, the continue north on US-60 for 34 miles; here, you’ll see a sign for Seneca on the left just past mile marker 287.
Drink Like Jon Snow
At Drinking Horn Mead Hall, a newish player in the Arizona meadery scene, the booze is good, but the bottle label descriptions are better. Take this one for black cherry mead: “As you sit in your camp and watch the perpetual grayness of life in the far north, take solace in knowing that at least you have mead with black cherry to keep you warm.” Or a suggestion on the label of traditional mead: “Where to drink: While sitting upon your throne at the end of a long table.” Clever, no?
If You Go: 108 E. Route 66, Flagstaff, 928-266-0425, drinkinghornmeadery.com
52 OUT-OF-STATE WEEKEND ADVENTURES
We round out our 52 Weekends promise with a seasonal guide to some of our favorite National Parks in the Southwest.
Death Valley: The Hottest and Driest
California and Nevada
Sitting at the lowest elevation in the country, Death Valley National Park is a land of extremes. But it’s not all salt flats and scorching temperatures. On a 2-mile hike on the west side of the park, you’ll stumble onto Darwin Falls, a gushing, year-round waterfall. The unmarked, out-and-back trail is about 1 mile west of Panamint Springs Resort off CA-190.
Fees: $30/vehicle, valid for seven days
If You Go: The park entrance is accessible from CA-190; 760-786-3200, nps.gov/deva. The closest airport is McCarran International Airport (LAS, mccarran.com) in Las Vegas. From here, it’s a two-hour drive west to the park on NV-160 to CA-190. Most major airlines fly nonstop from Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX, skyharbor.com) to McCarran. It’s a six-and-a-half-hour drive from Phoenix to Death Valley.
White Sands: (One of) the Country’s Newest
White Sands National Park joined the Parks system in 2019, and for good reason. Its 275 miles of waves of gypsum sand undulate over the Tularosa Basin. The crystals comprise the world’s largest gypsum dune field. Insider tip: Bring sunglasses, as the sunlight reflecting off the sand is damn near blinding.
Fees: $25/vehicle, valid for seven days
If You Go: The park entrance sits between mile markers 199 and 200 on US-70; 575-479-6124, nps.gov/whsa. The nearest airport is El Paso International Airport (ELP, elpasointernationalairport.com) in El Paso, Texas, which is 85 miles south of the park. Southwest and American airlines offer nonstop flights from Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX, skyharbor.com) to ELP. It’s a six-and-a-half-hour drive from Phoenix to White Sands.
Capitol Reef: The One in the Middle of Nowhere
Forget Arches National Park and the long line of cars awaiting entrance. Instead, drive two hours west to Capitol Reef National Park. Snuggled deep within red-rock country, Capitol Reef offers a veritable playground for canyoneering, climbing and bouldering. It’s also home to the 100-mile Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline. Or, known by its cuter descriptor, “a wrinkle on the earth.”
Fees: $20/vehicle, valid for seven days
If You Go: The park entrance is on the south side of UT-24; 435-425-3791, nps.gov/care. Grand Junction Regional Airport (GJT, gjairport.com) in Grand Valley, Colorado, is a three-hour drive from the park. American Airlines (aa.com) flies direct from Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX, skyharbor.com) to GJT. It’s a nine-hour drive from Phoenix to Capitol Reef.
Mesa Verde: The One with the Best-Preserved Puebloan Sites
Mesa Verde National Park is a World Heritage Site that protects Ancestral Puebloan history and culture, as well as that of 26 other tribes. During the aptly named 700 Years Tour, you’ll see 5,000 archaeological sites and 600 cliff dwellings, including the earliest recorded Pithouse villages and Cliff Palace, the largest dwelling in the park.
Fees: $30/vehicle, valid for seven days
If You Go: The park entrance is on the south side of US-160 between Mancos and Cortez; 970-529-4465, nps.gov/meve. Cortez Municipal Airport (CEZ, cityofcortez.com) is 20 minutes from the park, and Boutique Air (boutiqueair.com) provides nonstop flights from Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX, skyharbor.com). It’s a 6.5-hour drive from Phoenix to Mesa Verde.