If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are most likely misinformed.
– Mark Twain
The coolest thing about the Arizona landscape is its diversity — you can find a comfortable retreat any time of the year. In the summer, that usually means traveling to higher elevations. Just a few hours on the road can turn a hot summer day into a cool retreat. Here are some ideas for beating the heat in Arizona’s high country.
Summer Scenic Skyride
Take a ride to the top of an extinct volcano, where a Forest Service ranger will answer your questions on the biology and geology of the region. The summit is 11,500 feet in elevation — so bring a jacket — and offers for breathtaking views of northern Arizona and beyond.
Details: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays-Sundays through mid-October. Open Mondays on holiday weekends. From Flagstaff, drive 7 miles northwest on U.S. 180 to Snowbowl Road. Turn right and go 7 miles to the lodge. $15, $10 for 8-12 and 65-69, free for age 7 or younger and for age 71 or older. 928-779-1951, arizonasnowbowl.com.
Lava River Cave
This mile-long lava-tube cave was formed roughly 700,000 years ago by molten rock that erupted from a volcanic vent in nearby Hart Prairie. The top, sides and bottom of the flow cooled and solidified first, after which the insides of the lava river continued to flow, emptying out the cave. Dress appropriately, with warm clothes and sturdy shoes. The cave is as cool as 42 degrees even in summer, and you may even find some ice inside. The rocks are always sharp and slippery, too. Bring two or three sources of light in case one fails; it can be very dark just a mile in.
Details: Drive 9 miles north of Flagstaff on U.S. 180 and turn west on Forest Road 245 (at milepost 230). Continue 3 miles to FR171 and turn south 1 mile to where FR 171B turns left a short distance to Lava River Cave. fs.usda.gov/wps.
Scenic lift rides
Sunrise Park Resort, between Pinetop-Lakeside and Eagar-Springerville, has plenty of things to do in summer. The ski resort, owned and operated by the White Mountain Apache Tribe, offers scenic chairlift rides and mountain-bike rentals. Bikers can use the lift to carry their bikes up Sunrise Mountain, then cruise down ski trails with such cool names as Collarbone, Slippery Rocks, Pile, Yard Sale and Easy Out.
Details: Lifts run 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. About 28 miles east of Pinetop-Lakeside on Arizona 273. Call for bike-rental rates. A $20 mountain-bike pass and helmet are required (bring yours or rent one). Lift tickets are $10 for non-bikers and $5 for age 65 or older and age 12 or younger. 928-735-7669.sunriseskipark.com.
Mogollon Rim camping
You won’t need much help finding a great campground on or below the Mogollon Rim: Just look for the little tent symbol on your map, or drive around until you find one. But for those who need more focus, consider Alderwood Campground on Haigler Creek, a water-chiseled canyon popular for its trout fishing and swimming holes. No drinking water available.
To get there, take Arizona 260 from Payson 24 miles and turn right on Forest Road 291. Drive 3 miles and turn right on FR 200. Continue 6 miles through Haigler Canyon Recreation Site to FR 202A. Turn right and follow this unpaved road for half a mile to the site. Better yet, find your own special place. For those willing to haul in their water and haul out their trash, the national forests offer lots of dispersed camping. Observe all fire restrictions.
Still looking for ideas? See the Arizona Highways Camping Guide:100 of the Best Campgrounds in Arizona, by Kelly Vaughn Kramer, (Arizona Highways, 2013, $22.95).
Nestled in Oak Creek Canyon is a large swimming hole known as Grasshopper Point, a day-use site that’s popular with swimmers and picnickers alike. The swimming hole is shaded and cool. Cliff jumping and diving are discouraged because of hidden rocks and the varying depth of the water. Three popular trails are accessible from the Grasshopper Point parking lot; Allen’s Bend goes north and connects with Casner Canyon Trail; it also goes south and connects with Huckaby Trail. No camping, fires, pets or glass. Bring your own drinking water.
Details: Drive north from Sedona for about 2 miles on U.S. 89A. Grasshopper Point will be on the eastern side of the highway. fs.usda.gov/wps.
Tonto Natural Bridge State Park
Tonto Natural Bridge is an impressive span: Standing 183 feet high over a 400-foot-long tunnel that measures 150 feet wide, it’s believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. Prospector David Gowan, the first White man to document the bridge, hid out in a cave beneath the span while being chased by Apaches. Despite that unfriendly welcome, Gowan claimed squatter’s rights to the land and persuaded his family to emigrate from Scotland to settle there. The half-mile Gowan Loop Trail leads down the bank of the creek — and several steep flights of steps — to an observation deck near the tunnel under the bridge. Two other short trails provide good views of the park’s features.
Details: 10 miles north of Payson off Arizona 87. 928-476-4202,azstateparks.com/Parks/TONA.
Woods Canyon Lake
Woods Canyon Lake covers 158 acres atop the Mogollon Rim east of Payson. Because of its proximity to the Valley, it’s enormously popular during summer. Woods Canyon has a store and boat rentals, and is regularly stocked with trout. The Woods Canyon Lake Trail is an easy, mostly flat 5.5-mile loop around the water. Camping options include nearby Aspen and Spillway campgrounds. Swimming is not allowed.
Details: From Payson, take Arizona 260 about 35 miles east to Forest Road 300 and turn west. 928-333-4301, fs.fed.us/r3/asnf.
Grand Canyon North Rim
Yes, it takes seven or eight hours to get there from Phoenix. And it’s open only from mid-May to mid-November. But you’re really missing out if you’ve seen the Grand Canyon only from the South Rim. The North Rim has less development and fewer services, and even on a busy day, it doesn’t feel as crammed. Have lunch at Grand Canyon Lodge and drink in the view. Relax on a leather sofa in the glass-walled lounge or in one of the rocking chairs on the patio.
Trails as short as a quarter-mile lead to awe-inspiring views. (There are plenty of longer trails, too.) And where most of the trails at the South Rim go into the canyon, many at the North Rim stay on top. There are scenic drives and overlooks aplenty. Treat yourself to a night in a Western Cabin, with two queen beds and a front porch. Other cabins are available, as are motel rooms and a campground. Reservations go fast.
For a lesser-known wildlife destination, consider a visit to Portal, a tiny community on the eastern edge of the Chiricahuas in southeastern Arizona. The Chiricahuas, where the Apache chief Cochise hid from the “long knives,” is a wonderland of bizarre rock formations and craggy canyons. Portal is near the New Mexico state line, in an area that doesn’t have many highways.
Unless you take a long ride on some scenic gravel back roads, you have to drive a few miles into New Mexico, through the town of Rodeo, then turn west back into Arizona to get to Portal. Cave Creek Ranch is a relaxing getaway. Rooms start at $95. A large room with a kitchenette and beautiful river-rock fireplace starts at $135. Cottages start at $140 per night.
Details: Take Interstate 10 east 243 miles to New Mexico 80, turn south and drive 28 miles to Portal Road, then turn west for 7 miles. fs.usda.gov/wps. 855-558-2334,cavecreekranch.com. For more about things to do in Portal, go to portalarizona.com.
This hub of activity is one of the most popular lakes in the White Mountains. There’s a store with supplies and boat rentals. Four campgrounds ring the lake, and several others are a few miles away. There are campsites for everything from a two-person tent to an 82-foot rig. You can fish for rainbow, brook, cutthroat and Apache trout, and hiking opportunities abound. Motors are limited to 10 horsepower. The lake is in the Big Lake Recreation Area of Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, off Arizona 261 about 26 miles southwest of Eagar.
This 1,500-acre reservoir was created for irrigation, but it also serves as a state park with boating and camping facilities. The lake, 6,000 feet above sea level, is fed by snowmelt from Mount Baldy and Escudilla Mountain. Lyman Lake is one of the few places in northeastern Arizona with no size restrictions on boats, but you have to bring your own — no rentals are available.
The western end of the lake is a designated no-wake area for anglers. The lake is stocked with walleye, catfish and largemouth bass. There also is a designated swimming area. The park has a campground for tents and RVs, along with several yurts and four cabins with air-conditioning. At-large camping is allowed in some areas.
Details: The park is off U.S. 180-191, about 15 miles north of Springerville. 928-337-4441, azstateparks.com/Parks/LYLA.
This lake, on the Fort Apache Reservation, looks out on hills of spruce, aspen and pine. Hawley is one of the more scenic and easily accessible lakes on the reservation. It’s a great summer getaway, offering a campground and rental cabins.
The lake is known for rainbow trout, but it also holds Apache, brook and brown trout. A $9 tribal license is required to fish on the reservation. Buy one online atwmatoutdoors.org or at Sportsman’s Warehouse locations around the Valley. Check tribal regulations and have a map before traveling on the reservation.
Details: Hawley Lake, about 30 miles east of Show Low, is reached by Arizona 260, then south on Arizona 473. Recreation, 928-338-4385, wmatoutdoors.org. Cabin rentals, 928-369-1753, wmat.nsn.us/hawley cabins.html.
Play in the pines
The Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course is a playground in the trees for kids and adults. Roped bridges and logs, Tarzan ropes, zip lines, nets, tightropes, climbing walls — the course is designed to test your stamina, agility, problem-solving skills and mental toughness. It’s also just plain fun. The highest part of the course is about 60 feet off the ground.
Details: Open daily through Sept. 10. Groups start the course every 30 minutes, beginning at 8:30 or 9 a.m. Fort Tuthill County Park, 3 miles south of Flagstaff off Interstate 17. $45 for the full course for age 16 or older, $25 for ages 7-11. Spots can be reserved online. 888-259-0125, flagstaffextreme.com.
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Walter Unger CCIM, CCSS, CCLS
I am a successful Commercial Investment Real Estate Broker in Arizona now for 20 years and I worked with banks and their commercial REO properties for 3 years. I am also a commercial landspecialist in Phoenix and a Landspecialist in Arizona.
WHETHER YOU LEASE OR OWN
NOW IS THE TIME FOR YOU TO EXPAND, UPGRADE OR INVEST.
we are at on the a rise of the cycle in Commercial Real Estate. so there is only one way and it’s called we are going up and now is the time for you to expand, upgrade or invest in Commercial Properties in Phoenix. The prices on deals I may get you will not be around forever.
WAITING TO SELL YOUR LAND ? TIMES CHANGE / IT’S TIME
We barely could give land away the last few years, but times are changing. Even in those meager years, I sold more land across the state than most other brokers. Before the real estate crash I was a land specialist in Arizona with millions of dollars of transactions, but then I had to change and also sell other commercial investment properties, which was fun, but I am a Commercial Landspecialist in Arizonal, a Commercial Land Specialist in Phoenix and love to sell land, one acre to thousands of acres.
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