With 300 days of sunshine each year, cool mountain air and temperatures in May in the mid 60’s, Arizona is a great location for that Spring Break. In this article we feature the town of Payson and The Rim Country.
Payson in Gila County, 90 miles north of Phoenix and 90 miles south of Flagstaff, is known as The Mountain Town with A Western Heritage. Its position at the geographical centre of the State, mild weather and an elevation of 5250 ft make it a superb tourist base.
Payson and The Rim Country have long been the place for Native American Archaeology, Western Heritage and Old West Exploration.
Main Street, Payson has become a tourist attraction in its own right. At one end is the 45 acre Green Valley Park with its 3 lakes stocked with rainbow trout, decorative fountains and picnic ramadas. Historic Main Street is a mecca for treasure hunters with its antique stores and art shops. There is an historic Cowboy Saloon- the Ox Bow. The restaurants include the Main Street Grille, which apart from great food has two friendly ghosts.
The town has several museums and a must for all visitors is the Rim Country Museum and within its grounds an authentic replica of Zane Grey’s Cabin. Zane Grey was The Father of The Western Novel and wrote 64 novels and 300 short stories, which were the basis of 130 movies
Within easy reach of Payson there are some of the scenic jewels of Arizona.
The overwhelming presence of The Mogollon Rim, an escarpment rising to 7000ft, with its Ponderosa Pine Forests, is named after a Spanish Governor of New Mexico in the 1700’s.
In a small valley between Payson and Pine is The Tonto Natural Bridge. At 183ft high straddling a 400ft long tunnel, measuring 150ft at its widest point, the bridge formed by chalk deposits from springs is the largest of its type in the world.
The Shoofly Indian Ruins at an elevation of 5240ft date back to 1000-1250AD. Rim Country is the very heart of the prehistoric cultures of the Southwest
If you are feeling energetic then the Payson Area Trails are for you. This trail system (parts still in development) is a system using pathways, sidewalks and bike lanes in Payson, connected to Forest Service Roads. The six major trails include American Gulch, Boulder Loop, Houston and Monument Loop Trail.
Still feeling energetic? Various trailheads give access to the Wilderness Areas. Hellsgate, Mazatza, (Land of the Deer) and Granite Dells Wilderness are the remnants of the wild lands from the early growth of Arizona. Many are protected and managed by the Forest Service. With rough and broken terrain with very steep slopes, trekking here is not for the very young, very old or unfit. The usual cautions apply. Take sufficient water, wear suitable footwear and clothing and make sure others know of your route and plans.
Few states enjoy the diversity of hunting available around Payson. Game ranges from the stately elk to small animals and waterfowl.
With more than a dozen lakes, the Payson area is a fisherman’s paradise. Green Valley Lake is located at the west end of Main Street and is stocked with Rainbow Trout from October to May. The fisherman’s favourite is Bear Canyon Lake, its 60 acres has rainbows, brookies,cut-throat and Arctic grayling.
Near Payson are three National Forests. Coconino and Sitgreaves cover the mountain elevations with Tonto in the desert.
If you are fortunate to be in Payson for the Memorial Weekend of 23-24 May, you can enjoy The 21st Arizona Logger’s Sawdust Festival. Professionals and amateurs compete for the coveted title of Logger of The Year, executing traditional logging skills. The kids can also meet Smokey The Bear.
Whether you enjoy sightseeing, antique hunting, hiking, fishing, hunting, biking, eating or shopping, Payson and The Rim Country have it all in the Spring. Enjoy a great Spring Break in Payson Arizona.