Welcome, visitors, to the Rim country. We're sorry your arrival has coincided with the closing of the Tonto National Forest.
Well, no, we're not sorry, really. Since this neck of the Arizona woods is facing the worst fire-danger conditions in 100 years of recorded history, we're relieved that the forest has been shut down and we implore you to observe the closure.
At the same time, rest assured that you are indeed welcome and there's a plethora of outdoor attractions and activities still available. Here's just a few:
Developed, fee campgrounds within the Tonto remain open to the public. Our region also boasts a number of private campgrounds, cozy cabins, bed-and-breakfast lodges, comfortable hotels and even tepees available at reasonable rates.
Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is still open, although no fires are allowed. The home of the world's largest natural travertine bridge, it offers short hiking trails, picnicking, nature-watching and a cool creek.
The newly opened Rancho Tonto Catch-a-Trout, right on Tonto Creek, allows would-be anglers to try fishing without a license and to pay only for what they catch. Poles and bait are provided, and they'll even clean your fish.
Payson's Green Valley Park has three trout-stocked lakes and free pole rentals at the Parks and Recreation office. Kids 13 and under may fish without a license; others may fish with an Urban Fishing License. The Rim Lakes Recreation Area near the top of the Mogollon Rim on Highway 260 also is open for fishing, hiking and relaxing.
Payson's community parks are hidden off the beaten path. In addition to Green Valley Park on the west end of Main Street with its covered picnic ramadas, playground, walking trails, ducks and more there's Rumsey Park on McLane Road which features picnic ramadas, a playground, tennis courts, swimming, baseball parks, a skate park, soccer fields, and the state's newest off-leash dog park.
Plus, visitors can still go horseback riding, llama hiking, boating, bike riding, bird watching or simply absorb the cool, clean air of the world's largest Ponderosa pine forest.
Still not enough? Find out more by visiting the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce at the corner of Main Street and Highway 87 in Payson; at the Pine/Strawberry chamber office next to the Pine Museum; or by calling (928) 474-4515.