Arizona Rim Country -- Lab-Tested, Visitor Approved

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Arizona's Rim country in the fall seems to be the perfect place to daydream. As I write this introduction to the Roundup's annual Fall/Winter Visitors Guide while sitting in my home office, I keep losing my train of thought.

It's a beautiful autumn day. The trees are swaying gently in the breeze while, from my den window, I see the Mogollon Rim beckoning in the background, tempting me to shut down my laptop computer, throw the dogs in the car and escape to a day of fun at sun at Potato Lake.

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There's nothing better than spending a day with Man's Best Friend at one of the Rim country's many mountain lakes. Discover why many Rim country residents believe there is no better place on earth.

But alas, duty calls. And instead of daydreaming about Arizona's Rim country, I welcome you to it.

From the moment folks arrive at the gateway to the Mogollon Rim, they'll notice Payson's small-town charm.

To the folks who call Rim country home from Tonto Basin to Strawberry, there is no better place on earth.

Located in the geographic center of Arizona and surrounded by almost 3 million acres of forest, Payson is one of only three pure air ozone belts in the world. The Tonto National Forest hugs the crest of the Mogollon Rim and stretches 90 miles south over a spectacular 2.9 million acres of pine and cactus. And just over the top of the Rim, an enchanting chain of woodland lakes Knoll, Bear Canyon and Woods Canyon beckon thousands when Valley temperatures begin to climb.

Known for its beauty and year-round recreational opportunities, Payson is at an elevation of 5,000 feet, precisely the right altitude for people who love the beauty of occasional winter snow on the world's largest stand of ponderosa pines, but not the agony and aggravation of maneuvering automobiles through frozen slush.

Snow does make a brief appearance from time to time, but it's visit is usually short-lived.

When the snow falls, the Rim country turns into a winter wonderland -- a popular destination spot for those longing for a magical getaway. There is cross-country skiing at Forest Lakes and tubing at Cinch Hook, plus countless places to stop and build a snowman.

There are innumerable other recreational activities in the Rim country, including a visit to the Tonto Natural Bridge, the Tonto National Monument, the Rim Country Museum, the Shoofly Indian Ruins, and the Tonto Fish Hatchery. Take a stroll down Main Street and look at the redevelopment taking place there. Then stop at the Museum of Rim Country Archaeology and see where it all began.

Roosevelt Lake was created by Roosevelt Dam, the first major structure built by the Bureau of Reclamation on the Salt River Project. The dam, 280 feet high, 723 feet long, and named after President Teddy Roosevelt, spans the Salt River. Once the largest man-made lake in the world, the 17,000-acre Roosevelt Lake is still the biggest of the six SRP lakes. Its game fish include large- and small-mouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish and crappie. Both a wildlife area and refuge, Roosevelt Lake is posted to permit hunting at certain times of the year.

Visitors come here seeking the breathtaking views found along the Rim Road, the 42-mile trek that takes them from one side to the other along the edge of the Mogollon Rim.

Go ahead. Treat yourself to these or other local wonders mentioned in this handy visitors guide. And enjoy your trip to Arizona's heartland: Arizona Rim Country.

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