Welcome To The Rim Country -- Relax And Enjoy

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With gasoline prices soaring to all-time highs, Arizona residents are staying a little closer to home this summer.

There is no better place in the Southwest to spend your vacation than Arizona's Rim Country.

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The Rim Country is blessed with many spectacular sites, and among the most breathtaking are those that can be found at the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park off Highway 87, north of Payson. The spot has a long history of hospitality. The lodge at the park was built at a time when only the hardiest of travelers made the long journey from the Valley to the Rim Country. The journey is easier now, but unfortunately, the lodge has not yet reopened to visitors. Still there are lots of lovely places to picnic and enjoy the cool, clear Rim Country air.

From the moment folks arrive at the gateway to the Mogollon Rim, they'll notice that Payson is maintaining its small-town charm while enjoying the amenities of urban life.

To the folks who call Rim Country home -- from Tonto Basin in the south to Strawberry in the north -- there is no better place on earth in which to live.

Located in the geographic center of Arizona and encircled by almost 3 million acres of forest, Payson is one of only three pure air ozone belts in the world.

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 scents and sounds of the forest.

There are innumerable recreational activities in the Rim Country, including a visit to the Tonto Natural Bridge, the Tonto National Monument, the Rim Country Museum and the neighboring replica of the Zane Grey Cabin, the Shoofly Ruins, the Tonto Fish Hatchery.

Take a stroll down Main Street and look at the redevelopment taking place there. Wander farther west and drop a line in one of the lakes at Green Valley Park, where the fish are always biting, or explore the Rim Country Museum complex and the replica of the cabin western author Zane Grey had built on the Rim as a hunting lodge (the original was destroyed by the 1990 Dude Fire).

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.

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, Woods Canyon, Willow Springs -- beckon thousands, when Valley temperatures begin to climb.

Roosevelt Lake is always a big draw, too. It is the biggest of the six Salt River Project 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.

Rim Country communities present a variety of events throughout the summer months for visitors to enjoy as well, from craft fairs and equestrian events to the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo in August.

Go ahead. Treat yourself to these and any other local wonders mentioned in this handy guide to summer fun in the Rim Country.

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