Besides the numerous trails to hike and streams to fish while in Arizona’s Rim Country, there are a plethora of inexpensive places to stop. Places like the Rim Country Museum, Zane Grey Cabin, Shoofly Village Ruins and Main Street. The Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, 100 W. Main Street, has free guides, maps and information to all of the area’s attractions.
Among other things, Payson is known as “the gateway to the Mogollon Rim,” with its numerous access points to the rugged escarpment, a cross-country skier’s dream and ATVer’s heaven. It has also been tagged “a mountain town with a western heritage” for having the oldest continuous rodeo and “a cool mountain town.” Whatever it is known as, the Payson area offers shopping, dining and fun for the whole family.
Just head down historic Main Street and browse through the numerous art galleries and specialty shops. Catch a movie at the Sawmill Theatres and lunch at any of the restaurants scattered in the area.
Rim Country Museum
At the far west end of Main Street is the Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin, 700 Green Valley Parkway.
The museum’s gift and bookshop occupy the old Forest Ranger Station and residence from 1907. In the replica of the Herron Hotel is the museum’s two-story exhibit hall, which has exhibits on logging, mining, ranching and general history of the area. See how Native Americans lived in the area inside a replica Apache dwelling and continue on to 1900s to the inside of a settler’s cabin.
A reproduction of a Forest Service lookout tower is on display outside the museum, as is the Haught Cabin, originally built in 1904 on the Mogollon Rim, dismantled and reassembled on the grounds.
Zane Grey Cabin
A step away from the museum is the famous Zane Grey Museum, a meticulous reproduction of Grey’s original cabin that was destroyed in the 1990 Dude Fire.
Grey is known for his numerous western novels, many of which were based on people he came to know in the Rim Country and their stories, including “Under the Tonto Rim,” which depicts the daily struggles of homesteaders. The original cabin was built in 1921 and converted to a museum years after Grey abandoned it. It attracted 20,000 visitors from around the world annually until it burned down. The reproduction was built as true to the original as possible with animal hides on the walls and Native American symbols etched into the fireplace mantel.
Both museums are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Monday, except major holidays. For more information, call (928) 474-3483 or visit www.rimcountrymuseums.com.
Payson Public Library and Rumsey Park
The Payson Public Library is situated in the heart of Rumsey Park. Large windows and comfortable seating allow readers to take in the surroundings. And if the surroundings so inspire you to take a hike, you can grab a book and head out.
The library offers numerous activities, including game night, which features board and card games, Guitar Hero tournaments, homework help and a Spy Kids club for youngsters 7 to 17 years old.
The Payson Public Library, 328 N. McLane Road, is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
For more information, call (928) 474-9260 or visit www.paysonlibrary.com for a full list of activities.
Rumsey Park offers open-air picnic tables, ramadas, sporting fields, a skate park, swimming pool, tennis courts and enclosed off-leash dog park. Meet new people at the popular dog park and let the teens skate their angst away at the skate park. The larger ramadas can be reserved for private events. Call the Payson Parks and Recreation Department for availability, (928) 474-5242, ext. 7.
Shoofly Village Ruins
The Shoofly Village was built around A.D. 1000 and occupied for nearly 250 years by prehistoric cultures. The four-acre village contains 87 rooms and several courtyards surrounded by a wall. There are three groups of rooms constructed during different times of the site’s history.
There are the earliest oval-shaped, single-unit rooms and the rectangular rooms clustered near the center of the site. The walled courtyards are similar to the walls in our own back yards, separating families or social groups from each other in the village.
The village’s surrounding wall was built in the late period of construction, probably for protection. It was at least three feet high. Wander among the ruins or visit the 40 other sites within three miles of Shoofly.
Shoofly is located five miles northeast of Payson. Take Highway 87 north from Payson to Houston Mesa Road and turn east. The road splits and the ruins are to the right, a short distance past the Mesa del Caballo subdivision.
Pine and Strawberry
Just 15 miles north of Payson sit the small towns of Pine and Strawberry. Both towns offer their own take on mountain living with cabins and antique shops. Among the special spots in the area are the Pine-Strawberry Historical Museum, Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library and Strawberry Schoolhouse.
Opened in 1979, the Pine-Strawberry Museum has grown from a one-room display in the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Public Library to part of the Pine Community Center, which houses a cultural hall for large gatherings and meetings, an arts and crafts center, the senior center, a thrift store, the library annex building and Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The museum houses prehistoric artifacts from nearby plateaus used by Native Americans and tools used by early settlers, such as buckets, irons and lamps that pre-date 1945.
The ceiling in the main room is the original, pressed, tin-panel ceiling.
Just off the front door is the gift shop, which offers souvenirs, maps, books and hand-crafted items from Pine-Strawberry Archaeological and Historical Society members.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Oct. 16 through May 14, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday, May 15 through Oct. 15. Admission is free.
It is on the west side of Highway 87, nearly in the middle of the Pine community, and part of the larger Pine Community Center.
To learn more about the museum, call (928) 476-3547 or visit www.pinestrawhs. org.
The Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library in Pine is located to the north of the community center, at 6124 N. Randall Place.
Year-long the library is in use as people come to sit by the fire to read in the winter and escape the heat in the summer. There are story times for children, computers and printers available for public use.
The library offers two special collections including the Southwest and Western Collections.
The original Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library is on display on the east side of Highway 87 across from the community center.
The library is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For more information, call (928) 476-3678.
Established in 1884, this registered historic site has garnered the title of oldest standing schoolhouse in Arizona and it is still open today to visitors during weekends from mid-May to mid-September (when it is not open, visitors can view the interior through the windows and stroll the grounds).
During the 1880s, the schoolhouse was the gathering place for area families. Used for dances, picnics, a church and meetings, the schoolhouse is still used by the community for special events scheduled throughout the summer. Bring a picnic and have lunch in the schoolyard. Admission is free.
The school is on Fossil Creek Road, west of Highway 87.
For more information, call (928) 476-2164.