Arizona’s Rim Country is popular with Valley dwellers in the summer, but its autumn charms may be unfamiliar. Looking for a slower pace? Want to experience a real fall season and maybe some winter snow? Then join us in the Rim Country.
From the moment you arrive at the gateway to the Mogollon Rim, you’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, the Shoofly Ruins, and the Tonto Fish Hatchery. Take a hike, a horseback ride, see the back country from a four-wheeler, an ATV or the comfort of your own vehicle.
Take a stroll down Main Street and visit the galleries and antique shops. Stroll farther down and drop a line in one of the lakes at Green Valley Park, where the fish are always biting — the Arizona Game and Fish Department restocks the lakes with trout just about every two weeks.
Visit the park in the early morning or at dusk and get a look at all the birds that make their nesting and resting areas around the lake.
Later in the year, celebrate the holidays with Payson’s electric light parade and the lighting ceremony at the Swiss Village.
Travel up Highway 87 from Payson to Pine and Strawberry and enjoy the assorted shops and attractions in these cozy communities.
West of Strawberry, Fossil Creek and its extraordinary mineral deposits await.
Go east on Highway 260 to Kohl’s Ranch and its nearby creeks and the Tonto Fish Hatchery. The hatchery is playing an important role in the reintroduction of the area’s native Apache trout.
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.
Stop where you can and take in the grand views and then let your imagination do a little traveling. Geologic history and the tragic and bloody conflicts between the different peoples of the Rim can be visualized as you take in the sweeping vistas of rock and forest.
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. And at this time of year, though the developed campgrounds at the lakes are closed, you can find a solitude and beauty that will take your breath away.
To the south, Roosevelt Lake is always a big draw, too. Its game fish include large- and small-mouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish and crappie.
The countryside surrounding Roosevelt Lake is also both a wildlife area and refuge.
Go ahead. Treat yourself to these and any other local wonders mentioned in this handy guide to fall and winter fun in the Rim Country.
click here for the Fall/Winter Visitor's Guide