Take A Trip Close To Home

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Many people in this area stay for the summer since our weather is nice and often we have relatives and friends come for a visit. If you are like me, you show them the town sights, then perhaps the rim and even a visit to Kohl’s Ranch for lunch. A drive to Pinetop-Lakeside is interesting as well are other places in this area. I thought it might be wise to suggest a few of those sights and attractions that you and your guests might enjoy this summer that do not require a vast amount of travel.

Perhaps a scenic flight over the Rim Country. You can board an aircraft right here at the Payson airport and enjoy seeing our town and area from above. Fares begin at only $19 per person for 10 minutes. Do more flight exploring for 30 minutes at $45 and 40 minutes for $60. Phone CAVU Aviation at 928-468-8888.

If you and your guests are outdoor adventurists, Four-Season RV ATV rentals in Rye can rent the ATV that is just right for you. Get out into the boonies and do your thing. Phone 928-474-3411.

Having young children visitors? Check out Kohl’s Ranch for horseback riding. They have ponies for children and horses for teens and adults. The lodge is located only 17 miles from Payson on Highway 260 east. Phone 928-478-5033.

Not far away is Rancho Tonto Trout Farm on Tonto Creek. You don’t need a fishing license here. All you do is pay $1 per person/per pole then pay for every fish caught. The total length of the catch determines the overall cost. Fees are $6 per fish 10 inches and below and 60 cents per inch thereafter. They will clean the fish for 60 cents per catch. You can take the trout home or use the available grills and picnic tables for a fresh caught picnic. Visit the Web site at www.ranchotonto.com or call 928-478-0002.

Head on over to Prescott for some interesting times. Here, you can discover the rich history of Arizona’s first territorial capital. They have three museums that offer an historical experience, each exploring Western culture and heritage in a unique way.

There is the Sharlot Hall Museum of Living History (928-445-3122), the Phippen Museum of Western Art (928-778-1385), and the Smoki Museum of Native American Heritage (928-445-1230). There are five lakes and 450 miles of recreational trails. You can bike, hike, kayak, horseback ride, go canoeing and more. Visit www.visit-prescott.com and call 1-800-266-7534.

Perhaps the Grand Canyon is for you and your guests. A stay at El Tovar Hotel would be special which overlooks the south rim of the canyon. Also there is Hopi House, the Lookout Studio, Bright Angel Lodge and other attractions. Visit the Web site at www.grandcanyonlodges.com for more information.

The weekend of July 18-19, the National Park Service is waiving fees for entry at the Grand Canyon, read more about this special deal in the accompanying sidebar.

Because I am a rail fan, I like to take the Grand Canyon Railroad from Williams to the south rim of the canyon for the day and return that evening to Williams for an overnight at their railroad lodge, now owned by the Xanterra Corporation. The train ride takes a little over two hours each way in 1950’s streamlined equipment, which includes dome cars. The children especially enjoy this treat. For rail reservations and information phone 928-773-1976.

Perhaps you just want to take a one-day trip to the canyon and do a helicopter ride over the area. It is spectacular from the air, believe me. One company providing this type of tour is Maverick Helicopters operating out of the Grand Canyon Airport. Flights begin at $159 per person for 30 minutes. For details, visit: www.maverickhelicopters.com or call 1-800-962-3869.

Not far away from the canyon is the Arizona Snowbowl. You can take a ride to the best view of Northern Arizona at 11,500 feet in the ski lift that operates in summer. Fares for adults are $10, juniors $6 and seniors $8. They also have overnight packages. Additional information can be found at www.arizonasnowbowl.com or phone 928-779-1951.

Further away is a company known as Antelope Canyon Tours, which is Navajo-owned and operates from Lake Powell. It provides Navajo guides and you will enjoy a spectacular sculpted petrified sand dune created by water and wind. It looks beautiful in photos and you can visit the web site at www.antelopecanyon.com or call 928-645-9102.

Sedona never disappoints with its color, rocks and interesting attractions. You should consider doing a Pink Jeep Tour. They have been operating since 1960 providing one of the most enjoyable off-road adventures in the Southwest. Their tours operate from their office in Sedona and they last for two, three and more hours depending on the tour selected. Fares run from $72 and up. Visit www.pinkjeepcom or phone 1-800-873-3662 for additional details.

Another great way to sightsee the Sedona area would be from a helicopter.

Helicopter Adventures operates out of the Sedona Airport and can show you the spectacular red rock splendor from the air. There is no better way some say. Prices begin at $67 for a 15-minute ride. Visit www.azheli.com for more information.

How about visiting Kartchner Caverns? This is a beautiful natural attraction not far from Tucson and close to Benson. If you have never walked through a cave, this might be the time to do so. You can obtain more information at www.azstateparks.com or call 1-800-285-3703.

Want to do some shopping? Take Highway 87 through the Lake Mary area to Flagstaff. Good stores, restaurants and it makes a great one-day outing. The drive alone is worth the trip.

Downtown Globe is good for antiquing and rummaging through the stores. It’s yours to explore.

It’s hot in Phoenix, but if you can take the summer heat, consider visiting the Phoenix Zoo. It lies on 125 acres in centrally located Papago Park. It is home to more than 1,300 animals from around the world including more than 200 endangered or threatened species. They feature a Safari Train to provide a great overview of the zoo. You can get more information at www.phoenixzoo.org or by phoning 602-273-1341. Also in Phoenix are the IMAX Theatres, Heard Museum, and great sporting events.

Arizona is loaded with interesting and scenic things to do. Enjoy as much as you can this summer.

Visit Grand Canyon free this weekend — July 18-19

This weekend is the second of three “fee-free” weekends announced by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar as a way of encouraging Americans seeking affordable vacations to visit their national parks. On Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19, Grand Canyon National Park will join national parks across the country in waiving entrance fees for all park visitors.

Visitors who arrive on either of these days will be allowed to enter and visit the park free of charge. Those whose plans include additional days in the park, will need to pay the regular entrance fee for the remainder of their stay. Park visitors are reminded that the fee-free designation applies to entrance fees only and does not affect fees for camping, reservations, tours or use of concessions. Park entrance stations will have Senior and Annual Passes available for those who wish to purchase them.

In addition to free admission to the park, Grand Canyon visitors who come during the fee-free weekend will once again have the opportunity to take advantage of specials being offered by park concessioners. Xanterra South Rim, L.L.C., will repeat its All American Dessert special in its three rim-side restaurants—the El Tovar, the Arizona Room and the Bright Angel Lodge Dining Room. Its retail outlets will offer a special price on custom-designed fleece blankets with a purchase of $50 or more. At the Grand Canyon Market Place (also on the South Rim), fee-free weekend will be celebrated with ice cream specials; and a voucher for $5 off any purchase is also available on-line at www.ParkSpecialOffers.com from the Market Place’s parent company, Delaware North.

On the North Rim, Forever Resorts will be handing out free reusable eco-friendly shopping bags all weekend; and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., it will once again be helping visitors commemorate their visits with free digital photos.

This is the second of three fee-free weekends to be held this summer. The final fee-free weekend will be held August 15-16.

To learn more about visiting Grand Canyon National Park, visit the park’s Web site at www.nps.gov/grca; or to have a free trip planner mailed to you, call 928-638-7888.

To learn more about fee-free weekends in national parks around the country, go to http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm.

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