Summer is in full swing and the 4th of July, Independence Day, is already upon us. With the long weekend and maybe even an extended day or two, thousands of visitors have descended on Rim Country. No doubt, every campground will fill up, along with any other place to cool off or splash around. With Valley temperatures over 110 degrees, an escape to the high country is a welcome solution.
If some of your relatives or friends decided to camp at your home, there is always the question of “what can we show them in the area?”
The Tonto Natural Bridge State Park has to be high on everyone’s list. As many times as I have visited, I still enjoy viewing the travertine bridge and the walk down to the waters of Pine Creek. Just 12 miles north of town, it offers an easy, half-day trip with many photo opportunities. The cost is $5 for an adult, children $2 and those under 7 are free.
A jaunt to the Tonto Fish Hatchery tucked up under the Mogollon Rim offers another fun activity. The hatchery lies just 17 miles east of town on Highway 260, then four miles up the road to the hatchery. The self-guided tour is free and gives everyone a close-up view of how trout are raised from eggs to catchable size fish for the streams and lakes of Arizona. The viewing ponds hold trophy-sized fish, which go into an entertaining feeding frenzy when fed.
The local streams of the East Verde, Tonto, Christopher and Haigler traditionally receive an extra stocking of catchable rainbows, so there is always the chance of catching a fresh trout dinner. Don’t forget Green Valley Lake that has a few trout left over from the winter stocking program and an abundance of bass, crappies, bluegills and catfish. Watching a child catch a fish is always special and it may encourage a family to participate in more outdoor activities.
The Payson area has numerous hiking and biking trails of all levels of difficulty. The town recreation office at Green Valley Park or the chamber of commerce have information about the local trails and their accessibility.
The abundance of wildlife in the area also provides photo opportunities of elk, two species of deer, javelina and coyotes.
John Adams, in a letter to his wife Abigail, said, “that this memorable day in July of 1776 will be celebrated by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells and fireworks from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever. You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil, blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration and support and defend these States.”
John Adams got it right. This weekend enjoy the 4th of July celebration, be safe and enjoy God’s creation.