Things to do in Payson AZ
The Mogollon (Muggy-own) Rim, formed 600 million years ago, is a 7,500-ft. high, 200-mile long national forest that is home to Rocky Mountain elk, whitetail deer, mule deer, black bear, mountain lion, bobcat, fox, coyote and 239 bird species including hummingbirds, eagles, hawks and ravens. Cool, whispering pines provide a reprieve from desert heat in the summer. Robust colors decorate foliage in autumn. A winter Rim blanketed in snow provides a sparkling holiday backdrop for spectacular cross-country skiing.
This magnificent land, larger than many nations, is a haven for campers, hi-kers, joggers and trekkers. It is equally appealing to fishermen, hunters, golfers, and tennis players. Forest Service campgrounds in the Mogollon Rim area are plentiful, and open camping is allowed in many areas of the forest. Almost all Rim Country campgrounds are first come, first served.
The Rim Country has hundreds of miles of unpaved roads for off-road adventures. A 42-mile stretch of the old Rim Road between Arizona 87 near Strawberry and Arizona 260 near Forest Lakes is one of the most scenic in the state. In addition, there are thousands of miles of trails for hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers and horseback riders, including several that are accessible from the Pine Trailhead at the southern edge of Pine. Many trails in the area date back to the 1800’s when they linked early homesteads and ranches. With countless trout streams and creeks plus the seven Rim lakes, fishing is a rewarding pastime in Rim Country. The Arizona Game and Fish Department operates two large hatcheries nearby. Hunters find the Rim Country full of game in season. Quail, duck, elk, deer, javelina, big horn sheep, turkey, antelope, bear and mountain lion hunting are all permitted.
The Rim Country is a mineralogists dream – chert, quartz, and gem-quality geodes are plentiful, and just about any prospector or rock shop can put you onto a scatter of handsome red jasper or agate.graphic
Most visitors also see the Tonto Natural Bridge on Arizona 87 between Payson and Pine. The largest travertine bridge in the world is 183-feet high with a tunnel width of 159 feet and length of 400 feet. Now a state park, the bridge is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the summer (May to September) and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the winter(October to April).
- Pine Creek Trail is about ½ mile long (400 feet developed – undeveloped in the creek bottom), leads to the Pine Creek natural area. Hiking shoes are recommended. Follow the arrows. Allow one hour.
- Waterfall Trail is about 300 feet long, ends at waterfall cave. Uneven steps. Allow 15–20 minutes.
- Gowan Trail is about 2,200 feet long, down and back leading to an observation deck in the creek bottom. The trail is steep and rough. No trash cans. Hiking shoes are recommended. Allow one hour. The footbridge to the observation deck is currently closed.
- Anna Mae Trail is about 500 feet long and leads to Pine Creek Trail and the Natural Bridge. Allow one hour.
Payson’s 45-acre Green Valley Park features three lakes that utilize reclaimed water to replenish the ground water supply. Sailboats are a common site on the lakes, which also support a put-and-take rainbow trout fishery. Excellent exercise sidewalks and a child-friendly playground await visitors of all ages.
Rim County Museum
The Rim Country Museum, surrounded by the lakes and rolling green hills of Green Valley Park, includes the first Forest Ranger Station in Payson and a replica of the historic Herron Hotel, known as the Payson Hilton. The museum houses public exhibits including ancient artifacts, a working model of an old sawmill and more. The Pine Museum offers a 19th century view of the Rim Country and features a video presentation on the life and times of early western pioneers. The Zane Grey Museum in Payson should not be missed.
Arts and Culture in Payson AZ
Rim Country is blessed with a long list of internationally recognized artists. Because of its beautiful environment and peaceful allure, many western artists have made the area home over the years. The Rim Country’s growing art community is reflected in the galleries on Main Street and along Arizona Highways 87 and 260. The Payson Art League and Payson Fine Arts Guild offer workshops by accomplished artists and open house visits to studios of member artists. Juried exhibits are held twice a year. The Pine-Strawberry
Arts and Crafts Guild sponsors a series of two-day Mountain Arts and Crafts Festivals on Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day weekends.