Horseback Riding at Kohl’s Ranch

Check out the link below for a glimpse of my journey into Butterfly Canyon on my favorite horse, Caesar!


So here’s yet another reason to love Payson — Horseback Riding at nearby Kohl’s Ranch.

It cost us a mere $30 an hour to ride deep into the lovely forests near Kohl’s Ranch.  On our 1 hour tour,  we traveled down rugged terrain into Butterfly canyon, saw incredible views and encountered a curious deer who seemed to follow our group until he finally crossed in front of our horses near a dry creek bed.

The horseback rides are guided tours which are scheduled for 1, 2 or 3 hours, with the 2 hour trip the most popular, according to our guide.  During the 2 hour tour,  the journey includes not only a foray deep into the forest, but a marvelous detour to some gorgeous waterfalls in the area.

After a fun  ride in the forest, we settled in for lunch at Kohl’s Ranch’s  Zane Grey Steakhouse and Saloon, and had mouthwatering burgers!

Here’s a few tips:

Before you go, call 928-478-4211 to schedule your ride.

Here are Directions from Payson to Kohl’s Ranch Stables:

From Payson, go East on Hwy 260 for about 16 miles, and turn right on Kohl’s Ranch Lodge Road.  Follow the road into Kohl’s Ranch. The Stables will be on the right. Follow the sign that says “Stables”  and travel down the dirt road to the horses. The road veers right at the end and leads directly to the stables. ( BTW– watch out for the speed “dips!” They’ll slow you down one way or another! 🙂 )



For more information on Kohl’s Ranch, go to



20 Things I’ll Bet You Didn’t Know About Payson…

Ok, so you’ve heard of Payson, Arizona.  You are pretty sure that it is up in the mountains somewhere and you think that it might have a few pine trees.  You might even know that it’s a bit cooler than the valley.  But I’ll bet there are  a few things you didn’t know, like…….

1) Payson is a mere 90 minute drive from Phoenix.

During most of those 90 minutes you’ll be oohing and awing  at the  scenery on the way up.  Gorgeous views await you at every turn up the Beeline Highway, and most of  the scenes you’ll swear you saw in an Arizona Highways magazine somewhere.  The breathtaking views alone are worth the short 1 1/2 hr trip.

2) Payson weather is about 15-20 degrees cooler than in the valley.

Nice, especially in the summer time!

3) Payson boasts the oldest continuous rodeo. . The first Payson Rodeo started in 1884,  28 years before Arizona became a state.  For this year’s rodeo schedule see

4) You can watch planes take off and land right out your window as you dine at the Crosswinds Grille at the Payson Airport –

Enjoy a low cost breakfast or lunch at the Crosswinds Grille at the Payson Airport, about a 5 minute scenic drive from the heart of town.  Watch twin engine planes, jets and helicopters take off right out your window against the breathtaking backdrop of the Mogollon Rim. Well worth the visit.

And you can……

5)  Go to $5 first run movies at the Sawmill Theater — Want to see the latest film but don’t want to brave the crowds and the expense? Try out the Sawmill theater in Payson.  Watch the latest movies and pay only $5 for a matinee.  There’s also a yummy ice cream/coffee shop called “Scoops” next door that has free Wifi and lots of board games — so bring your laptop and your friends.  🙂 See

6)  Get great food in unexpected places —  Have a hankering for beautifully prepared and incredibly tasty sushi? Try Ayothaya just off of Hwy 260. Want an old fashioned western meal? Try the Buffalo Bar and Grill.  For terrific Italian Food, go to Gerardo’s Firewood Cafe on Hwy 87. The Knotty Pine Cafe, sister to the Crosswinds Grille, has great food and has been operating in Payson since before I was born (which is saying a lot!) But there are even more unexpected great places to eat.  For great ribs and homemade bread and pastries, go to the Maverick gas station, which has a bakery on site. (Yes, you heard me right:-).  For a great hamburger so big that you can’t get your whole mouth around it, try the local Wendy’s on Hwy 87. (Again, I’m not kidding!)

Or go to…..

7)  ThatBrewery Microbrewery — Formerly a cafe, this restaurant is now also a micro brewery that sells their homebrewed beer everywhere, including to restaurants and stores  in the valley. You can’t miss it–the place  is just a few scenic miles from Payson on the left side of the road as you enter Pine, Arizona.  The  Grand Opening Ceremonies are scheduled for this weekend! Great food, great drinks and a lot of fun await you.  There’s live music and a volleyball court available on site to round out the night’s fun with family and friends. See

8)  Open Mic Night at Mountain High Espresso — Do you have a hidden talent? Express yourself at Mountain High Espresso Coffee House on Open Mic Fridays! You can also hear wonderful original Christian artists on Saturday nights. Check out for more information.

9) Free Summer concerts in the park on Saturday Nights — Sit alongside the lake at Green Valley Park and enjoy the music. For more information, go to:


10) Here’s a list of a  zillion other great things to do in Payson  (I just found this site today:-) — Go to  

And because you asked…

11) Yes,  Payson does have  a Catholic Church , and an Anglican Church  and a lot of other Churches too!

12) There’s a hiker’s/fisherman’s paradise nearby:

Check out…

Gisela (South of Payson) : See

Fossil Creek (Strawberry) :

Woods Canyon Lake (One of 7 lakes in the Rim Lakes Recreational Area)

……….to name just a few.

For more “fishing hole” locations go to

13) The housing prices in Payson are amazing right now — There are some amazing deals on houses right now in Payson.* Gone are the days when it was just a pipe dream to get a place for under $200,000.  Nowadays you can find something pretty decent in Payson for around $100,000 to $150,000 and even better homes above that price.

For more information, go to or

If you can’t buy a place, the hotels in Payson are really nice and pretty reasonably priced. Check out for more information.

For surrounding locations and other places to stay check out:

Christopher Creek Lodge

Kohls Ranch

Oxbow Estates


Payson also has a great…..

14)  Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning — For fresh home-grown  fruits and vegetables, wonderful Italian food, pony rides and lots of other great vendors, try the Farmer’s Market in Payson at the Sawmill Plaza from 9 to 12.  You won’t be sorry! 🙂

Not only that, but….

15) Nearly 97% of Payson, Az is National Forest land — (from wikipedia,_Arizona)

“Ninety-seven percent of the land around Payson is under the jurisdiction of the United States Forest Service (Payson is surrounded by the Tonto National Forest) or by tribal governments. Consequently much of the land is available for hiking, horseback riding, fishing and hunting activities.”

So basically you are completely surrounded by natural, untouched forest, which explains why everywhere you go, you find this incredible natural beauty around you.

But what you might not know until you visit Payson a few times, is that the beautiful terrain of Payson and its surrounding areas varies depending upon which direction you travel.  Take a drive up Hwy 260 towards Christopher Creek and beyond and you encounter spectacular vistas, canyons and forests.  Take a drive up Houston Mesa and you get a completely different, yet just as incredible view of plains and valleys, mountains and trees.  Take another drive towards Pine and Strawberry in the cool of the tall pines and majestic valleys and along the way you pass the more rustic, Sedona-style red rock mountains and  the flowing waters of the beautiful east verde river and other unexpected loveliness.  (Note–The East Verde Park (again about 5 minutes from town) is open to the public.)

Go towards the airport and you get a marvelous view of the town of Payson on one side of the road as you travel, and another spectacular view of the rim on the other.  And travel farther in any direction, and it is all gorgeous as far as the eye can see.

And if that is not enough,  no kidding….

16) Payson has Uncommonly Friendly People — I know that it is hard to generalize –people are so different and so how can I say such a thing about everyone in a town? But in my experience, this  is true.  Payson  has this easy-going, small town lifestyle and feel.  And just about everyone I’ve met in this town is just incredibly nice.  So traveling to Payson has become as much an escape from the city hustle and bustle as much as  it is an escape from the heat.

I’m not sure if I can put my finger on it exactly, but people just have a bit more time for you here. They will start chatting with you, will let you merge into their lane, and will remember you if you come into their establishment more than once. They’ll tell you about their dogs and ask you about your kids.  They’ll go out of their way to help.

Perhaps the best example of the kind of people you find in Payson happened to me last weekend.  My battery was acting up  and so I went into the local O’Reilly’s store to find out what to do.  The guy at the store, Larry, not only tested my battery, but located the part I needed, took off the old part and put on the new one for me! He spent about 45 minutes making sure that my car was working properly and told me to come back again just in case to make sure all was well before I started down the hill back to Tempe.  He was incredibly kind and incredibly decent.**

THAT’S what I call friendly. And those are the kind of people you find in Payson.

Some trivia….

17) Payson was voted “Best Small Town in Arizona”     See

18) Payson was founded in 1882, 30  years before Arizona became a state.  See

And for the future….

19) ASU is coming! ASU is coming!! ….Hopefully… 🙂

Looks like it is!

In fact,

20)  There’s a celebration, event, craft show or festival just about every weekend in Payson or the surrounding areas. The 4th of July celebration this week, in fact,  should be fantastic!

For more information……


For Pine/Strawberry see

For 4th of July ceremonies see


Not that I’m a fan of Payson or anything…… 🙂

And here are a couple more things I’ll bet you didn’t know….

A) Payson’s water is fantastic right out of the faucet.

B) Payson’s gasoline is always a few cents cheaper (I have no idea why that is… 🙂 )

(*I’m not a realtor or anything, but I love looking at houses, especially in this town.)

(**I should mention that O’Reilly’s is an auto PARTS store, not a repair shop. I should also say that the part in question only cost me about $5.  It was a Saturday evening and without his help I would have been stranded without a working car—and I had to get home to Tempe.  It was incredibly decent of him to help me and I am really grateful.)







Mountain High Coffee Works

Mountain High Coffee Works, formerly Wolf Den Espresso, is the place to go for great coffee, free wifi, and entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. Located at 612 N Beeline Highway (in the Swiss Village shopping plaza), it’s a great place to mingle with friends and enjoy some wonderful performances.*

And by the way, if you have a song in your heart and would like to sing it to a real live coffee house audience, come on Friday nights for open mic night!:-)

If you’d like to hear some wonderful original Christian music by local artists, come Saturday night for a real treat!



For those of you paying attention, yes, I was wrong about the name! I guess they were in the planning stages back then, but this is the real deal.  Mountain High Coffee Works is a lovely coffee house with good food, coffee and entertainment— you should come on by!:-)


The L.A. Times Forgets to Mention the Best Town in Arizona :-)

I just read an article, “100 cool places in Arizona” in the L.A. Times today.*  The article does list a lot of great places, but something is definitely missing.


Payson Arizona is a gem, a beautiful oasis for those who want a vacation not only from work but also from crowds and the hustle and bustle of the city.  This lovely getaway is just a beautiful hour and a half drive up from Phoenix—definitely worth the trip.  Make time for a real adventure—and check out Payson, Arizona!,0,3826300,full.story*