Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Start the New Year off right with a guided hike at an Arizona State Park

For the first time ever all 50 states have collaborated on a single, nationwide state parks event occurring on the same day! The First Day Hikes program! Regular Day Use Entrance Fee applies at each park, however, there is no additional fee for the hike program.

As a part of this program, the AZ State Parks listed below will offer guided hikes on January 1. So get out and hike!

Alamo Lake SP: 10 am. Meet at Ranger Station/Store. Moderate hike for ages 10 and up. No dogs allowed. 3/4 mile. Bring water, appropriate boots, seasonal clothing, sunscreen, and binoculars.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum SP: 11 am. Plants, animals, and history hike. Meet at Visitor Center. All ages. Leashed dogs allowed. Dress in layers, bring water bottle, hat, binoculars and camera.

Buckskin Mountain SP: 10 am. Meet at Buckskin Center. Moderate difficulty. Any age. No pets, except for service dogs. Length of trail 1.5 miles. Bring hiking shoes and water.

Catalina SP: 9 am. Meet at picnic area ramada. No dogs. Take a bird hike over mostly flat terrain. Will last 2 to 2.5 hours. Usually see 20-30 bird species. Bring water, snacks, binoculars, and bird books.

Cattail Cove SP: 10 am. Camp Hosts Bill & Betty Noble will lead a 3 mile hike. Park features include a view of the California Water Project's "soda straws". Wear comfortable shoes. Bring water. A camera and walking stick are recommended.

Dead Horse Ranch SP: 9 am. Meet at West Lagoon parking lot. It will last approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours and cover 2 to 3 miles. Hikers will meander along the Verde River riparian area as well as the 3 lagoons that are on the park. Dress in warm layers, wear sturdy shoes and bring water. Participants may also want to bring binoculars and a camera; the day might be good for wildlife photo ops. Ranger Margie will be leading the hike.

Lake Havasu SP: 10 am. Meet at trailhead near large main launch ramp. Enjoy an interpretive and viewing hike led by Assistant Park Manager Myke Steighler. 1-2 miles. Bring water, supportive shoes, hat, and binoculars.

Kartchner Caverns SP: 10:30 am. Hike led by Michael Woods, Park Ranger I and Archaeologist, and will include a history of past mining operations on adjacent national forest land. The hike will follow the Guindani Trail and will be about an 1.5 hours long. Hikers will be transported to the trailhead by a park multi-passenger vehicle. Water and restrooms are available at the trailhead. No dogs allowed. Limited to 25 participants. Contact Art at (520) 586-4115 to reserve your space. $6 day use entrance fee applies.

Lost Dutchman SP: 9 am. Meet at Saguaro day-use area. Join us for a ranger led hike on Treasure Loop Trail. Learn about desert flora and fauna and the history of Superstition Mountains and the Lost Dutchman Mine. This is a moderate hike with an elevation gain of 500 feet, 2.5 miles round trip, 2 hours. Carry water, dress in warm layers and wear sturdy trail shoes or hiking boots. In case of rain, hike will be cancelled.

Picacho Peak SP: 10 am. Meet at Sunset Vista Trail Head for an approximately 4 mile Ranger lead hike. The hike will be a moderate hike on the backside of Picacho Peak. Bring hiking boots, sun protection, and at least 1 liter of water.

Red Rock SP: 10 am and 2 pm. Meet at Visitor Center. No dogs allowed. Enjoy a 1-1.5 hour interpretive naturalist-led hike. Bring water, good shoes, hat, and dress appropriately.

Roper Lake SP: 10 am. Meet at gatehouse. Minimum age 7. Length of hike 2.25 miles. Bring sturdy shoes, binoculars, water, layered clothing, and camera.

Tonto Natural Bridge SP: 11 am. Meet at bridge parking area. Moderate hike .6 miles of the Gowan Trail observation deck. Minimum age 7 years old. Bring water, winter gear. Hike will continue for those want to go through the bridge and return via Anna Mae Trail. Note: Weather conditions in Jan. may be extreme. Hike may be canceled due to snow, ice, high creek flow, etc. Check the park website for current info.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Arizona State Parks proposes to raise camping fees. . . by a lot

It's likely that you will soon pay a lot more to camp in an Arizona State Park. Fees for a primitive campsite would raise from $15 to $25. Sites with electric hookups would go from $25 to $50 and day-use entrance fees would range from two to 10 dollars. Parks with per-person entrance fee ranges would have the upper limits changed to $10 to allow for seasonal and promotional fee increases by State Parks partner organizations.

Standard Annual Passes (day-use only) would be valid from November 1 to March 31 on holidays and weekends at the Colorado River Parks which would allow for more days of use for that pass.

Public comments will be accepted online until Jan. 13, 2012 at AZStateParks.com. The comments will be presented to the Arizona State Parks Board at its February, 2012 meeting. If the new fees are approved, the fee changes would take effect April 1, 2012.

Prescott honored as first place "True Western Town"

Looking for a uniquely (and genuine) western town? Then point 'Old Paint' toward Prescott, pardner. True West magazine says Prescott, Arizona is their Number One choice for this year's Top Ten True Western Towns.

While incorporation for the little Arizona town didn't happen until 1883, real estate was hot there (in more ways than one) clear back in 1864. In short order it became the Territorial capital, twice. At one point the capital was moved to Tuscon, but Prescott got it back, and lost it--evidently for the last time, when Phoenix claimed the honors.

But Territorial capitals aren't what the west was made of. Prescott's claims to fame include Native Americans, miners, hookers, ranchers and cowboys, and all the support that underpinned the old west. Much of this history is recalled in town museums like the Sharlot Hall Museum that revives the territorial past, and the Phippen and Smoki museums which focus on local artifacts.

But a stroll down Whiskey Row preserves a much larger bit of history in the form of historic buildings like Arizona's oldest bar and restaurant, The Palace. Plenty of other old-timey buildings house galleries, bookstores, boutiques, and the like. Of course, they didn't get there easily: Like a lot of other western towns, Prescott was tried by fire, literally, on several occasions. The result was that much of the downtown core was rebuilt with brick.

Prescott hosts annual events such as Frontier Days, The World's Oldest Rodeo (1888), Easter Egg-Stravaganza, the Bluegrass Festival, Earth Day, July 4 Celebration, Tsunami on the Square, art festivals, a Cinco de Mayo celebration, Navajo Rug Auction, Pumpkin Patch Carnival, World’s Largest Gingerbread Village (actually on the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe reservation), Prescott Film Festival, Folk Arts Fair, parades, the Acker Music Festival, The Cowboy Poets Gathering, the Prescott Highland Games, Courthouse Lighting, Whiskey Off Road and Ragnar Relay Del Sol.

photo: ariztravel on flickr.com