Flagstaff to Payson – A scenic road trip
Saturday, March 4, 2017
After a healthy but supersize breakfast in our hotel elegant dining room, we checked out and continued our descent from Flagstaff to Payson, a trip of about 2.5 hours.
The day being sunny and mild, we decided we should stop at the much talked about Walnut Canyon National Monument, off I-40 East, approximately 30 minutes away. What a great idea that was! A park fee of $8.00 per person gives you access to the trails, and a small Visitor Centre offers information, an exhibit on the canyon’s only permanent inhabitants more than 800 years ago – the Sinagua people, meaning “without water” – a bookstore and a panoramic view of the canyon.
There are two trails starting at the visitor centre: the first one is easy, the second one… not! We started with the paved and rather flat trail overlooking the canyon, still sprinkled with snow. With sheer drops and rugged slopes, it was beautiful! Then, feeling brave, we tackled trail #2 and its 240 steps (one way) taking you deeper inside the canyon and closer to cliff dwellings built between 1125 and 1250 years ago. The climb back was slow, but we made it!
We continued our voyage south taking Lake Mary Road, a scenic 87 km stretch from Flagstaff through Coconino Natural Forest. With snow banks and tall trees, it felt like driving through Muskoka or Algonquin Park. Very nice and peaceful (we were alone on the road most of the time). At the junction with highway 87, we took it and continued our descent… and descend we did! As the road twisted and turned down the mountain, the Tonto National Forest unveiled all its beauty. No more snow, a rise in temperature, a dense green forest… all the way to Payson. Beautiful!
We continued our route a bit East until we reached our hotel: Kohl’s Ranch Lodge (diamondresorts.com). It reminded me when we were going to Algonquin Park for March Break. Huge fireplace, log building and cabins… that’s what living in the woods is all about. We have a king bed and… get this: a fridge, a stove, a dishwasher, a microwave oven, a percolator, a toaster, a sink, dishes, and cutlery. Oh, and a patio with rustic chairs and coffee table! What else do we need? :)))
The evening activity was making S’More Cones. You take a waffle cone, stuff it with marshmallows, add a layer of your favourite sweets, another layer of marshmallows, more sweets and… more marshmallows! Wrap the cone with aluminum foil, stick it in the oven and… voilà! The most decadent waffle cone I have ever seen! We just enjoyed watching those with a stomach of steel eating it with gusto!
We had dinner at the Lodge’s restaurant, and it was delicious! Time to retire and rest before we hit the big city!