Get out of the heat in Northeastern AZ - July

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Get out of the heat in Northeastern AZ - July

Post by ArizonaSquirrel »

My wife has some time off coming up the first week of July and we're looking to get away from the heat here in Tucson and get up into the Northeastern part of our state. I've heard many wonderful things about the White Mountains and have yet to make it up there, in spite of hiking all over Arizona. I've read much about Hannaghan Meadow, Acker Lake, and Escudilla Trail; if it was just me and my camera, I'd likely visit all three of these. However, with my wife and my 8 month old, I'd like to find something a bit more family friendly with some easy hiking to take in the sunsets or sunrises as well as in-town touristy activities for the days. My wife loves food walks, art exhibits, or museums and the like. Could anyone give me some good suggestions for us and give me an idea of what temperatures to expect in the areas? I appreciate your time and suggestions! I'd be open to anything Eastern AZ that could be a reprieve from the summer heat of Tucson.
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Re: Get out of the heat in Northeastern AZ - July

Post by azbackpackr »

I lived up there for many years. First of all, it is not in northeastern Arizona. But it IS in eastern Arizona. Get a map, fold in half horizontally, and you'll see that every place you mentioned is south of the middle. It is pretty nice there from May through October, but it can get pretty darned wet in July and August. Right now the nights will be cold, the days are usually nice. June is nice. The snow will not melt off some of the mountains until July, probably.

There's a reason why we call it the Redneck Alps, however. There is very little high culture there of any kind. Food walks? What are those? Chicken fried steak and burritos are popular there. There are a few funky museums. Art? Most of it will be sort of schlocky/folky, but there are a few serious artists around, if you look.

In Springerville, where I used to live, there is a beautiful, but small, museum in the old schoolhouse. They also will take you on a tour of the local Native American ruins, Casa Malpais Pueblo. Then you can walk across the street and have burritos or chicken fried steak at Booga Red's.

The towns of Springerville and Eagar, collectively known as Round Valley, have a really great 4th of July parade and amazing fireworks if you are interested in those kinds of things. They have a pancake breakfast cooked by the volunteer fire department, and a rodeo, and a big barbecue. It's about as small town and redneck as you can possibly get, but it is pretty fun. The tradition is that the first drops of rain of monsoon season fall during the parade. And everyone cheers.
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Re: Get out of the heat in Northeastern AZ - July

Post by JoelHazelton »

I've never lived out there like @azbackpackr, but I have spent quite a bit of time out there.

The town of Alpine is the closest to the hikes that you mentioned. The setting is beautiful, but there aren't really any permanent cultural attractions, like an art district. However, they do have events throughout the summer on weekends, so if you check the calendar you may be able to plan around something that interests your family.

That said, the town of Greer is a little more touristy, has a few more restaurants, and probably does a better job catering to vacationing families than Alpine or Springerville. That may suit your needs a little better. I took my family out there a couple summers ago. We went horseback riding and also spent a day doing the summer activities at Sunrise Ski Resort. Other than a general lack of organization at the ski resort, and the poor wifi at the cabin we stayed in (preteen kids), it was a pretty nice time.

In terms of family-friendly hikes: Thompson Trail is as good as it gets, in my opinion. Follows a quaint river the entire route, so you aren't committed to a certain distance before reaching a destination; it's just a nice, easy walk in a pretty setting, and you can turn around whenever you please. The West Baldy trail is also very nice, and similar in that you are following a river with minimal elevation change for the first couple miles. Very pretty, and you can turn around at any point without feeling robbed of a particular destination.

Aker Lake and Hannagan Meadow are also both very pretty and family friendly. Neither of them a hike, though. Aker Lake is a quiet, hidden gem if you want to kick back and enjoy the sunrise or sunset. Escudilla is nice, but may not exactly be family-friendly . It's a steep climb up and your reward is an incredibly burnt forest. It doesn't have the same mass appeal as the myriad of creekside hikes out there.

In terms of weather: Your best bet in July/August is to do your hiking in the morning. Afternoon can bring some pretty fierce and unexpected thunderstorms. Regardless - pack raingear no matter what.
"Arizona is the land of contrast... You can go from Minnesota to California in a matter of minutes, then have Mexican food that night." -Jack Dykinga

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