In 1966, Chuck Mabery bought a cattle ranch that dated back to the late 19th century, planting the seeds of the Blazin' M Ranch. After stints herding and growing vegetables, the flood of 1993 forced the Mabery family to start over, inspiring them to show off their musical talents at a traditional chuck-wagon dinner staged on the property. Fully renovated in 2010, the ranch now hosts an authentic Arizona frontier town where visitors can experience the cowboy life through such activities as lassoing mechanical steers, shooting wax bullets out of a real Colt .45, and learning how to easily covert ten-gallon hats into metric. A selection of shops fits customers out in Western-themed apparel, the copper Spur Saloon serves local wines and microbrews, and a museum delves into the history of the ranch, pioneer-era Arizona, and the Yavapai-Apache Nation. An old-time photo studio, "Pistols and Petticoats", allows groups to have their likeness captured while wearing Victorian costumes. At the museum, the unique Wood'n West Gallery enthralls visitors with moving dioramas of Western life, hand carved over 30 years by a master whittler.
Flagstaff nature trails feature scenic cross country skiing and hiking, set in the wilderness of Coconino National Forest. Unlike a jaunt around the world's largest Cheerio, the facility features 40 km of nonredundant trails, all traversable by classic and skating skis, or a pair of snowshoes. There are trail passes for adults, children, and students/seniors. Flagstaff's equipment rentals include pulk sleds and ski packages.
Although tumbleweeds don't breeze down its street and there's no hitching post on which to secure your horse, Brix Wine Spot swaps the valley for the Old West while helping visitors earn their sommelier spurs. A 20-foot copper bar corrals patrons as they stampede through the door, surrounding them with country tunes and over 500 of the bar's vintages.
Weekly tastings introduce palates to new bouquets, and every day a minimum of 18 wines are available by the glass, each served at an optimal temperature and right after naptime to ensure cooperation. When stomachs begin to rumble, guests can snack on artisan cheeses, salami platters, and handcrafted cheesecakes, or even bring in their own food—a practice Brix encourages as long as a glass of one of their wines is incorporated.
Cellar 13's owner, Mike Hightower, is no triskaidekaphobian. That is, he's not afraid of the number 13. Rather, he embraces it. He even themed his whole business around the superstitious number: it's no coincidence that Cellar 13 offers 13 red wines, 13 white wines, and 13 menu items. Guests can choose to explore either of the two outdoor patios, dine along the wine bar, or descend—yes, 13 steps—down to the cellar, where a cozy lounge with leather armchairs and dark wood tables welcomes guests and anything served in a bottle or stemmed glassware. No matter where you sit, you will encounter a variety of fine wines, gourmet sandwiches, and a friendly staff.
Harold's Corral gussies up mealtime with an eclectic menu of western-inspired eats, two full bars, patio seating, and live entertainment. Round up hungry herds for dinner with dishes of chicken, fried to a golden finish and side-kicked by yellow-bellied mashed potatoes ($9.99 for 4 pieces, $15.99 for 8 pieces). Southwestern penne pasta ($14.99) brings new meaning to spaghetti westerns with poblano cream sauce and Cajun chicken. Barbecue barons smoke slabs of ribs and brisket ($11.99–$24.99) on-site daily, crafting nuanced flavors with mesquite wood chips. Dig into classic Mexican dishes such as the chicken enchiladas ($9.99), or light off meat-based fireworks with a juicy light show of burgers, strip steaks, and a grand finale of the Meatball Bomber ($8.99), dripping with sauce, cheese, and glory.
Saddle Bronc Grill plunks its guests straight into the middle of a sci-fi western. A hitching post augments the restaurant's saloon-like exterior, where customers are more likely to see motorcycles than horses waiting out front. Napkins have been switched out for bandanas at each table, and the soft glow of 13 flat-screen televisions illuminates the wooden slats of the walls. This blend of genres is no accident—the grill strives to be a country-western bar with all the comforts of the modern era, allowing diners to snack on classic cowboy food even as they follow their favorite sports team. Live bands twang away on weekend evenings, and the Tavern Poker League takes place on Thursday, though players needn't abide by traditional frontier rules that force the loser to eat his own spurs.
The menu, meanwhile, remains faithful to an entirely rustic ambiance. Broasted chicken and flat-iron steaks follow appetizers such as fried onion rings. Side dishes pay homage to the snacks of hungry ranch hands, running the gamut from corn bread and sweet potato fries to a potato-stuffed poblano pepper. To conclude meals, Rock Springs Café populates the Into the Sunset dessert list with a rotating selection of homemade pies.