Much of Arizona remains unchanged from the days when cowboys and their dinosaur steeds ruled the desert plains. Millions of acres of lush trees still blanket the Coconino National Forest, growing up over mountains in defiance of the desert's red rocks.
The horseback guides at Pot A Gold Adventures call each of these majestic landscapes home. Each day, they lead groups from three different stables: Hitchin' Post Stables, Pot A Gold Stables, and Mountain Ranch Stables. From here, they depart on two-hour adventures through deserts and forests. On some of these trips, they might stop to build a fire and cook dinners of steak, potatoes, and beans (the cookout dinner may be added to the Groupon for an additional fee.)
Lemonade and iced tea replace cowboy food during the spring and summer. The wagons are drawn on rubber wheels to make the ride as smooth as possible so guests can enjoy the views as well as the horses, as they are nearly as beautiful as the surrounding landscape. Pot A Gold Adventures' trainers raise most of the purebred Quarter and Paint horses almost from birth.
Though visitors to Pot A Gold won't find leprechauns, they will find horses?plenty of them. That's because the business, which runs its own outpost in Mayer, is also the parent company to Pioneer Village Stables in Phoenix and Hitchin' Post Stables in Flagstaff. At each of its locations, visitors climb atop purebred quarter and paint horses to travel a different landscape. Pot A Gold Stables invites riders and their steeds to trot along 4,500 acres peppered with rock outcroppings and a river. Pioneer Village Stables has a more urban aesthetic, albeit one that feels more like a ghost town than a city. Here, riders saunter through the remnants of an 1800s-era community, clomping past an old church, sheriff's station, and sarsaparilla well.
Flashes of neon light up the night during the Rock N Glow 5K, a glow-in-the-dark race by Hi5F, which donates a portion of the proceeds to Coconino Humane Association. As darkness descends on the host city, racers get into the glowing spirit by strapping on vibrant clothing, oversized sunglasses, wigs, and layers of glow-in-the-dark swag. Once everyone is geared up, the noncompetitive race begins, snaking through 3.1 miles of neon-soaked path soundtracked by energetic, heart-pumping music. And once everyone is across the finish line, racers and supporters cap off the night with a glowing after party complete with live DJs, dancing, food, and a cash bar.
The highly trained guides at Canyon Rio Rafting spearhead half-, full-, and multi-day expeditions down the Salt River, Rio Chama, and San Juan River. Certified in first aid and versed in advanced wilderness medical and rescue training, they ensure that trips run as smoothly over Class II–IV rapids as a mustache over the foam of a cappuccino. Following romps on oar rafts, paddle rafts, and inflatable kayaks, guides nourish excursionists with gourmet meals.
Alternatively, Canyon Rio Rafting's certified instructors help foster future whitewater navigation by staging courses for guides, rescue technicians, and kayakers.
Horsin' Around Adventures gives visitors a chance to explore Arizona's canyons and scenic wildlife habitats the way the first settlers did?on horseback. But because today's riders likely aren't as experienced as those in the Old West and don't know how to bribe their mounts with a cool drink of sarsaparilla, Horsin' Around puts riders aboard gentle steeds that are between 9 and 12 years old. These horses know the trails so well that riders can relax and enjoy the scenery, which includes a babbling creek and vineyards at the Sedona/Oak Creek location and lush pines at the Williams location.