Sprawling across 392 acres and home to thousands of unusual plant and animal species, the Boyce Thompson Arboretum is far from a standard classroom. Here, people learn through exploration rather than through textbooks; they’re able to smell the plants they study and ask native squirrels for direct quotes about soil quality. Jaunts through the park cover a range of terrain. Butting up against the northern face of Picketpost Mountain, the park encompasses canyons, hills, and trails carefully landscaped to duplicate arid environments from around the globe. The cactus garden features plants both sinuous and spiny, creating a vast collection of shapes and textures nestled into the dusty red landscape. Queen Creek Canyon provides respite from the sun, its towering trees thriving in the cool shade. Visitors pick up tips on how to enhance their own yards in the demonstration garden of drought-tolerant plants, which are relatively easy to care for except for when they demand chocolate milk. Additional education can be found in classes and lectures held at the Smith Interpretive Center.
Situated in a pristine 745-acre country club complete with an intimate outdoor-concert venue, The Good Life Festival concert series showcases legendary performers alongside boutique shopping, wine tastings, fine dining, and more. Best known for the hits "American Woman" and "These Eyes," Canadian classic-rockers The Guess Who will energize eardrums at 4 p.m. Three Dog Night will grace the stage at 6 p.m., breezing through the band's 12 gold records and 21 consecutive top-40 hits—seven of which have become European national anthems—including "Joy to the World" and "Mama Told Me Not to Come." When the festival opens at noon, shopping sages can peruse booths displaying clothing, custom furniture, fine cigars, and more, and culinary connoisseurs can sample tempting gourmet tidbits while partaking in more than a dozen varieties of wine.
Sculpted in the foreground of the Superstition Mountains, Mountain Brook Golf Club charms golfers with a 6,620-yard course that blankets the arid desert with immaculate fairways and greens. Water hazards, crushed-marble sand traps, and desert wilderness await balls that stray from their path due to an open clubface or the desire to snuggle a cactus.
The club's 12-acre practice facility blasts bogeys off scorecards with a full-length grass-tee driving range, a putting green, and two short-game practice areas where players can rehearse greenside chips, bunker shots, and approaches from as far as 100 yards. Brand-name golf apparel and equipment populates the pro shop, which sells merchandise emblazoned with the Mountain Brook Golf Club logo for those looking to obtain a souvenir from their round without having to adopt a rambunctious tumbleweed.
Course at a Glance:
Located on an site covering more than 12 acres at the foot of the mountain, Superstition Mountain Museum shares the rich history of the varied inhabitants of the Apache Junction area. Both indoor and outdoor exhibits pepper the site, where curious sightseers take in the area’s geology and natural history, finding out that gold normally begins as ore, rather than popping out of the ground as gold teeth. With an emphasis on the gold-rush years of the late 1800s, outdoor walking trails are replete with days-of-yore accoutrements, such as stagecoaches, windmills, and old mining equipment. History hounds stomp around a reproduction of a town straight from the Old West, peering in the windows of the barber shop or bailing fictional poltergeists and real uncles out of the old clink. Movie mavens clamor for two famous structures, both transported piece by piece from their original sites, the Apacheland Barn, known for its western film cameos, and the Elvis Memorial Chapel, which now houses the Apacheland Movie Memorabilia Museum. Gold gophers examine a collection of maps to try their hand at searching for the Lost Dutchman Mine(http://gr.pn/gLJM0r), supposedly the most plentiful gold mine in the world.
The proprietors of Wine Canyon furnish amateur sommeliers with a plethora of winemaking kits hailing from around the globe, allowing crafters to select their favorite flavor and harvest their own beverages either in the store or at home. Kits come in red, white, blush, and sweet varietals and produce 6 gallons, or 30 bottles, of wine. All wines contain only one-fifth to one-third of the sulfites found in store brands, giving sippers a better chance of foregoing pesky headaches and unhelpfully vague premonitions after imbibing. Juice, yeast, preservatives, and additives are included in the kits, but oenophiles must use their own bottles, mixing pail, and carboy, a multi-gallon fermentation container that worked its way up from its job as a busboy.
The dunes aren’t going to ride themselves. That’s why GoFast Rental puts off-roaders behind the wheels of buggies such as the RZR XP 4 900 EPS that seats up to four. For those trundling dirt paths, they offer similar buggies as well as quads. With dirt and sand covered, the only thing left is the wet stuff. To crest waves, they slip patrons into V-drive wakeboarding boats and jet skis.