Since hosting their first class in 1989, Arizona Climbing and Adventure School's instructors have sent an estimated 37,000 students scurrying up the earth's craggy cliffs. Instead of learning climbing in an indoor facility, participants climb nature’s precipices outdoors upon the Southwest's cliffs and mountains. Adventurer and school director Mark Brontsema guides his students and fellow instructors by a philosophy that emphasizes self-reliance, goal setting, and teamwork. He now brings more than three decades to his post as school director, taking time from a busy schedule that includes writing gear reviews for the New York Times.
The school offers a large number of courses that target students of varying skill levels and reveal technique secrets in small groups of two to six students. Classes may focus on rappelling and anchors, guide services, and equipment-free bouldering, which relies solely on the climber's hands, feet, and retractable suction cups. Adventure courses include day trips and overnight climbing excursions, while special workshops address topics such as backpacking, being an ecologically responsible climber and hiker, and using GPS devices.
The open to the public Waterfront Grille snuggles up to Lake Pleasant, overlooking its blue waters as it doles out a satisfying selection of succulent grill fare. Kick off the meal with the tender original chicken wings starter ($8.99), served hot-style, barbecue-infused, or stark naked. A mélange of hearty sandwiches includes the fully loaded philly cheesesteak sandwich, nestled in the bosom of a downy hoagie roll and served with a choice of fries, cole slaw, or a small salad ($10.95). Gaze out on the serene views of the water as you dive into a lakeside feast with entrees such as the steak of the day, a tender steak treading in a bed of sautéed mushrooms and fresh veggies, accompanied by a mashed potato raft ($17.49). Round out the meal with a delectable double chocolate cake ($5.99), or build a traditional cheesecake schooner ($4.99) and race a seasoned sailor to the other side of the lake.
Heritage Park and its volunteers are dedicated to the conservation and protection of wildlife, caring for more than 150 indigenous and exotic mammals, reptiles, and birds in a 10-acre haven. Many of Heritage Park's animals were previously injured, abandoned, or marked with a human imprint that prevents them from rejoining their packs without bringing personalized coffee mugs for everyone. While prowling through the sanctuary, visitors might spy a mountain lion that was kept as a pet, a black bear that was orphaned by his mother, or a fox rescued from a swimming pool. Emus, tarantulas, and ring-tailed lemurs also run free in their habitats, serenading onlookers with their wild cries.
Heritage Park also plays an important role in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, granting asylum to critically endangered Mexican gray wolves, which are being reintroduced into the wild after a 20-year absence. The zoological sanctuary is open every day, with extended hours from May 1 to October 31 to give guests a chance to see animals that are usually out running errands during business hours.
At Yoga Shala, a wide variety of yoga classes welcome students of all skill levels. The studio's instructors, trained in anatomy and physiology, emphasize safe and effective practice as they teach the principles of yoga. Classes include those that focus on postures and breathing, and those that work to deepen students' stamina and understanding of yoga.
Brimming with cardio equipment, free weights, and professional trainers, Freedom Fitness helps people achieve virtually any fitness goal. Clients can maintain a healthy weight with routine exercise or get stronger in the 1,500-square-foot performance center. Here, trainers focus on sport-specific workouts that employ TRX suspension, battling ropes, and punching bags to help athletes jump higher and run faster.
While both the Cave Creek and Troon locations offer fitness classes, equipment, and personal training services, some of the amenities differ. The Cave Creek location has a childcare center, and the Troon location stays open 24 hours a day.
Since its founding in 1934 by archetypal cowboy Roy Rogers and a group of like-minded cowpeople, the Sons of the Pioneers have sung classic compositions chronicling life in the Old West to audiences worldwide—earning them entry into the Country Music Hall of Fame and National Cowboy Hall of Fame. A veritable Supreme Court of country music, the sextet's rotating lineup of members perform for several decades before retiring, and a mandatory majority vote from the Senate is required for new cowboy singers. The venerable current roster still burns through fiddle and guitar strings like undomesticated flames fanned by the mellifluous breeze of six-part harmonies. In keeping with the authentic music and Western themes, the Sons of the Pioneers encourages audiences to applaud the performance with hearty "yee-haws," but asks them to refrain from firing six-shooters wildly into the air.