Sedona Golf Resort's par 71 course challenges golfers of all skill levels with 6,646 yards of mesa-trimmed greenery, earning accolades from Golf.com and Golf Digest for its awe-inspiring views. Practice on the clubhouse-side putting area before carting off across a labyrinth of tees, manicured greens, and fairways that test short and long games as well as each golfer's ability to tell a sand trap from a quicksand trap. The 10th hole invites competitors to drink in Cathedral Rock's majestic spires, piercing clouds against a backdrop of distant desert peaks and blue skies. Athletic endeavors wind down as crews converge around the 18th hole's peaceful pond, lined with stones and windsocks stitched from the recycled polos of champions. Snag a discounted online tee time with the Red Rock Card, which not only takes 20% off the Golf Shop's designer duds from brands such as Adidas and Nike, but also grants golfers reduced rates at Sedona and eight other Arizona courses.
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.
As a conglomerate of paintball facilities, Paintball International is a one-stop shop for weekend warriors seeking some chromatic outdoor combat. Partnering with fields across the country, the company helps players live out their battlefield fantasies, whether they're sneaking up on an enemy installation, executing tactic strategies, or painting Water Lilies on the chest of a charging opponent.
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.
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. In Mayer, miles of horseback trails snake past rivers and rock outcroppings, passing by historic windmills and cattle ranches that still operate to this day. And just 30 minutes north of Phoenix's bustling downtown lies an entirely different era. Here, acres of rolling hills and tree-sized cacti surround a 19th-century town where log cabins and a quaint white church house bring the old west back to life.
The horseback guides at Hitchin' Post Stables call each of these majestic landscapes home. Each day, they lead groups from three stables: Hitchin' Post Stables, Pioneer Village Stables, and Pot A Gold 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.
Hot cocoa replaces cowboy food during winter. During the months when snow blankets the mountainside, horses at the Flagstaff location pull red sleighs identical to those Santa gives his elves on their 16th birthdays. And the horses themselves are nearly as beautiful as each stable's surrounding landscapes. Hitchin' Post Stables' trainers raise most of the purebred Quarter and Paint horses almost from birth.
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.