With more than two decades of airborne experience under their wings, Scott Johnson and his wife Terri teach students the fundamentals of sport piloting during tandem paramotor and trike flights. After mastering the helm of a trike or the cords of a paramotor on the land, pupils and teachers soar over the stunning vistas of southern Arizona's expansive landscape for hands-on experience. Scott draws from his time spent helping film nature documentaries for the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet to help students identify shorebirds and sandhill cranes midflight. Arizona Trike School also deals in new and refurbished sport aircraft as well as piloting necessities such as parachutes and headsets that play the Top Gun soundtrack on repeat.
During the course of this 90-minute adventure tour, you'll explore the Colossal Cave, a miles-long system of underground "dry" caves, which means there is not enough moisture for formations to continue growing, and you won't need any special shoes or suction-cupped foot gear. With nothing more than a hardhat and headlamp, you and a small group of fellow spelunkers (7–12 people) will climb and squeeze through narrow tunnels and subterranean passages revealing exquisite stalactite and stalagmite formations. A knowledgeable guide talks about the cave’s history (it had been used for centuries by prehistoric peoples) and legends (it was a bandit hideout in the late 1800s).
Crafting wines culled from the fertile fields of southern Arizona, Charron Vineyards has a penchant for producing quality whites and reds thanks to its high altitude, cool night temperatures, and lush fields of wine-bottle plants. Guests visit the welcoming, pet-friendly estate to walk along the 4 acres of mature grapevines and learn the intricate details of making fine wines such as their signature white merlot and smooth French-style rosé. The staff also hosts tastings on the scenic open deck and in the glass-enclosed tasting room, during which guests sip fruity whites and complex reds as they gaze at the breathtaking Santa Rita and Empire mountain ranges. Located about a half hour south of Tucson, guests are always welcome to pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the extensive tasting menu of wines offered by the bottle or glass.
For years, the lights above the Tucson Speedway would stay dark at night, since the track cracked in the harsh light of day. That all changed in 2012, when START Tucson LLC acquired the facility and set out to resurface the track, upgrade the lighting and PA systems, replace wood throughout the bleachers, and welcome racers and fans to the fabled oval. Today, stock engines roar past cheering fans as drivers speed around the 3/8-mile track, with the fastest drivers taking the checkered flag and last-place vehicles clawed by pursuing lions. The track hosts a wide range of car classes, including mini stocks that cram the horsepower of a full-size racecar into a smaller frame, and Hornet-class contests that showcase beginning racers facing off in Late Model rides.
The Vail Preservation Society keeps evidence of the town’s history, culture, and heritage so that visitors can take a step back in time to learn about prior generations. With its late-19th-century roots as a railroad town, the greater Vail area reserves an important place in American history––a place the Preservation Society's members intend to protect. They do so by scanning old photographs, recording oral histories, and participating in an annual cleanup every spring. They've also taken on the task of restoring the Old Vail Post Office, which, for more than a century, has managed to survive by devouring years’ worth of undelivered cookie packages and letters to Santa.
As the sun sinks below the Santa Rita Mountains, towering shade trees and adobe haciendas cast long shadows across Agua Linda Farm’s 63 acres. Over the years, this idyllic farm has nabbed attention from the press as well as visits from celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor and John Wayne, who may have played hide-and-seek amid the rows of organic vegetables and flowers. In addition to a focus on sustainable agriculture, the farm strives to serve as a community hub. Farmsteaders Stewart and Laurel Loew host dinners, weddings, and scarecrow support groups in the adobe hacienda, and spark the imaginations of young horticulturists with family-centric spring and fall harvest festivals.