Every summer, the Trans-Sierra Club takes four groups on a 75-mile trek, across their namesake mountain range to the highest altitude peak in the contiguous United States: Mount Whitney. The mountain measures 14,500 feet high, and while it has been summited by more than one fifth grader, don't be fooled. The route to the top is far from child's play. Participants must hike 8-12 miles a day and carry their own food and camping gear. However, the spectacular views?and the sense of accomplishment?that await at the summit are worth the sweaty journey.
There are a lot of words one can use to describe barbecue sauce. Some are sweet, some spicy, and some tangy. But at the AZ Rhythm & Ribs festival, only one adjective matters: best. The KCBS Competition takes all comers, restaurant and solo operation alike, to vie for the best barbecue title in the categories of chicken, pork ribs, pork, and beef brisket. Other awards include best dry beans, best sauce, best dessert, and the Anything Goes award, given to a chef who makes the best side dish. Guests vote for their choice with samples—some included with entry—and cleanse their palate between bites with micro-brewed beers from all over the country. Meanwhile, country and southern rock stars make tunes as zesty as the savory stars of the show.
The guides at Trail Horse Adventures lead sightseers on horseback rides through Dead Horse Ranch State Park and the Verde Valley. Horse and rider traverse a variety of terrain, crossing barren riverbeds, trotting through high desert, or pondering the duality of cottonwood trees, all while absorbing the beautiful scenery of their surroundings. The trails pose numerous opportunities to spot the wild animals indigenous to the region, including great blue heron, black hawks, beavers, and mule deer. On the 180-minute Monument Loop Trail, peeled peepers can spot the Tuzigoot National Monument, which displays the remains of a Native American pueblo.
THAT Brewery supplies its many original craft beers to bars and liquor stores in the area, but one of the best places to enjoy the brews is in the Cottonwood production facility. The large space is set up for guests, using the space between equipment to place tables with board games, and even a cornhole set up. The Brewery doesn't have a kitchen, but allows food to be ordered in. Additionally, there are some exclusive beers not available at other THAT locations, such as THAT Blacked Out IPA, brewed to turn its west coast hops complex, dark, and bitter.
As the name implies, the folks at Passion Cellars are passionate about great wine?and most of all, sharing it with others. The founders created the winery after learning about the thriving wine industry in Arizona. With the owners' love of local libations, it's no surprise that Passion Cellars offers wines made with Arizona-grown grapes. Visitors can sip samples of a wide variety of wines, from the smoky, peppery syrah to the unique agave-ginger wine.
Sourcing grapes from their own vineyard?as well as four other vineyards across the state?the winemakers at Page Spring Cellars are able to craft an eclectic variety of wines at a sunny, picturesque estate. Imagined and brought to fruition by owner and winemaker Eric Glomski, vintages and blends range in style from a delicate and nuanced sangiovese to the understated chenin blanc. At the stately tasting room, curious visitors sip samples from the collection of wines or, every third Thursday, work their way through a tapas-style winemaker dinner with pairings. Perhaps more spectacular are the outdoor spaces, which host summer stargazing with astrophysicists or picnics enjoyed on a deck that runs alongside a gurgling creek with splendid oral hygiene.