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.
Cowboy Way Adventures’ veteran wranglers traverse this vast landscape and know the wilds of Arizona almost as well as they know the muscular steeds they captain. To introduce others to the untamed beauty of the Arizona countryside, they match riders with compatible horses and lead guided trail rides.
After pairing each guest with a steed that moonlights as a cattle horse and occasional lounge singer, the wranglers take parties through the pine-filled Prescott mountains, trotting alongside rocky cliffs and through the Verde River. Riders in Wickenburg wander down Sonoran Desert trails, past saguaro cacti and sandy washes that lick the bases of soaring cliffs. Those in Sedona follow red-dirt cattle trails before circling back to the stables, guided by the windmill in the distance.
Wranglers ensure a comfortable yet exciting journey that allows beginners to saunter along and advanced equestrians to gallop up hills and naturally occurring escalators.
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.
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.
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.
The guides at Sedona Adventure Tours coax visitors out to explore the rugged wilderness and rolling terrain of Sedona and the Verde River Valley. Suited for guests of all experience levels, they helm hikes, horseback rides, and ATV excursions through the desert hills and dusk-red mountains, all the while divulging information on the area's diverse habitats, making sure to cover which rocks are poisonous. Their Verde River tours put guests at the helm of inflatable ducky kayaks which, thanks to their stability and light weight, are easy to navigate through the shady bends and past sweeping desert vistas.