Payson: Explore Nature in the Heart of Arizona

The heart of Arizona’s Rim Country is Payson. Payson, Arizona is one of our favorite areas to escape the Phoenix summer heat. This beautiful area is surrounded by national forest. Cooler temperatures attract thousands of visitors each year. Payson is a popular spot for Phoenix residents to┬ávisit during the summer. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy. Where is Payson & How to Get There Payson is in the “heart” of Arizona. It is about 90 miles north east of Phoenix. Take the Beeline Hwy (87) for about 90 miles and you are on your way to cooler temps and some beautiful vistas. Where to Stay in Payson Payson has lodging for every type of travel. Choose from hotels, cabins and campgrounds. We usually camp in Payson. Things to do in Payson Arizona Payson is home to several lakes, forests of  ponderosa pines, and the White Mountains. This area has some incredible hiking opportunities and nice campgrounds. Payson is a favored destination for nature lovers.   What’s even better is that Payson is just a short drive from Phoenix. Take the Beeline Hwy (87) for about 90 miles and you are on your way to cooler temps and some beautiful vistas. Tonto Natural Bridge State Park Payson is best known for the beautiful Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. If you are visiting Payson do not miss this natural attraction. The park hides one of Arizona’s treasured spots, the Tonoto Natural Bridge. The Tonto Natural Bridge is the largest natural travertine bridge  in the world. This gem is surrounded by trees and  offers great hiking and photography opportunities. Payson Arizona Hikes In addition, Payson’s forest of towering pine trees, cool lakes, creeks and waterfalls create some fantastic hiking trails. Several trails are located within the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park including the Waterfall Trail, Anna Mae Trail and Gowan Trail. If you are looking for waterfall hikes in Arizona, Payson has some great choices. Some of the prettiest hikes include: Scenic Drive in Rim Country If you don’t feel like hiking, take a drive on Rim Road to see some awesome views from Mogollon Rim. The Mogollon Rim region is nestled in the Tonto National Forest. Characterized by high limestone and sandstone cliffs the view is beautiful. Woods Canyon Lake is a popular and easily accessible lake at the edge of the Mogollon Rim. Road Trip to Arizona’s Mogollon Rim When you visit Payson take a scenic drive on Rim Road. Your reward? Some amazing views. The Mogollon Rim is the southern border of the Colorado Plateau and a very scenic area of northern Arizona. Mogollon is easy to mispronounce. When asking for directions just remember the “o” and the “l” sounds are not used. It is pronounced as “mug-ee-yun.” Payson Scenic Drive: Road Trip to the Mogollon Rim To get there, Take 260 out of Payson towards Heber. The Mogollon Rim Visitor center is on your right. Here you can get maps of the area and other information you may need. You also get a nice view of the Mogollon Rim and 11 different peaks/mountains. Rim Road is right across 260 from the Visitor Center. This road is paved for the first 3 miles. However, then it becomes a dirt road for the remaining 48 miles. The Military Sinkhole Vista is the first scenic outlook you will arrive at. The rim has both paved bike paths and hiking trails to explore. There are no guard rails, so be careful when walking out onto the rocks. There are two more scenic overlooks, both are on the paved portion of Rim Road. Woods Canyon Lake You will have several choices to camp within the Sitgreaves National Forest and several lakes for fishing. Woods Canyon Lake area is a popular spot to camp as well fish. Nearby Towns: Pine & Strawberry Arizona Enjoy the cooler weather and towering pine trees. Stop by some of the cute little shops in Pine. One of our favorite stops in Pine is to grab a local beer at That Brewery. You can’t miss their sign. Dogs are welcome too. Arizona’s Oldest School House Visit the oldest school house in Arizona. The Strawberry Schoolhouse is open for tours on the weekends. You can learn more about the Strawberry Schoolhouse. The second oldest school house in the state is in Tubac, Arizona. Payson Area Festivals In the summer the town holds their annual Strawberry festival and in the fall they have an apple festival. The towns of Pine and Strawberry hold several festivals throughout the year.