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Things To Do In Rim Country, Arizona 
by Toni Vernetti June 21, 2005

Rim Country includes the towns of Payson, Star Valley, Pine, Strawberry, Christopher Creek, and many more. Visitors to Rim Country enjoy wonderful weather, beautiful views, and the sweet smells of Juniper and Pine. In Rim Country you will find scenic fishing and hiking spots as well as several museums and national parks.

Rim Country includes the towns of Payson, Star Valley, Pine, Strawberry, Christopher Creek, and many more. These towns are located on or around the Mogollon Rim, a mountain range extending 400 miles and defining the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau.

The Tonto, Coconino, and Apache Sitgreaves National Forests make up Rim Country.

Visitors to Rim Country enjoy wonderful weather, beautiful views, and the sweet smells of Juniper and Pine. Rim Country is host to an abundance of wildlife including deer, elk, raccoon, wild turkey, and over 250 species of birds.


Payson is considered the gateway to the Mogollon Rim and is the geographic center of Arizona. From Payson visitors are within easy driving distance to all that Arizona and the Rim Country have to offer. Payson is surrounded by 3 million acres of forest and sits at 5,000 feet of elevation. Payson offers the feeling of small town charm but with plenty of big things to keep visitors entertained.

Visitors can enjoy a quiet, peaceful day of fishing, boating, bicycling, or roller-blading at Payson’s 45-acre Green Valley Park at the end of Main Street. The park consists of three urban lakes that were created as a water conservation project. The lakes are stocked with Rainbow Trout from October through May. Green Valley Park also includes picnic areas, ramadas, and a playground. In June and July, on Saturday evenings, Green Valley Park and Payson Parks and Recreation host several outdoor concerts featuring local bands.

The Payson Event Center features festivals and several rodeos throughout the year. Payson is known for being the “Home of the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo.”

Other things to do in Payson include swimming at the Rumsey Park public pool, golfing 18 holes at the Payson Golf Course, bowling at Rim Country Lanes, gambling at the Mazatzal Casino, or just shopping around in the many antique shops around town.

Pine and Strawberry

The towns of Pine and Strawberry are located north of Payson, just below the Mogollon Rim at 7,000 feet in elevation. Visitors to Pine and Strawberry enjoy the many art studios and antique shops. In Strawberry you can visit the old schoolhouse that was built in 1895. This historic site is a one-room, fully restored schoolhouse that has been outfitted with period desks, chalkboards, and old schoolbooks. Strawberry also hosts the annual Strawberry Festival featuring several artisan booths and food venders. The Pine/Strawberry Museum is located in Pine. This museum displays the archeology and cultural history of this region including displays and artifacts dated back to the 1800s when the Mormons first settled the many communities.

Kohl’s Ranch

Kohl’s Ranch is 18 miles northeast of Payson. Kohl’s Ranch Lodge has rented rooms and served meals since the days when folks traveled the old wagon trails to the Mogollon Rim. Travelers came from miles around to join in the old Saturday night dances. Today the Lodge caters to timeshare customers as well as conventional hotel guests and offers separate cabins. The Lodge features a wedding chapel, horseback riding, trails for mountain biking or hiking, tennis courts, pools, badminton courts, and karaoke nights.

Christopher Creek

Christopher Creek was named after a pioneer settler named Isadore Christopher. Here you will find private homes as well as cabin rentals. Homes, cabins, the Landmark Saloon, and the Creekside restaurant all line the banks of this spring-fed creek. Visitors enjoy live music, dancing, and great food. Christopher Creek is also the home of the Rancho Tonto Catch-A-Trout facility open seven days a week through September.

Rim Country Lakes

Visitors to Rim Country enjoy great fishing in several of Rim Country’s woodland lakes.

  • Knoll Lake, northeast of Payson, is one of the Mogollon Rim’s finest lakes and sits at about 7300 feet in elevation. Here you can launch your boat and fish for rainbow trout or just float around the water enjoying the beautiful views. The Knoll Lake Campground features 33 units that include fire rings, grills, picnic tables, and nearby restrooms. This seasonal campground is open from Memorial Day through mid-September.
  • Bear Canyon Lake is a 65-acre, secluded, and very scenic lake about 46 miles northeast of Payson. Here you won’t find a boat launch area or any facilities but you can fish for rainbow trout, brook trout, or arctic graylings.
  • Woods Canyon Lake is a 52-acre, man-made lake that was created in 1955. Here you will find a small country store, campgrounds, boat rentals, and boat ramp. Only electric motors are allowed on the lake. This lake is stocked weekly with Rainbow Trout from May through October.
  • Willow Springs Lake was the first man-made lake on the Mogollon Rim. Here you will find Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and Largemouth Bass. Boat motors must be 8 horsepower or less for this lake. Campgrounds are nearby.
  • Roosevelt Lake is the biggest of six Salt River Project lakes. The Roosevelt Lake Dam was built between 1905 and 1911 and was promoted by Teddy Roosevelt. Here you will find several campgrounds and boat ramps to choose from. Visitors to Roosevelt Lake enjoy fishing for large and smallmouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, and crappie.

To learn about more lakes in the Rim Country area, visit the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce.

National Parks and Museums

  • The Tonto Natural Bridge, 12 miles north of Payson, features the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. The natural bridge is 183 feet high and 400 feet long. Visitors can choose from one of four trails that lead to the natural bridge. Enjoy breathtaking waterfalls and lush landscapes. The Tonto Natural Bridge is home to several species of birds and wild animals such as javelina, whitetail deer, cottontail rabbit, and squirrel. On the premises is a historic lodge that offers rooms for overnight stay as well as a gift shop. On the grounds there is a large park area with picnic tables, barbecues, and shaded ramadas.
  • At the Tonto National Monument, near Roosevelt Lake, visitors hike a 1-mile or 3-mile (round-trip) trail to enter the Upper and Lower cliff dwellings that were occupied by the Salado Indians in the 13th, 14th, and early 15th centuries. Here the Salado Indians farmed the Salt River Valley and supplemented their diet with native plants and wildlife. In the Visitor Center Museum visitors will find pottery and woven textiles made by the Salado Indians. The 1-mile Lower ruin trail is self-guided and is open most of the year. The Upper ruin trail is open from November through April and is a guided tour which requires a reservation. Contact the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce for more information.
  • Visitors to Rim Country can take a self-guided tour of the Shoofly Indian ruins near Payson and learn about the native people that lived here between 1000 and 1250 AD. These ruins were excavated by ASU archaeologists.
  • The Rim Country Museum, in Payson, is located in a 1906 Forest Service ranger station and a replica of a historic hotel. It houses an extensive collection of artifacts and memorabilia from the history of Rim Country as well as a bookstore and gift shop. Being added to the museum in 2005 is a replica of the Zane Grey cabin which was originally located near Kohl’s Ranch but was destroyed in the Dude Fire in 1990. Zane Grey is a famous western novelist who used the Rim Country as the setting in many of his stories.


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