Jul 16, 2012, 6 a.m.
What began as an Old West mining town in the late 1800s, 90 miles southeast of Tucson, is now a thriving artists’ community with quirky shops, fine bakeries, great restaurants and one of the funkiest, vintage venues in all of Arizona — The Shady Dell.
While Bisbee is steeped in history, The Shady Dell doubles back on that history. It’s a living, mid-century modern museum featuring lovingly restored vintage aluminum travel trailers. Top to bottom the 1950s trailers are awash in replica upholstery and window coverings, blonde wood cabinetry and beautifully crafted wood ceilings.
Dot’s, an authentic 1950s diner on property, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, but all the trailers are equipped with working kitchens, complete with era-appropriate glasses, dishes and serving pieces. The travel structures make a loose circle around the property (a haven for campers and travelers since 1927), providing a central gathering place with a gazebo and grills.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of yachting, here’s your chance: A pristine 1947 Chris Craft Yacht is docked at The Shady Dell. The pleasure boat sleeps two and sports a fully equipped galley.
After Oak Creek Canyon, Sycamore Canyon is the second largest in Arizona’s red rock country, spanning parts of Coconino and Yavapai counties. At 20 miles long and a maximum width of 7 miles, hiking this beauty will take your breath away. It’s far less traveled than Oak Creek Canyon, and the journey, although harrowing at times, depending upon water flow and errant cows, is well worth the time and exhaustion. Deer, mountain lions and black bear inhabit the protected 56,000-acre Sycamore Canyon Wilderness.
Forget about cabins and developed campgrounds; in fact no overnight camping is permitted. What you use in the canyon must be carried in, and out. Depending upon the access trail chosen, trekkers may find springs, swim holes, tricky rock ledges to navigate, small caves in the canyon walls and fallen trees, all to bask in the shade of cottonwoods and mesquite or on warmed outcrops of basalt, sandstone and limestone.
The Parsons Springs trail (about eight miles round-trip) is the most popular access point, about 25 miles north of Cottonwood.
South of the Mogollon Rim at the base of a steep canyon lies Fossil Springs Wilderness Area, sustaining a diverse and lush ecosystem with more than 30 species of trees. This locale may offer the most picturesque and abundant natural springs in the state.
Thirty miles southeast of Camp Verde, the hike to Fossil Springs is a vigorous eight miles round trip. From the trail one can take in wildlife, study fossils, explore the waters of travertine pools and swim in the millions of gallons of cool water that gush from the springs every hour.
Still visible along the trail is the wood flume, built in 1916 and used to supply water from the springs to the Irving and Childs Power Plants to turn their power-generating turbines. President Barack Obama signed legislation in 2009 designating Fossil Creek as a Wild and Scenic River after an arduous campaign by the Arizona Nature Conservancy.
It isn’t that challenging to stay cool during Valley summers — just stay inside or in the water. But if you are dulled by resort interiors, bored with lazy rivers, had it with mall crowds or your golf game has gone south, our 10 Cool Getaways are mind-bendingly beautiful and offer a taste of fresh air. Go, be cool.