Arizona is well known for its mountains and canyons — namely the Grand Canyon. But you may not know there are many other parts of this nature-oriented state that offer experiences and views that are just as memorable. The small town of Greer is a hotspot for anyone who loves nature and outdoor activities; its mountains and trails, rivers and lakes, forests and wildlife among a small town vibe are a truly unique experience year-round. With so many ways to enjoy the outdoors, there’s no reason not to give this quaint little town a chance.
1. Visit the Butterfly Lodge Museum
Built in 1913, this historical log pioneer lodge was once home to writer James Willard Schulz and his son, Hart Merriam Schulz (also known as Lone Wolf), who was an artist. Called the Butterfly Lodge because of the butterflies that inhabit a nearby meadow, the museum’s mission focuses on education and appreciation for history, the environment, and the arts and humanities. The lodge prides itself on being a place out of time, with the original furniture and artifacts still intact, and is on the National Register of Historic Places; the gift shop even includes works by both James Willard Schulz and Lone Wolf. You can reserve a tour by phone.
Butterfly Lodge Museum
Address: 4 Co Rd 1126, Greer, AZ 85927
Price: 2 USD Adult, 1 USD Youth (12 – 17); children free
Opening Hours: Memorial Day Through Labor Day, Thursday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm
Contact: 520-886-2350 or 480-941-4753 (Sept.- April); 928-735-7514 (May – Aug.); email at [email protected]
Website: Butterfly Lodge Museum
2. Try something new in any season at the Sunrise Ski Resort
Downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, tubing, snowboarding, sledding, you name it — Sunrise Ski Resort has it all; they even have sleigh rides, ice fishing, and special dates for things like night skiing and pond skimming. If you needs lessons, they have a ski school. They have different rates for the lift, and for holidays, day rates, multi-day rates, and more, as well as a variety of packages for rentals. There’s also a long list of activities available in the summer, including (but not limited to) zip-lining, downhill mountain biking, scenic lift rides, a tubing slide, airbag jump, archery course, and more! Please be aware that hours for different activities may vary. I recommend visiting their website for more information.
Sunrise Ski Resort
Address: Hwy 273, Greer, AZ 85927
Price: Regular Adult half-day times starting at 54 USD, not including lift tickets
Opening Hours: Open every day. Lifts run 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Contact: Phone at 855-735-7669 or email at [email protected]
Website: Sunrise Ski Resort
3. Hike through the various trails and take in the nature
Greer is surrounded by the Apache National Forest, and has many trails to hike and enjoy all the surrounding nature, not to mention a handful of ways to experience it. If you don’t want to hike, you can take a bike ride or horseback ride as well. There are 16 different trails, and some of the most popular trails include the Pole Knoll, Squirrel Springs, West Fork, and East Fork trails. Even if you’re an experienced hiker and/or wilderness lover, I recommend taking a look at Greer’s hiking guide, which includes information such as trail maps, wildlife info, and campground locations. If you’d like to go horseback riding you can visit X Diamond Ranch.
X Diamond Ranch
Address: P.O. Box 113, Greer, Arizona 85927
Price: from 30 USD
Opening Hours: 9 am to 6 pm. Closed on public holidays.
Contact: 928-333-2286; email at [email protected]
Website: X Diamond Ranch
4. Camp at one of a handful of campgrounds
There’s all kinds of camping available in the Greer area. For those who want a rustic experience but don’t want to venture too far from town, don’t worry. Benny Creek campground has toilet facilities, as well as water and garbage cans available; they allow tents, trailers, and small motorhomes (up to 24 ft/7.3 m), but there is no utility hook-up. Available at Rolfe C. Hoyer campground is water, toilets, and a shower facility; they also allow tents, trailers, and motorhomes up to 32 ft (9.75 m), but also have no utility hook up. If you’re looking to be a little more isolated, Greer’s remote campgrounds, South Fork and Winn both have drinking water and toilet facilities; Winn also has garbage collection. Both allow tents, trailers, and motorhomes (up to 32 ft/9.75 m at South Fork, and up to 45 ft/13.7 m at Winn). Visit Greer’s website to learn which site might be best for you, and the U.S. Forest Service website to check for a fee schedule.
Rolfe C. Hoyer Campground
Address: County Road 1120, Greer, Arizona, United States, 85927
Price: from 10 USD
Opening Hours: May-September
Access: 2 miles North of Greer, across from the Greer Lakes
Contact: (928) 333-6200
5. Visit the White Mountain Nature Center
Among the goals of the White Mountain Nature Center is to, “Offer education and recreational activities to foster appreciation of nature.” As a nonprofit, they help facilitate wildlife rehabilitation, offer information about wetlands management and Big Springs trails; their website has many educational panels about forest health, from fires to forest protection to wildlife. It sits on 10 acres (~4 hectares), so if you’re a nature buff, this is the place for you.
White Mountain Nature Center
Address: PO Box 581, Pinetop, Arizona 85935-0581
Opening Hours: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 10 am to 2 pm. Subject to change.
Note from site: Our site is open to the public year-round for you to use our trails and view our interpretive signs. Please use care during bad weather or when the trails may be hazardous.
Website: White Mountain Nature Center
6. Visit the Hon-Dah Resort-Casino
Obviously, the Hon-Dah Resort-Casino has a casino, where poker, blackjack, and slot machines are the most popular — they even have slot machine tournaments. They host live musical entertainment and other events, and their convention center with six conference rooms can be used for business conferences, seminars, concerts, weddings, expos, or dances. Hotel and dining are also included in the resort, and there’s even an RV park (called the Hon-Dah RV Park).
Address: 777 Hwy 260, Pinetop, Arizona 85935
Opening Hours: Open 24/7, 365 days a year
Website: Hon-Dah Resort-Casino
7. Enjoy some excellent fishing
The Little Colorado River and the three Greer Lakes — Bunch Reservoir, Tunnel Reservoir, and River Reservoir — are well-known for the different types of trout in their waters, including Brown, Rainbow, and Apache trout. Live bait fish are prohibited on all sites; be sure to visit Greer’s website for information about boating restrictions, area amenities, day-use, campgrounds, and other information. There are other fishing sites as well such as Becker Lake, Rainbow Lake, and more; Greer boasts that these sites are some of the best fishing in Arizona. Before you fish, make sure you are up to date on regulations and your fishing license.
Price: Open to public
Opening Hours: Daylight
Access: According to the Arizona Vacation Guide, “to reach public access, in Pinetop Lakeside turn south on Rainbow Lake Road or Lakeview from Highway 260.”
An active outdoor vacation in Greer
Some of Greer’s many available outdoor activities include hiking, fishing, camping, horseback riding, biking, and even zip-lining — and yes, you can do winter sports in Arizona; for those more laid back, something as simple as birdwatching or taking a nature walk is a pleasant experience. And, for a piece of history and culture, a visit to the Butterfly Lodge Museum may be in order. So next time you’re looking for a nature-themed getaway, try on your small town shoes — there’s no shortage of things to do in Greer.
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