Payson is in Eastern Arizona. It is in Gila County. The town is located below the Mogollon Rim making it a cool and comfortable retreat. Surrounding Payson is the Tonto National Forest, which holds the largest stand of Ponderosa pine in the world. The town is located on State Highway 87, at the junction of State Highway 260.
Payson is the geographical center of Arizona and is a great place to start your adventures along the Mogollon Rim. It is one of the oldest communities in the state and has grown to become a very popular mountain cabin retreat area. Today Payson’s population is 24,500. The town sits at an elevation of 5,000 feet. The climate is cool and mild all year round with the winter low temperature of 23 degrees and summer high temperature of 92 degrees. The town does receive 10 inches of snow a year and 15 inches of rain. Payson is known for its numerous festivals and events held year round from rodeos to a fiddlers contest to a logging competition. It is a mountain community where visitors will find every kind of outdoor activity including hunting, fishing, camping and hiking.
There are many attractions you won’t want to miss during a visit to Payson. The Museum of the Forest must be your first stop when arriving in town. The museum has lots of information on Payson’s history, with its focus being on what life was like as a forest ranger in the early years. The museum has artifacts, displays and historic buildings, all of which make the museum an interesting stop. The Strawberry Schoolhouse is just north of Payson, in the town of Strawberry. This schoolhouse is the oldest one in Arizona, built in 1885. It has been restored and is full of unique pieces revealing what education was like long ago. The Shoofly Indian Archaeological Site is just minutes from town. This site once held more than 80 rooms built of wood, stone and adobe. The interpretive trail gives visitors an opportunity to learn more about the village. The Payson Exotic Zoo is a small zoo filled with special animals. Many of the animals living here have been in movies. They are trained wild animals and are accustomed to human contact. It is one zoo you will want to visit. Mazatzal Casino is located just south of Payson. This is where gaming fun can be found. The casino has over 300 slot machines, bingo, keno and a card room. Mazatzal Casino is known for a “Hot Time in the Cool Pines”.
Since Payson is set in the middle of the forest where there are numerous outdoor activities available to visitors. The Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is a spectacular sight. The park has picnic areas, a historic lodge and hiking trails down to the 400-foot natural travertine tunnel. It is a natural wonder that must be one of your top places to see. Fishing is a very popular outdoor activity. If you would like to learn more about these fine fin friends, then you will need to head out to the Tonto Fish Hatchery. Here you will see brown, brook and rainbow trout growing to maturity. The interpretive walk is full of fish facts. The Fossil Springs Wilderness Area is just a short drive north of town, near Strawberry. The 12,000-acre wilderness area has pools of water along the creek, which are ideal for taking a cool dip. There are also hiking trails throughout the wilderness area. If camping is your thing, then a visit to Woods Canyon Lake is the place for you. The lake offers two campgrounds, a store and hiking trails. It is the perfect mountain getaway.
Spring Pro Rodeo May
June Bug Blues Festival June
Loggers and Sawdust Festival July
World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo August
State Championship Fiddlers Contest September