Tag - arizona

Scottsdale’s Winter “Sun”derland

Travel Brigade visits Scottsdale, Arizona, for a sunny getaway. On this radio podcast, we’ll chat about great resorts, relaxing spas, championship golf courses and restaurants that give Southwestern fare a fun new twist. Click below for an Arizona adventure.



Taliesin West Night


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Spectacular Tee Time Vistas: Golfing Western Arizona

Golf Course

Golf Course

You’re looking for some great golf courses in Arizona, and you don’t mind driving a bit to find a great course. Like a scavenger hunt, finding a good course can sometimes be tricky. Do you go for a public course, join a private club, or see if you can get a friend of yours to sneak you into something a bit more exclusive.

Ironwood Public Golf Course

Ironwood is a full service facility. It features a par 72 championship layout. You can play from 5400 to 7100 yards with four sets of tees. The course was designed by Roger Packard, a highly-regarded golf course designer. There’s a residential subdivision on this course, but it’s managed by the Town of Normal Parks and Recreation Department. There’s a grass tee driving range, and a rather large practice putting green. You can also book events here as there is an onsite banquet facility here too.

Emerald Canyon

Emerald Canyon is an 18 hole regulation course located at the Emerald Canyon Golf Course facility. Located in Parker, AZ, this course features 6,437 yards of golf and a par 72. The course was designed by William Phillips, opening in 1989.

If you want to really spend some time here, there’s the Bluewater golf resort in Arizona that’s right there near the course. Play golf, dine at the River Willow, play some blackjack, and go for a swim.

Desert Hills

Desert Hills golf course is a private golf course that’s not open to the general public. It’s an equity-based club located in Green Valley, 30 miles out of Tucson. The club is obviously maintained for the benefit of its members and their guests, so if you know someone that’s a member here, bribe them to get in.

The play is fantastic, and because membership is limited, there are never too many people on the links – making it an amazing club to play some golf and relax. If you want to play here on your own, you’ll have to join, and memberships aren’t handed out. But, the place always welcomes membership inquiries. Bring your checkbook.

El Rio Country Club

El Rio is an upscale, daily fee (no membership) course located in Mohave Valley, Arizona. It’s got the usual 18 holes of golf, and the course was designed by Matt Dye, who is one of the best new architects in the game.

The course is a par 72 and offers four sets of tees from 5300 to 7100 yards. This is a nice one since you don’t have to commit to anything long-term, the course itself prides itself on being both professional and open to the public, and it accommodates all skill levels. A rare gem.

Sierra Sands

The Sierra Sands course is in Yuma, AZ. It’s a par-3 18 hole course, and is a nice course if you’re looking for something casual. It’s a public course, and probably best avoided during the weekends. If you’re bored during the week though, this one can be a lot of fun.

Jeremy S has a golf club in his hand and a golf ball in his jacket pocket at all times. He greatly enjoys exploring a variety of venues and environments and trying out techniques for that perfect swing.


Sheraton Wild Horse Pass-Arizona’s Authentic Dream Catcher Resort

Wild Horse Pass Resort.

Wild Horse Pass Resort.

Dream Catcher extraordinaire – the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa, located in Chandler, is Arizona’s only Native American-owned GeoGreen-designated luxury resort.  It has 500 culturally-themed rooms, 36 Troon Gold championship holes of golf, an equestrian center with 1,000 acres to ride, a casino, a world-class spa, and Kai, a nationally-recognized restaurant. Here are both recreational and inspirational experiences never before available in a resort setting.

The Sheraton Wild Horse Pass is a showcase of Pima and Maricopa tribal heritage.  National Geographic Traveler Magazine named this property to its first ever “Stay List,” described as a celebration of the “150 Hotels You’ll Love” in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. In partnership with this magazine, the Tourism Industry Association of America recently awarded the Resort the TIA Odyssey Geotourism Award for Sustaining an Indigenous Culture and Community.

One of the Resort’s unique features is their Cultural Concierge.  Rosie Rivera has recently been appointed to this position and it is a must that one connects with her to take a complimentary tour highlighting the history and culture of the Pima and Maricopa tribes that have inhabited central Arizona for more than 2,300 years.  Her tour also interprets the significance of the many vibrant murals, pottery pieces, works of art and Native American stories found throughout the resort.

Belen Stoneman

Belen Stoneman

Aji Spa is a world unto itself.  From the moment you enter, mosaic tiles depict the symbolism of the four directions: east for illumination, south for sandstorms that bring rain, west for the setting sun and north for the water of life.  One of the signature treatments here is their Blue Coyote Wrap.  Shane Bird, Spa Director, explains that this wrap is a metaphor for the spa as a whole – offering unique treatments and an environment where guests can free themselves from stress and return to a natural state of peace. Belen Stoneman is the Native American Healer for Aji Spa.  In this role, she utilizes a sacred holistic approach to healing the mind, body and spirit through therapeutic massage.

Mind, body and spirit aligned – now let’s talk food.  One of the nation’s most highly lauded restaurants, Kai is the first ever Native American restaurant to garner both the AAA Five-Diamond Award and Mobil Travel Guide’s Five-Star Award. Kai’s Michelin-trained Executive Chef, Michael O’Dowd has worked diligently to learn traditional recipes and presents them in a new setting, thus paying homage to the past while weaving a new culinary future for Native American-inspired cuisine.

After dining –a peaceful stroll. The Resort has recently completed a two and a half mile Interpretive Trail that runs alongside the property’s storied Gila River. More than fifty signs detailing the culture, history and plant life of this river community can be found along the trail.  Many of the signs focus on the vegetation that’s of historical significance to the Pima and Maricopa people.  The signs feature a picture of each plant and denote what it was used for and its significance to the Gila River People.

Mural at Wild Horse Pass

Mural at Wild Horse Pass

The Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa experience is one that blends a rich tableau of images and designs reflecting the beauty and mystery of the desert and its people. Belen Stoneman, this woman of Native American spirituality, says “The No.1 rule for me is that Creator God and the spirits do everything.”  Here, indeed, everything is done with spirituality and authenticity. Dreams are caught in a web of stories that entertain, educate and inspire.  Lasting memories are made.

If You Go:


Phoenix & The Grand Canyon

 Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

The city of Phoenix is capital of the state of Arizona and the six largest city of US. This extremely hot city is also one of the most populous city in USA. Usually the city is this hot that people tend to book a resort and relax and drink Margaritas all day but don’t let the heat suck your enthusiasm to explore this beautiful city. Phoenix is also known as the “The Valley of the Sun”

The Grand Canyon:

Grand Canyon is something which is difficult to describe in words. It is the most prominent tourist attraction in Arizona and attracts more than five million tourists every year. The road leading to the Grand Canyon gives an idea what is about to unfold. With River Colorado flowing along the canyon and some huge and steep gorges the site is a panoramic. The rocks here are around 1.8 billion years old. The Grand Canyon is 446 km long and 29 kms wide. The gorges are around a mile steep.

The area around the Grand Canyon has been developed into Grand Canyon National Park and is also one of the seven wonders of the world. The Grand Canyon is a mildly rising plateau and completely isolated. No phone signals work here and it’s very difficult to keep track of location and the way out once a wrong turn is made. The entire area is inhabited though Snakes and other reptiles can be seen crawling in the entire perimeter. The views from the South Rim are breathtaking and the visibility is 8-9 kms. A number of people can be seen hiking or trekking and driving to the forests in North Rim.

If you haven’t seen the Grand Canyon, you shouldn’t miss the breathtaking opportunity while you’re in Arizona. So book your flights to Phoenix for a brainstorming adventurous vacation.


How Arizona Golf Nuts Can Avoid Going Nuts on a Golf Trip



If your golf trips usually start with good intentions but end up with a club hurled across the green, you might want to review ways to keep golfing fun in Arizona. Fun courses are those “that test but do not torment you…make you think, but do not make you think about quitting,” according to Golf Digest. A fun course is the main element, but other aspects factor in to a grand golfing experience in the Grand Canyon State.

Pick a course that matches your personality

Golf-course guides from web sites, such as Golflink.com, are good resources to help ensure you’ll end up with a fun golf course, like the Wigwan Golf Resort on the west side of Phoenix. Check out the number of holes, par, online ratings, slope rating and overall layout of the course to determine if you’ll actually enjoy it.

Get there in style

nEmbarking on a golf road trip in a vehicle that can’t handle your load is akin to using a putter for a tee shot. It’s not going to get you very far and it’s not going to be very pretty. Opt for a sturdy, roomy SUV. Arizona Chevrolet dealerships are stocked with tough trucks and SUVs that can easily haul your clubs, accessories, coolers, and even several of your golfing buddies. Even though taking your clubs might feel like traveling with a ball and chain, bringing them is usually worth the effort.

Check out stay and play options

Trekking across the state only to play a game and then making the long haul back home can be ridiculous. GolfLink.com recommends looking into stay and play options. Resorts offer discounted pricing if you stay overnight after playing a round. Even hotels without golf courses may offer discounts at nearby courses. If the resort comes with plenty of other activities, you can even bring the family. Your spouse can’t complain you’re once again heading off on your own trip for yet another round of golf.

Mind your tee time

The earlier the tee time the better, especially during Arizona’s summer. The stay and play option may come with exclusive golf course access, or the best tee times for resort guests, GolfLink.com says. Don’t even think about playing in the afternoon in places like Yuma, Tucson or the Phoenix area. Not only will the hellish heat flatten you, monsoon and dust storms will end your round quickly. Mixing wide open spaces and metal rods with lightning don’t generally yield good results.

Know the wildlife

It’s not unusual for javelina or even rattlesnakes to stalk Arizona golf courses, so find out the types of golf-course wildlife you may encounter. Ask the clubhouse folks if you’re not sure. The key to effectively golfing with wild critters is to expect them, respect them, and call the clubhouse if you need help.

Hopefully, the help you should need during your Arizona golf trip is where to celebrate after your awesome game. Here once again is where the stay and play option could be a major plus, especially with your spouse in tow. And you won’t have to drive home after a few celebratory drinks.

Arizona’s Grand Canyon – A Stupendous Gift of Nature

by Heike Winnig,

The Grand Canyon is one of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring and humbling natural places to visit in the world. It is nature’s absolute gift of opulence.

First sight of Grand Canyon

First sight of Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is millions of years of eroded layers of rock that tell their own tales of history. Residues left behind reflect the conditions (muddy, rocky, sandy, and volcanic, etc.) of specific periods in time. The Colorado River wound its way through the various layers seen on the canyon’s walls for millions of years.,

The Making of a Canyon

The river’s water carved a gorge of epic proportions, which was followed by wind and water eroding the rock and sweeping it away. Though hard to imagine, the river was actually once on top of the canyon. The layers of the Grand Canyon are a stunning facet revealing various time periods and conditions. In other words, the Colorado River has cut through the earth to reveal the passing of millennia before our very eyes.

History of the Canyon’s Native Peoples

Indigenous peoples have called the Grand Canyon home for thousands of years. Approximately 10,000 years ago, paleo-hunters were known to have hunted big game throughout the area. According to historical data, hunters lived in the area until about 1000 BC. Archaeological discoveries, such as pottery found in the canyon, have been carbon dated to 4,000 years ago.

Grand Canyon seen from far

Archeological evidence concludes that almost 2,000 ancestral villages, which include the Tusayan Pueblo built in 1185 AD, existed at the Grand Canyon. Research ascertained that by the late 1200’s the early Grand Canyon Native Peoples abandoned their homes possibly due to an extended drought.

By the 1300’s the Cerbat peoples, who are the ancestors of the present day Havasupai and Hualapai Tribes, moved into the canyon with the Southern Paiutes. The Navajo and Dine peoples, who are relatives of the Apache Tribe, settled in and around the canyon. The members left of what once was the Great Navajo Nation live on a reservation that is situated along the eastern section of the Grand Canyon.

How the Grand Canyon Got Its Name

One of the first rafting expeditions by way of the Colorado River was led by John Wesley Powell with a party of nine in 1869. They traveled 1,000 miles in wooden boats through the Grand Canyon. It was a dangerous venture causing the loss of three men. However, a second journey in 1871 garnered Powell critical information about this mostly unexplored part of the United States.

The Paiute peoples called the canyon “The Mountain Lying Down”. John Wesley Powell decided to call the area “Grand Canyon”, which term he published in the 1870’s, and which name was deemed appropriate to all concerned.

Today’s Destination – the Grand Canyon

There was a time during the 1870’s and 1880’s that mining was attempted in the canyon, and stakes were claimed. The mining discovered lead, zinc, asbestos, and copper, but mining proved to be too dangerous. Instead the miners turned to the enterprising business of tourism.

Grand canyon rim walk

Grand canyon rim walk

There are three major rims of the Grand Canyon attracting tourists and vacationers. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most popular and most accessible, enjoying over 5 million visitors each year. It is only 60 miles from Williams, Arizona, which is home to the Grand Canyon Railway. The South Rim is also only about 80 miles northwest of Flagstaff, Arizona, which is the nucleus of Northern Arizona. The red rock country of Sedona, another wonder of nature, is just about 20 miles south of Flagstaff on State Route 89A.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is very remote with few services. It may be more ideal for the adventurous and exploratory visitor. Although the North Rim of the Canyon can be seen from the South Rim and is only 10-15 miles away by way of an eagle’s flight, it is about a 5 hour drive to get to the other side. Located more remote, the view is more incredible compared to the South Rim, and is most accessible from southern Utah.

The Grand Canyon’s West Rim is not governed or controlled by the National Park Service. It is owned and operated by the Hualapai Indian Tribe, who is increasing its amenities and services to attract a greater number of tourists. The West Rim is the home of the “Skywalk” where tourists can walk out over the canyon on a glass-like surface, which experience is an absolutely breathtaking adventure. The West Rim is located closer to Las Vegas and enjoys a great number of tours from the Las Vegas area.

A Grand Canyon vacation offers tours, adventurous river rafting expeditions, hiking, mule rides, and camping. Each of the rims is unique and offers a variety of different adventures in vacation pleasures.

Ultimately, gazing at the timeless wonder that is the Grand Canyon is inspiring to the senses and humbling to the spirit. Watching the sun rise or set over the canyon is one of the most magnificent gifts of nature to witness. The glorious colors of the rocks come to life with a brilliance all their own and stir the imagination of an unforgettable vision, awaiting reminiscence.

Cited Sources: Arizona Leisure Vacation Guide, Grand Canyon Hotels and Tours, Arizona Travel Planner

Desert Tourism in Tucson, AZ for a Three Day Weekend

Tuscan AZ, cr-visittucson.org

Tucson AZ, cr-visittucson.org

Whether traveling alone or with pals, Tucson, Arizona has an amazing variety of places to go and things to do. Three days may not be enough. Unlike other cities geared toward constant movement, never-sleeping, and one exciting escapade after another, Tucson moves a little slower, but with grace, sincerity, an appreciative eye turned toward nature, and it leaves room for tourists own preferred and stylish escapades.

Budgeting for a Trip to Tucson Required a Different Perspective

While I personally prefer public transportation for visits to major cities like Chicago and New York, Tucson and nearby surrounding areas for additional visiting consideration like Tombstone, Benson, and Bisbee are more accessible by renting a car. It’s a new city and I want to get out there and see it, so I rarely spend much time actually in the hotel. A more expensive choice in Chicago or NYC seemed rather preposterous; however, for a Tucson trip, taking into consideration the radical differences in climate from my home state of Ohio seemed to quantify spending a bit more money on a memorable hotel, in this case the Arizona Inn, with personally adored and preferred amenities when it came time to escape the often intense heat and sunlight of the desert.

Considering the carefully chosen expressions of the above-mentioned NYC article here. “… In other words, getting a quick travel fix now, so as to not have to delay all gratification until retirement while obtaining knowledge and experience for future use and never sacrificing personally-defined quality for sheer trend or quantity” also applies to my Tucson visit. However, whereas I quickly discovered three days was enough of a fix, for the future, too perhaps, of NYC, three days was not enough time in Tucson. Down the road and even in retirement, I can hardly wait for the longer trip to Tucson without the constraints of corporate code and essential fiscal hyper-planning.

Self-Reflection, Humor, and Social Networking: Vital Vacation-planning Items

Knowing thyself, an important rule when traveling anywhere, made choosing what to do in Tucson a bit easier and having friends in the area also gave my traveling companion and me the intimate, local’s-eye-view of the area, including the recommendation to visit and eat at Hotel Congress, rather than stay, explore Kartchner Caverns in Benson, AZ, take the Queen Mine Cave Tour in Bisbee, and then go on to take some of the cheesiest, most outrageously touristy kitsch photos in Tombstone. Moreover, due to the exquisite planning-ahead skills of all involved, we still had time for a visit to the celebrated Gallery in the Sun. All the while, staying well- hydrated as we would for any vacation, whether or not we were in the desert, but specifically even more hydrated, since we were in the desert.

One unplanned encounter could have dimmed the Tucson experience; however, a sense of humor and an honest mistake admitted instead made for a good belly laugh and a great cautionary tale for friends back home. Many of the streets in Tucson appeared quite dark and unlit compared to the fluorescent-glare of streetlights back home and the desert not only gets cold at night, but it gets voraciously dark. A missed street, a wrong turn, and a miscommunication of gesture led to a visit to a US Army base patrol checkpoint, whereupon understanding neither myself nor my traveling companion were attempting to infiltrate, but instead we were simply turned-around tourists. The military personnel allowed for a quick U-turn and return to the regularly scheduled vacation, where there were, thankfully, many more lights.

Three Nuggets of Advice for a Successful Tucson Trip

It might be a good idea to review the weather report and check the local news for current events and local goings-on in order to assess what to pack, what to purchase after arrival, and what your body may be able to handle not being from the desert and all. Like any trip to anywhere, review the location and geography where you’ll be staying, check crime statistics if necessary, and find an area that fits your personality and interests. Walking in Tucson is certainly not unheard of and when it cools off a bit, there are plenty of destinations and activities to enjoy without driving. If a guided tour is not of
interest, I recommend renting a car as a tourist, especially if your trip is only a few days, since extra time should be spent on vacation and not attempting to navigate public transportation for the first time. Additionally, Tucson Lifestyle Magazine often offers a comprehensive calendar of events and the magazine’s staff writers and editors were responsive to all questions about the area.

Tucson itself has a Hispanic population of over 40%, according to the 2010 census, so assuming that everyone encountered will also know English or only English might come across as a bit ethnocentric. Take into account the city’s rich and diverse population and perhaps even consider studying a foreign language before traveling, even at the very least to not only exercise various parts of the brain for personal benefit, but also to show Tucsonans that you’re simply trying to appreciate and communicate with others on several levels.

Finally, as with all travel, while planning is great and necessary, keep an open mind and enjoy any unexpected adventures or diversions that may pop up. For example, when the Biosphere2 was unexpectedly closed for the day, my traveling companion and I toured and photographed Oracle, AZ in honor of radio show Radio8Ball, waiting patiently while a roving herd of boisterous bovine sauntered over to check out my rental car, and eventually dined on absolutely divine sushi once back in Tucson. Many sushi joints were close together and highly competitive, which for the consumers equaled outstanding rates and absolutely gigantic portions. Biosphere2 was quickly forgotten. Until now, of course, when it can be returned to list of “Activities for Future (and Longer) Trip to Tucson”.

Climbing Humphreys Peak, NW of Flagstaff Arizona

Highest Mountain in Arizona in the San Francisco Peaks

Humphreys Peak-cr-arizona-leisure.com

Humphreys Peak-credit-arizona-leisure.com

The hiker is given key information about the Kachina Trail in the Snow Bowl up to 12,633 foot Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona.

The five-mile long trail to Humphreys Peak begins in the Snow Bowl Ski Area seven miles northwest of Flagstaff, Arizona at the trail head of the Kachina Trail. There is no other way to get here but by private car where there is enough parking for at least forty cars or so.

The starting point of the Kachina Trail is 8,800 feet above sea level. Hikers should sign the trail register just above the parking area. The best times to climb Humphreys Peak are late spring through early fall. Be aware that freak blizzards can occur in early June. The worst times to climb this peak would be from late October through mid-May.

There are no man-made hazards on this five-mile trail but the hiker should be wary above tree line of loose volcanic rocks and the possibility of afternoon thunder storms. Once the hiker is on the way, she will shortly enter a large and flowerful meadow that , at the height of summer, will be coated with black-eyed susans and tall, purple lupines.

A Striking View of Humphreys Peak

From the upper end of the meadow, the hiker is afforded at striking view of Humphreys Peak rising 3,800 feet above. After a half mile from the starting point, the trail enters a sweet-smelling Ponderosa pine/aspen forest that harbors in mid-summer, dozens of mushroom clusters along the trail side. In this pine forest grow many white columbines (elsewhere, usually they are blue) and deep blue Penstemon flowers. Shortly after entering the woods, the trail begins to switch back and forth to gain altitude at a twenty to thirty degree angle. Pause to listen for the jack-hammering of sapsucker woodpeckers and the screeching of Chickaree squirrels.

Broad-sweeping Views of Volcanic Terrain

As the trail gains altitude after a mile to a mile and a half from the trail head, there are broad-sweeping views of volcanic terrain to the west and northwest. With the increase in elevation, the pine forest has changed to mostly spruce. Be careful up here because there are now many exposed spruce-tree roots crossing the trail.as well as lumpy rocks.

At three and a half miles in, the trail comes to a saddle where one is afforded views eastward of the entire volcanic basin San Francisco Mountains with jagged peaks rising above the ancient crater. Agassiz Peak to the south is one such peak, and it is important to note that this peak is closed to climbers as it is a ceremonial site for the Hopi Indians who plant prayer plumes on its summit for their desert corn crops to get sufficient rain from the kachina spirits.

Four False Summits Lie Ahead

The last mile or so of the trail rises abruptly toward four false summits. The hiker should not get his hopes up until he sees clearly the true summit of Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona. Going up and down over the loose scree of the false summits can be dangerous. It is important to maintain balance and never look at the views until you are completely stopped.

Once past the false summits, the trail zig-zags up to the lofty summit of Humphreys Peak. From up here the reddish-colored north rim of the Grand Canyon can be seen as well as perhaps a quarter of the State of Arizona if the weather is clear.The hike takes up to a full day with a vertical gain of over 3,800 feet. Bring sufficient water as there are no water sources on the Kachina Trail nor are there any restrooms.

You can pick up a trail map at the Coconino National Forest Headquarters in Flagstaff or download one from Coconono National Forest webpages or the USDA’s website.