When Hubby and I were courting some 25-odd years ago, we spent many weekends exploring the beauty and diversity of this great state of Arizona. It is not all cacti and desert. With the exception of an ocean view, there is much to offer, from the dude ranches down south in Douglas, to the majesty of the Grand Canyon in the north near Flagstaff. Recently, we found ourselves at the Sunrise Ski Resort for a wonderful day of skiing, and Hubby and I realized it had been 22 years since we had last visited. Where has the time gone? There is so much to experience in this state with the kids, and all within a 4-5 hour drive. Therefore, we have determined that this is the year we are going to see more local attractions. We were off to a good start, having driven up the Beeline Highway from the capital city of Phoenix (where we live) through Show Low and Pinetop. Using the town of Snowflake as our base, we were within an hour drive of Sunrise (SE) and Holbrook (due north), where we took in the sights of the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert.
Snowflake was founded in 1878 by two Mormon pioneers by the name of Erastus Snow and William Flake. It is a quiet town of roughly 5,500 inhabitants in Navajo County, with a charming main street lined with historic homes. We stayed at the lovely Heritage Inn Bed and Breakfast, a restored 1890 Victorian home, where owners Craig and Joanne took great care of us. They have maps and information for all nearby excursions, and we even borrowed a CD tour of the Petrified Forest that is really a must-have (also can be purchased at the entrance to the park).
It is important to note that most dining establishments in Snowflake are closed Sundays and Mondays, so plan your trip accordingly. The kids and I had been to Snowflake a couple times before, and one of our go-tos is Enzo’s Ristorante Italiano. Enzo’s may be unlike any dining experience you have had, as it is not only run by Enzo, who is from Sicily, but he is also the chef, host, waiter, busboy, and washer. In short, a one-man show. He likens the experience to dining at someone’s home, and asks for patrons to have patience, as he can only wait on one table at a time. Our favorites are his fried mozzarella sticks, the KOA sandwich (which we ordered to split as an appetizer), and the chicken and pesto. Also good to know, it is BYOB.
Sunrise Park Resort is located in northeastern Arizona in the White Mountains on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. With 65 runs and 7 lifts at an elevation ranging from 9,200 to 11,000, Sunrise encompasses a total skiable area of 800 acres. We hit it shortly after a snow storm, so with a respectable 40″ base it, was perfect “bluebird” ski day.
For the last day of our Northern Arizona road trip, we drove north of Snowflake to the town of Holbrook, located on historic Route 66, then right on Highway 180 to the south entrance of the Petrified Forest National Park. The main park road stretches 28 miles, with stops and spurs along the way. I would suggest planning several hours, if not a whole day to explore it all. Bring your own food and snacks, and purchase some sort of guide or audio tape to enhance the experience. We stopped at a few overlooks, but the highlight for us was the mile walk through the Blue Mesa Trail. The park road then winds around a section of Interstate 40, where the north entrance to the park is located, offering stunning views of the Painted Desert. The kids were getting a little hungry and grouchy at this point so we called it a day and headed back to Phoenix. We did not stop at the Painted Desert Inn, a 1920’s building that was made of petrified wood with murals by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie located near the south entrance, but will have to do it another time! Hope you have some fun travels planned for 2017!! xoM
Heritage Inn Bed & Breakfast
161 Main Street, Snowflake, AZ 85937 (866) 486-5947
Enzo’s Italian Ristorante
Sunrise Park Resort
Petrified Forest National Park