MacDonald's Ranch

For those not familiar with the equestrian world, there are two styles of riding, Western and English. Though there are several differences between the two styles, the differences in riding boil down to how the rider guides the animal. English riders use reins connected to the horse's mouth and Western riders use their saddles, weight, and reins connected to the horse's necks. As you may have guessed, out here in the Wild West, Western style reigns supreme, for the most part, and the best place to experience it is at MacDonald's Ranch. This family-owned and -operated ranch is a peek back into what life was like in Arizona back when the Richardson family opened the ranch in the 1950s. But it's the stables that caught our attention. MacDonald's breeds its own horses so it can ensure that the animals are docile and well trained. From trail rides and cookouts to touring around in a stagecoach, MacDonald's will give you a true Western experience.

We'll miss Oak Flat Campground and its nearby thousands of bouldering routes when they're gone. Great places to boulder — a term for rock climbing that focuses on short routes where a fall isn't deadly — are not that common in or near the Valley. Oak Flat is a uniquely scenic part of the Sonoran Desert, populated by ancient lava formations frozen and twisted into spectral forms that just happen to contain great hand- and footholds for climbers. Located about 30 miles east of Phoenix, just east of Superior off U.S. 60, Oak Flat is a peaceful land of creek beds, bushy mesquite, and a lifetime's worth of exhilarating bouldering routes concentrated in one convenient place.

And the area will be gone, it appears, unless a political miracle occurs. In December, Arizona's U.S. senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, shepherded a dead mining bill onto a must-pass defense-spending bill, achieving what Congress could not: the giveaway of Oak Flat and hundreds of surrounding acres near Devil's Canyon — land that some Native Americans claim has been held sacred for centuries — to a foreign mining company. Resolution Copper plans to dig into the rich ore under the land, destroying the surface in the process. Climbers will miss the former home of the world's largest outdoor bouldering contest, so get out there as much as possible in the next few years.

Four miles east of Superior off U.S. 60
602-225-5200
www.fs.usda.gov/tonto

Readers Choice: Camelback Mountain

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