The Beeline Highway, Arizona State Route 87 north of Mesa and Chandler, Arizona, got its name from weekenders desiring to make a beeline out of the valley's hot summer temperatures to the cool climes of the Rim Country trio—Payson, Pine, and Strawberry.
One of Rim Country's most famous visitors was author Zane Grey, whose mega-selling westerns immortalized cowboy life in the West. Fifteen of his books, including Under the Tonto Rim, portray the area and his relationships with local folk. Experience an ample slice of the outdoorsman's life when you tour a replica of his cabin near Green Valley Lakes in Payson (Zane's original cabin burned down in the 1990 Dude Fire). You'll get a feel for what you can expect in the trio of towns at the Rim Country Museum next door. The outdoor paradise that Zane Grey wrote about can be experienced today through each of the gateway towns.
Pleasant Pace in Payson
Use Payson, with its rich Old West flavor, as a base for exploring the adjacent Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves national forests and their cool water play areas that include lakes, streams, and the Salt and Verde rivers. The town was built by pioneers and ranchers among steep, rugged hills that make for some of the best summer urban road-biking opportunities in the state.
For those who don't want to say goodbye to all the comforts of city life, Payson has many hotels adjacent to greenways and shady picnic spots, making it a fine outpost.
A pleasant day trip from Payson is a sightseeing drive into the high country and to Woods Canyon Lake only 36 miles away. Here, enjoy fishing, kayaking, or mountain biking at 7,500 feet.
Continue on AZ-260 until you reach the notorious Forest Service Road 300, also known as Rim Road. This spectacular road runs parallel to the edge of the Mogollon Rim, a 2,000-foot escarpment that gives Rim Country its name. The road wows with 51 miles of breathtaking vistas and was used by pioneers, ranchers, and Indian fighters. Today, Rim Road provides many prospects for exploration, including the site of the 1882 Battle of Big Dry Wash.