Pretty far off the beaten path, Payson, Arizona is one of the most relaxing mountain towns you could ever hope to visit. At over 5,000 feet in elevation, this charming community just 90 minutes north of the Phoenix metro area keeps cool, unlike most of the other parts of Arizona. Payson is unique as it is located entirely within the boundaries of the Tonto National Forest, making it an unbelievable spot to rent an RV and enjoy the majestic outdoors.
Considering its tiny size and relatively small population, it truly is astonishing how much culture and history Payson packs into its city limits. During Prohibition, Payson was home to the notorious Bootleg Alley, that was known for its illicit alcohol sales. Notable writer, Zane Grey, visited town in 1918 and loved it so much that he would keep coming back, oftentimes writing books about the area. The area surrounding Payson has even come to be known as Zane Grey Country due to his love of the region.
It doesn’t matter what time of year you book an RV in Payson, Arizona, as there is no season where it is not enjoyable to be outside. This year-round tourist destination is often referred to as “Arizona’s Cool Mountain Town” and “the Heart of Arizona”, due to its laid-back vibes and exciting location. Each year in September, Payson proudly hosts the Arizona State Fiddler Championship featuring musicians from all over the country. There are also two rodeos in town, one of which was founded in 1884 and is the oldest continually operated rodeo in the world.
Experience the Sites and Scenery
Almost all of the land (97%) surrounding Payson, Arizona is owned and maintained by the United States Forest Service. Better yet, Payson has a few parks worth visiting in town. Green Valley Park is a 45-acre paradise with three lakes, an amphitheater for live music and events, and a fun playground for the kids. Eighty-acre Rumsey’s Park has a picnic pavilion, a playground, sand volleyball courts, a basketball court, a skating park, a swimming pool and a public library for you to enjoy while on vacation with the Payson RV rental.
Outside of town, you can take your Payson camper rental in nearly any direction to find a slice of heaven in the backwoods of Tonto National Forest, and its sprawling 2.7 million acres. Tonto has the distinction of being the most visited urban forest in the country, due to parts of it lying within the Phoenix metro area. The Horseshoe and Bartlett Reservoirs are both popular with anglers who come from far and wide to catch sunfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, catfish, and crawfish. In addition to the six cold water reservoirs and lakes, Tonto also has eight wilderness areas teeming with unbelievable wildlife and sweet landscapes punctuated with brilliant mountaintop silence.
If you seek to leave the confines of Tonto National Forest when exploring the area with your Payson motorhome rental, five other extraordinary national forests in Arizona are just waiting to be seen. Coconino National Forest, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, and Prescott National Forest are all very close to Tonto National Forest and by extension, Payson, so taking your Payson rental motorhome to any of these natural treasures is a breeze.
Coronado National Forest, down past Tucson on the border with Mexico, is also a fun place to travel, provided you enjoy longer drives. Five incredible mountain ranges make up the 1.78 million acres of shrubland, forest, and desert located within Coronado’s borders.
Petrified Forest National Park is a small national park to the northeast of Payson where you can venture with the Payson travel trailer rental. Petrified Forest is named for its fossilized fallen trees that have been frozen in time, providing scientist and geologist the perfect laboratory to study the natural history of our planet. The Tepees, a collection of amazing geological features that look like painted teepees, is one of the notable attractions in the small national park.
Grand Canyon National Park, up near Flagstaff, is without a doubt one of the most famous places to visit in the entire country. People from all over the world have heard of the jaw-dropping panoramic views overlooking the deep gorge that took 70 million years to create, and so too should you when you rent an RV in Payson.
Payson is just as vibrant and charming as Tonto National Forest is beautiful, and when you see for yourself, you’ll fall in love with the small-town boulevards full of quaint diners, lively bars, craft breweries, and artsy boutiques. Historic Bootleg Alley is full of art galleries and antique shops featuring works of art that make the Southwest so special. The Rim Country Museum is full of historic archives and artifacts that teach about the rich historical heritage of Payson, dating back to the great Native Americans that inhabited the land for thousands of years.
The Zane Grey Cabin is also a fun little landmark made from locally sourced ponderosa pine trees. This faithful replica was recreated and restored after the original was partially burned in a forest fire. Mazatzal Hotel and Casino in Payson is one of the state’s premier casinos, with lots of world-class dining, spacious casino gaming floors, and live music entertainment. Payson is such a fun town that it is impossible to not find something that strikes your fancy.
Where to Park It
You will be overwhelmed by the myriad of camping grounds all around Payson. Due to its positioning inside a national forest, the area is loaded with spots to stay with the camper rental near Payson, so you should not be concerned. Lamplighter RV Resort is a peaceful park for travelers of age 55 and up. It is pet friendly and able to accommodate big rigs.
Payson Campground RV Resort contains a playground, shaded grassy areas, and a large pool and deck for sun tanning. Sky Run Resort is another place to camp overnight with beautifully manicured landscapes brimming with fruit trees. Tonto National Forest also has lots of RV-friendly campgrounds in the area, like the Houston Mesa, Upper Tonto Creek, and Flowing Springs campgrounds.