Welcome to the "Sweet Spot" of Arizona's Rim Country.
Do you love to get in touch with nature? Wrap your arms around one of the huge Ponderosa Pines that have been growing for hundreds of years in the Tonto National Forest Preserve that surrounds the quaint mountain town of Strawberry. About 10 miles south of town examine another natural wonder, Tonto Natural Bridge – one of the world’s only natural travertine bridges. The beauty doesn’t stop there. This lovely town at the base of Arizona’s famous Mogollon Rim also has seven lakes nearby. The fishing can’t be beat! Gold in the hills – discovered around 1875 – began the influx of settlers to the area. It was these early residents that gave Strawberry its colorful name, inspired by the wild strawberries that grew across the land. They also established the Strawberry Schoolhouse in 1885. It still stands today as the oldest schoolhouse in Arizona and is open for tours May through mid-October. Time your visit right to take part in the annual Pine-Strawberry Summer Fest, usually in early June. Small-town charm, beautiful scenery, cool mountain air, live music, crafts, brewed beer and awesome food make this community a great place to adventure.
Here is some of the best activities to experience Strawberry, Arizona year round:
Visit the Strawberry Schoolhouse
The year was 1884. The families living in the Strawberry Valley, Yavapai County, in Arizona Territory petitioned the County School Superintendent to establish a school. The petition was granted and District #33 in the Strawberry Valley was established.
A local dispute over the site for the school building was solved by cowboys using a calf rope and counting the number of lengths between the Hicks-Duncan cabin on the west end of the valley and the Peach cabin on the east end. They retraced their steps to the mid-point. There the one-room log school was built and still stands.
The school is located on Fossil Creek Road in Strawberry, Arizona and is open to the public from May through mid-October on weekends and holidays. Group tours can be arranged at other times by writing to the Pine-Strawberry Archaeological and Historical Society, Inc., at P. O. Box 564, Pine, AZ 85544.
Learn more and find directions to the Strawberry School house by clicking here.
Visit the Tonto Natural Bridge
Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is located in central Arizona near Payson. It is believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. The bridge stands 183 feet high over a 400-foot long tunnel that measures 150 feet at its widest point. There are three hiking trails, a picnic area, and a group use area. Goodfellow Lodge at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is a one-of-a-kind rustic hideaway in the middle of some of the most picturesque scenery in Arizona’s Rim Country.
Tonto Natural Bridge was discovered in 1877 by a Scottish prospector named David Gowan, who was being chased by Apaches and needed a place to hide. After hiding in the tunnel for three days and two nights, he laid claim to the bridge and canyon via squatter’s rights and moved the rest of his family over from Scotland in 1898.
Learn more and get directions by clicking here.
Explore Fossil Creek
Fossil Creek is a Wild and Scenic River that can be accessed via Fossil Creek Road near Gila County's community of Strawberry, Arizona. This river has long been one of Arizona's favorite recreational swimming holes. But with that comes many challenges. You will need a permit and parking pass to access the area.
Fossil Creek is one of only two Wild and Scenic rivers in Arizona. At temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit, water gushes out at 20,000 gallons per minute from springs at the bottom of a 1,600 foot deep canyon. Over the years, these calcium-rich waters have laid down huge deposits of a material called travertine. That rock-like substance encases whatever happens to fall into the streambed - forming the fossil-like formations for which the area is named.
Fossil Creek is a rare riparian area within an arid landscape. Many plants and wildlife depend on Fossil Creek for habitat, including otters, beavers, leopard frogs and black hawks. Native fish populations have been successfully restored to some segments of Fossil Creek.
Learn more and get directions by clicking here.
Enjoy Great Dining
The towns of Strawberry and Pine, Arizona host some of the best restaurants and places to stay in all of Rim Country.
Enjoy great pizza at the Old County Inn. Experience traditional brews at That Brewery or head over to the locals favorite at Mamjoes Italian Grill!
Whatever it is we can promise these places to dine won't disappoint.
To find your dining option as you adventure Gila County visit www.discovergilacounty.com/dining
While your adventure don't forget to tag us on social media by using the hashtag #DiscoverGilaCounty