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Trip Report White Mountains (Greer)Trip Report with Pictures

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There is very little info written on these forums about the White Mountains of Arizona so I thought I would give a report for those of you who may happen to make it to this little known slice of Heaven.

We stayed in Greer (I was actually quoted in the AZ guide on this town-"...Greer, a very small mountain community that is sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of Arizona, where the Little Colorado River runs right through the village. It's absolutely breathtaking.") which has grown with the number of homes over the last five years, but still maintains that small town charm. Greer is an unbelievably scenic, easy, four-hour drive from Phoenix (and about the same distance from Albuquerque).

Basics:
Gas stations-None in Greer, closest station is in Hon-Dah if coming from PHX (40 mins) or Eager if coming from ABQ (20 mins)

Grocery Stores-None in Greer, although there is the Tin Star Trading Post which has the minimal basics, otherwise there is the Safeway in Pinetop/Lakeside and the Safeway in Springerville (which they have recently upgraded and is very good). The Basha's in Eager is not so good.

Fishing Licences-None in Greer anymore. The Western Drug in Springerville is the best and closest place to go.

Websites:
www.greerarizona.com
www.greeraz.com




Restaurants:

Rendezvous:
(which has been written up numerous times in AZ Highways as one of the best restaurants in all of AZ) did not disappoint. We had breakfast and two lunches there (they do not serve dinner). The food was fresh and excellent (especially the green chili cheeseburger), the service was very attentive, the outside dining was comfortable and scenic and the prices very reasonable. We love this place.

Greer Lodge:
The food was horrific, one of our diners said the absolutely worst Ceaser Salad they had ever had with chicken that was unedible. The service was equally atrocious. The flies in the dining room were literally swarming and when the waitress was asked if there was anything that could be done about them, she began swatting them with a fly swatter over our heads. The only thing it has going for it is the beautiful view.

Hidden Meadow:
I called ahead of time to see if we could come and have lunch here, even though we were not guests. After a brief stint on hold, they said absolutley they would welcome us. They asked each of our names and wanted to know if we were celebrating anything special. The drive to Hidden Meadow is just beautiful. It is located twelve or so miles off the main highway on a well maintained dirt road. Upon arrival, we were welcomed at the "greeting house" and told where to park and shown where the dining room was. I had been here about ten years or so ago when they were just opened but I had forgotten how lovely it was. The dining room was gorgeous with high ceilings and an enormous center fireplace with sofas to plop down on. We were the only people having lunch (midweek and AZ schools had already returned) . Our server (I wish I could remember her name it was short for something) was fantastic. She was perfectly attentive and got the order down without problems. The food was excellent ( I am a foodie). We were actually blown away by the quality of the food. I had the best pulled pork sandwich I have ever had, with homemade chips that were to die for. The other diners had a steak salad, three meat burger (one of the best burgers he had ever had), chicken salad and a the biggest hot dog I have ever seen for my daughter. All came with hand-cut fries that were also excellent. Everyone couldn't have been nicer, even opening up the mercantile for us so our daughter could buy some of the giant-sized "twig" coloring pencils they had on the tables. I can't say enough fabulous things about our short experience here. www.hiddenmeadow.com

Molly Butlers:
The iconic Greer restaurant, supposedly the longest continuously run lodge in AZ, has had a lot of changes over the last few years. The new outside dining area with the giant fireplace is quite nice however, it has a bit of a cheesy feel with all the signage and neon lights they have wrapped around the outside of the lodge and its adjacent properties-very tacky in my opinion. The food was good-solid-but nothing more. Their famous "Mormon Gravy" was unedible and seemed more like it came from a jar or packet (unlike the Mormon Gravy at Rendezvous that was a perfect color, consistency and taste). The salad was sitting in a plate of water, glad to see they washed it but they just have dried it a bit better. All in all it was fine but we only ate there once, choosing not to return. On the weekends they have bands that play so loud we could here it way back in our cabin in the woods.

Neon Moon:
We loved the atmosphere at this place. The indoor space is one large room with some tall round tops in the "bar" area and then regular dining tables in the other half. There is a bar you can sit at, as well as outdoor dining that has a magnificent view overlooking a pond and out across the meadow to the East Fork mountains. There is a huge fireplace on one wall with two flat-screened TVs for sports watching on either side. The food was a mix of bar food and a full menu. Everything we had was great. The prime rib (only available on weekends) was cooked to a perfect temperature, the ribs (a special one night) were delicious, the Posole soup had a great kick, even the pizzas were good. We ate here three nights and every meal was great. The owner is very hands-on and the service was just right.

Jane's Greer Mountain:
We had one lunch here. The food was pretty good, the service was a bit off, the atmosphere is nothing special but the prices and portions are just right.

Greer Ice Cream Shop:
They have a limited selection of ice cream but all the best flavors. They also have coffee and coffee drinks. Prices are great, owners are very nice, and they offer free wifi here. There is indoor and outdoor seating.

Los Dos Molinas (in Springerville):
This is great New Mexican food. It can come very, very hot depending on the way you order it. All our food was delicious, I especially liked my Chile Rellenos. The only disappointment were the margaritas. They tasted like watered down Gatorade-undrinkable I thought but they have a nice variety of Mexican beers. Atmosphere is fun, prices are good (cash only though), service was attentive.

Up next activities and pictures...

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    Very interested in reading your report since we'll be staying there next month. As you said, there isn't much written about the area and it does seem like a "slice of Heaven."

    We've reserved two nights and are debating about a third. We're flying into Phoenix at 10:30 am from the east coast. Figure by the time we get our car, etc, it will be close to noon (4 pm eastern time) before we set off. Trying to decide if we should stay around Globe the first night so we can take our time going through Salt River Canyon with possible stops or just head directly to Greer. Wondering if, too, if the altitude will affect us coming from sea level.

    Any thoughts?

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    We flew in from the east coast as well, but landed later than you. I would say you are about right on the time before you head out. My initial thoughts to you are to go up through Payson and down through Globe. The road via Payson is gorgeous and is four lane much of the way where the Salt River Canyon is not. If you get stuck behind a truck it will be very slow going.
    I haven't gone through Globe in quite some time but I wouldn't stay there unless I absolutely had to. There aren't any stops in the canyon really, just pull-outs to look at the view-which is spectacular and worth making.
    I never have problems with the elevation, but firends of mine have. I would check with your doctor if you have any medical issues. There is medicine that you can take starting the day before that helps with the acclimation. The one thing I can tell you is remember to drink lots of water as you dehydrate quicker in the elevation. Greer is 8500 feet but if you are planning on taking any back country drives-which I can't recommend enough-you get as high as 10,000! If you have the ability to book a third night I would. Two nights really only gives you one full day-not nearly enough time in my opinion. We were then ten nights and already we said next year we will go for a minimum of 2 weeks.

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    Odie, I can't tell from your reply if you did drive to Greer on your day of arrival or not. The only reason I thought of going through the Salt River Canyon on the way is because when we leave Greer, we're headed to Santa Fe. However, as you suggested, we also heard that the road through Payson is better and faster. Maybe we need to skip the canyon route this time.

    Since our time there is so limited, I'm leaning towards driving to Greer the first day. I totally understand what you mean about needing to spend more time in a place. Usually, the longer we stay somewhere, the more we feel we have to see, as compared to those who drive through a place and say they've seen it all. Since we haven't been to AZ or NM before, this is a scouting trip for us to decide where we'd like to explore more. I have a feeling that the White Mt will be one of those areas.

    Looking forward to the rest of your report, too.

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    Clousie- I am working on the rest of the report, just finished getting some pics uploaded...

    We drove straight there. Seeing as you are not returning to PHX then it is a hard call because both drives are beautiful. If you do go through Payson, make sure you pull off once you hit the top of the Mogollon Rim as the views from there are spectacular...
    Do you know your planned route to NM. We have flown into ABQ many times to travel to Greer so I know the routes into NM fairly well.
    You picked two fantastic places to travel to-Santa Fe is so well known, I'm curious how you chose Greer?

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    Actually, we're heading from Greer to Los Alamos first for 3 nights, followed by 3 nights in Taos. Will probably take NM 60 to I 25. Probably not the most scenic route, but figure we'll explore the back roads for the 6 days we're there.

    As I said, it's our first time there, so we're doing a big (much bigger than usual) loop that will take us on NM 64 to Canyon de Chelly, south rim of Grand Canyon, Sedona and back to Phoenix in 16 days. Whenever I start planning a trip, I read everything I can find in tour books. The White Mt just jumped out at me as a beautiful, greener place to visit. We like to hike and experience nature in cooler areas, so another plus. Perhaps I'll feel differently after visiting the other areas, but dry, treeless places don't seem to have the same appeal. However, the whole purpose of travel is to experience something different, so I'm open to whatever beauty and diversity I find along the way.

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    Cousie-
    We have done that drive many times and you are right, except for the part from Greer to Quemado and the Very Large Array there isn't much, although we have always wanted to stop at the Sevilleta NWR. More often than not we take 60 to Quemado and then cross over onto 36 and onto 117 which dumps you onto I-25 at Grants. This is actually a neat drive as it runs through El Malpais (lava fields), pass La Ventana Arch and on past Acoma Pueblo. I think more scenic than the other way. Just make sure whichever way you go you gas up in Eagar...

    We loved CdC, I hope you plan to hire a guide, it was soooo worth it.

    The White Mountains are one of the most breathtaking places I have been. They were as green as I have ever seen them this year...

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    The White Mountains, especially the Greer area, are very, very remote. This is an outdoorsman's paradise. (IE, the fugitives that were recently part of a nation-wide manhunt were caught about 6 miles from Greer. We actually drove past their campsite on our backcountry drive 6 hours before they were apprehended!) There are also opportunities for those who are interested in archaeological/Native American sites.

    http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf/about/index.shtml


    We are fly fishermen and so this was a good portion of our pursuit. There are a few guides available up there but there really are no outfitters. In years past we have fished the Apache Reservation, which was always very good, but we didn't get to it this year. This is the only place in the world where you can find the Apache Trout, actually an endangered species, but slowly making a come back, especially due to stocking efforts.

    Greer Lakes-Did this via float tubes and did not have as much luck this year as we have in years past. August is not exactly the best time to fish because the Greer Lakes are actually Reservoirs that were out in to collect water for irrigation in Round Valley (Springerville/Eagar), so they get used in the summer. We caught a few fish but that was all.

    Carnero Lake-Not only is this lake gorgeous, but my husband and I both agree we have never seen anything like what we saw with regards to the fish jumping out of the water, sometimes clearing three feet. We each caught more than half a dozen fish in two hours (in float tubes)

    Lee Valley Reservoir-Via Float Tube-This lake was no good this time but in years past has been quite good. This lake is stocked with Arctic Grayling.

    Little Colorado River-This was fished along a private (ie fee) section in South Fork. The fishing was good and the scenery is breathtaking. There are petroglyphs along the river.

    Backcounty Drives- This is an amazing opportunity to get off the roads and see some unspoiled nature. The Apache-Sitgreaves Forest is the largest stand of Ponderosa Pines in the world. There are countless backroads you can take from this area. We have a map from the forest service (located in Springerville or you can purchase them on-line at http://www.nationalforeststore.com/) that shows all the roads. On various trips over the years we have seen elk, deer, bighorn sheep and wolves (the latter two species having been reintroduced within the last decade or so). I can't say enough about doing this.

    Our favorite trip is to take the road out of Greer to Sheep's Crossing, continuing on past Crescent and Big Lakes, and then on to Buffalo Crossing, where we always stop for a picnic and some fishing. From there we continue on to Wildcat Crossing coming out back to highway 191, just south of Hannagan Meadow. From here we turn south on 191 to Blue Vista (about 5 miles) where there is a pull-out with an incredible view clear into New Mexico. This is an all day trip and there are absolutely no services once you leave Greer until you return to Alpine.
    There are plenty of ways to shorten the trip, even if you only have two hours you can at least get to Big Lake (which has an excellent visitor center) and then head back down County Road 261 coming out just north of Eagar. This stretch of road reminds me of "Big Sky" country...breathtaking!

    Scenic Chairlift Rides-Sunrise Ski Resort offers them on the weekends. They are well worth the ride up (and down if you like) to see the view. http://www.sunriseskipark.com/

    Horseback Riding- There are a few outfitters up here. We had wanted to ride at the X Diamond (http://www.xdiamondranch.com/)
    but they were full so we went with Wiltbank in Greer. They had a nice stable and knowledgeable wranglers. I am very comfortable on horses but these horses were a few notches beyond your regular stable horses. Good with me but might not be so for others. I heard excellent things about X Diamond and hope to try them on another trip.

    Archaeology-I wish I had pursued this a bit more as I am an anthropology/American Indian study minor, but alas there were other things calling. The X Diamond has an excavation going on that you can partake in and as I mentioned (and see the photo) they have petroglyphs on their property. There is also the Raven Site Ruins and Casa Malpais just out of Springerville.

    Shopping-Very limited but there is the Quacker Barrel in Greer which has a great selection of items.

    Museums-Butterfly Lodge Museum is a unique spot that showcases the "writing cabin" of the western author Lone Wolf. It has a nice picnic area and gift shop. They frequently have guest speakers, seminars and childrens' story hours. http://www.wmonline.com/butterflylodge.htm

    I think that about covers the basics. I hemmed and hawed about even writing this report because I would just as well keep this slice of Heaven to myself. There is a line in an Eagle's song that has always resonated with me, "If you call someplace paradise, you can...kiss it good-bye."

    But then again maybe I am giving Fodors to much credit but somehow I doubt that!

    Pictures are hopefully accessible here:

    http://www.photoworks.com/slideshow/album/AF090633A10D?c=pw59560&CS_003=4433951

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    So nice to read the rest of your report, odie, and the pictures prove that we chose the right spot to visit. I think this will definitely be a highlight of the trip for us.

    How did you happen to discover the White Mt and how long have you been coming to the area? Guess I also have to ask where home is on the east coast. We're NJ.

    You did convince us to stay there our first night out, so now we actually have two days to explore. Any suggestions for spots to especially see? Given the altitude, we'll probably look for gentle hikes here until we adjust. I took note of your trip to Sheep's Crossing, but since we have long drives before and after our Greer stay, think we'll want to stay a bit closer to "home" while we're there.

    I also checked out the reviews for Rendezvous, and it sounds great--just like a breakfast diner we recently discovered in Meredith, NH.

    I looked at the Bosque del Apache NWR in Socorro as a possible stop, but we'll be too early to see the sandhill cranes.

    Know what you mean about places getting discovered... fortunately, we've been able to visit quite a few before they were. It just makes going back difficult sometimes.

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    We actually have a home in Greer. My mom's family were AZ pioneers so I have been fortunate enough to be going to Greer since I was a child. Last week, there were three generations in our home. We live in CT now.

    I know you will be driving a lot but I highly recommend you take the drive to Big Lake (past Sheep's Crossing). It is only 16 miles. They have actually paved the majority of the road and it only takes about half an hour now to get there. There are lots of places to picnic and stop along the way. You can get lunch to go from Rendezvous.

    There are many hikes in the immediate area. You can contact the ranger station in Springerville and they should be able to send you the local hiking guide. Also when you are entering Greer, after you pass Jane's Greer Mountain Resort on the right, about a quarter mile up on the right is a pulloff with a map that shows the Greer Recreation Area. Just past that is the turnoff to Squirrel Springs Trailhead. There are lots of trails in there that are well-marked. There should be maps there as well.

    Easy Hikes in Greer:

    Butler Canyon-This is a very easy, beautiful hike along a creek with interpretive signs. It is about a mile loop. It is located off East Fork Road.

    Little Colorado River-go to the end of the road in town and park. The river is right there. There is a trail that runs all the way along the river. You can walk at your own leisure.

    The Burn-You will see this area on the hill to the left in front of you, when you pass the Greer Lakes Turnoff. I love the view from up there. You can access it off Apache County road 1126 (AKA Wonderland Road). Look for an area off to the left that appears to be a fenced in area of grass (about 20'x20'). This is actually a burial site for some Mormon Pioneers. Right next to that is a road that goes up. This road will lead you up to the burn.

    More Strenuous is the Mt Baldy trail. The trailhead is at the end of town as well.

    There are some great hiking trails down in the X Diamond Ranch as well.

    If there was something specific you love then I could try to point you in the right direction.

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    Hi again odie

    Just a few more questions.

    You said there is a Safeway in Pinetop. Is it fairly well stocked with fresh fruit and veggies, and of course wine, or should we stop somewhere before we get there, such as Payson. I guess this is a dumb question because we won't be buying a lot, but just want to make sure it's a clean store.

    Is there a place in Greer to buy perishables such as juice and milk?

    Thank you for the trail suggestions. Since we'll just be arriving from almost sea level, not really looking for anything too difficult, but want to enjoy the beauty of the area. I also saw West Fork Trail #628 and Government Springs Trail listed somewhere and wonder if you have comments on those. I think walking along one of the rivers or creeks is probably what we'd want.

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    No worries, I am glad to help.

    There is a Safeway on the left side as you head towards Greer. They have recently redone it and it is very well stocked. Don't stop in Payson, they will have everything you need. It is very nice.

    In Greer the only place to buy milk is the Tin Star. They have a very, very limited choice of products but if you aren't overly picky, you can definitely get milk and I believe juice but there's no reason you can't grab them in Pinetop. It is about 45 minutes from the Safeway to Greer.

    I believe Government Springs is the trail that runs along the Little Colorado River to Sheep's Crossing. If so, that's the name of the trail I was referring to that runs from the end of town along the river. Just beware, there is the possibility you might have to cross the river (really it is a stream, no more than ankle deep). This is a gorgeous trail that should be pretty flat for a while and then gets into more of an incline with more rugged territory.

    Wasn't too sure on West Fork Trail so I googled it and it seems as though it is up by Crescent Lake/Big Lake. If this is the area you were thinking of, I am sure it would be relatvely flat but remember Greer is at 8500 feet, Big Lake is at 10,000.

    Just one extra note, you will be crossing through the Apache Reservation, heed the speed limit (especially when you drive through McNary).

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    emalloy-Thanks for the compliment.

    Clousie-I hope you will post a trip report when you return. We just booked our tickets to go for the Thanksgiving week...we are so excited!

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    odie1: I just posted the report of our NM/AZ trip. Not nearly as detailed as yours, but we were covering many areas.

    BTW on our first rainy day in Greer, we did try to get lunch reservations for Hidden Meadow. We could have made them for the next day, but since we were hoping for sun (which we had) and hiking I didn't do that.

    There is certainly a LOT more to explore there than we had time for.

    Hope you enjoy Thanksgiving there. I'll be curious to hear how that goes.

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