With 4 boys it is important to stay active. Check this page out often for ideas of Day trips in AZ or short trips in the surrounding states. We like to stay on the Go so I will update this page often.
Paleo Dig ( outside of Payson AZ ) 2hrs from Phoenix
If you have a budding archeologist or paleontologist this is the spot for you. Make sure to wear closed toed shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.
It is located on the 260 in Payson Heres a map as it comes up pretty quick. The first time we went we missed the turn.
The site: From the parking lot the collecting site is direct to the south, on the other side of a wire fence. Keep a look out for snakes as I legit stepped on a baby one. Heart-stopping moment as I’m terrified o snakes. After going through the gate, you will see an exposed rock outcrop to your right approximately 25-30 feet tall. This is the main collecting area that most focus on, and requires some digging and scrambling up a pretty steep slope.
This seems to be the area where most of the larger brachiopods can be found. My husband and son found some nice specimens there.
Below the outcrop face, there are some piles of rubble. They found a few specimens there as well and it was a good spot for my 4-year-old as it was a bit less treacherous.
A great spot was just as you go in from the gate directly to the right is a little hill area. We found a ton there. Pretty much every rock you picked up had a specimen in it. A couple digging there also found a bone while we were there and my hubby found some rose quartz.
After digging around we took a short hike and actually saw a few deer. My son was pretty excited because we are in a local rock painting group 2.5 hrs from where we were and we found a painted rock. Highlight to an already perfect day.Then we had lunch in the parking lot and after eating headed off for more adventures.
Tonto National Forest Fish Hatchery
5 miles past the Paleo Dig is the Fish Hatchery.
Located in the Tonto National Forest is the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery. It is Day use only. Visit the Hatchery to learn about fish production and to view wildlife. “Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery produces and stocks over 165,000 catchable rainbow trout and 400,000 brook and cutthroat trout each year, plus 150,000 of Arizona’s State Fish – the Apache Trout information credit: Paysoncountyrim.com.” You will get to see all the stages of the fish and even feed the fish. Feeding does take money so make sure you bring some change for the food machine. At the top is a building an inside is lots of information and things to see about the fish and the local wildlife.
Along the hatchery are many hiking trails, wetlands, and streams. Its open from 8-4 according to their webpage but last time we went it had closed at 330 so I would call or visit their site to confirm.