Magazine article Sunset

Arizona Summer: A Season of Contrast

Magazine article Sunset

Arizona Summer: A Season of Contrast

Article excerpt

Arizona is a land of playful conundrums. For instance: What desert state has the largest stand of ponderosa pine in a national forest? Where can you find protected species of rare cactus like the tall fluted saguaro and the even rarer orchid known as Canelo Lady's Slipper? What state has only one natural lake and no coastal access yet boasts one of the largest rates of boat ownership in the nation? Arizona, of course.

So it shouldn't really come as a great surprise to learn that summer - a season of contrast - offers a wondrous variety of things to see and do in Arizona, from evening desert tours by flashlight to symphonic music under the stars. It's all part of a glorious Arizona summer.

Hot discounts at cool Arizona resorts

Summer is the off-season in the Valley of the Sun where low humidity, cool poolside activities, and a deep dip in room rates make summer the value season for families vacationing in the Phoenix-Scottsdale metropolitan area.

Lodging in the area runs the gamut from a Victorian adobe B&B to family-oriented dude ranches, but it's at the many world-class luxury resorts where you'll probably get the best bargains, with room rates slashed by 50 percent or more to entice price- and quality-conscious travelers.

Here's a look at several resorts offering special summer packages:

The Wigwam, 300 East Indian School Road, Litchfield Park; 800-327-0396. A romantic Mobil Five-Star resort in a cool, lush garden setting whose regular room rate of $280 drops to $120 a night from May 23 through September 2. They also have an inviting summer golf package; call for details.

Marriott's Camelback Inn, 5402 East Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale; 800-24-CAMEL. This popular Scottsdale resort, golf club, and spa has a "Best Value" package that includes a deluxe room, breakfast for two, and a daily guest membership to The Spa offering use of all facilities and exercise classes for $139, June 8 through September 3.

The Pointe Hilton Resorts, Phoenix; 800-964-3735. All three Pointe Hilton Resorts in Phoenix have reduced rates by 60 percent this summer. Rates range from $89 to $129 per suite (based on space availability), May 14 through September 10, at the three mountainside golf resorts at Squaw Peak, Tapatio Cliffs, and South Mountain. Children under 18 stay free in their parents' suite.

Many resorts have added elaborate pools and aquatic playgrounds to make your visit more enjoyable. For instance, The Pointe Hilton at Squaw Peak spent $3 million on the eight-acre River Ranch with pools, a river canal, waterfall, 130-foot water slide, and children's camp. The Arizona Biltmore built three new pools and a 92-foot water slide several years ago, while the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale and The Phoenician have also focused on water slides and more elaborate swimming pools.

The natural side of Arizona nightlife

The plant and animal life of Arizona is as varied as its scenery and climate. In the mountains to the north are the largest stand of ponderosa pine trees in the world and cool forests of aspen, walnut, maple, juniper, oak, and pinyon pine. Wild turkey, mountain lion, deer, elk, and bear roam the great national forests of the state.

Even the vast Sonoran Desert, which often appears lifeless to the casual visitor, is as vibrantly alive as any forest setting, particularly at night when many animals who have retreated to a den or burrow during the day now awaken. …

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