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Questions? Our friendly staff is available 7 days a week. Call or text us at 480.626.4072 or e-mail info@AZVacationHomeRentals.com

Across the United States, local and state governments are exploring ways to micromanage the short term rental (STR) industry. The controls they seek come in the form of additional fees and taxes for STR properties, limiting the number of STRs in a given area or banning STRs altogether. Home Owner Associations (HOA) are also expressing their opinion of STRs by including covenants that prohibit STRs and harassing guests who stay at permitted STR properties.

Why? Media publications occasionally try to stir up trouble by incorrectly printing that STRs negatively affect housing availability and costs. But largely the opposition are a few people who are annoyed (justifiably or not) with STR guests in their neighborhood. These grumblers join HOA boards or get elected as local commissioners to oppose STRs and go so far as to embroil others to revise the STR statutes in their community. Some are unconscionable and reward homeowners for reporting or even fabricating problems with STR guests in an effort to promote their anti STR agenda. The NIMBY (not in my backyard) phenomenon comes to mind because most of the STR opposition admit to using STRs when they travel.


Direct and Indirect Contributions

I’m here to say, watch what you wish for! I live in an east coast city that was once home to a lucrative film industry. In the last 40 or so years, more than 400 movies and several TV series as well as individual episodes, were produced here. Less than a decade ago, sketchy local and state politics that included initiatives to shrink film industry incentives and ban short term rentals (preferred housing of actors and crews during filming) sent full time agents and producers in search of more user friendly settings. Quickly and quietly the agencies and their crews vanished to other states taking with them scores of people who made their living providing services they needed: hair styling, make-up, costume design, set design and special effects to name a few.

No big deal you might think but keep reading! The people who left had contributed both directly and indirectly to our local economy. They bought coffee at Starbucks, dined in our restaurants, shopped at our stores, rented or bought properties and participated in local events. In other words, they spent their time and money here. The celebrities and shows made us famous which attracted tourists from all over the world who came and spent their time and money here. We were the winners: we saw increased tax revenue and job growth, especially in tourist and service factions. Unfortunately and not surprising, when the major and minor players in the film industry relocated to greener pastures their spending power and influences moved with them.


Connecting the Dots

How you wonder are filming and STR companies like Arizona Vacation Home Rentals similar? For starters, they are both environmentally clean industries as opposed to corporations that pollute water, soil and air and spend our tax dollars to clean up their mess. If you aren’t a tree hugger and this doesn’t matter to you perhaps I can hook you by explaining how the STR industry, similar to the film industry, positively impacts the local economies in Arizona.

Rounds Consulting Group (RCG) conducted an economic impact analysis and published the results in The Economic Impact of Short-Term Rentals in Arizona, February 2022. The results are impressive! Guests who stayed at STR properties generated $538.4 million dollars in Arizona county and city tax revenues in 2021. These included taxes levied on rental fees, sales taxes from guests’ spending and tax revenues from the 75,500 jobs created by the short term rental industry.

RCG used a common economist model that measures the effects of activities related to the industry and converts the activities into estimated tax revenues. They included direct effects such as taxes generated by guests as they spend money in the locale where they are staying e.g., dining at restaurants, playing golf, buying food and visiting attractions. They also counted what they labeled as secondary impacts that result from increased demands on companies that supply goods and services to the STR industry. Examples of this include the tax increase in revenue and jobs or payroll hours affiliated with the suppliers of goods and services to STR companies e.g., housekeeping and maintenance crews, cleaning supplies and fuel. And as RCG points out, the rippling effect continues as employees of the suppliers spend their earnings on goods and services and so on and so forth.

Before you support or vote in favor of limiting or banning STRs think long and hard about $538.4 million dollars in tax revenues and 75,500 new jobs. Those are BIG numbers! Everyone benefits, everyone is a winner because more people are working and tax revenues pay for schools, roads, first responder salaries and equipment, and so much more, without raising everyone’s taxes.


The Blame Game: Get It Right!

You should also contemplate this: long term renters have a greater negative impact on communities and house prices than STR guests and homes. If you doubt me, talk to a landlord. Their top 3 challenges include evicting tenants who stop paying rent (good luck with this!), periods of vacancy between tenants and property damage. Next, talk to a realtor who will confirm that these behaviors directly contribute to the decline of neighborhoods and falling home prices. STRs are not problem free but evictions, property damage and in most cases vacancy are rarely the challenges. The very nature of STR income motivates homeowners to keep their properties occupied and in excellent condition, stay on top of problem guests and resolve damages quickly in preparation for incoming guests. These desirable behaviors contribute to maintaining everyone’s property and community values and promoting neighborhood civility.


Support Clean Industries

Hands down, the benefits of STRs far exceed the few nuisances, but that’s another blog (to be written soon). For now, don’t make the mistake my urban area did and allow an environmentally friendly and lucrative industry to decline or disappear. My home city is currently scrambling to right their mistakes and encourage the return of full time filming productions. Be smarter! At the very least, elect representatives and vote in favor of ordinances that support STRs in your community. If possible, get involved to help ensure STR regulations make good neighborly sense without limiting their ability to contribute generously to Arizona’s economy and job market.


Save money and support local business by booking directly through

Arizona Vacation Home Rentals

Phone/Text: 480.626.4072


AVHR Winter Newsletter 2021

Second edition

Welcome! This quarterly newsletter will give you the scoop on Arizona Vacation Home Rental’s newest homes and winter activities in the greater Phoenix area. In addition, look for the following:

We encourage you to browse and find what you need to customize and plan the perfect Arizona vacation.


Discounts if You Book at Azvacationhomerentals.com

When you’re ready to book ask us about the following discounts:


The following homes are discounted 10% if you reserve days in December, January or February and 15% if you are a returning guest. Other discounts at these homes include free pool heat and free highchair and Pack N Play rentals during the same months. Just ask us!

Adobe Ranch in East Mesa
Golden View inGold Canyon
Juniper Oasis in East Mesa


What’s New & Different at Arizona Vacation Home Rentals  

We have three new properties and upgrades at one of our homes we’re excited to showcase. The first is Juniper Oasis, a 5 BR, 3 BA, one story home situated on a large lot in an upscale Mesa community. The backyard is a paradise of resort amenities with something for everyone. There are covered patios with TVs, an outdoor kitchen with high end appliances, a gas fireplace and a pool with optional heat and exciting slide. This exquisite home also has its own air conditioned work out and game room. Top to bottom, inside and out, you’ll find our home to be luxurious and comfortable. All that’s missing from this dream come true vacation home is YOU! For more information or to book, visit Arizona Vacation Home Rentals. Booking directly at Arizona Vacation Home Rentals saves you money and supports local business.



Our second, newly acquired home is Golden View, a 5 BR, 3.5 BA, single story, Gold Canyon home. Love our Superstition Mountains? They are the golden view from the backyard and many of the interior windows. The resort amenities at this gem include a heated pool, hot tub, covered patios for dining or watching TV and a gas fireplace. The interior of this home is luxurious throughout with a theater room featuring a gas fireplace and TVs in 4 of 5 bedrooms. To spend time at our dream come true vacation home book now at Arizona Vacation Home Rentals and then start packing! Booking directly at Arizona Vacation Home Rentals saves you money and supports local business.




Last of our new homes, but not in any way least, is Adobe Ranch, a secluded 4 BR, 3 BA, single story home on a large lot in East Mesa. The appealing amenities include a heated pool, covered patio and gas fire pit to warm your toes and heart. The charming southwestern decor in well appointed rooms is both attractive and comfortable. The property’s location is ideal for guests who enjoy golfing, hiking, biking, kayaking, Chicago Cubs spring training, shopping or dining out. Visit Arizona Vacation Home Rentals to see all the wonderful details and book your exciting vacation! Booking directly at Arizona Vacation Home Rentals saves you money and supports local business.





Winter Travel to the Greater Phoenix Area


The fall can be the perfect time to visit the greater Phoenix area. Most days are warm, sunny and ideal for outdoor adventures of which there are many. The chart below features average day and night temps during the fall months.

Month Average Day Temp Average Night Temp
December 67° F 46° F
January 69° F 46° F
February 72° F 49° F


Packing for Our Winter Months

As you can see our temps are cooler in the winter months. That being said, 300+ of our days are sunny and temps can climb during the daylight hours. Be prepared for the temp changes which can sometimes be dramatic and pack the following:


Why Heat the Pool at Your Vacation Home

Guests often ask us if heating the pool at their rental home is necessary. If you read our guest reviews you will learn that pool heat makes swimming in our winter months more enjoyable.

Additional information about pool heat that you need to know:


Health & Safety

Vacation rental homes are safer than hotels. Our homes are self-contained meaning you have everything you need at the home with the exception of consumable items such as food and your personal effects. We offer no-contact check-in and check-out and adhere to all CDC recommended cleaning practices and employee policies. You’re not sharing amenities such as pools, hallways or dining areas and have absolute control over how you social distance from those not in your bubble.

Currently Arizona has no state implemented restrictions for US travelers from other states. According to CDC guidelines, visitors are encouraged to stay home when sick, wear a mask in public settings, avoid close contact with others and wash hands frequently.


Things to Do in the Greater Phoenix Area


Winter months are our peak season. Those who long to avoid freezing winter temps and shoveling snow should escape to the greater Phoenix area. Hikers, bikers and golfers often appreciate our sunny winter days with low humidity and cooler but not brutal temps. Check out our golf blog, Calling All Golfers!, and trail blogLet’s Hit the Trails, for details on local fairways and trails plus links to the particulars.

Family activities you may find worthwhile are listed below and include links to help you find whatever information you need for an enjoyable experience.

Other activities that may coax you to our area include car shows, concerts, theater and sporting events. For example, upcoming events at The Orpheum Theater in Phoenix include A Christmas Carol, The Nutcracker (Phoenix Ballet), Waitress and An Officer and A Gentleman.

Additional fine art venues to check out:

For our sports loving guests there are year round events to keep you entertained. Below are links to professional teams in the immediate area.

Professional Sport Teams
Football: Arizona Cardinals
Baseball: Arizona Diamondbacks
Basketball: Phoenix Suns
Hockey: Arizona Coyotes


Thank you in advance for reading our newsletter. We hope you will pass on to friends and family who are interested in a vacation rental in the greater Phoenix area. Our spring newsletter will be published in February.


Save money and support local business by booking directly through
Arizona Vacation Home Rentals

Phone/Text: 480.626.4072


By providing links to other sites, AVHR does not guarantee, approve, or endorse information or products available on these sites.

AVHR Fall Newsletter 2021

First edition

Welcome! Our quarterly newsletter will give you the scoop on what’s new and different with Arizona Vacation Home Rentals as well as what’s happening in the greater Phoenix area. It will include:

We encourage you to browse and find what you need to customize and plan the perfect Arizona vacation.

Discounts for Booking at Azvacationhomerentals.com

When you’re ready to book ask us about the following discounts:


These homes are discounted 10% if you reserve days in September or October. Returning guests also get an additional 5% discount.




A newly listed property with over the top amenities is The Night Owl. This lovely, 5 bedroom, 3 bath, East Mesa home has an outdoor paradise with something fun for everyone in your family. Home is well appointed throughout with king beds and TVs in ALL bedrooms. Looking for the perfect place for a family vacation or staycation? You just found it! For additional details or to make reservations visit Arizona Vacation Home Rentals.


Travel Tips:  Phoenix in the Fall


The fall can be the perfect time to visit the greater Phoenix area. Most days are warm, sunny and ideal for outdoor adventures of which there are many. The chart below features average day and night temps during the fall months.

Month Average Day Temp Average Night Temp
September 100° F 75° F
October 89° F 64° F
November 76° F 51° F


Health & Safety

Vacation rental homes are safer than hotels. Our homes are self-contained meaning you have everything you need at the home with the exception of consumable items such as food and your personal effects. We offer no-contact check-in and check-out and adhere to all CDC recommended cleaning practices and employee policies. You’re not sharing amenities such as pools, hallways or dining areas and have absolute control over how you social distance from those not in your bubble.

Currently Arizona has no state implemented restrictions for US travelers from other states. According to CDC guidelines, visitors are encouraged to stay home when sick, wear a mask in public settings, avoid close contact with others and wash hands frequently.


Things to Pack


Things to Do

Car shows, concerts, wine festivals and more, we have it all.  Below are a few events to explore. Check out our blog, Arizona in Autumn? Absolutely! for additional suggestions.



As the temperatures cool the golfing gets even better. The AZ Golf Association has your need to know information about tournaments in the greater Phoenix area. If you’re looking to play, check out Calling All Golfers! to quickly access links that include the particulars about local clubs and fairways.


Trails for Hiking, Biking and Horseback Riding

Hiking, biking and horseback riding are popular year round but especially as the temps cool. Let’s Hit the Trails includes content related to local trails as well as popular links to help you safely plan your hiking or riding adventures.


Professional Team Games

Football:  Arizona Cardinals Schedule
Baseball:  Arizona Diamondbacks Schedule
Basketball:  Phoenix Suns Schedule
Hockey:  Arizona Coyotes Schedule


Autumn Festivals

•7th Annual AZ Margarita, Mojito, Craft Beer, and Food Truck Festival

Location:  Riverview Park in Mesa (2100 W Rio Salado Pkwy)

Activities: Food trucks, Retail Vendors, Live music, Bounce House, Face Painting

Admission: $10 – $40

18 and Under are FREE (Must be 21 or older to receive alcoholic beverages)


•Scottsdale Whiskey Festival – Whiskey Tasting in Old Town!

Location: Wasted Grain in Scottsdale (7295 East Stetson Drive)

Taste whiskeys, bourbons and scotches from around the world

Admission: Tickets are $25 – $35


•Vintage & Vino Fall Market

Location: Queen Creek (20464 E Riggs Road)

Activities: Sip wine and shop among 100+ vendors with a holiday theme and live music

Admission: General admission tickets are $5


•Arizona State Fair
Date: October 1 – 30

Location: Arizona State Fair & Coliseum, Phoenix (1826 W. McDowell Road)

Activities: Live animals, fried food and carnival fun rides for the whole family

Admission: General admission tickets are $12


•2021 Fountain Festival of Fine Arts & Craft

Location: Fountain Hills (Ave of Fountains & Saguaro Blvd)
Activities: Hundreds of arts and craft booths, food and live music
Admission: Free parking and admission

Thank you in advance for reading and please pass on to friends and family who are interested in a vacation rental in the greater Phoenix area. Look for our winter newsletter in November.



Save money and support local business by booking directly through

Arizona Vacation Home Rentals

Phone/Text: 480.626.4072


By providing links to other sites, AVHR does not guarantee, approve, or endorse information or products available on these sites.

Diamond Spirit Ranch celebrates the life of Diamond, a gentle, courageous and much loved horse. Of the many animals in the animal kingdom, few compare to the horse with its strength, grace and nobility. Horses often symbolize freedom, invite wild imaginations and manifest power of mind and spirit. Yet when we gaze across a pasture and watch horses grazing peacefully, our heart rate slows as we crave that sense of harmony with nature.

Diamond Spirit Ranch

The Beginning

The story of Diamond Spirit Ranch begins with the purchase of land in Star Valley and the construction of Spirit River Ranch in 1998. John and Sellena Pool, after a frustrating cross country trip with their 2 horses, 4 dogs, 2 cats and motor home, decided to build the equestrian retreat they searched for and never found on their journey. Their vision became providing comfortable lodging and spaces for horses, homes on wheels and their owners with direct access to local trails for trail riding.


John and Sallena fell in love with the Payson area and found what they thought to be the perfect property for their retreat in Star Valley. Star Valley is just outside of Payson and only 90 minutes from the Greater Phoenix area. The property lay next to a dry creek bed and adjoined the Tonto National Forest with horseback riding trails and magnificent Mogollon Rim scenery. The property also bordered Patterson Farm, a riding and boarding facility with a reputation for excellent instruction and tender loving care of horses.


The Pools began construction of their dream home: a ranch house and horse stalls that included turn out paddocks. Space and hookups for an RV were also part of the original creation. Over time a guest house with a tack room, riding arena and an outdoor kitchen with a gathering area were added. Spirit River Ranch was completed in 2000. Sadly, within a few short years, John passed away and eventually Sallena sold Spirit River Ranch to another couple who had future plans to retire and live at the ranch. Several years passed in which Spirit River Ranch remained empty.

Diamond arrives at Patterson Farm

Diamond Arrives

But wait, my story has galloped too far forward! In the summer of 2006 Tristan, the present day owner of Diamond Spirit Ranch, moved from North Carolina back to Arizona’s Phoenix area. She needed to find a home for her horse, Diamond, a flashy bay quarter horse who would be arriving in October. Word of mouth from other riders is often the best way to locate competent boarding and riding facilities. Patterson Farm was highly recommended and after a few visits Tristan knew the higher elevation, four distinct seasons and cooler temps plus large pastures was the ideal home for Diamond. In October, Diamond made a cross country trip similar to the Pool’s (without the dogs and cats) and arrived at his new home at Patterson Farm.


Tristan lived and worked in Mesa but visited Diamond weekly, driving by Spirit River Ranch to reach the farm. To be closer to her horse, she often rented rooms or homes in Payson and considered inquiring about renting the Spirit River guest house but never did. After several years she acquired another horse who joined Diamond at the Patterson Farm.


By 2018 Tristan, who worked in the vacation rental industry, determined that she could manage her mostly remote work from afar. She and her partner, Paul, moved to a home in Payson so she could be closer to the new mare and her beloved Diamond.

Diamond celebrates his 30th birthday

New Owners; New Name

After 12 years at Patterson Farm, Diamond, a senior horse by all standards, passed away. Losing a horse leaves a big hole in your heart forever but Tristan had a mare to train and ride, thus she continued her almost daily riding excursions to the farm, passing Spirit River Ranch along the way.


In 2019 the owners of Spirit River Ranch changed their retirement plans and put it up for sale. Tristan and Paul arranged to purchase and assume the homestead. Tristan had purchased another young mare and would now be within walking distance of the riding facility that had become her favorite place to spend time. From their new home’s front porch she could view the large riding arenas at Patterson Farm plus she could almost see the turn out pastures of her cherished mares. Paul had longed for a mountain retreat and also felt content at their new ranch.


To know the ones we love are still around in spirit helps to ease the pain of loss. Renaming of the ranch to acknowledge a horse’s ever present spirit seemed logical and Diamond Spirit Ranch became the eponym for Diamond’s legacy.

Diamond’s legacy lives forever at Diamond Spirit Ranch

Lingering Spirits

Belief in spirits means something different for all people because spirits are what our senses experience in the natural world, explainable or not. Spirits are forces that shape our actions; they change over time as we adjust to novel experiences amidst new relationships. Becoming open to the energy that spirits require allows us to realize our own qualities as well as the qualities of others.


Spend time at this ranch and you may hear tapping at the windows, an inexplicable creaking of a porch rocker or the soft thudding of distant hooves late at night. Visions may arise in the swirl of pasture dust on a sunny day or in the rock layers of the Mogollon Rim. Open your mind to the spirits that linger here. They have tales to tell, tales that weave a rich and colorful tapestry that is the story and heartbeat of Diamond Spirit Ranch.

Guest house and outdoor kitchen at Diamond Spirit Ranch

Mountain views from the veranda at Diamond Spirit Ranch


Save money and support local business by booking directly through

Arizona Vacation Home Rentals

Phone/Text: 480.626.4072

If you rent vacation homes you have possibly wondered about the advantages to owning one or even several. You can easily transition from renter to owner and there are many convincing reasons for doing this. There’s also important information to know in advance of making the decision to convert your property or invest in a second home for this purpose.



Why It’s a Good Idea



What You Need to Know Before Committing


Getting Started

  1. Choose a general location.
  2. Shop houses with a projected income in mind. Location and amenities such as pool, hot tub, etc. will impact your potential earnings.
  3. Be smart about HOA covenants as well as state and local ordinances that could affect your rental opportunities.
  4. After purchasing the home (if not before) we highly recommend you hire a manager or consultant to help you complete the start-up process.


How Arizona Vacation Home Rentals (AVHR) Can Help You



Arizona Vacation Home Rentals specializes in vacation rental start-up projects, marketing and owner/guest liaison services for vacation rental properties in the greater Phoenix and Payson areas. We have more than 25 years of experience marketing all levels of vacation rental properties. We have helped over 200 owners transform their home into a vacation rental.

If you have questions or would like to discuss converting a home or purchasing a vacation rental property please contact us.


Arizona Vacation Home Rentals

Phone/Text: 480.626.4072

E-mail:  info@AZVacationHomeRentals.com


Do not dismiss the desert as dusty and barren. The Sonoran Desert is lush with bold and barbed cacti, colorful and fiercely armed to protect the species as well as the water they hold in reserve. While there are many cacti to celebrate, this blog will identify and highlight the features of some of the more common cacti found in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. Favorite destinations to see a variety of cacti are listed at the end and include helpful links.

 Saguaro Cactus (pronounced suh-wah-ro)

This is the cactus of my cowboy crush days and the symbolic icon of the wild west and southwestern deserts. Commonly and exclusively found in the Sonoran desert, the Saguaro stands erect like a tree or column with extended branches. This is the largest of the cactuses in the USA, growing to be 40-60 feet tall.  It is slow growing and has a life expectancy of 150 – 200 years.  It  may grow 50 years before an arm appears and while some have dozens of arms, a few will remain branchless. It is usually about 70 years old before the first flowers appear.  White in color, they emerge each spring followed by red fruit that appears early in the summer.

A tap root that extends 2-4 feet in length allows this cactus to collect a significant amount of water which it stores in its spongy interior. The water adds considerable weight to the trunk and a mature Sagauro can weigh over a ton. The external spines and bristles defend the water reserve from predators allowing the cactus to thrive in the harsh desert elements. Although the Sagauro is not endangered or threatened, it is protected in Arizona.


Teddy Bear (Jumping) Cholla

This is not the teddy bear to cuddle! Although the short, cylinder shaped stems covered in thick golden spines look fuzzy, this could be one painful bear hug. The spines, 1/2 to 1 inch in length and equal in size, attach with a reversed barb making them difficult and painful to remove.

Found in California, Nevada, Arizona and Mexico, this cactus grows to be 5 feet and has yellow-green or orange flowers that bloom in spring. The cactus propagates when the stems which detach easily hitchhike on moving objects such as pant legs, socks, shoes and animal’s fur. Wherever the stem segment is deposited, a new cholla will grow.

The formidable spikes keep the plant from being eaten and also protect the water stored within. Dead stems, brown or black in color, often collect at the base of the plant but beware! Even the dead stems and sometimes the fruit are covered in prickly spines. Desert pack rats wisely use Cholla to protect their homes from predators such as cats, coyotes and foxes. Please keep your pets away from these!

Teddybear Cholla



Aptly named for their short round shape, the Barrel cactus may live for 130 years and grow 6-11 feet in height. This cactus has ridges on all sides that are covered with large and small spines, both sizes serving a different purpose in helping the plant thrive in extreme conditions. A fun fact about this cactus is that it often leans toward the southwest, in case you need a navigational aid.

There are actually 3 different species of Barrel cactuses in the Sonoran Desert. They most often grow along rocky slopes, canyon walls and desert washes. The young ones tend to be pinkish-purple in color but grow to be golden and green. The flowers of these easy to identify cactus are a variety of colors and grow on top of the plant from April through June. The inner pulp is sometimes used to make candy which you may find in local shops.

Barrel Cactus

Golden Barrel Cactus


Prickly Pear

Engelmann’s Prickly Pear

Commonly seen across the southwest, midwest and east, this cactus sports broad flat lobes that grow white spines up to 3 inches long. Prickly Pears grow to be 10 feet tall and 15 feet wide and live more than 20 years. The yellow flowers bloom in May and June; the red-purple fruit is evident in July. This is another favorite with pack rats – look closely and you may discover one nesting at the base of a Prickly Pear. The lobes can be eaten raw once the spines are removed, or made into candy and wine. Local restaurants may include these on their menus.


Prickly Pear Cactus



This cactus, named for its hedgehog shape, bears arms (stems) that grow in clumps and are 12 inches tall with spikes that can be 3 inches in length. The plant grows low to the ground and can be found almost anywhere in the Sonoran Desert and beyond. The flowers, a vibrant purple or pink, close each night and reopen in the morning. Edible fruit develops once flowering is complete. As the fruit matures the spines fall off making it a favorite treat for rodents and birds.



Favorite Places to See a Variety of Cacti


Note: A personal favorite is Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument which is close to the Mexican border. Well worth the drive, you will see lots of beautiful Organ Pipe and large Saguaro scattered throughout.






Save money and support local business by booking directly through

Arizona Vacation Home Rentals

Phone/Text:  480.626.4072



Photo credits: © Gilbert S Grant

*By providing links to other sites, AVHR does not guarantee, approve, or endorse information or products available on these sites.

The greater Phoenix area which includes the East Valley is the shangri la for golfers with public and private courses at every turn. We’re also a paradise for the avid or casual hiker, biker* and horseback rider with our miles and miles of trails extending in every direction.


The Biodiversity of the Desert

You might envision only flat terrain because our home is a desert. The Sonoran Desert, however, is strikingly diverse in geological structures: we have mountains that will take your breath away both in challenging climbs and magnificent vistas! Our myriad of trails accommodate and challenge all skill levels and include exciting topography and ascending elevations.


I’ve hiked some of the trails included in this blog. The scenery, vegetation and wildlife are especially rewarding, no matter the altitude or time of year. Most days you need a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and sturdy shoes. Winter months may dictate a sweatshirt or warm jacket and hat. For all seasons, a camera, binoculars and field guides are essential items in my day pack.


Be Safe and Comfortable

Subtropical deserts such as the Sonoran Desert are ecosystems characterized by high temperatures and very low annual precipitation. Checking the weather in advance of your leg work is much advised since our typically warm temperatures can be extreme and should not be underestimated. Keep in mind that trail difficulty levels are raised one level when temps are greater than 100℉. Dogs are not permitted on the City of Phoenix hiking trails when the temperature reaches 100 degrees or higher.


Subscribe to safety and take our heat seriously! Unless you’re a roadrunner, it’s critical to hydrate before you go, carry enough water to stay hydrated and hydrate upon your return. Always carry more water than you expect to need. Snacks are important, too.


The Sonoran Desert receives 3-15 inches of rain annually. This most often occurs in our monsoon season, July through September. During those times a lightweight rain jacket may be prudent. Our monsoon season is also the time to be alert for flash floods and mudslides caused by torrential rain on land that is impermeable to water. Be aware of your surroundings and particularly of dry washes which can fill with fast moving water in a matter of minutes.


Other safety tips include formulating a plan, informing someone of your plan before you go, traveling with others and remaining alert to wildlife. Taking a first aid kit and a fully charged cell phone are also wise choices.


Please and Thank You

More than 100 reptiles, 2000 native plants, 60 mammals and 350 birds call our desert home, thriving only if the habitat is maintained. Please minimize your footprint and leave no trace by:


You’re Off to Great Places

I’ve organized this list of parks and preserves under the nearest city. If you consider yourself to be more of a “walker” instead of a hiker you will also find information on stellar walks where you can view native plants, wildlife and captivating scenery. Links are included to provide the trail details you need: level of difficulty, unique characteristics of trails and crucial maps. Some of the links offer information about all of the trails, parks and preserves included in this blog. The variety in links is not to confuse you but to help you find what you need in a preferred format. At the end are several of Arizona Vacation Home Rentals’ properties that are either adjacent to or a short commute to trails.



The Hawes Trail System in NE Mesa consists of well marked, single lane biking and moderate hiking trails that intersect and form loops. There is a map at the trailhead on N Power Road/N Bush Highway in Las Sendas which you can use to design your own course for the desired distance. Views of Usery Mountain, Red Mountain, the Salt River and Granite Reef Dam are all possibilities.


Usery Mountain Regional Park has 29 miles of multi-use trails for hikers, bikers and horseback riders with a staging area for horses. Trails range in difficulty and distance and provide spectacular views of the surrounding plains. The popular Wind Cave Trail allows hikers to climb up into the mountain and connect to trails in the Tonto National Forest.


The Lower Salt River Nature Trail offers a leisurely 2.5 mile loop along the appealing Salt River. Access and parking is on Phon D Sutton Road off of the N Bush Highway. This nature walk promises wildlife sightings of horses, wading birds, deer and more.


Boulder Canyon Trail is northwest of Mesa near Tortilla Flat and offers an 8.7 mile out and back jaunt for the more experienced hiker. The trail starts at and returns to Sagaro Lake and provides worthwhile views of Battleship Mountain and other splendid Superstition Mountain scenery.


Rio Salado Pathway, also known as Tempe Town Lake Trail, is comprised of two distinct trails on either side of the Salt River. Trail riders may choose to continue on the trail north of the river all the way to downtown Scottsdale. Access to the Rio Salado Paths are at Riverview Park in Mesa and Tempe Beach Park in Tempe.


Dreamland Villa Desert Nature Walk is a one mile strip that by design features native vegetation for the purpose of attracting wildlife. This walk is intended for hikers; bikes are not permitted on all sections. Longer hikes are possible by using available maps and directions.


Hawes Loop Trail System



McDowell Sonoran Preserve features three trails that were created to be accessible to individuals of all ages, including those who use wheelchairs for mobility and are hearing and/or visually impaired. Along the way are interactive displays with a universal design to educate people with a wide range of abilities about the surrounding ecosystem.The McDowell Sonoran Preserve Trailheads are organized by north and south regions. The amenities and skill levels are different for each one. Several trailheads provide places for loading and unloading horses.


McDowell Mountain Regional Park is northeast of Scottsdale and has more than 40 miles of hiking, biking and riding trails. Trails range from easy to difficult and .5 to 15+ miles in distance. Trails are multi-use unless designated otherwise. There are staging areas for horses.


Pinnacle Peak Park has a moderate out and back 3.5 mile trail with the highest point on the peak at 2,889 feet. There are also rock climbing routes and interpretive displays along the way. Bikes and dogs are not permitted on the trail.


Black Canyon Trail is 75+ miles of challenging off road trail connecting north Phoenix to the Prescott National Forest. This challenging trail is mostly used by mountain bike riders and runners. The trail winds through the Sonoran Desert and includes both saguaro forests and rocky canyons. Be alert to flash flood warnings as canyon washes in lower elevations may become dangerous in a few short minutes.



Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is 110 acres of ponds and vegetative zones with 4.5 miles of easy walking, biking and horseback riding trails. Opportunities to view wildlife are promising with more than 295 bird species visiting throughout the year and fish, reptiles and amphibians making the preserve their home. Binoculars, cameras and field guides are highly recommended.


San Tan Mountain Regional Park is southeast of Gilbert and Chandler in Queen Creek. The more than 10,000 acre park includes trails that are well known for their diversity in wildflowers and native wildlife relative to the elevation. Goldmine Mountain stands high in the northern region of the park. Elevations range from 1,400 to almost 2,600 feet.




Phoenix Sonoran Preserve is north of the city and features 3 trailheads and over 36 miles of trails in mostly undeveloped desert. This preserve is a newer city venture to connect hikers and riders to the beautiful landscapes within the Valley.


Phoenix Mountains Preserve is just 20 minutes from downtown Phoenix and offers parks and peaks with miles and miles of trails for riders and hikers. The numerous trails range in difficulty and distance. This Phoenix City map provides a detailed overview of the parks and trails that are part of the preserve. Camelback Mountain is one of the most popular hikes in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve and features two challenging trails with steady climbs: Echo Canyon Trail and Cholla Trail. Plant and animal species are prolific on both climbs. Expect spectacular 360° city and desert views from the top of the summit which resembles a camel’s hump.


South Mountain Park and Preserve is a large municipal park with more than 58 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails for all skill levels. There are several places to access the park, depending on the trails(s) you are interested in exploring. Anticipate spectacular mountain views when you reach the mountain tops. Looking for an escape from motor vehicle traffic? Check out Silent Sunday in which the park’s main road is closed to motor vehicle traffic but open to non-motorized activities such as walking, cycling, jogging and hiking.


Papago Park offers miles of trails that are easy for walking or biking with little climb in elevation. The park is split by the Galvin Parkway into east and west sections. There are appealing trails in both sections with impressive views of Phoenix and Tempe from some unique vistas. Nearby attractions include the Phoenix Zoo, Desert Botanical Garden, Arizona Heritage Center and the Papago Golf Club.


Lost Dutchman State Park is 40 miles east of Phoenix and contains trails suitable for beginners to more advanced hikers. The trails wind through the Superstition Mountains making appropriate footwear, suitable gear and adequate hydration critical.


Payson (90 minutes north of the East Valley)

The Mogollon Rim near Payson offers amazing views as you hike through lush deciduous and pine forests and along lakes, springs, rivers and waterfalls. Trails range in levels and distance; rim views encompass hundreds of miles. Expect cool to cold temperatures and prepare accordingly. Waterproof footwear and gear is highly recommended.

Mogollon Rim


Arizona Vacation Home Rentals has several homes with trails adjacent to the property or community:


Diamond Spirit Ranch


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Arizona Vacation Home Rentals

Phone/Text: 480.626.4072




*This article is intended to serve the interests of non-motorized bikers only. Guests will need to read trail and park details to locate ones that permit motorized bikes.

By providing links to other sites, AVHR does not guarantee, approve, or endorse information or products available on these sites.


My golfing experience is limited to miniature golf, called putt-putt by some. Yup, that’s it! You might think I shouldn’t write this blog but I’m writing it anyway because, despite my lack of golfing experience, here’s what I do know: Mesa is the shangri-la for golfers! With our almost perfect weather, blue skies and mountain vistas, Mesa ranks at the top of premiere golfing destinations in the Southwest.


Think I’m biased or exaggerating? For starters, Mesa by itself has 25 different courses including one municipal course. There are at least 50 other courses that are within 30 miles from downtown Mesa: 8 are municipal, most are public and at least 10 are award winning. The courses are varied and appeal to all levels of golfers, plus you can find tee times to fit most schedules.


I’ve included a list of some of the higher rated courses and links to help you explore the possibilities. If my blog doesn’t kindle your interest, the photos at the golf club websites most assuredly will.


Popular Public Courses in Mesa 

Apache Wells Country Club features an 18 hole course with a par of 71. The fairways are tree lined and mostly flat, making it an easy walk. It is a semi-private course, recommended for beginners and beyond and open to the public April through October. The club includes a grill with dining services.


Augusta Ranch Golf Club, well known for its friendly services, offers a challenging layout of 18 holes with a par of 61. Walking and golf carts are permitted. The club offers loyalty passes, instruction, league play and tournaments. A pub/grill is open during lunch and dinner hours for before and after celebrations.


Dobson Ranch Golf Course is an 18 hole, par 72, municipal course that is reasonably priced, well manicured and a good choice for all ages and abilities. The generous fairways are tree lined with water hazards and bunkers to keep you on your toes. There is a pro shop, practice range and dining facilities on site. Group and private lessons are offered. Check out the online discounts and special offers before you arrive.


Las Sendas Golf Club sits high in the East Valley, is considered to have one of the Top 10 courses in Arizona and boasts a world class layout. This course is rugged as golfers move through the Usery Mountains at 1800 feet above the desert. The reward for rising to the challenge is the magnificent view of Phoenix. A golf academy with instruction for all levels and ages, a well stocked pro shop and on site dining are appealing amenities.


Longbow Golf Club, located near Sky Harbor International Airport, offers Top 20 Arizona golf in a quintessential setting. There are 18 holes with a par of 70. SoloRider golf carts are available, enabling golfers with disabilities to maneuver the course. The practice area includes hitting stations, sand bunkers and chipping and putting greens. There is a golf store for shopping and a grill for gathering when you finish on the greens.



Painted Mountain Golf Resort has a par 70, 18 hole championship course. It offers the complete resort experience with fine dining, entertainment and unique golf boutiques on the premises. Golf instruction, league play and tournament packages are appealing choices.


Red Mountain Ranch Country Club features the Pete Dye Signature Course, an 18 hole championship course with a par of 72 and beautiful mountain vistas. Specialty instruction, league and tournament play as well as on site dining are all possibilities.


Sunland Springs Golf Club, a Jeff Hardin course with 2 sets of tee boxes, features a 27 hole, par 65, desert style executive golf course overshadowed by the Superstition Mountains. The course is situated in Sunland Springs Village, a 55+ active living community. The club offers a practice range, instruction, a golf shop and restaurant.


Sunland Village East Golf Course offers an 18 hole executive length course with a 62 par and a 9 hole play option. The play on this course is suitable for all ages and levels. A pro shop, driving range and restaurant enhance the appeal of this club.


Superstition Springs Golf Club is championship golf in a peaceful setting and convenient location. The 18 hole course has a par of 72 and there is an extensive practice putting green as well as a driving range for warming up your shots. PGA professionals are available for individual or group instruction. There are shopping plazas, theaters and restaurants nearby.


Stripe Show Golf Club is the ideal course for beginners, junior golfers, those preferring 9 holes at a competitive price and golfers who like to walk (walking is required). Looking for a quick 9 holes? This course boasts a 50 minute play time. There are challenging elements amidst sun and shade features plus a driving range with targets to enhance your game.


Toka Sticks Golf Club  or “The Sticks” offers 18 holes of traditional golf at affordable rates. Large trees adorn the course requiring accuracy of shots. The course is challenging; the greens are lush and well groomed. A driving range and grille are on site.



Award Winning Public Courses Near Mesa

Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale presents 36 holes with 2 courses of championship golf with a 72 par. The club has a complete driving range, pro shop and grill for celebrating with your favorite golf buddies. Included is a view of the iconic Camelback Mountain.


Papago Golf Club is located within Papago Park in Phoenix and just 2 miles from Sky Harbor International Airport. Tempe and Scottsdale are a short commute from the club. This is the home of the women’s and men’s Arizona State University Sun Devils golf teams.The municipal course is surrounded by classic desert habitat with impressive views of Phoenix and Camelback Mountain. Single rider carts are available upon request for an additional fee. The 18 hole par is 72.


Raven Phoenix/Golf Club is a Phoenix club sheltered by the spectacular South Mountain and suitable for all player levels. The Raven Course is 18 hole regulation length championship golf with a par of 72. Amenities and services at this club are world class earning it several golf service awards. Practice ranges and instruction by PGA professionals are tempting features of this club.


Talking Stick Golf Club is designed to reflect traditional Native American culture enabling you to share in the rich history of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community while enjoying stunning golf courses. There are 2 different courses that offer challenging fairways amid splendid Sonoran Desert scenery. The club offers affordable packages to learn, practice and play.


Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler presents a peaceful and serene setting for 36 holes of championship golf within an ancient and natural landscape. Tournaments, instruction, a grill and golf shopping are all exciting amenities at this club.




This is by no means the complete list of golf courses in and around Mesa but I’m hoping it’s enough to pique your enthusiasm for a golf vacation in the Valley of the Sun. The golfing choices plus our 300+ days of sunshine make this destination hard to forego.


Arizona Vacation Home Rentals has a variety of rental properties near all of the courses noted in this blog and some of our homes are within 10 miles of many courses. Talk about golf dense! For those who seek golf course entertainment between playing, or prefer to be spectators, we have many beautiful, self-contained homes of all sizes with amazing golf course views. We also have homes with putting greens to warm up your shots before you head to a course.




Save money and support local business by booking directly through

Arizona Vacation Home Rentals

Phone/Text:  480.626.4072



By providing links to other sites, AVHR does not guarantee, approve or endorse information or products available on these sites.

With the arrival of spring we leave the quiet and cold of winter behind to enjoy the splendor of the earth’s awakening and all that spring embodies. For baseball fans this includes spring training and the unique opportunity to enjoy informal, behind the scene encounters with favorite teams and players.


Baseball’s spring training typically begins in February when catchers and pitchers report to camp to begin workouts, and lasts through March or into early April. Some teams train at their spring ballparks; many train at nearby training fields. Both parks and fields are usually open to the public and host countless devoted fans and non-baseball persons who gather to watch team dynamics in advance of the major league season. What makes spring training especially exciting is the opportunity it provides for new players to shine and veterans to prove themselves ever worthy, or step aside.


Spring Training History

The first spring training happened in 1886 when the Chicago White Stockings (now the Chicago Cubs) went to Hot Springs, Arkansas, an ideal location to shake off the winter doldrums and prepare for the upcoming season. This event was the catalyst for other major league teams to adopt a similar philosophy and move their teams to optimal training grounds for spring workouts. Eventually, California, Florida and Arizona, with their sunny and warm climates, were able to lure the baseball teams’ training camps to their states. Today there are 2 major leagues, the Grapefruit League in Florida and the Cactus League in Arizona. Both leagues currently have 15 teams each.



Meet the Cactus League

The greater Phoenix area is home to the Cactus League which includes the following spring training baseball teams and locations:


Distance and travel time between baseball fields, especially in the Cactus League, can be short which means it’s possible for visitors to see more than one team workout or play on any given day. Keep in mind that workout schedules are not strict: stop and start times will vary with interruptions to schedules occurring due to team meetings and other factors. Once exhibition games actually start, practices are usually shorter and training times even less predictable.



Phoenix Baseball Teams

In addition to spring training practices and games, baseball lovers can watch the Arizona State University Sun Devils play college baseball at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in downtown Phoenix and the Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix’s major league team, play at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix. Batters up, hands down: the greater Phoenix area is the place to be if you love baseball!


It’s almost spring. It’s time to check your calendar and begin making arrangements to visit this year’s spring training events. Interested guests may find this link helpful for planning to see your favorite teams in action: Cactus League Spring Training Schedule.


Arizona Vacation Home Rentals has a variety of properties that are near spring training activities. If spring training is one of your reasons for visiting Arizona, talk to our reservations specialists about best properties to book.



Save money and support local business by booking directly through

Arizona Vacation Home Rentals

Phone/Text: 480.626.4072




By providing links to other sites, AVHR does not guarantee, approve, or endorse information or products available on these sites.

An Owling We Will Go…

If you appreciate owls Arizona should be on your list of places to visit. Our state has 13 different species: Great Horned, Barn, Western Screech, Burrowing, Long and Short Eared, Saw-whet, Whiskered Screech, Ferruginous Pygmy, Northern Pygmy, Flammulated, Elf and Mexican Spotted Owls. A few of these owls migrate south during the winter but the majority live here year-round.

Most Arizona owls are creatures of the night, preferring the crepuscular hours to hunt for insects, rodents, snakes and lizards. One exception to this behavior is the Burrowing Owl, a ground dweller who is active during daylight hours. These cute and often comical owls can be observed hopping around grasslands hunting their favorite insects and small rodents in the middle of the day. This makes them somewhat easy for birdwatchers, owl worshippers or the casual tourist to spot. When feeling threatened, to escape the desert heat or to sleep, the Burrowing Owl retreats to her below ground hideaway.


Burrowing Owls are about 8 – 10 inches tall. The male is slightly heavier and has a longer wingspan than the female. In Arizona ground squirrels are a favorite menu item. They also eat insects, other small mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Mating occurs in early spring; Burrowing Owls may nest in groups or alone. Females usually lay 6-12 eggs and care for the owlets for about 6 weeks. Their natural lifespan is 6-8 years.


Burrowing Owls are often found in agricultural areas where water, food and space for their extensive burrows provide the ecosystem they need to thrive. Preferred habitats include deserts, farmlands, grasslands, golf courses and sometimes vacant lots in urban areas. Once upon a time they established themselves in abandoned prairie dog, tortoise or ground squirrel homes but loss of habitat has dramatically affected the populations of all underground dwellers. It’s no surprise that the recent housing boom and related urban development has threatened the Burrowing Owl despite their protected status.


The Burrowing Owl’s Village

All owls in Arizona are federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and Arizona state law (ARS Title 17). MBTA protects birds and their nests from harm and disposal. Burrowing Owls are considered to be a Conservation Concern at the national level and a Species of Concern in Arizona. Feeding and other behaviors that interfere with the owls’ natural lifestyles are prohibited.


Local places to search for Burrowing Owls include Veterans Oasis Park which features man-made burrows, Rio Salada Audubon Center in Phoenix, Scottsdale Community College and the areas surrounding Higley Road Ponds and Rousseau Sod Farms in Maricopa County. Zanjero Park in Gilbert was once home to Burrowing Owls but due to recent construction, loss of habitat and safety concerns the owls have been relocated and the burrows covered.


Be Kind to Burrowing Owls and ALL Wildlife




Save money and support local business by booking directly through

Arizona Vacation Home Rentals

Phone/Text:  480.626.4072




Photo credits: © Gilbert S Grant & Nicole D Reiber

By providing links to other sites, AVHR does not guarantee, approve, or endorse information or products available on these sites.