Q. Our family is here over Fall Break. What events can we take advantage of in Arizona’s November?
A. The month of November tends to make folks feel like life is passing more quickly. In an effort to slow it down, we try to fill the hours more meaningfully.
Families traveling around Arizona can take their pick of divergent Fall activities. Fellow travel writer Scott Craven suggests you step it up (literally) and take the family on a unique journey to the ancient 1100-year-old village of Walpi atop a 300-foot-tall mesa on the Hopi Reservation in Northern Arizona. Live in the moment and turn off your phones while you enjoy a rare glimpse into the past. Walpi is one of North America’s oldest continuously inhabited villages. Here Hopi artists who live on the First Mesa in one of the 132 villages much as their ancestors did without electricity or running water, speak with visitors about their handcrafted pottery, kachina carvings and jewelry on display. Visitors have the opportunity to buy this prized original artistry without paying the middleman in stores and galleries elsewhere. Always ask permission to take photographs. Simply follow Arizona State highway 264. www.experiencehopi.com. And good news arrived this week that the Snowbowl Ski Resort near Flagstaff will open one week early on November 20th because of the large El Nino front just in time for Thanksgiving gatherings. Snowbowl added $2 million in upgrades this year including its first four-person chairlift.
While Autumn is in the air and pumpkins are in our lattes ( muffins, pies, candles, etc.) it’s prime time to take in the scenic Sedona Fall Colors Tour on the Verde Canyon Railroad in Central Arizona departing from Clarksdale throughout the month. Settle into the comfort of a loveseat or bistro chair near a panoramic window as you treat yourself to views of a vibrant corridor of golden cottonwoods and crimson big tooth maples against a backdrop of coppery curtains of rock along the Verde River banks. Introduce the younger set to time travel into the late 1800s. verdecanyonrr.com or (800) 582-1245. No autumn is complete without a trip to a pumpkin patch. And the four-generation Tolmachoff Farms Pumpkin Days and Corn Maze fits the bill (November 1-8.) An enormous pumpkin patch, six-acre family corn maze, a mini-maze as well as a haunted corn maze highlight the seasonal offering along with a petting zoo, train ride, hay pyramid, pedal carts and a jumping pillow.
www.tolmachoff-farms.com. Let’s toss in a state fair for good measure with its classic carnival rides and cuisine, motor racing and concerts which include guests Bret Michaels, Meat Loaf, Sheryl Crow, Jackson Browne, and Jane’s Addiction at the Arizona State Fair through November 8th. www.azstatefair.com. Or resolve holiday shopping for that hard-to-please friend or relative at the 22nd Annual Scottsdale Artfest. Free admission to the Scottsdale Civic Center Park on November 21-22 will allow you to choose an original gift from more than 150 vendors while enjoying live music and tasty dining in a sculpture garden at this popular Valley event. experiencescottsdale.com.
A classic Fall outing awaits travelers on the northern outskirts of Tucson in Southern Arizona–The first Harvest Heritage Festival at historic Steam Pump Ranch will be held November 7 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. [German Immigrant George Pusch purchased this spread in 1847 along with a steam pump shipped from Germany to water down cattle on their way to market by pumping underneath the dry desert for water.] Cattle ranchers who got paid by the pound were happy to pay 15 cents per head to weigh down their cattle at Steam Pump along with wagon trains, Wells Fargo and the Indians with whom Pusch made friends turning Tucson into a major trade route. Enjoy the stories told by historical reenactors in period costumes, authentic live cowboy music by Cowboy at Heart, blacksmith demonstrations, a horse show and tour an archaeological pit house replica. Oro Valley Parks and Recreation www.orovalleyaz.gov or (520) 229-5050. Speaking of all things harvest, how about a Harvest Moon Ride on Tucson’s Sabino Canyon Full Moon Tram through its scenic saguaro-draped rock spires. November 21 or 22 at 7:30 p.m. $10 for adults $5 children 3-12. Call ahead (520) 749-2327.