At an elevation of 8500 feet, the air is clearer in Greer, the Pine trees taller and the meadows greener. Founded in 1879, Greer was named after its leading citizen, Americus Vespucius Greer. No matter what the name, Greer is a bit of heaven on Earth.
A four hour drive from Phoenix, mostly on divided highways, takes you through the rustic town of Payson, the Rim Country, through Show Low and Lakeside-Pinetop. The turnoff to Greer, Route 373, is about eight miles past Sunrise ski resort. The road slopes gently down to the village of Greer, snuggled in a valley, surrounded by towering pine, quaking aspens, and tranquility.
Take a deep breath of pine scented cool mountain air and worries just melt.
Guests at The Red Setter Inn, an award winning bed and breakfast, are greeted by a profusion of columbine, day lilies, yarrow, larkspur and Marguerite daisies. The lodge’s living room is comfortably furnished with a combination of English hunting and old west. It sounds at odds but comes together beautifully. The downstairs play room is just that, with every imaginable old fashioned game to play and a wide selection of movies.
The second floor of the lodge is surrounded with a wood deck, overlooking the Little Colorado River. The pristine ten acre property is dotted with wooden chairs, lounges and swings, perfect for enjoying a cold drink and a good book. Each of the nine rooms has its own attraction: Number 1 boasts a private entry, Number 4 has its own deck, Room 9 has a gas fireplace. For those wishing a more private experience there are three stand alone cabins on the property as well.
Breakfast, served in the dining room, is a gourmet experience. One morning, a warm raspberry crumpet with whipped cream is followed by a fresh fruit compote, and an asparagus frittata. Juice, hot coffee, tea and cocoa are available not only at breakfast but all day. A complimentary sack lunch is prepared for those who want to explore the area.
The Red Setter Inn is for grownups and ideal for couples. Guests must be 16 or older.
If the trip is a family affair, Antler Ridge cabins welcomes pets and children. Fully equipped house keeping two bedroom cabins with a wood burning fireplace, supplied with complimentary wood, are scattered over the spacious grounds with plenty of room for the kids to play. The bedrooms are small as is the one bathroom. The kitchen is fully equipped. The living area has room for a full size sofa and two large chairs as well as dining table and chairs. A playground and a private catch and release pond provide additional activities. Two ranch houses, which sleep up to 16, are available for larger groups.
Greer Lodge offers housekeeping cabins as well. The luxuriously appointed rooms in the main lodge are adults only. 373 Grill, the on site restaurant and lounge, is family friendly and cowboy comfortable. Nearly every table has a breath taking view of the valley and the mountains behind. The wine list is moderate in both price and offerings. The house wine, a decent chardonnay, comes in a souvenir bottle. The menu offers the usual steak, hamburgers, and ribs. The baby back ribs are succulent; peppy but not overly spicy and served with an extensive choice of sides including a huge portion of crunchy onion rings.
Looking for an upscale experience for families and couples? You’ll find it at The Peaks. The lodge has gone through a major renovation and all the rooms have recently been refurbished. Several of the suites, generously sized to fit a family of four, come with Jacuzzis and fireplaces. Spectacular views await from every window.
La Ventana, the on site restaurant, offers a candlelit dining room, washed in pale desert colors. The ambiance is elegant but not stuffy. Diners munch on complimentary crunchy bread served with a dipping sauce of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, herbs and Parmesan cheese. Appetizers include a roasted tomato soup with a hint of basil. The creamy broth is textured with bits of onion and fresh tomato. The salad of baby greens and candied walnuts is tossed with a tangy raspberry vinaigrette dressing. The rib eye is seared on the outside, tender and perfectly seasoned.
Not to be missed are the pancakes at the Rendezvous Diner, swimming in melted butter and syrup, accompanied by smoky crisp bacon, and a never empty cup of coffee. Your day will get off to a great start. Molly Butler Lodge offers lunch baskets during the summer months, try their sour dough burger, after a morning of hiking.
Grocery and sundry items can be picked up at the Tin Star Trading Post. Along with a cup of special blend coffee, visitors can peruse the fused glass jewelry offered by a local artisan along with Hopi, Zuni, Cherokee and other Native American silver jewelry pieces. Curios, tee-shirts, and some antiques can be found at The Quaker Barrel. The shop looks tiny from the outside but that’s deceiving. There are actually two levels and five rooms chock full of fun and curiosities.
There are hiking trails throughout the area in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. The Government Springs trail isn’t an official Forest Service Trail but it’s an easy walk along the west fork of the Little Colorado. Just go down Main Street until it dead ends in a parking lot on National Forest Land and you’re at the right place. Take a lunch, the trail is scattered with perfect picnic spots.
Fishing is a favorite pastime in the three major lakes at Greer: Bunch Reservoir, Tunnel Reservoir and River Reservoir. River Reservoir is the largest at approximately 120 acres. Located one mile north of Greer, off FS 245, River Reservoir produced one of the largest brown trout in the state of Arizona. Big Lake, about eight miles from Greer, is stocked with 30,000 rainbow and brown trout every spring and at 400 acres is the largest lake in the area. An Arizona fishing license is required for anyone over 14 years old.
Need a little more excitement? Try the ski lift chair at Sunrise Park Resort. The chair lift runs every weekend and holiday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm beginning Memorial Weekend through Labor Day Weekend. Mountain bikers can use the lift to get their bikes to the top of the ski runs.
Whether hiking, fishing, or just snoozing in the dappled shade of the tall pines is your idea of a heavenly respite, you’ll find it in Greer, Arizona.
Directions to Greer: State Hwy. 87 north to Payson. From Payson, take State Hwy. 260 east following the Mogollon Rim to Show Low. At Show Low, continue on Hwy. 260 through Pinetop-Lakeside and McNary. Go past the Sunrise Park Resort road (Hwy 273) to Hwy 373. Greer is just down the road.