Get away to peace, quiet, and summer fun in eastern Arizona
Set in a gentle valley in eastern Arizona's White Mountains, Greer is a summer Shangri-la, a community of cabins and log lodges located at the end of a road, at the edge of the forest. It's a place where people come for weekend escapes. And once most people discover Greer's sprawling meadow, spruce-covered hillsides, and the icy waters of the Little Colorado River as it twists its way through town, they tend to get possessive. Greer's simple charms make you want to keep the place all to yourself.
With good reason. Greer's great hiking and fly-fishing opportunities, along with a thoughtful museum and many hearty eateries and little boutiques, are making this small town a popular getaway.
The picture-perfect scenery has been attracting travelers for a long time. During the 1870s, Mormon pioneers found that this valley was ideal for farming and for raising cattle. The abundant game and fish in what is now the surrounding Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests brought the first tourists, mostly sportsmen, to the village.
Among them was Western writer James Willard Schultz, who was an early contributor to Sunset. Schultz was smitten enough with the area's trout-filled streams and flocks of wild turkeys to have a cabin built here in 1913, which he later gave to his son, Hart Merriam Schultz, an artist who went by the name Lone Wolf. The cabin serves as the Butterfly Lodge Museum, filled with original works and furnishings from both men.
As Greer's popularity has grown, a handful of inns and B&Bs have sprung up. On a busy summer weekend, the population can swell from less than 200 to about 2,000. Even then, there's plenty of elbow room in the surrounding national forests.
Several good hikes start right in the village. One, West Fork Trail #94, is dense with raspberries and wild roses and passes tranquil Badger Pond. While hiking part of the moderate 7-mile trail, we noticed that summer thunderstorms had produced a bumper crop of mushrooms. An easier trek from town is on Butler Canyon Trail #98, a 1-mile loop.
Fly-fishing is Greer's other popular preoccupation; several outfitters offer lessons and guided trips. At the town's edge, there's good fishing on one of the reservoirs along the Little Colorado River, where you'll get nibbles from rainbow, brown, or native Apache trout.
When you're ready to eat fish rather than chase them, Greer restaurants serve trout almondine, along with steak and ribs, as main offerings. Interspersed with restaurants along Main Street are antiques shops and boutiques.
Surprisingly, Greer does have something of a nightlife. Live music at Molly Butler Lodge, a popular restaurant and bar, encourages dancing, though our stamina was tempered by the 8,500-foot elevation and a day of hiking.
Back at our inn, we sat on a wooden glider and stared up at the brilliant night sky, so easy to see from this part of the world. After a day of hiking, fishing, and dancing, we were doing nothing in Greer ― and loving it.
Butterfly Lodge Museum. 10-5 Fri-Sun; $2. State 373 at County Rd. 1126; 928/735-7514.
Music from Greer. Series of evening concerts. 7 p.m. Jul 18-24. 928/735-7568.
The Speckled Trout. Fly-fishing lessons from $70, guides from $135. 103 Main St.; 928/735-7222.
Cattle Kate's. Ribs served in a log dining room. $$; lunch and dinner daily. 80 Main; 928/735-7744.
Greer Lodge. Rustic lodge on the Little Colorado River. $$; dinner daily, brunch Sat-Sun. 9 rooms and 2 cabins from $185. 44 Main; 928/735-7216.
Molly Butler Lodge. Prime rib is the specialty. Live music most weekend nights. $$; lunch and dinner daily. 109 Main; 928/735-7226.
Red Setter Inn. Adirondack-style B&B; no children. 12 rooms and 2 cabins from $150. 8 Main; 888/994-7337.
White Mountain Lodge. 1892 lodge overlooks a fishing hole and meadow. 7 rooms and 6 cabins from $85. 140 Main; 888/493-7568.