The sound of the creek running over the rocks, crickets chirping their lullabies, the smell of pine mixed with horses; nighttime at Kohl’s Ranch Lodge in Payson. Getting a cabin there was just what the doctor ordered to slough off stress and fill ourselves with ranch style hospitality. The best part, of course, was having my darling husband, three children and their mates all together to share mornings, noons and nights of fun, food and frivolity.
The cabin overlooked Tonto Creek, surrounded by Ponderosa pines. Robins were bobbing along, pulling worms from the ground for a tasty meal as butterflies fluttered through the plants. Craw-fish skittered along the rocks in the creek but the quick hands of our daring men gave us a closer look at their snapping claws.
Joshua made his “I want to live sandwiches” for a healthy start to the day amidst the ranch’s numerous options for play. Basketball and tennis courts, horseshoe pits and bocce ball are a few of the activities that strained the muscles of the weekend warriors. We had our own wheelbarrow races and Joshua kept up with the youngun’s with his attempts at handstands.
Tonto Natural Bridge was a must see, the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. You can hike down to the bottom or stay at the top at one of the lookout points and still catch the grandeur of this unique geological formation. There is a trail to take to see a waterfall cave but I just let my imagination do what my legs protested.
The Tonto Fish Hatchery and the surrounding campsites were all closed because of fire danger and recent bear attacks. One night at about 3a.m. I heard lots of scuffling outside but it wasn’t a bear, just some javelina looking for a snack. We found some more docile javelina at the bridge and they are quite accustomed to the humans gawking at them as they go about their business.
Kohl’s Ranch is the perfect family getaway. Dogs are allowed, though the grandogs didn’t accompany us. There is a restaurant and bar with a guitar playing singer that we kicked up our heels to, waking up the sleepy patrons that enjoyed our antics.
There is much history to partake of through a book written by the Kohl’s granddaughters that you can check out through the office. Friendly, accommodating staff, super clean cabins with TVs with a million channels, WIFI and even a whirlpool tub! Best yet, there was no cell phone service so no texting.
I’m ready to go again and sit by the creek with my tea and crumpets, watching the water flow over the rocks, feeling the peace and serenity that swallows you up. Just what vacations are for.