By Kiara Bean, Editor-in-Chief
Many students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott visit nearby Sedona or Flagstaff when there is a break from classes. Maybe next time you could try something new, and drive a little over 150 miles east of Prescott and get all the way to the quaint town of Overgaard.
Overgaard is often linked with the neighboring town of Heber, and they call it the Heber-Overgaard area. It’s surrounded by forests and sits at an elevation of 6,627 feet. It’s a very quiet place with only about 2,800 people between the two towns. One could say there is more wildlife than humans.
My family visited Overgaard during the summer, but I can imagine that it would be as beautiful in the winter as it was in the summer. We heard from locals that the town can easily get over two feet of snow during the winter months. The summers are warm, with an average of 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Life in Overgaard is very slow paced. I would highly recommend it if you’re trying to escape the rush of everyday life with too many responsibilities. It’s like time stops over there. If you’re expecting a busy trip with a variety of activities, then you will be very disappointed. However, if you just want to relax and enjoy nature, Overgaard is the place to go. There is plenty of hiking and views to enjoy where you can let your mind rest.
Since I mentioned that it’s in the middle of the forest, you can already guess what we did there: a lot of hiking. It was incredible to be in the middle of the forest and not hear any human-made sounds, just the chirping of birds, howling of coyotes, and the whisper of leaves in the wind. It was very peaceful out there.
My favorite hikes were the Overgaard Fitness Trails in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. They were absolutely beautiful. There are many trails with different difficulty levels, from easy to more difficult. You can hike on foot, by bike, or even ride a horse!
If you choose to stay for longer, be sure to go to Mogollon Rim. It’s about a thirty-minute drive west of Overgaard. With plenty of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, you’re sure to find something to keep you busy. You can even stay in the campgrounds if you enjoy camping.
Nearby are two lakes, Willow Springs Lake and Woods Canyon Lake. If you enjoy cold waters, both offer fishing, kayaking, and paddle boarding. The campgrounds are highly populated with skunks, bears, deer, and other woodland creatures, so be careful if you decide to stay overnight.
Back in the Heber-Overgaard area, Black Canyon is a must see; however, you must have four-wheel drive since it’s a dirt road. Along the road, you can see the pictographs which mark the time of the Mogollon Indians, the first settlers of the canyon.
If you’d enjoy having some wooden décor for your dorm room or housing, Wild Woods Gifts and Rustic Furniture is the perfect place to go. All the décor and furniture in this eclectic shop is hand-made. They sell regular items like wooden boxes, garden welcome signs, and bear statuary. If you are looking for something a bit more unique – and noticeable – they also sell life size E.T. statues and very large eagle statues for your roof (maybe ERAU should go shop there for new décor for campus).
At the Woodshed Café, I had an excellent Western skillet and a very tasty ciabatta sandwich. We also enjoyed donuts at Mama Santina’s donut shop. Unfortunately, it is permanently closed now. If you like pulled pork sandwiches, I would suggest visiting Perky’s Express-O.
This vacation was a “hike-eat-sleep-repeat” vacation, and it was totally worth it. It was full of relaxation, the smell of pine cones, and sore feet. If you ever get the chance, go visit Overgaard. I highly recommend it.
1. Road to the quiet life.
2. Hotel in the western style in Overgaard.
3. Indian Paintbrush on one of the Overgaard Fitness Trails.
4. Army of bears in Wild Woods Gifts and Rustic Furniture store.
5. A log cabin in Overgaard.
6. One of the Overgaard Fitness Trails.
7. A variety of trees in Overgaard.
8. Beautiful nature in Overgaard.