With temperatures looming around 110°, summers in Phoenix, Arizona, can be rough. However, the good news is that you are a 2-hour drive from enjoying much cooler weather. Valley residents frequently take advantage of the mountainous climate and escape the heat at every opportunity. Munds Park is an unincorporated census-designated place in Coconino County, Arizona, that serves as a relaxing getaway to preserve one’s sanity.
The year-round population in Munds Park as of 2020 was about 1,188. And the average temperature in the summer is around 80° during the day and 50° at night. While heading to one of the many northern destinations, we’ve driven past the Munds Park exit hundreds of times. We finally decided to stop. We rented a friend’s Airbnb cabin and soaked up the outdoors.
The sleepy town is surrounded by forests, and there are plenty of trails for hiking, biking, and off-roading. There are four or five restaurants and a few gas stations with mini-marts. Don’t rely on the general store for supplies or food as it is sparse in those departments. Housing primarily consists of manufactured houses, cabins, and an RV park. And the beautiful lush green Pinewood Country Club golf course sits in the middle of town.
Upon arrival on our first day, we grabbed some sandwiches at Kota’s Coffee House and took them back to our cabin. (I should mention that they also have delicious specialty latte options). We had our dog with us, and not everywhere had a patio, so we had a few limitations for Friday lunch. It certainly wasn’t a problem as we had a cozy place to stay, with a wrap-around patio and fenced-in yard. A colossal thunderstorm soon rolled in, giving us quite the rumbling of a welcome. We embraced every bit of it, watching the rain hit hard on the deck as the wind soared through the pines. As the storm subsided, we snacked, drank wine, breathed in the mountain air, and waved to passers-by. The day blended into the night.
On day two, we were more motivated to explore and ventured to hike the Frogs Loop trail. The rain left us with a muddy reception making it near impossible to tackle the miles. Our shoes and dog Kai’s little paws were covered in wet clay-like dirt. Despite the beauty of the forest, we thought it best to stick to the streets. A long walk on the windy roads through the rural town was lovely. We gazed at the houses, some small and quaint, some with much more elaborate living spaces. We enjoyed the scenery and took it all in.
After our walk, we chilled out some more before heading to lunch at the Borracho Saloon. With a dog-friendly patio, you order drinks inside and order your food from the food truck out back. Most saloons of this kind have horrid wine choices, which always annoys me. Therefore, I greatly appreciated them having a few viable demi-bottle options. We ordered quesadillas from the food truck without knowing we’d get the best we’d ever tasted. From the sauces to the curing of the meat, everything is made fresh and homemade except for the tortillas, which they carefully order locally. They have music on the patio, and the atmosphere is fun and easy-going, with people laughing and making friends with strangers.
With the possibility of more rain, we headed back to our cabin to relax on the patio with an overhang. Kai was overwhelmed with the stimuli of smells, cat sightings, and thunder crackling. We were hanging on to our final evening of sitting outside for a while. We left in the morning aware of that reality, but the few days in Munds Park were great for our psyche. It rejuvenated us to face the work week ahead and the remainder of summer in the valley.
My readers’ final advice is not to pass the Munds Park exit too many times without stopping. It’s a peaceful little haven to be active or lazy. Take a sigh of relief as you drive back down the hill, remembering places like this exist for us to again return.