Across the Creek at Aravaipa Farms is open Wednesdays through Saturdays year-round, and is located at 89395 E. Aravaipa Road, 10 miles south of Winkelman. For more information, call 520-357-6901 or visit www.aravaipafarms.com.
© Randy Prentice
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Desert OasisLocated a stone's throw from one of the most beautiful canyons in the world is an equally impressive — and unexpected — country inn known as Across the Creek at Aravaipa Farms. You won't believe your eyes.
By Nikki Buchanan
Aravaipa Located 120 miles southeast of Phoenix and 70 miles north of Tucson, Across the Creek at Aravaipa Farms is easy to get to, yet surprisingly remote, a sweet, quirky paradise found after 3 miles of dirt road and an easy ford through Aravaipa Creek.
Back in 1995, when Carol Steele bought the property — 55 acres of fruit orchard, farmhouse, barn and ancient eucalyptus trees — people thought she was crazy. Why would this culinary icon, famous for bringing fancy foods and visiting celebrity chefs to her gourmet shop (called C. Steele) in Scottsdale, abandon the urban environment in which she thrived? Steele gave them two great answers: 1) people needed balance in their lives, a chance to escape what she called "the encroaching digital world," and 2) they needed a place to stay after hiking Aravaipa Canyon.
Cannily blending the spiritual and the practical, she created a peaceful, romantic getaway that sits five minutes from one of the state's most spectacular wilderness areas, a riparian zone so rich in biodiversity that even nonhikers feel compelled to get up off their duffs and do some exploring.
Although Steele's sparkling pool is tempting, being active is hardly necessary. She transformed the outbuildings on her property into five wonderfully rustic casitas, each boasting its own shady, flower-filled patio complete with burbling fountain, outdoor fireplace and comfy chairs. They're ideal spots for reading, bird-watching (the area is home to 150 species) and finding constellations in a night sky thick with stars. Inside, each uniquely furnished suite is an eclectic compilation of slate floor, stone fireplace, rusting metal and rough-hewn wood, fresh flowers, leather armchairs, weathered Mexican furniture, feminine duvets and colorful folk art — all thrown together with a kind of elegant offhandedness.
Because local restaurants aren't readily accessible, Steele offers three squares a day. Fresh fruit, cheeses, homemade granola, signature banana-nut bread and English muffins (served with jams and preserves made with fruit from the orchard) are stocked in each casita for a do-it-yourself breakfast. Picnic lunches, which include terrific C. Steele-style sandwiches, cookies and addictive trail mix, arrive in a tote bag before the lunch hour (earlier if you're hiking the canyon), while dinner — which begins at 6:30 p.m. with wine on the patio — is served communally at a long pine table in the cozy, converted barn.
This may be a country inn, but entrees such as curried lamb, roasted chicken with preserved lemons and salmon baked in fig leaves are anything but countrified.