By Noah Austin | Photograph by Nick Berezenko
The best view at Verde River Rock House might be the one from its smallest bedroom. There’s space for little more than a full-size bed in the Princess Suite, but a picture window overlooks the East Verde River, which flows year-round past the property. And the soothing sight and sound of a running river might be enough for you to spend your nights in this bedroom, rather than in the queen-size bed of the larger Rock Room.
Not that you can really go wrong with that room, either. It’s built into the side of a granite cliff, and it gets its name from one of its walls, which was made from rocks quarried from the river. You can hear the river from there, too, and both rooms feature premium linens, feather duvets and prime opportunities for relaxation — and salvation, once triple-digit temperatures take hold in the Phoenix area.
“The first time it hits 100 degrees down in the Valley, the phone rings off the hook,” says Maggie Evans, who owns and runs the Payson bed and breakfast with her husband, Steve. The property is surrounded by the Tonto National Forest and dates to the 1940s, but until the Evanses bought it in 2004, it had always been a private residence.
“It kind of reminds you of the houses you see back East,” Maggie says, “because every owner has added something to it.” Steve and Maggie did their part with an extensive remodel that included central air and heat, more bathrooms, outdoor sitting areas, and a sauna and hot tub. They also built a freestanding casita, with a full kitchen, that can be booked separately from the Rock House.
Maggie takes care of the second half of the B&B equation, cooking up a gourmet breakfast selection that features omelets, pancakes and breakfast tarts. There’s also the Rock House version of eggs Benedict, which includes a petite filet mignon and is served with rosemary potatoes. And a stay at the B&B comes with evening appetizers and beverages; full dinners are available for an additional fee.
Once your bed and breakfast needs are met, there’s no shortage of things to do. The Evanses provide mountain bikes and ATVs for guests to rent, and nearby attractions include Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, the Fossil Springs Wilderness and Woods Canyon Lake. The area offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, birding and golf, too.
But to do most of those things, you’ll have to leave the East Verde behind. Knowing that, it’s no surprise that many guests stick around to enjoy the night sky from the comfort of the hot tub, or to watch for elk or javelinas from the shaded patio. And the Arizona Game and Fish Department stocks the river, so great fishing, with a frosty beverage in hand, is just down the hill. It’s so close, in fact, that you could almost do it from the Princess Suite.
Verde River Rock House is located at 602 W. Eleanor Drive in Payson. For more information, call 928-472-4304 or visit www.verderiverrockhouse.com.