Payson, AZ
Told by Kuma & Written by Lorraine Bossé-Smith

Payson AZ (8) lrArizona is known as the Grand Canyon State. I hear that it is one big canyon but haven’t yet been there myself. It’s on my bucket list! My family and I did drive over to Rim Country, though, which is the not-as-famous canyon right in the middle of the state. Think the Grand Canyon but only one side. We made a day of it by visiting Payson, the gateway to Rim Country.

Payson AZ (2) lr Payson is about two hours Northeast of Phoenix Downtown, closer to the North end. For those looking for a very scenic drive, I’d recommend the 10 East to the 202 East loop and follow that through Fountain Hills, which is a really cool place of its own. The town is hilly with lots of boulders. It reminded my humans of Austin, TX or certain parts of California. Anyway, in Fountain Hills, connect with the 87 North and take that all the way into Payson, a small town of about 15,000 people.

Payson AZ (5) lrRight in town is Rim County Lake with a lovely park around it with lots of grass. Oh how I was happy to see green, lush, soft grass! We don’t have much of that stuff in Phoenix, and I miss it as we had tons of it in Texas. I did my little happy dance, rolled in it, and loved how it felt on my paws. I think humans should take their shoes off more often and feel the grass under their feet. Just saying.

The lake had folks fishing, and many people were enjoying the nice day by picnicking. Plenty of my kind were taking walks with their humans around the lake, just like us. It was an easy walk but very scenic. Little did I know this was just the beginning of our adventure that day.

Payson AZ (3) lrWe got back on Highway 87 from Main Street and went almost 4 miles, turning on Doll Baby Ranch Road. The American Gulch Trail, south section, trail access was right there. It has day picnic spots, and many of them were full of families enjoying the shade of the big trees. We walked behind and found the creek. We followed that for a ways before we found a nice spot to sit and have our lunch. Listening to the water flowing was peaceful. Phoenix doesn’t have much water, either, so it was a treat to wade in and out, splashing around a bit.

The area has lots of rock formations. I’m sure if you wanted to, you could climb them. They are certainly pretty to look at with their rich, red color contrasted with the green trees. More trails connect, and you could go way back into the forest if you like. We were just scoping the area out for future camping, and it looked like a good option. We’re thinking of making Payson our home base and then exploring Rim Country next. We hear the four-wheel-drive paths are awesome with gorgeous lakes and scenic views. Stay tuned for that adventure in the future. In the mean time, get outside! You never know what you’ll discover.

Kumaito (Kuma for short) is a black & tan Shiba Inu, an ancient breed from Japan, who was born in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, moved to Friendswood, Texas, for three years and now resides in Phoenix, AZ. He enjoys running almost every day with his mom, chasing rabbits, playing with toys, pestering his brother Edmond, eating, napping … well, Kuma loves about everything and everyone! His mom, Lorraine Bossé-Smith, is kind enough to help him tell his story. She is the author of seven published books, writes for magazines on assignment, has been seen on national television, and rewires businesses for success through her consulting and trainings. You can reach Kuma through Lorraine’s website: Be sure to visit Kuma Dog’s Facebook page.

You never know what he’ll be up to next!