Club Wyndham Pinetop is in Pinetop AZ. I have only been to Arizona once before and really enjoyed my stay so I am very excited to be able to travel there again.
Video by Arizona Insider
Day One Travel and Arrival
Travel for me to an Arizona resort will mean a flight given the distance. Pinetop is near the Fort Apache reservation. There is an airport near the resort but the flight time with a transfer will be over 10 hours. The area is fairly close to the New Mexico border, so it is a good distance to travel, but it should be really worth it for a glimpse of this beautiful area.
My flight was bumpy due to a storm over New Mexico, but other than that uneventful. Given the remote location, I have rented a car and this time a 4-wheel drive just in case I want to go off-road or even on some dirt roads.
From the airport, it is less than a 30-minute drive to the resort. After the flight, I look for somewhere to eat on the way to the resort. 10 hours of air travel makes me hungry and thirsty.
This is a tiny airport. So small you might meet all the staff on your arrival. Also, the local rental car company will bring your car to you from off-site. I stopped in the last little village before the resort and grabbed some lunch, then went to Eddie’s Country Store for supplies.
For my dinner, I went to Charlie Clark’s Steakhouse and had their generous chicken fried or country fried steak. Everything here looked great, but the idea of the country-fried steak and gravy just caught my imagination. At the end of the day, I am a carb addict, and not ashamed of it. The gravy was great and I may come back again on my trip to try their steaks. They smelled amazing when they came out sizzling to tables near me.
Arrival at the resort followed my local grocery stop. I picked up just a few things for snakes and easy breakfast, having not seen the situation at the resort, yet I did not want to load up on items.
The resort itself is easy to find from Eddie’s. Just a short little drive from there. The resort was easy to check in to. It is likely important to note that the resort has 3 levels of accommodation, 1-2 bedrooms, and studios are available. Not being from this area, it may shock some that the villas or suites here are listed without air conditioning. When you look at the weather averages in the area, you see why. I am here in October and the average temperature outside is 60 for the high today. Also, the local altitude is pretty high at nearly 7,000 feet.
I am a sea-level guy who lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia. So, I have added a day to this trip from my normal 3-day mini trip to rest and get used to the altitude. Already by the time I got off the plane, my breathing is a little labored. It has been many months since I have been close to this altitude. Your body needs to adapt once you get over 6,000 feet and the higher you go, the more it needs to adjust. Once you reach 10,000 feet, just 3,000 higher than my altitude, now you really notice the difference. Here it is just something I am picking up because I am a large guy and out of shape these days.
From the airport to the resort you slowly climb up almost another 600 feet in altitude. The airport itself is just over 6,000 feet. Between the two locations, you do not feel the difference much but the overall difference of almost 7,000 feet in altitude you do feel.
I had to remind myself that most people will experience some altitude effect going from sea level to 5,000 feet or more in altitude. The higher you go, the more likely you will experience altitude sickness to one level or another. If you reach 10,000 feet, nearly 75% of people will experience some symptoms. If, like me, you are from sea, level, this can be more dramatic. So just be aware and plan to take it easy the first day you are in town. For me, this meant only one drink with dinner and taking it easy moving my bag to the villa, and so on.
I also use a CPAP, so getting sleep once I settle in will be important to make sure I adjust well to the area faster. Given the stress of breathing, it can be hard to settle in and rest for some. Luckily, that 3,000 ft in elevation below 10K does make it easier to breathe and sleep.
From the time I got in and settled, I was ready for what I refer to as machine time. Time using the CPAP to breathe better when I sleep. It helped that shortly after I checked in late in the day, it became dark outside.
A side note when you first get at altitude limit your alcohol intake and bring with you a few potassium supplements. One of the symptoms for sea-level folks like me can be a short-term need for more potassium. The pills are easy to supplement with than even bananas. If you forgot the supplements, just check for bananas at the local market on your way in. Getting to sleep was not hard staying asleep as a little difficult.
The rooms at the resort are 1 or 2-bedrooms, as well as suites. I typically book in 1-bedroom and I did so here as well. They are well-sized at nearly 800 square feet in size with a modern feel and layout. The only thing that feels a little dated, but I like is the murphy bed for larger families renting. That is a nice option but something you do not see as often these days.
- Cable TV
- Coffee Maker
- DVD Player
- Ice Maker
- Iron/Ironing Board
- Whirlpool Bath
Then the resort itself offers all of these options.
- BBQ Grills
- Business Center/Fax
- Gift Shop
- Fitness Room
- Game Room
- Hot Tub
- Indoor Pool
- Internet Access
- Kid’s Activities
- Walking Trails
- Laundry Facilities
- Movie Rentals
- On-Site Security
- Outdoor Pool
- Sauna/Steam Room
The rooms here all have nice small kitchens and a balcony with a BBQ. If, like me, you are a sea-level person and will take it easy on day one. Then you can feel comfortable about stocking up on food and snacks in town so you too can take it easy on day one. There is everything you need to cook with here and a nice size fridge.
Day Two at the Resort
Today I plan to take it easy to see some of the resort but other than that just rest and try to sleep so the altitude does not get to me as much. There is a ton to see and do outdoors in the larger area, but I do not want to get winded fast, so I think today will be my altitude day to get used to the resort.
Here is the deal with oxygen and altitude. At sea level you have access to over 20.9% oxygen at 7,000 feet, that number drops to about 16% so that drop of about 5% is something everyone will notice. The more out of shape you are, the more you will notice it. Also, the thing that gets you is the difference. If you live somewhere, that is 3,000 feet in altitude, the impact will be less. You would go from 18.6% to 16% which is an impact but not the same as the near 5% chance I am feeling. It kind of feels like you are in a room that has still air, or maybe that you just walked up a flight of stairs.
Now, for the elderly or out of shape, you may just want to have a conversation with your doctor about the best things to do before your trip. Anyone who uses an oxygen concentrator should be OK at this altitude, but much higher you may want to check with the manufactures website to see if they function well above 8,000 feet in elevation, which is considered high altitude.
I am not in any way trying to scare anyone. For most people, this is just about being thoughtful about where you are going. Just like making sure you bring a jacket for the nights here does get chilly most of the year.
One thing you can do is rent an oxygen concentrator and your doctor can help if you think you may need one while you are in the area. Given my CPAP use level, I considered it but chose against one ultimately because I do not use one at sea level and I wanted my body to adjust properly on my trip. If you do use one, normally, you should bring it or rent it ahead of time and confirm before you travel.
Again, my friends, I am going in deep here, but part of the reason is that I am writing this and not moving around much on day two to see things to tell you about. So just like mentioning a jacket, I wanted to give you helpful information about the altitude as well.
I managed to make a light lunch and then I snacked some throughout the day. You will notice increased hunger since your body is working a little harder with your breathing. So snacking is not a bad idea. You should eat healthy snacks like fruit since it has a high-water content as well and keeping your fluids up is always a good idea.
Day Three Seeing the Sites
Finally, today, when I woke my breathing, seemed a little easier. Now note that to truly adjust it might take a sea-level guy like me months, but this felt easier already on day 3 in the area. I would not be running anyway, but the track is certainly still out of the question.
Today I am starting my day, still moving slowly and relaxing by going to the local SPA. It is close to the resort in the small-town area near the wonderful steak restaurant I went to when I came into town.
I booked a deep tissue massage and then a reflexology session. The reason I chose reflexology as well is that I knew that activating my body’s natural systems via the pressure points in the feet will make me feel better overall.
For lunch, I went to The Lion’s Den which has ½ lb. hamburgers of all kinds. The meat also is cooked with a little wine so it stays juicy. I had a chili burger and chili fries, then a slice of blueberry pie for dessert and it all was great. This is a neat spot and one that I recommend you try on your trip to Pinetop.
Now since your mind (like mine) may be focused on your breathing more than at home, one thing you will surely notice is how fresh the air smells. That is in part due to the pine in the area. It is called Pinetop for a reason and that reason is the amount of pine in the area. I am here in the fall time but in summer it must be amazing. I can really smell the pine in the air and it is wonderful.
This area has a lot to offer the outdoor fan. I imagine the hiking in the area is some of the best you will find in summer, and horseback riding is clearly a neat thing to do in Pinetop. There are several companies that offer horses and guided trips on horseback.
Porter Mountain Stables is one close by. Another is the Pinetop Lakes and Activities Center. If you have not ridden before, this may be a wonderful time to learn with local lessons here at an affordable $40-hour rate.
Porter seemed to have more group tour-style rides available, but it may just be their website that has more details.
Me, I ended my day with a Sunset ride which was just $65 and lasted about 1.5 hours. That seemed like a nice long ride and where they take you, the views are amazing. I never quite thought sunset would be as nice at altitude as it is at sea level, but this was a sight to see for sure.
Still moving slowly and taking it easy, this was one heck of a neat day.
Day Four Extra time in the area
Today was my day to push myself a little and see more of what mother nature has to show off in the area. This extra day over the normal 3-day visits I take to the resort is here to allow me to get out and see more once my body was used to the altitude. As I walk far, my breathing is still labored so I will not be heading out on a solo hike today.
One thing I love is mini-golf. I know I should not be a kid wrapped in a 51-year-old body, but hey I am. So today I headed for the White Mountain Family Fun Park. I have also started golf itself lately, but I think 18 holes are too much for me on day 4 at this altitude, mostly because I have not even been that active at sea level over the last 6 months or so. The pandemic stuff had me on an inactive lockdown.
White Mountain Family Fun Park is fine but does seem a little dated. It looks like this place has been bringing fun to the area for years and that the current owner is trying to keep it going so people can have this nice fun outlet in the area.
I liked the mini-golf here. It was almost brand new (added in, 2019 I think I heard) and was laid out well.
On the mountain here in the winter, you can certainly find skiing. Winter starts at the Sunrise Resort on December 3rd or there about most years. During the summer you can take lift rides, and mountain bike at the resort and on the mountain. The top of the mountain here is 10,700, so it is about the same as the resort at Heavenly near Tahoe if you have skied or visited there.
Here you just have fewer trails and a shorter drop in elevation. It still must be fun to ski.
There is some local casino action if that is something you enjoy. On this trip I skipped it, but only because the outdoor scenes and beauty kept me looking outside all the time.
I would recommend this area to anyone. I think it must be amazing when everything is open in the summer. I also think that ski fans would love their area in winter too.
To book your own amazing stay, visit TZort.