This Desert Vibe, as with the previous, is being released in an online-only format, with interactive links to everything you’ll need! To read the full Desert Vibe magazine, go to DesertVibe.com/Magazine.
For residents of the east valley, the Beeline Highway is an important part of daily life, the gateway to the Mogollon Rim. It’s the only modern highway that connects to Fountain Hills.
The official name of the road is State Route 87, so you might wonder: why is it called “The Beeline Highway?”
History of Travel from Rim to Valley
The first major car route between Mesa and Payson was the Bush Highway, named after Harvey Granville Bush. He was a lumberman by trade, and thus had homes in Mesa and Payson, where the tall pines grow.
Getting lumber to the Valley from the mountains was a huge challenge during the days of wagons and early automobiles, involving several disjointed trails that went through the dangerous Reno Pass. So, Bush pushed an initiative with the state and the lumber industry to create a unified road from the city to Payson. Completed in 1934, the path, named after Bush, was the best and most convenient route to get to and from the Mogollon Rim.
As Phoenix’s population boomed after World War 2, camping became a larger and larger pastime, and the traffic up the Bush Highway increased drastically. This came to the attention of Grady Gammage, president of Arizona State Teachers College in Tempe. Gammage lobbied the state government and worked with James G. Hart of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to begin the creation of an official State Route to access and pass Payson.
After receiving permission from the Salt River Indian Reservation and Fort McDowell Indian Reservation, construction began.
A new, more convenient route was then built west of the Bush Highway. It was a significant shortcut for most Phoenix residents, considering it connected to West Mesa on Country Club Drive instead of all the way in Apache Junction.
The shortcut was so obvious, that it was considered “taking a bee-line” up to the Rim, with the term “bee-line” being a slang term referring to a shortcut.
From then on, the Beeline Highway was paved and expanded on top of, and sometimes next to, the old Bush Highway. The original “bee-line” shortcut ends where the modern Bush Highway meets the Beeline, just north of Goldfield Ranch. You can still see the original route along the modern Beeline to this day, all the way to Payson.
The Beeline Highway as we know it today was fully realized in 1966, with the merging of the old State Route 65 (which connected Winslow to Strawberry) and the ever-expanding path of Route 87.
The Rio Verde Saddle Club offers a unique opportunity for residential property owners in the communities of Rio Verde and Tonto Verde. Since 1979, this member-owned, non-profit group has brought together people who share a love for riding horses.
There are many miles of excellent trails in the forest and adjoining county parks. The Verde River is easily crossed on horseback most times of the year. Opportunities for exploration, native plant and wildlife sightings, scenic vistas, and panoramic views are limitless. Riders often carry a picnic lunch and enjoy both hourly and full-day rides in the mountains and desert washes.
The club facility is located at Rio Verde Ranch near the riverside picnic area. It features a riding arena, round pen, horse wash stall, outdoor covered paddocks, a fourteen-stall barn, tack room, two guest stalls, and trailer parking. The Club contracts with an experienced caretaker for feeding, cleaning, and general care of the horses and maintenance of the facilities. The caretaker has living quarters next to the facility.
The riding season is open from November 1 through April 30 but extended and year-round accommodations may be available. The club allows a maximum of 22 regular memberships, plus two temporary members. Regular members have full voting privileges and full use of the facilities.
For more information about the club, contact club president Kim Nelson at 612-710-7484.