Considered one of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright's greatest masterpieces, Taliesin West (12621 E. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., 480/860-8810 recording or 480/860-2700 ext. 494 or 495, www.franklloydwright.org, closed Tues.-Wed. July-Aug.) began in 1937 as a winter home for Wright's school of architecture. The apprentices lived in tents and simple shelters on the property and today, more than 60 years later, they still do. Wright didn't just design buildings according to plan, he let them "grow" from the inside out. He used a similar method for training his student architects, encouraging them to grow and develop far beyond facts and formulas. Nature inspired many of Wright's ideas, which still look contemporary. You'll see how his walls "…define and differentiate, but never confine or obliterate."
Although Wright died in 1959, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and Taliesin-trained architects carry on his high standards here. Most students stay 3-5 years, living and working closely with one another and the faculty. Tour guides or (occasionally) apprentices lead a variety of walking tours through the complex.
The one-hour "Panorama" tour ($18 adults, $16 seniors and students, $5 children 4-12) introduces Wright's architectural ideas and takes you through several of the buildings as well as the attractive grounds. Tours depart frequently every day.
On the 90-minute "Insights" tour ($22.50 adults, $20 seniors and students, $15 children 4-12), you'll also visit Wright's dramatic Garden Room and his newly opened living quarters wing. Tours run frequently every day.
In-depth "Behind the Scenes" tours ($45) last about three hours and provide the most personal experience. Associates—some who actually worked with Wright—give presentations on life and architecture at Taliesin West as you make an extensive tour of the buildings. Tours operate only a few days a week, so reservations are requested
"Desert Walks" ($20) introduce you to the Sonoran Desert that so inspired Wright; they last 90 minutes and run every morning, weather permitting; reservations are requested; there's a discount if taken with the Panorama or Insights tour.
On the two-hour "Apprentice Shelter" tour ($30), an apprentice will take you to the individually designed structures in the desert; tours go only on Saturdays from early December to mid-April; reservations are requested.
"Night Lights on the Desert" tour ($25) lets you experience the drama of the buildings and grounds on some Thursday and Friday evenings from early March through summer.
In summer, tours tend to be less expensive and run less frequently. At any time of year, it's a good idea to call ahead and check the current schedule. There's a remarkable selection of related books, videos, prints, and gift items in the visitor center.
Northeast of Scottsdale, Taliesin West is set on 600 acres in the western foothills of the McDowell Mountains. From central Scottsdale, you can go north seven miles on the 101 Loop (Pima Freeway) to Cactus Road Exit 40, head east 2.8 miles on Cactus Road to the junction with Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., then continue one mile farther on Taliesin Drive. From the north or west, you can take the 101 Loop, exit east on Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, and turn left at the Cactus Road junction. From the east, take Shea Boulevard, turn north on 114th Street/Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, then turn right at the Cactus Road junction.
One of the world's highest artificial fountains shoots as high as 560 feet into the air in this community 18 miles northeast of Scottsdale. A display takes place daily on the hour, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., and is lit up at night. The surrounding park is a fine place for a picnic or stroll. From Scottsdale, go north six miles on the 101 Loop (Pima Freeway) or Scottsdale Road, turn east 12 miles on Shea Blvd., then turn north 2.5 miles on Saguaro Boulevard.
Exhibits at the River of Time Museum (12901 N. La Montana Blvd., 480/837-2612, www.riveroftimemuseum.org, 1-4 p.m. Wed.-Sun. in the cooler months, call for summer hours, $3 adult, $2 seniors, $1 kids 2-12) begin with a poem, then go on to illustrate the local history from prehistoric times to the founding of Fountain Hills (by the same two-man team that started Lake Havasu City!). You'll learn of pioneer ranchers—and the soldiers of Fort McDowell (1865-90) who protected them—and the life-giving waterways of the area. A monster-size amethyst crystal cluster comes from a mine high on Four Peaks. Displays also tell about the Yavapai tribe who now live nearby on the Fort McDowell Reservation. Changing exhibits appear, and there's a gift shop. From Scottsdale, you can head east on Shea Boulevard, turn left on Palisades Boulevard, then turn right on La Montana Boulevard. You can also head northeast on AZ 87 from Mesa, turn left on Shea Boulevard, turn right on Saguaro Boulevard, then left on El Lago Boulevard.
Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce (16837 E. Palisades Blvd., 480/837-1654, www.fountainhillschamber.com, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10a.m.-3 p.m. Sat.-Sun.) is one block off Saguaro Boulevard.
Hoo-hoogam Ki Museum
Pima and Maricopa on the Salt River Indian Reservation exhibit baskets, pottery, historic photos, and other artifacts just east of Scottsdale at this museum (10005 E. Osborn Rd. on the southeast corner with Longmore Rd., 480/850-8190, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri., closed on tribal and major American holidays, donations welcome). The museum building incorporates adobe, desert plants, and stone in a traditional "sandwich-style" construction. A gift shop sells crafts from many tribes, and a kitchen in back serves breakfast and lunch weekdays on a patio. From Phoenix or Scottsdale, you can head east on Thomas Road and turn north on Longmore Road or head east on Indian School Road and turn south on Longmore Road.
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