The small orange dot of a campfire burning Friday night in the desert above the East Valley won’t look like much from down here, if it’s visible at all. But from up there, it’s a whole different perspective.
“You get dramatic, panoramic views of Four Peaks, the Superstition Mountains, the McDowell Mountains and of course, Red Mountain,” says Rick Cibik, of Fort McDowell Adventures, which hosts a rustic cookout the next two Fridays in the desert just off the Beeline Highway.
Called Friday Night Franks, “it’s an old-fashioned wiener roast and wagon rides,” Cibik says. “The whole concept is value and family. Anybody can come in. It’s like a restaurant, but it’s a cool environment, and we have lots of things for people to do.”
Aside from roasting hot dog weenies and marshmallows around five campfires and an outdoor fireplace, guests can boot-scoot to live music or play horseshoes or corn hole. Wagon rides depart throughout the evening on leisurely 15-20 minute forays into the moonlit desert.
Admission and activities are free. Hot dogs, brats, s’mores, and beer and cocktails from the air-conditioned bar run $3-$5 a piece. Meal packages with a dog or brat, chips, s’more and two soft drinks or cocktails are $10-$15.
For those who like to bookend gazing at distant city lights with a little more adventure, there are two optional add-ons: A two-hour desert Jeep tour ($69 per person, includes meal) begins at 4 p.m. the next two Fridays, and on May 25, there’s an “Adult Education Night.”
The 21-and-older fete begins at 8 p.m., after the children clear out, and features a mechanical bull and a “lesson plan” challenge ($19) guests can complete to receive a “BAD (Bachelor of Adult Education) degree.” Challenges include a bar hop to five locations for five different drinks, tequila tastings aboard a Tequila Bus, and a piña colada, bucket drum and limbo stick challenge.
“We actually have a graduation ceremony at 11:30 p.m., and it is a lot of fun; we give all our graduates a diploma. It’s kind of like Friday Night Franks on steroids, for adults,” says Cibik.
Packages ($49-$169) are available that include a special “Adult Vittles” menu, drinks and overnight camping, accommodations in a nearby hotel room or a ride home for you and your car at the end of the night.
DETAILS >> Friday Night Franks is 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. May 18 and 25; Adult Education, for guests 21 and older, is 8 p.m. to midnight May 25. Fort McDowell Adventures, 14803 N. Hiawatha Hood Road, Fort McDowell. Admission is free; bring money for food and drink. Reservations are suggested for groups of 10 or more or for Jeep tours. (480) 816-6465 or www.fortmcdowelladventures.com.