Travel Advice

For those of you traveling from out of state, you will want to book your flight into Phoenix. From Sky Harbor airport, Overgaard is about a 2.5-hour drive northeast (Allegiant airlines flies into Mesa Gateway airport, but the drive is comparable.) Both airports have car rentals available on-premises.

If possible, plan to arrive in Phoenix early enough to start your drive by 2:00pm. This will Dusk in the fall near Overgaard means elk standing on—and running across!—the road. Driving during the day greatly reduces your chance of a close encounter.

Please note that we do not guarantee cell reception throughout the drive! Plan ahead with these printer-friendly driving directions to Bison Ranch. And here's the Google version if you prefer satellite imagery over whimsy.


It will be possible for all of the wedding guests to stay in close proximity to each other and to all weekend events. There are a variety of options, including suites of various sizes, rooms with bunk beds, and cabins. Many of the lodging options are multiple bedrooms and well suited to sharing with your kids/ siblings/friends/future friends/future spouses/open-mic competition. All have kitchens.

Bison Ranch Resort Suites
A hotel-style suite, with a full kitchen.

  • 2-bedroom, 1-bath suites accommodating a maximum of 6 (sofa sleeper). $119/night
  • 1-bedroom, 1-bath suites accommodating a maximum of 4. $104/night.

To book, contact Steven Yost at 480-703-7990. Rates valid until September 24, 2014. Make sure you mention you're part of the Nelson-Colas wedding.

2683 Lodge Loop (rental cabin)

  • 2 bedrooms, accommodating 4 people.
    $148/night, 2 night minimum.
To book, contact Steven Yost at 480-703-7990. Rates valid until September 24, 2014. Make sure you mention you're part of the Nelson-Colas wedding.

Bison Ranch Retreat Center | Summer-camp feel, with bunk beds, high occupancy, and no TVs. Note: Alcohol is not allowed on the grounds of the Retreat Center.

  • Handicap-accessible room on ground level (Queen bed plus one bunk bed. 1 bath). $XXX/night
  • 3-bedroom, 3-bath suite (2 sets of bunk beds in each bedroom; accommodates a max of 12). $XXX/night
  • 2-bedroom, 2-bath suite (2 sets of bunk beds in each bedroom; accommodates a max of 8). $XXX/night

To book, email Harry at or call 732-670-8206.. Rates valid until September 24, 2014.

Mogollon Resort Cabins
| Directly across Highway 260 from Bison Ranch, easy walking distance. Check availability and book at their website.

Individual rental cabins
| Check airbnb and VRBO for individual cabins for rent either at Bison Ranch or across the highway in the Air Park..

Off the Ranch
| We strongly recommend that you stay within walking distance of us all! But if you prefer a standard hotel room, check out the Sawmill Inn (Best Western) in Heber, about 3 miles from Bison Ranch.

Notes on your trip to Heber-Overgaard

Compiled by Barbara Nelson

Becky's mom, Barbara, makes this drive roughly 50 times a year; consider this her director's commentary on making the most of your road trip! Note: Printer- and driver-friendly directions available as a download here

  • From either Sky Harbor Airport or Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, get onto Loop 202. Loop 202 has a northern and a southern half. From Sky Harbor, you will take the northern loop, called the Red Mountain Freeway, east. From Gateway, you will take the southern loop, called the SanTan Freeway, east. Both connect (at different points) into State Route 87, your route north to Payson.
  • Forget your toothbrush? Last minute wedding gift? Hungry? Travelers on the Red Mountain Freeway can stop off at Tempe Marketplace: exit the 202 at Rural and go east on Rio Salado to McClintock. Or Riverview Mall: exit at Dobson.
  • From the Red Mountain Freeway, take Exit 13 and proceed toward Fountain Hills. You are now traveling through the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation. It's 12 miles to Fountain Hills where you'll get one more chance at fast food, gas, and a jackpot win at the Fort McDowell Casino.
  • Proceed about 63 miles to Payson. Not far out of Fountain Hills, your cell phone will lose reception. Don't panic. You'll be connected again once you arrive in Payson and meanwhile, enjoy the beautiful scenery.
  • Watch the saguaros, palo verde, and prickly pear of the low desert give way to high desert pinyon and juniper, and after the one big right turn of your trip, in Payson, to ponderosa pines. You're also gaining elevation. By Payson, you'll be at 5000 feet.
  • In Payson, you'll find more opportunities to eat, use the restroom, get gas and groceries, and gamble. Options include a Wendy's, Chili's, Red Lobster, and Dairy Queen, but the Marchand / Nelson contingent will want to eat at FARGO'S STEAKHOUSE (after the turn onto Highway 260).
  • In Payson, TURN RIGHT! You're now headed east on Hwy 260. On your right, soon after the turn, is the Safeway. Get supplies to stock your fridge at Bison Ranch—and a Starbuck's coffee. There are two small markets in Heber-Overgaard, but this is the last supermarket you'll see.
  • That's the Mogollon Rim you see on the horizon as you leave Payson. You'll begin climbing toward it now, topping it at Christopher Creek, where the elevation is about 8000 feet. Watch out for the Mogollon Monster. From Payson, it's 43 miles to Heber-Overgaard through the beautiful White Mountains and the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest.
  • The next little community, soon after leaving Payson, is Star Valley. Beware the speed cameras. But also keep an eye out for a local attraction, the sign for the Adult Cabaret—on your right, just before you leave town.
  • At Kohl's Ranch, you can visit the Tonto Fish Hatchery. 4 miles north of the 260, 21 miles east of Payson. Watch for the signs. Open 7:30 am to 3:30 pm. Info: 928-478-4200.
  • The next town is Christopher Creek. You're on the Rim. If you've failed to this point to take my suggestions for food and drink, you can take the loop off the 260 into town and have a bite at the charming Creekside.
  • Five miles ahead, note the turnoff on the left for Woods Canyon Lake. You may want to come back here for a breathtaking hike along the Rim, above the treetops, during your stay, or on the way back to Phoenix at the end of the weekend. About a 5-mile drive in to reach the lake, but there are trailheads sooner. Across from the Woods Canyon Lake turnoff, you can visit the Mogollon Rim Visitors Center.
  • Or, just keep going. You don't want to be driving after dark. Those signs all along the highway showing elk standing on the road? Those mean you may encounter elk standing on—or running across—the road. Especially in the Fall after dark. They're migrating and searching around for mates. Beware.
  • In 8 miles, you'll pass through Forest Lakes. This is where you'll lose reception of Phoenix radio stations. Cell phones have been out of range since Payson, but once you reach Heber-Overgaard, there's somewhat reliable cell service, depending on which way the wind is blowing and how clear your conscience is.
  • You arrive in Heber! For food, we recommend the Red Onion (sports bar), Casa Ramos (authentic Mexican), or the DQ. If you are staying at the Best Western Sawmill Inn, it is on your right. You can purchase a green alien at Wild Woods, on your left.
  • Heber is followed in 2 miles by Overgaard. Watch for Mile Marker 309, and up ahead, the colorful Bison Town. Your destination is on your right!
  • Please refer to the map of Bison Ranch to find your accommodations.

See? I told you the Nelsons take this stuff seriously.

The Main Event

They say it takes a village to throw a party (right?) Below are the friends and family whose talents and good humor we've taken full advantage of. Bring your autograph book and collect all 18!

Parents of the Bride | Scott and Barbara Nelson

Parents of the Groom | Harry and Marilyn Colas

Siblings of Honor | Jill Bagshaw, Brian Nelson, Christine Todaro & David Colas

Flower Girls | Faith & Ella Bagshaw

Officiant | Ricky Federico*

Lector | Payton Bagshaw

DJs | Natalie Marquis & Gregg Kulick

Mixologists | Mike Marquis & Eddie Wright

* indicates member of Actor's Equity Association

Choose Your Own Adventure

They say it takes a village to throw a party (right?) Below are the friends and family whose talents and good humor we've taken full advantage of. Bring your autograph book and collect all 18!