Smack dab in the center of Arizona you’ll find some of my favorite areas in this amazing state! We’ve been visiting here since we lived in Phoenix, back in the 80’s, and it still calls our name. It’s really easy to get to…just fly to Phoenix and drive north!
Prescott is a fun destination that is a rapidly growing mountain town with old western mining roots. The town’s mile-high location has four mild seasons, an average annual daytime temperature of about 70 degrees, and over 300 days of sunshine.
Built around a courthouse square with many of the original building still standing, Prescott offers a look into the past with the popular Whiskey Row where Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday were known to hang out. One of the area’s most unique geological features is the Granite Dells. These are massive granite rocks in dramatic shapes that look otherworldly, especially as they surround scenic Watson Lake.
Cottonwood sits near the banks of the Verde River. This area, along with towns, Camp Verde and Clarkdale, comprises the Verde Valley and is located between Prescott and Sedona.
This fun historical town has lots of great restaurants and wine bars and wineries, and is where the Verde Valley Wine Trail begins. Nearby, Dead Horse Ranch State Park is in the Coconino National Forest and has a variety of outdoor activities, even a great chuck wagon ride, dinner and show at Blazin M Ranch.
Clarkdale is just a few miles away where you will find the Arizona Copper Art Museum and the famous Verde Canyon Railroad, which offers a four-hour picturesque ride in a classic locomotive. And there’s the National Monument Tuzigoot. This is the fascinating ancient ruins from the Sinagua People dating back 1,000 years ago!
Jerome is an old mining town that sits high on a hillside overlooking the Verde Valley and is known as “The Largest Ghost Town in America.” Basically overnight, this area boomed into a Billion Dollar Copper Camp! Once called the “Wickedest town in the West,” Jerome was notorious for its gambling, saloons and brothels. Jerome’s population reached 15,000 at one point, but by 1953 when the last mines closed, its population dwindled to 50 people. You can learn all this and more at Ghost Town Tours! Jerome now features museums, shops, art galleries and great restaurants like the Haunted Hamburger. Also, check out Jerome Historic State Park. There you can learn the history of Jerome and the massive Copper Mines. It’s all in an old mansion overlooking the Verde Valley.
Sedona is known as “Red Rock Country” and is one of Arizona’s most popular destinations. It’s set against dramatic, massive red rocks and cliffs and is an outdoor lover’s paradise. There are hundreds of hiking trails. So, lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails to see some of the most amazing views in the area. Downtown Sedona is quaint but stylish. The stunning natural beauty here has drawn many artists to the area. Sedona accommodations range from inexpensive, to luxurious spa resorts and spiritual retreats. We love the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a Catholic chapel that is built high into the red buttes and was designed to perfectly blend in with the lovely landscape. It is open to the public and well worth a visit. Another one of my favorite areas is Tlaquepaque – an iconic Sedona Arts and Crafts Village. It reminds me of a charming upscale Mexican Villa that is full of courtyards shops and restaurants. The architecture is beautiful as well as the numerous towering sycamore trees!
Oak Creek Canyon is a gorgeous river gorge and is only 4 miles upstream from Sedona. One of the main attractions along this route is Slide Rock State Park. Driving through the canyon is an adventure with lots of switchbacks and breathtaking views. This has to be one of the most dramatic drives in the entire U.S. amidst the stately red rock formations, lush green canyon vegetation, and Oak Creek’s spring-fed, pristine waters!
And these are just a few of the reasons why Arizona is so amazing!
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