On our first day in Arizona, my parents picked us up from the airport, and we drove up to Flagstaff to get groceries before we went to our cabin near Williams. We got quite a surprise when it started snowing in Flagstaff! That was not what drew us to Arizona, after one of the gloomiest, coldest, wettest winters on record for Puget Sound. But, we made it safely to our beautiful cabin at the end of a dirt road, on the edge of the national forest.
The next morning brought another dusting of snow, but the sun was out, and the snow soon melted off the junipers. We had a big driving day planned, and my brother and his family were going to meet us in Jerome for lunch. So we piled in the car and headed down to the southwest. We enjoyed watching the countryside change, and trying to identify birds at freeway speeds. We saw a group of pronghorns, one of our favorite wildlife sightings. After a couple of hours of freeway driving, the last 10 miles was on steep, windy mountain roads. We saw prickly pear cacti, agave plants, and other delicate desert wildflowers.
Suddenly the road winds into the town of Jerome, perched on the side of the hills. The roads of this historic mining town are narrow, with colorful houses and shops rising straight up from the sidewalks above.
We stopped at the Jerome State Historic Park, where we ate lunch at the picnic tables and waited for my brother to join us. We enjoyed the warm sunshine while we ate.
The museum at the State Historic Park is really neat, with lots of info about the old mines in the area and how the town survived and changed over time. The museum is housed in the Douglas Family Mansion, and a few of the rooms are set in period times. If you have the time, the movie is worth sitting down for.
We also liked the 3D models of the mines, and the cool rocks and minerals on display. Be sure you walk into the closet that has the fluorescent rocks.
After we were done at the museum, we drove up past the mine pit to another attraction – the Gold King Mine and Ghost Town.
This primarily attracted my parents and the kids. The owners took a lot of time to collect historical “junk” and display it all around the property. Old cars and trucks, old tools, old buildings, all kinds of rusty metal – it all had a place among the jumble. History buffs will appreciate this attraction, but those people who get stressed out being among hoarders should probably avoid the place.
We spent an hour or two in the nearby town of Cottonwood, getting groceries and replacing the batteries in Aaron’s and Gabe’s phones. They both started bulging alarmingly at the same time, and we were very concerned about them. Wouldn’t you know there is a repair place in that little town in the middle of nowhere?
Once we got those errands taken care of, we drove back up to Williams through the scenic town of Sedona. I had romantic images in my mind of that place, but the main drag was super packed with tourists, and we didn’t stop to look around.
The afternoon sunlight was making the famous red rocks of the area glow, and we were lucky to stop at a few places to take some photos.
This area is definitely on my list to visit again.
If You Go:
The Jerome State Historic Park is a fee area. Costs in 2017 are $7 for adults 14 and up, $4 for children ages 6-13, and free for children under 6. You can also buy an annual pass for Arizona state parks. There are restrooms and picnic areas on the property. The Ghost Town charges a small admission, too, but I didn’t write that down, and it’s not on their website. There are restrooms there and a small gift shop.
The Sedona area is well known for hiking and mountain biking. We passed by several camping areas along the Oak Creek Road, and even in this Spring Break week, the ones farther out of town still looked like they had plenty of room. Nights are still cold at this time of year, even while the days are warm.
If We Go Again:
I’d like to spend more time wandering around Jerome and looking at the shops. There is another museum in downtown Jerome (Mine Museum Link) about the mining history. I really want to spend a week or two near Sedona, check out the trails, and camp overnight.