SLIDE ROCK STATE PARK
Just seven miles north of Sedona, in an area called Oak Creek Canyon, Slide Rock State Park offers a fun-filled day for visitors of all ages. At Slide Rock, you can picnic, hike, or bike through the former apple orchard, made famous by Oak Creek’s natural water slide. The “slide” in Slide Rock is an exhilarating 80-foot-long red-rock chute that has a seven percent decline from top to bottom. Algae on the rocks create a slippery ride. While the slide is sure to bring thrills, you can also bring an inner tube to float downstream and take a dip in one of America’s top 10 most beautiful swimming holes. Wildlife such as deer, javelina, and coyote are native to the area and can often be seen throughout the year. In addition, the park is home to more than 140 bird species. Picnic areas, charcoal grills, and two large ramadas with electrical outlets are available for gatherings or events.
DEAD HORSE RANCH STATE PARK
Located in the Coconino National Forest in Cottonwood, Dead Horse Ranch State Park has plenty of highlights that make this a favorite destination. Adjacent to the Verde River Greenway State Natural Area, an area dedicated to conserving land in its natural state, Dead Horse Ranch has a unique ecosystem, making it the perfect place to enjoy Arizona in its purest form. Keep an eye out for raptors, neotropical migrants, songbirds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. At an elevation of 3,300 feet, Dead Horse Ranch State Park offers mild temperatures that allow visitors to enjoy activities such as camping, biking, hiking, canoeing, and exploring. In addition, the nearby river and lagoons make the park an excellent site for beginning or seasoned anglers. The waters are stocked with Rainbow Trout throughout the winter and Channel Catfish in the warmer months, so casting a line any time of year is sure to get you a bite or two. Finally, don’t let the name fool you! Dead Horse Ranch State Park is located in a beautiful area in Cottonwood, with no expired animals in sight.
OLD TOWN COTTONWOOD
Old Town Cottonwood is a picturesque, year-round destination, where one can step back in time. Known as “The Heart of Verde Valley Wine Country”, this quaint town is known for its historical architecture, some of which has been recognized by the National Registry of Historic Places. In Cottonwood, you can enjoy wonderful gastropubs, restaurants, tasting rooms, breweries, and distilleries, or browse the area’s one-of-a-kind boutique shops.
Nicknamed “The City in the Sky” or “The Wickedest Town in The West“, Jerome, Arizona, was one of America’s most famous and infamous mining camps. In its 70+ years as an active mining town, Jerome produced over a billion dollars worth of gold, copper, silver, and zinc, with the final mine closing in 1953. Today, Jerome is a unique and popular hillside destination for visitors eager to discover more about the Verde Valley’s wines, fine art, mines, and paranormal activities. Many buildings from the late 1890s are still standing and occupied by vintage shops, restaurants, and antique stores. If spirits are what you seek, take one of Jerome’s famous Ghost Tours, where you may catch a glimpse of some of Jerome’s past residents, who are said to haunt the Jerome Hotel, the local hospital, and the old jailhouse.
WHAT NOT TO MISS WHEN YOU VISIT JEROME
JEROME STATE HISTORIC PARK
The Douglas Mansion has been an eye-catching landmark in Jerome since 1916 when James S. Douglas built it on the hill just above his Little Daisy Mine. This former home is now a museum devoted to the history of the Jerome area and the Douglas family. The museum features photographs, artifacts, and minerals in addition to a video presentation and a 3-D model of the town with its underground mines. There are more displays outside along with a picnic area offering a beautiful panoramic view of the Verde Valley.
VISIT THE MINE MUSEUM & EXPLORE JEROME’S MINING HISTORY
The Mine Museum gives visitors a sense of what the Jerome community was like, with exhibits dedicated to the schools and emergency services as well as the town’s seedy underbelly. The initial mining claims in Jerome were staked in 1876 and William Clark soon after constructed a railroad line and turned Jerome into a boomtown. The company was later sold to Phelps Dodge who ran the mine until operations ended in the 1950s. It is estimated that through the years millions of tons of copper, gold, silver, and other heavy metal ore were mined in Jerome, giving the town one of its nicknames: Jerome, the Billion Dollar Copper Camp.
JEROME’S SLIDING JAIL
Just below Jerome, AZ’s Visitor’s Center is Jerome’s Sliding Jail Park. It is one of this town’s many curiosities. The town jail began relocating itself during the 1930s, sliding slowly downhill and resting at various locations until it landed in its current spot, 225 feet from where it started. It is presumed that the combination of Jerome being located on the Verde Valley fault and having 88 miles of excavated tunnels beneath the one square mile of town has caused the jail to find itself resting in different parts of town over the years.
GO ON A GHOST TOUR
Guided ghost walks and tours tell stories of Jerome’s most notably haunted locations. Some tours attempt to make contact with spirits of the sordid past while telling stories of those whose mortal remains lie beneath your feet. Look for tours that are supported by the Jerome Historical Society for accurate information that is obtained through the JHS archives.
JEROME WINE TASTING
Pleasure your palate with some of northern Arizona’s most popular wines such as from Caduceus Cellars owned by Maynard James Keenan of the band Tool, Echo Canyon Winery, Bittercreek Winery, and Jerome Winery. Many winery tours also leave from Sedona and hit some of the best vineyards in Verde Valley including Page Springs Winery, Alcantara, and others.
VISIT THE WORLD’S LARGEST KALEIDOSCOPE STORE
You must visit Nellie Bly Kaleidoscopes, billed as the world’s largest kaleidoscope store. This shop is located on Main Street in the former brothel operated by the notorious town madam, Jennie Bauters. This is a “please touch the merchandise” store where the people who work there are happy to show you how to operate the different styles of kaleidoscopes and even help you take your kaleidoscope selfie!
CHECK OUT THE OLD CARS AND BIKES
Jerome is commonly humming with crowds and live music, especially at the Connor Hotel. Jerome is popular with bikers and classic car enthusiasts. The relationship between car lovers and Jerome goes back to the early history of the town, and Highway 89A through Jerome and up and over Mingus Mountain towards Prescott is one of the most famous motorcycle rides in America.