We enjoyed our time in the Sedona/Cottonwood/Jerome, AZ area. To be honest, though, we mostly relaxed at the campground doing a few needed chores.
One outing took us to Dead Horse Ranch State Park just outside of Cottonwood. Our visit was on a free admission day for the public and there was an extra effort to show how fun the park could it be. Lots of people were taking advantage of the fishing license waiver that was in place for the day. Not only was it a no-license-required day, but the lagoons were freshly stocked with fish and the park service was loaning out fishing gear and providing bait! The community participates in this day providing everything from rafting on the Verde River to a climbing wall that was getting lots of activity. There were several food and craft booths along with booths providing information about fish and wild life, prevention of forest fires, etc. We enjoyed listening to a local volunteer choir sing. Other performances were scheduled through the rest of the day. However, as we walked around the area it became more and more obvious that the forecasted rain was about to begin. As we left the park a downpour began! Later on we saw in the news that the rain did, indeed, wash out the event, even stranding a 100 people or so who were “flooded in” for a while!
A memorable sightseeing tour for us was driving down Sedona’s stunning Oak Creek Canyon. We drove north on the interstate to the south side of Flagstaff and then began our drive down State Route 89a. We stopped at the top of the canyon at the Oak Creek Visitor Center and were helped by a very friendly local volunteer with maps and directions. There were also several craft booths with Native American crafts set up offering items for viewing and purchasing. The view of the highway twisting and turning as it drops into the canyon below is very interesting. As we continued south we were disappointed that all pullouts were closed due to a danger of flash floods. After the episode at the state park a few days earlier we were understanding of the flash flood situation but we couldn’t help but notice that there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and there was zero chance of rain for the entire central part of the state! I enjoyed the scenery and Scott saw as much as he could from the driver’s side of the pickup! We continued south into Sedona were we went to the airport scenic overlook. Here we both thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful view.
On south of Sedona we drove the Red Rock Scenic Byway. I particularly enjoyed stopping at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. It is a quiet, moving place in the middle of the beauty of God’s creation. Near the end of the canyon we stopped at the Red Rock Ranger Station and took a break. The view there is fantastic and the center itself is full of information about the area’s geological past, early Native Americans and settlers, as well as information about the firefighters who help protect the forest. I thought the sculptures of the rattlesnake and wild pigs were very cute. I highly recommend this drive to everyone.
A short distance from Cottonwood is Jerome — a city built on the side of a mountain with a marvelous view of the Verde Valley. Jerome was a mining town and across the years it produced over a billion dollars in copper, gold and silver. There were two mines there. The first was the United Verde Mine and the second was the Little Daisy mine which was owned by James Stewart Douglas. We stopped at Jerome State Historic Park and toured the museum in the Douglas Mansion which is built over the Little Daisy Mine. The video of the city of Jerome and the mining industry there was fun and informational. Most of the rooms have city and mining memorabilia but the family library is still set up and the billiard room has a billiard table and a piano that belonged to the family. From the park we continued into Jerome and found the streets are as narrow, steep, and twisting as advertised. There is public parking making it easy for those who want to shop or eat. Many of the original buildings are still in use although some are now private homes. We drove up and through the town to a scenic overlook. It is an exceptional view. From the overlook I looked up the mountain and spotted a trestle from the mining days.
We enjoyed looking around the area and know that there is much more that we didn’t see. Really, though, that’s part of the fun of our touring lifestyle. We plan on returning and will continue our exploration of this area then.