En route from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon South Rim, we made a couple of stops at some cool places recommended by our local insider, Uncle Robert.
Jerome was the first. It’s about 160km north of Phoenix, and the township, an old copper mining village, hugs Cleopatra Hill overlooking the Verde Valley below.
The building up the top left is the Jerome Grand Hotel, which was once a hospital, and apparently runs a mean ghost tour. Wish we could have done that, but this was just a pit stop.
The Verde United Mine extracted some of the richest copper deposits ever found between the late 1800s and its early twentieth century heyday. It’s now a National Historic Landmark. The Audrey Headframe Park is free to visit, and here you can stand at the top of the Audrey main shaft, 1900 feet deep, and gaze down, if you dare, through the glass into the cavernous depths.
Here’s a little bit of perspective.
This mine elevator used to pack in NINE miners for the long ride down. (People weren’t so large in those days, and I guess it meant they couldn’t look down through the floor grate with its scary gaps.)
At Jerome State Historic Park you can tour the mansion of Jimmy ‘Rawhide’ Douglas, mining mogul. We didn’t have time to go in, but there’s a great view of town from the car park.
And out into the desert, from an old cart.
Up in town, there are steep and winding streets to explore and a bounty of cafes, wine bars and restaurants.
If you’re there around lunch, Bobby D’s BBQ and Grill is a must. Set up in the oldest diner in Arizona, the meat is smoked in barbecues out back and is phenomenal in flavour. We tried ALL the meats on their lunch sliders.
Sadly, not all of the historical buildings have managed to hold on to the hillside.
All in all, Jerome is a cool little stop when heading north through Arizona from Phoenix.
Slide Rock State Park, AZ
Uncle Robert’s second recommended stop was Slide Rock State Park, another hour or so north of Jerome, past Sedona.
We drove straight through the touristy bustle of Sedona and on to this little oasis in the desert.
Situated in Oak Creek Canyon about 11km north of Sedona, Slide Rock was a favourite spot of Robert’s as a kid. He thought there wouldn’t be too many people there, being a weekday, but, also being summer holidays, the place was packed! Those who were prepared had enormous eskies and looked like they were moving in for a week. The rocks are smoothed by the water and slimy with algae, so the river makes for an excellent natural waterslide!
The water was icy, but a welcome refresher in the 40 degree heat.
We had a quick slide and continued on our way – the Grand Canyon was still a few hours away and we had to set up camp.
Next stop: Grand Canyon South Rim camping.