We Prescottonians are lucky in that we live in a wonderful part of Arizona. There are so many sights to see and things to do right around us, most accessible with an easy day trip in the car. If you ever just want to get out for a day and explore, here are five of the most fun day trips from Prescott.
1. Visit Jerome & Clarkdale
Both these towns can be reached by driving in a northeasterly direction on Route 89A, and they’re fairly close together, so you can take in all the sights of both in the same day trip. Jerome is known as the ‘largest ghost town in America’, and it achieved that status after the waning of the copper mining business which once flourished there. While there, you might want to check out one of the ghost tours or hiking excursions. There are also a number of art galleries to enjoy, and you can finish your tour by visiting a winery and enjoying the best local wine in the region. Hungry? There are a few really good restaurants in the area. Try the Haunted Hamburger!
Clarkdale is just down the road from Jerome, and while there, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the Tuzigoot National Monument, which includes remains of the Sinagua civilization which inhabited the area for thousands of years. You might also want to take a ride on the restored Verde Canyon Railroad to enjoy some of the scenic wonders of the area. Just strolling through the historic downtown district will give you a glimpse into what life was like for an important copper mining town of the early 20th century.
Into mountain biking or hiking? Want to take the kids to a fishing hole? Picnic anyone? Dead Horse Ranch State Park offers some fantastic single track and trail opportunities! There are also ample picnic areas, RV camping facilities, and event locations.
2. Drive 89A from Prescott to Flagstaff
The same Route 89A that you can take to Jerome and Clarkdale will also take you all the way to Flagstaff, and while you’re traveling, you’ll see some of the most awe-inspiring rock formations in the country, as well as abundant wildlife and foliage. The drive which passes through Oak Creek Canyon has been named one of the most beautiful drives in the entire United States, as it winds through canyons with red rock sentinels, and towering trees which frame the canyons beautifully.
Warning! This is a narrow road and is not recommended for larger vehicles (Class 1 RVs, Tractor/trailers, etc). Also, during the winter months, check ahead for road conditions.
3. Visit Williams
There are tons of outdoor recreational opportunities in Williams, so if you want to spend a more active day, this is the place to visit. The Elephant Rocks Golf Course is here, for all those who wish to test themselves on its outstanding fairways and greens. You can also take a bicycle tour to get active and involved, or you could arrange for a Grand Canyon Tour. The whole family can enjoy some time at Grand Canyon Go-Karts, and when you’re ready to be scared silly, you can take one of the SteamPunk Ghost Tours.
Some of our favorites include:
- Route 66 Zip Line
- The Polar Express – A MUST DO if you have little ones and happen to be around during the Christmas season.
4. Grand Canyon
I bet you’ve heard of it. Might sound silly to mention it, but even though it’s one of the Wonders of the World, us locals sometimes forget about it. Yes, there’s the obvious viewing of the canyon itself (to have you gasping with appreciation), but there are also a number of other things you can do while visiting this natural wonder.
You can take a rafting trip down the Colorado River, you can ride the Grand Canyon Railway, you can arrange for an overnight camping trip, and you can even take a helicopter ride to get a bird’s eye view of the spectacular sights. Be sure to include a visit to the Skywalk at the West Rim, where you can walk out over the canyon, and peer down 720 feet into the awesome gorge below. Check out this website for more activities in the Grand Canyon.
5. Visit the Granite Mountain Hotshots State Park in Yarnell
The Granite Mountain Hotshots were a group of firefighters who perished in the infamous Yarnell Hill Wildfire of 2013, and who were memorialized in the movie ‘Only the Brave’. Nineteen members of the group were killed when the wind suddenly shifted and they were confronted with a wall of flames. You can hike to the location where the Memorial has been installed, and along the way, you’ll get a sense of what it was like on that fateful day when tragedy struck.
Note that this is a real hike. The trail is improved, but there are no services along the trail. Make sure to bring water, wear appropriate clothing (can get hot in the summer), and make sure you are in decent physical shape. There is no disabled access to the memorial.
Afterward, you can lighten up the mood with a wonderful lunch at the Yarnell Family Diner, where you’ll enjoy great food and an old-school atmosphere that will warm your heart. I had a FANTASITC green chili cheeseburger there after my last hike to the memorial.
BEFORE YOU GO…
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