Southern Arizona has Phoenix, heat, a vast expanse of desert, and a forest of Saguaro cacti. Northern Arizona has Monument Valley, Flagstaff, towering snow-capped peaks, aspens, and pine trees. In between these two locales is Central Arizona, where you'll find ancient Native American ruins, Sedona, beautiful lakes, pine forests, Prescott, and magnificent buttes.
Discovering Central Arizona
We had traveled to Central Arizona several times in the past. On a recent two-week trip to Prescott, we took in most of the touristy sights within an hour's drive of the city and also decided on a two-day side trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. As always, it amazed us what this area of Arizona has to offer: scenic beauty, historic places, an abundance of wildlife, unlimited recreational opportunities, and much more.
Sedona's Church of the Holy Cross is, indeed, an inspiring sight.
The City of Prescott
Prescott is very close to the geographical center of Arizona, and the city itself has a wide variety of things to do and see. The south end is a forest of pine trees and is the gateway to the Prescott National Forest, which has its own set of wilderness opportunities. The south end is also full of historical significance, and the landscape is dominated by the towering peaks of Granite Basin State Park and the imposing Thumb Butte. Head east and you'll run into Prescott Valley, a booming community that rivals Prescott in size and scope.
At the heart of the city is the old county courthouse and the courthouse square. At one time in the late 1800s, Prescott was actually the capital of Arizona. Across from the courthouse is Whiskey Row, now a collection of restaurants, night spots, art houses, and gift stores. Around the turn of the century, however, Whiskey Row was one of the wildest, shoot-'em-up places in the West, visited by the likes of Wyatt Earp and other famous hard-edged men of the time.
The North Rim is somewhat different from Grand Canyon's South Rim, yet both offer spectacu
A number of lakes dot the area, including Willow, Watson, Lynx, and Goldwater, each offering a natural experience unparalleled in much of Arizona. Hiking opportunities abound in and around Prescott, and one of our favorite areas is the Granite Basin state recreation area.
The City of Jerome
Less than an hour's drive northeast of Prescott is Jerome, perched on a mountain just above the Sedona area. Jerome is an extremely popular place that must be visited if you are in the area. The city was one of Arizona's premier mining towns-more copper, gold, and silver were pulled out of the mines in the late 1800s and early 1900s than almost anywhere else in Arizona. The town still retains its rough mining town image, and present-day Jerome is rich in history and lore. Jerome is also a great place to visit for its tasty restaurants, lively nightspots, art studios, gift shops, and museums.
The Angels Window Overlook on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
The view of Marble Canyon near Lee's Ferry.
Tuzigoot National Monument
Just down the hill from Jerome are the sleepy towns of Clarkdale and Cottonwood, both worth a visit to stroll the old streets. Nearby is Tuzigoot National Monument, which was the home of early Native American people approximately 1,000 years ago, and they built a citadel on a hill that housed about 250 people. The restored monument is an amazing place to walk and dream of past people living in this arid region of Arizona.