At our core, we are explorers. It’s in our bones, our marrow, our guts to venture out and discover. Exploration and adventure are vital to the human soul. Called by distant voices or prodded by an inner whisper, we travel, we seek adventure.
We have enjoyed months at a time RVing throughout southern Arizona, enjoying abundant sunshine, and a fascinating backdrop of mountain ranges. Whether we’re at Yuma, along the Colorado River at Lake Havasu or Bullhead City, Quartzsite, Catalina State Park, and Tucson, Ajo, and Organ Pipe National Park, Tombstone, Patagonia, Coronado National Memorial, or Ramsey Canyon in southeastern Arizona, or a Maricopa County Regional Park in the Phoenix area, there’s much to explore.
But, each spring finds us gravitating north to the scenic and historic wonders of Verde Valley.
This area doesn’t offer saguaros or desert landscape, but it does give you access to a stunning variety of experiences, including the town of Sedona nestled in the midst of Arizona’s spectacular red rock country. The red rock natural beauty surrounding the town is simply jaw dropping.
Verde Valley extends from Jerome, Cottonwood, and Sycamore Canyon southeast toward Camp Verde and beyond, to Sedona, the Oak Creek Canyon, and the foot of the Mogollon Rim (locally pronounced “Muggy-own,” or simply called “the Rim”).
For two weeks in late March and early April our home base is Verde Valley Preserve, a Thousand Trails membership campground situated on the Verde River. This 300-acre oasis in the high desert of Arizona is surrounded by the majestic beauty of the Red Rocks to the north, Mingus Mountains to the west, and the Hackberry Mountains to the south.
The climate is moderate year-round. Rich in geological and cultural history, the area provides hours of exploring and sight-seeing—from the famous ghost town of Jerome to scenic drives through Sedona, ablaze with many colors.
If you have an interest in southwestern American history, you can get a quick tour of Arizona’s past and see some of the state’s most spectacular scenery outside of the Grand Canyon at the same time.
In the 1860s, as Arizona’s settlement began with miners, the U.S. Army was tapped to calm the threat from the Yavapais and Apaches. The Army came to establish Fort Verde (and others nearby such as Fort Whipple at Prescott).
Today, a visit to Fort Verde State Park provides a glimpse of Army life on the southwest frontier. Visitors experience living history displays of frontier Army life, and several buildings furnished in 1880s style are open to the public.
When George Crook commanded the Army in the Arizona Territory from Fort Verde, he built a wagon road to other outlying posts. If you follow State Route 260 east from the Verde Valley, you follow the Crook Trail. Some of the boulders that were used to identify mileposts along the way can still be seen. The route is spectacular, leading onto the high country atop the Mogollon Rim.
The basins, canyons and peaks along the 6,000 foot to 7,000 foot rim were the setting and inspiration for Zane Grey’s western novels. He lived and wrote along Tonto Creek a few miles away, surrounded by the rocks and Ponderosa pines.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.