Northern Arizona Beyond the Grand Canyon

Although Arizona is synonymous with the Grand Canyon National Park, there is so much more for RVers to explorer and discover.

At an elevation of 5,248 feet, Jerome hangs precariously on the 30-degree slope of Cleopatra Hill on the edge of Prescott National Forest. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At an elevation of 5,248 feet, Jerome hangs precariously on the 30-degree slope of Cleopatra Hill on the edge of Prescott National Forest. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most people have heard of the beautiful red rock monoliths of Sedona. But not as many have heard of Jerome, the historic copper mining town perched on the top of a narrow ridge overlooking the Verde Valley. The picturesque town is filled with museums, antique stores as well as art and jewelry stores.

Even lesser known are some of the national monuments that contain some of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America.

Following is a sampling of some of the more interesting attractions in Northern Arizona.

Jerome

Jerome is high up on the side of a mountain. When I say on the side of a mountain, I literally mean that.

At an elevation of 5,248 feet, Jerome hangs precariously on the 30-degree slope of Cleopatra Hill on the edge of Prescott National Forest. In fact, through the years some of the houses have lost their grip and have slipped down the slope.

During the late ’60s the town began to attract tourists, history buffs, and the counterculture folks.

Today’s permanent population of approximately 600 consists of an eclectic group of artists, musicians, writers, craftspeople, merchants, hermits, bed-and-breakfast owners, and shopkeepers. It’s definitely not your typical Small Town America.

Tuzigoot National Monument

From near the top of the ruins at Tuzigoot National Monument looking southward toward Cottonwood. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From near the top of the ruins at Tuzigoot National Monument looking southward toward Cottonwood. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Perched atop a ridge high above the Verde River two miles east of Clarkdale is Tuzigoot (pronounced ‘Two-z-goot’) National Monument, one of the largest pueblos built by the Sinagua. Tuzigoot is an Apache word meaning “crooked water.” The term applies to the nearby Peck’s Lake, which is a runoff from the Verde River.

At its peak in the late 1300s, about 225 people lived within the pueblo, which contained about 86 rooms on the ground floor and 15 or so rooms on a second story. The earliest buildings in the pueblo were constructed more than 1,000 years ago. The monument has more than 22,000 artifacts, with many of them on display in its excellent museum.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle, a five-level cliff dwelling nestled into a limestone alcove high above the flood plain of Beaver Creek, isn’t a castle and has nothing to do with Montezuma.

The five-story, 20-room cliff dwelling dates back to approximately 1150 and served as a “high-rise apartment building” for prehistoric Sinagua Indians.

On December 8, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Montezuma Castle one of the country’s first national monuments, maintaining and protecting the cultural resource.

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Located just 12 miles east of Flagstaff, Walnut Canyon was formed by 60 million years of water flowing first as a gentle creek across the plateau, then etching and carving its way through steep passes. Deep gorges formed in the sandstone, limestone, and other ancient desert rock some 20 miles long and 400 feet deep.

Walk in the footsteps of people who lived at Walnut Canyon more than 700 years ago. Peer into their homes, cliff dwellings built deep within canyon walls. The presence of water in a dry land made the canyon rare and valuable to its early human inhabitants.

It remains valuable today as habitat for plants and animals. See for yourself on trails along the canyon rim and into the depths.

Homolovi State Park

Montezuma Castle is a five-level cliff dwelling nestled into a limestone alcove. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Montezuma Castle is a five-level cliff dwelling nestled into a limestone alcove. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Originally home to the Hisat’sinom (known to archaeologists as the Anasazi) in the 14th century, Homolovi State Park is now a center of research and preservation of Native American migration periods.

Located in Winslow, Homolovi State Park offers a visitor’s center and museum containing information about the park’s early inhabitants, in addition to various nature trails and a campground with electric and non-electric sites.

Worth Pondering…

When I walk in the desert the birds sing very beautifully

When I walk in the desert the trees wave their branches in the breeze

When I walk in the desert the tall saguaro wave their arms way up high

When I walk in the desert the animals stop to look at me as if they were saying

“Welcome to our home.”

—Jeanette Chico, in When It Rains

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