It would be a short 35 minute (24 mile) drive along AZ-260 from Zane Grey RV Village to Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, AZ. Pleasant drive except for the endless number of round-abouts!
There are over 100 sites at the campground spread across four loops which can accommodate RVs and truck & trailer rigs up to 65 feet. In addition they offer three furnished cabins. Note that the use of generators is prohibited in the park.
You might be wondering how the state park was named. According to the State Park website, the name was chosen by “the Ireys family, who came to Arizona from Minnesota looking for a ranch to buy in the late 1940s. At one of the ranches they discovered a large dead horse lying by the road. After two days of viewing ranches, Dad Ireys asked the kids which ranch they liked the best. The kids said, “the one with the dead horse, dad!” The Ireys family chose the name Dead Horse Ranch and later, in 1973, when Arizona State Parks acquired the park, the Ireys made retaining the name a condition of sale.”
Anyway, our reservation was for a four night stay on site #87 (water and electric only) in the Cooper’s Hawk loop.
Luckily when we arrived around 12:30 p.m. (check in is at 2:00 pm), our site was vacant and ready. While we were settling in, a road runner walked along the road along the rear of the coach. Very cool!
Speaking of cool, it was very cool! Temps were in the 50’s during the day, then plummeted to the high 20’s, low 30’s. BRRRR! Time for a camp fire!Located less than 25 miles away was one of our favorite places to visit – Sedona (see our previous posts – January, 2022 and March, 2017! Sure, it is very touristy and always busy no matter what time of year or what day of the week but there is so much to do there. Stunning scenery, hiking opportunities, fine dining, and art galleries are among the many offerings that visitors can enjoy.
One of our favorite restaurants is the Mesa Grill for lunch. We both had the Smashburgers. Yummy!
After lunch, we took a ride into Sedona, checking out the downtown area, then taking Upper Red Rock Canyon Road. We’ve been here several times before but we never get tired of the stunning red rock formations!
On another day, we drove to Jerome, a historic copper and gold mining founded in 1876 and located high atop Cleopatra Hill between Sedona and Prescott. Interesting drive up the mountain to get there.
Once gold was discovered there, Jerome quickly became the fourth largest town in the Arizona Territory with a rowdy population that reached over 15,000, earning the town a reputation as the “Wickedest Town in the West“. Over 70 years until the last mine closed in 1953, over a billion dollars worth of gold, copper, silver and zinc were produced. After the gold and silver dwindled, the town population became a ghost town with a population of 50. It wasn’t until the 60’s and 70’s, when the population began to grow after it became a mecca for artists. Today the town, now boasting a booming population of 475, has an atmosphere ranging from wickedly wild to wildly artistic. It has become a very popular tourist destination.
Before going into town, we stopped at the Jerome Historic State Park where we went to the museum, housed in the former mansion of James Douglas, an eye-catching landmark in Jerome since 1916, when James S. Douglas built it on the hill just above his Little Daisy Mine.
Admission fees are as follows: ages 0-6 free; 7-13 $4.00; 14+ $7.00. Definitely worth the cost! The museum offers photographs, artifacts and minerals in addition to a video presentation and a 3-D model of the town with its underground mines.
In addition to all of the displays, we were able to take a tour with a guide during which we learned about the history of the mining industry and the geology of the area which was totally awesome! Then we watched a video. Fascinating place! To see some of the exhibits, check out our Jerome photo album!
Want to stand on glass above a 1,900 foot shaft? If your answer is yes, then a stop at the Audrey Shaft Headframe Park, located a short distance from the mansion, is a must. The shaft is 650 taller than the highest point of the Empire State Building!
Completed in 1918, it was state-of-the-art and the largest facility of its kind built by the United Verde Extension (UVX) Company during its years of operation. It is the largest wooden headframe still standing in Arizona. More about its history and purpose can be found here.
Since all of this history whetted our appetites, we headed into town where after wandering around checking out posted menus, finally deciding to have lunch at the Clinkscale Hotel and Restaurant. I had the Basil Grilled Chicken Sandwich with fries ($17) and Rob had the Artisan Grilled Cheese (American, Gruyere, and Chevre on Asiago crusted bread) with Roasted Tomato Poblano Soup ($15). Both were excellent! After our meal we wanted to walk around some more but it was not enjoyable because it was too cold and windy.
The next day, we headed back to Mesa Grill for breakfast. It was the Sedona Scramble, which was scrambled eggs with asparagus, artichoke, roasted tomato, goat cheese, grilled ham, wild thyme potatoes & grilled focaccia ($16) for me and Biscuits and Gravy ($19) for Rob.
After breakfast, we went roaming around again. Last time we were in Sedona, we were trying to remember the name of the restaurant where we saw a live performance by Robert Shields (from the mime team of Shields and Yarnell fame) but didn’t have any luck. With a lot of digging using Google, I discovered the name of the restaurant was Trixter which has since closed. Further research showed the address as 350 Jordan Road. Woo hoo! There it was but it is now Elote Cafe!
From there we took a ride to the Chapel of the Holy Cross but having been there several times before, we didn’t bother parking and getting out. Too many people and too much traffic!
Leaving there, we continued our drive on Hwy 179 towards the village of Oak Creek, passing by the spectacular Bell Rock Butte which with an elevation at its summit of 4,919 feet is a popular hiking landmark. Another popular hike is at Courthouse Butte which has an elevation at its summit of 4,919 feet.
Back at the campground that night, we prepared for our departure the next day, heading for another very familiar place!