September/October 2020 – Tour Through North Central (High Country) of AZ

We left Utah and headed to Northern Arizona, even though the heat is not letting up, we hadn’t been to the area yet and Chris was eager to visit Prescott and Cottonwood.
The journey proved to be very scenic as we drove through Monument Valley featuring a wonderful landscape of sandstone masterpieces towering to 1000’. Once again the Navajo Nation have closed off the 17 mile loop but we did manage to get some photos from the road.

Our destination was Camp Verde but we stopped 5 miles short to scope out the area. We were planning a months stay, so wanted to check out our options of parks. We stopped in Rimrock and found a decent spot to drop anchor for the night.

Boondocking at Forest Road 689 in Rimrock AZ

We finally decided on Camp Verde RV resort, decently priced with a bonus of some serious shade, the temperature was still in triple digits so it was a welcome sight.

Under the solar array at Verde Ranch RV Resort

Camp Verde is a small town intersected by I-17 with an historic district comprising of shopping, dining and museum and lies in the Coconino and Prescott National Forest regions.

First stop was to the local Italian restaurant, Moscato which had a lovely patio and delicious food. No concern about rain here, the monsoon season had already passed without a drop of rain for the second year in a row.

Sit down dinner at Mascato Italian Restaurant

Mascato Italian Restaurant

Time for another wash, we only have to drive a 100 miles and we’re filthy again

Ceramic coating being applied

Had to wash the boondocking dust off.

Once again we were centrally located between Prescott, Sedona and Cottonwood, the latter being the closest and fast becoming an extensive wine region. It’s known as the gateway to the Red Rocks of Sedona but has so much charm in its own right with excellent restaurants and wineries.

Main St. Cottonwood

Cottonwood

Brunch in Cottonwood

Bread pudding french toast

Jerome is another little town with loads of character and located near the top of Cleopatra Hill. This an historic copper mining town and was once the 4th largest city in AZ a population of around 15,000 people. Once the mine closed in 1953 the remaining population of around 50 to 100 promoted the town as a historic ghost town. It’s now a thriving artist and tourist hub with a population of about 400.

Jerome AZ

Mine shaft

Jerome rivals San Francisco with all the hills. There were stops around town where people were sitting panting in the 100 degree heat

Jerome AZ

Next stop Prescott and a very good Indian restaurant just off the town square

Chris’ birthday dinner in Prescott

Chicken Vindaloo/Lamb Korma

Another day another drive, this time to Sedona and the fabulous Red Rocks.
We’d been to Sedona about 30 years ago and boy had it changed. Most of the town didn’t exist back then, but the rocks hadn’t changed. Last time we were here we took a Piper Cub for a spin around and through the rocks, not before we had several vodka and tonics to calm the nerves before we got to the airport, good thing we weren’t flying it.

At some point we found ourselves in the Uptown Sedona area, which was new to us. But with all its luxury resorts and mass tourists we beat a fast retreat

Camp Verde is home to a couple of  National Monuments and Montezuma Castle was one.

Southern Sinagua farmers built this 5 story 20 roomed dwelling between 1100’s and 1300’s.

Although badly deteriorated now, the holes in the rocks were actual rooms and the higher ones were accessed by ladders. The area was abundant with water and game and families weaved cloth from locally grown cotton. The structures were in use for 1000 years.

A short drive down the road Montezuma Well fed by continuously flowing springs from which the Sinagua irrigated with its waters. There are also more dwellings here around the rim.

This water is still very valuable today as many residents in Rimrock rely on the water still for irrigation.

In search of one of John McCain residencies in nearby Cornville we stopped at this Roadside cafe and had a most delicious burger and fries. We never found Johns ranch but saw some beautiful scenery through the vineyards.

Another National Monument was Tuzigoot. Unlike Montezuma’s Castle, this Monument comprises a cluster of buildings on top of a sandstone ridge. Most of the rooms are just partly preserved walls a few feet high. But it was home to around 250 people and abandoned in the fifteen century.

We couldn’t leave the area without visiting what Arizonans call the High Country, Flagstaff and north. It was only a 40 minute drive to Flagstaff which is quite a hustle and bustle town. The downtown historic area is quite small, but considering the “times” it was really crowded. Would loved to have stopped to explore here, but safety first.

We drove north out of town on the scenic highway, first stop Snowball, the local ski area.

The aspen trees here were in full fall bloom.

Unfortunately the further north we drove we found that fall colors had peaked and the trees were bare, still the scenery was beautiful.

A hawk looking for lunch

Lockett Meadow

Lockett Meadow

Having explored the area for a month it was time to leave Central Arizona and continue south-west.

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