Montezuma Castle National Monument
Leaving Phoenix with an overnight stay in Jerome, AZ in mind, a detour was made to check out the Montezuma Castle National Monument. These prehistoric cliff dwellings date back approximately 800 years! It is an amazing sight to see. Prior to 1951, visitors could actually ascend into the dwellings by climbing ladders.
Tuzigoot National Monument
The second detour was made to explore the ancient pueblos of Tuzigoot National Monument. You can still go inside the structures and walk all around the property. Great views are yours to be had if you climb all the way to the top.
Gold King Mine & Ghost Town
Once in Jerome, I just had to go check out the Gold King Mine & Ghost Town. I tempered my expectations, because I had no idea if it was for real or if it was a tourist trap. I still don’t know. But I did meet a great donkey named Pedro (who is on a diet, or at least was on a diet), and got some cool shots of the old junk cars.
As we were leaving, we somehow picked up a hitchhiker. He was as hairy as Sasquatch, with the skinniness of a meth-addled Shaggy. But, he was carrying a tiny Chihuahua with him, so I figured he was good people. As we proceeded down the short road leading back into downtown historic Jerome, the hitchhiker proceeded to offer up some of his best storytelling services to us – “You want to know about the town? I know all about this town.” I asked him how long he had lived in Jerome. His reply? About two months! Hysterical.
Jerome Grand Hotel & Jerome
The former circa 1926 United Verde Hospital is now the Jerome Grand Hotel. The hotel still utilizes a 1926 Otis Elevator that is very fun to use! You have to manually open the gate and doors and insert your old-fashioned (actual) room key to operate the elevator. There is much speculation about the supposed hauntings going on here at the Jerome Grand Hotel. The television show Ghost Adventures even featured the location on one of their episodes. The hotel offers ghost hunting packages on select days during the week. When the hospital closed in 1950, the building remained vacant for 44 years until renovations began for the hotel. You may find the accommodations a bit rustic, but you should strive to enjoy the Jerome Grand Hotel for what it is – a true piece of history. Today, it is a charming historic hotel that seems to be doing just fine from its position on top of the hill, looking down into the Verde Valley.
The town of Jerome is a haven for artists, and there is a thriving downtown area of shops, galleries, and restaurants. Jerome is also home to the 1918 Liberty Theatre, which is said to be the oldest silent movie house still in operation today. The whole town has a good buzz of energy about it. All in all, this was a good overnight visit on our way to Sedona.