Looking for a roadtrip stop? Try ghost town Jerome, Arizona.
There’s something to be said about a town called, “The Wickedest Town of the West”.
On a west coast roadtrip to visit my brother in Phoenix, Arizona, I drove on Highway 89’s long winding road until I noticed a little speckle in the distance. As I approached a little more, a ghost town appeared.
Strangely enough, it looked abandoned and yet, when I looked closer, I realized that it was a fully functioning town. I began to ask myself who would ever live in such a deserted place.
So, I decided to pull over to see what the town was all about. Low and behold, a historic former mining town that had more character than one could ever hope to find in the middle of the desert. I’m talking about a town called Jerome.
Let’s explore America’s largest ghost town Jerome, Arizona which sits 5,000 feet atop Cleopatra Hill in central Arizona’s Verde Valley.
Ghost Town Jerome, Arizona
Jerome is not what every traveler would hope to find. After all, it is seemingly (and unapologetically) in the middle of nowhere Arizona.
However, perhaps my favorite thing about Jerome is that, unlike its neighboring cousins Phoenix and Sedona, I don’t have to fight off a flock of tourists to enjoy it.
So, let’s let the people have their red rock jeep tours and yogi retreats while we enjoy our untamed, uncluttered, brilliant little hillside discovery that we don’t have to wait in line to enjoy its natural wonder and beauty like we’re at Disneyland.
More Than a Mining Town
That the town continues to thrive years after its gold and copper deposits have dried up is amazing. Unlike other ghost towns across the US, Jerome, Arizona refuses to be forgotten. The individuals that remain there are what keep the town alive today and have rebranded themselves to folks like you and me.
With its remote location, you would think that Jerome was nothing more than an old mining town. Turns out, the town is so much more. While it may look abandoned at first glance, Jerome is an attraction holding its own with tens of thousands of desert rats, ghost hunters and roadtrip adventurers venturing out to it every year from Phoenix and all over in the name of off the beaten path traveling.
Since its establishment in 1876, Jerome went from a bustling town with around 15,000 miners, bootleggers and prostitutes coming from all over the world to claim their stakes at wealth… to just under 100 remaining residents after the town fell… to a quaint and colorful community of 500 artists, small business owners, musicians, and historians who not only retain but embrace its mining heritage.
The town may not be a billion-dollar gold and copper mine anymore, but its rebranding has given Jerome new life, helping it appeal to a younger generation that appreciates whacky and absurd oddities.
I’ll admit, it’s interesting to walk around, witnessing the aftermath of a once glorified town’s rock bottom. But, it’s also rare that we ever get to see an 1800s mining town preserved so well, with vintage rustic wagons and wooden buildings scattered about.
Now you may be asking, what is there to do in Jerome other than enjoy the beautiful desert scenery? A few things…
What to Do in Jerome, Arizona
- Jerome Sliding Jail
- Jerome State Historic Park
- Gold King Mine & Ghost Town
- Tuzigoot National Monument
When you stop in Jerome, don’t be afraid to also do a little exploring and come up with fun things to do on your own. Yes, the town has ghosts, so you can enjoy a ghost tour, dine at a haunted restaurant, or grab a drink at a spooky tavern.
If ghosts aren’t your thing, you can support local artists and businesses by buying some art from a local gallery or doing some shopping at a boutique in town. Who knows what treasures you’ll find!
While you’re at it, enjoy some other local roadside stops. Here are some other daytrips you can have whether you’re on a roadtrip or looking to getaway for the weekend.
- Camp Verde (40 min, 25 mi.)
- Sedona (40 min, 27 mi.)
- Prescott (1 hr, 35 mi.)
- Phoenix (2 hours, 110 mi.)
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That’s a Wrap!
I hope you enjoyed my stories about Jerome, Arizona!
Have you been to Jerome? Would you go? Let me know in the comments below and subscribe to the blog for travel adventures, tips & how to get in on travel rewards for free trip giveaways!
Thank you so much for being a part of this journey with me! I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you.
Until next time… keep it real.
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