Welcome to Prescott Valley, a captivating town nestled in the heart of Arizona’s Verde Valley. As I explore this charming destination, I discover a rich tapestry of history that revolves around the once-thriving mining operations that sustained the local economy during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
While Prescott Valley’s old-west history is undeniably fascinating, it has also emerged as a hub for contemporary attractions. The town has gained recognition for its cutting-edge wineries, offering visitors a chance to indulge in exquisite wine tastings. Additionally, a vibrant art scene has flourished, showcasing the creativity and talent of local artists.
As I immerse myself in the allure of Prescott Valley, I can’t help but appreciate the remarkable climate that graces the region. The area boasts majestic geology and breathtaking scenery, inviting outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers to explore its wonders.
Prescott Valley is a destination that effortlessly combines a rich past with modern delights. As an enthusiastic traveler from Arizona, allow me to help you plan the best trip in the wonderous Prescott Valley. Here are 15 of the best things to do in Prescott valley, Arizona
1. The Highlands Center for Natural History
If you have a passion for natural history like I do, then the Highlands Center for Natural History is an absolute must-visit during your trip to Prescott Valley. Nestled on the enchanting South Walker Road in nearby Prescott, this center is a gateway to nearly 80 acres of untouched forest, offering an immersive experience into the wonders of the natural world.
As I explored the Highlands Center, I was directed by the knowledgeable guides who led me on engaging tours. They shared fascinating facts and figures about the geology and history of the area, unraveling the secrets that lie within the diverse landscape. From the diverse plant and animal life to the intricate habitats and remarkable geological formations, I was in awe of the rich tapestry of life that thrives in this region.
One of the highlights of my visit was strolling through the center’s botanical garden. The carefully curated collection of native plants and flowers showcased the immense beauty and adaptability of the local flora. It was a sensory delight, immersing me in the scents, colors, and textures of the natural world.
What truly sets the Highlands Center apart is its commitment to providing hands-on and instructional activities for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re a curious child or an avid nature enthusiast, you’ll find a range of engaging programs that allow you to delve deeper into the wonders of the natural world. From interactive exhibits to educational workshops, there is something for everyone to enjoy and learn from.
2. Fain Park
I recently discovered a hidden gem in Prescott Valley that I couldn’t wait to share with you: Fain Park. Tucked away on North 5th Street, this park offers an array of activities, all for free, making it the perfect spot to unwind, stay active, or even try your hand at fishing.
As I explored the park, I found myself meandering along the scenic trails that wind through its grounds. These trails led me to the picturesque lake and the tranquil creeks that flow through the surrounding area. It was a joy to immerse myself in nature’s embrace, surrounded by the beauty of the park. Along the way, I stumbled upon inviting picnic tables, providing the perfect setting for a leisurely lunch or a peaceful moment of relaxation.
While Fain Park is a haven throughout the year, many locals particularly cherish the park during the brisk and invigorating spring and fall seasons. The air is crisp and refreshing, creating an ideal environment for outdoor activities. It’s the perfect time to take advantage of the park’s amenities and enjoy the stunning natural surroundings.
During the summer months, however, it’s worth noting that the water level in the lake can decrease, and at times, the water may become stagnant. While it may not be as appealing during this time, fear not! Fain Park still has plenty to offer, from its serene trails to the inviting picnic areas.
One of the highlights of Fain Park is its fishing opportunities. The Arizona Game and Fish Department diligently stock the lake with rainbow trout, ensuring an exciting angling experience for fishing enthusiasts. To make the most of your visit, I recommend checking the stocking dates on the department’s website. This way, you won’t miss the action and can plan your fishing adventure accordingly.
3. Tonto Natural Bridge State Park
I recently embarked on an awe-inspiring journey to Tonto Natural Bridge and its surrounding park. As I ventured through the park, I was captivated by the extraordinary geology that unfolded before my eyes, a sight unlike anything I had ever seen.
The star of the park is undoubtedly the Tonto Natural Bridge itself, believed to be the largest Travertine bridge in the world. Stretching nearly 400 feet in length and towering at an impressive 150 feet, this natural wonder is a testament to the forces of nature. I couldn’t resist the urge to explore further, deciding to either scale the bridge or walk beneath its majestic arch. Whichever option you choose, be sure to have your camera ready, as this is an experience you’ll want to capture and cherish for a lifetime.
To reach Tonto Natural Bridge, I journeyed north from the charming town of Payson, following Arizona Route 87. The park’s location provided a serene escape from the bustling city, allowing me to immerse myself in the tranquil beauty of nature.
park offers a variety of trails, each unveiling its unique charm and showcasing the remarkable geology of the area. Along the way, I stumbled upon well-maintained restrooms, inviting picnic areas perfect for a leisurely meal amidst nature’s splendor, and even a small gift shop. It warmed my heart to know that the proceeds from the gift shop contribute to the preservation and maintenance of this extraordinary park.
4. Take a Wine Tour
As a wine enthusiast, I recently discovered that Arizona boasts a surprising and thriving wine scene. With over 40 wineries scattered throughout the state, including some that have gained significant recognition in recent years, Arizona has become a destination for wine connoisseurs seeking unique tasting experiences.
While Arizona may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of wine hotspots, the region around Prescott Valley and the Verde Valley has emerged as a hub for winemaking. Many wine enthusiasts consider this area to be ground zero for Arizona’s wineries, offering a diverse range of vineyards and tasting rooms to explore.
To make the most of my wine adventure, I found that guided tours were available, providing a comprehensive experience that included visits to multiple wineries. However, for those who prefer a more independent exploration, several wineries also welcome individual visitors outside of organized tours.
Planning my wine tour was a breeze thanks to the wealth of information available online. A simple search allowed me to discover the various wineries in the area, along with their addresses and whether they offered tours. It was convenient to have all the details at my fingertips, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable wine-tasting journey.
5. Freedom Station Family Fun Center
When it comes to fun-filled destinations, Freedom Station Family Fun Center truly knows how to make the most of its 40,000 square feet of space.
Nestled on North Park Avenue, this entertainment hub offers an array of exhilarating activities to suit every taste. From mini-golf and laser tag to rock climbing and more, there’s no shortage of excitement within its walls.
As a fan of classic arcade games, I was delighted to discover that the center also houses air hockey tables and a selection of old-school video games, providing a nostalgic blast from the past.
After working up an appetite with all the action-packed adventures, you’ll be pleased to know that Freedom Station has an onsite restaurant ready to refuel you with delicious fare, ensuring that no energy is lost along the way.
It’s important to note that hours and prices may vary, so I recommend checking their website for the most up-to-date information.
6. Lonesome Valley Trails
If you’ve ever fantasized about galloping through the Wild West like a legendary cowboy, then Lonesome Valley Trails in Paulden is the place to fulfill that dream.
Upon arrival, you’ll have the exciting choice of riding a trusty horse or a reliable mule. While the Lone Ranger may have preferred horses, rest assured that both options will provide an unforgettable adventure. Your experienced guide will lead you through breathtaking landscapes, showcasing the area’s most scenic vistas.
If you’re new to horseback riding, don’t fret. Lonesome Valley Trails offers separate riding lessons for those seeking a more comprehensive introduction. However, if you’re eager to dive right into the action, fear not. Before embarking on the trail, you’ll receive a crash course in handling your chosen steed, ensuring that you feel confident and prepared for the journey ahead.
Having been a prominent establishment since 2013, Lonesome Valley Trails has garnered a reputation for providing thrilling equestrian experiences in a picturesque setting.
7. Gold King Mine & Ghost Town
During the exhilarating days of the 1800s, when Arizona was a hotbed for gold prospectors seeking their fortune in the rugged hills, valleys, and riverbeds, towns like Jerome emerged as lively hubs for these adventurous souls. These roughnecks would occasionally emerge from the hills, seeking provisions, rest, and often stirring up some excitement along the way.
One such historic treasure that captures the essence of this era is the Gold King Mine and Ghost Town. Rather than a conventional museum, it is an immersive experience that transports you back in time. As you wander through its open-air corridors, you’ll encounter a multitude of buildings, equipment, and artifacts that have stood the test of time. Each relic tells a story of the bygone era and provides a glimpse into the lives of the ambitious prospectors who once roamed these lands.
But the surprises don’t end there. Among the intriguing exhibits, you’ll also come across a fascinating collection of vintage cars and trucks, adding a touch of automotive nostalgia to the journey.
8. Prescott Peavine National Recreation Trail
If you’re seeking an adventure that caters to walkers, bikers, hikers, or even horseback riders, the Prescott Peavine National Recreation Trail is a must-visit in Arizona. Stretching for nearly 5 miles, this trail meanders through captivating ravines, canyons, and mountains, offering an immersive experience in the area’s natural beauty.
What makes this trail even more intriguing is its unique construction. Following the path of an old railroad track bed that has long been retired from service, the trail now repurposes this historic route. But don’t worry, they’ve taken the time to remove the beams and tracks, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey for all.
As you venture along the trail, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas of Watson Lake and the mesmerizing Granite Dells. The Granite Dells is a fascinating landscape adorned with massive boulders and captivating rock formations that appear as if they belong to another world.
Whether you’re seeking a leisurely stroll, an invigorating bike ride, or a peaceful horseback trek, the Prescott Peavine National Recreation Trail is the perfect destination to immerse yourself in Arizona’s natural wonders.
9. Thumb Butte Park
Thumb Butte Park offers breathtaking trails and scenery that are sure to leave you in awe. The best part? It’s a family-friendly destination with a wide range of activities to enjoy, whether you’re into fishing, hiking, trail biking, or simply unwinding and soaking in the beauty of nature.
While there’s typically a small parking fee to access the park, Wednesdays are a special treat as they offer free access. So, if you can plan your visit accordingly, you’ll be able to make the most of this budget-friendly opportunity.
As you explore the park, you’ll encounter a diverse array of desert plants, towering trees, and fascinating wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for the chance to spot snakes, vibrant hummingbirds, and perhaps even a tarantula if you’re lucky—or unlucky, depending on your perspective.
After a day of adventure under the sun, you can relax and enjoy a picnic at one of the park’s convenient picnic tables equipped with built-in grills. And for your comfort, restrooms are available on-site.
10. Support local artists
Located on North Main Street in the vibrant town of Jerome, The Jerome Artists’ Cooperative Gallery is a haven for art enthusiasts like myself. This gallery, open every day, showcases the incredible talent of nearly 30 local artists who not only exhibit their artwork but also often work on their masterpieces right there in the gallery.
As I stepped into the gallery, I was immediately captivated by the diverse range of artistic expressions on display. From stunning paintings to intricate sculptures and exquisite jewelry, the gallery features a variety of art forms, many of which beautifully reflect the unique spirit of the Southwest.
The cooperative gallery has been a hub for the arts community since 1996, nestled within the historic Hotel Jerome. It serves as a gathering place where artists and art lovers come together to appreciate and support the local art scene in central Arizona.
One of the best things about the gallery is their commitment to customer satisfaction. If I find a piece of art that speaks to me but I’m concerned about transporting it home, the friendly staff is always ready to assist. They ensure that my treasured purchase is properly packaged, and if needed, they can even arrange for it to be safely sent to my doorstep via mail.
11. Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum
As I strolled through the charming streets of Jerome, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the town’s rich and, at times, tumultuous past. This old-west town has witnessed its fair share of bloody history, particularly the clashes between lawmen and the rowdy, often inebriated cowboys who frequented the area.
Eager to delve deeper into Jerome’s fascinating past, I make my way to the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum. With a history dating back to the 1950s, this museum is a treasure trove of memorabilia, equipment, and artifacts that offer a glimpse into the town’s mining heritage.
The museum houses a remarkable collection of mining tools, equipment, and relics that serve as a testament to Jerome’s mining boom. Each artifact carries the weight of the town’s mining pioneers who toiled tirelessly in search of precious metals.
Among the noteworthy exhibits is a prized possession that holds great historical significance. The museum proudly showcases the Colt pistol wielded by the town’s sheriff during a fateful encounter in 1912. This iconic firearm stands as a symbol of the lawman’s determination to maintain order in the face of adversity.
Furthermore, the museum sheds light on the diverse influences that shaped Jerome’s early years. It pays homage to the different nationalities that arrived in the area, including those who contributed to the construction of the railroad and sought fortune in the gold and silver mines. Their stories intertwine to form the rich tapestry of Jerome’s cultural heritage.
12. Douglas Mansion
Stepping into The Douglas Mansion, located within the historic confines of Jerome State Historic Park, I was instantly transported back to the year 1916 when this magnificent building was first erected by a prominent local mining magnate. The mansion, now serving as a museum, holds within its walls a treasure trove of photographs, exhibits, and memorabilia from the glorious days of Jerome’s mining boom.
As I explored the museum, I was captivated by the well-preserved artifacts that offer a glimpse into the past. The photographs vividly depict the bustling activity that once consumed this mining town, while the exhibits showcase the machinery and tools that were integral to the mining operations. Each item on display serves as a testament to the resilience and determination of the individuals who shaped Jerome’s mining history.
I am pleased to learn that the park and the Douglas Mansion have recently undergone extensive renovations, breathing new life into this historical gem. As I wandered through the museum’s halls, I was grateful for the efforts of those who have contributed to the preservation and maintenance of this invaluable piece of history.
It warms my heart to discover that the funding for the park’s operations primarily comes from generous donations by the original owners, Yavapai County, the city of Jerome, and the Jerome Historical Society. It is through their continued support and dedication that the park remains open to visitors like myself, offering an opportunity to delve into the past and gain a deeper understanding of Jerome’s mining legacy.
With a sense of appreciation for the invaluable work done by these organizations, I make sure to leave a contribution of my own before I depart. Supporting this worthy cause allows me to play a small part in the preservation of this historic landmark, ensuring that future generations can also experience the wonder of The Douglas Mansion.
13. Sliding Jail
As I explored the rich history of Jerome and its surrounding areas, I was reminded of the daring prospectors who sought fortune in the rugged Arizona terrain during the 1920s. Their relentless pursuit of gold and silver often shook the ground beneath them, unleashing powerful explosions that reverberated through the region.
One particular explosion left an indelible mark on the town’s history. Its sheer force was so great that it sent a jail cell hurtling more than 200 feet from its original position. It’s hard to imagine the spectacle of this remarkable event and the forces at play. Although the fate of any occupants inside remains unknown, this unique sight has become a popular spot for visitors like myself to pause and capture a few photographs as a testament to this extraordinary occurrence.
To find this intriguing jail cell, I make my way to Hull Avenue, where it proudly stands as a lasting testament to the town’s explosive past. The best part is that visiting this captivating piece of history comes at no cost, making it accessible to all who wish to witness this extraordinary sight.
Stood before the displaced jail cell, I was filled with a sense of awe and wonder, contemplating the turbulent times that shaped Jerome’s history. It serves as a reminder of the audacious spirit and determination of those who risked everything in search of riches buried deep within the unforgiving Arizona rock.
I take a moment to absorb the significance of this site, capturing its essence through my camera lens. It is a tangible connection to the town’s past, a powerful symbol of the resilience and tenacity that defined the early days of Jerome.
14. The Jerome State Historic Park
As I delve into the captivating history of Prescott Valley, Jerome, and the charming towns of the Verde Valley, I am captivated by the deep-rooted commitment to preserving the past. These communities are brimming with remarkable places that serve as custodians of bygone eras, ensuring that their rich heritage endures.
Among these treasured sites, the Jerome State Historic Park holds a prominent place and beckons history enthusiasts like myself to explore its fascinating offerings. It is an absolute must-visit for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in the stories and relics of the past.
Stepping into the park, I am instantly surrounded by a trove of captivating photographs, personal accounts, and an array of historic treasures that evoke a sense of nostalgia. The museum within the park is a treasure trove of knowledge, offering insights into the lives and experiences of those who once called this region home. With each step, I am transported to a different era, tracing the footsteps of those who have left an indelible mark on the land.
As I explore further, I discover a nifty gift shop, brimming with unique mementos that capture the essence of this storied place. It is a haven for history enthusiasts like myself, offering a chance to take a piece of Jerome’s rich heritage home with me.
One of the most intriguing features of the park is the enigmatic abandoned mine shaft known as ‘Old Daisy.’ Its darkened entrance beckons me, creating an air of mystery and anticipation. Peering into its depths, I am confronted with a seemingly infinite black abyss that whispers untold tales of toil and perseverance.
To experience the wonders of the Jerome State Historic Park, a small admission fee is required. Yet, I assure you, every penny spent is an investment in immersing oneself in the captivating history that abounds within its walls. The stories that unfold here, the connections made with the past, and the invaluable knowledge gained are worth far more than the price of entry.
Leaving the park, I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude for the preservation efforts that have allowed me to glimpse into the lives of those who came before. Their stories, struggles, and triumphs now reside within me, shaping my understanding of this remarkable place and its enduring legacy.
As I bid farewell to the Jerome State Historic Park, I carry with me the memories of its photographs, artifacts, and the profound connection to history they fostered. It is a testament to the enduring spirit of this community and a reminder of the importance of preserving our collective heritage for generations to come.
15. Audrey Headframe Park
While Audrey Headframe Park shares a name with the beloved Audrey Hepburn, it stands as a distinct attraction, bearing witness to the mining legacy of Prescott Valley. As I approached the park, anticipation stirs within me, eager to explore the remnants of this historic mining operation.
The centerpiece of the park is the Audrey Headframe, a colossal piece of mining equipment that once reigned as the largest of its kind in the entire United States. Its imposing presence stands as a testament to the grandeur and magnitude of the mining operations that once thrived here.
Immersing myself in the tales of perseverance and triumph, I uncovered a remarkable story that has become part of local folklore. Legend has it that the mine’s owner, teetering on the brink of financial ruin, experienced a miraculous turn of fortune in 1914. A rich vein of copper ore was unearthed, rescuing the company from the depths of despair and catapulting its owner into wealth and prosperity.
Climbing to the top of the headframe, I was greeted by a breathtaking panorama that offers a haunting glimpse into the subterranean world where miners toiled relentlessly to earn a living. It is a humbling experience, as the view from this vantage point transports me to the very heart of their challenging and dangerous work environment.
As I stood atop the headframe, I was surrounded by the echoes of a bygone era, imagining the dedication, resilience, and unwavering spirit of the miners who sought to unearth treasures hidden beneath the earth’s surface. The Audrey Headframe Park serves as a poignant reminder of their labor, preserving their legacy for generations to come.