That same remote and rugged setting that once made it so expensive to mine copper is now one of Jerome’s main attractions. Because it’s literally built on the side of a mountain, its streets switch back from one level of houses to the next, with narrow alleys and stairways connecting the different levels of town. All these winding streets, alleys, and stairways are lined with old brick and wood-frame buildings—some businesses, some private residences—clinging precariously to their perch. The entire town has been designated a National Historic Landmark, and today, homes, studios, wine-tasting rooms, and galleries stand side by side, looking (externally, anyway) much as they did when Jerome was an active mining town.
Jerome is an interesting enough place that you won’t regret spending half an hour or so before you hit the town proper at the Jerome State Historic Park, off Ariz. 89A at the end of Douglas Road in the lower section of town (www.azstateparks.com; tel. 928/634-5381). It’s a bit tricky to get here: Watch for signs and be ready to veer right onto Douglas Road as you approach the mountain; Douglas Road curves alongside the mountain for about a mile. It’s called a park but it’s really a museum, occupying the onetime home of mining magnate “Rawhide Jimmy” Douglas. Here you’ll find wonderful photos and artifacts of the town’s colorful history, along with an amazing view: the crazy constructions of Jerome on one side, and sweeping Verde Valley vistas on the other. The mansion, constructed of adobe bricks made on-site, once boasted a wine cellar, billiards room, marble shower, steam heat, and central vacuum system. The park is open Thursday through Monday 8:30am to 5pm; admission is $7 adults, $4 for ages 7 to 13.
Returning to Ariz. 89A, drive the last quarter-mile into town; park in one of the gravel lots in the first block or two. You’ll enjoy your time in Jerome a lot more if you’re walking back down to your car at the end of your visit rather than up.
For more local history, visit the Jerome Historical Society’s Mine Museum, 200 Main St. (www.jeromehistoricalsociety.org; tel. 928/634-5477) to see some great panoramic pictures of Jerome in the old days; the museum also has a fun little dark mine passageway, which among other things will answer your questions about how and where miners went to the bathroom. It’s open daily 9am to 5pm; admission is $2 adults, $1 seniors, free for kids 12 and under. Still haven’t gotten enough? You can take a 1-hour Jerome History Tour (jeromehistorytours.com; tel. 928/592-3768) for $15 ($10 for kids). For something a bit more irreverent, Ghost Town Tours, 403 N. Clark St. (ghosttowntours.org; tel. 928/635-6118) offers a variety of ghost and history tours from $30 to $65 (half price for kids); you can probably get a discount by stopping by the store.
As you walk along Main Street, you’ll notice some surprises among the shops and the overgrown residential gardens. Look for a small inlet with one of the mine’s old blast furnaces; a sign explains that it was fueled by coke brought to Arizona from Wales, UK. Just to the left of that, a concrete stairway will take you to a hidden park right above it, shaded and with a picnic table and swing set for the kids.
Once you get to the final switchback, Clark Street, you have two choices. The first is to drop into Wicked City Brew, 403 Clark St. (tel. 928/351-7940) for some locally brewed craft beers (all on tap with old horseshoes and such on the tap handles) and a selection of Arizona wines. The second is to press on up Clark Street, past the Haunted Hamburger restaurant, to Hill Street, which veers up to the right. If you follow this road for about a quarter-mile over rather steep gravel, you’ll reach the wonderful Grand Hotel , the most prominent building in the town, and its restaurant, the Asylum. Views here are as good as they get. It’s a great place to stop for a drink or a bite to eat before heading back down the mountain.
Sipping the Local Vintages
Central Arizona is working hard to develop worthy wineries; right now, Jerome is ground zero for finding out whether they are on to something. Most of the new shops in town have deals for tastings; some offer small plates of food, too, and they'll generally throw in the cost of the tasting if you end up buying a few bottles. Caduceus Cellars, 158 Main St. (www.caduceus.org; tel. 928/639-9463) drew attention originally because it was started by a member of the rock band Tool; it is now the most respected winemaker in the state. Bitter Creek Winery, 240 Hull St. (www.bittercreekwinery.com; tel. 928/634-7033), at the north end of Hull Street, has some nice views of the Verde Valley to contemplate while you sip. Another respected company markets two wines, Passion and Salvatore, in a swanky shop called Cabal, 417 Hull St. (www.passioncellars.com; tel. 928/649-9800).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.