In Clarkdale, 5 miles northeast of Jerome on Ariz. 260, the small Clarkdale Arizona Historical Society Museum, 900 First North St. (www.clarkdalemuseum.org; tel. 928/649-1198; free admission), has a lot of interesting information on the grand copper smelters that once dominated the region’s economy. And right down the street is something special: the Arizona Copper Art Museum, 849 Main St. (www.copperartmuseum.com; tel. 928/649-1858), an extraordinary collection of some 5,000 works of art made from copper. The glow alone is unforgettable. It’s open daily 10am–5pm; adult tickets are $9, with discounts for seniors and kids.
Cottonwood, 4 miles or so southeast of Clarkdale, isn’t nearly as atmospheric as Jerome, but in its Old Town district, where one side of Main Street has an old-fashioned covered sidewalk, you’ll find quite a few interesting shops, galleries, and cafes. I could point you, for example, to Adventures Unlimited Books, 1020 N. Main St. (www.adventuresunlimitedpress.com; tel. 928/639-1664). Just a normal bookstore, right? But look around a bit and you’ll start to hear the theme from The X-Files. You’ll find everything you ever need to know on aliens, sightings, chemtrail, conspiracy theories, anti-gravity machines, mystical phenomena, and many other things. Farther down the street is an iconoclastic purveyor of sculpture, a shop that calls itself The Most Interesting Store in the World, 909 N. Main St. (tel. 928/821-0313), which is only somewhat hyperbolic.
A half-hour’s drive southeast on Ariz. 260, Camp Verde is the closest town for Montezuma Castle and Fort Verde State Park. Here you’ll also find Cliff Castle Casino, 555 Middle Verde Rd. (www.cliffcastlecasino.net; tel. 800/381-7568 or 928/567-7900), at exit 289 off I-17. There’s a brand-new $30-million hotel attached, too.
Sipping the Local Vintages: Verde Valley
About halfway between Camp Verde and Cottonwood, Alcantara Vineyards, 3445 S. Grapevine Way, Verde Valley (www.alcantaravineyard.com; tel. 888/569-0756 or 928/649-8463) is far and away the most beautiful winery in Arizona, with terraced vineyards overlooking limestone cliffs and a bend of the Verde River. There are tours on Friday and Saturday at 11:30am. The tasting room is open daily 11am to 5pm; there is an $10 per person tasting fee.
In Cottonwood, wine-tasting rooms are popping up all over. At the Pillsbury Wine Company, 1012 N. Main St. (www.pillsburywine.com; tel. 928/639-0646), you can choose from among more than a dozen wines. Wines here are produced by several area wineries, which makes this one of the best places in the region to get an idea of the breadth of the local productions. For $12 to $16, you can taste five wines (additional tastes are $2 each). The tasting room is open Monday through Thursday 11am to 6pm, Friday and Saturday 11am to 9pm, and Sunday noon to 6pm. Across the street, Arizona Stronghold Winery, 1023 Main St. (www.azstronghold.com; tel. 928/639-2789) is a joint operation of Page Spring Cellars' Eric Glomski and Caduceus Cellars' Maynard Keenan, which says it’s "the expression of the fierce and wild Arizona terrain." (Keenan has some renown as the lead singer of the rock band Tool.) The tasting room is open Monday, Thursday, and Sunday noon to 7pm, Tuesday and Wednesday noon to 5pm, and Friday and Saturday noon to 9pm. (There's live music on weekend evenings, too.) The tasting fee is $9.
Want to dig deeper into Arizona wines? The Verde Valley Wine Trail is a promotional site that is an efficient guide to most of the local wineries, and can offer some helpful maps for touring the territory. Check it out at www.vvwinetrail.com.
A Hike and a Swim
If it’s a hot day, you may want to head up to Sycamore Creek to cool off in one of the creek’s swimming holes. It’s only a 1/4-mile hike to the first swimming hole, but there are more farther up the creek. To reach the trail head, follow signs to Tuzigoot National Monument; after crossing the bridge over the Verde River, turn left onto Forest Road (F.R.) 131 (signposted for the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness). The road quickly turns to gravel and then dirt and is very rough in places—don’t try driving it without a high-clearance vehicle and preferably one with four-wheel-drive. The trail head is 11 miles up this road.
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.