January 2019 – Most people come to the Arizona desert in January to get out of the snow and ice and enjoy some balmy weather. But when snow and ice blew into central Arizona on New Year’s Eve this week, we jumped at the chance to get out on New Year’s Day to enjoy the fluffy white stuff while it lasted.
We headed north on I-17 which takes travelers from the Sonoran Desert in Phoenix at about 1,200′ elevation to the ponderosa pine forests of Flagstaff at about 7,500′ elevation in just two hours of highway driving. Not far from the northern boundaries of Phoenix we began seeing patches of snow along the highway.
Snow had collected on the rock formations and in the forests by the side of the highway as we climbed higher and higher in elevation.
Our goal had just been to go see some snow, but we soon realized our afternoon New Year’s snow drive needed a destination.
We wanted to see a quaint town full of holiday cheer along with ice and snow, so we cut off from I-70 onto Route 260 and 89A to go to the historic copper mining town of Jerome.
Jerome is perched halfway up towering Mingus Mountain, and it clings to the hillside with tenacity as it looks out over the valley below. The views are vast, and when we arrived storm clouds and golden sunlight were taking turns shading and lighting the valley.
The town was built along several steep switchbacks in the road that crosses Mingus Mountain, and houses and shops stand at several different levels on the mountain road. A few staircases take shortcuts between each level, leading from one road up to the next.
Jerome is something of a rediscovered ghost town, and there are ghostly themes all over the place. We noticed a skeleton was about to join a family eating outside on a restaurant deck.
Another skeleton was climbing the sign at the Haunted Hamburger.
Jerome is a really popular destination in the summertime because it is an easy drive from baking hot Phoenix, and the temps are cool and refreshing because it lies halfway up a tall mountain. But it makes a delightful wintertime destination too, especially around the holidays. Christmas decorations were everywhere.
Walking the streets of Jerome, we saw beautiful views across the valley. The red rocks of Sedona were nearby, and they lit up in the distance as the sun began to sink lower in the sky.
All the buildings were covered with a layer of snow, which made for a fun change of scenery after weeks in the dusty dry deserts of New Mexico and Arizona.
We followed the switchbacks to the top of town.
The Jerome Grand Hotel stood proudly overlooking the valley.
Inside the lobby of the Jerome Grand Hotel we read some of the guests’ hand written ghost stories that have been collected in a notebook. All kinds of things go bump in the night at this hotel, and visitors have some hair raising tales to tell. Just ask the person at the front desk if you can see the guestbook of stories about this haunted hotel!
The sun set in pastel shades of peach and pink and blue as we walked back down into town.
As we made our way back to the parking area at the bottom of town we saw lots of Christmas lights on the houses.
All the trees in the small town park were decorated with lights, but it was the lights on the ground blinking under the snow that caught our attention.
Jerome is a cute town and a lovely spot to for a change of pace from the desert, especially during the holidays when it snows!
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More info about Jerome, Arizona:
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- Brins Mesa Trail & Unexpected Delights in Sedona Arizona! 04/26/19
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- The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek (Bell Trail Hike), Sedona, AZ 03/14/16
- Sedona, Arizona – Great Beer, Coffee, Red Rocks & Psychics! 03/09/16
- Bell Rock Pathway, Sedona AZ – Hiking & Biking the Red Rocks 03/07/16
- Cathedral Rock at Red Rock Crossing – Sedona AZ 12/14/14
- Montezuma’s Castle & Schnebly Hill – Sedona Heights! 05/19/14
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- Sedona – Mountain biking in the red rocks! 05/13/14
- Oh, Sedona – Scenic drives in the red rocks!! 05/09/14
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