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Frommer’s EasyGuide to Sedona & Central Arizona

Frommer’s EasyGuide to Sedona & Central Arizona

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Frommer’s EasyGuide to Sedona & Central Arizona

193 pages
2 heures
Jun 16, 2020


Take the guesswork out of vacation planning. Frommer’s hires only seasoned experts, in this case two renowned journalists who live full-time in Arizona. Their advice is savvy, dependable, and based not on one or two short trips to the state, but on a lifetime of exploration. They offer an up-to-date, detail- and tip-rich commentary on the extraordinarily beautiful red-rock country that is Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon, the dude ranches of Wickenberg, the stately pleasures and pine forests of Prescott, the iconoclastic arts community of Jerome, and more. So whether you’re going to be hiking, camping, horseback riding or taking a road trip, this is the book for you.

Frommer’s EasyGuide to Sedona and Central Arizona contains:
• Stunning, full-color photos throughout
• Helpful maps
Authentic experiences to help you appreciate this unique Southwestern culture, cuisine, historic sights and customs like a local
Detailed info on outdoor activities and sites from some of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in the United States, to scenic and serene hiking trails, to view-rich drives, mountain biking adventures, golf and more
Accurate, up-to-date info on transportation, useful websites, costs, telephone numbers, and more
Budget-planning help with the lowdown on prices and ways to save money, whether you’re traveling on a shoestring or in the lap of luxury
Jun 16, 2020

À propos de l'auteur

Gregory McNamee is the author or editor of more than forty books, among them Gila: The Life and Death of an American River, Updated and Expanded Edition (UNM Press). He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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Frommer’s EasyGuide to Sedona & Central Arizona - Gregory McNamee



Central Arizona

It’s easy—you fly into Phoenix, drive north, and in 4 or 5 hours you’re at the Grand Canyon. Nothing to see in between, right?

Between Phoenix and the Grand Canyon lies one of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, the red-rock country of Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. It’s one of those places where, when you see it for the first time, it’s almost as if a tympani beats a fanfare. That’s reason enough to allot some extra time on the trip to the Grand Canyon.

But there’s more. Central Arizona also has the former territorial capital of Prescott, historic sites, ancient Indian ruins, an old mining town turned artists’ community in Jerome, and even a few good old-fashioned dude ranches (and some recently-in-the-news rehabilitation clinics) out Wickenburg way. Lately, central Arizona has even begun to become somewhat of a wine region.

People have been drawn here for hundreds of years. The Hohokam nation farmed the fertile Verde Valley as long ago as


600, followed later by the Sinagua. By the time the first white settlers arrived in the 1860s, Apache and Yavapai tribes inhabited the area, and the U.S. Army established Fort Verde, now in the town of Camp Verde, in 1871, beginning decades of bloodshed and suppression of the native peoples. The mining industry brought prosperity to the region—that is, until the mines gave out, leaving ghost towns in their wake. Layers of history are piled deep in this stunning landscape.


53 miles NW of Phoenix; 61 miles S of Prescott; 128 miles SE of Kingman

Known a half-century ago as the dude-ranch capital of the world, Wickenburg still has a handful of dude (or guest) ranches, ranging from rustic to luxurious, where you can ride horses and throw a horseshoe or two. A growing sprawl—miles and miles of nice houses are now visible on the road from Phoenix—surrounds a small town with an old-time downtown and a few cowboy activities still to be seen. (Wickenburg calls itself the team roping capital of the world—see box, p. 168.) It’s also home to a number of rehab centers, including the Meadows, where a number of scandal-shamed celebrities have found themselves in recent years.

Wickenburg was founded in 1863 by Henry Wickenburg, a Prussian prospector who came to the desert in search of riches. He hit pay dirt just south of the town that now bears his name, and his Vulture Mine eventually became the most profitable gold and silver mine in Arizona. Although the mine closed in 1942, it is now operated as a minor tourist attraction.



From Phoenix, drive north on I-17, then west on Ariz. 74, continuing west on U.S. 60, or take U.S. 60 northwest from downtown, passing through the retirement communities of Sun City and Surprise. Either way, it’s about an hour’s drive. If you’re coming from the west, take U.S. 60 northeast from I-10. U.S. 93 comes down from I-40 in northwestern Arizona.

Visitor Information

The Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce, 216 N. Frontier St. (



or 928/684-5479) is open Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 2pm.

Special Events

Gold Rush Days, held on the second full weekend in February for more than 70 years, is Wickenburg’s biggest party; events include gold panning, a rodeo, and shootouts in the streets. On the second full weekend in November, the Bluegrass Festival features fiddle and banjo contests. On the first weekend in December, Wickenburg’s annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering features lots of poetry and music.

Exploring Wickenburg

While Wickenburg’s main attractions remain the guest ranches outside of town, a walk around downtown also provides a glimpse of the Old West. Most of the buildings here were built between 1890 and the 1920s (although a few are older), although not all of them look their age.

Frontier Street is preserved as it looked in the early 1900s. The covered sidewalks and false fronts are characteristic of frontier architecture; the false fronts often disguised older adobe buildings that were considered uncivilized by settlers from back east. Stop by the old Santa Fe train station on Frontier Street, now the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce (see above), to pick up a map that tells the history of the town’s buildings. The brick post office, almost across the street from the train station, once had a ride-up window providing service to people on horseback. The Garcia Little Red Schoolhouse, 245 N. Tegner St. (



), open Tuesday through Saturday 10am to 2pm, is another of the town’s old-timey sights.

Two of the town’s most unusual attractions aren’t buildings at all. The Jail Tree, behind the convenience store at the corner of Wickenburg Way and Tegner Street, is an old mesquite tree that served as the local hoosegow. Outlaws were simply chained to the tree. Their families would often come to visit and have a picnic in the tree’s shade. Then there’s the Wishing Well, standing beside the bridge over the Hassayampa. Legend has it that anyone who drinks from the Hassayampa River will never tell the truth again. How the well adjacent to the river became a wishing well is unclear.

Wickenburg cherishes its cowboy heritage, with guest ranches, cowboy poetry readings, and its status as team roping capital of the world.

Desert Caballeros Western Museum MUSEUM   Inside this museum, an outstanding collection of Western art depicts life on the range, including works by Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, Charles Russell, Frederic Remington, Maynard Dixon, and other members of the Cowboy Artists of America. The impressive Spirit of the Cowboy collection of historical cowboy gear alone makes this museum worth a stop.

21 N. Frontier St.



$12 adults, $10 seniors, free for ages 17 and under. Mon–Sat 10am–5pm; Sun noon–4pm. Closed Mon June–Aug and on major holidays.

Hassayampa River Preserve NATURE PRESERVE   At one time, the Arizona desert was laced with rivers that flowed for most, if not all, of the year. In the past century, however, these rivers, and the riparian forests they once supported, have disappeared at an alarming rate as rivers are dammed and wells lower the water tables. Riparian areas support trees and plants that require more water than is usually available in the desert, and this lush growth provides food and shelter for hundreds of species of birds, mammals, and reptiles. Today, the riparian cottonwood-willow forests of the desert Southwest are considered the country’s most endangered forest type. The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to purchasing and preserving threatened habitats, and the Maricopa County Parks Department work together to manage the Hassayampa River Preserve. It’s an important bird-watching site—280 species of birds have been spotted here. Nature trails lead along the river beneath cottonwoods and willows, and past spring-fed Palm Lake. On-site are a visitor center and bookshop. On the Maricopa County parks website, www.maricopacountyparks.net, under programs and events you can find a schedule of nature walks and other activities at this preserve; private guided tours are available as well.

Team roping is when two cowpokes on horses chase a calf across an arena and get points for how fast they immobilize it. Wickenburg’s large rodeo facility, the Everett Bowman Rodeo Grounds, 935 Constellation Rd. (www.ci.wickenburg.az.us/69/Rodeo-Grounds), is a mile or two northeast of the town center; another popular roping venue, Rancho Rio,



49614 N. U.S. 60 (milepost 114, 3 mi SE of Wickenburg).



$5, free for kids 12 and under. Oct–Apr Wed–Sun 8am–5pm; May–Oct Wed–Sun 7am–4pm. Closed Mon–Tues. Closed Thanksgiving, day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.

The Vulture Mine HISTORIC SITE   Lying at the base of Vulture Peak (the most visible natural landmark in the Wickenburg area, about 12 miles south of the town proper), the Vulture Mine was first staked by Henry Wickenburg in 1863, fueling the small gold rush that helped populate this part of the Arizona desert. Today, the Vulture Mine feels like a ghost town. You can’t go down into the old mine itself, but you can wander around the aboveground shacks and mine structures, either on tours or, in summer, by yourself. It’s interesting for Western history buffs, and fun for kids.

36610 N. 355 Ave. (12 mi S of U.S. 60 W via Vulture Mine Rd.). www.vultureminetours. $15; free for kids under 6. Cash only. Check website for hours, which vary. No guided tours in summer. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Outdoor Activities

If you’d rather explore the desert backcountry by jeep than on horseback, call B.C. Jeep Tours (



), which charges $75 per person with a two-person minimum. If you’ve got time for only one jeep tour on your Arizona vacation, however, make it in Sedona.

Los Caballeros Golf Club , 1551 S. Vulture Mine Rd. (



) has been rated one of the best courses in the state. Greens fees range $85 to $125 in the cooler months.

Southwest of town at the end of Vulture Mine Rd. (off U.S. 60), hikers can hit the trails around Vulture Peak, which include a steep but rewarding climb best done in the cooler months. The views from up top (or even just the saddle near the top) are well worth the effort. There are sometimes spectacular wildflower displays here in the spring.

Where to Stay in Wickenburg

Flying E Ranch    This is a working cattle ranch with 20,000 high, wide, and handsome acres for you and the cattle to roam. In business since 1946, the Flying E attracts plenty of repeat business; families find it a particularly appealing place. Accommodations vary in size, but all have Western-style furnishings and either twin or king-size beds. Three family-style meals are served in the wood-paneled dining room; there’s no bar (you’ll need to bring your own liquor). Guests like to gather by the fireplace in the main lodge’s spacious lounge. Breakfast cookouts, lunch rides, hayrides, and evening chuck-wagon dinners are organized. Horseback riding costs an additional $40 to $60 per person per day.

2801 W. Wickenburg Way (4 mi W of town on U.S. 60).



17 units. $360 double, $720 4-person cabin. Rates include all meals. Closed May–Oct. Amenities: Dining room; exercise room; Jacuzzi; outdoor pool; sauna; tennis court; free Wi-Fi.

Kay El Bar Guest Ranch    This is the smallest and oldest of the Wickenburg guest ranches, and its adobe buildings, built between 1914 and 1925, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The well-maintained ranch is quintessentially Wild West in style—the lobby is Westerned up to within an inch of its life—and the setting, on the shady banks of the Hassayampa River (usually dry), is surprisingly lush compared with the arid surrounding landscape. While the Homestead House and the Casa Grande are the most spacious, smaller rooms in the adobe main lodge have original Monterey-style furnishings and other classic 1950s dude-ranch decor. I like this place because it’s so small you feel like you’re on a friend’s ranch. Guests can go out horseback riding twice a day, except on Sunday when there’s a long morning ride followed by lunch on a hilltop. There are also cookouts, cowboy poetry nights, and other Western activities.

2655 S. Kay El Bar Rd. (take S. Rincon Rd. N from U.S. 93).



11 units. $55–$610 double; $1,194 cottage (sleeps 4). Rates include all meals and horseback riding. 2- to 4-night minimum stay. Closed May–mid-Oct. Amenities: Dining room; lounge; Jacuzzi; outdoor pool.

Rancho de los Caballeros    A few miles south of town on Vulture Mine Road, this quiet, sprawling resort-cum-dude-ranch offers lots of opportunity for horseback riding, golf

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