Created in 1883 as a mining camp, Jerome was once given the distinction being named as the "Wickedest Town in Arizona". Established on the side Cleopatra Hill high above the valley below, the area had large deposits of copper, gold and silver that needed mining. Miners flocked to Jerome in droves and it quickly became 3rd largest town in the Arizona Territory with over 15,000 people during the late 1880s.
Some of the most raucous people in the old wild west made their way to Jerome where they spent days mining and nights drinking and gambling in wild saloons with frequent interludes at the bawdy houses. Legends and stories handed-down show that Jerome AZ was a rough and tough place in those early days which earned its wicked reputation. Many that died in Jerome during those times still lie in Jerome's historic cemetery.
As the copper, gold and silver mines depleted, Jerome AZ slowly evolved into a ghost town in the early 1950s. Only the old buildings stood tall standing over the million dollar views from the perches of Cleopatra Hill. During the 1960s, Jerome was reinvented by the artists' colonies including musicians, writers, artisans, painters and hippie-types from the 60s and 70s.
The growing enclave opened art studios, gift and antique shops and quaint bed and breakfasts with a spattering of charming restaurants and wine bars. Although the full-time population of Jerome today is under 500, it has become a tourist magnet that attracts a continuous flow of visitors that have discovered its rejuvenated charisma and charm.
Jerome, Arizona still emanates the aura of its old wild west days. Shops and businesses have taken possession of old historic buildings that once housed saloons and brothels have survived time. Tourists flock here to shop at unique places and enjoy the incredible views across the Verde Valley. Jerome is a refreshing getaway for history buffs and art lovers. The new vibe in Jerome welcomes visitors to its charming lodging , museums, restaurants, bars and eclectic shops.
Jerome's mining roots still shine through its boutique-lined streets. It is a stroll into times long past. Jerome sets on a mountainside at a 30-degree incline. Erosion combined with gravity has gradually pulled some historical buildings down the slopes. Interestingly, one was the town's old jail. Rusted mining equipment is strewn around as are old classic cars and vehicles. The historical architecture and artifacts reminding of the past create a paradise for photographers.
As you walk around Jerome's narrow streets and back alleys visitors will notice that although some buildings have been restored, it is much like it was over a hundred years ago. The only evident differences are what goes on in and around those buildings versus "the wicked days".
Where Jerome is Located
Jerome, Arizona is located on the side of Cleopatra Hill in the Mingus Mountain Range overlooking the Verde Valley. Jerome is about 20 miles from Sedona. In fact, one can see the red rocks of Sedona from Jerome. Clarkdale is only 6 miles from Jerome at the base of the hill. Clarkdale is the home of the Verde Canyon Railroad.
Jerome AZ is about 10 miles from Cottonwood, Arizona. It is 60 miles from Flagstaff AZ. And is about 90 mile drive from Phoenix and Scottsdale which makes for a nice day trip for the desert dwellers in the Valley of the Sun.
Directions To Jerome Arizona
From Sedona. Take State Route 89A Southwest for about 28 miles to Jerome.
From Phoenix and Scottsdale. Take Interstate 17 North. Exit at the Cottonwood/ Camp Verde ramp. Drive West on State Route 260 into Cottonwood and follow the signs to Jerome. Plan on about a 2-hour drive.
From Flagstaff. Take Interstate 17 South. Exit at the Cottonwood/Camp Verde ramp. Drive West on State Route 260 into Cottonwood and follow the signs to Jerome. Plan on about a 1.5-hour drive.
From Prescott. There are two ways to Jerome from Prescott. Option 1 is the most scenic drive. Take State Route 89A North climbing to the top of Mingus Mountain. It then descends into Jerome AZ. There are many hairpin turns, so drive carefully. Option 2. During the winter (November-April), State Route 89A may be closed due to icy and snowy conditions. When 89A is closed or you have fear of heights on a road with hairpin turns, take State Route 69 to State Route 169 to the Interstate 17 Freeway. Drive North. Exit at the Cottonwood/ Camp Verde ramp. Drive West on State Route 260 into Cottonwood and follow the signs to Jerome.
Jerome Area Map