After our wonderful time at the Balloon Fiesta, we landed in Camp Verde, which is south of Sedona, Arizona. Our preference was to stay in town at Rancho Sedona RV Park, but alas there was no room at the inn. Our friends, Wally and Brenda, were wise and made their reservation there in advance. Verde River RV Resort had recently been updated, and was a nice second choice with roomy sites and good accessibility. We enjoyed exploring Camp Verde and the surrounding areas of Cottonwood and Jerome. And of course we spent a day at the Grand Canyon with a stop in Flagstaff to have dinner on the return trip.
Cottonwood is about a thirty minute drive from Camp Verde – the old downtown area is definitely the highlight. We visited a few times and tried several restaurants and wine tasting rooms, and did a little shopping, too. Arizona wines are pretty darned good! We found that they have their own unique characteristics and all were very drinkable. The tasting rooms in Cottonwood offered a nice variety, and the fees were reasonable. We tried all of them: Merkin Vineyards and Osteria (nice food menu, too), Pillsbury Wine Company, Burning Tree Cellars, and Arizona Stronghold.
The food scene there is quite good, too. Jim had a giant mocha at Old Town Red Rooster Cafe. We ate lunch at Colt 804 Grill (yummy) and Bing’s Burger Station (fun, old timey diner atmosphere), and ended up getting food to-go at Pizzeria Bocce. We wish we could have dined-in at Pizzeria Bocce because it had a great vibe, but the wait was over an hour and Jim was getting “hangry”!
We spent a day in Jerome, which is a must-see if you are in the area. Jerome is an old mining town located on top of Cleopatra Hill. It has quite the history, complete with copper mines, fires, and ghosts. Now it is a tourist attraction and consists of funky art galleries, shops, restaurants, and wine tasting rooms. It’s a bit of a nail-biting drive (especially in our giant truck) up the winding, hillside road, but it was worth it.
Lunch was first on the agenda, so we stopped at Grapes Restaurant and Grill, which was ok. Of course we tried a few of the local wineries including Cellar 443, Caduceus, Four Eight Wineworks, and Passion Cellars. Caduceus is owned by Maynard James Keenan, the lead singer of the band Tool, who basically put Arizona wines on the map. We had a good experience in the tasting room and ended up taking home a bottle.
Before heading home, we split a burger at Haunted Hamburger – aptly named due to its interesting history. The story goes that when the owners were trying to renovate the building to get their restaurant up and going, the spirits liked to steal the hammers! Apparently there were lots of other ghostly incidents including doors slamming when all the windows were sealed, cans flying off shelves, and water being turned on in the middle of the night. Spooky! Good food though…
Another awesome site that can’t be missed is the Grand Canyon. It was an easy drive from Camp Verde and we were able to spend the day there. We parked at Grand Canyon Village and took the shuttle bus to several of the viewing spots at the South Rim. We walked the Rim Trail for a ways, and were constantly in awe of the vastness of the canyon. On our way out we stopped at Desert View Watchtower just as the fog was starting to roll in and the sun was making its descent.
As the sun was setting and we were driving out of the park, the color of the sky was so beautiful. Blues, pinks, and oranges were so vivid over the landscape. We decided to stop in Flagstaff to get dinner and ended up at NiMarco’s Pizza. It was nothing fancy, but the pizza was good and it hit the spot.
Sedona – Star of the Show
Wow! What a spectacular place! Sorry for gushing, but we were just in awe of those Sedona-area red rocks every time we took the scenic Hwy. 179 drive. This was our first time in Sedona and we know we will definitely visit again. We heard that “on the fourth visit – people usually buy” and we can see why. Everywhere you go in and around town there are amazing views. While we were there, we did some shopping and went to a few restaurants with friends. Unfortunately, we didn’t do any hiking – next time for sure.
Our first lunch stop was Creekside American Bistro. We sat on the patio, even though it was a little chilly, and enjoyed a couple salads and a nice view. I walked around Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village while Jim did some work. On our next trip up from Camp Verde, we met friends at The Hudson for dinner – highly recommend. Other restaurants we dined at include Dellepiane Sedona (good vegetarian options) and SaltRock (great margaritas and a view).
Our sister-in-law’s sister and family live and own a store in town called Mexidona. We stopped by there to check it out and say hi, and they were so gracious to invite us to dinner at their beautiful home. Great food and wine, plus great company in gorgeous surroundings, made for a lovely time. It’s so nice to be able to connect with people while we are on the road.
I have to mention the fabulous dinner (and wine, of course) we had in celebration of Brenda’s birthday. They invited two other couples and us to their place for some great BBQ ribs, and we all brought a dish to share. It’s always fun to share road stories with fellow travelers while enjoying good food and wine.
As you can tell, we fell in love with Sedona and have added it to our list of places where we could live someday. For now we will have to enjoy all of the photos we took and keep an eye on realtor.com!