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Traveling to Spooky Jerome AZ

Traveling to Spooky Jerome, Arizona

A few miles and up the hillside – a very steep hillside/mountain – from Clarkdale and Cottonwood, Arizona is the historic town of Jerome, Arizona.  The fact that residents pride themselves on their probable insanity is based on the location of the former mental asylum and the fact that the town is perched precariously on hillsides.  Ironically, you drive through “Deception Gulch” to reach Jerome.

Sign in shop window - the mental state of Jerome

Sign in shop window - the mental state of Jerome

Is this insane?  Well, in any case, it’s fun to explore and find out!

On the day we visited, Jerome was a vision in the mist like the fictional Brigadoon of musical comedy fame.  We landed in the main section of town, elevation 5,246 feet, as the rain came gently down.  From one direction, we could see the red rocks of Sedona in the distance as the weather varied from sunny to rainy to hail with snow threatening, or all of the above at the same time!

Heading first to the Jerome Grand Hotel, a former mental hospital, with its The Asylum, an award-winning restaurant, we began our exploration of the town. Perched way up high with a great view of the valley, the Jerome Grand Hotel is up a one lane road that passes some B & B’s on its way and relies on driver courtesy to prevent accidents.

Jerome Grand Hotel - a former mental institution - thus The Asylum Restaurant

Jerome Grand Hotel - a former mental institution - thus The Asylum Restaurant

Jerome Grand Hotel lobby

Jerome Grand Hotel lobby

It was mid-morning and no one was dining in The Asylum, but we’ve heard and read repeatedly that the restaurant is terrific, but a bit pricey, and worth every penny.

We looked around and talked with hotel guests who told us how much they loved the hotel and the view.  One guest was in town to hear a group performing in a pub in the town below.

View from Jerome

View from Jerome

Jerome bills itself – “From a roaring copper mining boom town of 15,000 people…To Arizona’s largest ghost town…And now, Arizona’s coolest art colony.”  The remnants of its past are everywhere with some very colorful reminders, like the bordello that is now a very artsy shop.

The buildings are mostly a century or more old with every building precariously perched on the hillsides.  (Yes, it is a trend.)  We really wonder how they have managed to keep from sliding into the valley!  And, of course, many of the houses and locations are reputed to have ghosts.  We didn’t stop to find out!

At the edge of town is the Gold King Mine and Ghost Town, a tourist location that we drove through and left quickly.  To reach this replica of the old town, you pass through a dump of old vehicles and other refuse that my husband said would have fascinated his dad, a fan of old machinery.

What we found of major interest were the many craft shops, especially the Jerome Artists’ Cooperative that seemed to have every imaginable craft represented.  You name it – fabric art, photography, pottery, wood, paintings, glass, jewelry, knitted items, glass, copper… All of the items were of superior craftsmanship and some were particularly clever.

One of the great shops on Main Street in Jerome

One of the great shops on Main Street in Jerome - Skyfire

We also spent some time wandering about other shops like Nellie Bly II where they had more kaleidoscopes than I have ever seen in one place, made from varying components like wood, glass and ceramic.  Madame Belgian Jennie Bauters was the original founder of the site, which went through two incarnation as a brothel, but finally became a hotel and then the shops it now houses.

Some of the fabulous work in the Jerome Artists Coop - Glass by Fred Reinhardt, Wooden works by Blake ONeil

Some of the fabulous work in the Jerome Artists' Coop - Glass by Fred Reinhardt, Wooden works by Blake O'Neil

The artists and craftspeople of Jerome do offer some of the best -crafted items in such a concentrated place I have seen.  We chatted with David Hall, a potter who has been in Jerome since 1972, who has a shop at the very edge of a row of stores.  His work is finely crafted and he also features other artists, as well.

David Hall, long-time resident Jerome potter

David Hall, long-time resident Jerome potter

A day in Jerome exploring the shops goes by quickly.  Bring your plastic, because you’ll want to purchase keepsakes and gifts!

Note: parking is in demand and hard to find.  Jerome can be a bit challenging to navigate if you are physically challenged.

Come back later this week for the Jerome restaurant we chose for lunch.

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One Response to “Traveling to Spooky Jerome AZ”

  1. Colton Camerano Says:

    Hey this is a great post. I’m going to email this to my buddies. I stumbled on this while googling for some free song downloads, I’ll be sure to visit regularly. thanks for sharing.

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