Looking for a chance to relax from your busy life in the city? There’s no better place to do so than right here in Arizona, where wide open skies, dramatic landscapes, and
slow-paced small towns thrive. Since I have grown to love road trips, we’re going to take a look at one that takes you through some gorgeous towns and their equally beautiful landscapes.
Overall, the entire trip should take you about six to seven hours if you're driving straight through, however, I would recommend turning this into an overnight trip in order to best experience these little towns and their surrounding landscapes. A link to the map’s route can be found
at this link
The first stop on our trip is Alpine, the little town sitting on the outskirts of the White Mountains. This town is tiny with a population of just 145 and makes for a perfect introduction to our trip.
Another small mountain town, Greer is a picturesque little retreat with cabins, campgrounds, and plenty of areas for hiking and nature walks.
Pinetop-Lakeside is a popular summer and winter retreat, when people flock here for the numerous outdoor activities that can be done in the area, including camping, fishing, and skiing. In addition to being surrounded by a vast pine forest, the town is a charming location with some log-based architecture to get you into the mountain town mood.
From Pinetop, you'll leave the mountains to head towards flatter territory that better resembles grasslands. You'll pass through Show Low and then reach Snowflake, which has a population of approximately 5,500. This town maintains some of its rural, agricultural history and you'll see a larger number of areas off the road that look like ranches and farms before eventually seeing a collection of historical buildings.
From Snowflake, we travel back to the mountains and Heber-Overgaard. A good chunk of the town is hidden behind pine trees but when buildings do emerge, you'll that this is a pretty cute little place. From here, you'll pass through communities like Christopher Creek and Kohls Ranch then eventually Payson.
The next stop is Pine, a little town located at the base of the Mogollon Rim and much more compact than some of the previous towns we saw. Pine is a good stop for food and browsing antiques. (You'll find a few of these stores located just off the highway.) Check out Old County Inn or Sidewinders Tavern for a delicious lunch.
Just a few minutes away from Pine is Strawberry, a town just a little ways north. This town also sits right along the highway and is just as cute. You'll find two main attractions here: the Strawberry Schoolhouse, the oldest standing one-room schoolhouse in the state, and Fossil Creek, which is located a couple of miles outside of town.
If the weather permits, definitely take a drive from Strawberry through Camp Verde and right into the Verde Valley with the first stop being Cottonwood. The little town has a nice main drag that looks exactly like what you would expect from a small western town, complete with false front buildings lined right up against the main road. The area is pretty and some of the main attractions include Dead Horse Ranch, a few vineyards, and the Blazin' M Ranch, which offers a western-themed dinner theatre.
Right next to Cottonwood is Clarkdale, another little town that has a lovely main street. There are fewer attractions but the Verde Railway and Tuzigoot National Monument bring in quite a few tourists.
Then, of course, there's Jerome. This old mining town is walkable with interesting buildings and quite the history, including the Jerome Grand Hotel, which is supposed to be the most haunted place in Arizona. This place is a must visit!
Prescott isn’t exactly a small town (unless you consider a population of 40,000
small) but when you drive through the main strip, it certainly feels that way. The city is one beautiful spot and, as the state’s original territorial capital, it makes a great stop for our road trip. Walk through downtown, browse Whiskey Row, and enjoy the fall foliage around here.