Drunks, gamblers, prospectors, and prostitutes- this small mining town was once a very wild place. With the miners in town many brothels and saloons were built and Jerome soon had the reputation of being the wickedest town in the west.
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With a history like this you can imagine the ghost stories this town has to tell. Taking a ride up to Jerome from Phoenix is one of our favorite day trips. The first claim staked in Jerome, Arizona was in 1876. This infamous “ghost town” is built into the side of Cleopatra Hill in the Verde Valley.
Back in the early 1900’s Jerome was a booming mining town. Miners came from all over to work in the copper mine. It was once referred to as the “wickedest town in the west.” There was a lot of drinking, prostitution and gambling happening in Jerome.
Today, Jerome is home to a small artistic community. The downtown is home to a variety of shops, saloons, and restaurants with a definite old west flair.
- How did Jerome become a Ghost Town?
- Is Jerome worth visiting?
- How to Get to Jerome
- Where to Park in Jerome
- 13 You have to see and do in Jerome
How did Jerome become a Ghost Town?
Millions of dollars in copper were mined in Jerome, but as the deposits were depleted Jerome’s population dwindled. By 1953 the mine was closed and all, but a few left the area. Jerome became a ghost town. Residents dwindled to around 50 people.
Now, just under 500 people call Jerome home.
Is Jerome Arizona Worth Visiting?
Yes, it is one of our favorite towns in Arizona. The drive to Jerome is one of the most scenic drives in Arizona. Jerome is built into the side of Cleopatra Hill in the Black Hills area, so the views of the Verde Valley from Jerome are stunning.
The town was built for miners and pieces of this history are found everywhere in Jerome. Over the years Jerome has transformed into a thriving artistic community, while still retaining it’s mining roots.
If you enjoy historical sites, art, wine, ghost towns or old west towns you will find a trip to Jerome enjoyable.
How to Get to Jerome
From Phoenix there are two routes to Jerome. The quickest route is to take Interstate 17 north for about an hour and take exit 287 at Camp Verde. Turn left and follow AZ 260 west for 15 miles. Arizona State 260 will end at 89A, turn left on 89A and follow this for ten miles to Jerome. This route will take about two hours.
The scenic route from Phoenix is just over three hours. If you have the time this drive has fabulous views.
Where to Park
Jerome is over a hundred years old and is built into the side of Cleopatra Hill. On top of that it is a very popular tourist destination, so parking can be tricky in this town. You might be lucky and find street parking. There are a few small parking lots around the town.
Main Street & Hull Avenue have street parking. There are around 10 parking spaces in a small lot where Jerome Avenue and Hull Avenue meet. Across the street from the Connor Hotel there is a small parking lot off of Main Street.
If you cannot find parking in these areas there are more parking spaces behind Jerome’s Fire Station you will just have a longer walk.
There is a flat fee to park in Jerome. Use parking meters located throughout the city.
13 Things to do in Jerome Arizona
The drive up 89A to the town is filled with twists and turns and is a popular drive for motorcyclists as well as tourists taking a day trip from Phoenix or Sedona. You can easily spend the day or the weekend exploring Jerome.
- Explore the town – the drive and the views are stunning
- Stay in a haunted hotel
- Jerome State Historic Park
- Eat at one of the many restaurants
- Jerome Historical Mine Museum
- See historic buildings like Sliding Jail
- Go on a Ghost Tour
- Grab a drink at one of Jerome’s bars
- Sip some wine
- Olive Oil Tasting
- People Watch
- Gold King Mine & Ghost Town
Jerome is very walkable. Some of the sidewalks are steep, but Jerome is very walkable.
Jerome State Historic Park
A stop at the Douglas Mansion located in the Jerome State Historic Park is a great way to start your visit to Jerome to get an overview of the town.
This is not within walking distance from the town, so if you visit here you will want to park in the parking lot at the state park. If you took interstate 17 to Jerome you will wind your way to the town on 89A right before you come into town take a right on Douglas Road also called State Park Road. This road will lead you to the park.
This park sets below the town and offers fabulous views of Jerome and the Verde Valley. The Douglas Mansion was built in 1916, for James Douglas who developed the Little Daisy Mine. Stop in and watch the short video, played every half hour, to learn about the history of the town and about the residents who have lived here.
The home is quite impressive for its time, they also have a 3D underground model of the town which is cool to see. The grounds are home to mining equipment. There is a small entry fee for the park.
Right before the entrance to the state park is the Audrey Shaft Headframe Park. Here you can view the largest wooden headframe in Arizona.
Walk around the large mining equipment, and stand on glass above a 1,900 foot shaft. This area is open from 8 am to 5 pm every day is free to the public.
Jerome’s Historical Mine Museum
The Jerome Historical Mine Museum, located in downtown Jerome, is a small but impressive museum about early residents of the town, copper mining equipment, saloons, and the red light district.
This museum takes you back in time with staged rooms to show what it was like to live during that time. depicted through memorabilia, newspapers, possessions of early residents.
Historic Jerome Arizona Ghost Town Buildings
I love exploring old buildings and historical sites. If you love this type of stuff too you’re going to love Jerome. Just walking around and seeing the historic buildings is a fun way to pass some time.
The sliding jail is one of the town’s original buildings that slid more than 200 feet downhill from its original position. The jail is located on the right side of Hull Avenue and is surrounded by an iron fence.
Jerome is home to many historic buildings. The ruins of the Bartlett Hotel are located on Main Street and was once home to Jerome’s longest running newspaper.
Take a Ghost Tour
Hear the stories and haunted history of the wickedest town in the west. Take a ghost tour in Jerome.
Visit the Shops
Jerome has so many fun boutiques to explore. Stop by the Nelly Bly store to see the largest collection of kaleidoscopes.
Jerome is a busy little town. If you’re tired of walking take a break and a load off and sit on the steps downtown to people watch.
Where to Eat in Jerome Arizona
We love food and Jerome has some great places to grab a bit to eat. Some of our favorites include the: Haunted Hamburger (sit outside), Bobby D’s BBQ (get a seat outside), Vaqueros Grill & Cantina (yummy Mexican food and great employees), and The Mine Cafe.
Olive Oil Tasting
Who knew there were so many combinations of olive oils? Stop by Jerome’s Olive Oil Trader on Clark Street to try out some yummy balsamic vinegars and olive oils.
Grab a Drink
The Spirit Room at the 1898 Hotel Connor is a great place to grab a drink in Jerome. They often have local acts here to entertain as well. Wicked City Brew is another great spot to grab a drink.
Sip some Wine
Jerome has several wineries that are part of the Verde Valley wine trail. Stop by and taste a few of Arizona’s wines.
Stay in a Haunted Hotel in Jerome Arizona
The Jerome Grand Hotel is said to be one of the most haunted hotels. I can’t say if this is true or not, but the old elevator inside is cool and the balcony views of Jerome and the Verde Valley are outstanding.
Directions: The fastest route from Phoenix is to take I-17 north for a little over an hour. Turn left off on Exit 287. Follow 260 to 89A for about 30 minutes.