As you may have guessed from recent blog posts, our family just spent a week touring around Arizona. We explored the state from Flagstaff south to Nogales, soaking up the history, scenery, hospitality and southwestern cuisine. I’ll be writing about our wild (west) times in an upcoming travel story for the Calgary Herald. In the meantime, here’s a quick round-up of some of our trip highlights.
The red rock scenery around Sedona surely inspired those coyote and roadrunner cartoons of yore. It’s breathtaking. Jeep tours are a great way to explore those formations off-road, and our two-hour excursion along Mogollon Rim with A Day in the West did not disappoint. The kids loved bumping around in the jeep; we loved the views.
To think we almost didn’t visit this ghost town that’s perched vertically on a mountainside just 30 minutes from Sedona. Once a bustling frontier city thanks to a copper mine, Jerome’s population plummeted from 15,000 in the 1920s to about 500 today. It’s got character to spare — stores include a head shop, tattoo parlour, and adult boutique located inside a former brothel — and it was also the site of our best Mexican food meal of the trip at a little gem called Quince.
3. Saguaro cacti
Cactuses, cacti… no matter. It’s not a trip to Arizona unless you walk among the stately plants. They were especially prolific at Tanque Verde Ranch, a dude ranch that’s adjacent to Saguaro National Park. There we hiked past them and rode horses around them. They are awesome!
4. Prickly Pear Margaritas
Leave it to Arizonans to learn how to harvest fruit from a cactus and then turn it into a sweet — if blinding-coloured — syrup used to sweeten margaritas. Thanks, Grand Canyon State, I owe you a debt of gratitude for introducing me to this interesting twist on my favourite cocktail.
5. Hacienda Corona
One of our favourite accommodations was Hacienda Corona, a restored hacienda near Nogales that served as the administration building for the first cattle ranch in Arizona. Famous muralist and bullfighter Salvador Corona painted the courtyard walls with scenes of Mexican peasants going about daily life. It’s charming and I wish we could have stayed longer.