If you’re interested in the wild west, it doesn’t get much better than Jerome State Historic Park. Here, you’ll not only get to take in the fascinating history of a southwestern United States ghost town, but you’ll also be treated to amazing views and a variety of activities. Just about 45 minutes across the Verde Valley from Sedona, this park is a great choice for a day trip or weekend getaway.
Keep reading to learn more about what Jerome State Historic Park is known for, the area’s must-see spots, nearby hiking opportunities, park open hours and entrance fees, available picnic grounds, and accommodation options.
1. What Jerome State Historic Park is Known For
In the late 1950s, the town of Jerome recognized that they needed to better preserve the history of the area for future generations to enjoy. Soon after, Jerome State Historic Park was established by the Arizona State Park department in 1965. Back when Jerome was a hotspot mining town in the early twentieth century, more than 15,000 residents called the area home. During this time, the Douglas family built the Douglas Mansion that remains the major attraction in Jerome State Historic Park today. Large numbers of visitors come to this state park every year to take in the rich town history, learn about the Douglas Family, and view the Douglas mansion.
The modern history of Jerome begins in 1876 when a mining camp was established within the hills of the area. By the early twentieth century, the area was home to the largest producing copper mine in all of Arizona. As the area’s mining culture grew, Jerome quickly transformed into a bustling town with two churches, an opera house, a school, several businesses, and thousands of families.
In 1912, the now-famous James (“Jimmy”) S. Douglas purchased and began developing what is known as the Little Daisy Mine. This mine produced a large sum of wealth over the next two decades. However, after the initial mining boom slowed down, the town began to shrink with it. By 1953, Jerome’s explosive mining days came to an end. Still, the history of the era lives on today.
The Douglas Family
You might be wondering who the Douglas family is and why they matter so much to Jerome. Simply put, they were a family with a long history of mining. Jimmy Douglas’s grandfather began the family’s involvement in copper mining in Canada. Jimmy’s father, also named James, was an engineer and scientist who traveled all over the world conducting research. Therefore, it was only natural that Jimmy Douglas made a life and fortune off of mining as well.
Jimmy Douglas’s crew working on the Little Daisy Mine in Jerome happened to cut into an extremely rich deposit of copper just in time for the soaring prices of World War I. The rest, and his family fortune, are sealed into history. You can learn much more about the different members of the Douglas family at the Jerome State Historic Park museum.
The Douglas Mansion
The well-known Douglas Mansion was built by Jimmy Douglas on a hill above his beloved Little Daisy Mine around 1916. Douglas designed the house to serve as a hotel for mining officials and investors, as well as a home for his own family. He also built the Little Daisy Hotel near the mine as a dormitory for his working miners. The original concrete structure from this hotel still stands in Jerome today.
Now, the Douglas Mansion is a museum that is entirely devoted to the history of the Jerome area, its rich mining history, and the Douglas family themselves.
2. Top Spots to See in Jerome State Historic Park
It’s not uncommon to hear that people visiting Jerome State Historic Park wish they had more time to see everything the park and ghost town have to offer. If you’re crunched for time, we recommend visiting the park’s museum exhibits that will show you all of the highlights of the town in a set amount of time.
Jerome State Historic Park Exhibits
The Jerome Historic House Museum is devoted to educating attendees about the history of the Jerome area and its previous mining culture. At the house museum, you can view a number of exhibits that showcase historic photographs, artifacts, and minerals. All are also invited to enjoy a video presentation and an incredible model of the town that showcases the mines running through the ground right under your feet!
In addition to the first floor exhibits, the Douglas family library and upstairs bathroom are furnished as they would have been over one hundred years ago. The mansion also features a wine cellar, billiard room, marble shower, and technology that was way ahead of its time.
Outside, an exhibit area shows off historic mining equipment and interpretive panels, and the family’s carriage house contains an early twentieth-century buggy as well as a 1929 Ford Model A truck.
3. Hiking and Trails Information
There aren’t designated hiking trails at Jerome State Historic Park, but trust us when we say that walking around the whole town is a treat! The sweeping views of the surrounding land are breathtaking, but remember Jerome was built on a hill. Be sure to bring your sensible walking or hiking shoes.
If you’re looking for more of a trail, the Jerome Cemetery Walk is a 1.4 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near the park that offers scenic views and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking and walking but all activities are welcome. Pets too!
A little further from Jerome State Historic Park, Prescott National Forest also offers a vast number of trails for hiking, as well as spots for picnicking, camping, and viewing a number of prehistoric Indian sites.
4. Park and Camping Information
Jerome State Historic Park is open 8:00 am – 5:00 pm every day except Christmas. On Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, the park is open from 8:00 am – 2:00 pm.
Park Entrance Fees
- Adult (ages 14 and above): $7.00
- Youth (ages 7 – 13): $4.00
- Child (ages 0 – 6): FREE
Museum, Visitor Center, and Park Store
Jerome State Historic Park’s museum, visitor center, and park store are open from 8:30 am – 4:45 pm every day except Christmas. At the museum, you can experience the Jerome mining boom through a wonderful assortment of education displays, demonstrations, and self-paced tours. The Jerome State Historic Park’s Visitor Center and Park Store is the place to go if you need to speak with a Park Ranger or purchase souvenirs or books on the history of Jerome, mining history, natural history, or geology.
If you’re spending a day at the park, you’ll probably want a place to sit down and snack. A picnic area is available for park visitors on a landscaped patio just outside of the mansion. There are plenty of tables and fantastic views of the Verde Valley and Verde River, as well as the infamous red rocks of the Sedona canyon region for all to enjoy!
Jerome State Historic Park does not have campgrounds available on-site. However, Dead Horse Ranch State Park is only a 20-minute drive from Jerome State Historic Park and has more than 100 tent and RV camping sites available. For those who are interested, there are also cabins available at Dead Horse Ranch State Park.
5. Where to Stay Near Jerome State Historic Park
If you want to stay the night near Jerome State Historic Park, you don’t need to wander too far. The town of Jerome is a destination within itself and has several high-quality accommodation options to choose from — ranging from quaint bed and breakfasts to historic hotels and penthouse rooms. Here are some of the most well-known options:
- Ghost City Inn – This inn dates all the way back to 1898!
- Jerome Grand Hotel – Originally built as a hospital in 1926.
- Connor Hotel – Also dating back to 1898, this was known as one of the finest lodging establishments in the booming mining towns of the West.
No matter where you stay, be sure to check out Jerome’s shops, galleries, and local restaurants while you’re there! A walk through this ghost town is the perfect way to start or end a day at Jerome State Historic Park.
Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway in Jerome or just passing through, the Jerome State Historic Park is a must. There’s nothing quite like the experience of traveling back in time in this town; and Jerome State Historic Park’s museum and views offer both tourists and locals the perfect place to do just that!