Road Tripping Arizona’s Verde Valley

The Verde Valley is a lush region in central Arizona. The striking landscapes, the historical sites, the vineyards that line the Verde River all make this a must-do road trip!

  • Stunning state parks. The Verde Valley is home to a variety of state parks that preserve the region’s profound natural beauty and provide havens for outdoor enthusiasts. One of the most famous is Slide Rock State Park in Sedona’s Oak Creek Canyon, with its natural water slide – making this a fun stop for the whole family.Red Rock State Park is a 286-acre nature preserve that encompasses trails, verdant meadows, and a riparian habitat teeming with plants and wildlife along the banks of Oak Creek. As the name suggests, the park is also an excellent place for viewing the awe-inspiring red rock formations for which Sedona is known. Hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders will enjoy exploring this nature preserve. Dead Horse Ranch State Park is across the Verde River from the town of Cottonwood. It has over 20 miles of trails, and 3 lagoons – making it a beautiful place to truly explore the natural environment of the Verde Valley.
  • The Red Rock Scenic Byway. Beginning just off of I-17, this seven-and-a-half mile stretch of road traverses the spectacular scenery of the red rocks leading into Sedona. As the byway winds through the Village of Oak Creek and through the piñon pines of the Coconino National Forest, it offers several pull-offs and scenic viewpoints from which travelers can marvel at the landscape. Famous sites like the Chapel of the Holy Cross and Sedona’s famous vortexes at Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock are also located along this road. The Red Rock Scenic Byway has been deemed “Arizona’s First All-American Road,” indicating that it is uniquely American and considered a destination in itself.Red Rock Scenic Byway - El Portal Sedona Hotel
  • Historical Heritage Sites. Built by the Sinagua peoples, who were ancestors of the Hopi, the Palatki and Honanki Heritage Sites were the largest cliff dwellings in the area when they were inhabited between 1150 and 1350 A.D. These fascinating remains are just minutes from Sedona. The Palatki Heritage Site includes three trails: one that leads to the cliff dwellings, one that takes visitors to a view of the dwelling, and one leading to pictographs created by the various groups of indigenous peoples that occupied the Verde Valley. It is one of the most well-preserved cliff dwellings in Arizona with five-stories and 20-rooms. Montezuma Castle is an impressive testament to the ingenuity of the Sinagua peoples. After admiring the structure, visitors can journey to the nearby Montezuma Well, which was an underground cavern that collapsed and filled with water. At 55 feet deep and 368 feet wide, the well is a lush desert oasis and a fascinating ecosystem that hosts a variety of rare plants, animals, and insects.
  • Adventures on the Verde Canyon Railroad. The Verde Canyon Railroad launches from Clarkdale into the wilderness of the remote Verde Canyon, where Arizona’s beautiful high desert meets the pristine riparian. Passengers enjoy a close-up view of the canyon’s stunning vistas of raw unspoiled nature. The Railroad offers a variety of special rides, such as Starlight Tour, Wild Splendor, and Ales on Rails.
  • The Verde River. Park your car and take a trip down the Verde River. A diverse landscape surrounds this clear spring-fed river. Tour companies offer a variety of canoe, kayak and paddle board tours – perfect for exploring the river and its bounty. The fishing is excellent with rainbow trout, largemouth bass, crayfish, sunfish, channel catfish and more.Photo credit @VisitSedona
  • Charming & haunting small towns. Outside the sprawling metropolis of Phoenix, Arizona is dotted with historic small towns. Cottonwood and Clarkdale are two such towns. The small but bustling walkable center of Old Town Cottonwood is packed with an eclectic collection of restaurants, art galleries, antique shops, and tasting rooms where visitors can sample the wines produced along the Verde River. Clarkdale was founded in 1912 as a home for the miners of nearby Jerome and their families. It is the home of the Arizona Copper Art Museum, as well as a plethora of historic buildings and houses from the turn of the twentieth century. Located on a hilltop at 5,200 feet elevation, the tiny town of Jerome towers above the Verde Valley, offering stunning views and a tapestry of galleries. This historic copper mining town was founded in 1876 and was once the fourth largest city in what is now Arizona. It has since been dubbed the “Largest Ghost Town in America,” attracting many purveyors of the paranormal with ghost tours and allegedly haunted destinations like the Jerome Grand Hotel (a former mental institution). Jerome is now a thriving artist community, with galleries, restaurants (try the Asylum – it’s eerily good), and hotels inhabiting the town’s nineteenth-century buildings.
  • Wineries and Vineyards. Thanks to the region’s sunshine, temperate climate, and location along the banks of the Verde River, the Verde Valley is home to several award-winning vineyards and wineries. Founded by hands-on winemakers who are passionate about developing this vibrant new wine region, these vineyards produce exquisite varietals to suit any palate. With tasting rooms and restaurants, this is a must do on a Verde Valley road trip.
  • The small city of Sedona has long attracted tourists with its landscape of towering red rock formations and numerous opportunities for hiking and outdoor exploration. Spiritual gurus are drawn to the area’s vortexes (sites where the strength of the earth’s energy is believed to promote healing and renewal). In recent years, Sedona’s arts scene has grown exponentially, leading The New York Times to call the city “a new west enclave of galleries.” From painting to sculpting to jewelry making, several different mediums of amazing artwork are represented at Sedona’s many galleries and art festivals. Dining in Sedona is as eclectic as the art and as diverse as the landscape!

Sedona is a must-see destination on any road trip through the Verde Valley, and El Portal Sedona Hotel offers an ideal “home” for experiencing all that the city and the surrounding area have to discover. Located within walking distance of uptown Sedona and Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, El Portal offers a unique lodging experience for guests and their pets. El Portal is a AAA Four Diamond Hotel, voted Best Pet Friendly Hotel in the US by and USA Today, and has been named one of the best hotels in the Southwest by Condé Nast Traveler. The pet friendly hotel offers guests and their canine companions unpretentious luxury in a serene setting. To book your Verde Valley Adventure, call 1.800.313.0017 or reserve online. l Portal Sedona - Pet Friendly Sedona Hotel