One of the best parts of living in Scottsdale is that you can take a day trip nearly anywhere in the state and be home before it gets dark – so here are three incredibly fun (and maybe a little weird) day trips you should resolve to take in 2021.
3 of the Best Day Trips From Scottsdale
Whether your entertainment tastes lean toward the creepy and kooky or you like checking out fun, off-the wall places that nobody else knows about, there’s a good chance that you’re only a short drive from some of Arizona’s most off-beat attractions. Three of our favorite day trips from Scottsdale include:
- The Coconino Lava River Cave
Here’s an in-depth look at each so you can plan your next daytime getaway. If you leave early enough, you’ll be home by dinner.
The view into the Verde Valley from Jerome, Arizona during a monsoon
Day Trip #1 From Scottsdale: Jerome
Jerome – once known as the “Wickedest Town in the West” – is a historic town nestled in the Black Hills of Yavapai County. High atop Cleopatra Hill, overlooking the Verde Valley, this amazing little ghost town is just over a hundred miles from Scottsdale. As a former copper mining settlement, there are spectacularly preserved miner’s shacks, hotels and more in the area. For a few dollars’ admission fee, you can go into the Gold King Mine & Ghost Town at the top of the hill – there are dozens of antique vehicles left to the desert’s devices up there. In the ghost town area, you can walk into well-preserved mining shacks, stores and other buildings, taking photos of whatever you’d like along the way. You can also feed chickens, pet baby goats and play with rabbits in the petting farm area.
While you’re there, look for the Sliding Jail. In the 1930s, dynamite explosions from copper miners knocked the jail off its foundations and caused it to slide halfway down the hill – while there were inmates inside. A historical marker outside the jail tells the rest of the story.
Pro Tip: Go early, before the dinner and bar crowds are out and about if you want to take time to explore the town. Then, grab a bite at Haunted Hamburger. And remember – the ice cream shop on the main street closes at 2 p.m. sharp (we learned the hard way so you don’t have to)!
Day Trip #2 From Scottsdale: The Coconino Lava River Cave
The Coconino Lava River Cave in Flagstaff was created thousands of years ago as fiery lava tore through northern Arizona’s landscape. Although lava tubes aren’t uncommon, what makes the Coconino Lava River Cave unusual is that it’s big enough for people to walk through with ample overhead space. The slippery surface of the cave can be a little dangerous, so wear good shoes – and go left at the Y intersection so you remember where you are.
This special spot is about 172 miles outside of Scottsdale – it’s due North – but it’s certainly worth making a day trip. If you’re taking a longer trip, you can hop over to Las Vegas with a stop here on the way.
Day Trip #3 From Scottsdale: Oatman
Oatman, another of Arizona’s famed ghost towns, is nestled along Route 66 about 230 miles outside of Scottsdale – but this is no ordinary ghost town. This one is filled with wild burros descended from the area’s original miners. You can buy food for the burros at virtually any of the shops and restaurants along the main drag. The burros wander into town during the early morning hours, waiting for people to arrive with delicious little hay biscuits, and they leave at night (so be careful to watch for them on the scenic drive into Oatman).
A baby burro with a “Do Not Feed” sticker on its head – Click to enlarge
Some of the babies are nursing, so be careful not to feed those with stickers on their heads (yes, really!).
Burros aside, check out the honeymoon suite at the Oatman Hotel, where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon.
Pro Tip: Stop at Sitegreaves Pass View Point on the way up to Oatman – there’s an old mining-era cemetery there, and the views are absolutely stunning.