Though it’s true we’d been close to this area before (while in Williams), we had opted to head west and hit the Sedona area on our final* pass east. That time was the first week of December, and we are so glad we stayed a full week! We had a few specific must sees and added others as the week progressed.
While camping in Camp Verde, we checked out the following national monuments that were close to where we stayed:
- Montezuma Castle: Admired from afar for preservation purposes.
- Montezuma Well: Surprisingly charming with an otherworldly feel after descending down toward the water.
- Tuzigoot: Easily accessible with awesome views from atop the ruins.
On another day, we opted for a hike called Doe Mountain, which was rated as a moderate hike to the top of a Mesa with stunning 360 degree views. Locating the trailhead was tricky, though we did find it. The trail began with simple rises on packed earth but gradually changed to narrow switchbacks, some with boulders as the actual portions of path. Caira remained on harness, both for regulation as well as for her own safety. We’d been cautioned by one group we passed that there were a few tricky sections, and we might find it difficult with the pup, then were told by another group that there were only two tough spots and we should be ok. After checking in with each other, we opted to continue but agreed to stop if it became dangerous or overly cumbersome for Caira at any point. Ultimately, we made it 90% of the way before calling the game, as the last stretch would require Caira to materialize into a mountain goat…a power she does not possess (as far as we know). Even at our 90% stopping point, the view was indeed stunning!
While we never expected snow in AZ (illustrating how very little we knew of the area), we found ourselves amidst a relatively recent snowfall during our day driving the Sunset Crater to Wupatki National Monument loop. The day started a little rough, with Caira getting sick in the car for the first time in the trip. With her system lighter, and after a decent amount of driving, Mike found a golf course just off the highway where she (ahem, they) got to frolick around in the snow a bit. You may recall C’s indifference to snow at Crater Lake in OR, but today was an entirely different story! Though I’m sure she could have played around for longer, we ultimately piled back into the jeep and continued toward the Sunset-Wupatki loop. That drive itself was delightful, with lots of places to stop and check out sweeping views (hello Painted Desert!), as well as short walks ending in close up views of Puebloan village remains used by people of the Northern Sinagua, Cohonina, Kayenta, and Hohokam groups.
Quite serendipitously, via a FB group for RVing with pets, I’d connected with a new friend named Geneva in the weeks and research leading up to the start of this journey. As it turns out, Geneva has two catahoulas, one of which looked astonishly similar to Caira. We’d exchanged messenges and photos over the course of our travels, and as we shaped our AZ itinerary, Geneva offered to host a Catahoula meetup since she wasn’t too far away from our camp. Though the girls (Caira & Seri) didn’t exactly click, I think Caira & Zeb would have been buds if Caira had a little more time to warm up. Curious, as she typically is more easygoing with other females and is wary of males, but I detected some playfulness brewing with Zeb. Despite the fact that the pups weren’t all immediate bffs (that’s a thing still, right?), Seri, Zeb and Mango were incredibly gracious hosts by letting Caira sniff around their turf! Our new friends (the humans claimed by the aforementioned pack) are veteran travelers with lots of adventures under their belt, generous in both their welcome and area recommendations, and are the kind of traveling spirits we’re looking forward to keeping in touch with as our respective trips progress.
Pictured below: Sweet Mango, Zeb, Seri, and Caira
Last, but not least, we spent an afternoon in Jerome, a copper mining town first inhabited by the Hohokam people that has a rugged history and tenacious spirit. In present day, it exists as a bustling artistic community. Sitting at ~5,000 feet and overlooking the Verde Valley and Mogollon Rim, the views from town were incredible. I cannot imagine a more inspiring location for creating than the pottery studio with the pretty little courtyard in Jerome. We wandered town, encouraged to see that the local establishments seemed to be thriving, and even bumped into a group of hikers we’d chatted with on Doe Mountain earlier that week. Mike was thrilled to be recognized outside of Cincinnati. And while I was pretty confident that Caira’s distinctive features were the reason for said recognition, Caira and I agreed to let him have that one!