Scenic Drives: Sedona

By local contributor
Scott McGinty

Slip behind the wheel, open the sunroof and fire up your playlist – we’re taking a road trip to Sedona! Located about two hours north of Scottsdale, Sedona is known for its fiery red rock formations and eclectic New Age personality. And, just for fun, we’re going to make a stop in the historic mining town of Jerome along the way.

Leg 1: Scottsdale to Jerome

Your Route: 101 North→ I-17 North→ AZ-69→ AZ-89A North

Approximate Drive Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Directions: Plug Jerome, AZ into your GPS or follow these easy directions: Jump on the 101 North in Scottsdale and follow it to I-17 North. After approximately 72 miles on I-17, take the exit (#287) for AZ-260 and turn left (west). Go approximately 12 miles to S. Main/AZ-89A in Cottonwood and turn left. Follow all signs in the up-coming roundabouts to stay on AZ-89A, then follow it up the hill and right into Jerome. The easiest parking is close to the town entrance – a lot on your left, angled street-side spaces on your right. The town is hilly but walkable, with stairways connecting the switchback streets.
About Jerome: Located high atop Cleopatra Hill, Jerome was once a rip-roaring copper mining town. Following four disastrous fires and the Great Depression, the town dwindled to fewer than 100 residents.

About Jerome: Today, Jerome is a thriving artist community filled with galleries, craft shops and restaurants. Browse a while, then grab a bite, and a ghost story or two, at the Haunted Hamburger or Asylum Restaurant. If you’re really brave and want to make your trip an overnighter, call ahead to book a room at the reputedly haunted Jerome Grand Hotel (when you make your reservations, ask about their ghost hunting package . . . if you dare).

Leg 2: Jerome to Sedona

Your Route: AZ-89A → Sedona

Approximate Drive Time: 45 minutes

Directions: Tell your GPS we’re heading for Sedona, AZ. Leave Jerome on Main St./AZ-89A, then follow 89A back down the hill, through the roundabouts and back to the town of Cottonwood. From Cottonwood, follow signs to East AZ-89A/Sedona. Your destination is about 20 miles ahead.

About Sedona: Sedona is a must-see on any Arizona itinerary. The town’s towering crimson formations, formed over centuries by water and wind, stand in glorious contrast to Arizona’s deep blue sky. There’s plenty of excellent hiking in this photographer’s paradise, as well as art galleries, craft shops, New Age stores and outstanding dining options. In warmer weather, follow the signs to Oak Creek Canyon and take a dip in the cool waters.

Leg 3: Sedona to Scottsdale

Your Route: Highway 179 → I-17 South → 101 East → Scottsdale

Approximate Drive Time: 2 hours

Directions: When you’re ready to head back to Scottsdale, take the Highway 179 exit from the “Y” roundabout, which will take you right to I-17 (trust us, after spending even a few minutes in Sedona, you’ll know exactly what the “Y” is). Head south on I-17 to the 101 east and you’ll be back in Scottsdale in about 2 hours.