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Take a break from the bumpy, twisty road at the Crown King Saloon and Café, the oldest running saloon in Arizona according to its owners. The café serves burgers, sandwiches and great french fries. On July 17, the saloon hosts the Crown King Luau and on Aug. 7 it’s time for the 27th Annual Horseshoe Pitch. Visit www.crownkingsaloon.com or call 928-632-7053 for a complete listing of events. Just a hunch, but we have a feeling the saloon gets rowdy on summer weekends.
Jerome/Mingus Mountain/Chino Valley/ Williams Loop
Starting and ending at the ‘Y in Sedona: 171 miles Attractions: Jerome, views, wine tasting, wildlife, Sultana Bar
Within days of buying a super-fast little red coupe last year, we had to see how she handled two of the twistiest, curviest roads in the Sedona area: Oak Creek Canyon and Mingus Mountain. The latter won hands down in the fun category. If you get motion sickness, this loop drive might not be for you, but if you’re the type who possesses a pair of leather driving gloves, get ready for a good time.
From the ‘Y, drive south on State Route 89A for 16 miles, then turn left on Mingus Road. You’ll cross over the Verde River and drive through a residential area before turning right on Main Street in Cottonwood. Dead Horse Ranch State Park, which offers some nice hiking trails, is located off North 10th (on your right about 18 miles into your trip). You’ll enter Old Town Cottonwood after another mile. Continue on Main Street as it turns into Broadway. You’ll pass the entrance to Tuzigoot National Monument after 21 miles. Turn left onto Main Street through downtown Clarkdale, passing St. Cecilia’s Mission on the right. Follow the signs to Jerome, going straight through two roundabouts and back onto SR 89A, heading up Mingus Mountain. You’ll pass the turnoff to a fabulous cactus nursery at mile 23, and you’ll be in the old mining town of Jerome 28 miles after leaving Sedona. We love Jerome, and we definitely recommend parking the car and exploring the unique town. Check out Jerome Winery, with its breathtaking views from the patio, and Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards’ tasting room, owned by alt rocker Maynard James Keenan. The Spirit Room, located in the Connor Hotel (built in 1898), is a lively bar and popular hangout with the bikers who flock to Jerome on the weekends. If you partake, please make sure someone else does the driving because the road is about to get interesting. As soon as you leave Jerome, 89A becomes a series of steep switchbacks that climb Mingus Mountain. The views extend across the Verde Valley and Sedona – you’ll even be able to see Flagstaff’s San Francisco Peaks. After driving 34 miles, you’ll reach the mountain’s summit and Mingus Recreation Area. And you know what they say: What goes up must come down. You’ll descend the other side of the mountain in another series of switchbacks, reaching the outskirts of Prescott Valley in a little more than four miles. Driving up and over Mingus can leave knuckles white and palms sweaty. We love it. Continue on 89A, keeping an eye out for the herds of antelope that live in the fields on either side of the road. Fifty-three miles into this adventure, head north on U.S. 89 through Chino Valley. It’s a pastoral drive through the valley and then into the community of Paulden. As you drive across the Drake Overpass, you’ll have views that stretch into Red Rock Country. The highway passes through both the Prescott and Kaibab national forests before it intersects with Interstate 40 at the town of Ash Fork, about 95 miles from Sedona. From Ash Fork, drive east on I-40 and exit the I-40 Business Loop through Williams (exit No. 161). Williams is a charming Old West town, home to the “world famous” Sultana Bar, which claims to have the oldest liquor license in the state. The place is a dive, but the beer is served cold, and what’s better than a cold beer on a hot afternoon? Continue on I-40 into Flagstaff and then drive south on SR 89A through Oak Creek Canyon and back into Sedona for a 171-mile loop.