It's hard to describe Jerome without using the phrase 'precariously perched.' This stubborn hamlet, which enjoys one of the most spectacular views in Arizona, is wedged into steep Cleopatra Hill. Jerome was the home of the fertile United Verde Mine, nicknamed the 'Billion Dollar Copper Camp.' It was also dubbed the 'Wickedest Town in the West,' and teemed with brothels, saloons and opium dens.
When the mines petered out in 1953, Jerome's population plummeted from 15,000 to just 50 stalwarts practically overnight. Then came the '60s, and scores of hippies with an eye for the town's latent charm. They snapped up crumbling buildings for pennies, more or less restored them and, along the way, injected a dose of artistic spirit that survives to this day inside the numerous galleries scattered across town. A groovy joie de vivre permeates the place, and at times it seems every shop and restaurant is playing a hug-your-neighbor folk song from the 1960s or '70s.
Quaint as it is, the most memorable aspect of Jerome is its panoramic views of the Verde Valley embracing the fiery red rocks of Sedona and culminating in the snowy San Francisco Peaks. Sunsets? Ridiculously romantic, trust us.
More than 1.2 million visitors – most of them day-trippers and weekend-warrior bikers – spill into Jerome each year, but the tiny town doesn't feel like a tourist trap. It's far from over-gentrified; as one bumper sticker plastered on a downtown business put it: 'We're all here because we're not all there.'
To experience Jerome's true magic, spend the night. Who knows, you might even see a ghost. This is, after all, 'Arizona's ghost capital.'