Best Things to do in Clarkdale (Arizona) – Clarkdale, a historically significant mining town with a smelting population of workers, engineers, and executives, is close to the Verde Valley Copper Mine. The town has changed pace and is now home to many retirees and a popular destination for visitors who travel to Northern Arizona because many of the historic structures are still standing.
A little community called Clarkdale, Arizona is situated in the Verde Valley, near the state’s center. The region was populated in the mid-19th century, when there were less than 6,000 people. Its main industries throughout much of its history were ranching, copper mining, and serving as a transportation hub between Phoenix and Flagstaff.
Clarkdale is a small and endearing village. Its downtown is barely one block long, but it is packed with nightlife, restaurants, and places to eat outdoors as well as museums. Then there is the town’s surrounding and encircling natural splendor, including Mingus Mountain, national forests, and the Verde River.
Although tourism is now a major lure, the community is still mostly a ranching area. Visitors often have a long list of things they want to see and experience in the area, including historical sites, breathtaking geology, and the fascinating Native American cultures and ruins.
Whether you intend to spend the summer in Clarkdale or are simply passing through, you can be sure that there will always be something exciting to discover and do. Clarkdale offers a range of activities, from beautiful ruins to state-wide kayaking and cultural exploration.
Disclosure: Due to new safety regulations, some of the information regarding the attractions and sites listed below may have changed. For the most up-to-date information, please contact the location.
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Why visit Clarkdale?
Early 20th-century Americans can be found in Clarkdale almost everywhere you look, from the meticulously restored Craftsman-style homes to the historic train that travels through the picturesque Verde River Canyon to the row of antique shops on Main Street.
Clarkdale, generally regarded as Arizona’s first master-planned city, was established in the early 1900s as a “company town” for the United Verde Copper Company, a huge mining operation that was huddled on neighboring Mingus Mountain to extract enormous quantities of precious metals.
As a visitor to Clarkdale, you’ll be mesmerized by the large avenues lined with rows of homes that feature wide front porches, graceful gables, and vibrant stucco exteriors. Clarkdale is a fantastic stop on a tour of the lovely Verde Valley, especially when you consider the area’s rich history of copper mining and the variety of outdoor activity options. It also makes a fantastic day trip of things to do in Clarkdale (Arizona) because it is located less than two hours north of Phoenix.
Clarkdale makes for a great day trip location because it is only 20 miles from Sedona. To discover the charm of this small town, visit historical monuments and structures, Indian ruins, antique stores, or go for a ride on the renowned Verde Canyon Railroad. Travel west on Highway 89a for roughly 16 miles from Sedona to Cottonwood. After turning right onto Main St., continue into Broadway and then Mingus Ave.
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Below are 15 best things to do in Clarkdale (Arizona) that you won’t want to miss:
Best Things to do in Clarkdale (Arizona) – Clarkdale provides opportunities for community exploration and entertaining things to do all year long in addition to its many seasonal events. The city contains more than simply red metal because it is at the center of Arizona’s copper industry.
Let’s explore Clarkdale (Arizona) fascinating and breathtaking landscapes. Here is a list of the top things to do in Clarkdale (Arizona), to add even more excitement to your adventure.
1. Verde Canyon Railroad
When you ride on a restored iron-horse that has been restored through the picturesque canyon, you’ll understand why the name was chosen because verde, in Spanish, means green. Simply put, riding trains is a lot of fun. There isn’t a more exciting or dramatic way to view the breathtaking Arizona terrain, and kids adore them.
No matter if you’re flying first class or in coach with the rest of the commoners, you won’t miss a thing. There are several seating options to suit every budget. The depot also features a cute little café and gift shop, so stop by there before embarking on your next adventure as it is one of the best things to do in Clarkdale (Arizona).
2. Arizona Copper Art Museum
Arizona has been a major copper producer since it was inhabited. The rock found in some of Arizona’s biggest and most prolific mines contained some of the greatest concentrations of copper ore in the world. To spend a few hours studying about this important metal, its history, and the role it has played in not only Arizona history but also global history, visit the Arizona Copper Art Museum.
It is easily accessible when you are nearby because of its handy location on Main Street in Clarkdale. Even children will enjoy the numerous and vibrant artworks and exhibitions.
3. Clarkdale Downtown Historic District
As a “company town,” Clarkdale once depended heavily on the United Verde Copper Company, which for many years served as the region’s largest employment. The company’s smelter, which processed copper from ore sourced from the mine in neighboring Jerome, was located in the town, which was established in 1912.
The historic area was included on the National Register of Historical Places in the 1990s and still has residences and buildings that were typical of the time. When it was built, Clarkdale was regarded as one of the most advanced cities in the world, with cutting-edge communications and utilities.
4. Tuzigoot National Monument
The Tuzigoot National Monument, which is situated on Tuzigoot Road in Clarkdale, is a magnificent location that will provide you and your traveling companions with a fascinating peek into the lives of the Sinagua people who lived in the region for countless years. The site boasts a tower that towers over the desert below and a pueblo, or residence, with more than 100 rooms.
They are remarkable works of architecture and human creativity, especially in light of the fact that they were built more than a thousand years ago using scanty resources. If you’d prefer to hear from an expert about the location and its former occupants, guided tours are offered. This makes it one of the best Things to do in Clarkdale (Arizona).
5. Chateau Tumbleweed
You might be shocked to learn that Arizona, a dry, rocky, and mountainous state, has recently developed quite a reputation as a wine-producing zone. As the name suggests, Chateau Tumbleweed is a tiny piece of France tucked away in central Arizona.
Four friends who had spent decades working for other commercial wineries in the area came up with the idea for the chateau, one of the first wineries and tasting rooms in the Clarkdale area. Don’t forget to pick up a few bottles at the gift store on your way out of the chateau, which is a welcome change of pace from the area’s many stale historical buildings.
6. Verde River Access Point
Unexpectedly chilly and transparent, the Verde River in Clarkdale is a cool body of water that flows across the Verde Valley. Although it isn’t free, there are reasonably priced day permits available, and there is plenty to keep you entertained and active for hours.
The river access area is a terrific location for leisurely walks, outdoor meals, fishing, or simply reading in the shade. Despite the extensive parking, sandy beaches, and covered picnic spaces, it’s typically not busy, which is a pleasant surprise. It might be the only beach you ever see surrounded by cliffs and canyons in the desert.
7. Coyote Trails Golf Course
Beautiful Coyote Trails, formerly known as Pine Shadows Golf Course, is tucked away at the foot of the picturesque Mingus Mountains near Clarkdale. There are only 9 holes instead of the usual 18, but with so much else to see and do in Clarkdale, you’ll still make excellent use of the few extra hours you save.
Kids can also enjoy the course, which is fantastic since 18 holes might be a bit much for those with limited attention span. The location is regarded as a hotspot for local wildlife, which is frequently spotted on the course in the mornings and evenings and this makes it one of the best things to do in Clarkdale (Arizona). Green fees are also relatively affordable.
8. Woodchute Wilderness Area
The Woodchute Wilderness region is one of the largest and most pristine portions of conserved forest in the Clarkdale area, covering almost 6,000 acres. Just west of the adjacent town of Jerome, it is a section of the Prescott National Forest.
The wilderness region is generally chilly due to its elevation, which may reach more than a mile in some places, and is home to many different species of plants, trees, and animals, including lynx, fox, birds, as well as reptiles. The easiest way to see everything in the woods is via two paths, which together have a total length of almost eight miles and are both easily accessible from the parking lot.
9. Mingus Lake
The magnificent Mingus Mountain and Mingus Lake are symbols of Clarkdale’s natural beauty. A long time ago, prospectors in the area hills used the picturesque Mingus Mountain Road as a vital route into town to dump the metal they had collected and restock on supplies before returning to the mountains.
Although boats are not permitted on the lake due to its small size, it is a favored place for anglers hoping to hook into some of the rainbow trout that are annually stocked there. There is a little entrance fee of a few dollars, and there are numerous locations to set up a picnic blanket, making it one of the best things to do in Clarkdale (Arizona).
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10. Visit Sedona
Sedona is among the most picturesque and unforgettable locations to explore in Arizona. The town was given that name when it was founded in 1902 in honor of the founder’s spouse. The region’s biggest lure back then was the fruit that was farmed there, but as time went on, tourism surpassed that as the area’s main pull.
The region’s spectacular red cliffs and vibrant canyons are unmatched, and many visitors think it contains a healing, spiritual vortex that pulls tourists from all over the world. Excellent art galleries, rock shops, and natural treatment facilities may be found in Sedona.
11. Verde Valley Wine Festival
There are numerous seasonal events held in Clarkdale, Jerome, and the Verde Valley that feature cuisine, live music, and artwork. The Verde Valley Wine Festival, which offers a taste of everything, is one of the most well-liked. It takes place in the middle of May, when the weather in central Arizona is ideal, in Clarkdale Park on Main Street.
The festival’s main attraction is undoubtedly wine, but it also features food and drink from local restaurants and microbreweries across Arizona. There are many things to do and see, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to support the local economy regardless of who you’re traveling with, which makes it one of the best things to do in Clarkdale (Arizona).
12. Visit Camp Verde
Specifically while traveling between Phoenix and Flagstaff, Camp Verde, which is situated exactly in the geographic center of the state, is a convenient and intriguing stop. The 1860s saw the settlement of Camp Verde, which at first housed soldiers.
These soldiers were posted there to safeguard the local settlers from attacks by hostile Native Americans who didn’t appreciate the newcomers encroaching on their territory. The flat desert of northern and central Arizona meets the high chaparral and ponderosa pines of Camp Verde, which is located in the Verde Valley and shaded by the surrounding mountains.
13. Montezuma’s Castle National Monument
Although the Native Americans of Arizona didn’t construct any castles akin to those in Europe, they were nevertheless brilliant builders in their own right, and Montezuma’s Castle National Monument is a remarkable display of creativity given the scarcity of materials in the desert.
The cliff remains, which are not far from Clarkdale, are among the best preserved of their sort in the country and were built between 800 and 1,000 years ago. Visitors are not permitted to enter the rooms because of the risk involved, although the paths below offer fantastic views. There is instructive signage to explain what you’re viewing along the paved, well-marked pathways.
14. Walnut Canyon
Walnut Canyon National Monument is readily reached from Interstate 40 and is located in Flagstaff, a few hours north of Clarkdale. Cliff dwellings constructed by the Sinagua people, pre-Columbian residents of north and central Arizona who lived there for thousands of years prior to it being formerly inhabited, can be found in Walnut Canyon.
The Sinagua created homes in the form of apartments that hang from and are carved out of rock faces. You may be surprised at how difficult and hazardous their world was and what drove them to construct such flimsy shelters at the site, which is reachable through a brief trek.
15. Dead Horse Ranch State Park
Dead Horse Ranch State Park, one of the most well-liked parks in the Verde Valley, offers a variety of hiking routes, picnic spots, and campgrounds. The trails range in difficulty from moderate to challenging. For many years, the property on which the park now stands was privately owned, but its owners sold it to the government with the agreement that it would be turned into a park.
Since the Coconino National Forest is nearby, several of the park’s paths connect to those in the bigger national forest. Hikers, walkers, cyclists, and horseback riders are all welcome on the trails, making it one of the best things to do in Clarkdale (Arizona). Before leaving, it’s a good idea to pick up a trail map at the visitor’s center.
Best Restaurants in Clarkdale (Arizona)
Don’t forget to treat yourself to some of the regional fare as you travel by train to Clarkdale, Arizona. These eateries are lovely, convenient locations close by if you didn’t get enough to eat or drink on your way down there.
1. Su Casa
Local Mexican eatery Su Casa has a laid-back vibe, delicious food, and a cozy atmosphere. Su Casa is a nice spot in Clarkdale to enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine, whether you want to relax inside a secluded booth or take in the sun on the patio.
2. Boat House Bar and Grille
Check out the Boat House Bar and Grill if you’re searching for a terrific American-style bar and grill. No matter how picky your group is, everyone will probably find something on the dinner menu at The Boat House due to its large selection of food and beverages.
3. Nate’s Cowboy Cafe
Nate’s Cowboy Café is a cowboy-themed restaurant serving barbecue, steaks, ribs, and other American fare. It’s a great place to go for a reasonably priced, high-quality lunch after taking the train.
4. Main Street Cafe
Since the early 1900s, a family-run restaurant has been housed in this historic structure in the heart of Clarkdale. With the help of Chelsea and Scott, who have 40 years of collective restaurant expertise, the business is now what it is. As you enter, you’ll note the building’s historical features as well as a modern, inviting atmosphere thanks to the works of numerous carefully chosen local artists displayed throughout the eating area.
Additionally, you can enjoy a meal or a drink on their recently constructed patio with views of historic Clarkdale and take in the allure of this picture-perfect town. There are daily specials as well as steak, chicken, fish, and BBQ supper entrees.
5. The 10-12 Lounge
This luxury lounge is available to anyone who wants to unwind with a drink, some entertainment, and a welcoming ambiance. It is situated in the heart of Clarkdale, Arizona. Additionally, they have a sizable patio space outside that has heaters in the winter and cool shade in the summer.
The 10-12 Lounge has existed in its current location since 1959, but a comprehensive reconstruction has resulted in an interior that is very different from the original. You’ll find welcoming booths, plush leather seating, a lovely bar, and big-screen televisions here. They provide the best range of beers in the Verde Valley and frequently have live entertainment.
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Best Places to Stay in Clarkdale (Arizona)
The Verde Canyon Railroad is located in Clarkdale, a tiny town with welcoming residents and delicious cuisine. While most tourists stay in the busier Cottonwood, Jerome, or Sedona, Clarkdale has two excellent bed & breakfasts that we’d recommend if you’re seeking for a quiet, relaxing stay.
1. Candlewood Retreat B&B
A tranquil B&B in the neighboring Mescal Canyon. There is nothing, not even tv, here to keep you from the relaxation you deserve. On this sustainable ranch, choose one of their two rooms with private baths, terraces, and a private hot tub to get away from it all.
2. Arizona Lighthouse B&B
This B&B, which is perched on a hill overlooking Cottonwood in the neighborhood, offers stunning views and cozy facilities in its four roomy accommodations. The owners promise to be accommodating and make you feel at home whether you stay for a single night or up to two weeks.
The remote hamlet of Clarkdale, Arizona, is a wonderful hidden gem that is somewhat overshadowed by the nearby Jerome Mountainside beauty and the lively Cottonwood Old Town scene. While Clarkdale may not attract as much tourism as some of its Verde Valley neighbors, it positively gleams with beauty and heritage.
The charm of little cities cannot be overstated. It won’t take you long to fall in love with Clarkdale, whether you’re visiting for the weekend or staying for a while. In fact, there are so many fun activities to participate in and amazing places to see that you might not want to leave!
Have we overlooked any incredible Clarkdale (Arizona) attractions? Make a comment and let us know. Would you like to continue your adventure? Once you’ve completed the Clarkdale (Arizona) bucket list, be sure to check out the best things to do in Phoenix.