When coming from the direction of Prescott, Arizona, the travel route to Jerome Ghost Town is a steep winding climb up the mountain that will test the ability of any vehicle or driver. This scary two lane section of Highway 89A snakes through the mountain canyons and there are several steep drop offs close to the shoulder of the road, so the view from the passenger side window can be nerve wracking at times. Matters can be even dicier when there is snow on the mountains, because the water always seems to run over the sections of the road where traction is needed the most.
Upshifting and downshifting, while trying not to burn up the brakes quickly becomes second nature while driving the scary scenic drive to Jerome. By the time the first remnants of the old copper mines appear at the top of the mountain, cramps are felt in the face from gritting the teeth and the knuckles have turned white from hanging on to the steering wheel. The sight of the old ghost town will not exactly provide some overdue relief, because to top it all off, the Jerome City Limits Sign can be briefly seen rising from the edge of a cliff when doing a sharp left hand turn while looking thousands of feet down below. Luckily there is a guard rail on this final dangerous turn, which acts a civilized welcome to Jerome!
Jerome is an old mining camp ghost town that was built on a very steep mountain slope. Because the terrain here is so steep, the streets in Jerome are very narrow and Highway 89A makes several hairpin cutbacks through downtown. For those who tow a big trailer or drive a big RV camper, the narrow city streets in Jerome will be even more challenging than the scary scenic drive up the mountain from Prescott!
I did the mountain climb in a Dodge Scat Pack 392 Cubic Inch Hemi Challenger with a six speed stick on a Sunday morning when few other cars were on the road. To be quite honest, I decided to really let it all hang out on this challenging road, just to get rid of a bad hangover from drinking a bit too much in the saloons on Whiskey Row in Prescott the night before. I figured that getting scared to death would be a sure fire cure for the throbbing headache, so I set the power controls to racing mode in the muscle car, which opens the loud exhaust flanges and sets the power band to a high RPM range. The drive up through the mountains was an adrenaline rush like no other and the sound of the big Hemi echoing in the canyons was pure inspiration at its best!
The challenging drive up the mountain is why so many hot rod and motorcycle rally organizers choose Jerome Ghost Town as a destination. On the other hand, the popularity of Jerome being a driver’s destination has more to do with the weekend party reputation that Jerome has become famous for in recent years. For an old west ghost town, there is plenty going on in Jerome. In fact, this old ghost has become a primary Arizona college spring break weekend destination. All that can be said is that if you survive the perilous scary ride through the mountains all the way up top to Jerome Ghost Town, then you will surely need a strong drink to settle the nerves and this is where the local paranormal party experience begins!
For those who do not like driving on scary mountain roads, the travel route coming in from the north to Jerome is a much smoother ride that involves very little risk. Highway 89A coming from Clarkdale and Cottonwood is a much less challenging section of Highway 89A and this travel route is also best for RV campers and trailers.
The Jerome Ghost Town sits way up high on the mountain and this is part of the allure. Jerome is one of the most challenging places to get to in the entire west and this definitely adds to the charm. For those who live for a world of adventure, the scary scenic drive on Highway 89A from the direction of Prescott to Jerome Ghost Town will certainly be your cup of tea!
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