Arizona Ghost Towns – Jerome

Largest Ghost Town in America – Jerome, Arizona

Located in the foothills of central Arizona and surrounded by the Prescott National Forest, Jerome was once a roaring mining town with 15,000 people and multi-storied buildings and fine homes. But with the fall of copper prices and the closing of the nearby Phelps Dodge Mine in 1953, it became the world’s largest “ghost city.”

It is a town that at one time was the 4th largest community in Arizona and then fell to the bottom of the list when the copper mines closed.  The community sits on the top of Cleopatra Hill at 5,200 feet.  Where it once had a population of 15,00, in the 1920′s, it has just 450 people.  

The community was incorporated in 1899 following four disastrous fires that destroyed large sections of what was once known as “the wickedest town in the west.” This copper mining camp was filled with tents and rowdy men but grew to a real town as the prosperity of the community grew.  The mining rights belong to Phelps Dodge who closed the mine in 1953.  Since there weren’t mines to work the community that was left, not many by the way, gathered together and promoted the town as a historic ghost town.  1967 saw Jerome designated a National Historic District by the federal government.  The community has grown to be a thriving tourist and artist community bringing the population from 353 in 2007 to 450 today.

What will you see if you go to Jerome?

You will be able to see the works of some emerging artists, craft people, musicians, writers, and more.  You will find hermits, bed and breakfast owners who will welcome you to their establishments, and museum caretakers that have great pride in the museums of the area.

The views from the community are stunning, a photographer’s dream.  The opportunity to see buildings that are like the buildings that were built after the fires of 1894 and 1899. Some of the buildings are still in need of restoration, but they are being worked on and those that have been restored offer a world of lessons of the past.  You may want to visit “Cribs District” which is an area across the street from the English Kitchen, in a back alley where all the buildings were part of Jerome’s ill-famed “prostitution row.”  Not uncommon for communities in the mining world or gold rush era to have houses of prostitution growing in the area.

Jerome, Arizona Travel Guide

Today, life is quite different. In 1967 the town was designated a National Historical Landmark. Its economy is now based on tourism and recreation. Antique, craft and gift shops, small boutiques, and art galleries occupy the once-deserted store along Main Street. Jerome also has one of Arizona’s oldest saloon-type bars. The town can be reached by taking I-17 north to Hwy 260, and 260 to Cottonwood. From there, take Hwy 89A into Jerome.

Perched on the side of a mountain, Jerome, Arizona offers visitors awesome views, unique shops and boutiques, and a taste of history.

If you want to feel like you’re on top of the world, head to Jerome, Arizona. This former mining town, perched on the side of Cleopatra Hill, has an elevation of 5248 feet above sea level. And as you can well imagine, the view is awesome from nearly any vantage point.

Jerome State Historic Park

Jerome State Historic Park (just down the hill from the center of town) features the former Douglas Mansion which has been converted into a museum with exhibits on the area’s history. Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum, on Main Street, displays ore collections and mining equipment of the past. Other attractions include Traveling Jail and Gold King Mine. Nearby points of interest include Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle National Monuments. The surrounding National Forests provide abundant opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing and hunting.

Jerome Grand Hotel

An impressive building in Jerome is the Grand Hotel, one of the highest public structures in the Verde Valley. Originally, this building housed the United Verde Hospital, which was specially built to withstand the blasts of dynamite from the mines.

The hotel now offers standard and balcony guest rooms, an award-winning restaurant, and a small gift shop of items unique to Jerome. Pick up a copy of the Jerome Tour Guide here (minimal cost) for historical background on Jerome as well as a walking tour. There’s also an Otis Elevator, built in 1926 and possibly the oldest original “self-service” elevator in Arizona.

Douglas Mansion

Visit Douglas Mansion/State Park while you are in the area.  The mansion is equipped with a wine cellar, billiard room, steam heat and was built from adobe bricks made on-site.  The Mansion is a museum that exhibits photographs, artifacts, minerals, and videos.

A good place to visit is the Douglas Mansion in Jerome State Historic Park. The mansion was built in 1916 by James S. Douglas, just above his Little Daisy Mine, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Douglas Mansion in Jerome State Historic Park.
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Douglas built the mansion to house his family as well as business acquaintances. Some of the rooms in the 8,000 square feet home have been beautifully restored. Here, you can watch a 15-minute video chronicling the history of Jerome, marvel at the view from the balcony, and examine antique mining equipment. There are photos and history exhibits, and you won’t want to miss the phosphorous minerals that give of variety of fluorescent hues when the lights are shut off.

If you walk the streets of Jerome, you’ll find the dirt roads are paved now. Dusty miners no longer hang out at the local watering holes; they’ve been replaced by tourists and leather-clad bikers. Mining is no longer the town’s primary source of income, tourism is. An average of 90,000 visitors come to Jerome every year. Approximately 480 residents live there.

Main Street

Restaurants, Antiques, arts and crafts and gift shops, and specialty stores line Main Street. There’s also – of course – a Mining Museum. Be sure to check out the Jailhouse, a building that slid some 200 feet from the mine blasts under the town.

Jerome Arizona

The Jerome State Historic Park is open 8 am to 5 pm every day except Christmas. The park is located off State Route 89A, on Douglas Road. For more information, call 928-634-5381 or visit the website.

For more information about Jerome, visit Jerome Tourist Information.

Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum

You may also want to see the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum where there are more photographs, equipment, and ore samples.

The third weekend in May Jerome hosts the annual Paso de Casas (Home Tour) where you can have a historic tour of buildings in the community.


located in the heart of northern Arizona only 90 miles from Phoenix, 60 miles from Flagstaff, 20 miles from Sedona, 30 miles from Prescott, 20 miles from Camp Verde, 10 miles from Cottonwood, and about 6 miles from Clarkdale. Jerome is located in the central mountains of Arizona. Sedona and Prescott are about forty-five minutes travel time, depending on traffic. Highway 89A is the scenic route. As you near Jerome you will encounter hairpin turns and magnificent views on a mountain road. Travel time to or from Phoenix is about two hours via Interstate Highway I-17. Flagstaff is about an hour and a half away, either via I-17 or 89A through Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon.

From: Phoenix, AZ To  Jerome, AZ

  1. Beginning at Phoenix, AZ
  2. Go North on I-17 for 84.5 miles to State Rte 260
  3. Go Northwest on State Rte 260 for 12.4 miles to State Route 89A
  4. Go West on State Route 89A for 8.9 miles Largest Ghost Town in America – Jerome, Arizona

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