As we move around the country, we enjoy talking about places we like so much that we would be willing to live there. We’re pretty picky when it comes to possible abodes, so only a few locales have made it on the list, and even those come with caveats. Bisbee, AZ is a funky artist town that would be a yes, save for the sweltering desert summers. Denton, TX is a college town with thriving local businesses, but it’s in flat, tornado-y Texas. We were getting really excited when we first got to Prescott, AZ, between Phoenix and Flagstaff. It’s in the middle of a national forest, and chock full of exciting outdoor adventures, aided by beautiful skies (2 time winner of cleanest air in the nation!!)
The fly in the ointment was the fact that it also seems to have the highest percentage of bat-shit crazy folks of anyplace we’ve been. Don’t get me wrong–I can really get behind some funky neighborhoods with quirky people. We lived in (and loved) the Columbus neighborhood of Clintonville, which was the kind of place where people would petition for the right to things like chicken coops, paint their house chartreuse and lavender, and fight passionately against proposed big box stores. Prescott, though, had a different breed of people, the kind I refer to as “D-N-E”: Do Not Engage! The best way I can explain it is that it seemed like everyone was either drunk or high, and not in the fun, good-times way. We even watched a guy, right next to us in the library parking lot, pull out a liquor bottle from under his car seat, and take a couple huge chugs before heading inside. So, to add Prescott to the list of places to live, we would say, “yes, as long as we don’t have to interact with other human beings!”
While the denizens of Prescott were a little strange, the outdoor activities were superb! Thumb Butte is an iconic outcropping that overlooks the whole town, and from the hike up its side, you can see the entire valley.
Prescott is also known for some scenic lakes entwined in fantastical granite outcroppings. Watson Lake was a fun hike and scramble combo, with great views in every direction.
We even loved the trails right behind the campground we were in, which wound through the pines, and up and down rolling hills. It was quiet enough back there that Soupy could explore off the leash and enjoy some tree climbing on her jaunts. I liked the views over the valley, and the colorful granite lumps that were all over.
We spent a few days camped next to the Canadians, Brian and Jan, whom we first met about a month ago. We have loosely followed their path through the state, generally staying in the same area as them for a few days at a time, before one of us packs up to move on to the next location. They are originally from England, lived in South Africa for while, and now they live in Alberta and winter in the desert southwest. We had a great time getting to know them and sharing our travel destination ideas, and I think they like us OK, even after an ice cream snafu. (I guess the rest of the world does not share the American predilection for salty/sweet combos–they thought the salted butterscotch ice cream we got was weird.) They come down every winter, and we will definitely look them up next year to see if they’re nearby!
The other great part about this stop was access to big city amenities in a small city atmosphere. We visited Costco and Trader Joes, and walked out of the Prescott Library Friends Sale with a whole bag of books for just $9.50! The town also has great thrift stores with super low prices. I found some high end brand shorts, for just .50 cents!
We enjoyed ourselves so much that we scouted free camping ideas for next time, and found a really beautiful spot just outside the city. While it can feel frustrating to not be able to do everything we want to do in an area, it’s also nice to have activities to look forward to for future trips! Which leads me to mention our next stop, a place we knew we wanted to revisit as soon as we first saw it last year: Sedona!