The Rough Road from Williams to
County Route 73 (Perkinsville Road), Forest Road
There's an easy and beautiful route to take from Interstate 40 to the Sedona area: Arizona Route 89A. It's wonderfully scenic, taking you through Oak Creek Canyon, past towering red rocks. There really is no reason to try to find another route. But I did anyhow.
After exploring the National Forest areas south of Williams, I decided it might be fun to figure out a different way south. I was already on Perkinsville Road, the only main road that heads south out of downtown Williams. My map showed that it would eventually turn to dirt, which I didn't mind, and finally, it would end in Jerome (about 25 miles from Sedona). Since I had seen Oak Creek Canyon on a previous trip, I set out down Perkinsville Road.
It was an easy drive at first. While in Coconino County, Perkinsville Road is paved and smooth, albeit a little lonely. Yavapai County road officials must not have thought Perkinsville Road was all that important, because they never got around to continuing the nice blacktopping job started by their northern neighbors.
This is what much of the road looks like. It's not terribly exciting, there are no dramatic canyons or towering red rocks, as you might expect being so close to Sedona. Nope, it's just mile after mile of, well, this.
If you follow Perkinsville Road past Perkinsville (which was so small and unimpressive, I don't even remember it), you'll eventually end up at Chino Valley, north of Prescott. If you see a sign pointing towards Jerome, follow that road instead.
Perkinsville is a turnaround point for the Verde Canyon Railroad. I've also read that rockhounds can find some nice agate in the area (look in the area where the power lines cross the road).†
After Perkinsville, the road gets more interesting. You gain elevation, providing a great view in the distance.
The road follows an old railroad grade, so it slowly gains altitude. In the process, it takes you on a long ride up one side of a canyon, then the other.
The road is in good condition here, and easy to drive. But it is dusty. I never knew dust could find so many different ways into a car. At one point, I looked over at the passenger seat, and saw a cloud of dust coming out of the seat belt hole! By the end of the day, my nice, clean, and brand-new rental car was coated with a thick layer of dust inside.
The road tops out above Jerome, passing through a cut in the hillside. On the other side, the road comes to an end at another road. Take a right and you'll end up at a "ghost town" which is more of a gold-mining tourist attraction. Turn left and you'll end up in Jerome, the "real" ghost town, where there's no charge for admission.
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