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montezuma well in camp verdge
Beautiful view within Montezuma Well just north of Camp Verde.

6 Reasons Camp Verde is Gonna Get You

With constant water flowing off the Mogollon Rim and a more temperate climate, the Verde Valley has been occupied for over a millennium. Just an hour north of Phoenix, check out our favorite reasons to continue past the gas stations and explore Camp Verde.

1. Montezuma Castle & Well

Just an hour north of Phoenix, Montezuma Castle is one of the most easily accessible samples of Southern Sinagua architecture in Arizona. The flat path from the visitor center to the 1,000-year-old structure makes for an easy leg stretch under towering cottonwood trees. A short drive north followed by a quick hike from the parking lot reveals the stunning Montezuma Well. Nestled in an ancient sinkhole next to Beaver Creek, this hike has several stairs, but fabulous vistas of ancient water sources. At $10 for adults and free for kids, this is one of our family’s favorite day trips from the Valley of the Sun.

montezuma's castle
Beautiful cottonwood trees shade the easy mile loop at Montezuma’s Castle.

2. World’s Largest Kokopelli

We LOVE locating world’s largest things, so we were excited to find the statue we’d driven past for years was a record holder. Just east of I-17 on exit 289, the World’s Largest Kokopelli welcomes visitors to the Verde Valley. We drove past this fun friend dozens of times before realizing that it’s a record holder. Now we plan a drink stop at the Starbucks in the parking lot and say hello whenever we drive by.

world's largest kokopelli
Grabbing a coffee with our friend the World’s Largest Kokopelli in Camp Verde, AZ.

3. Out of Africa Wildlife Park

While not the largest zoo in Arizona, the Out of Africa Wildlife Park is definitely unique. Included with each admission is a safari bus ride through enclosures of Savannah animals and Tiger Splash shows through the day. If “add-on” experiences like zip-lining, tiger feeding and sloth hugs peak your interest, make sure to book them in advance. With little shade and lots of hiking, this park is best visited October – April. At $43 for adults and $28 for kids, this park can be pretty pricy. Visit during birthday month for $10 admission and check Groupon for discounts.

Bus ride through giraffes
Meet Pilgrim the giraffe on a bus ride through the Serengeti animals.

4. Wingfield Bread Company

Be prepared for an aromatic symphony of baked goods upon entry to the Wingfield Bread Company. Tucked into a small row of century old buildings along Main Street Camp Verde, this fantastic lunch stop occupies the oldest Mercantile building in Arizona. Stories from the building’s history adorning the walls are the perfect way to pass the short wait for fantastic sandwiches. Don’t forget to grab some extra loaves and cookies to take home!

5. Beaver Creek Day Use & Campground

So amazing we almost want to keep it to ourselves, the Beaver Creek Wilderness provides tent camping, fishing and hiking opportunities all year. Fall foliage is hard to come by in Phoenix, so the Beaver Creek Day Use area is the perfect spot to enjoy the babbling brook and grab some pics. In the summer, a 4-mile hike reveals a glorious swimming hole hilariously known as the Crack at Wet Beaver Creek. Flash floods are common in AZ, so always check weather before wandering into a canyon. It’s truly one of the easiest spots to enjoy huge shade trees and water just off the I-17 in the heart of AZ.

beaver creek in November
The beautiful cottonwood trees along Beaver Creek are the perfect place for a fall foliage photoshoot in November.

6. Fort Verde Historic State Park

After the Civil War ended, westward expansion brought settlers to the valley full of constant water and moderate climate. Conflicts with the native Apache and Yavapai brought the U.S. Military out to camp on the Verde River in 1865. After a couple of relocations, the site grew into a full fort by 1885. Then following 2 decades of support for military operations and infrastructure improvements, the fort was officially closed in 1891. At $7 per adult and $4 for children, Fort Verde State Park sheds light on a period of growing pains for Arizona and the United States.

camp verde fort verde
Fort Verde State Park is just off Main Street in Camp Verde AZ.

Adventures beyond Camp Verde

With plenty of water and the most temperate climate in Arizona, Camp Verde is just the beginning of the amazing places to explore.

  • Tuzigoot and Agua Fria National Monuments both highlight the nature and ancient culture of the region.
  • Jerome offers beautiful views and tours of spooky sites as a once booming mountainside mining town.
  • Cottonwood boasts vineyards, breweries, the Verde Canyon Railroad and lots of day use and camping options along the Verde River.
  • Sedona is a world-famous hiker’s paradise with stunning red rocks, vibey vortexes and delicious restaurants along Oak Creek.
  • Prescott, home to the World’s Oldest Rodeo, was Arizona Territory’s first capitol and still has a super cool western vibe.
stoneman lake road az
Pine forests and wildflowers are a common site while adventuring in Central Arizona.

Eternally on the hunt for the science in every adventure.

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