Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Haunted Hamburger and Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Distant Drums RV Resort

Camp Verde, AZ

April 24, 2024  

Monday :

Our destination for Monday was lunch.  Lunch is a destination, isn't it? Our choice was Haunted Hamburger in Jerome.  It has been nine years since we drove the winding road that climbs the mountain to this quirky little town.


The entire town of Jerome is designated a  National Historic Landmark.  Copper was discovered there in the 1880s and during the 70 years they were mining, two copper mines made hundreds of millions of dollars for the investors...just imagine in todays dollars what that would be.  

Back in the day, Jerome was one of the wildest, wickedest mining towns in the west.  Drinking, gambling, brawls, and frolicking with the ladies of the night occurred around the clock in two dozen saloons.  

When the mines closed in 1953, the population of Jerome went from 15,000 to 46 almost overnight.  That along with violent deaths and catastrophic fires have given Jerome new life as the largest ghost town in America.  

Today, this hillside community is recognized for its vibrant and varied art.  

As one might guess, hamburgers loaded with all the fixings is definitely on the menu at Haunted Hamburger.  Choices include the Chili Burger, Ghostly Burger, Haunted Burger and Double Haunted Burger with lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles. Add ons like grilled onions, a fried egg, and guacamole are offered. Joe and I both had beer battered fries with our Ghost Burger...a fun, yummy lunch !  Next time, I'm getting a side of deviled eggs.  Somehow I missed them on the menu and when the waitress set an order on the table next to us, I almost stabbed one with my fork.    

The last stop of the day...

A block of Peanutbutter Chocolate Fudge actually made it all the way home.

Tuesday : 

We were up with the birds and out the door Tuesday morning.  Our destination was an AZ state park new to us...Dead Horse Ranch SP.  I have tried several times (even before we were Arizonians) to snap up a reservation at this beautiful park, but there are never available sites when we are planning to be here.  The next best thing is to spend the morning there.  Our first walk was the Canopy Trail which meanders thru a canopy of Freemont Cottonwood trees.  The canopy provides shelter for nesting birds.  We enjoyed the sounds of singing and chirping birds, but the thick canopy kept them hidden from view.  

The park does not open til 8:00 am which is late for birding.  That would be a huge advantage to staying there...the early bird gets the photos.  

What a beautiful canopy!

Our second walk was along the Verde River.  

The 180 mile long Verde River is a significant resource for Arizona.  It is one of the desert's last free flowing rivers sustaining a large regional wildlife population.  We didn't see any wildlife, but there is  lots of evidence of a large beaver community.  As we were discussing the reasons for all the downed trees, we happened upon the reason why.

The Verde River Gateway is an Arizona State Parks project dedicated to preserve a 35 mile riparian forest along the river.  

We watched this sweet little bird enjoy a morning bath.

Our third walk at the park Tuesday morning was around the two larger lagoons.  

The lagoons offer great fishing.  In the summer, the Arizona Game and Fish Dept. stock the lagoons with catfish and in the winter they stock it with rainbow trout.  There is a naturally reproducing population of largemouth bass and bluegill in the lagoons as well.   

Black Hawks, Great Blue Herons and Eagles have been seen at the lagoons.  We were not so lucky on Tuesday.  We only saw Grackles and Red-Winged Blackbirds.

I was a bit curious about how Dead Horse Ranch got its name.  The ranch was named by the Ireys family.  It seems after several days of viewing ranches in the area, Mr. Ireys  asked his children which ranch they liked the best. The children answered, "The one with the dead horse, dad!".  That was in 1950.  Arizona State Parks purchased the property in 1973 with the condition the name would not be changed.  It's a great park and maybe one day we can snag a reservation there.  

After our walks, we headed straight to the Cottonwood Historic District a short distance away.  Cottonwood had its beginning when settlers in the area farmed and provided goods for the soldiers at Camp Verde and for the miners in Jerome back in the 1870s.  

We were starving !  Our choice was Crema Craft Kitchen... coffee, brunch, and gather are three of my favorite words !

We enjoyed patio style seating in the bar area...very colorful and fun.  And our server, Victoria, was awesome !

I feasted on eggs over easy, sourdough toast, and cheesy hash brown casserole.  Joe had chorizo gravy and biscuits and eggs.  And more than once, our coffee mugs were filled. 

Main Street in Old Town Cottonwood was created in 1908.  A team of mules actually drug tree trunks thru the thick brush to make a dirt trail.  Today, Main Street is home to over 60 businesses that attract visitors and support local residents.  There are wine tasting rooms, local artisan galleries, vintage shops, and restaurants lining both sides of the road.   

The historic building that was once the jail in Old Town is now home to Seeds.  The owner, Sandy has beautiful linen pieces...some she designs and sews herself.  I did purchase a pair of linen pants.  Her cute little fitting room was once a jail cell.    

The County Jail building was built in 1929.  This building is the first known use of river cobbles in Cottonwood.  During the prohibition, there was an overflow of bootleggerers and criminal and elicit acts associated with bootlegging. 

The Yavapai County Justice System at the time was in Prescott, but since Cottonwood had a bigger percentage of these elicit crimes, the jail was built there instead of Prescott. 

As the town grew in the 1890s and early 1900s, the women who lived there yearned for a Community Club large enough for celebrations, weddings, and civic meetings.   So in 1938, the ladies hired the firm of Lester and Mahoney who were considered second only to Frank Loyd Wright for the uniqueness of their designs.  It serves the same purpose today as it did all those years ago.  

This face pretty much sums up our spring vacation.  What a great time we have had exploring new Arizona favorites and revisiting old ones.  

Today has been a cleaning day, a packing up the outside patio day, a blogging day, a snuggle with Sally day, and a napping day. Tomorrow is travel day.  We sure do love the rolling home...and we sure do love the sticks and stucco home.  So fortunate to be able to call them both home.  Home is really wherever we all are together. 

Until next time,  hugs and 



  1. Wonderful post Gay - We also have failed to spend the night at Dead Horse SP, have not even visited! ARG ! guess we could do that :) The walking in Jerome is either up or down hill, will had lunch at the Asylum, another fun stop in the old hotel.
    Cottonwood also looks like a stop to add to our options.
    Safe Travels to your next destination!

    1. Thank you Jeff. We were pleasantly surprised at both Dead Horse Ranch SP and Old Town Cottonwood. Both are fun places for meandering. Next time, we will add the Asylum to the list. I love coming here and so far…even with all the times we have been…we have had plenty to do and see. We are headed to the sticks and stucco in the morning and are dreading the Phoenix traffic…😬!

  2. Another great post Gay. I felt like I was there with you. You visited a couple of our favorite Arizona places not so very far away from us here in Wickenburg! We've been lucky enough to snag reservations at Dead Horse SP in one of the upper loops a few times and have always enjoyed ourselves very much. Cottonwood is a nice, manageable little town with plenty to keep you busy.
    Sorry you have to go through Phoenix though, we agree that the traffic is just awful, especially with a MH!

    1. Thank you Sue! I wish you had been with us! We love the whole area…exploring and learning about all the history and all the natural beauty it has to offer….red rocks and rivers are fun! And having a sticks and stucco and a yard sure makes shopping more fun.

  3. We stayed at Dead Horse SP many, many years ago and loved it. Cottonwood appears to be a cool little town. That snuggly photo of you and Sally is precious! Great blog Gay!

    1. Hi Janna thank you! I sure hope to snag one of those sites one day. I need to do a better job planning I guess and not wait to the last minute to set dates for a trip. I planned years at a time when full-timing and just can’t seem to do that anymore for some reason. Sally is not a snuggle puppy…I’m working on her!

  4. Jerome is one of the few places still on our Arizona list, and I had forgotten how close it is to Camp Verde!!! Now I'm thinking that will be our one day trip for our upcoming stay :-) We enjoyed our stay at Dead Horse a few years ago with some good friends. It's a lovely park. Your riparian pics are all stunning, what a beautiful day in a beautiful place. Ahhh, love the Sally snuggles.

    1. Hi Jodee thank you! My fingers are still crossed to snag one of those sites at Dead Horse. It would be a great stay for some early birding opportunities. Jerome is way cool. We opted not to go to the Historic State Park there…tickets are a little pricy. But it is still on my list. So is the train ride…we didn’t do that either!