For nearly a week, we have been staying at Escapees’ North Ranch RV Park about 10 miles north of Wickenburg. One of the benefits of this location is that Prescott is only about 48 miles away. Although we recently passed through Prescott a few months ago, we felt that we really had not visited the historic downtown area, nor had we ever made it to Watson Lake and the Granite Dells. So, it was not a hard decision to take a day trip to Prescott, which we did on Monday.
North Ranch is about 4 miles from Congress, Arizona. And Congress is at the base of Yarnell Hill , which is a steeply graded and well-engineered highway that carries you from the high desert of this part of Arizona, up to Yarnell and Peeples Valley a few thousand feet higher in elevation. Yarnell, is the site of a great fire that swept through the area in June of 2013, killing 19 firefighters known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Peeples Valley, a few miles north of Yarnell, which was evacuated during the fire, is a wide open region of ranches with sweeping vistas to mountains dusted with snow. A beautiful area.
Once we crossed Peeples Valley continuing north, we began to climb once again on Highway 89, up into the mountains. This stretch is a typical mountain road of curves and ascents and descents leading to Prescott National Forest that included lodgepole pines as far as the eye can see. On this day, we even had large patches of snow along the road and throughout the forest, left from a recent storm that had passed through the area. Considering that this was a clear blue-sky day, it was beautiful to see snow in the woods and on the slopes, but not on the road. Approaching Prescott from the south on Highway 89 as we did, it was amazing that one minute we were in heavy pine forest, and the next minute we were in town.
Highway 89 brings you into the historic downtown area of Prescott which is centered by the imposing County Courthouse building and park-like grounds.
After browsing in, and shopping in many of the shops that surround the square created by the Courthouse, we decided it was time for lunch. Prescott has many restaurant offerings in the historic district. Ultimately, we decided on the Prescott Brewing Company. By purely blind luck, it turned out to be a great choice. Not only do they have a micro-brewery onsite, offering good selections, but they have a very creative menu as well.
You can “sample” any of their beers in a 4 oz. glass for $1.50, so I sampled their Alpine Wheat, a traditional German wheat beer, and their Liquid Amber, a medium bodied ale. Sharon wasn’t drinking any beer this day.
As for the food, I had their Oven Baked Italian Grinder with deep fried potato wedges, and Sharon had a Prescott Brewing Company Chili Bowl and salad. The chili is served inside of a half loaf of beer bread boule‘ (whatever THAT is). Both were excellent choices. But all the food that we observed being served to others looked terrific as well.
Once lunch was finished, we knew we had unfinished business leftover from our most recent visit a few months ago. As embarrassing as it is to say, when we were last here, we could not find Watson Lake. In fact, we went to the wrong lake. And by the time we realized where Watson Lake was, we were on our way out of the area. This time we came fully prepared with a map and GPS. There was no missing it this time. The lake itself is completely surrounded by boulders known as the Granite Dells. And the lake is part of a well-maintained county park and campground.
On this day, there was hardly a cloud in the sky. Visibility was exceptional. And as I was standing above Watson Lake taking it all in, I noticed a faraway snow covered set of mountain peaks. These were the San Francisco Peaks which form the backdrop for Flagstaff, Arizona some 117 miles away by car. Amazing! What a great day for a road trip.
Click photo to enlarge.