Rocks, Beers & Mead In Prescott, AZ
We never planned to rock this way.
Waaay back when we were “jello planning” our post-Grand Canyon route we thought we’d spend about a month lazily boondocking our way across the desert to Desert Hot Springs. It was a good plan, a solid plan until several things happened at once. First of all the weather went all crazy (rains, storms, weird freezes etc.), then our house batteries conked out (specifically one of the cells died) and finally I started coming down with something. The trifecta of “stuff” suddenly made boondocking seem less appealing, especially since we don’t want to rush the battery replacement decision, so we took a chance and booked two weeks in a private park amongst the rocks. It was way out of character for us, I suffered for days in bed (chills, aches), it froze, it snowed (I kid you not!) and we ended up having a rocking good time.
Thus is the essence of RV life. Sometimes you get sick, unexpected cr*p happens, plans get routinely thrown out the window and yet…everywhere you go has something cool to offer, if you’re open to looking. I always say RV life is just like real life, only more intensely so….and with wheels.
The town of Prescott is no exception. This bustling north-central Arizona city sits at the foot of the Bradshaw Mountains at 5,354 feet. Its elevation separates it from the harsh desert only ~50 miles south giving it a “mountain air” feel with ponderosa pine, juniper and all four seasons. Its natural setting has made it a rather popular spot with outdoorsy folk, and its historic downtown (complete with Whisky Row and central square) attracts tourists and locals alike.
For our tastes it has cool rocks (well, very cool and very oooold rocks), a TON of hiking trails, several breweries and (my personal favorite) mead.
Not surprisingly we were not the only ones who decided to come here.
Our RV buddies the lovely Lowes turned up while we were here and we got to reconnect with them several times through food and drink (Mona Liza, I’m still swooning over your lumpia). We first met these fulltime RVers two years ago and their goal at the time was to visit all lower 48. In the short space since we saw them they’ve managed all but 4! I’m routinely impressed by folks who travel this much since (by comparison) we are turtle-slow and so “west-based” we sometimes forget there’s another coast out there.
We also met three different sets of readers and had happy hour with two of them, the lovely and vivacious ladies Toni and Mary who introduced us to Granite Brewing (thank you very much), and fellow photo nuts Bill and Dianne.
So now that I’ve spoiled the story and given you the whole run-down here’s a little more detail on the details:
Granite Dells Hiking & Biking
I knew about the Prescott rocks long before we came here. Several of our RV buddies have stayed here in blogs past, and their rocky pics had me salivating my little photo pixels waaaay before we arrived.
The whole NE area of Prescott is a veeery old area (up to ~1.4 billion years old) known as the Granite Dells. Geologically it’s a cracked and weathered mass of granite formed over millions of years by the cooling and stressing of deeply buried molten batholith. Visually it’s a rich picture of golden boulders intricately woven and balanced together in an exquisite granite fabric.
In the middle lies Watson Lake, a popular kayak spot and a beautiful reflector of the natural sculptures around it. Even better, a large portion of it is public land criss-crossed by an extensive set of public trails. It’s an outdoor-lovers playground, a grown-up kids scrambling spot, a place both you (and your doggie pals) can lose yourself amongst the rocks.
The RV park we’d managed to snag was right amongst these rocks, so we were able to hike (or bike) directly from camp into the stone wilderness, and we spent the vast majority of our days in Prescott doing exactly that. We managed the ~5-mile hike all the way around Watson Lake, and an ~8-mile bike ride along the super flat & scenic Lakeshore & Iron King Trails. Even the kitties got into the action, climbing and jumping around the boulders by our campsite. We planned for many more hikes too, but whatever flu I’d caught meant our more extensive adventures had to be canceled.
NOTE/ ALL of the trails around Prescott are dog-friendly (100%). You can download on-line maps HERE, or pick-up a paper hiking map at your RV park or in one of the many the map containers around Watson Lake.
I cannot deny that one of the things that attracted us to come to Prescott was the availability of 3 local breweries. In-between my flu periods we managed to try all three of them, and definitely ended up with some favorites:
- Black Hole Beer Company– This was our biggest surprise gem. This super-cute and cozy-modern brewery just a few miles west of town is not only extremely dog-friendly (a huge outdoor seating area both covered and uncovered, all paw-friendly), but they offered some tasty pub food and outstanding beers. Their in-house brews were actually so-so, but their guest tap list was SUPERB. Paul had an Oak Creek IIPA that was out of this world, and I had a Ten-Fidy Russian Imperial Stout (Oskar Blues) that was amongst the best stouts I’ve had anywhere. This place is worth coming to just for the atmosphere and guest taps alone. It ended up being our fav brewery in town. DOG friendly (outdoor area)! Click HERE for more info.
- Prescott Brewing Company – This is the original downtown brewery and considered rather the local institution. It was decent all-around (food OK, beer OK), but not as exciting as I imagined it would be. The Achocolypse Porter was probably our fav here, but none of the other brews really stood out (sorry). NO dogs allowed. Click HERE for more info.
- Granite Mountain Brewing – Located just down the road from Prescott Brewery, this intimate brewery ended up being our #2 fav spot in town. Their in-house brews were all high quality and very satisfying. The Milk Stout and Pumpkin Porters, although not as intense as I typical like them were both very tasty, and the English Brown was an all-around favorite. If we lived here, this would certainly become a regular hangout. Only bummer? NO dogs allowed. Click HERE for more info.
Ever had Mead? As a natural-born Viking I know all about Mead, but as non-Vikings you may not.
This honey-fermented drink is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in the world, and if it’s done right it mixes the complex qualities of a fine wine and the smooth bite of a top-notch spirit with just a hint of sweetness and flavor. It’s fairly easy to make, but it’s very difficult to make well so there are very, very few that do it right. Superstition Meadery is one of those places.
Located in the basement of a cute store (with free chocolate sauce tastings by the way), this gorgeous tasting room offers some of the best Mead I have ever tasted. We went here with Mona Liza & Steve and had the full 12-flight tasting, each and every one of which was unique, complex and superb. Our favorites were the Ymir, Tahitian Honeymoon and Dancing Goat (yes, there’s a story to that one…ask the server for the details), but honestly every single one we tried was fantastic. Outside of hiking the rocks this ended up being my favorite thing that we did in Prescott. DO NOT MISS it!
Note/ Superstition Meadery is inside a store so NO dogs allowed. Click HERE for more info on the Meadery.
That was really the bulk of what we got up to. We did also hit the local farmers market (very nice & dog-friendly too) and we had two mentionable meals, a tasty pizza dinner at family owned Papa’s Italian Restaurant and an excellent tapas meal at El Gato Azul (outstanding, a total recommend!).
Oh and yeah….we did have SNOW too, which is waaaay early for this area and the main reason we’ve moved on today. Lower altitudes and warmer temps are calling to us, plus we have some more buddies we want to meet. Also despite our battery issues I’m dying to do a few days of boondocking before we reach the “bigger cities”. We’ll see if I get my wish.
- Prescott Hiking Trails (incl. Granite Dells): Click for detailed map info HERE
- Prescott Breweries: Black Hole Beer Company HERE, Prescott Brewing HERE, Granite Mountain Brewing HERE.
- Superstition Meadery: Click HERE