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casa grande mountainCasa Grande, Arizona is a small town centrally located between Phoenix and Tucson.  Did I mention it was small?  The population is around 50,000 but it feels much smaller, in a good way.  It’s a popular destination for winter visitors (aka snowbirds) looking to escape the northern chill, this town’s population explodes during the winter months.  With small town charm, National Monuments, moderate hiking, plenty of history, and winter temperatures in the 70’s, we can see why.

The Painted Desert is a vast rocky badlands alongside historic Route 66 that stretches from Arizona’s Grand Canyon to the Petrified Forest.  Funny little tidbit: The Painted Desert isn't a desert at all; it’s actually the largest intact Grassland in the Southwest.painted desert afternoonWe had no idea the Painted Desert covered such a wide area and we weren't sure what to expect from this national park.  The park receives little to no recognition, or visitors, in comparison to its neighbor the Grand Canyon, and to be perfectly honest we weren't convinced it was worth freezing our butts off (it was 20 degrees) or the drive.

This Valley is smack dab in the center of Arizona and is filled with everything from ancient ruins to ghost towns and vortexes.  Cottonwood, Clarkdale, Jerome and Sedona may all be small towns located close together on a map, however these towns couldn’t be any more different.verde riverIn fact, the Verde River might be the only thing they have in common.  First, let’s start with our favorite and no, it wasn’t Sedona.  I know, Gasp!