Prescott, Arizona: A Historic, High Desert Paradise

Clear blue lakes, pine forests, and granite towers await you in Prescott! As Northern Arizona's outdoor recreation paradise, you'll be able to hike, bike and paddle to your hearts content. End your days in the historic downtown along Whiskey Row for a taste of the past, and you have a recipe for a great Southwestern vacation!


Nestled amid the rugged and mountainous landscapes of northern Arizona, Prescott welcomes travelers with its unique blend of outdoor adventure, rich history, and small-town charm. From exhilarating hiking and biking trails to the tranquil waters of Watson Lake and the vibrant energy of Historic Downtown and Whiskey Row, Prescott offers a delightful mix of experiences for every type of traveler.

This story was created in partnership with Visit USA Parks.

Exploring Nature’s Playground

Prescott is home to an extensive network of trails winding through the stunning wilderness of the Prescott National Forest. Embark on a scenic hike along the Thumb Butte Trail or the Constellation Loop Trail, where unique rock features and sweeping views surround you on your trek. For those seeking a challenge, the Granite Mountain Trail is a strenuous yet rewarding ascent to panoramic views of the Granite Dells and beyond.

Mountain bikers will be thrilled with the exhilarating terrain of Prescott’s biking trail network. The Prescott Circle Trail, a 55-mile loop, encircles the city in an exciting journey through diverse landscapes from ponderosa pine forests to rolling grasslands. Test your skills on the technical singletracks of the Spence Basin Trail System or enjoy a leisurely ride along the picturesque Peavine Trail, which follows the route of a historic railway through scenic canyons and along the shore of Watson Lake.

Tranquility on the Water

The serene Watson Lake, just minutes from downtown, is renowned for its towering granite boulders, calm waters, and variety of recreational opportunities. Since Watson Lake is downstream from a mercury mine, swimming is prohibited, but there are still plenty of water-based activities to enjoy. Kayak or paddleboard through the labyrinth of coves, or cast a line and try your luck at fishing for bass and catfish. Hikers can explore the scenic trails that follow the shoreline, offering breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding rocky terrain. Don’t forget your camera–Watson Lake provides the perfect backdrop for capturing memorable moments amongst towering rock formations and shimmering waters, especially at sunset!

The Highlands Nature Center found along Lynx Creek in the Prescott National Forest is a pristine oasis where nature enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the beauty of the wilderness. Set against the backdrop of towering ponderosa pine trees and the meandering creek, visitors can explore interpretive trails that wind through lush woodlands, observe native wildlife in their natural habitat, and learn about the area’s rich natural history through interactive exhibits and educational programs. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat or an opportunity for outdoor education, the Highlands Nature Center invites you to connect with the wonders of the natural world in this idyllic setting.

Step Back in Time: Historic Downtown and Whiskey Row

Soak up Prescott’s rich heritage with a stroll through Historic Downtown and Whiskey Row. Lined with beautifully preserved Victorian buildings housing eclectic shops, galleries, and restaurants, the downtown area encourages travelers to wander at their leisure and get lost in the ambiance of the Old West.

Found in the heart of Prescott, the Sharlot Hall Museum stands as a testament to the pioneering spirit and rich cultural heritage of the American West. Named in honor of Arizona’s first territorial historian, poet, and activist, Sharlot Mabridth Hall, the museum preserves and celebrates the diverse history of the region. Visitors can step back in time and explore exhibits showcasing Native American artifacts, pioneer relics, and period furnishings set within beautifully landscaped gardens and historic buildings. Wander through the meticulously restored Governor’s Mansion, which once served as Arizona’s territorial capitol, or stroll through the lush grounds dotted with authentic log cabins and outbuildings.

No visit to Prescott is complete without a stop at Whiskey Row, a historic street renowned for its rowdy saloons and lively atmosphere. Sample local brews and spirits at one of the many historic bars, where live music and friendly conversation surround you. From the iconic Palace Saloon, Arizona’s oldest bar, to the rustic vibe of Matt’s Saloon, Whiskey Row offers a taste of the Wild West with a modern twist.

So, raise a glass to heritage, trails, and scenic outdoor playgrounds and start your plans for your next visit to Prescott.