On the lower south slopes of the Verde Valley
lies a small area of abundant agate. Many specimens here contain desirable colors and bands and this area will not disappoint anyone looking locally for beautiful agate
From Interstate 40 at Williams take exit 161 and head south. From this point drive 1.4 miles and turn right onto South 4th Street. You will be travelling south on this paved road winding through Ponderosa Pine and then down into the Verde Valley. At 24.5 miles (just past Drake Road) the pavement will end, then at 2.9 miles you will come to a fork, bear right. At 5.5 miles you will cross a bridge that crosses the Verde River. (very scenic area) 6.9 miles past the bridge park along the side of the road. Here you will find agate scattered along the hillside and an old pit mine at the end of a faint road to the west of where you parked. (about .5 miles up the hill from the main road)
|A view of the area where we parked, the road spur on the right will take you to the pit however agate can be found scattered along the roadside.|
A view of the old pit mine. Note the agate at the top of the pit and scattered along the lower right corner of the photo.
Delightful agate at the Perkinsville site.
You want agate? You got it! We found the pit mine to be the best area for the stuff. You will see a layer of agate at the top of the pit embedded in the native rock and soil as well as the tailings on the floor of the pit. We brought back a lot of banded matrial and a few prized specimens with concentric circle bands through the rock.
Other Points of Interest
If you are feeling adventurous you can continue south from this site to the town of Jerome. (about 10 miles away) We made the trek in reverse one day from Jerome across the Verde and up to Williams, if you like back country driving through scenic areas this will be your cup of tea. At one point you can take in views to the north of the Verde Valley, Red Rock country and the San Francisco Peaks. Don't forget your camera!
Jerome is one of my favorite Arizona towns. A historic copper mining town at 5,200 feet once had a population of about 15,000 people in the 1920's and at one time it was the fourth largest town in Arizona Territory. Now Jerome has a population of about 450 people and many are eclectic at that! Artists, bikers, shop keepers and just plain nice folks provide additonal charm to this good old ghost town. Grab a bite at the Haunted Hamburger (our favorite) or belly up to the bar at Paul and Jerry's Saloon. A tall glass of grog is all you will need to take in the interesting stories of the 100+ year old saloon from the barkeep and it's regular patrons.
Back on the Verde River near Perkinsville are a few camping spots, this peaceful area looks like a soothing spot to throw a line in or be lulled to sleep by the Verde. We also saw evidence of campfire rings up in the agate pit, however if you plan on driving up to it you will need a high clearance vehicle.
As always head to high ground in lowlands during Monsoons and other times of heavy rain or melting snowpack. Flash floods move faster than you can run!
Most of the unpaved roads in this area can be travelled on in a passenger car, but if you plan on making a cross country trip bring extra provisions and make sure your vehicle is in good shape as breaking down here and getting towed out would take some time.