Things to do in Prescott, AZ
Things to do in Prescott, Arizona
Prescott, Arizona, has a wealth of cultural and natural treasures that invite exploration and appreciation. Among the remarkable destinations in this picturesque city are the Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary, dedicated to wildlife conservation; the Museum of Indigenous People, a repository of Native American culture; the Sharlot Hall Museum, a historical preserve; the expansive Prescott National Forest, a haven for outdoor enthusiasts; and Watson Lake Park, a scenic gem offering a range of recreational activities.
Each attraction reflects Prescott’s commitment to preserving its rich heritage and natural beauty, making it a must-visit destination for history buffs and nature lovers.
Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary
Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary, also known as Prescott Animal Park Association (PAPA), is a distinguished non-profit animal sanctuary in Prescott, Arizona. Established in 1988 by Patricia “Tricia” C. Williams, Bob Matthews (former board president), and a group of dedicated volunteers who formed the Prescott Animal Park Association (PAPA) in 1985, the sanctuary initially aimed to take over the Payson Zoo.
However, after the association’s formation, operations in Payson continued, and Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary emerged as a haven for wildlife conservation. With a motto of “Conservation through Education,” the sanctuary is committed to the welfare of over 175 native and exotic animals, emphasizing the care of non-releasable wildlife with nowhere else to call home.
Museum of Indigenous People
The Museum of Indigenous People, formerly known as the Smoki Museum of American Indian Art and Culture, is a cultural institution situated in Prescott, Yavapai County, Arizona. Renamed in 2020, the museum houses a rich collection of Native American artifacts with a significant historical background.
Established in part due to the efforts of individuals such as Kate Cory, who generously contributed her paintings and a photograph album, and Dr. Byron Cummings of the University of Arizona, who provided artifacts from ongoing excavations. The museum’s origin traces back to white Arizona residents known as the “Smoki Tribe,” who initially enacted Native American ceremonial dances. This practice drew criticism from the Hopi people. Over time, the museum transitioned away from reenactments and, as of 1991, operates as a non-profit institution dedicated to education rather than performances, reflecting its commitment to fostering understanding and appreciation of Native American cultures.
Sharlot Hall Museum
The Sharlot Hall Museum, an open-air museum and heritage site in Prescott, Arizona, is a testament to the rich history and culture of the Central Highlands of Arizona. Established in 1928 by Sharlot M. Hall as the Gubernatorial Mansion Museum, the institution has evolved into a comprehensive historical preserve.
The museum grounds feature 11 exhibit buildings, including six with historical significance, covering nearly four acres. Among these is the Governor’s Mansion, erected in 1864 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Noteworthy structures such as Fort Misery, the oldest log cabin in Arizona, and the Frémont House, home of the 5th Territorial governor John C. Frémont, add to the museum’s historical richness.
The Sharlot Hall Museum also hosts the Lawler Exhibit Center, the Transportation Building, and the School House, each showcasing distinct aspects of the region’s history. Beyond its physical exhibits, the museum extends its commitment to preserving history through its Library and Archives, offering extensive research opportunities with rare books, original documents, photographs, maps, and oral histories.
Prescott National Forest
The Prescott National Forest, encompassing a vast 1.25 million acres in north-central Arizona near Prescott, is a captivating expanse of natural beauty and outdoor adventure. The forest extends into Yavapai and Coconino counties in the mountains southwest of Flagstaff and north of Phoenix. Divided into three administrative districts, the Chino Valley Ranger District in the north, the Bradshaw Ranger District in the southwest, and the Verde Ranger District in the southeast, the forest offers diverse landscapes and ecosystems.
The administrative hub is in Prescott, supported by ranger district offices in Camp Verde, Chino Valley, and Prescott. With its stunning scenery, the Prescott National Forest beckons outdoor enthusiasts, offering a haven for exploration and recreation amidst the splendors of the Arizona wilderness.
Watson Lake Park
Nestled at 3101 Watson Lake Rd and easily accessible from Highway 89, Watson Lake Park is a picturesque gem just four miles from downtown Prescott, Arizona. Offering diverse recreational activities, the beautiful lake provides opportunities for fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, rock climbing, and camping, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.
Visitors can explore the scenic park, providing access to Watson Woods and the stunning boulders of the Granite Dells. For those seeking an immersive experience, overnight camping, complete with shower facilities, is available during the summer months.
Additionally, canoe and kayak rentals are offered, ensuring everyone can enjoy Watson Lake’s splendors. For detailed information, including prices and hours of operation, visitors can check the official website for a comprehensive guide to the park’s amenities and activities.
Things to do in Prescott, AZ
Prescott, Arizona, offers visitors a captivating blend of culture, history, and natural beauty. Whether you’re exploring the Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary’s commitment to wildlife conservation, delving into Native American culture at the Museum of Indigenous People, stepping back in time at the Sharlot Hall Museum, embarking on outdoor adventures in the Prescott National Forest, or enjoying the scenic wonders of Watson Lake Park, Prescott has something for everyone. These destinations provide enriching experiences and underscore the city’s dedication to preserving its heritage and environment, making it a place of enduring charm and appeal.