A wonderland of rocks – Prescott, AZ

Even though we had a lot of uncomfortable weather during our stay at Prescott, it would have been a “dereliction of duty” to depart without at least exploring the Granite Dells. We’d been inspired by pictures of this natural wonderland from RV friends who had explored it in the past, and it was one of the reasons we had to stop here.

The Granite Dells consist of exposed bedrock and large boulders that date back 1.4 billion years.  The rounded shapes and other unusual characteristics of these rock formations make them very unique.

Granite Dells, Prescott Arizona
The Granite Dells

Lucky for us, access to these awesome formations was just steps from our front door.   With temps in the 30’s and 40’s in the mornings we were in no hurry to get outside, and for the first time ever we started our walks and hikes a few hours later.  We are “fair weather hikers”, and those temperatures kept us curled up around the heaters until well after sunrise.


The Dells reminded me of the Alabama Hills (my post is here) near Lone Pine, California, where old Western movies were filmed – except that man-made lakes give these formations a picturesque beauty of their own.  Watson Lake (closest to us) and Willow Lake (a few minutes away) are reservoirs that surround the Dells and enhance the natural beauty of the area.

Granite Dells, Prescott

Willow Lake
A short break along the trail at Willow Lake
Watson Lake
A kayaker is dwarfed by the gigantic boulders at Watson Lake, which give a stark display of the drought that has occurred here

There’s an extensive network of trails in and around Prescott, but we prioritized the Dells network that circumnavigate around Willow and Watson Lakes.  We followed these trails that ran over rugged rocky terrain with some easy flat sections in between.

Watson Lake Trail
At one intersection we chose the steeper and shorter route to warm up our legs
Watson Lake Trail, Granite Dell
What goes up must go back down!

On other days while Steve was attending to Betsy, I explored more of the Dells alone and managed to do silly things without someone there to make comments and roll his eyes.  I noticed while traipsing around and scrambling over the rocks that I glimpsed shadows of myself, and I thought I’d try to capture them.

Watson Lake

The Dells are a decent birding area as well, which made me giddy as I spotted my little friends perched up in trees or jumping around the rocks looking for morsels.

Cordillera Flycather
Looks like a Cordillera Flycather, or is it?
Canyon Wren
This Canyon Wren was quietly picking its way through a clump of brush then perch on the rock
Great Blue Heron
A Great Blue Heron was across the lake patiently awaiting its next meal

But look what I saw far away in the top of a tree at Willow Lake:

Willow Lake, Prescott
Can you see it?
Bald Eagle
I never get tired of seeing these majestic beauties

When surrounded by all these rounded bumpy and unusual shapes it gave me pause to ponder what the rock is trying to paint in front of me.  With a little imagination I named some of the rocks – do you agree with me?

Granite Dells
A resting (or dead) fish
Granite Dell
Lonely heart
Granite Dells
The ripple effect
Granite Dells
Darth Vader – or an alien – emerging from the rocks to watch the kayakers float by

With that kind of playground I completely forgot the chill in the air.

Granite Dells
One last look at the playground before we go






  1. We never tire of beautiful pictures of incredible places. Nice shot of your shadows on the rocks. Beautiful shot of the eagle. Very nice.

  2. Fabulous pictures of a most beautiful place! We were just there and stayed two nights at a cottage.
    I suggested to go to Watson Lake from seeing pictures from “Oh, The Places We Go!”
    Creative shadows and the Eagle make this post a hit out of the ballpark! Home run!

  3. Absolutely beautiful Mona Lisa! The rocks are awesome and your shadows are fun! And the eagle is magnificent! I love the contrast of the bright blue lakes and the rocks…and yes, your names for the formations are perfect!

  4. We really loved having those fabulous rocks right near the RV park, it’s a neat area! Glad you got to see it even if the weather didn’t really cooperate. The cormorant rookery at Willow Lake was really neat in the springtime. That bald eagle sure is a beauty!

  5. Love that area. Prescott is actually on the short list of possible places to settle down. We were introduced to Watson Lake 3 years ago and I never seem to get enough of that scenery. Fun photos 🙂

    • Yup there are lots of photo ops just around Watson Lake. I can just imagine the other areas we missed. I remembered your suggestions of kayaking there, but as weather wimps, the chill in the air stopped us from doing so.

  6. Fantastic photos, Mona Liza. Love the shot of the Great Blue on top of the rock, and that gorgeous Bald Eagle. The rock formations are amazing, and one can really imagine all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures are crouching there.

  7. Looking forward to exploring the Prescott area, beautiful photos of the Dells and great names for the formations.

  8. This was such a cool playground! When we got to the Alabama Hills, I said they reminded me of the Granite Dells!! Love your names! I agree…Darth Vadar was a great find! Watson Lake was such fun to kayak. It was just like glass the day we went out. The reflections were everywhere. That little stream you are crossing was a very strong, fast flowing stream when we crossed. What a difference spring makes! Sorry you hit a super cold snap, but so glad you were able to get out and enjoy the Granite Dells:) This is the first area we have visited where we think we might be able to live year round someday.

    • We included Prescott on the list of possible places to live in when you blog about it during your visit. But it is now at the bottom of the list, simply because the city does get cold in winters.
      I really had fun here especially that I can just go by myself and not drag Steve along. Although I managed to persuade him to climb our rock and he enjoyed the view from there.

    • I rechecked my book and Laurel identified it as Yellow rump warbler. I examined the white on the eyes and it was not tear drop as a Cordillera Flycatcher. What do you think?

  9. What a fun time you had there. I just love your silhouette pictures. Mine never turn out that good, I always look like a football player somehow. Don’t know how you did that one with both your arms out. Love your names too. Darth Vader for sure. What fun!!

  10. What a gorgeous place — I was just thinking that it reminded me of the Alabama Hills, and you said the same thing! It looks like such a fun place to hike and also to kayak. Your photos are wonderful. Do you think your mystery bird could be a Yellow-rumped Warbler? That’s what it looks like to me.

    • I believe you are right with the bird id. I checked again my guide and the give away was the yellow on the tail and the white on the eyes are not teardrop. Thank you Laurel, I know I can count on you on identifying my bird finds.
      Prescott has many things to offer and I think you would enjoy it if you happen to pass this way in spring.

    • On this post I used my point and shoot Lumix DMC-ZS50 except the one where is was in my black sweat shirt where I used the Lumix GH2. Both cams are Panasonic and I like both cameras.

  11. I’m glad you didn’t let the weather keep you from exploring The Dells or I wouldn’t have known they existed. I love the photos of the rocks and water — the contrast of solid and water makes the landscape so beautiful.

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