Cottonwood is in Northern Arizona. It is in Yavapai County. Cottonwood is in the center of the Verde Valley. The Verde River flows through the town. The town is bordered on the south, east, and west by high mountains and on the north by mesas and buttes. The town is located on State Highway 89A between Prescott and Sedona. You can get to Cottonwood from Phoenix or Tucson by taking Interstate 10 north out of town. When you reach the town of Camp Verde, take exit 287. Then take State Highway 260, west out of Camp Verde. You will end up at Cottonwood. It is where State Highway 260 and State Highway 89A meet. The town is approximately 100 miles from Phoenix. If you are coming from Flagstaff, take 89A northwest out of town. Follow the highway through Sedona and on into Cottonwood. Cottonwood is approximately 50 miles from Flagstaff.
Cottonwood is an ideal place to base your travels to terrific attractions and outdoor spots. It is a small town that began as a farming town. Today Cottonwood has a population of 5,900. The town sits at an elevation of 3,314 feet. The climate is mild all year round. The low temperature in the winter is 30 degrees and the high temperature in the summer is 97 degrees. Cottonwood receives approximately 11 inches of rain a year and 4 inches of snow. Cottonwood is a trading center for the Verde Valley. There are numerous services and manufacturing facilities in town, along with a quaint Historic Old Town area. It is a pleasant, quiet little community serving a rich agricultural, livestock and mining district.
There are some terrific attractions near Cottonwood. The Verde Canyon Railroad is a wonderful experience. Visitors will travel down the railroad lines viewing scenic spots and wildlife. This is a very popular attraction. Tuzigoot National Monument is an old Indian dwelling. There are two hiking trails that give visitors an up-close look at the culture from long ago. The Clemenceau Heritage Museum is a neat place to visit to see a room of working model trains and to discover more about the Verde Valley’s past.
Cottonwood has so many outdoor activities. Dead Horse Ranch State Park is so close to town. This park has a variety of things to offer its visitors. The park has camping, picnicking, fishing, and horseback riding. The Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area is a 26-mile canyon perfect for hiking. This canyon is one of the most breathtaking spots in the area.
Old Time Fiddlers’ Association Campout and Steak Fry March
Annual Gem and Mineral Show
Verde Mingus Blow-out 10K run April
Annual Antique Auto, Cycle and Aeroplane Show May
Cinco de Mayo Sizzlin’ Salsa Sunday
Verde Valley Fair
Fiesta de Mayo Softball Classic
Fourth of July Celebration July
Cottonwood is the retail and services center located about 50 miles south of Flagstaff in the picturesque Verde Valley. The community was established in 1879 and incorporated in 1960. In 1874, soldiers from Camp Verde were stationed at an adobe house where Cottonwood stands today. Settlers began moving in, developing a community that took its name from a circle of 16 cottonwood trees near the Verde River. In Yavapai County, Cottonwood is near the geographic center of Arizona at an elevation of 3,300 feet. The city is about 101 miles north of Phoenix. Due to its location in the center of Verde Valley, Cottonwood continues to thrive. Cottonwood serves as the trading center for the Verde Valley, with a wide variety of retail establishments, professional services, and manufacturing concerns. Marcus J. Lawrence Hospital is one of the finest diagnostic and treatment centers in Northern Arizona. Other major employers include Kachina Communications, Griffith Enterprises, Phelps Truss Co., Tacstar Industries and Phoenix Cement Company in nearby Clarkdale.
The travel and tourism industry is also a significant factor in Cottonwood’s economic profile. Nearby national forests, state parks, national monuments and wilderness areas attract hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. Many visit Cottonwood because of its proximity to these attractions. The Verde River flows through Cottonwood supporting one of the state’s best riparian habitats. Riverfront Park and Dead Horse Ranch State Park provide access to the Verde River Greenway. The Old Town area, a popular collection of arts and crafts shops, is located on historic Main Street. In the immediate vicinity are many diverse attractions. Tuzigoot National Monument, a 550-year-old Sinagua an Indian ruin, and Montezuma Castle National Monument, a 11th-century cliff dwelling, provide insight into the area’s pre-Columbian past. Jerome is a historic mining town. The Verde Canyon Railroad provides views into the remote Sycamore Canyon Wilderness and has become a popular excursion. Natural attractions abound with the red rocks of Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon to the north.
The 7,700-foot Mingus Mountain, just west of the city in the Prescott National Forest, is an excellent Mecca for hang gliding enthusiasts with launches as a regular occurrence on weekends. Accommodations of all types are available in the city–motels, RV parks and camping at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Cottonwood is near Interstate 17 on state Highways 89A and260. From Phoenix, drive north to exit 287, then northwest on state Highway 260. From Flagstaff, drive south through the magnificent Oak Creek Canyon on state Highway 89A. 89A continues through Cottonwood to Jerome and over Mingus Mountain to Prescott as a designated scenic route.
James Oliver Bristow arrived in the area in 1875. He was the first permanent settler in Cottonwood. He built a dugout for his family to live in until he could build a more comfortable house. Eventually, more settlers were drawn to the land’s fertile soil.
Then in 1879, several soldiers from Fort Whipple in Prescott were sent to the area. They were charged with protecting the settlers in Verde Valley. The soldiers build their headquarters alongside the Verde River. During the same year, a post office was established.
As time passed and the settlement grew, the name Cottonwood was given to the town. The name came from a circle of sixteen cottonwoods near the Verde River. The town was incorporated in 1960. The soldier headquarters was eventually converted to the first schoolhouse.
Cottonwood continued to grow and develop, along with the nearby mining town of Jerome. Eventually, Cottonwood became Verde Valley’s trade and population center.
The name Dead Horse Ranch State Park came about during a visit to several ranches in the Verde Valley. Cavin Irey’s was out with his children looking for a ranch to purchase for his family. At the end of the day, he asked his children which ranch they liked the best. They responded by saying the one with the “dead horse”. The children were referring to the ranch that had a bleached skeleton of an animal on its property. When Irey’s bought the ranch he, in turn, named it “Dead Horse Ranch”. Then in 1973 he sold it to the State and asked that the name be kept. The park was dedicated in 1977.
Dead Horse Ranch State Park covers 328 acres and is at an elevation of 3,300 feet. Lush riparian habitat and abundant wildlife are found at the park. Dead Horse Ranch State Park is best known for its bird watching. The Verde River attracts many migratory birds. There are 130 different kinds of birds living in the park. Blue herons, mallards, and other water birds have been spotted in the area.
There are several walking trails along the bank of the Verde River. While walking through the park be on the look out for a variety of wildlife. Raccoons, beavers, and coyotes like the habitat the park offers.
If you are interested in fishing, you will find both pond and stream fishing areas. Fishing is available year-round at the lagoon. The four-acre lagoon is stocked with catfish and bass and during the winter trout. The Verde River has bass, carp, catfish and other warm-water fish. You will need a license to fish at the park.
The park is a full-facility campground. Campers will find 45 camping units available. There is a 15-day limited stay. There are restrooms, showers, electric hookup and a dump station. The picnic area includes 26 picnic tables and grills.
The park also has many other great activities. Visitors can canoe and horseback ride.
Dead Horse Ranch State Park is open every day from 8:00 to 8:00 pm. The campground is open 24 hours a day. The ranger station has varied hours. The best months to visit are during the spring and fall. If you are interested in more information on the park, you may call 520-634-5283.
You can get to the park from Cottonwood by traveling to the junction of State Highway 279 and State Highway 89A in town. Here you will see the signs directing you to the park. If you are coming from Phoenix or Tucson, you will take Interstate 17 north out of town. Then take exit 287 off the Interstate and head west on State Highway 260. Continue on State Highway 260, until you get to Cottonwood. Once you are in Cottonwood, follow the signs to the park. If you are coming from Flagstaff, you will take State Highway 89A south out of town. Continue on State Highway 89A through Sedona and into Cottonwood. Once you are in Cottonwood at the junction of State Highway 89A and State Highway 260, you will see the signs directing you to the park. If you are in Jerome take State Highway 89A east out of town down to the town of Cottonwood. Once you are in Cottonwood at the junction of State Highway 89A and State Highway 260 look for the signs for the park.
Dead Horse State Park is a remarkable park full of plant and wildlife, so close to town.