Located in Yavapai County at the heart of Arizona, Cottonwood sits north of the Phoenix heat and below the cold temperatures of Arizona’s high country. It is surrounded by the red rocks of Sedona to the northeast and Mingus Mountain to the southwest.
The City of Cottonwood is located adjacent to the Verde River which runs through the valley from northwest to southeast and is fed by flows from Sycamore Canyon, Oak Creek, Beaver Creek, and West Clear Creek. The elevation ranges from 3,300 feet to 3,900 feet above sea level.
Its close proximity to the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Tuzigoot National Monument, and the historic mining communities of Clarkdale and Jerome, make it an ideal base for Arizona exploration.
Visit Cottonwood AZ.com tells us the region has long been home to Native Americans, particularly the Sinaugua and later the Yavapai and Apache. The first Anglo settlers in the area farmed and provided goods for the soldiers at Camp Verde and for the miners in Jerome beginning in the late 1870s. William Clark and Jimmy Douglas developed major smelters and the mining communities of Clarkdale (1912) and Clemenceau (1917), respectively.
Mining companies that closely regulated commerce, industry, employment, and even housing opportunities administered Jerome, Clarkdale, and Clemenceau.
Old Town Cottonwood became a haven for those seeking freedom from the prejudice and regulation of nearby company towns. Main Street was created in 1908 when Charles Stemmer and Alonzo Mason used a mule team to pull and drag through the brush. The Mason Addition, Willard Addition, Hopkins Ranch No. 2, and other tracts were platted during the next decade, coinciding with the development of the Clemenceau smelter on higher ground about one mile to the south.
The Clemenceau smelter closed on December 31, 1936, with a great loss of jobs and disruption to the area’s economy. The Cottonwood Women’s Club was organized to feed those in need and raised money to build the Cottonwood Civic Center in 1939 with labor provided through the Works Progress Administration. The copper industry continued its decline culminating with the closure of the Phelps Dodge operation in the 1950s.
According to CottonwoodAZ.gov, the City of Cottonwood was incorporated in 1960. During this period, area roads were improved, particularly the Highway 89A “Bypass” and SR 260 to serve the needs of the Phoenix Cement Plant located in Clarkdale. This facility supplied the cement for the Glen Canyon Dam project near Page. During the early 1970s, about 4,500 lots were platted outside the Cottonwood City Limits by Ned Warren – the Queen Creek Land and Cattle Company. These lots, known as Verde Village, have limited infrastructure but have been built upon over time. Few vacant parcels remain today. With road development and an increasingly large residential base, commercial development moved south from Old Town to SR89A intersections at Main Street and at SR260 during the 1970s and 1980s.
Cottonwood has a semi-arid steppe climate. In January, the average high temperature is 55 °F with a low of 26 °F. July is toasty, with a normal high temperature of 97 °F and cooling to a low of 68 °F. Annual precipitation is approximately 13 inches.
Dress in layers. Bring plenty of water, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
Lodging & Dining
There are many comfortable and affordable options in Cottonwood. Some unique properties include:
Origins Bed & Breakfast opened in 2020 and offers a three-course breakfast, stunning views of the Verde River, Mingus Mountain, the Red Rocks of Sedona, and Verde Valley bluffs.
Lux Verde Hotel is located off Highway 89A and offers single rooms and suites.
Iron Horse Inn was built as a motor court by the Eden family that owned the lumber company behind the motel. The structure of the motel was built in the 1930s. There have been many updates over the decades, including enclosing the motor court garages in the 1970s due to larger car sizes.
Is your home on wheels? Park it at one of the many RV parks.
Things To Do (& Drink)
There’s no whining when it comes to things to do in Cottonwood.
Verde Valley Wine Trail
The Verde Valley Wine Trail invites wine enthusiasts to experience a destination rich in history, beauty, and the production of exquisite Arizona wines. Download the map featuring the 10 stops along the trail. Get your wine Passport stamped and entered into the quarterly drawing.
Old Town Cottonwood
Located in the “Heart of the Verde Valley Wine Country,” this is an easy, scenic trip from Phoenix — only an hour and a half drive. Old Town is known for its Main Street which features more than 60 businesses that attract visitors and support local residents.
Verde Canyon Railroad
Don’t miss the train! The Verde Canyon Railroad features a four-hour ride from Clarksdale to Perkinsville and back. Ride in exclusively-decorated passenger cars. Full bar service at one’s seat is featured, and appetizers are complimentary. View the stunning canyon and abundance of wildlife.
State parks, monuments, and forests abound in the area!
Dead Horse Ranch State Park
Dead Horse Ranch State Park is a landmark that has earned a reputation as a favorite fishing hole, bird lover’s paradise, and hiker’s dream. Explore trails meandering through sycamore and Cottonwood trees along the banks of the Verde River, Dead Horse Ranch State Park is a jewel in the center of Cottonwood all year round. Explore the area on exploration on foot, bicycle, horseback, or ATV.
Jerome State Historic Park
Jerome State Historic Park highlights Jerome’s modern history that began in 1876 when three prospectors staked claims on rich copper deposits. Today the town is full of artisans and museums boasting interesting and sometimes ghoulish history.
Catch smallmouth bass, catfish, largemouth bass, and bluegill in the Verde River. In the winter, trout are stocked at the Tuzigoot Bridge, the 10th street bridge, and at the river day use area of Dead Horse Ranch. Arizona Game & Fish also stocks at various points along the river, all the way to Camp Verde. A valid Arizona fishing license is required for anglers 10 years and older. Licensing information is available online at Arizona Game & Fish or purchase a fishing license at a local dealer.
- Nearly 80% of the land in the Verde Valley is National Forest.
- Only about 17% of the Verde Valley is privately owned.
- Famed photographer, Ray Manley, grew up in Cottonwood.
- Frederick Ball, movie studio executive and brother of actress Lucille Ball died in Cottonwood in 2007 at the age of 91.