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Cottonwood, AZ "The Biggest Little Town"

Cottonwood, Arizona is nestled in the heart of the Verde Valley, in Yavapai county. The county was named after the Yavapai Indian tribe, whose name means "people of the sun."

Even prior to settlement of the Verde Valley by Anglos, the region was home to several Native American tribes, Sinaugua, Yavapai, and later the Apache. Today Indian artifacts, pueblos and mounds are still found throughout the county. Pre-historic dwellings, dating from approximately 500 A.D., from the Sinaugua tribe can be visited at Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle.

Cottonwood was settled by Charles D. Willard in 1879. Other settlers soon arrived, attracted by the abundance of hunting due to the overgrowth of natural vegetation sheltering rabbits and quail. The town attracted more settlers seeking freedom from the surrounding mining and smelter company towns. Cottonwood became a farming and agricultural community. The crops and goods were sold in neighboring towns and supplied the soldiers at Camp Verde.

Cottonwood appealed to venturous people with the desire to own their own homes and businesses. There was a certain reputation for lawlessness, and some settlers arrived after being run out of neighboring towns. Heavy bootlegging abounded and Cottonwood became known for the best bootlegging booze within hundreds of miles which attracted people from Phoenix to Los Angeles, law-abiding citizens and outlaws alike.

As the town grew so did the diversity of the businesses and trades in the area. According to statistics compiled for the State Directory in the late teens, Cottonwood was home to 64 business men and included general stores, restaurants, barbershops, a drugstore, a lumber yard, garages, blacksmiths, shoe stores, a jewelry shop, an ice plant and various entertainment venues. By 1920, Cottonwood became the "Biggest Little Town in Arizona," with more businesses and busy merchants for a population of approximately 1000, than anywhere else. As the surrounding mining and smelter company towns shut down, the demand for supportive services declined and Cottonwood's boom came to an end. 

Today, Cottonwood supports a population of 10,000. With an elevation of 3,314 feet, a mild climate and surrounding areas with breath taking scenery, Cottonwood now attracts vacationers, retirees, and others that are drawn to the natural beauty of the Verde River Valley.

How to Get to Cottonwood:

Via airlines: Fly into Sky Harbor International, Phoenix, and rent a car to travel north to Cottonwood, or contact Arizona Shuttle (www.arizonashuttle.com) for information/reservations about the round trip shuttle from Sky Harbor to Cottonwood (round trip is approximately $55)

From the south, driving from Phoenix to Cottonwood: go north on I-17 85 miles to State Rte 260, then northwest 12.4 miles to Cottonwood.

From the north, driving from Flagstaff to Cottonwood: go south on 1-17, about 60 miles to State Rte 260, then northwest 12.4 miles to Cottonwood.

Attractions Around Cottonwood

There is something for everyone in the area! There are lots of activities and sites to see after the shows, or if you wish to spend an extra day or two in Arizona.

Visit Cottonwood's Old Town for lunch or dinner and browse through the shops.

Interested in Indian ruins? Explore Montezuma Castle which has been called one of the best preserved, most dramatic cliff dwellings or, Tuzigoot, the remnant of an Indian village. Both monuments offer some history, as well as, hiking opportunities.

Jerome, the "Billion Dollar Copper Camp" is just a few miles from Cottonwood. The Jerome State Historic Park and the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum offer a look at the town's colorful history. Jerome has become a well-recognized art destination, with over 30 galleries and numerous fine shops, restaurants and hotels.

The Verde Canyon Railroad offers a trip through Arizona's other "Grand Canyon", the Verde Canyon, which is home to bald eagles and accessible only by rail. Travelers see panoramic views, high desert rock faces, and the flora and fauna of the area.

The popular resort area of Sedona in the red rock country is only about 24 miles from Cottonwood. Many consider it the most beautiful place in Arizona. Sedona is surrounded by magnificent red rock formations and cooled by the rushing waters of Oak Creek. It offers unique shops and galleries abundant with art, Native American jewelry, sculptures and more. There are hiking trails, a natural water park at Slide Rock, and Jeep and helicopter tours of the area.

Out of Africa Wildlife Park is not your typical wild animal display; it is truly a "walk on the wild side." There is an educational tram tour which takes you to the animals plus unobstructed photo platforms for observing and photographing them. There is a Predator Feed as well as the Tiger Splash show.

Arcosanti is not one of the better known attractions in the area, but unique and well worth a visit. It is Paolo Soleri's concept of architecture and ecology working as one integral process to produce new urban habitats. Soleri Windbells are popular gifts or souvenirs of the area.

Cliff Castle Casino, Camp Verde, provides the night life with slot machines, live poker, and blackjack. In addition, there is a bowling center, a childcare center, an arcade, and live entertainment on the weekends.

And of course The Grand Canyon, one of the 7 Wonders of the Natural World is only about 160 miles from Cottonwood. Something you don't want to miss!!

For more information contact Susan Seiler at susseiler@aol.com or (602) 488-4453

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