Cottonwood, AZ

Hotels/Motels: Rates, availability and reservations online.

Location / Description
Cottonwood is located near the geographic center of Arizona near Interstate 17 on Highways 89A and 260. It is the largest Verde Valley city of Yavapai County in North Central Arizona. It is near Clarkdale and Camp Verde. The beautiful Verde River runs through Cottonwood, and the town is near the spectacular Oak Creek Canyon area. The city thrives on tourism, retirement facilities, farming, and ranching. It is the main commercial center of the area between Maricopa County and Coconino County. Cottonwood is a retail and service center located about 50 miles south of Flagstaff. Hundreds of thousands of tourists are attracted by nearby national forests, state, parks, national monuments, and wilderness areas.

Population / Elevation

Population: 11,925
Elevation: 3,320 feet above sea level


In 1874, soldiers from Camp Verde were stationed in an adobe house on the site of the present day Cottonwood. Charles D. Willard settled in the area, bringing with him a mechanic by the name of Neff. As other settlers came in, the area became a farming settlement until World War I and after that, it began booming. At one time, Cottonwood was known to have the best bootlegging booze within hundreds of miles, attracting citizens from Los Angeles, Phoenix, and people from nearby areas.

Cottonwood is the site of the first Arizona territorial capital.

Cottonwood was incorporated in 1960.

In 1990 the City constructed a wastewater treatment plant and collection system, the first in the Verde Valley. This plant was expanded in the 1990's to treat 1.5 million gallons per day and allow discharge of reclaimed water into Del Monte Wash. The availability of a modern sanitary sewer system has assisted the City to attract and accommodate growth.

Since 2001 the City has pursued the acquisition of the private water companies serving the area and with those acquisitions the City of Cottonwood has become a full service municipality.

The city is named for a circle of 16 cottonwood trees near the river.

Things To Do

  • Hang Gliding
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Boating
  • Climbing
  • Hiking
  • Exploration
  • Picnicking


  • May - Sizzlin' Salsa Sunday/Cinco de Mayo Celebration in Historic Old Town 
  • May - Verde Valley Fair 
  • September - Verde River Days at Dead Horse State Park 
  • November - Zeke Taylor Open Pit Barbecue 
  • December - Christmas Parade



There are hotels and motels in Cottonwood with something for every taste and price range. For more information and a complete list. (Click here for: Rates, availability and reservations online.)

Camping & RV Parks

For more information, contact:

Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce
1010 South Main Street
Junction 89A & 260
Cottonwood, Arizona 86326
(928) 634-7593

Resources & Nearby Attractions


Cities & Towns

Parks & Monuments

Wilderness & Recreation Areas

  • Sycamore Canyon Wilderness
  • Oak Creek Canyon 
  • Slide Rock 
  • Minugs Mountains - 7,700 feet - for hang-gliding enthusiasts
  • Prescott National Forest
  • Verde River

Historic & Points of Interest

  • Old Town Cottonwood features arts and crafts shops on historic Main Street 
  • Verde Canyon Railroad 
  • Sedona's Red Rocks 
  • Blazin' M Ranch - Reenactments of the Old West (1-800-West 643) 
  • Clemenceau Heritage Museum



 The North American Deserts
 Chihuahuan Desert
Great Basin Desert
 Mojave Desert
 Sonoran Desert
 Glossary of Desert & Geological Term



Other DesertUSA Resources
Gem Trails Guides Book
Related Books & Gifts - Trading Post
Desert Rocks, Minerals & Geology Index
Desert Survival Primer
Desert Survival Kit

DesertUSA is a comprehensive resource about the North American deserts and Southwest destinations. Learn about desert biomes while you discover how desert plants and animals learn to adapt to the harsh desert environment. Study desert landscapes and how the geologic features unique to the desert regions are formed. Find travel information about national parks, state parks, BLM land, and Southwest cities and towns located in or near the desert regions of the United States. Access maps and information about the Sonoran Desert, Mojave Desert, Great Basin Desert, and Chihuahuan Desert, which lie in the geographic regions of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, and Utah in the United States and into Mexico.

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Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Canyon de Chelly NM offers the opportunity to learn about Southwestern Indian history from the earliest Anasazi to the Navajo Indians who live and farm here today. Its primary attractions are ruins of Indian villages built between 350 and 1300 AD at the base of sheer red cliffs and in canyon wall caves.

Glen Canyon Dam

Held behind the Bureau of Reclamation's Glen Canyon Dam, waters of the Colorado River and tributaries are backed up almost 186 miles, forming Lake Powell. The dam was completed in 1963. Take a look at this tremendous feat of engineering - the Glen Canyon Dam.

Lees Ferry

Due to the shale deposits which slope gently to the river here, Lees Ferry was the only place to cross the Colorado River for 260 miles until the Navajo Bridge was built across Marble Canyon in 1927. Join DesertUSA as we explore this historic site.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
The movie Stagecoach, in 1939 introduced two stars to the American public, John Wayne, and Monument Valley. Visiting Monument Valley gives you a spiritual and uplifting experience that few places on earth can duplicate. Take a look at this spectacular scenery in this DesertUSA video.

Oatman AZ & the Wild Burros
Oatman is a fun place to visit -- an authentic old western town with burros roaming the streets and gunfights staged on weekends. The burros are tame and can be hand fed. Enjoy an exploration!


We have a online Wildflower Field Guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. The pictures are sized to work on the iPod, iPhone and similar devices. With your iPod or phone you will easily be able to identify wildflowers while in the desert. Links for downloads are on the bottom of the Wildflower Field Guide page.

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