18 Best Things to Do in Cottonwood, AZ

Cottonwood, AZ
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Located in Yavapai County, Arizona, Cottonwood is a historic city.

Newly rebranded as the ‘Heart of Arizona Wine Country’, Cottonwood is home to a host of wineries and dining experiences.

It is the center of all the activities of Arizona’s famed Verde Valley wine region.

But that’s not all there is to the city.

Being as old as it is, and close to the Verde River, Cottonwood is surrounded by natural parks, hiking and biking trails, fishing and water sport opportunities.

If you’re in the mood to explore, Cottonwood is just the right place for it.

Here is a list of things that you can do while you’re in Cottonwood, Arizona.

Verde Valley Wine Trail

The best way to experience wine country, Arizona is through the Verde Valley Wine Trail.

Starting in the historic city of Jerome, the wine trail leads through to Cottonwood and then to Sedona.

The trail features twenty-five wineries, tasting rooms and vineyards to contribute to the experience.

There’s nothing like the Verde Valley Wine Trail for wine enthusiasts.

The trail offers an immersive experience of the production and delights of Arizona’s unique wines.

And if guests manage to fill up the wine trail passport available on the Verde Valley Wine Trail website, they stand to win a special prize!

Tuzigoot National Monument

Tuzigoot National Monument
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5 miles away from Cottonwood lies the Tuzigoot National Monument.

It is a small national monument that preserves the remains of Sinagua Indian dwellings from the 12th century.

These ruins include a cluster of buildings near the Verde River Valley, built on top of a small sandstone ridge.

The central rooms are built higher than the rest and were likely used for functions than general living.

The monument is very visitor-friendly, with a short and easy trail leading up to the entrance, and small enough to explore in about 1 – 2 hours.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Dead Horse Ranch State Park
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Dead Horse Ranch State Park on the Verde River covers about 423 acres of land.

It owes its strange name to the children of Calvin Ireys who purchased the park in 1950.

When they first saw the park, it had a dead horse in it.

Subsequently, they renamed the park as Dead Horse Ranch after Ireys purchased it.

When Ireys sold it to Arizona State Parks, keeping the name was a condition of the sale.

Apart from the unusual name, this State Park is known for its hiking, biking and horse trails, camping facilities, and opportunities to spot wildlife like river otters and the gray fox.

Historic Old Town Cottonwood

Historic Old Town Cottonwood
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A charming district lined with art galleries, cafes and businesses; the Historic Old Town Cottonwood is the heart of the city – it is the Main Street.

It has a number of antique shops, studios, wineries, and the distinct look of the 20th century West.

The boutique shops are one of a kind, selling things unlikely to be found anywhere else in the country.

The high sidewalks, historic architecture and weekly farmer’s market make this quaint little town a priority on all itineraries for Cottonwood.

Alcantara Vineyards and Winery

One of the largest vineyards in Northern Arizona, the Alcantara Vineyards and Winery offers 17 different varietals of wine.

They offer wine tastings and winery tours through their vineyards at the Verde Valley, with over 13,000 vines.

The tastings are held with a fantastic view of the valley and well-paced to ensure that guests are able to enjoy the experience fully.

The vineyard also has a grassy picnic area for guests to enjoy.

Apart from tours and tastings, the Alcantara Vineyards and Winery also hosts weddings and events, and a wine club that is open to everyone.

Jail Trail

The Jail Trail is a looped trail, 1.6 miles long that is easily accessed from the old jail parking area in Old Town Cottonwood.

It passes through the Dead Horse Ranch State Park, and then loops back into the historic Old Town Cottonwood.

It is a beautiful hike where leashed pets are welcome.

Most of the trail is easily accessible by wheelchair.

It offers about an hour’s worth of hiking through a dense forest at the Verde Riverbank, the Verde River flood zone, and sighting opportunities for a number of different birds.

Red Rock State Park

The red rocks of Sedona are an essential feature of the American desert landscape.

Located just over 16 miles from Cottonwood, in Sedona, is the Red Rock State Park where this landscape can be admired in all its beauty.

A 286-acre nature preserve and environmental education center, the Red Rock State Park was opened in 1991.

Oak Creek meanders through the park, enriching the ecosystem with plants and wildlife.

You can experience the beauty of the red rocks and the life around them along the trails – either by hiking, walking, biking, or horseback riding.

Clemenceau Heritage Museum

Clemenceau Heritage Museum
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The Clemenceau Heritage Museum specializes in the history of the Verde Valley, with exhibits that represent the heritage of Clemenceau and Cottonwood.

The upper Verde Valley was home to a great many activities as the country developed.

Ranching, farming, copper mining, copper smelting, railroads and businesses have all played a vital role in the growth of the region and are represented in the exhibits at the museum.

While the exhibits at the Clemenceau Heritage Museum are frequently rotated, the permanent exhibits include a railroad diorama with working model trains.

Verde Canyon Railroad

Verde Canyon Railroad
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The heritage railroad, Verde Canyon Railroad runs from Clarkdale, a town close to Cottonwood.

The excursion line operates on about 20 miles, ending at Perkinsville.

The excursion route takes four hours during which the train follows the Verde River into the canyon, passing through a 680-foot-long tunnel.

It was named and Arizona treasure in 2005.

Inns and motels in Cottonwood offer combination packages with the Verde Canyon Railroad as well.

The journey offers fantastic views of wildlife and nature and is a uniquely comfortable way of viewing the Canyon.

Coyote Trails Golf Course

Located on 1480 Annas Ave, Cottonwood, at the base of Mingus Mountains, the Coyote Trails Golf Course offers a fun golf experience for everyone who wants to play, regardless of their skill level.

The course is a par 33, 9-hole course with bent grass greens and ryegrass fairways.

The location offers up fantastic views when playing, not only of the surrounding area, but also of wildlife.

Golf season here is year-round, and tee times begin as early as 7:00 AM.

The course is also equipped to hold tournaments for their guests.

Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park is the largest park in Cottonwood city.

It has its own 18-tee Disc Golf Course, a softball field complex, a hockey rink, two sand volleyball courts.

It also has a skateboard park, play areas for kids, a barbeque area, and picnic tables.

There are a number of birds that can be spotted in the park including the Great Blue Heron, Black-chinned Hummingbird and Cassin’s Kingbird.

THAT Brewery and Pub

THAT Brewery and Pub is a family-run brewery that creates a number of homebrews and serves them in an informal taproom.

Their Cottonwoods Brewing Facility has its own grain silo as well.

In 2020, THAT Brewery was 2020 Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Winner.

The THAT Arizona Trail Ale is the official beer of the Arizona National Scenic Trail.

THAT Strawberry Blonde, a blonde beer available at the brewery’s Cottonwood and Pine locations, was named among the best Spring Beers by Thrillist in 2016.

Arizona Stronghold Vineyard Tasting Room

The Tasting Room of the Arizona Stronghold Vineyard is in 1023 North Main Street, Cottonwood.

The Arizona Stronghold Vineyard is known for its wines that express the wildness of the terrain and complement everything it has to offer.

The tasting room offers the full range of wines produced by the Arizona Stronghold Vineyard, including a few varieties that are not available anywhere else in the country.

The tasting room also has a full kitchen offering tapas and skewers to complement the wines.

Guests are encouraged to enjoy the wine in the main room or in the garden patio.

Rates for tasting flights at the Arizona Stronghold Vineyard Tasting Room start at $9 for five wines.

Parties larger than 10 cannot be accommodated in the tasting room.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle National Monument
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20 miles away from Cottonwood, in Camp Verde lies the Montezuma Castle National Monument.

This national monument protects a set of buildings made by the Sinagua people.

Likely built over three centuries, the buildings have about five stories and 20 rooms.

The Castle is built on a sheer limestone cliff, about 90 feet up, facing the Beaver Creek.

It is very likely that the castle was constructed so high up to avoid the annual flooding of Beaver Creek.

The monument itself is easy to visit, but visitors are not allowed inside the structure due to concerns for safety of the people as well as the monument itself.

The park is open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day, which includes a museum about Sinagua culture.

Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room and Osteria

Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room and Osteria takes inspiration from the Italian Osteria – a place for local people to gather where regional food and wine is served at shared tables.

The tasting room aims to offer a gustatory experience completely immersed in Arizona.

The wine is served with food made of artisanal Arizona ingredients rather than snacks.

All of the food, including the pasta is handmade on the premises.

The location is known for its excellent food, atmosphere and service, and undeniably brilliant wine.

More than anything, the Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room and Osteria delivers on its promise of a 100% Arizona experience.

Oak Creek Canyon

Oak Creek Canyon
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The Oak Creek Canyon is frequently described as the Grand Canyon’s smaller cousin because of how beautiful it is.

A river gorge between Flagstaff and Sedona that’s about 23 miles away from Cottonwood, the Oak Creek Canyon is accessible via the State Route 89A.

The gorge has a number of colorful rocks and rock formations, pools, picnic areas, and swimming holes.

The drive on the 89A from Sedona to the Oak Creek Vista is known to be America’s most scenic drives, shaded as it is by Oak trees that gave the Canyon its name.

But apart from a road trip, people can also go hiking, swimming, fishing, or camping through the Canyon.

Fort Verde State Historic Park

Fort Verde State Historic Park
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Fort Verde State Historic Park is located in Camp Verde, about 16 miles away from Cottonwood.

The Park was set up to preserve parts of a fort from the Apache Wars era.

This was a time when there were armed conflicts between the European settlers and the people of the Apache Nations.

It is known to be the best-preserved of any of the military posts from 1872-73 campaign against the Apache people.

The Fort itself served as an army base for General Crook’s U.S.

Army Scouts, and several of the original buildings are still standing.

Visitors are allowed access to three house museums.

The former Administration building houses a Visitor’s Center with a number of related exhibits and artifacts from the era.

Copper Art Museum

Copper Art Museum
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Arizona is known as the Copper State, because of how copper mining and smelting defined the state’s culture and economy.

The copper mining industry was established in Arizona in the 19th century and today it is the largest producer of copper in the United States of America.

This heritage is celebrated in the Copper Art Museum in Clarkdale, a few miles away from Cottonwood.

The Copper Art Museum has exhibits about copper from around the world but naturally focuses on Arizona, with exhibits of items dating back to about 500 years.

There is also a military art section that features ‘trench art’.

This exhibit includes brass artillery shell casings carved by soldiers while they waited in the trenches.

Other collections include an information collection, art and architecture, kitchenware, drinkware, and naturally, distillery and winery.

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