Cottonwood, Arizona is such a cute town in Arizona with many great things to do. I went on a weeklong girls trip here with my mom, grandma, and aunt and we had the best time! Whether you’re looking for national forest trails, historical sites, or boutique shopping, Cottonwood has something for you. Read further in this post to see all of the places I recommend stopping in and around Cottonwood!
****Note: This post may include affiliate links to products I recommend. I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) from purchases from these links. But no worries, I only include links to products that we have tried or truly recommend!
*****Everything in this article is my personal opinion and experiences. Check your own resources and choose to do anything I discuss at your own risk. Some of the things in this post may be dangerous and not recommended for every body.
Where is Cottonwood?
Cottonwood is located southwest of Sedona by around 20 miles. You can still explore Sedona and Red Rocks part of Coconino National Forest while using Cottonwood as your basecamp, but Cottonwood has so many cool things around it to see too! Cottonwood is only 100 miles, or 1.5 hours from Phoenix. It is also 50 miles, 1 hour and 15 minutes, from Flagstaff. If visiting Cottonwood, I recommend visiting by car (or renting a car from the airport if flying) to get the most out of your experience.
If renting a car, I like to use Booking.com as it often has the cheapest rates and offers free cancellation.
Why Visit Cottonwood?
Cottonwood is close to Sedona and the beautiful red rocks, but doesn’t have the crowds. It is an opportunity to visit Arizona and experience unique scenery, but in a more peaceful way. There are ton of lesser-visited places in and around Cottonwood. Cottonwood is also surrounded by several national forests, including Coconino National Forest and Prescott National Forest, allowing you to play and explore nature. Since it is less-touristy, there are more affordable accommodations and activities.
Places to stay in Cottonwood
Cottonwood is a decently sized town and has most of the typical hotels. If you’re looking for a different experience, there are some unique AirBnbs in the area. We stayed at an AirBnb that was cheaper than any of the hotels we could have stayed at and it had the most gorgeous view spanning out over Cottonwood and the surrounding mountains. I loved sitting out on the comfy patio couches looking at the view. I recommend staying in an AirBnb if you’re looking for something a little different!
If you are looking to camp, Dead Horse State Park (described below) has both a campground and camping cabins available. Campsites range between $20-$35 depending on if you’re wanting electricity or not. Check out the Dead Horse Ranch State Park website for more details on booking a site.
Some other posts you may like:
Things to do in Cottonwood, Arizona
Montezuma’s Castle National Monument
Montezuma’s Castle is located southeast of Cottonwood, near the Camp Verde area. It is a National Monument. Montezuma’s Castle contains around 50 rooms carved into the side of the cliffs. They were made by the Sinagua people. It is well preserved today with walking trails that give information about the native people that created and lived in these structures as well information regarding the plants and animals in the area. It is an accessible and unique stop for everyone!
Your ”America the Beautiful” Parks Pass will work here or you can pay the daily entrance fee which will also work at Tuzigoot National Monument.
Tuzigoot National Monument
Tuzigoot National Monument is grouped together with Montezuma’s Castle, but it is located more on the northern side of Cottonwood. The Tuzigoot Pueblo has over 100 rooms. It was created by the Sinagua people. Unearthing Tuzigoot was a massive project almost 100 years ago. There is a lot of discussion about the ethics of unearthing the area and the amount of restoration that was done in the past. There is a nice little museum that shows various artifacts, the restoration process, and history of the area.
You can walk around the monument and view it from all sides. One interesting thing to me about Tuzigoot is that even though the pueblo has over 100 rooms, none of the rooms have windows! All of the rooms were accessed through the roof via ladders. There is a lot of interesting history here and the rangers are helpful and willing to share any information they can about the monument and the people that created it.
Just as the Montezuma’s Castle National Monument, the national parks pass will work here or you will pay $10 per person.
The Town of Clarkdale
Clarkdale, Arizona is a cute tiny town that used to be copper smelting town. The town is famous for its copper and has a copper museum. The Verde Canyon Railroad leaves from here in the morning and is a popular experience for visitors to the area. The main street has a little bookstore and a popular bakery out of an old train car. Even if you don’t plan on visiting Clarksdale for long, it makes a great stop on the way to driving up to the town of Jerome.
Town of Jerome
One of my favorite places to visit near Cottonwood was the town of Jerome. Jerome is a little copper mining town, up in the hills that today is a cute, historical town full of shopping and tasty restaurants. Since Jerome is up in the mountains, there are great views of the surrounding valley and on a clear day, you can even see snowy mountains in the distance. There are a ton of shops and boutiques to spend the afternoon shopping at. My favorite shop we went to was Firefly Gallery. I also recommend visiting the Haunted Hamburger for a lunch or dinner. It is a fun burger restaurant (with tasty food!) that has a unique supernatural history (hence the name *haunted*).
The town is free to visit, but most of the parking is paid. There is street parking and also a few small parking lots. The roads are very curvy and narrow prior to and throughout the whole town, so keep that in mind if you were planning on visiting with a bigger vehicle.
Drive up to Mingus Mountain
If you continue up the road through the town of Jerome and towards Prescott, there is a road that winds up and curves around the mountains to the peak of Mingus Mountain. It is about 8 miles past Jerome to the top of Mingus Mountain and there is a parking lot shortly after the peak that you can turn around in. If you like viewing cool rock formations, I recommend driving up this road, especially if you’re already in Jerome.
Dead Horse Ranch State Park
Dead Horse Ranch State Park is located on the northeastern side of Cottonwood and has nice walking trails with views. There are various places to walk and view the mountains surround the valley it rests in. When we visited in April, there were an abundance of beautiful wildflowers covered the small hills. The entrance fee is $7 per vehicle.
Old Town Cottonwood
Cottonwood has a part of old town still remaining, with a main street full of cute shops and restaurants. There is a lot happening here and is a great place to spend an afternoon of shopping or go for a nice meal out. There is a farmer’s market with local venders every Wednesday from 4-8pm. Some popular restaurants include Pizzeria Bocce and Nic’s Italian Steak and Crab House.
National Forest Hikes
Cottonwood is next to a piece of the Coconino National Forest. There are a ton of trails in the national forest, most weaving through the desert landscape. Since it’s right next to town, some Airbnbs (like this one) are even within walking distance to the trails. One of the best trails in the area that is around part of the national forest land is the Cliffrose Trail, which is a 1.2 mile trail.
Coffee at Firecreek Coffee
In Cottonwood (and Oak Creek), there is a really great local coffee roaster called Firecreek Coffee. We stopped here every day before adventuring. They roast their own beans and have a great selection of coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and pastries. They also have a large sitting area both inside and outside. Their coffee is absolutely delicious (and I have even been enjoying some of their beans that I brought home with me).
By the Bucket Spaghetti
This guide would not be complete if I didn’t tell you about the By the Bucket spaghetti. By the Bucket is a regional chain, but you literally buy spaghetti by the bucket and it was actually really good. My Italian family surely cringed at the notion of me buying spaghetti in a bucket, but we were happily pleased and recommend trying it!
Sedona and Red Rock Scenic Byway
A little further away from Cottonwood, but definitely worth visiting, is Sedona and the Red Rock Scenic Byway. I won’t go into so much in this post, so be sure to check out my Sedona Post and my Red Rocks post. Sedona is a unique town and is surrounded by huge bright red rocks. There are a ton of amazing hikes, but you can also see so much from the road if you’re not so much into hiking. Be sure to check out my Sedona posts for more info on visiting this area!
Overall, this is my guide to visiting Cottonwood, Arizona and the surrounding area. It is a beautiful area with a lot of incredible things to see. Please let me know if you have any comments or questions below!
Thanks for reading!