The city of Cottonwood is surrounded by a beautiful natural habitat, but it is also the commercial hub of the Verde Valley.

Located about 50 miles south of Flagstaff, the city thrives on retail and service industries as well as tourism. Cottonwood's population has grown immensely over the recent years as retirees have discovered its many assets. The city is also the most racially and ethnically diverse community in the Verde Valley.
Bench in Cottonwood


In 1874, soldiers were stationed at an adobe house about 15-miles from Fort Verde, in an area originally inhabited for hundreds of years earlier by Sinaguan, Apache and Yavapai Indians. Settlers moved in, and developed a community that they named for a copse of 16 cottonwood trees near the Verde River. Cottonwood was established in 1879 and became incorporated in 1960.

Economic Center

The city is near the geographic center of Arizona. It lies on the east side of the Mingus Mountain and the Black Hills in Yavapai County at the 3,300-foot elevation. Its location between Phoenix and Flagstaff makes it a thriving community. Many retail establishments, both national chains and local businesses, call Cottonwood home.

The city serves as a center for professional services and manufacturing. Verde Valley Medical Center is one of the finest diagnostic and treatment centers in Northern Arizona. The hospital is continually expanding in size and services.

Other major employers in the area include Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union High school districts, as well as Mold-in-Graphics and Salt River Materials Group in nearby Clarkdale and Cliff Castle Casino near Camp Verde.

Travel & Tourism

The travel and tourism industry is a significant factor in Cottonwood's economic profile, and it's not strictly retail business. National forests, state parks, national monuments and wilderness areas closed at hand attract hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. The Verde River, supporting one of the state's prime riparian habitats, flows through the center of Cottonwood. Riverfront Park and Dead Horse Ranch State Park provide access to the Verde River greenway on opposite sides of the waterway.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park has undergone expansion during the past year. New lagoons have been created for increased water recreation. The park is home of the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival, one of many annual events that incorporates nature and fun for the residents and visitors of the Verde Valley.

Mingus Mountain, at 7,700 feet, is a world-class mecca for hang gliding enthusiasts with regular weekend launches. The area is also popular for balloonists and skydivers. Of course, the spectacular Red Rocks of Sedona are a visual lure.

Old Town Cottonwood has gone through a renewal and revival and is now alive with restaurants, art galleries and shops.


Cottonwood has a library, civic center, recreation center, four parks, a movie theater, swimming pool, softball and Little League fields, soccer fields and tennis courts. There are also senior citizen facilities and retirement centers.

Cottonwood has two local newspapers. Several radio stations broadcast from Cottonwood, Flagstaff and Sedona as well as receiving broadcast and cable television programming.

The Verde Campus of Yavapai College is a growing member of the community, offering day and evening classes and vocational education. For four-year higher education, Northern Arizona University is in Flagstaff.

The city is governed by a mayor, council and city manager. A professional police and fire department is staffed with full-time and reserve personnel.

Cottonwood is near Interstate 17, accessible from Arizona State Route 89A and SR 260. From Phoenix, drive north to exit 287, then northwest on Arizona 260. From Flagstaff, drive south to exit 287 or drive through the magnificent Oak Creek Canyon on Arizona 89A, which travels south through Sedona and on to Cottonwood.

Courtesy of The Verde Independent, Thursday, June 19, 2008.

For more information, view the Cottonwood Community Profile (PDF), prepared by the Arizona Department of Commerce.