Cottonwood Arizona is located nearly dead center in the state of Arizona, which makes it relatively easy to explain to someone where in the state it happens to be. We actually live within a few miles of Centerville. Interestingly enough, Centerville is a mobile home park.
Historically Cottonwood was named after a circle of sixteen cottonwood trees. While that particular landmark no longer exists, the cottonwoods themselves thrive along the Verde River, which runs through town.
While I grew up, my father was in the Air Force, so our family moved around a lot. When my dad got out, we wound up in Cottonwood. I was surprised by the attitudes of the people I encountered there. Everywhere else people had been friendly, but not to the extent of this place. I felt more welcome here than I had anywhere else. Cottonwood is definitely a place I would consider to raise my family. I am, in fact, on the verge of beginning my own family, and it is a great comfort to have the support of everyone I know in that community.
Aside from the personal aspect, Cottonwood is ideally located if one enjoys hiking and exploring Native ruins. Being a stones throw from sites such as Tuzigoot, Montezuma’s Castle, Montezuma’s Well, and within only a few hours of sites such as Walnut Canyon, Eldon Pueblo, and Wupatki, it is unique in the respect that one can be exposed to the rich and vibrant past of the region in a very personal manner. It is also only a few hours from the Hopi reservation, and therefore close to the Navajo reservation, which surrounds it. While having never been myself, the stories of the dances practiced on the reservations are fascinating.
Cottonwood is also located close to Jerome, a ghost/boom town on Cleopatra Hill. Evidently, there are several hundred miles of tunnels underneath it, and ores and gems of nearly all kinds can be found there, which can in turn be bought from various gift and tourist shops. One can even take a tour of the local gold mine, and a familiar sound is the horn blowing at noon every day, to the confusion of the tourists.
For those who desire a little more modern culture, Cottonwood is roughly two hours from Phoenix. While boasting no mall of its own, a mere forty minutes to an hour will take you to either Prescott or Flagstaff, each of which boasts a plethora of things to do.
The Verde Valley is rich with places to hike and camp, and is close to both the Coconino National Forest and Prescott National Forest, which allows exposure to all manner of wildlife and excellent camping grounds.
In addition, for those interested in New Age, Cottonwood is a mere twenty minutes from Sedona and its beautiful red rocks. Sedona is known as the New Age capital of the country, if not the world. There are plenty of window shops, offering services as varied as an astrological star chart, to massages, to even a candle-making shop, where you can watch them work. Sedona (and Jerome, with it) are home to many and varied art shops and galleries.
Over in the little town of Clarkdale, a single street (literally, I lived across the street from Clarkdale) away, is a truly little, old fashioned town, complete with an old-fashioned gas station and herd of buffalo. The local tribe—presumably Yavapai-Apache, but was unable to verify—keep them in a large pens made of guardrails. There’s even a panther living near one of the streets. Yes, a black panther. Not a mountain lion, those live up by Jerome. There was even one that would sunbath on porches. Anyway, to the panther, people leave him alone and he seems to subsist rather well on small animals, stalking abandoned streets at night. There hasn’t been much said about him/her, in fact I only learned it from my fiancé, who lives in Clarkdale. Logically it’s a rather well behaved panther.
The fall is one of the best times of year to visit Cottonwood, especially during the monsoon season. Having lived in the desert much of my life, rain is an important thing, and there is no shortage of it, when every afternoon great thunderstorms appear and pour out great amounts of water. The lightning is impressive, as is the thunder, although in this climate one must take it with a grain of sand. This past year, there were great brush fires that got out of control because of dry conditions, for several weeks at night you could seem the flames over by Sedona. Not to discourage you from wanting to visit though, all around there aren’t very many fires.
Therefore, that is Cottonwood in a nutshell. It is an all around nice place to live, that is close to and shares the great heritage of the southwest, in both the Native history and the European/American history. There is much in the way of natural beauty, and friendly people all around. The area is small, but growing at a decent pace and many find its quietness an appropriate place to settle down for retirement. So there it is. In Cottonwood, I found my faith, my home, the love of my life, and a great extended family that can see me through just about anything. There are few things indeed to compare to one’s hometown.