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Arizona Stops on the Way

Unexpected Oasis in Cottonwood

Take a stroll through this charming historic downtown packed with wine tasting rooms and restaurants before heading to a rare solitude-fueled national monument.

Tucked between Sedona’s red rocks and Mingus Mountain lies Cottonwood, Arizona, an unpretentious little town dotted with vineyards, a stunning national monument and a quaint downtown where the locals are glad you’re there.

It’s also home to Dead Horse Ranch State Park, a gorgeous Arizona gem less than two miles from downtown. You can mountain bike or hike on 20 miles of trails, do exceptional birdwatching, go on a guided horse trail ride and even set up your tent or rent a cabin to stay the night.

Kayaking the Verde River in Cottonwood, Ariz.
Kayaking the Verde River. (Photo: Courtesy City of Cottonwood)

And just three miles from downtown, you can explore an ancient hilltop pueblo at Tuzigoot National Monument. It was built by the Singua people who were artists and farmers, trading their goods across hundreds of miles. Dogs are allowed on park trails but must stay on a leash that’s six feet long or less.

“When you’re standing up there, you get a full panoramic view,” says Tricia Lewis, Cottonwood’s tourism and economic development director. “In the fall, you can see all the leaves changing by the Verde River, all the red rocks of Sedona and Mingus Mountain.”

Tuzigoot National Monument
Tuzigoot National Monument (Photo: Getty Images)

You may even see green rows of grapes racing up and down pockets of the valley. The Verde Valley’s wine scene has exploded during the past decade or so with seven tasting rooms in Old Town and 25 in the valley itself. Vintner Eric Glomski, owner of Page Springs Cellars, has helped put this area on the map, and it’s definitely worth spending a day on the Verde Valley Wine Trail. You can even visit one vineyard by kayaking the calm waters of the Verde River to Alcantara Vineyards. Rent your kayak and float on your own or sign up for a guided tour in town.

The deck at Page Springs Cellars in Cottonwood, Ariz.
The deck at Page Springs Cellars (Photo: Courtesy Page Springs Cellars)

For those looking for adrenaline-fueled recreation, rent an ATV or go on a guided tour with Vortex ATV Rental. As you explore the trails, you’ll catch amazing 360-degree views of the area, including Sedona’s famed rock formations.

At night, settle into affordable and clean lodging. Cottonwood, Arizona’s Tavern Hotel, a boutique hot spot downtown, offers upscale rooms, a free cocktail upon check-in, a pool and on-site dining, in a historic building built in 1925. With reasonable rates, the Pines Motel has electric car and Tesla charging stations, is dog-friendly and has a salt-water pool.

Colt Grill in Cottonwood, Ariz.
Colt Grill in Cottonwood, Ariz. (Photo: Courtesy City of Cottonwood)

“What makes this area unique is its affordability,” Lewis says. “We have an amazing wine industry, a downtown filled with fantastic food, a really beautiful state park and a location that makes it easy to stay here and experience Sedona and Grand Canyon.”

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