Even though I was surrounded by chile strings, jars of gourmet products, and colorful produce, my eyes were fixed at a very unique lamp.
The lamppost curviness didn’t resemble any type of wood I have seen before. I noticed there were ‘sculptures’ made of the same material.
Intrigued, I asked the tiny store attendant,
“What was used to create that lamp?”
“That is a Saguaro skeleton,” she answered.
I blurted a loud “What?” in disbelieve.
“Yes, it is actually illegal to take one of these skeletons from its natural setting. I got these pieces from one of the few people who are allowed to use them for artful purposes.”
After thinking for a few seconds, it makes sense that a skeleton is needed to maintain straight something as humongous as a Saguaro cactus (they can grow over 20 meter tall).
This may sound like a strange episode but I think it illustrates pretty well the topics you can develop in a place like Arizona. And, let me narrow it more, the fascinating conversations you can have with locals in a small town like Cottonwood.
This town of about 10,000 residents, located in the Verde Valley, is famous for its revitalized Old Town and its proximity to the Phoenix metropolitan area. It has won numerous awards including the Governor’s Tourism Award and the Arizona Commerce Authority Sustainable Economic Growth City of the Decade.
The beginnings of the town go back to 1874 when soldiers from Camp Verde were station in a house located within modern limits. The settlement took the name of sixteen cottonwoods growing close to the banks of the Verde River.
The official founding of the town is attributed to Charles D. Willard (1879). There was a boom in business due to the growth of agricultural products. Later, notoriety was gained because of the bootlegging business. It has been said that Cottonwood had the best liquor in miles, attracting people from as far as Los Angeles.
Nowadays, the days of lawfulness and illicit activities are gone. The more than 60 businesses located on Main Street attract visitors and support local residents.
The town is located between Sedona and Prescott in an area full of natural wonders, old ruins and state park. Opportunities to hike, golf or camp abound.
But not everything is about adventure and outdoor pursuits. You can enjoy the good life by visiting cafes, restaurants or wineries.
I know this small town has to “compete” with National Monuments, State Parks and places like Sedona. However, Cottonwood, in my opinion, is unique enough to deserve a visit. Also, if you are road tripping along Hwy 89A, this is a must stop.
What is more, I recommend small towns to those wanting to invest their dollars in local economies.
Here is peek of what you can find in Cottonwood:
Cafes and Restaurants
Wine Tasting Rooms
And tons of cool establishments!
- Cottonwood is located in northern Arizona only 130 miles from Phoenix, 40 miles from Flagstaff, 8 miles from Jerome, 50 miles from Prescott, 20 miles from Camp Verde, 16 miles from Sedona, and about 2 miles from Clarkdale
- There are hotels in town but you may decide to stay in Flagstaff (with a big selection of hotels and motels) or in Sedona
- For more information about the area, visit this page
Do you enjoy small towns?
This is how the Saguaro Skeleton looks.
Pin it for later?
Funky, fun photos – thanks for sharing at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-bubble-man.html
Thanks! I love to spread the word about small towns.
Great place and pictures!
Would you say Cottonwood would make a good day trip from Phoenix? Or is it better to plan to spend a night there?
I am not an expert in Arizona but I would say that giving the driving distance, I would stay the night in the area. There are a lot of things to do.
eileen @ FamiliesGo! says
Cottonwood certainly looks colorful! i wish you’d taken a photo of the lamp! I’m very curious.
I do not have a picture of the lamp. I do have a picture of a bench made with the skeleton. I will update the post with the photo later.
Kelly Del Valle says
Wow – I had no idea that Saguaro cacti were used for that! How interesting! I love this collection of shots – so colorful and vibrant. Visiting small towns like this is a favorite pastime for my husband and I, too.
Now I know who to go to for road tripping ideas in Florida.
bettyl - NZ says
Definitely a lovely and colorful place to visit. I love small towns, they are so quaint.
Thanks Betty. Glad to know you enjoyed the post.
Looks adorable! Love the neon signs!
Honestly,there is a neon or cool sign in every corner. I always pay attention to the signs and I think this is one of the reasons I enjoyed this town so much.
I wanted to see the cactus skeleton too! What great photos you share Ruth! I love that you give so much history about the town rather than just a ton of photos.
Thank you for joining us again this week for Photo Friday!
History is one of my favorite topics. Therefore, I enjoy researching the destinations I visit. Each town or place is unique because of the events related to it. I believe all these facts and stories are worth to be told or shared.
Rhonda Albom says
I have not been to Cottonwood, but my dad lives in Phoenix so I have been several times. We always try to explore new places when we head to the states, but always end up in Arizona. Your photos are really lovely, inspiring me to visit next time. Interestingly, I have a metal chicken just like the one in your photo – only mine was a gift from a friend here in NZ.
Well,I guess Arizona is a good place to be in. I imagine you have visited a lot of awesome places. This visit to Cottonwood took place during my second visit to the state. I am planning another visit(and hope it can be soon).
Ruth, I love small towns. They have so much character, and I love talking to the people. I’ve never seen a saguaro skeleton before. Very cool.
Thanks for linking up with Weekend Travel Inspiration.
I guess we have similar travel interests ;0) I have more small town stories lined up. Thanks for visiting.
Paula McInerney says
What a lovely story and isn’t Cottonwood a pretty little place. Lovely
Oh, yes. This is a lovely place. The small towns I visited in Arizona really surprised me.
What a cool little town, and your images really show it at its best. Love the colors and all of the old signs, and that rusting hulk of a car. Just great!
All the elements you mentioned contribute to the character of the town. That is why they caught my eye. Thanks for stopping by.
I love the quirkiness of this little town. It would be a great place to spend a day. First time I have heard of or seen a saguaro skeleton! Thanks for linking up last week! #TPThursday
The Saguaro skeleton was a weird discovery! I was the first time I heard about it too.
What an adorable little town! I love all the bright colours.
Thanks Adelina. Seems like Cottonwood has gained readers heart.