Thursday, December 25, 2014

From Flagstaff to Cottonwood Arizona

Leaving Flagstaff, we headed down I-17. A beautiful drive outside the city, it starts it's southward journey towards Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun. Keep in mind, Flagstaff sits at a 7,000 foot elevation and Phoenix at about 1,100, so there's going to be a downgrade to be reckoned with. I-17 does not disappoint, with nearly 20 miles of downgrade. Most of it is a relatively easy drive although there are some 6-7% grades. Most of these are separated by stretches of level ground so it's not a straight downward drop. Our destination, Cottonwood, is about halfway between Flagstaff and Phoenix, off the Camp Verde exit and sits at 3,300 feet. Weather is perfect with temps in the mid 70s.

Seeing the above sign makes one wonder about the trip down. It's not too bad really, stay off the brakes and let 'er drift, use the engine brake as necessary and enjoy the scenery, it's outstanding.

There are many places to pull off, let your brakes cool down, your nerves settle and enjoy fantastic views while having a bite to eat.

Despite weather reports of possible rain, we didn't experience anything but warming temperatures.

Unfettered, we arrived at Thousand Trails Preserve at Verde Valley. This campground sits on the banks of the Verde River. As kids, we used to tube down this river every summer. Sure brings back memories.

They do have javalinas that roam the park, so walking at night with your dog is not advised.

If boondocking is your thing, there are tons of spaces outside the park where you can park your rig and enjoy Mother Nature at it's finest.

We use Verde Valley as our anchor while visiting in this area. Within an hours drive is Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon, a casino, Montezuma's Well and Castle, Tuzigoot ruins, Jerome Ghost town, the Verde Valley Railroad and many other worthwhile adventures. For those not Thousand Trails members, Dead Horse State Park is just down the road and is recommended.

The town of Camp Verde is a small yet quaint town that also is home to Fort Verde, a State Historic Site. The fort sits on 10 acre site and houses period 19th century housing and barracks. They often stage re-enactments of the wars with the Apache Indians of this area.

Continuing south on I-17 we are approaching Black Canyon City which is just north of Phoenix.

We will be spending Christmas this year at our winter home in Mesa.


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