In the center of Arizona lies a 714 square mile region called Verde Valley. This area is located about 100 miles north of Phoenix. It is a designated AVA, as it is home to several natural and cultural treasures. Two of the three AVAs in the state are Sonoita and Willcox. The Verde Valley was officially designated in November 2021. Historically, this region was home to the Yavapai and Tonto Apache people. Spanish soldiers first visited this area in 1582. The oldest town within the valley is called Camp Verde, and it was established in the 1860s.
Other than Sedona, you can visit historic small towns like Cottonwood and Clarkdale. These towns are charming and filled with old-time copper mines. Jerome is a little more funky and is a good place to visit if you’re into history. The Fort Verde State Park and Camp Verde Historical Society Museum are great places to learn about the area’s history. If you’re a history buff, you can visit the Verde Canyon Railroad Journey.
Several new businesses have opened in Cottonwood, including an artisan food and beverage shop. Since 2001, Cottonwood has been a full-service municipality. The area’s Verde Valley Medical Center has seen a major expansion, and new residential and commercial projects have popped up. For families, the region is home to many local attractions. Verde Valley is the perfect destination for a vacation or weekend getaway. There’s something for everyone in Verde Valley.
The area is home to approximately 200 species of birds, including raptors, woodpeckers, flycatchers, sparrows, owls, and lizards. In addition to birds, you’ll also find mule deer, desert cottontails, ground squirrels, and elk in the area. The area was designated an American Antiquities Act site in 1906, and the Montezuma Castle area is one of the four original sites in the area that was recognized for its historical and cultural significance.
A trip to the Verde Valley is not complete without visiting the natural hot springs. The Red Rocks Scenic Byway connects the two cities of Sedona and Cottonwood. During high season, traffic can be stop-and-go. AZ-89A from Cottonwood to Jerome provides sweeping vistas of the Cococino National Forest. A 6.5-mile section of this scenic highway is known as Dry Creek Scenic Road.
The soils in the Verde Valley AVA are primarily alluvial. They are primarily of the Altar, Anthony, Retriever, House Mountain, and Arizo soil series. They range from fine sandy loam to gravelly loam and contain limestone. These soils are rich in iron oxides, which helps with viticulture. Regardless of how you find it, you can be sure to enjoy a memorable trip to the Verde Valley AVA.
The Verde Canyon Railroad connects the cities of Perkinsville and Clarkdale. Originally named the Verde Valley Railway, it opened in 1912 as a part of the Santa Fe Railway to connect the Jerome copper mines and Clarkdale’s copper smelter. In 1988, it was sold to a private party and began passenger service between these two towns. The railroad was renamed the Verde Canyon Railroad in 1990 and operates both as a tourist attraction and freight train.