November 8, 2018

Williams, Flagstaff and Cottonwood, AZ

Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Williams to Cottonwood, Arizona
Distance: 110  miles
Campground: Dead Horse Ranch State Park
Cost per Night: $37.50
Duration: 1
Weather: Sunny and HOT!

Another early morning, which has become our normal routine on this road trip. We typically wake up when it begins to get light outside and rather than roll over and go back to sleep, we head to the coffee maker (actually, a Melitta drip system) and get started on our day. Today we were awake at 5:00, but we enjoyed our slow morning and didn't get on the road until after 9:30, arriving in Flagstaff an hour later.

We made our way downtown and found a great coffee house where we wound up having not just a cup of their delicious coffee, but an amazing breakfast. I had the Aaron Copeland Breakfast Sandwich with a small side salad (greens and fruit) and Rod had the lox and bagel. Firecreek Coffee Company reminds me of The Mill (Lincoln, Nebraska) with stone walls, large tables for studying or casual meetings, and the super friendly staff. They have an area in the back for live music, poetry slams, community events, plus there's a wine bar! It's our kind of low-key place that, while full and busy, wasn't at all noisy. We would definitely spend a lot of time there if we were locals. We wound up spending close to two hours enjoying our food and coffee as we took advantage of their free wifi. We never know what the wifi situation (or cellular service) is going to be like from one campground (or RV park) to another, so we are always happy when we get a chance to upload photos, work on blog posts and answer emails on a fast wifi connection.

Another stop along Route 66.

Egg, bacon, cheese, avocado and tomato on a croissant. 

Great quote.

After filling our tummies, we decided it was time to head south to our next campground. We took I-17 from Flagstaff to Cottonwood, which turned out to be pretty rough and bumpy in several spots. In addition the poor road conditions, the descent into the valley is long and steep with several stretches of a 6% grade for at least 13 miles. It's nothing the RV can't handle (we recently tackled a 15% grade!), but it was still a little stressful with all the semi-trucks traveling along beside us.

It was slow going into Cottonwood on Highway 30 due to construction, but I was ready for a slower pace after traveling on the interstate. We arrived at Dead Horse Ranch State Park around 2:00 and quickly got the electric hooked up so we could start running the A/C. It was 98 degrees!

About the park:
The story of the park's name begins with the Ireys family, who came to Arizona from Minnesota looking for a ranch to buy in the late 1940s. At one of the ranches they discovered a large dead horse lying by the road. After two days of viewing ranches, Dad Ireys asked the kids which ranch they liked the best. The kids said, “the one with the dead horse, dad!” The Ireys family chose the name Dead Horse Ranch and later, in 1973, when Arizona State Parks acquired the park, the Ireys made retaining the name a condition of sale. (Read more here.)

We relaxed for a little while before going on our usual walk to check out the campground and facilities. This park has a lot of trees and shrubs, offering quite a bit of privacy and space between sites. The asphalt pads are fairly level, requiring little if any leveling blocks. There's a fire ring, grill and picnic table at each site, but it was too hot to use either.

Lots of big, beautiful trees.

Desperate for shade, we had to sit by the back bumper.

In spite of the heat, I took a walk after dinner to check out the upper loops and see the sunset. 

Looking toward Prescott, which is about an hour away.

Beautiful clouds and sunset.

Click on images for larger view. 

Previous Posts:

Discovering Soshone Point (Grand Canyon)

Hiking the Bright Angel Trail (Grand Canyon)

Sunrise and the El Tovar Hotel (Grand Canyon)


  1. I'd love to go to Flagstaff - that coffee shop sounds like quite a find.

    1. Kathy, we fell in love with Flagstaff. It's too bad they get so much snow. Yes, the coffee shop was a great find. Probably one of the nicest we found on our entire trip.

  2. We always enjoy Flagstaff—thanks for the coffee shop recommendation! Although we've never found a great place to stay in Flagstaff, we really enjoy staying just outside of town in the National Forest campgrounds.
    Dead Horse Ranch State Park has been on our list—it looks beautiful from your photos.

    1. Laurel, I think this trip was the first time we've stopped overnight in Flagstaff. I'm pretty sure we drove through when we moved from San Diego to Nebraska, but that was 26 years ago and we've done a lot of driving since then! As far as places to stay, we boondocked at a Cracker Barrel in Flagstaff, which was a surprisingly decent place for an overnight stay. Driving north from Sedona, we noted several campgrounds that we hope to try next time we're in the area. Dead Horse Ranch was beautiful, but a little too far removed from the National Forest & Sedona.

  3. That name is quite interesting - Dead Horse Ranch - also interesting that it was part of the sale to keep the name. The coffee shop looks great. OK, the temperatures - yes, 98 is indeed hot, but I was looking at the low - 69 (as if when we are 98 in the daytime here) and also the 'feels like' number. Often when it is 98 in our area, the 'feels like' is more in the range of 106 - so no humidity. That helps. Nice post.

    1. Kay, isn't it an interesting name?! The coffee shop was great and on our list for future visits. Oh, my 98 is far too hot for us now that we're used to the cooler temps of the Oregon coast. We had a tough time with the heat and humidity in Texas, too. Amazing how after just 18 months since our move from Nebraska, we're wimps when it comes to the heat. ;)

  4. We drove through Flagstaff... would love to have stopped at that coffee shop! I was googling the city as we passed through and was surprised to learn that it is one of the snowiest metropolitan areas in the country, averaging 100" per year. I found that hard to believe when it was so warm in the fall!

    Syracuse, with 120" per year, still has them beat for annual snowfall. Totals are even higher in the hills where we live... glad I get to be in Florida during the worst of it!!

    1. JoAnn, yeah sadly Flagstaff is one of the snowiest towns and one we won't be moving to! We loved it and could see ourselves living there (love a good college town for all the cultural stuff and hipster cafes and coffee shops), but we are so over snow. Yes, good thing you have that piece of paradise in FL for your winter escapes. :)


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