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Cottonwood trees and bright, blue sky at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood reflect from one of the ponds. The park has a dock, launch ramp, fish cleaning station and modern restrooms. Several trails wind around the lagoons, and lead to the Verde River Greenway and onto the Coconino National Forest.

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The comfort of cottonwoods

Riparian giants hold a whole world in their branches, but their time is as fleeting as the human beings they shelter

I heard the warm wind coming from a long way off, rustling through the tremble of cottonwood leaves off down the Verde River. I held my position and my breath on the bank of the river, close by the bass and trout-stocked lagoons of the colorfully-named Dead Horse Ranch State Park. I waited happily for the wind to reach me — swirling through the brilliant yellow leaves overhead. I had come for the comfort that cottonwoods always offer me, especially in the extravagance of fall.

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