DEAD HORSE RANCH STATE PARK
The developed portion of Dead Horse Ranch State Park covers 423 acres. The 3,300 foot elevation accounts for the mild temperatures that are ideal for camping, mountain biking in the Coconino National Forest, hiking along the Verde River, canoeing, picnicking, fishing, or just wading in the cool water.
A six-mile reach of the river is known as the Verde River Greenway State Natural Area. Its unique ecosystem, the Cottonwood and Willow riparian gallery forest, is one of less than 20 such riparian zones in the world. Life along the river changes with the seasons, giving visitors a glimpse of the numerous species of raptors, neotropical migrants, resident songbirds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
Mammals common in the park include Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), Coyote (Canis latrans), Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus), Cottontail Rabbit (Sylvilagus sp.), Coues or White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus couesi), Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Bobcat (Felis rufus), Mountain Lion (Puma concolor), Javelina (Pecari angulatus), and of course, the Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis).
The park is also home to a huge variety of reptiles and amphibians.
The lagoons and the Verde River provide excellent habitat for birds. The park boasts an extensive bird list (almost 200 species) and is also home to the yearly Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival.
Dead Horse Ranch State Park is located adjacent to and across the Verde River from the community of Cottonwood. It is centrally located near several major population centers such as Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Prescott. When using Dead Horse Ranch as a base, one has a variety of attractions to visit, including: Jerome State Historic Park, Fort Verde State Historic Park, Red Rock State Park, Slide Rock State Park, Tuzigoot National Monument, Montezuma Castle and Well National Monuments, Oak Creek Canyon, Prescott National Forest, Coconino National Forest, and the popular towns of Sedona and Jerome.
Calvin ?Cap? Ireys purchased Dead Horse Ranch in 1950. ?Cap? told State Parks Director Dennis McCarthy that his children named the ranch. The first time the family looked at the property, they saw a dead horse lying in the field, and after looking at a number of properties ?Cap? asked them which one they liked the best. The answer was the one with the dead horse. After they acquired the property, they named it Dead Horse Ranch.
How Dead Horse Ranch Got Its Name
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.
The Dead Horse Ranch Ranger Station offers registration, park information, first aid assistance, and a gift shop. Hours: 8 am ? 5 pm every day, except Christmas.
Camping Cabin Loop: Eight one-room log camping cabins are available at Dead Horse Ranch by reservation. They are tucked away from the other campgrounds, making them an ideal getaway for a weekend or for the week. The cabins are variably furnished with a full size bed, a bunk bed, table & chairs, dresser-drawer, ceiling fan with overhead light, and electricity. Campers must supply their own linens. Each cabin also has a barbecue and picnic table outside. Family-style shower facilities are only a short walk from all of the cabins. There is an electrified ramada with barbecues and a fire pit in the area that can be shared by cabin guests.
There are over 100 large RV sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. Most of the pull through sites can accommodate 40-foot motor homes and truck & trailer rigs up to 65 feet, and include potable water and 30/50-amp service. All campsites may be used as non-electric sites simply by not plugging into power. Generators are prohibited. All loops include modern, ADA accessible restroom facilities providing hot water & showers and are free to registered campers. There is a stay limit of 14 nights in a 30-day period. We can be full in the spring and fall so call 1-2 days in advance to check availability.
Fees: Fees are per vehicle,per night with electric and based on per night without electric (no extra fees for tow vehicle).
Quail Loop: 43 campsites, including one ADA accessible site.
Red-Tail Loop: 36 campsites, including one ADA accessible site.
Cooper?s Hawk Loop: 27 campsites, including two ADA accessible sites.
Blackhawk Loop: 17 non-electric campsites, including one ADA accessible site, reserved exclusively for tents. RVs, including campers and vans, are not permitted. The loop is adjacent to modern restroom facilities providing hot water & showers.
Canoeing and kayaking is popular in the river and lagoons. Non-motorized watercraft (oar power only, no sails) are allowed in the lower lagoons. Boating is not permitted in the upper (West) lagoon. A launch ramp and dock are available at the East lagoon. Gas & electric motors must be removed before launching. Children 12 and under are required to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times when boating.
Excellent fishing opportunities for the beginner and experienced alike. Arizona Game & Fish Department stocks the river and lagoons with Rainbow Trout throughout the winter months. The lagoons are stocked with Channel Catfish in the warmer season. Fly-fishing the river and lagoons is becoming increasingly popular. Fish species include Largemouth Bass, Catfish, Bluegill, Crappie, and Trout. Pictured: Danny Madison displays a unique albino catfish he caught in the lagoon at Dead Horse Ranch State Park
A valid Arizona fishing license is required for anglers fourteen and older. Licensing information is available online at Arizona Game & Fish, or purchase a fishing license at a local dealer.