We’ve been in this part of Arizona a few times but this is the first time we’ve stayed at Dead Horse Ranch Sate Park.
The park is situated between the Verde River and the Coconino National Forest. There are miles of hiking and mountain biking trails to be explored.
In the 1940’s a family from Minnesota came to the area to purchase a ranch. At one ranch they discovered a dead horse in the road. When it came time to pick a property the family chose the one with the dead horse. They bought the ranch and named it Dead Horse Ranch. Arizona State Parks acquired the property in 1973 with the condition that the state retain the name “Dead Horse Ranch “.
Dead Horse Ranch’s location makes it a perfect spot for exploring this part of Arizona. To the north is the spectacular “red rock country” of Sedona and Oak Creek. To the west are the historical mining towns of Clarkdale and Jerome. The village of Cottonwood lies just outside the park’s boundaries. In other words, lots to explore.
The mountain biking trails in this part of Arizona can be very challenging. We look for trails that are not overly technical and the Tavasci Marsh Trail fit the bill.
Montezuma Castle National Monument is a short drive from the park. The 20 room dwelling was built between AD. 1100 and 1300 in a cliff recess 100 feet above the valley floor.
The people who built this structure were farmers we now call Sinagua~ancient relatives of the Hopi. They inhabited the area in the 1300s and grew corn, squash, beans and cotton. The darker brown Masonary in this photo was reconstructed in recent years but the lighter yellow masonry is original dating back 700 years.
Driving toward Sedona takes you into red rock country. We first visited this area in the late 1970’s. We came through on our first trip to the Grand Canyon. Over the years the number of visitors has exploded. If you want to hike the more popular trails you have to get moving early or you won’t find a place to park. We now search out the less traveled trails and avoid the crowds.
Staying put for two weeks allows you to relax and enjoy what is close at hand.