Facility Information

Facilities

Facilities are available at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Day use hours are from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; gates close at dark. Seasonal hours may apply and will be posted.

 Visitor Center

Visitor CenterThe Dead Horse Ranch Ranger Station offers registration, park information, first aid assistance, and a gift shop. Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. every day except December 25.

 Restrooms

Day Use Areas: Modern ADA accessible restrooms with hot water.
Camping Loops: Modern ADA accessible restrooms at each loop with hot water & showers at no extra fee to registered campers.
Cabin Area: Family-style accessible restrooms with hot showers are available to cabin guests.   

 Gift Shop

Gift ShopThe Dead Horse Ranch gift shop located in the Visitor Center offers water, fishing bait, books, T-shirts, and a variety of items that will make nice souvenirs of your Dead Horse Ranch visit.

 Group: Day Use Areas

River Day Use Area: Located in the proximity of the Verde River. Trails leading from the River Day Use Area follow the river as well as lead into a lush cottonwood, willow gallery riparian area. The Canopy Trail is ADA accessible providing excellent birding and wildlife viewing opportunities for the mobility impaired. There are two ramadas available for group reservations. Each ramada has a large family-size grill, electricity, and picnic tables. Maximum group size for the entire day use area is 200+ people.

Los Alamos Day Use Area: Located under a cottonwood tree canopy between two fishing lagoons — eight ramadas are available for reservation. A dock, launch ramp, fish cleaning station, and modern restrooms are close by. Nearby are trails leading around the lagoons, to the Verde River Greenway and onto the Coconino National Forest. The two lagoons adjacent to Los Alamos total approximately 16 surface acres.

Reservations are taken no more than 12 months in advance.

 Ramadas

Reservation fee includes electricity only where available. Each table will hold four-eight people. Restrooms are within walking distance of all ramadas. Los Alamos Ramadas are near the fishing lagoons.

Raven Loop Ramada (center of loop), estimated seating set up with:
Picnic Tables – 60-80 (including 2 ADA)

  • 10 picnic tables (1 ADA) 
  • 2 large grills 
  • Electricity 
  • Adjacent to camping 
  • Water spigot 
  • Paved ramp/walkway 
  • 50 yards from restroom

North River Day Use Ramada, estimated seating set up with:
Picnic Tables – 24-32 (including 2 ADA)

  • 5 picnic tables (1 ADA) 
  • 2 small grills 
  • Electricity 
  • Adjacent to large field 
  • Water spigot 
  • DOES NOT have paved ramp/walkway 
  • 100 yards from restroom

South River Day Use Ramada , estimated seating set up with:
Picnic Tables – 27-40 (including 2 ADA)

  • 6 tables (2 ADA) 
  • 1 large grill (3' X 3') 
  • Restrooms 
  • Electricity 
  • Water spigot 
  • ADA accessibility 
  • Adjacent to large field 
  • 150 yards from Verde River (depending on river’s flow)

LA#1, estimated seating set up with:
Picnic Tables – 10-14 (including 1 ADA)

  • 2 tables (1 ADA) 
  • 1 grill 
  • Water spigot 
  • Electricity

LA#2, estimated seating set up with:
Picnic Tables – 20-28 (including 2 ADA)

  • 4 tables (2 ADA) 
  • 2 grills 
  • Water spigot 
  • Electricity

LA#3, estimated seating set up with:
Picnic Tables – 20-28 (including 2 ADA)

  • 4 tables (2 ADA) 
  • 1 grill
  • Water spigot 
  • Electricity

LA#4, estimated seating set up with:
Picnic Tables – 10-14 (including 1 ADA)

  • 2 tables (1 ADA) 
  • 1 grill 
  • Water spigot 
  • Electricity

LA#5, estimated seating set up with:
Picnic Tables – 20-28 (including 2 ADA)

  • 4 tables (2 ADA) 
  • 1 large grill 
  • 1 small grill 
  • Water spigot 
  • Electricity

LA#6 (not ADA accessible), estimated seating set up with:
Picnic Tables – 10-14 

  • 2 tables (No ADA tables) 
  • 1 grill
  • Water spigot 
  • Electricity 
  • LA#6 is situated very close to LA#5

LA#7, estimated seating set up with:
Picnic Tables – 10-14 (including 1 ADA)

  • 2 tables (1 ADA) 
  • 1 grill
  • Water spigot 
  • Electricity

LA#8, estimated seating set up with:
Picnic Tables – 12-18 (including 1 ADA)

  • 3 tables (1 ADA) 
  • 1 grill 
  • NO WATER & NO ELECTRIC 
  • 310 yards from restrooms

 Dump Station

A dump station is available with payment of the $15 non-electric camping fee or at no extra fee to registered campers.

 Showers

Showers are available at the campgrounds.

 Picnic Areas/Shelters

Picnic tables are located throughout the park, in both the day use areas and campground ramadas as well as being placed individually in various locations around the lagoons. Unless reserved, picnic tables in the ramadas are available on a first come, first-served basis. Many ramadas also include ADA accessible picnic tables.

 Equestrian Trails

The trails at Dead Horse Ranch State Park are all classified as shared-use, nonmotorized and permit equestrian use with a few exceptions. In 2006, the Lime Kiln Trail was completed, linking Dead Horse Ranch with Red Rock State Park. The ride from Dead Horse to Red Rock is 15 miles and follows the alignment of the old Lime Kiln wagon trail. 

Horse corrals are available on a limited basis for overnight use with advance arrangements.

Dead Horse Ranch now has an equestrian concessionaire on the park who leads wrangler-guided trail rides. Take a leisurely ride through the park, past the river and even have a picnic lunch! Visit trailhorseadventures.com for more information.

 Biking

Dead Horse Ranch State Park offers a variety of bicycling opportunities for all levels of riders. Beginning road cyclists will find relatively flat paved roads with only a few gentle climbs and large parking areas perfect for practicing basic skills. Beginning mountain bikers will find a place to hone new skills on the trails adjacent to Red-Tail and Cooper's Hawk campgrounds.

Experienced roadies can use the park as a launching point for rides throughout the Verde Valley. Intermediate to expert mountain bikers will find fun and challenge on the Dead Horse Ranch Trail System's “Thumper Loop." Download a map of the Dead Horse Trail System. Because the park is so close to Sedona, mountain bikers from all over the world come to Dead Horse Ranch to camp and use the park as a staging area for rides on the Red Rock trails of the Coconino National Forest. No other campground in the Verde Valley offers shower facilities - virtually a must after a full day on the trail! Also learn more about the Lime Kiln Trail.

Video: 13-year-old Aaron Jackson of Cottonwood descends "the Patio" on the Thumper Trail's Ocotillo Bend, part of the Dead Horse Ranch State Park Trail System. The rains have had a beneficial effect on the trails, resulting in some of the best riding conditions in over a decade. Video taken March, 2010.

Lime Kiln Trail: Bike, Hike, or Horse Ride

Best OfThe Lime Kiln Trail connecting Dead Horse Ranch State Park and Red Rock State Park won the 2012 Critic’s Choice Award for Best Bike Ride! For the sixth year, AZCentral.com experts picked their favorite people, places, businesses, and things to do!

In 2006, the Lime Kiln Trail was completed, linking Dead Horse Ranch State Park (Cottonwood) with Red Rock State Park (Sedona). The Lime Kiln Trail is a 15-mile shared-use, non-motorized and permit equestrian trail.

The Lime Kiln leg follows a portion of the historic Lime Kiln Wagon Road. Originally the Lime Kiln road provided access to a Kiln that was constructed in the 1800s. The Kiln was used to burn limestone to create lime used as an ingredient of the mortar needed to construct fireplaces and chimneys. Soon after the construction of the kiln, the road was extended and used as a route between Sedona and Jerome. The remains of the kiln can still be seen beside the trail. Download Lime Kiln Trail Map

 Wildlife Viewing

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 the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis).

The park is also home to a huge variety of reptiles and amphibians. You can sometimes catch a glimpse of an otter in the river too (watch embedded video).

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 FestivalDead Horse Ranch State Park is also included in the Tuzigoot Important Bird Area (IBA). Avian species within this IBA include several sensitive, threatened, or endangered birds listed as species of concern.

Download Printable Bird List 

Dead Horse Ranch Park Rules

  • Camping fees are per vehicle, maximum of two vehicles per campsite.
  • When leaving your campsite unattended, please do something to demonstrate occupancy.
  • Pets must be kept on a leash and may not be left unattended. Please clean up after your pet. Pets are not permitted in park buildings.
  • Firewood gathering is prohibited on park grounds.
  • Check in time for visitors with reservations is 2 p.m.
  • Checkout time is noon
  • Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.
  • Generators are prohibited.
  • Amplified music / public address systems are prohibited.
  • Park stay is limited to 14 nights in any 30-day period.
  • Vehicles and trailers must be parked on paved surfaces only (including campsites).
  • Grey water must be contained.
  • RV and vehicle washing is prohibited in the park.
  • Swimming is prohibited in the lagoons.
  • No motorized boats permitted in the lagoons. Boats must be Coast Guard approved and personal floatation devices must be worn.
  • Discharging firearms is prohibited in developed areas within the park (including BB and pellet guns, bows, and slingshots).
  • No metal detecting.

Agency Rules & Regulations 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Dead Horse Ranch

Q: How did the park get its name? 
A: The Irey’s family came to Arizona from Minnesota looking for a ranch to buy. As the family searched for a ranch, they found one with a dead horse lying by the road. When the family asked the children which ranch they liked, they replied “the one with the dead horse” — the name stuck. 

Q: What is there to do at this park? 
A: Arizona State Parks fall into three major categories: historic, educational, and recreational. Dead Horse Ranch is a recreational facility with RV accommodations, camping facilities, shared-use trails, fishing lagoons, river access, and an equestrian concession.

Q: What is the Verde River Greenway State Natural Area? What is a "Riparian" Area? 
A: The word “riparian” is derived from Latin ripa, meaning river bank. Riparian zones occur along the interface between land and a waterway. The Verde River Greenway State Natural Area includes the Fremont Cottonwood-Goodling Willow Riparian Forest, one of only 20 such stands in the world; and is a separately managed part of the Arizona State Parks system. You may camp or park at Dead Horse Ranch to access the Verde River Greenway State Natural Area.

Q: What kind of birds can be seen here? 
A: The park’s official bird list includes 180 species, although the Northern Arizona Audubon Society reports as many as 240 species in the immediate area. Since the park’s boundaries fall entirely within the Tavasci Marsh IBA (Important Birding Area), there are many different types of birds present, including loons, herons, wrens, egrets, eagles, hawks, hummingbirds, owls, quail, flycatchers, swallows, swifts, and even ducks.

Q: Do you have snakes? 
A: Arizona has more species of snakes than any other state. Although the park does have snakes, they avoid contact with humans. There has never been a reported bite since the park was established over 30 years ago, in 1977. We ask you to help us maintain the park’s natural ecological balance by treating all wildlife with respect, including snakes.

Q: What kind of fish live in the lagoons and river? 
A: Largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill, crappie, and rainbow trout.

Q: Where do the lagoons get their water? 
A: Water flows into the park from the Verde River via the Hickey Ditch, which boasts the oldest water rights in Northern Arizona. Unlike other parts of the U.S., where a “ditch” might simply be a trench by the side of a road, ditches in Arizona are legally defined and protected by Arizona state law. 

Q: How difficult are the trails? 
A: The trails accommodate a wide range of ability levels, including folks with mobility limitations as well as expert hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers. 

Q: Do you have any campsites that are right next to the river? 
A: No. The river occasionally floods; camping on the river could be hazardous, and campsites would be expensive for the state to rebuild frequently.

Q: What can you tell me about the old graveyard? 
A: The cemetery is not owned by the state or the park, but is privately owned by the Trustees of the San Luis Rey Cemetery. Local residents, including miners, cowboys and Hispanic laborers are buried in the graveyard. The park does not act as curator.

Q: Can I use my Golden Age Pass (National Parks) at this State Park? 
A: Although some smaller state park systems do accept the Golden Age Pass, Arizona State Parks is not one of those. Public lands in Arizona are managed by number of government agencies, both state and national, which are separately funded. You can, however, purchase an Arizona State Parks Annual Pass.