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An overlooking landscape view of the river at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

This peaceful state park with an unusual name lies along the Verde River and the Verde River Greenway in Cottonwood, only 8 miles from Jerome and 100 miles north of Phoenix.

This beautiful Arizona state park – Dead Horse Ranch State Park – was once the site of a working ranch. Today this 423 acre park attracts visitors with opportunities to fish, hike, kayak, ride horses, camp and discover nature. Its unique name ties back to the family who originally owned the property.

Activities at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Discover the rustic beauty at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. The park features picnic areas with tables, BBQ grills and shade ramadas; the Dead Horse Ranch Ranger Station & Gift Shop; multi-use trails; an equestrian concessionaire; a playground and small zipline and more.

The picturesque cottonwood trees, lagoons and river give this park its own unique charm. Once you’ve visited it you’ll want to return again and again.

Here are some more activities that you can do during your visit to Dead Horse Ranch State Park:

Horseback Riding at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Explore the trails while riding horseback during your visit to Dead Horse Ranch State Park. The park’s equestrian concessionaire offers wrangler-guided trail rides through the park and along the riverbank.

Would you rather bring your own horses into the park? Horse corrals are available and for overnight use when arranged in advance. Inquire when making reservations.

Trails at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Dead Horse Ranch State Park has more than 20 miles of trails that spread throughout the park, past the river and lagoons and into the adjacent Coconino National Forest and

the Verde River Natural Greenway Area. Most of the trails are multi-use and open for hikers, mountain bikes and horses. The trailheads are located north of the lagoon area and also at the end of Flycatcher Road.
Here are a couple of the trails at Dead Horse Ranch State Park:

  • Lagoon Loop – Easy 1.9 mile flat trail around the 3 lagoons. You’ll see lots of waterfowl on this peaceful path and possibly the town of Jerome alongside the hills in the distance.
  • Forest Loop – Easy .5 mile trail through the forest and near the river with beautiful views.

  • Canopy Loop – Easy .25 mile trail that is ADA-accessible. This peaceful trail is great for a slow paced stroll while watching for animals and birds.

Fishing at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

The park’s 3 lagoons offer ideal fishing conditions for visitors. These lagoons contain large populations of bass and bluegill and are regularly stocked with rainbow trout during the winter.

The Verde River contains bass, channel catfish and bluegill year round and is also stocked with rainbow trout during the winter.

Fish from shore or from your canoe or kayak. Just remember to pick up an Arizona fishing license ahead of time; a fishing license is required for anyone over the age of 10.

Wildlife Viewing at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Dead Horse Ranch State Park lies adjacent to Verde River Natural Greenway and the Coconino National Forest, both fantastic places to view nature and wildlife.

Within the park you’ll see rabbits, deer, squirrels, foxes, skunks, javelinas, coyotes, river otters, snakes, waterfowl, songbirds and more.

The park’s lagoons and river access are a natural bird habitat and about 200 species have been spotted here. The park is within the Tuzigoot Important Bird Area and provides a safe haven for endangered birds. And the Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival is held here yearly.

Become a Junior Ranger at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Junior Ranger Pledge: ‘As an Arizona State Parks Junior Ranger, I pledge to help the park rangers protect and preserve habitat, wildlife, and help keep the park clean and safe for visitors and wildlife.’

Encourage younger generations to do their part and help preserve the beauty of the parks for future visitors. If your child is between the ages of 6-12 they can become a Junior Ranger at Dead Horse Ranch State Park.

All they need to do is download and complete the Junior Ranger Activity Sheet and then request a Junior Ranger booklet at the park’s visitor center once you’ve arrived at the park. Complete each of the activities during your stay.

When all of the activities have been completed report back to a Park Ranger who will swear your Junior Ranger in and award them with a Junior Ranger Button. Kids can become a Junior Ranger at most Arizona State Parks and earn each park’s unique Junior Ranger Button. Check out the For Kids section on each park’s website.

Camping at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Dead Horse Ranch State Park has spacious campsites and camping cabins conveniently located to trails, the river and the lake. More than a 100 large RV sites with water and electric connections are available as well as primitive tent-only sites.

A group campground is also available and can accommodate up to 23 campsites and 46 people. This site has a bathhouse, a large ramada with picnic tables and a group fire ring.

Campsites are located within loops and close to ADA accessible bathhouses. This park is a popular place to camp so be sure to call ahead and reserve early.

The 8 rustic log cabins are located in a shaded area of the park and along the river. They are one-room-style with a covered porch, full-sized bed, 2 sets of bunk beds, a table and chairs, dresser-drawer, ceiling fan, electricity and heat/AC. Each sleeps up to 6 people; campers must bring their own linens or sleeping bags.

Each cabin has a picnic table, BBQ grill and fire ring but no water. Bathhouses are conveniently located nearby.

Pets at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Pets are allowed at Cattail Cove State Park but must be attended to at all times and kept on a leash no longer than six-feet. Please clean up after your pet. A $5.00 additional fee is required per pet staying in cabins and a limit of two pets per cabin.

Attractions Near Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Verde River Greenway State Natural Area – 2011 Kestrel Rd

Undeveloped area that features trails, fishing and swimming within walking distance of Dead Horse Ranch State Park.

During your visit to the area stop in and check out these two historic parks nearby:

  • Jerome State Historic Park
  • Fort Verde State Historic Park

Park Hours

Open 24hrs/day all year round
Day Use Hours: 7:00am – 7:00pm Daily
Visitor Center/Park Store Hours: 8:00am – 4:30pm Daily

Park Entrance Fees

Per vehicle (1-4 Adults): $7.00
Individual/Bicycle: $3.00

Park Location

Dead Horse Ranch State Park
675 Dead Horse Ranch Rd
Cottonwood, AZ 86326
Phone: 928.634.5283




Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Dead Horse Ranch State Park: