Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Sedona

A Gorgeous Park with an Intriguing Name Half an hour southwest of Sedona, Arizona lies Dead Horse Ranch State Park, where visitors can explore the glorious desert mountain area, with lush forests and striking canyons. The strangely-named park got its […]

A Gorgeous Park with an Intriguing Name

Half an hour southwest of Sedona, Arizona lies Dead Horse Ranch State Park, where visitors can explore the glorious desert mountain area, with lush forests and striking canyons. The strangely-named park got its name in 1950 when Minnesotan Calvin “Cap” Ireys, who had been in the market to buy a ranch, asked his children which property they had liked best of those they had seen. Their answer: the one with the dead horse in the field, leading him to name it Dead Horse Ranch. Later, Ireys sold the ranch to the State of Arizona and it was opened as a state park on June 1, 1977.

The park is located centrally near three major cities (Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Prescott) and an abundance of other state parks and attractions, including Montezuma Castle, Oak Creek Canyon, Slide Rock State Park, and Coconino National Forest. Immerse yourself in Sedona’s beautiful, quiet, and peaceful natural landscape.

Read on to find out more about the best things to do and places to see at the historic Dead Horse Ranch State Park!

Activities and Sightseeing at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Dead Horse Ranch is a recreational park, with access to fishing lagoons, rivers, horseback riding, RV accommodations, and camp grounds. It is also provides access to the Verde River Greenway State Natural Area, which contains one of only twenty riparian forests—occurring between land and a waterway—in the world: the Fremont Cottonwood-Goodling Willow Riparian Forest.

Bird-watching is a popular activity at the park, as there are an estimated one hundred and eight to two hundred and forty species of birds in the park, including herons, wrens, egrets, loons, hawks, eagles, hummingbirds, quail, and ducks. There is a diverse assortment of wildlife beyond birds, including snakes (though no one has been bitten by a snake since the park opened in 1977) and fish like largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill, and rainbow trout.

There are also a number of hiking trails in Dead Horse Ranch State Park, with a range to fit all ability and mobility levels, from those with limited mobility and experience to expert hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians. The Dead Horse Trail System is comprised of over twenty miles of shared-use, double-track and single-track trails. Hikers and equestrians are advised to take the loop counterclockwise, going through the Lime Kiln, Thumper, and Raptor trails, while experienced mountain bikers usually enjoy starting at the Roadrunner trailhead and taking the loop clockwise.

Shorter hiking trails, all one mile or less in length, include Forest Loop, Mesa, Tavasci Marsh, Quail Wash, Creosote, the Lagoon trails, and Riverfront. Verde River Greenway is two miles, intersects with Quail Wash and the Lagoon trails, and is the best for bird-watching.

Hours: 8:00am to 10:00pm Daily, Varies by Season

Price Range: $3 – $7

Sedona Vacation Rentals – Luxury in the Desert

After a long day of hiking and exploring Dead Horse Ranch State Park, you’ll want to come home to a place that is clean and comfortable. Pamper yourself by staying in a lavish Sedona vacation rental property, where you can have your own private home away from home in this desert oasis. Contact our reservation specialists to learn more about Sedona’s many fun activities and awesome sights when you book a vacation home or condo with us today!