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Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Dead Horse Ranch State Park is a state park located in Cottonwood, Arizona on the Verde River in an area known as the Verde River Greenway.  Located at approximately 3,300 feet elevation, Dead Horse Ranch State Park covers 423 acres of land with 10 hiking trails, 22 campground sites and two picnic areas.  The ranch was originally named by the Ireys family, who sold the land to the state of Arizona to become a state park.


675 Dead Horse Ranch Road
Cottonwood, Arizona 86326
Phone: (928) 634-5283

From I-17, you want to take (exit 287) Hwy 260 to Cottonwood. Hwy. 260 intersects with 89A/Main Street.

Turn left on Main Street and proceed to North 10th Street. Turn right (north) on North 10th Street.

Continue on North 10th across the Verde River Bridge to the park entrance.


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Despite its distinctive name, Dead Horse Ranch is situated amidst an abundance of life along the Verde River. A six-mile reach of the river is known as the Verde River Greenway. Its unique ecosystem, the Cottonwood / 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, neo-tropical migrants, resident songbirds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.

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.

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 1940's. 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.

Park Facilities

  • Campsites with electricity, water, picnic tables, and grills
  • Dump Station
  • Tent sites with tables and grills
  • Restroom facilities with hot showers
  • Picnic areas and group sites
  • Ramadas for individual and group use
  • Verde River and fishing lagoons stocked periodically
  • Trails for hiking, biking, equestrian use
  • Horse corrals available for overnight use with advance arrangements
  • Verde River Greenway Natural Area

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