Dead Horse Ranch State Park | Outdoorsy

Dead Horse Ranch State Park
Guide

Introduction

Nestled in Coconino National Forest, Dead Horse Ranch State Park is located in the middle of Arizona. Surrounded by the Prescott National Forest and Tonto National Forest as well, you are sure to feel cocooned from the hustle and bustle of busy city life. Nearby, campers can venture off and visit Tuzigoot National Monument or spend some time gearing up or going out in the neighboring town of Cottonwood.

RV campers will appreciate the well-paved roads, large pull-offs, ample parking, and scenic views of the Verde River. Once you set up camp and head out to explore, you will find three beautiful lagoons on the southeast side of the park as well as miles of trails to hike or bike. If you are ready to saddle up and get a feel for the old west, head over to Trail Horse Adventures within park boundaries for a guided equestrian tour.

Touted as one of Arizona's top campgrounds, Dead Horse Ranch State Park boasts plenty of tent camping and cabin sites, as well as over 100 RV sites, most of which include potable water and electrical hookups. Camping loops have modern restrooms with hot water and showers available at no extra cost to registered guests. Do take note, use of generators is prohibited throughout the park, and while there is a dump station, sites do not offer sewer hookups. The park is pet-friendly, although owners are required to keep them on a tight leash.

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Camping Accommodations

150'
Max RV length
150'
Max trailer Length
Electrical hookup
Water hookup
Generator use
Food storage
Sewer hookup
Dogs & cats

RV Rentals in Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Transportation

Driving

Centrally located between the Grand Canyon and Phoenix to the north and south, and Sedona and Prescott to the east and west, Dead Horse Ranch State Park is an RV campers' dream. Dead Horse Ranch State Park has very easy access roads. With one way in and one way out, you won't get lost inside the park.

The park entrance is off of North 10th Street, which is easily accessible from North Main Street in Cottonwood. You can reach it from I-17, AZ-89, or I-40. The road is a dead-end, but there is a large turnaround area in case you miss the park entrance. That is unlikely, though, as the ranger station is well marked and one of the only turnoff points along the road.

Pay attention to height restrictions, as campers have reported that some sites do have specific limits as to what they can accommodate in that regard. Ask for those details when you arrive. Otherwise, both pull-through and back-up sites are large, level, and very easy to get in and out of.

While you are in the area, stop in and visit Jerome State Historic Park, just nine miles away; Red Rock State Park, about 18 miles away; or Slide Rock State Park, 28 miles away. The Verde River Greenway State Natural Area entrance is located in the far southeastern area of the park past the lagoons, where you can enjoy more river and trail recreation.

Parking

Right after the ranger station, there is a large RV pull-off next to the dump station that can accommodate any length rig. Continuing on, there is plenty of parking throughout the park, including two lots in the north section providing trail access, and eight in the southern section of the park near the river day-use area and lagoons. Most of these lots have large RV parking as well.

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Campsites in Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Reservations camping

Raven Loop Group Campground

If you have a large family or group, you can all camp together. Just to the west of the Quail Loop Campground, the Raven Loop Group Campground has 23 group campsites in the lower campground area with length limits ranging from 40 to 59 feet in length. The maximum amount of people is 46. All sites have picnic tables, fire pits, and BBQ grills. There is also a group fire ring for everyone to enjoy as well as a large ramada for shade. The campground has a comfort station with hot showers and modern restroom facilities.

If your group wants to play some frisbee or volleyball, there is plenty of room to spread out. Also, if you want to go for a bike ride or take a hike, the 1.1-mile Hickey Ditch Trail and one-mile Kish Trail begin close by. You can take the Hickey Ditch Trail all the way to the West Lagoon where it meets up with the 0.4-mile West Lagoon Trail. Keep on going to the Middle and East Lagoon by taking the 1.1-mile Verde River Greenway Trail. Pets are welcome but must be restrained and supervised at all times. Reservations are required and can be made up to 12 months in advance.

Quail Loop Campground

Just off of Dead Horse Ranch Road, the Quail Loop Campground has 43 RV sites in the lower campground area including one ADA-accessible site. The length limits range from 24 to 83 feet so it is important to check that when making your reservations, which can be made up to 12 months in advance. You’ll be able to cook inside with the electric hookups or outside on the provided campfire ring or barbecue pit.

You won’t have to balance your food on your lap in a camp chair because the park also provides a large picnic table for everyone to enjoy. There are several trails nearby including the 0.2-mile Creosote Trail and the 1.1-mile Hickey Ditch Trail. Both can be enjoyed by equestrians and mountain bikers as well. And your dog is also welcome as long as he is on a leash. Pets are welcome at the campground too but must be supervised at all times.

Red-Tail Hawk Loop Campground

The Red-Tail Hawk Loop Campground has 36 RV sites with electric hookups in the upper campground area with one ADA-accessible site. These sites are especially good for larger RVs because the length limits are 60 to 80 feet in length. In fact, there is one site (#56) that can accommodate rigs with trailers up to 150 feet. You can also cook outside on the BBQ grill or fire pit provided by the park. The whole family can sit around the provided picnic table as well.

There are both back-in and pull-through sites, and while most are open and exposed, a few do offer some shade. Campers also have access to a dump station in the western area of the park right past the park entrance and the ranger station. All camping areas have modern, ADA-accessible restrooms nearby with hot water and showers. Pets are welcome, so bring your furbaby along with you. Reservations are recommended and can be set up to a year in advance.

Williams / Exit 167 / Circle Pines KOA

The historic Route 66 goes right through Williams, AZ, otherwise known as the gateway to the Grand Canyon National Park. Make Williams / Exit 167 / Circle Pines KOA your base as you explore the varied possibilities that this strategically located town has to offer. Ease into a deluxe KOA patio site with full hookups and up to 50-amp service or a water/electric site in partial shade. Big rigs up to 90 feet long are welcome. Wi-Fi and cable TV are available. Amenities like a Kamping kitchen, snack bar, pool, and a hot tub/sauna make your stay more pleasant. Propane and firewood are available on-site for purchase. Pets are allowed.

Grand Canyon / Williams KOA

Williams, Arizona is the gateway to the Grand Canyon National Park, just an hour north. The Grand Canyon / Williams KOA puts you within easy driving distance to the South Rim and creates a more memorable experience with an array of amenities like Wi-Fi, cable TV, an on-site snack bar, pool, and bike rentals. Propane and firewood are also available. Big rigs are welcome at full hookup or water/electric sites with up to 50-amp service. The maximum pull-through length is 100 feet.

Flagstaff KOA

With the incredible Red Rocks of Sedona, the Oak Creek Canyon, the Petrified Forest, and Native American ruins less than two hours away, Flagstaff, Arizona is perhaps best-known as the "jump-off point" to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. Whatever type of adventure it is you seek, stay close to the Mother Road and pick from a deluxe patio site complete with full hookups and up to 50-amp service, or water and electric sites at the Flagstaff KOA. Wi-Fi and cable TV are available, and propane and firewood are also offered on-site. Be sure to visit the pet area too.

Cooper’s Hawk Loop Campground

The Cooper’s Hawk Loop Campground has 27 sites in the upper campground area with two ADA-accessible sites that can accommodate rigs from 55 to 60 feet long. The loop is between the Blackhawk Loop Tent Campground and the Red-Tail Hawk Loop Campground. You can cook indoors with the electric hookups or outside on the provided fire pit or BBQ grill. The large picnic table outside is perfect for the whole family to enjoy.

If you want to take a walk before dinner, head out on the one-mile Mesa Trail, which is also good for mountain bikes and horseback riders. Bring Fido along too but keep him on a leash. Reservations are recommended and can be made up to 12 months in advance. The campsite is often sold out during the busy season from May through September.

First-come first-served

First-Come, First-Served

If you end up rolling in after-hours, you can snag a vacant site at Dead Horse Ranch State Park by the day. Head into the ranger station the next morning and clear things up and they may be able to help you set up a reservation for a longer stay. Still, reservations are highly recommended during the busy season from May through September.

Alternate camping

Cabins

Tucked away into the woods by the Verde River, there are also eight, one-room log cabins in the southern section of the park. Located on the camping cabin loop, each of which is set up with both heat and air conditioning. Each cabin has a bunk bed, full-sized bed, dining table and chairs, and a dresser for your clothes. Electricity and lights are also provided. However, you will have to bring your own blankets and pillows.

Outside the cabin, you can find a picnic table and a fire ring as well as a barbecue grill to cook on. Showers and modern restrooms are just a short walk from the cabins and there is a ramada with tables and barbecue pits for cabin guests. If you choose to stay in a cabin, reservations are required and may be made up to 365 days in advance. Also, if you're bringing a pet, you must let them know when setting up your reservation. Pets are only allowed in a few select cabins. Extended stays are limited to 14 nights in any 30-day period.

Blackhawk Loop Tent Campground

The Blackhawk Loop Tent Campground, just to the northwest of Cooper’s Hawk Loop Campground, has 17 tent-only sites in the upper campground area with one ADA-accessible site. The sites are large, and some are shaded with a picnic table, fire ring, and barbecue grill at each site. There is no electricity or any other type of hookups at this campground, but there are restrooms with running water and hot showers nearby.

The half-mile Coconino Trail is nearby, where you can take your dog for a walk (on a leash), ride your bike with the kids, or even take your horse out on this short trail. If a half-mile is not long enough, keep going on the 1.2-mile Raptor Hill Trail, which takes you into the Coconino National Forest before heading back into the park. Your pup is welcome to camp here as well as long as he is restrained and supervised at all times during your stay.

Seasonal activities in Dead Horse Ranch State Park

In-Season

Boating

Haul it in on your trailer and launch. While there are some boating restrictions, Dead Horse State Park is generally a very boater-friendly park. Back your boat up to one of three lagoons located within the park and enjoy the cattail-lined waters while surrounded by lush green vegetation. There is plenty of wildlife to discover, and traffic is generally pretty light. For some tranquil lounging and peace and quiet, Dead Horse Ranch State Park provides a welcome sanctuary for boaters.

Hiking

Many local volunteers and government agencies work together to maintain some of Arizona's finest recreational trails within Deadhorse Ranch State Park. Pound the path with packs on backs while you take in the scenery and experience the gorgeous trail system. Whether you are feeling ready to take on the 15-mile Lime Kiln Trail or go for a jaunt on the half-mile Forest Loop, you are sure to remember the well-worn paths lined with trees and grass.

Fishing

If you enjoy fishing, be sure to pack your fishing gear in the rig before heading out to Dead Horse Ranch State Park. There are three lagoons, but the best fishing can be found in the Middle Lagoon and East Lagoon. You can hike to any of these on the Verde River Greenway, which is 1.1 miles long. The trail takes you from the river day-use area along the Verde River to the Verde River Greenway State Natural Area Office. Speaking of the Verde River, there is plenty of fish to be caught in there too. Bring your best bait, flies, and lures to catch bass, bluegill, trout, and catfish.

Off-Season

Biking

Get out those two wheels from the rig and get ready to tear up the trails on your mountain bike. The over 20 miles of trails in this system are in Coconino National Forest as well as Dead Horse Ranch State Park, so no matter how ambitious you feel, you can keep on pedaling until the wheels fall off. With both double-track and single-track sections, riders can feel safe and comfortable on these non-motorized, shared-use trails.

Picnicking

With all of that travel and fun, you're sure to work up a hearty appetite. You and the family can fuel up and veg out while picnicking by the water. Toss out the throw blanket or drape linen over a picnic table at one of the park's many ramadas and take part in this favorite American past time. After you indulge and imbibe, cozy up to a book by the campfire and listen to the cordwood crackle. You'll love enjoying a relaxing picnic during your RV vacation to Dead Horse Ranch State Park.

Horseback Riding

If you rolled in with the horse trailer and your stallion is ready to saddle up and stretch those legs, then you are all set to ride out on the trails. If not, you can schedule a guided equestrian tour with a private operator. The stunning 15-mile Lime Kiln Trail connects Dead Horse State Park to Red Rock State Park and is one of the most sought-after rides in the country. Much of the area is designated as a National Treasure, so take in the scenery with the wind whipping through your hair. Enjoy the ride!

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