The name Dead Horse Ranch State Park came about during a visit to several ranches in the Verde Valley.  Cavin Irey’s was out with his children looking for a ranch to purchase for his family.  At the end of the day, he asked his children which ranch they liked the best.  They responded by saying the one with the “dead horse”.  The children were referring to the ranch that had a bleached skeleton of an animal on its property.  When Irey’s bought the ranch he in turn, named it “Dead Horse Ranch”.  Then in 1973 he sold it to the State and asked that the name be kept.  The park was dedicated in 1977.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park covers 328 acres and is at an elevation of 3,300 feet.  Lush riparian habitat and abundant wildlife are found at the park.  Dead Horse Ranch State Park is best known for its bird watching.  The Verde River attracts many migratory birds.  There are 130 different kinds of birds living in the park.  Blue herons, mallards and other water birds have been spotted in the area. 

There are several walking trails along the bank of the Verde River.  While walking through the park be on the look out for a variety of wildlife.  Raccoons, beavers and coyotes like the habitat the park offers.

If you are interested in fishing, you will find both pond and stream fishing areas.  Fishing is available year-round at the lagoon.  The four-acre lagoon is stocked with catfish and bass and during the winter trout.  The Verde River has bass, carp, catfish and other warm-water fish.  You will need a license to fish at the park. 

The park is a full-facility campground.  Campers will find 45 camping units available.  There is a 15-day limited stay.  There are restrooms, showers, electric hookup and a dump station.  The picnic area includes 26 picnic tables and grills. 

The park also has many other great activities.  Visitors can canoe and horseback ride. 

Dead Horse Ranch State Park is open every day from 8:00 to 8:00 pm.  The campground is open 24 hours a day.  The ranger station has varied hours.  The best months to visit are during the spring and fall.  If you are interested in more information on the park, you may call 520-634-5283.

You can get to the park from Cottonwood by traveling to the junction of State Highway 279 and State Highway 89A in town.  Here you will see the signs directing you to the park.  If you are coming from Phoenix or Tucson, you will take Interstate 17 north out of town.  Then take exit 287 off the Interstate and head west on State Highway 260.  Continue on State Highway 260, until you get to Cottonwood.  Once you are in Cottonwood, follow the signs to the park.  If you are coming from Flagstaff, you will take State Highway 89A south out of town.  Continue on State Highway 89A through Sedona and into Cottonwood.  Once you are in Cottonwood at the junction of State Highway 89A and State Highway 260, you will see the signs directing you to the park.  If you are in Jerome take State Highway 89A east out of town down to the town of Cottonwood.  Once you are in Cottonwood at the junction of State Highway 89A and State Highway 260 look for the signs for the park.

Dead Horse State Park is a remarkable park full of plant and wildlife, so close to town.

Dead Horse Ranch State park is located next to the community of Cottonwood in the scenic Verde Valley, and is alive with animal and human activity. Perhaps best known as a 'nest' for birdwatching, the park is also favored for picnicking, camping, canoeing, horseback riding, and stream and pond fishing. Walking trails meander along the shady banks of the Verde River. The park, with its full-facility campground is also a good base for exploring other attractions in and around the Verde Valley.


  • Restrooms/Showers (Handicapped Accessible)
  • Electric Hookup
  • Waste Disposal
  • Group Use Area
  • Fishing
  • Canoeing
  • Picnic Area
  • Hiking Trails
  • Equestrian Trails
  • Ramadas



Physical Attributes of Park Site

  • Acreage - 328
  • Approximate Elevation - 3,300 feet
  • Number of Camping Units - 45



  • Park has great birdwatching opportunities.
  • Stay Limit - 15 days
  • Visitor Center - Hours vary