Dead Horse Ranch State Park is a recreational facility with RV accommodations, camping facilities, shared-use trails, fishing lagoons, river access, and an equestrian concession. It is located adjacent to and across the Verde River from the community of Cottonwood.
We chose this location because it was the closest state park to Sedona and it had good reviews. As it turns out, it is a great destination all by itself. There are many trails to hike or bike on, and also for equestrian use. There are two beautiful fishing and/or picnicking lagoons. And there is a nearby river for fishing/ hiking use as well. It was an excellent place to walk our dog and give him lots of variety and smells. And of course, there is lots of scenery nearby as well. If you like shopping and eating, there are nearby towns like Cottonwood and Jerome that are built up and waiting for lots of tourist action.
After we settled in and explored our new environment at the park a little, we made reservations for a jeep ride in Sedona. We chose Pink Jeep Tours. The following day, we went into town, found nearby free parking for the day, had a lovely lunch at Wildflower Bread Company, and then wandered across the street to Pink Jeep Tours. It was a three hour tour, and well worth the expense and time. It was the best way to see and experience all of the stunning beauty. We will describe our tour more thoroughly in another post.
We also spent a few other days doing scenic drives and stopping at look outs. First we did the Red Rock Scenic Byway (SR 179). The views as you drive are stunning. Amazing beauty and by far my favorite drive. There are many view points/parking lots to get better views and take short or long hikes. These lots all require day passes for use and each of them that we pulled into were either full or nearly full. But, get there early and enjoy the stunning beauty.
Another drive was the Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive. It is about a 14 mile drive along Route 89A between Sedona and Flagstaff, Arizona. The road is full of hairpin turns and switchbacks and there are a lot of picnic pull outs and some scenic overlooks as well. At the top of the canyon is the Oak Creek Canyon Vista Point where there was a large open market area, with locals selling mostly Native American jewelry, some basketry, and other handmade items. After this stop, we continued along until we got to Flagstaff where we had lunch at a delicious barbecue place. Then, we turned around and headed back down the mountain.
And then there is the Red Rock Loop Trail. It also takes on a journey through stunning red rock. There are many opportunities for photography. It also swings past Red Rock State Park. Of course, more photo ops with amazing scenery.
There are many small national monuments scattered throughout the area. We went to visit one that was nearby, Tuzigoot National Monument. Here lie the remains of dwellings of the 12th century Sinagua Indians, beside the Verde River valley. It is always interesting to visit sites of ancient dwellings and try to imagine the lifestyles of the people. Why did they choose their location? How did they build their homes? What kind of food did they eat? How did the children play and learn?
We enjoyed walking on the trails near our campsite and as we looked from the top of one of the nearby hills, we had seen some strange construction in the distance. We just couldn’t figure out what that odd configuration was. Little did we know we were looking at the Tuzigoot dwellings that lie in the not so far distance. We could see it from our campground.
Dead Horse Ranch State Park was a very lovely park to stay in. It was close to beautiful Sedona and could have been a destination in itself. We enjoyed our stay.