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In the north of Arizona, near the town of Cotton Tree, a few miles from Sedona, you will find a beautiful park with a very strange name.

Of course there’s a story behind that name. Read on to find out how Dead Horse Ranch State Park became known under this strange name and why you should visit the park in the fall.

Arizona is not the place where most people in the United States think of autumn flowers, but believe me, Cotton Tree is on the show. And in autumn the weather is pleasant for active relaxation.

In Northern Arizona, from the Grand Canyon of the Northern Ring to the Verdiere Valley and the Sedona area, you will find beautiful autumn colours in October.

Fall is a great time to hike the West Fork Trail in Oak Creek Canyon north of Sedona. And it’s the perfect time to visit the Cotton Forest in Arizona and the Dead Horse Ranch Park.

Why is it called Dead Horse Ranch?

That’s a strange name for a national park, isn’t it?

Before the ranch became one of Arizona’s public parks, it was owned by the Irese family. When they wanted to buy a ranch in Arizona, the family looked at some properties.

There was a dead horse on one of the ranches along the road. When the parents asked their children which ranch they preferred, they answered it with the dead horse, so the name stuck.

The Irey family sold the land to the state of Arizona in 1973, and one of the conditions of the sale was to keep the name.

Where’s Dead Horse Ranch State Park?

Dead Horse Ranch State Park is located in Cotton Forest, Arizona, just 20 miles from Sedona.

Address : 675 Rd Dead Horse Ranch, cotton, AZ 86326

The location is perfect for day trips from different cities in Arizona. This is the distance between Dead Horse Ranch State Park and some of Arizona’s most popular spots.

Distances to Dead Horse Ranch Park.

  • Flag : 65 miles
  • Jerome: 9 miles
  • Phoenix: 105 miles
  • Prescott: 45 miles
  • Sedona: 20 miles

Information about the state park of the Dead Horses ranch

The main attraction of Dead Horses Ranch State Park is water! And not only for the people, but also for the birds and wildlife in the park.

Three beautiful lagoons are home to dozens of bird species. Bring your binoculars and enjoy an exceptional birding experience.

There are hiking trails around each of the lagoons, and kayaking is also a popular sport.

And these lakes are filled with catfish and rainbow trout, making it a popular fishing spot in Arizona. The large perch and the sun are also home to the lagoons.

Fishing limits Dead Horse Ranch

  • Bass: 2
  • The catfish: 4
  • Darling: 10
  • Trout: 4

Don’t forget to get your Arizona fishing license, you can buy it online here.

Look out for a couple of salmon eagles that return every year to nest near the water. You can see them fishing too!

With over 100 campsites and 8 lodges, Dead Horse Ranch State Park is an excellent choice for families in Arizona. Or the perfect day trip from Phoenix, Flagstaff or Sedona.

Watches and royalties

The park is open all year round except for Christmas.


Time: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (seasonal hours may apply).

Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays: from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.


7 per car (1 to 4 adults)

3 per person on foot or by bike

Cotton base in Arizona

Although I only visited the Dead Horse Ranch on my day trips to Cotton Tree, you might want to hike and spend a few nights. You can stay up to 14 nights.

A reservation is highly recommended. The campsite can be booked online through the website of Arizona Parks.

Please note that at the time of writing the Dead Horse Ranch in State Park cannot be booked for a day’s stay in the campsite or for a one-day extension of existing reservations. So plan for the future.


  • Bridges (most vans up to 40 feet and trucks/trailers up to 65 feet)
  • 30/50 amp service and 20 amp GFI connection
  • A 110 volt alternating current with a 30/50 A power supply and 20 A plugs are available on the rear slots.
  • Drinking water
  • Affordable ADA toilets
  • Hot water and shower
  • Maximum 10 people (with a maximum of 6 adults per campsite).
  • Generators are forbidden.


$30 to $35 a night for places with electricity.

20 per night for offline sites.


You don’t like to walk, but you like to walk out? You can rent a studio in the Dead Horse Ranch Park.

With only eight houses on Dead Horse Ranch State Park, you’ll want to book a place for yourself as soon as you know your travel dates.

The equipment varies, but includes the basic equipment for your stay: Full bed, bunk bed, table and chairs, chest of drawers, ceiling fan, ceiling lighting and electricity.

  • Bring your own sheets, pillows and sleeping bags, as these are not included in the rental price of the cabins.
  • Heating and air conditioning included.
  • There is no water in the cabin, but the hot shower and toilet of the ADA are accessible on foot from the cabin.
  • Some of the cabins are wheelchair accessible.
  • Barbecue, picnic table and fireplace in each cabin.


$60 per night

Maximum 14 nights

Book your cabin room online here.

Camping at Dead Horse National Park Ranch level

If the Dead Horse Ranch State Park campsite is overcrowded, you can try other campsites near the park.

Caravans and camping in the Verdiere Valley

The spirit of the rain mobile home

Best time to visit the Arizona Cotton Tree

The best time to visit is in autumn, when the leaves start to turn bright yellow. Spring is also beautiful, but autumn is special because of the beautiful flowers on the autumn leaves.

If you want to see as many birds in the area as possible, winter and early spring can be your favourite times to visit the park.

The altitude in Arizona is about 3300 feet (1010 meters). By comparison, the flagpole is about 2100 m (7000 ft) high, so it is warmer than the flagpole in summer due to the lower height of the Cotton Tree.

Temperatures in the Cotton Tree often reach a maximum of 38°C, while in summer the average temperature of the flag is 28°C.

Things to do next to cottonwood

Besides Dead Horse Park and Cotton Tree you will find many popular attractions. You could take a scenic trip to Jerome Arizona and find out why it is the meanest city in America.

Or take Highway 89A to Oak Creek Canyon and walk the West Fork Trail. This path is unique in the area because it runs along a stream in a gorge, so you can walk most of the walk in the shade! That’s a huge bonus during the hot months in Arizona.

If you want some sun and more height during your hike, try the Petit Cheval trail in Sedona. This path offers breathtaking views!

You can also relax in Sedona and practice meditation in the Peace Park and Stupa, there are also sightseeing tours.

Flagstaff is a short drive from Cotton Tree and is an ideal starting point to explore the north of Arizona. Find the best daytrips in Flagstaff.

Several ruins, once inhabited by the ancestors of the Hopi people, lie near the State Park Dead Horse Ranch. Try Tuzigut and Montezuma Castle if you don’t have much time and want to visit nearby historic sites.

But if you want even more adventure, check out the Honanki-Pueblo and the Palatki-Pueblo – both are accessible from the same forest road, be careful not to be shaken!

Have fun exploring Arizona!

Let P Interesse and SHARU take care of it!

It’s good to share!

The buzzwords: Arizona

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