May 2016: While I was staying at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, it seemed like a totally fitting idea to get a view of the park and the Verde River Greenway from horseback. Since Trail Horse Adventures is located within the park, it was really convenient and turned out to be a lot of fun!
There are a few different options for horseback rides. I chose the 1.5 hour High Desert Trail ride with winding trails through the hills and valleys. I loved the idea of crossing the Verde River and also catching a glimpse of an early settlers’ burial ground.
I admit I was a little worried about how I’d handle that long since I hadn’t been on a horse in many years, but it actually went by a lot faster than I thought it would. Yes, there were times my butt hurt and I kept adjusting myself in the saddle, but overall I was pretty proud of myself that I managed to go to the end and not fall off.
My horse, Archie, was absolutely fantastic. I told them I was not an experienced rider by any means and it seems like they made the perfect choice for me.
Since the lagoons were my favorite places during my stay at the park, I was happy to see them again from horseback.
Moving into the desert setting, the mountains were my favorite views here. At different times, you could spy the historic old copper mining town of Jerome built into the mountainside and the town of Cottonwood in the valley.
But the crossings of the Verde River were really my overall favorite part since I’ve never done that on horseback before. Doing something totally new is a thrill in and of itself these days at my “advanced” age. 😉
Such a peaceful and serene setting, the river really did seem like an oasis in this otherwise dry desert environment.
My new friend, Anita, was able to join me and she was excited because she hadn’t been on horseback in a really long time, also.
Unfortunately, when we were about half way through the ride, a previous injury to her hip was causing her so much pain, she asked if it were possible to get off here as we were passing one of the campground loops. Our guide, Russ, called and arranged to have her picked up here and I thought it was great how quickly and graciously they can handle situations like this.
I think Archie’s ears perked up as we approached this equestrian area within the park where other trail riders were resting.
I was fascinated with this far off glimpse of Tuzigoot National Monument and when I later went to visit it close up, it was amazing! The ruins of this ancient hilltop community should not be missed when you’re in this area!
The cemetery is the only piece of property inside the state park that is not owned by the state. It is still partially owned by a descendant of the ranch land around here.
Russ also pointed out the rusted remains of equipment used when this was a working ranch.
I did enjoy my ride, so I followed the instructions on the sign. 😉 Thanks, Russ!
Another benefit to me of this little ride is that it had a big part in reminding me how blessed I am that I can still do things like this. I had posted a picture of the start of the ride to my Facebook friends and I later saw a comment from one who said his physical condition just doesn’t allow him to do things like this anymore and advised me to enjoy it while I still can. Since many younger than me cannot be as active, at age 65 I sometimes forget to be as grateful as I should be for times like this I can still enjoy (even though my butt was still a bit sore the next day).
So if you’re looking to really feel the spirit of the Old West, there’s no better way to do that than from horseback, so check this out while you have the chance!