Salt River Wild Horses in Mesa, Arizona | Visit Mesa

Posted By Visit Mesa Team
August 30, 2021

Wild About Horses

Enchanting, majestic and noble are just a few of the words used to describe the wild horses of the Lower Salt River...

How many are there?

There are as many as 500 of these magnificent animals roaming the water’s edge on the lower Salt River and the shoreline around Saguaro Lake. Their enigmatic presence is a common sight when visitors are kayaking, paddle boarding, or tubing down the river, as the horses emerge from the surrounding desert forest to cool off in the water and graze on the underwater foliage

Where did they come from?

According to historical records, the horses have been living on the Salt River reservation before the National Forest was created in the early 1900s. The wild horses are watched over by the tireless efforts of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group. This non-profit is dedicated to the freedom of the wild horses, which has allowed them to live and wander peacefully over the years.

we want to see your encounters! (at a safe distance)

If you are lucky enough to spot a horse or herd when you #VisitMesa, remember to be respectful of their space and natural habitat.

Wild Horse Viewpoints In The Salt River Valley published by: Carol Colborn, April 20, 2021

Excerpt from travel article: How To Spot The Wild Horses In Salt River Canyon, Arizona
published by: Carol Colborn, April 20, 2021

There are about seven viewpoints from which to see the wild horses. But, for the past two years, the best place to see them has been the Coon Bluff Recreation Area. Due to lack of rainfall, the green grass has disappeared in its surroundings. So, around 5 p.m. every day, a couple of trucks bring some hay to feed the horses. It is quite a sight for anyone to see.

About a hundred of them congregate there, from as early as before 4 p.m. They engage in a lot of frenzied action when they are hungry. I was asked to move away for safety several times as I tried to photograph their “wild” actions up close. When they see the trucks arrive, they race to the feeding spots.

The feeding area lies about a mile before reaching the Coon Bluff Recreation Area, the popular access point along the lower Salt River at the end of Coon Bluff Road. As is the case for the other six viewpoints, a Tonto Pass or an America the Beautiful Pass is required for parking at the accessible parking lots.Of course, you might also want to see the horses frolicking and drinking on the river. For this, you may have to wait for them to come after the feeding (which may be later in the night) or chance upon them before they congregate at Coon Bluff. You can go east to the nearer Goldfield or further east to Pebble Beach.

You can also go west from Coon Bluff. The nearest viewpoint in this direction is called Phon D. Sutton Recreation Area. Here, we’ve encountered people fishing in the low water areas. Granite Reef is further west and is the preferred access point for tubing and kayaking, complemented by a beautiful hill across the river.

Continue reading full article and see interactive locations map HERE.

Before sunrise and after sunset, along the waters of the Tonto National Forest and into the adjacent Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation, visitors have a pretty good chance at catching a glimpse of Arizona’s wild horse population.