Posted By Visit Mesa Team
March 23, 2022
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.
Where can you see them?
Currently, along the banks of the river at Coon Bluff has been the best place to view the wild horses. But you can also catch a glimpse at one of the Tonto Forest recreational sites below:
Phon D Sutton
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. The following viewpoints require a Tonto Pass or an America The Beautiful Pass to park. These can be purchased at nearby retail vendors or online.
What kind/breed of horses are in the Salt River Valley?
Also known as mustangs, from the Spanish word mustango, which means, "wild, stray, or feral animal," they are thought to be descendants of Spanish Colonial or Iberian horses brought to the Southwest by explorers in the 16th century. However, as domestic horses were allowed to interbreed with the Salt River horses over the years, the lineage became diluted.