Authentic Arizona: Wild Horses a Common Sight for Mesa Visitors | Visit Mesa
brown and white wild horses take a drink at Salt River near Mesa, Arizona

Authentic Arizona: Wild Horses a Common Sight for Mesa Visitors

Before sunrise and after sunset, along the waters of the Tonto National Forest and into the adjacent Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation, visitors to Mesa, Arizona have a pretty good chance at catching a glimpse of Arizona's wild horse population. Although the number is unknown, sightings of these magnificent animals roaming the water's edge on the Lower Salt River and the shoreline around Saguaro Lake are all just minutes from Mesa's collection of hotels.

Their enigmatic presence is a common sight when guests are kayaking, paddle boarding, or tubing down the river, as the horses emerge from the surrounding cactus-studded desert to cool off in the water and graze on the underwater foliage. According to historical records, the wild horses have been living on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation before the Tonto National Forest federal designation 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. If visitors are lucky enough to spot a horse or herd when they visit Mesa, remember to be respectful of their space and natural habitat.

Mesa is Arizona's third-largest city and is bordered on the north and east by the Tonto National Forest and the Superstition Wilderness. To learn more about these and other outdoor adventures, download the Adventure Explorer Desert Guide at

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