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Senior Correspondent

Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Not the most alluring name, is it? The good news is the dead horse that gave this park it's name has been gone for quite some time. The even better news is this is a real gem in the Arizona State Park system and only 90 minutes from our home.

Betty and I decided to take a quick break from routine with a two night trip here a week ago. With the weather predicted to be sunny with highs in the upper 70s, the timing couldn't be better. We hadn't camped here since last fall and were anxious to get back.

Located along the Verde River in Cottonwood,  there are three campground loops for RVs, another just for tents, and a section with a dozen cabins for rent. Horses are available for hour long adventures among the hills. Even better, there are miles of hiking trails along the river and around three picture perfect lagoons, meant for fishing, picnics, or simply sitting on a bench and loving nature. Bailey, our dog, was in heaven: more new smells and places to explore than even her hyperactive little doggie legs could take her. Even a pack of coyotes howling at the full moon didn't distract her from her explorations.

Like all Arizona State parks we have been to, Dead Horse Ranch is well maintained. The shower and restrooms are clean and modern.. Each site has a picnic table, grill/fire ring, water and electric services. A dump station is located on the drive out. Our site had a huge tree offering perfect shade throughout the day. Nothing more than a light breeze gently shook the awning projecting from the side of the RV.

The mini break was just what we needed. We slept late, ate simple meals, read, napped, walked several miles each day, had solid discussions about a marriage book we are reading together, and watched a movie as it got dark.

For arm chair travelers, here are some pictures to entice you to Dead Horse Ranch State Park some day. It can be unpleasantly hot here in the summer. But, for a mild mid-February break, there is no place better.

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