If you’re wondering where you can go to see wild horses near the Salt River in Arizona, here’s everything you need to know before you go. The short scenic drive from Fountain Hills or Scottsdale alone is worth the visit as you are surrounded by the Sonoran Desert. You’ll see parts of the Goldfield Mountains, Stewart Mountain, and Red Mountain on your way to see the Salt River wild horses. And, after this winter’s dramatic storms, the wildflower season will be stunning!
Best Places to See The Salt River Wild Horses
The Salt River is fantastic because there are various locations where you can observe the horse up close without having to travel very far into the desert. You may park, stroll down to the river, and try your luck sighting the horses at one of the several recreation areas that are located right beside the river. Here are some suggestions on where to go and view the horses.
These are the 7 recreation sites where you can see the wild horses:
Once you do spot the horses along the Salt River, you’ll typically see a group together. As you continue to stay, more horses tend to come out and join them.
Spend some time just observing them, if possible. It’s fascinating to watch them play, roll in the water, run around, eat plants along the shoreline, and communicate with one another.
Other Ways To Experience The Wild Horses
If you’re a little more adventuresome, you can also see by kayaking the Salt River. Saguaro Lake Ranch, which as you can probably guess, is on the Saguaro Lake Recreation Site and offers kayak rentals
(including a shuttle ride back to your car).
Another popular way is to tube the Salt River. This is available with Salt River Tubing
from April or May (depending on weather) through September. If you go tubing, you’ll want to go earlier in the morning to give yourself the best chances. Mid-day weekend tours with lots of people have lesser chances of seeing the horses but you’ll still have a great time tubing!
When to Go
The Tonto National Forest offers the horses a sizable amount of space to explore. To give you the best opportunity to see them in their native environment, they do, however, occasionally come down toward the water.
The best time to see the horses is within 2 to 3 hours of either sunrise or sunset when the horses are most active. They typically come down to the water to drink, eat and play in the water around that time.
Passes & Prices
The Salt River is within the Tonto National Forest which has its own fees. So in order to visit, you will need a recreation pass.
There are several types of recreational passes you can use:
- Tonto Daily Pass
- Tonto Discovery Pass
- America the Beautiful Pass
Tonto Discovery Passes and some America the Beautiful Passes are sold via the phone and shipped directly to you. You can also order online here
A Tonto Daily Pass costs $8 at retailers and $12 on-site. If you purchase on-site (credit card only), the cost is $12 and a receipt will print that expires in 24 hours.
When you purchase at a retailer, you will receive a hangtag where you can scratch off the day and time of your visit.
You can purchase the Tonto National Forest daily pass online here