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If seeing the most amazing & beautifully wild horses is on your bucket list, you will want to visit the Black Canyon Lake area of the Mogollon Rim. This is the home of the Heber Arizona wild horses.
Last weekend the family traveled north to explore the Black Canyon Lake area in Heber Arizona. Summer here in the Valley gets extremely hot and we wanted to take a break from the heat and go on an adventure.
It is a 2 1/2 to 3-hour drive from the valley to Black Canyon Lake located on the Mogollon Rim in Arizona’s Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. This scenic drive starts in the desert with tall saguaro cactus and desert brush and climbs high up onto the rim where you will find yourself immersed in majestic pine trees. There are lots of things to do near Black Canyon Lake including fishing, hiking the Hangman Trail, visiting the Gentry Lookout, getting a glimpse of the local wild horses and enjoying the outdoors.
Heber Wild Horses
We arrived at our campsite early in the morning. Just as we were starting to set up our camp, we were greeted by a small family of wild horses. These horses are currently protected under the Federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. It is believed that these horses may be the decedents of Francisco Vázquez De Coronado’s Spanish mustangs that were brought to the region around 1540.
Francisco Vázquez De Coronado
Francisco Vázquez De Coronado led a large expedition from New Spain (Mexico) into the Southwest (United States) in a search for the legendary “Seven Cities of Gold”. The expedition included 1500-2000 people and a large herd of 1000 Spanish horses.
Although some believe these majestic horses have a historical Spanish bloodline, others say the line has been gradually bred out by domesticated horses that have roamed into the area. The White Apache and US Calvary also had herds of horses near the White Mountains that may have contributed to the diluting of the Spanish bloodline. Many theories exist about where these horses originated. For more information on Francisco Vázquez De Coronado and the Heber Wild Horses you can visit these websites:
About the Black Canyon Lake Area
When exploring the Black Canyon Lake area it is a good idea to have a four-wheel drive or higher clearance vehicle. These heavily traveled roads are maintained but do suffer from washboarding (ie corrugation) and erosion. There are miles and miles of roads to explore around the lake with fantastic views and scenery.
If you are not into camping, you can make this a great day trip from the Phoenix Valley or stay in a nearby hotel in Payson or Heber-Overgaard. Shortly after you arrive in the National Forest you can stop at the Black Mesa Ranger Station and Visitors Center just off of Route 260 to get maps and information about the area.
Remember when visiting these magical creatures, please keep your distance and respect their place and presence in the area.
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