The Wild Horses of Maricopa, Arizona

Wild Horses of Maricopa ArizonaWe’ve been visiting our newborn grand-daughter in Maricopa, Arizona these past few weeks and one day while driving near town Mikki saw a small band of wild horses. Over the course of the past few weeks, she saw these wild horses a few times. Finally, today, Mikki’s dad was able to snap a photo.

The term “wild horses” is used frequently here in the Phoenix area to name developments, a casino, gas stations, etc. but now it makes more sense to me. There really are wild horses still in Arizona and throughout the west.

Wild horses are believed to be descendants of horses brought here by Spanish conquistadors between the 1400′s and 1600′s. Today, there are thought to be less than 25,000 wild mustangs in the U.S. The horses we saw in Maricopa are managed by the Gila River Indian Community. Approximately 2,000 horses exist across their 370,000 acre reservation near Maricopa.

I like to think the west still has some wild in it and for us these horses prove it.

About Bill

Long-winded horse newbie, aspiring amateur barrel racer and cowboy mounted shooter. Bill has a "horse problem" and regularly wears a t-shirt that reminds him "I don't need another horse." A favorite quote is from John Wayne: "Courage is being scared but saddling up anyway," which pretty much describes how he feels every time he gets on a horse.
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24 Responses to The Wild Horses of Maricopa, Arizona

  1. I have a friend who’s a professional wildlife photographer but his horse pictures were always of farm horses. One day I asked him why he didn’t take pics of the wild horses. His answer was “There aren’t any.” I had to track down the info about herds locations and sizes to prove my point, but he finally did take pictures of real wild horses. It surprises me how many people don’t realize they still exist.

  2. Bill says:

    Great comment. I bet a lot of people think this is a thing of the past. I knew they existed but figured the herds were up in Montana or something. I have seen wild burros in Arizona but I didn’t realize there were real wild horses in the Sonoran Desert around Phoenix.

  3. Peggy says:

    Our family has a ‘thing’ for wild horses. Here in Canada, there are not many left at all. A while back, the gov’t rounded up what they thought was the last of them, and sold them off. Since that time, they’ve found that there are still some wild horses who managed to escape getting caught, and they are now protected as well as they can be.

    We’ve recently adopted one, and possibly a second, ‘wild’ horse. These horses are more ‘feral’ then wild though. Our first one has arrived and is doing very well. She had a good, calm and gentle mother and she is the same.

  4. Bill says:

    Thanks for sharing, Peggy. I’ve heard about the US government rounding up wild horses and burros and adopting them out. I’d guess a wild or feral horse might not be a good ‘first horse’.

  5. Dolores says:

    I saw the wild horses on July 4th for the first time and was amazed. They were in the dry river bed and had just stopped running. Dust was scattering everywhere. They were so beautiful! My daughter has seen them a few times as she also lives in Maricopa!

  6. Mikki says:

    What an incredible image! Don’t you wish you had a camera ready for that? Wow.

  7. Carol Johnson says:

    My husband and I live on the edge of the Cerbat Mountains here in AZ and have seen our herd a couple of times. (at least a few of the horses at a time)
    A few years ago I happened upon a documentary regarding the wild horse herds in America….and I had remembered they had stated there were only 5 herds existing throughout the states, and the Cerbat herd was one of them. Now I am reading via internet that there are several…..?
    Does anyone out there know of this show that I watched? I’m assuming it was on the Discover Channel, but could have been on PBS?

  8. Jennifer says:

    Hi, I am traveling to az next week and really want to go see some wild horses. i was wondering if you could give me some advice on where the best place to go would be. I heard there is another place on the southwest side of AZ. Any info you have would be great. I only have a few days there and want to see as much as i can. Also if you know of any cool old towns around those areas I would be up for that too.


  9. Bill says:


    So many good things to see in AZ. I love it there!

    The horses are spread out but I would check out the outskirts of Maricopa. I saw them from the road on Maricopa Rd (Route 347). You might also have good luck checking out Beltline Road and even Wild Horse Pass (the casino on the Indian Reservation). They might even have tours.

    You might catch the wildflowers in bloom. If it’s still open, I’d check out the Butterfield Stage road. Last I heard it was drivable by car or stock SUV.

    There are lots of ghost towns still (barely) left. I would see some of them before they’re gone forever. You can find some here:

    and (warning – it plays music when you go there so turn your speakers down)

    Closer to town, be sure to see the Mystery Castle near South Mountain park. The daughter of the guy who built it still lives there but she is getting old. There may not be many more opportunities to hear about the history of this interesting and quirky home.

    Hope these suggestions help make your visit more interesting!

  10. Dingodango says:

    There are also a few bands of wild horses in the White Mountain area Heber/Overgaard, Arizona. I usually see them each time I go up there for a visit. However, the public needs to be aware that the U.S. Forest Service would like to round them up and put them up for auction. Usually, horses that are put up for auction are sold for slaughter. They claim that these horses are ruining the forest, however, the forest service allows ranchers to let 100′s of cattle graze on these lands. It’s very political and unless we horse lovers stay involved, these beautiful creatures will vanish from our forests forever. Please get all the information you can get your hands on and keep involved. The Forest Service and U.S. Government are hoping you don’t. Don’t let the rich ranchers keep lining the politicians pockets so they will keep a blind eye to what’s really going on.

  11. Jacqui Berns says:

    While leaving my sister’s home in Maricopa last night (she just delivered a baby boy Saturday and our family helped get her settled back into her home Sunday)and just before Riggs Road on QueenCreek we had the most beautiful site. The purple mountains with the sunseting and a solo white horse with its mane blowing in the wind. Yes, I have seen this white horse in the past several years and always such a site!
    Our family took it as a blessing and surely the Holy Spirit is amongst us.

  12. I have been a wildlife artist for nearly 20yrs, i have always gone out on location to study and work,The US Forestry and Game and Fish have an adgenda to remove wild horses from AZ,They claim that the horses are destroying plants species and impacting the wildlife yet they have never produced any scientic evidence that they claim to have, and i have never seen anything written by any biologist who has spent time out in the field making a study of the destruction that these US officals claim .Yet Cattle ranchers who have 100′s of cattle disprese’d across the land seem to have no impact?? C’omn people wake up, if you love these animals you have to get invovled because they are no sold for adoption they are sold to kill buyers who ship them to mexico, were they are slaughterd, and they don’t shoot them first….its grisly.

  13. these horses arent wild, simply free roaming on the Indian reservation

  14. Carmen says:

    Free or wild horses what ever you want to call it it is breathtaking to see. I saw a herd running across a field for the first time and it was beautiful! I hope to see it again sometime. I hope the government doesn’t do away with this.

  15. diane says:

    I saw a herd just last night, around 6:30 pm on my way to Maricopa on Route 347. It was the first time I had seen them and the site was amazing. It prompted me to research these horses. Yes, they exist and are very close.

  16. Sheryl says:

    It does my heart good to hear of beauty in this country. I hope to see the wild horses someday.

  17. ken sutley says:

    I recently took pictures of a small herd of horses just west of Hunt Highway. I don’t know if they are on the reservation or wild horses but they are beutiful. I was walking along the Railroad tracks about 1 mile West of Hunt Highway. They wouldn’t let me get real close but I got some great shots.

  18. Diane Levine says:

    I am very concerned about the horses out there. This summer has been brutal and the horses look very thin. I called the Indian game and fish dept and they said place water and food out there for them…but I wonder. They look in bad shape.

  19. jojo says:

    I have a dear friend, who has a ranch in Maricopa who sent me some pictures of a herd of wild horses not far from her home, loose on the range close to her ranch. what a beautiful site. We are horse people so this meant a great deal to us to see that there is still wild ones out there, being protected. and cared for. WAY TO GO!

  20. Rob says:

    I have recently bought a house in Maricopa and travel between there and Mesa to see my parents. I see the wild horses almost every time I travel down the John Wayne Parkway. Recently I was lucky enough to have my camera with me and was able to get some great shots of the horses standing within 20′ of the road. What a magnificent sight! There were about 70 of them. Amazing!

  21. Bill says:

    Isn’t that a great sight? I hope they’re along to remain free (they’re sort-of free, anyway). Are your pictures anywhere public where we can see them (like, for example)?

  22. denise says:

    @ Diane L.
    I also drive by on my way to work daily. Today, I noticed the youngest one seems rather thin…abnormally thin.

    I don’t know if the food they leave is enough for all of them, or if they’re watered either?
    I see that this has been an ongoing concern…I think it’s time for a face to face with the handlers?

  23. Greg S. says:

    I live in Glendale, AZ and work in Chandler. I like to avoid the freeways to get to work and enjoy driving through the Gila River reservation instead. Two weeks ago I was treated to the sight of 3 wild horses just 50 yards or so off the road dirnking from a water hole created by recent rains. It made my day and reinforces my need to avoid the chaos of the freeways and enjoy the ride through the open desert in view of the Estrella and South Mountain ranges on my way to work. I hope to see wild horses again sometime but hope they stay away from the road.

  24. Bill says:

    That’s a great point, Greg. Glad you got to stop and smell the roses. We all need to be reminded of that.

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