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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Riding in the Wild Wild West

There are so many ways to enjoy Arizona.  You can hike, bike, climb or just stroll around.  But if you want to see the essential West, you must do it on a horse.


I don't own a horse, but I love a good trail ride.  Last weekend I ventured out with my favorite cowpoke (Mackenzie) to Fort McDowell Adventures for a 90 minute trail ride.  It was hot, it was dusty, but boy, we had a good time!



 Fort McDowell Adventures is located on the Fort McDowell/Yavapai Indian Reservation just outside of Fountain Hills, Arizona.  It's a little more than 40 miles outside of downtown Phoenix, but it is the middle of the Sonoran Desert.  Mackenzie was traveling with "Sugar" and I enjoyed my ride with "Max," who was a little naughty sauntering along, eating whenever he found anything remotely green.

We saw some awesome things in the unspoiled desert, mostly courtesy of the guide's two Australian cattle dogs.  They found free range cattle and wild mustangs and barked wildly at both.  We found the nest of a bald eagle (without the dogs), towering in a tall tree near the Verde River.

Ahhh, the Verde.  Water is scarce in the desert and rivers even more so.  The Verde River is one of the few exceptions of a "wet" river, at least the part of it that runs through the Fort McDowell Reservation.


Crossing the Verde

The riverbanks of the Verde provided a stark contrast to the dry desert we just rode through.  Green, with lush trees and evidence of beavers amid the river rocks.  I don't think I've ever crossed a river (twice) on a horse.  Very cool.

Mackenzie LOVED it.  She would go everyday if she could.  Me, I dismounted the horse and walked slowly like Popeye the Sailor Man back to the car.  I was lucky that the "bow-legged sailor" didn't stick around too long.  I was dusty, sore and smelly, but gosh, I had an awesome time and saw the desert the way it was meant to be seen - from a horse.