The Stables at Fort McDowell Adventures is a horseback riding stable on the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation Reservation, not too far off Beeline Highway near Fountain Hills and North Mesa. It's within an hour of most points in the Phoenix area, making it one of the most unique and convenient places to enjoy a trail ride away from that ol' city hustle and bustle.
When you arrive at Fort McDowell Adventures you'll be matched with a horse that is appropriate for your size and riding experience. They'll help you get on the horse, check your equipment, give you instructions for your ride and answer any questions that you might have.
All the rides at Fort McDowell Adventures are walking rides. There will be no trotting, cantering or galloping during your ride.
The trail rides take place in rugged and beautiful Sonoran Desert at an altitude of about 1,500 feet. Here the forest's trees are the palo verdes, mesquites and the tree of the desert -- the saguaro cactus -- which is found naturally only in Arizona's desert. You'll ride in between the creosote bushes, the chollas, and the ocotillos -- keep your hands and feet away from those!
Who Should Ride
All the rides at Fort McDowell Adventures are walking rides.
You'll be able to enjoy a trail ride here:
- if you are 8 years old or older
- if you weigh 250 pounds or less
- if you are in good general health and don't have back problems
You'll get the most out of the trail ride:
- by following directions and obeying instructions of the guide
- if you relax and enjoy the amazing desert beauty around you
You'll be required to sign a liability waiver prior to your ride. There are helmets available for anyone who wants to wear one. You'll be asked about your level of riding experience so that you can be matched to a horse with a temperament that suits your ability.
Most people sign up for the 1-1/2 or 2 hours rides at Fort McDowell Adventures. There are no stops along the way and you don't get off your horse, so make sure you visit the restroom before you saddle up. There are also half day and full day riding adventures.
How to Get There, What to Bring
How to Get to The Stables at Fort McDowell Adventures
From Phoenix and the East Valley:
Take the Loop 202 (Red Mountain Freeway, NOT the San Tan) east to SR87 north toward Payson and make a left onto SR87. That road becomes the Beeline Highway. It is about 15 miles to Hiawatha Hood Road. Turn left (north). Follow the signs to Fort McDowell Adventures. There will be various tour stops, but you'll know when you get to the stables! They will be on your right.
Take Shea Blvd to the Beeline Highway, SR 87. Make a left on SR87 (Beeline Highway). Drive about 2 miles, crossing over the Verde River, to Hiawatha Hood Road. Turn left (north). Follow the signs to Fort McDowell Adventures. There will be various tour stops, but you'll know when you get to the stables! They will be on your right.
The Stables at Fort McDowell Adventures Address
14803 N. Hiawatha Hood Rd.
Fort McDowell, AZ 85264
Online mapping services might not be accurate for this address. If you aren't sure about the directions, call!
Phone: 480-816-6465 x 2
Prices and Seasons
Reservations are strongly encouraged. Trail ride rates begin at about $60 plus tax. The Stables at Fort McDowell Adventures is open for horseback riding from late-September or early October until the beginning of May. Bring some cash in case you want to tip your guides -- there may be two of them if the group is larger than six riders.
What to Bring, What to Wear
Early morning and sunset rides can be cool depending on the time of year. Wear a jacket that you can tie around your waist if you get warm. Bring your camera. I recommend that you bring one that you can operate with one hand since you should never let go of your horse's reigns. You will have a small saddle bag, so you can bring a small bottle of water. Wear closed-toed shoes. Sneakers are fine, but boots look so much more authentic! Long pants are recommended.
Don't worry about the horses wading through the river; no one gets wet. Not too wet, anyway.
My Take on The Stables at Fort McDowell Adventures
My level of riding experience is probably best exemplified by the fact that I requested a plastic horse with a stick! Since all the horses at The Stables at Fort McDowell Adventures are real, I was assured that an appropriate horse was selected for me as a person who had ridden a few times before but is a perpetual beginner.
I was impressed with this trail ride on many levels. The staff was friendly and attentive. The horses were beautiful and the facilities were clean. More interesting than many other trail rides in the lower desert, this ride offers views of mountains and huge saguaros. The ride is enhanced by the climbs and descents, as well as the Verde River crossing. If you have the chance to ride when the desert is in bloom (usually during the month of March) so much the better!
Commentary during the trail ride was light. Tidbits about flora, fauna and local history are offered, and your guides are willing and able to answer questions about the area. You might see wild animals! On my ride, we saw a bald eagle and wild horses. Keep your horse on the trail, so that you don't get up close and personal with any rattlesnakes. They'll stay away from you if you stay away from them.
There are some rocky paths and steep areas, but not too many. I had total faith in my horse, and I was able to relax and enjoy the ride.
It doesn't take long to get here from most parts of the Phoenix area, but it seems like a hundred miles away from city life.
Want Another Tour Experience?
You aren't limited to horseback riding at Fort McDowell Adventures. They also have kayaking, Pink Jeep Tours, Green Zebra Tours and Segway adventures.If you are bringing a group to the area for team building or just for entertainment, they can create an adventure just for you.
As is common in the industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary ride for the purpose of the review. While it has not influenced this review, tripsavvy.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.
All dates, times, prices and offerings are subject to change without notice.