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Horse camping in the Arizona mountains

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You have a horse, a reliable truck and a horse trailer. One of your desires is to go to the cool weather in the mountains, to escape the summer heat of Central Arizona.

A really good choice is to travel to Groom Creek Horse Camp six miles south of the town of Prescott in the Prescott National Forest. This campgrounds is managed by the U. S. Forest Service for the exclusive use of equestrian campers. No general camping or camping without a horse is allowed.

There are thirty seven campsites available. Thirty sites have 16' by 16' horse corrals, and each site has a tether line for up to two horses. The camper is allowed to use their own temporary stalls also, or tie up to two horses to your trailer. You may have up to four horses per site. In addition, each site has a wooden picnic table, and a grill with a fire pit.

Loops B & C are reservation required, and Loop A which consists of seven sites is on a first come first serve basis. The charge for 2013 was eighteen dollars per day, if a second vehicle is parked at the site, there is an additional charge of five dollars per day. If you have a Senior Pass issued by the National Parks and Recreational Lands, your fee is reduced 50%. The length of stay is 14 days. Reservations can be made through the Bradshaw Ranger Station 928-443-8000 or on the website www.reserveamerica.com/camping.

If the fire danger is moderate or light, you may use the fire pit for cooking and fires at night. Collecting deadwood for your fire is allowed. If the fire danger is higher, than outside fires are prohibited. You can use propane stoves only or cook inside your trailer if you have a gas stove only. smoking in a clear safe place is allowed, unless the fire danger is high. In this case smoking is allowed in your vehicle or trailer only.

Some of the other rules of the campground are a quiet time from 10PM to 6AM, no loud music at any time, dogs must be kept on a lease and restrained at all times. You are responsible to clean manure each day. There are manure dumpsters, shovels and wheelbarrels available for your use. There is not any dump station in the campground. The maximum length of trailers is 35 feet.

Some of the amentites are vault toilets, water for people and horses, the campground is fenced in case your horses get loose. ATVand dirt motor bikes are not allowed in the campground. There is a volunteer camp host and at times other volunteer workers.

For riding, there are three main trails. The Horse Camp Loop is two miles long. You can access this through the gate at site 26 in Loop C, or exiting at the main entrance and turning right at the trail just before the highway, and follow the trail to connect with the Wolf Creek Loop until it separates with the Horse Camp Loop about a mile down the trail. Wolf Creek is marked with blue flags, and Horse Camp is marked by yellow lines.

The Wolf Creek Loop is six to seven miles in length with a stop at the Hassayampa Creek suggested to water the horses or stop for lunch. Part of this trail is on forest road so you may encounter motor vehicles or ATVs. This is a very pretty ride and part of the ride is steep and could be rocky.

The final trail is Groom Creek Trail #307. is nine miles long. You exit out the entrance, crossing Senator Highway to the day use parking lot, and follow the sign at the end of the parking lot. This is a steep ride in places and one spot there is steps built into the trail to prevent erosion. You will encounter hikers and mountain bike riders on this ride and the trail has a number of switchbacks. At the top of Spruce Mountain lookout tower, you are half way through the ride. There is a hitching rail, a picnic table, and a primitive restroom station.

Directions to the camp from the Phoenix area, are I-17 North to exit 262 which is Highway 69. You travel left or east on Hwy. 69 to Prescott. When the highway splits, you stay to the left on Gurley Street. Follow Gurley Street to Mt. Vernon Street (There is a traffic light there.) You turn left or south and Mt.Vernon becomes Senator Highway. The distance is 6.6 miles passing Goldwater Lake and Friendly Pines Camp. The entrance is on your right.

Enjoy your stay, and be respectful of other campers.

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