A hiking trail to the cemetery in Dead Horse Ranch State Park can be located off Lime Kiln Trail in the west part of the park. You can also park off the road or at the equestrian corral parking area. The desert has consumed the deteriorating cemetery so be sure and keep a lookout for rattle snakes. The burials are from the 1920’s through the 1930’s. Some of graves still have visible names and information on homemade tombstones.
The cemetery is not owned by the state of Arizona or the park. It is privately owned by Trustees of the San Luis Rey Cemetery. Local residents, including miners, cowboys, and Hispanic laborers are buried in the old graveyard. The park does not act as curator.
Luis and Maria Reyes arrived from Mexico and homesteaded the land in the late 1890’s. The Reyes family farmed and sold their goods to the miners and families living in Cottonwood, Clarkdale, and Jerome. Mexicans were not permitted to be buried in the Cottonwood Cemetery, so a portion of land was set aside as a graveyard. This land would later become Dead Horse Ranch.
The Reyes family put the cemetery into a trust in 1914 and it is still administered by a family member. The Cemetery was recorded as San Leuy Cemetery which is said to be a misspelling of the San Luis Rey Cemetery. Mortuary books and death certificates document that one of the persons buried there was 116 years old.
The cemetery was no longer in demand after 1936 when a portion of the Cottonwood City Cemetery was designated as the Mexican section. It is not known how many people are buried in old cemetery. The last burial took place in 1968.
To get to Dead Horse Ranch State Park from Interstate 17, take Exit 287 (Highway 260 toward Cottonwood). Drive about 11 miles to Main Street in Cottonwood (HWY 89A) and turn left. Continue though Cottonwood on Main Street. The road gradually curves to the left. Turn North on North 10th Street. Watch for signs directing you to Dead Horse Ranch State Park. There is a $7.00 park entrance fee per vehicle.
Dead Horse Ranch State Park
675 Dead Horse Ranch Road
Cottonwood, AZ 86326
Arizona Haunted Sites Examiner: Debe Branning firstname.lastname@example.org