Bloody Basin Road

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4.6/5 (26 reviews)
Black Canyon City, Arizona (Yavapai County)
Last Updated: 09/05/2022
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Trail Information

Highlights

Desert Category Icon Desert
Ghost Town Category Icon Ghost Town
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Rock Category Icon Rock
Sand Category Icon Sand
Arizona has its share of historical monuments, but few have such a checkered past as the Aqua Fria National Monument. Bloody Basin Road offers visitors a chance to access this very unique region where Native American ruins are found right next to old stone cabins of the early settlers. With a name like Bloody Basin, you would expect it to have a conflict-filled past. One of the most familiar conflicts occurred in 1873 when a group of Apaches was suspected of killing three men. Army Captain George Randall tracked them to Turret Peak, where the army stormed the camp at night. In the panic, some Indians jumped from the cliffs to their deaths. When the battle was over, 26 Apaches were dead. Bloody Basin is also home to the Horseshoe Ranch, founded in 1882 by William Mitchell. It would eventually become one of the largest cattle ranches in Arizona. At one time, the ranch’s cattle ranged over 30 square miles. Cattle grazing still takes place in the area, but most of the original property is now part of Aqua Fria National Monument. The area is large. Give yourself the entire day to explore this unique part of the southwest. The numerous side trails offer countless points to walk among the ruins and search the nearby rocks for petroglyphs. There are hundreds of examples of this ancient artwork littering the monument region. Look along cliffs or even on stray rocks in the meadows. Please do not disturb or alter these precious artifacts to ensure they remain for future generations. Sheep Bridge at the end of Bloody Basin Road, built in 1944 from surplus mine material, allowed local sheep herders to move their flocks safely across the Verde River. The Forest Service demolished the original bridge in 1987 and replaced it with a replica to provide access to the Mazatzal Wilderness. The bridge supports foot traffic only.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Bloody Basin Road is accessible by all high clearance vehicles, including most two-wheel drive trucks. You will even see cars on the early sections of the route. The early sections before FR24, Waypoint 25, are primarily well-groomed dirt roads. However, once past FR24, the road becomes much rougher, requiring a high clearance vehicle. The difficulty of the entire route increases dramatically in rainy weather. You cross numerous washes over the very long route, and all can be dangerous when flooded. The trail is long and remote but pretty popular on most weekends, so be cautious of traffic on blind corners.

Trail Reviews

4.6/5 (27)
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2750
Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 12/29/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

This review pertains to the section of trail going to Sheep Bridge. Unless you have large cushy tires at 10 psi, this one is a bit rough. Worth it? Maybe. Would I do it again? Negative. At the pace I was going it took me 2 hours one way. Scenery is great, the end result is pretty awesome. I contemplated crossing the river so I didn't have to go back on the rough road again. I think it was possible at the time but I decided against it and endured the rough road for another 2 hours. One and done on this one for me. If I feel like seeing the bridge again I will try coming up from the south next time.
Trail Review: Bloody Basin Road - Jason
Trail Review: Bloody Basin Road - Jason
Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 12/16/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Today we did this trail starting from Cave creek(little over half way). This trail is definitely a 4WD or a great AWD system. Trail offers extreme washboard, deep sand and rocks to climb. Half the trail took 2.5hrs and that’s with a wrangler sport(8.5 inch ground clearance). Would like to go back to do the other half but will need a lot of time!
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300
Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 04/23/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

We attempted this trail as a day trip and didn’t quite make it to the bridge. We were on the trail for 9 1/2 hours so plan early or make it an overnight trip. The views are worth it!
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Official Crew
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13900
Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 04/10/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Ran this from 17 down to the river with a stop at the ruins. Last 11 miles to the Sheeps Bridge are pretty rough and slow going. Only came across two other people the entire way and there wasn’t anyone at the bridge itself. Definitely recommend going on a weekday. River water level was high and flowing at a quick pace.
Trail Review: Bloody Basin Road - Todd Harkins
Trail Review: Bloody Basin Road - Todd Harkins
Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 02/11/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

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