Bloody Basin Road

4.5/5 (19 reviews)
Black Canyon City, Arizona (Yavapai County)
Last Updated: 09/05/2022
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Trail Information


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.
Please do not travel this route in wet weather. It ruts the trails, causing long-lasting damage.

Trail Reviews

4.5/5 (20 reviews)
Bobby Nelson
Official Crew
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 09/05/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

The trail has become more difficult at the end. The rating has been adjusted to reflect these conditions; please use caution. Thank you for all the trail condition feedback.
This trail guide's difficulty was changed on 08/29/2022
Status: Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 08/14/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Harder

I did the trail from cave creek and I don’t know if the rain jacked up this trail or what but it’s definitely harder than a 1 rating right now. Beautiful views and awesome bridge. Make sure you head out early. This is a slow trail towards the end.
Trail Review: Bloody Basin Road - James Molenaar
Trail Review: Bloody Basin Road - James Molenaar
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Status: Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 08/13/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Harder

I also ran this trail on 8/13/22, and from waypoint 25 through 28, the trail is MUCH harder than the current rating. It ran harder than Cave Creek (rated 2 which I felt was accurate). It ran more like a 3. Since the current rating is a 1 (fair rating through waypoint 25) I think “management” should consider updating it. I was ok in my rig; others might try it with a much lesser capable vehicle and get in trouble. Edit: forgot my stars rating and want to tip my hat to those that updated the difficulty rating.
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 04/23/2022

We hit the trail in search of the Sheep's Bridge. We had a small group and moved pretty quickly but it was still a very long day on the trail. The area is also extremely busy with other OHV users. Overall, the trail was great. The bridge has apparently become a big party spot but there wasn't a whole lot of garbage which was refreshing.

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