Fri, May 24

Verde River Day returns to Dead Horse State Park
Concert, guided paddle scheduled for celebratory weekend

Canoe rides and a full weekend of asctivities dedicated to the jewel of the Verde Valley, Verde River Day is Saturday at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. (VVN file photo)

Canoe rides and a full weekend of asctivities dedicated to the jewel of the Verde Valley, Verde River Day is Saturday at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. (VVN file photo)

COTTONWOOD - The 28th annual Verde River Day will be held Sept. 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood.

Arizona State Parks have waived the entrance fees for all visitors attending the event. All of the activities scheduled for the celebratory day are at no cost, thanks to the many exhibitors and sponsors of Verde River Day, according to the event's website.

The one-day event, located along the cottonwood-lined river, offers a carefree time for the community to enjoy the park, said the Verde River Valley Nature Organization. The occasion promotes preservation and care of the environment by showcasing informative exhibits on the Verde's unique riparian habitat.

Park Manager George Christianson from Dead Horse Ranch State Park said that almost 2,000 people attended last's year's event, and he is hoping for the same turnout this year.

Verde River Day Activities

Some of the scheduled events for Verde River Day include a climbing wall, pottery making, organized canoe and kayak rides, sandcastle building, and nature-based exhibits that feature live birds and reptiles, according to the Verde River Day website.

An outdoor concert is planned, according to Wendy Harford, Director of VRVNA along with an encore performance from the winners of the Sept. 23 singer/songwriter competition, stated a release from Harford.

Guests of all ages are welcome to fish in the lagoon that is full of catfish. Poles, bait and tackle are provided, and no fishing license is needed, according to the website.

A pancake breakfast is scheduled, according to the website, and non-profit vendors will be cooking up Indian Fry break, hot dogs, and hamburgers for nominal fees.

The annual Verde River Day is a tradition in Cottonwood, celebrating the extended community's ties to one of the last perennially flowing rivers in our desert state, said VRVNO. For more information on Verde River Day visit

Sept. 23 - 'Celebrate the River' Competition

The Verde River Valley Nature Organization and Old Town Center for the Arts will host their third annual Celebrate the River concert and singer/songwriter/performance/poet competition. The event will be held at OTCA in Old Town Cottonwood, according to a release from VRVNO. Doors open at 6 p.m.

"We do it to reach a different audience, and as kick-off to the annual Verde River Day at 'Dead Horse Ranch State Park,'" said Harford.

"OTCA partners with us, and other local river organizations and outfitters, because they know, and believe in the value of stewardship and conversation we all work so hard for," said Harford.

Guided Canoe Paddle

The Sunday after Verde River Day, the organization is set to host a free, one-hour guided canoe paddle down a stretch of river seldom navigable due to irrigation use, according to a release from Harford. The event is limited to 30 participants on a first registered - first served basis.

VRVNO said it is an introductory paddle for beginner and novice paddlers alike. The two scheduled launches are at 8 a.m. and 10:30 p.m., according to Harford. Location of the launch will be announced with registration. American Rivers and South by Southwest Adventures are partners with VRVNO. 

For more information, contact VRVNO at

Verde River Day was organized in 1988 to promote awareness of the Verde River's distinctive riparian habitat, where 85 percent of all wildlife in the area looks for sustenance. For more information, call 928-634-5283.

The event is sponsored by Verde Valley Newspapers,,, National Park Service, The City of Cottonwood, Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce, Desert Rose Bed and Breakfast, Blazin' M Ranch, Verde Canyon Railroad, Arizona State Parks, Sierra Club, Verde River Basin Partnership, City of Clarkdale, VRVNO, SRP, and APS.

COTTONWOOD - Saturday will be an ideal day to enjoy the great outdoors as Verde River Day coincides with National Public Lands Day.

National Public Lands Day, celebrating its 23rd year, is the nation's largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance the public lands American's enjoy.

Volunteers needed for Verde River Projects

The Verde River Greenway, Town of Clarkdale, REI, the Nature Conservancy, and Arizona State Parks need help in restoring one of the busiest river access points in the Verde Valley.

Saturday, volunteers can help to establish trails and improve riverside habitat and river access to the Verde. Those interested can meet at the Tuzigoot River Access Point, 15 Tuzigoot Rd., in Clarkdale. Campsites will be provided at the Nature Conservancy's Shield Ranch in Camp Verde. Registration reserves a spot, and a dinner and raffle will be hosted by REI.

Sunday, volunteers can help to establish a Monarch Waystation pollinator garden at the Shield Ranch, and improve habitat and access along the Verde. Those interested can meet at the Shield Ranch. To register and to get more information, call 928-451-6800 or visit Volunteers are urged to carpool and bring hats, gloves, sunscreen, and water.

--Jennifer Kucich