On the last Saturday and Sunday in September, a meadow at Dead Horse Ranch State Park is turned into a battlefield.At designated times, Civil War reenactors, dressed as soldiers in either blue or gray, march towards each other, waving their Union and Confederate flags. Then—in an eyeball-to-eyeball and musket-to-musket encounter—they recreate a Civil War battle.While spectators watch on the sidelines, canyons are fired, shots go off and soldiers drop to the ground. The action is loud and startlingly immediate. When there is a lull in the fighting, musicians, also in period costume, play songs once favored by each side.
The reenactment of the Civil War is one of the highlights of Verde River Days, which celebrated its 20th anniversary on Saturday, September 27, 2008.While the historic encampments, drills and battles go on through the weekend, many other activities, mostly taking place on Saturday, promote preservation and care of the Verde River’s riparian habitat.
As the saying goes, you take care of what you love.And, as everyone who visits will soon discover, it’s easy to love the Verde River and Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Many of the scheduled activities for Verde River Days are sure to delight people of all ages—from canoe rides on the lagoon (with or without assistance) to nature hikes and fishing. The lagoon is stocked with hundreds of pounds of catfish, and the Arizona Game & Fish Department is on hand to help with poles, bait and tackle.
In addition, there are dozens of environmental exhibits, some with hands-on activities and programs for children.Food vendors offer refreshments. The program changes slightly from year to year.
Admission to Dead Horse Ranch State Park is free on Saturday; usual entrance fees apply for Sunday.There is a $6 charge per vehicle with up to 4 adults; the fee is $2 for bicyclists and walk ins. For those who choose to camp at the park, the fee is $12 or $19 with hookups.For more information and specific times, call Dead Horse Ranch State Park at (928) 634-5283.