top of page

(Also, a few Horses)


Arizona has 11 Herd Management Areas and numerous WBTs. All but two are for burros only. In fact, the Arizona BLM calls Arizona "The Burro State."

There are two Arizona BLM areas with wild horses, Cerbat and Cibola-Trigo. Cerbat is not currently an actual HMA, just an HA - apparently a Hot Topic in the Kingman area! Another hot topic area is Salt River, a wild horse area managed by the USFS near Phoenix, that was left out of the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act of 1971, because the area was reported to contain "reservation-owned horses" - although old timers say this was not true. The Forest Service decided to eliminate the herd a few years ago, causing tremendous public outcry, with citizen volunteers organizing to save the horses. The current status is unclear and subject to change.
























A popular stop on any scenic road tour of Arizona is the old mining village of Oatman, Arizona, where technically wild but pretty tame burros are the main attraction! These burros are managed by the BLM, although not a true HMA. Oatman is between Kingman, Arizona and Bullhead City, Nevada.
Want to see the Oatman burros? Thanks to Arizona Highway Guides.Com for these directions:

Finding the road to Oatman


Take I-40 south to exit 44, also know as Shinarump Drive. Best to check your gas gauge, it is a long, long way to the next gas station! Go Back to Crazy Fred's truck stop on the other side of I-40 if you need gas. There is NONE ahead. This is a sparely populated area.

Go west on Shinarump Drive about 1/8 the mile, then turn left on Oatman Highway. As you follow this road up into the mountains, be aware that there are few if any guardrails along the road. Be careful to pay attention to driving. The road is legally accessible by any vehicle under 40 feet in length. This is not a road for large motorhomes.

Travelers are advised that the portion of the highway passing through the mountains is a very narrow two-lane with no shoulders, extremely tight switchbacks and many steep drop-offs. This section through the Black Mountains is a series of narrow, hairpin turns. This section was bypassed in 1951 in one of the many realignments of Route 66.

Wide vehicles and vehicles over 30 feet in length should use extreme caution when driving this road. Now the good news, if you keep your speed down, this is a spectacular drive in the old west.

Arizona has a new adoption center, in conjunction with its new Inmate Wild Horse Training Program at Florence, Arizona.



Alamo HMA 

Alamo is populated by descendants of burros brought in by early prospectors, miners and local rangers. AML range is 128–160


Big Sandy HMA 

Big Sandy has burros brought by miners in the 1860s, as well as larger donkeys brought by farmers in the 1870s to breed mules.  AML is 111–139


Black Mountain HMA

This HMA has burros who are descended from burros brought by miners in the 1860s. Population has been as high as 2,000, although the AML is 382–478.



These horses are of Old Spanish type, with their origins disputed. They may descend from Spanish mustangs, introduced as early as the 1500s. Or they may also have origins from estrays from explorers in the 1700s or animals abandoned by livestock ranchers in the early 1800s. 



This HMA has horses of mixed type, probably descended from ranch horses circa 1940. Includes individuals of Appaloosa type, descended from a known Appaloosa stallion. Burros probably arrived with miners in the mid-1800s. AML is 120 horses, 285 burros


Harquahala HA

This Herd Area has Burros descended from pack animals brought to the area in the late 1800s. Originally the burros were to be removed after the 1971 Act was passed, but no funding was provided and today the land is managed to incorporate burros on the land, which is designated as a Special Botanical Area owing to diverse vegetation.


Havasu HMA 

These Burros arrived with miners about 1858, abandoned as railroads came into the area. Adjacent to Chemeheuvi HMA in California and close to Lake Havasu HMA in NevadaAZ/CA

Heber HA - Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

For hundreds of years, since before the United States declared its independence from Great Britain, wild horses have roamed the Mogollon Rim Country in Arizona.  Evidence indicates ancestors of today's Heber Wild Horses were of Spanish stock brought by the Coronado Expedition in 1540 and then again by Father Eusebio Kino in 1653.


Lake Pleasant HMA

These Burros descended from small pack burros escaped or released in the 1880s and 1890s.


Little Harquahala HA 

This Herd Area is no longer managed for wild equines. The area originally had abandoned burros in late 1800s formed a free-roaming population but due to assorted issue regarding habitat and conflicts with private landowners, land use plans in the early 1980s prescribed a "zero population" area and all burros have been removed.


Painted Rock HA

This Herd Area is no longer managed for wild equines. Burros descended from pack and work animals brought into the desert in the late 1800s. Tend to be gray, refined structure. 


Tassi-Gold Butte HA 

These burros arrived with miners, sheepherders and cattlemen in the late 1800s. Land use planning prescribed the Tassi section as a "zero population" area and all burros were removed, though a 2005 census noted 10 animals.

The SALT RIVER Wild Horse Herd 

The Salt River herd was eliminated early on from the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act, because the local officials listed them as "Reservation horses." Other locals always disputed this. In recent times, the Salt River horses came to national attention wen the news came out that the horses were to be eliminated. Says a spokesperson for the Salt River Management Group: "These wild horses were brought into the limelight during the epic battle  for their protection; the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group rounded up large herds of people who gave them a voice;  we stampeded congress and we worked toward positive solutions with Federal and State governments. It worked; while almost gone forever, today the Salt River wild horses are protected pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute 3-1491 (aka the Salt River Horse Act)  We are currently under contract to manage this herd humanely under the AZ Department of Agriculture (AZDA)." -  

Oatman AZ burros.jpg


The Wilbur-Cruce Herd:

These horses are no longer wild, but are privately managed as a breed. Nevertheless, I present their story here for its historical value.


In the late 1600s, Father Eusebio Kino, a Jesuit priest and missionary, brought the Spanish horses into the Pimeria Alta, the area made up of Southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico. Father Kino established headquarters in the San Miguel River Valley, approximately 25 miles east of today’s Magdalena, where he founded Mission Dolores and Rancho Dolores.


It is from this area that Wilbur-Cruce horses originated. His mission remained active in the production of livestock for many decades, producing stock that was destined to be spread northward as each mission was established.

In 1879, Dr. Ruben Wilbur bought the original Wilbur-Cruce horses form Juan Sepulveda at Rancho Dolores to stock his homestead ranch in what is now Southern Arizona. Through three successive generations, spanning over 110 years, the Wilbur-Cruce Spanish horses were kept in isolation on the family ranch. They were allowed to run in wild bands in rocky and mountainous terrain developing qualities that only the harsh selection process of survival of the fittest can produce.

In 1990 the ranch was sold and the horses were donated to the Conservancy. The Conservancy (now known as the “American Livestock Breeds Conservancy”) coordinated the task of trapping and removing the horses, ensuring that the blood samples were taken for typing. Dr. Gus Cothran, Director of the Equine Blood Typing Research Laboratory at the University of Kentucky, concluded that the Wilbur-Cruce horses were “a cohesive group based on type with nice genetic variability,” in other words, no inbreeding. The most significant find was that the results of the blood typing provided evidence of Spanish ancestry supportive of their oral history.

Wilbur-Cruce Mission Horse Diamonte.jpg
bottom of page