Deep orange and brilliant pink-hued sunsets. Saguaro cactuses standing guard. Rolling hills, running water and thundering hoofbeats. For many, when they imagine the Wild West, they’re actually picturing rugged cowboys atop horseback roaming the wide-open spaces of Arizona. Luckily, in 2022, the adventure, fun and romance of the western lifestyle is still very much alive and available to visitors at more than 15 Arizona dude ranches and guest ranches across the state. And don’t worry; no previous western experience is required! The trained cowboys and cowgirls teach guests everything.
“We’re lucky to have so many great dude ranch and guest ranch options for visitors to choose from in our state,” says Debbie Johnson, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism. “Whether you want to experience working like a cowboy, or feel like a pampered guest enjoying luxury accommodations or anything in between, our dude ranches offer it all.”
The best way to take advantage of the wide-open skies and unspoiled rugged beauty of an Arizona dude ranch is to let someone else do all the planning. That’s why most of Arizona’s dude ranches are all-inclusive. This leaves plenty of time to sit back and relax or pack a day full of activity. Here’s a preview of a few Arizona dude ranches, courtesy of Arizona Office of Tourism, to help inspire your next getaway.
Circle Z Ranch in Patagonia offers an invitation to explore the sky islands of southern Arizona from an historic ranch where seven adobe cottages are meticulously detailed for guests. Fine dining satisfies the most discerning tastes and ranch-bred, ranch-trained horses guide visitors through an endless variety of trails. Its all-inclusive vacations include three meals a day, comfortable lodging, horseback riding, tennis, hiking, bird watching, nature walks, guided stargazing and more!
More than 160 horses at Tucson’s Tanque Verde Ranch provide riding adventures through the Sonoran Desert, including a mounted scavenger hunt. You also can relax at the pool or spa or hike, mountain bike, fish, play tennis or visit the nature center.
Further south is Tombstone Monument Ranch, a guest ranch designed to resemble an 1880s Western town. There’s horseback riding, yes, but also archery and shooting practice, as well as tours of Tombstone and Bisbee, the nearby Dragoon Mountains and Chiricahua National Monument.
A top-rated year-round golf course, plus a seasonal full-service spa and elegant dining, speak to the luxury of Rancho de Los Caballeros in Wickenburg. From October through May, some 100 horses ply trails that crisscross the resort’s 20,000 acres of rolling hills and desert.
Also in Wickenburg, the historic 1918 Kay El Bar Guest Ranch maintains the original ranch’s adobe structures, which can house a maximum of 28 guests. The ranch includes lodging, three meals a day and activities such as swimming, live entertainment, hiking and horseback riding through the Sonoran Desert.
Riders of all abilities get attentive treatment at the Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch in Yucca in northwestern Arizona. In what may be the world’s only completely handicap-accessible guest ranch, riders with disabilities can easily mount up for trail or arena riding. Other amenities include a swimming pool and fireside evening entertainment.
Longhorn cattle roam the 3,000-acre White Stallion Ranch near Tucson. Learn how to herd cattle in team-penning contests, and watch cowboys and cowgirls show off their skills at weekly scheduled rodeos. For a more relaxing time, opt for the Wine and Cheese Ride or the slightly more relaxed Beer & Cheetos Ride.
These authentic Western experiences offer a glimpse into the past. Learn more about dude ranches and tours at www.visitarizona.com.