After a long day in the saddle, even the most grizzled of wranglers would enjoy a soothing massage, delicious food and wine, and a starlit soak in a hot tub.
Besides offering traditional trail rides, cookouts and hikes, many of Arizona’s fabled guest ranches are pampering guests with gourmet meals, wine tastings, spa services and more. Here are a few places that serve up a side of luxe along with cowboy steaks and beans.
Northwest of Phoenix, Wickenburg’s dude ranches are iconic, including Rancho de los Caballeros, a historic resort ranch and golf club on 20,000 wide-open acres of Sonoran desert.
After a long ride or a round of golf, mosey over to the spa for a “rusty” brown-sugar body scrub and a Hassayampa hot-stone massage, then enjoy an evening meal in the charming lodge, which dates to the ranch’s founding in the late 1940s.
You’ll want to dress up for dinner – the chef goes way beyond campfire cooking, offering menu items such as smoked duck salad, lamb chops and butternut squash risotto. There’s a great wine list to boot.
At evening’s end, your luxurious, Southwestern-style room beckons, complete with turndown service, jetted tubs and fireplaces.
Hidden Meadow Ranch is all about rustic luxury. Located in Northern Arizona’s White Mountains near the town of Greer, its pine-scented setting is perfect for horseback riding, fly fishing, canoeing, mountain biking, hiking and even archery. In winter, the ranch takes care of everything to get you skiing at nearby Sunrise Park Resort.
At the end of the day, head to the main ranch house for the chef’s “western mountains” cuisine, such as achiote-marinated elk tenderloin or a grilled boneless pork chop with a mustard, bourbon and maple sauce. The ambiance? You’ll be sipping your Cabernet in the glow of a fireplace and candlelight.
Retreat to your straight-out-of-a-Ralph-Lauren-catalog cabin, made cozy with turndown service and firewood delivery. Can’t sleep? Stroll over to the meadow for a relaxing soak in the hot tub or request an in-cabin massage.
In Southern Arizona, Tanque Verde Ranch, founded in 1868 by a wealthy Mexican estate owner, harkens back to old Tucson. It’s been a guest ranch since 1908, known for desert horseback treks, team penning, hiking, fishing, tennis and mountain biking.
After you burn calories during a water aerobics class, head to the ranch’s La Sonora Spa, where you can scrub off trail dust with the Sonoran Sunrise body treatment, relax with The End of the Trail massage or just soak in the whirlpools.
Later, sip margaritas in the old adobe saloon or take part in a traditional barbecue. The chef and his team also offer elegantly prepared steaks and seafood, along with great wines, in the dining room.
You won’t have to count many sheep as you drift off in your comfy, Santa Fe-style room.
Tucson’s White Stallion Ranch sits on 3,000 acres next to Saguaro National Park. Opened as a guest ranch in 1940, its backdrop of mountains and desert is Hollywood-perfect – so perfect, that numerous movies and television shows have been filmed here, including the 1940 version of Arizona and the TV series High Chaparral.
Along with a spacious, Southwestern ranch-style room, you get all of your classic dude ranch adventures – horseback riding, team cattle penning, rodeos, steak barbecues, Western dance lessons and more.
In recent years, the ranch has also rounded up some more contemporary amenities, including a tennis court, a fitness center that also offers a sauna and massage, and a hot tub.
Something from the full bar might ease those saddle sores, or you can relax in the movie theater for some modern-day Hollywood films.
Near the Mexican border in Sasabe, Rancho de la Osa has been operating as a guest ranch since 1924, and it was also part of an original Spanish land grant dating to 1812. Pancho Villa is said to have been an uninvited guest; others, such as John Wayne and President Lyndon Johnson had reservations.
Hang out in the historic adobe buildings that are the main lodge and rooms, or go horseback riding in this remote piece of desert – it’s easy to imagine you’re no longer in the 21st century.
Luckily, the ranch has added newer amenities that will appeal to your modern self. Borrow a trail bike, swim in the pool, soak in the hot tub or book a massage.
Have a prickly pear margarita or a glass of wine in the cantina before dinner, then dine on, say, piñon-crusted chicken with a cherry chipotle sauce and, for dessert, espresso crème brûlée. Revolutionaries of yore never had it so good.