Leave your plugged-in life behind for the quiet of Arizona’s wide-open spaces and warm, laid-back Western hospitality. Whether you’re a seasoned horseback rider, a fresh cowpoke or someone who prefers just watching horses, you’ll find a memorable vacation at an Arizona dude ranch.
Arizona’s guest ranches and dude ranches range from the luxury of a full-service resort to bunkhouse living on working ranches. Plan a family dude ranch vacation to ride horses or herd cattle through warm deserts, pine-scented forests, wavy grasslands or rolling hills at locations throughout the state.
This sampling – lodging is available year-round unless noted – will inspire you to cowboy up.
Western Ways: Gentle horses & skilled wranglers help you get comfortable in a saddle
Tucson’s 640-acre Tanque Verde Ranch calls itself the largest dude ranch resort in North America. More than 180 horses 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.
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.
In the White Mountains town of Greer, Hidden Meadow Ranch combines luxury with high-country nature. Eighty horses follow trails through a national forest. Horseback riding in snow is a special treat. You can also fish, hike, canoe or bike.
The historic 1926 Kay El Bar Guest Ranch in Wickenburg maintains the original ranch’s 1800s adobe structures. The intimate ranch has trail riding and hiking through the Sonoran Desert from October through May.
Special riders get attentive treatment at the Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch in Yucca in northwestern Arizona. In what may be the world’s only completely handicapped-accessible guest ranch, disabled riders can easily mount up for trail or arena riding. Other amenities include a swimming pool and fireside evening entertainment. It’s closed early June–mid-July.
Working Ranches: Atop a horse & surrounded by cattle, immerse yourself in the ranch experience
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 regularly scheduled rodeos.
Team penning is also popular at the 20,000-acre Flying E Ranch where cows and calves are raised. The guest ranch, established in 1946, is open Nov. 1–May 1 to take advantage of the warm Sonoran Desert winters near Wickenburg.
Milk a cow or help break a colt at the Sprucedale Guest Ranch near the White Mountains community of Alpine. This granddaddy of Arizona dude ranches – it’s been around since 1921 – is open May to September.
Cattle Drive Vacations: Spend your days herding cattle on open pastures
Price Canyon Ranch, near the Chiricahua Mountains in southeastern Arizona, puts willing guests to work when branding, weaning, fence mending and moving cattle to pastures need to be done.
A herd of cows need tending at Grapevine Canyon Ranch in the Dragoon Mountains of southeastern Arizona. Every fall and spring guests help round up cattle. The fall Cow Camp teaches you skills with the ultimate goal of driving cows to pasture.
The fall cattle drive at Beaver Creek Guest Ranch in Alpine moves the herd from pasture to ranch for branding, sorting and loading. The horse drives in June and October move the herd to seasonal grazing pastures.