Tanque Verde Ranch, Tucson

Get Pampered at Arizona’s Guest Ranches

By: Nora Burba Trulsson

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After trail rides and roping, relax and enjoy the finer side of these Western retreats.

About the author

Nora Burba Trulsson

Nora Burba Trulsson

Nora Burba Trulsson is a long-time Arizona resident and a freelance writer specializing in travel, food, lifestyle, architecture and design topics. Her articles have appeared in Sunset, Arizona Highways, Vegas Seven, Houzz.com, Valley Guide, Scottsdale Magazine, United Airlines Hemispheres, Westjet's Up!, Renovation Style, Beautiful Homes and other publications and websites. She can be reached through www.noraburbatrulsson.com.

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.

Rancho de los Caballeros


Northwest of Phoenix, Wickenburg's dude ranches are iconic, including Rancho de los Caballeros, a historic resort ranch and golf club (yes, golf on a ranch) on 20,000 wide-open acres of Sonoran desert.

After a long ride or a dip in the pool, mosey over to the spa for a "Bourbon Bubbler" brown-sugar and whiskey body scrub or a custom massage with aromatic oils. 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.) Of course, for a more "authentic" experience, join others at the evening cookout for traditional BBQ favorites grilled over open flames and enjoyed under the stars.

At evening's end, your comfy, Southwestern-style casita beckons, complete with turndown service, jetted tubs and fireplaces.

Tanque Verde Ranch


Tanque Verde Ranch, founded in 1868 by a wealthy Mexican estate owner, harkens back to the days of 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 morning yoga class, head to the ranch's La Sonora Spa, where you can scrub off trail dust with the "Desert Tropics" body treatment, relax with "The End of the Trail Massage" or just soak in the indoor whirlpools.

Later, sip prickly pear 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 or casita.

White Stallion Ranch


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 late-60s 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, rock climbing, trail biking, a fitness center and spa, and a heated pool.

Something from the full bar might ease those saddle sores, or you can relax in the movie theater with some classic Western films.

Rancho de la Osa


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 the 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, book a massage or gaze at the clear, dark skies—margarita in hand. Revolutionaries of yore never had it so good.

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