By Sondra Barr
If it’s a truly immersive cowboy adventure you’re seeking, grab your boots, don a Stetson, and head to Tucson’s Tanque Verde Ranch, one of America’s old-time cattle and guest ranches.
Established in 1868, Tanque Verde blends Old West charm and high-end offerings for an escape from the mundane for city dwellers and country folk. Equal parts luxury resort and all-inclusive dude ranch, the emphasis is on authentic adventures that allow guests to savor a less harried, more leisurely way of life.
While you can certainly just sit back and enjoy the majestic view of Tanque Verde’s 60,000 acres along the Rincon Mountains, adjacent to Saguaro National Park and Coronado National Forest, you won’t want to repose with so much on the property to experience.
While the resort offers a myriad of activities including mountain biking, hiking, yoga, fishing, bird watching, and more, the big attraction is the horseback riding. Not surprisingly, the stars of the property are the nearly 100 horses that provide experienced horsemen and beginners alike the opportunity to connect with their inner cowboy.
Equestrian adventures run the gamut from simple trail rides to the ranch’s signature breakfast ride that offers guests the chance to giddyup past towering cacti before arriving at the resort’s Old Homestead for a freshly cooked breakfast of blueberry pancakes, ranch-style eggs, and other hearty favorites. For the more adventurous, the Lope Ride allows guests to pick up the speed on their 1,000-pound steeds.
Don’t know how to ride? No problem. The ranch offers private lessons and horsemanship fundamentals with expert wranglers, along with a special Harmony with Horses course that covers equine behavior, psychology, and how to work with a horse from the ground up.
With groups in mind, activities such as team penning provide a unique way to enjoy the dude ranch experience and bond with friends, family, or co-workers, as teams test their skills at coaxing a herd of cattle to do their bidding. Fun team building exercises continue with activities like a salsa margarita challenge or chili cook-off, two heated competitions that encourage camaraderie and team work for success.
A kid-friendly destination, many families return year after year to Tanque Verde to make memories to last a lifetime. A lot of families appreciate that the ranch is all-inclusive with food, activities, and lodging for a set price, which makes the property also popular for family reunions, weddings, and corporate meetings. For those looking for an a la carte approach, that’s available too.
Your outdoor escapades will no doubt leave you ravenous, as any cowboy will attest. So, it’s no surprise that Tanque Verde offers hearty southwestern meals that fuel daily adventures. Three meals are served each day in the ranch dining room by a staff of courteous servers that provide friendly reminders to wear sunscreen and drink enough water. If something a bit stronger is more your thing, quench your thirst with Tanque Verde’s famous Prickly Pear Margaritas in the Dog House Saloon, where a gregarious barkeep regale you with the property’s storied history.
After a full day of adventure, nothing is better for weary bodies than a comfortable spot to rest. Thankfully, the accommodations aren’t an afterthought at Tanque Verde. With a variety of lodging options available, there’s something for everyone, including large families and solo travelers. Richly appointed, comfortable quarters incorporate a laid-back western ambiance and all rooms feature recently remodeled full private baths and the high-end accouterments one would expect. There are even linens bearing the Tanque Verde crest.
For a truly unplugged southwestern experience, all guest rooms are sans television. As you snuggle down for peaceful slumber, you likely won’t notice its absence. Need to connect? Not to worry, rooms have Wi-Fi and satellite radios, so you don’t have to go without your technology fix. Chances are, you’ll be too tired from “cowboying” it up all day to check your inbox.
Tanque Verde Ranch, 14301 E. Speedway, Tucson, 800.234.3833, tanqueverderanch.com.
For more Tucson hotspots, visit our attractions page.