Just two and a half hours south of Scottsdale in the wild nature of Tucson is Tanque Verde Ranch, beaconing you to come find your inner cowboy. No boots, no hat, no horse, no problem! Tanque Verde is a dude ranch that has all you need and is just waiting for you to come and create memories with your family. With over 60,000 acres of breathtaking desert views, the Rincon Mountains, Saguaro National Park and Coronado National Forest, you have plenty of nature to explore to get away from it all. The best way to become one with nature out here? On the back of a horse.
A dude ranch, you ask? But I have kids! I’ve never ridden a horse before! I don’t do camping! How can I ride a horse and take care of the kids?
- First off, they have the most amazing daily Kids Club included in the all inclusive package, geared for kids as young as 4 through 12 years old. My oldest is about four and a half and he couldn’t wait for his Buckaroo club class to start each day. With scheduled events from 7am to 3pm, your kids are bound to discover new passions and make some new friends. Although this was not Luke’s first time on a horse, he is still really new to riding, but the Kids Club broke his experience down into great segments where he learned about grooming, watched the more experienced riders, had a lesson and then a chance to participate in group riding activities. Now the kids in the Buckaroo club (ages 4-6) need a parent around for some activities like riding, the rest of the time they are in small groups with staffed club leaders and guided through fun activities like fishing, crafting, and nature exploration.
- I say the very best way to experience the Arizona desert is on the back of a horse. You go to Cappadocia, Turkey, it’s by hot air balloon around the fairy chimneys; Cambridge, England, it’s by punting down the river Cam; Skagway, Alaska, it’s by train through the snowy mountains. Special places are just best seen in a way that really lets you become one with nature, taking in the most breathtaking views. Go for a Walk Ride at Tanque Verde, and you will know what I mean. I left Luke with the Buckaroos and my husband explored the ranch with the baby while I had a chance to totally escape it all on the back of a horse. How often do you get a chance to get lost in your own thoughts while exploring the local mountains, getting up close and personal to prickly pear and saguaro cactus, watching hawks swoop over head and jackrabbits bounding in the distance? It couldn’t have been any more picturesque or relaxing and gave me a new appreciation for my new desert home.
- This is not a vacation where you want to lay in bed all morning, but you want to get out there enjoy what the ranch has to offer. Be like a cowboy and early to rise! It was my husband’s turn for some horse time on the trails, so he was up and at ’em by 7:30am for the Breakfast Ride, where he was paired and saddled with his horse for the morning. Now the ranch is actually a perfect destination for families with little kids because we are up early and looking for fun things to do! Luke headed to his Buckaroo group and the baby and I tagged along. We went for a nature hike as a group up to the Old Homestead where we met up with my husband, the rest of the riders, walkers and staff, and had the most amazing breakfast of blueberry pancakes around the campfire.
- Most of us have been to a BBQ before, but how about on a dude ranch? Tanque Verde, with their attention to detail, has created an Outdoor BBQ experience that far surpasses your local cookout. The food was amazing, but it’s more than that. I think it was the family-style seating, making friends with families from around the world and sharing our favorite experiences so far at the ranch. We got to know families from Germany, Australia, England, Scotland, all over the US and even locals from Tucson. There’s something about roasting marshmallows over a fire with new friends, watching your kids climb trees and help boost each other up, and sharing some good laughs over a beer while listening to a local country singer, that brings you immediately close together. I think we made some fast friends that night, and certainly, some lasting memories.
Thank you Tanque Verde Ranch for the opportunity to stay at your ranch! We were given the stay in exchange for this post, all opinions are my own.