January 31, 2019

Travel Guide: Tanque Verde Dude Ranch

Susan's Travel Guide to the Tanque Verde Dude Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. Cowgirls, horses, cookouts and more!

I love a guy in cowboy boots… too bad most of the wranglers were women on my recent western adventure! Along with my adult children, Kelsey and Matt, we spent 5 days at the Tanque Verde Dude Ranch.  Located on 60,000 acres in Tucson, AZ, it is family-owned, one of the oldest cattle and guest ranches in the U.S. and is consistently ranked in the top 10 year after year.

Almost 15 years ago we spent two back-to-back spring breaks at the now shuttered Lazy K Bar Ranch (also in Tucson) and have always wanted another dude ranch experience. Well, I also want to go on a cattle drive; it remains on my bucket list but will happen before I turn 60!

Matt and I saddled up and went horseback riding 6-7 hours a day. Kelsey joined us for a few hours each day and spent lots of time at the spa, by the pool and hot tub, reading and relaxing. We went on leisurely walking trail rides, had private and group riding instructions, barrel raced and even spent an afternoon cow-penning! I could not pass the lope-check (Matt did) so was unable to ride on the trails at a fast pace even though I could lope in the arena… Oh well, I enjoyed the scenery of the flats and the mountains on the guided walking rides throughout the day, early morning before breakfast and during the sunset ride before nightfall. The colors of the desert surprised me as I remembered them being very monotone. Not this trip… the colors were everchanging based on the time of the day and if we were in the mountains or the flats. Brighter mossy greens, tree-bark browns, lemon yellows, grayer greens, and unbelievably blue skies. With a herd of 250 horses they too added to the colors of the desert:  chestnut, sorrel, black, cream, white, bay or reddish and every brown imaginable. It will be interesting to note when this color palette will appear in a client project…

At Tanque Verde, there is no need to be an expert horseman or horsewoman, the wranglers will teach you all you need to know to be comfortable on a horse! What is uncomfortable, is your bottom half after many hours on a horse. Nothing the hot tub, a glass of prosecco and ibuprofen can’t fix!

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