Southern Arizona has many Stables & Dude Ranches. Some are better than others, not necessarily because of the cowboys or horses, although they are definitely a factor, but mostly because of the scenery along the trail.
As a teenager, I did my share of riding. My father had several ranches, one was 30,000 acres in Oregon’s high desert out by Burns. In the summers, I worked as a cowhand, bucking bails, and moving cattle from one waterhole to another. Like the older cowpokes, I always carried a 30-30 saddle rifle, which I still have. Our grandchildren shoot it on occasion at the local rifle range.
Here are three horseback riding experiences I highly recommend.
- Colossal Cave Mountain Park is only 27 miles east of downtown Tucson. The setting and views, plus the other activities, such as the cave tour, picnic areas, camping, and modest, but interesting museums, make this a favorite. There are simple, but pleasant campsites, but no hookups or water. The staff here is expert and most helpful.
- Tanque Verde Ranch is at the very end of Speedway Blvd on the east side of Tucson. With 60,000 acres adjacent to Saguaro National Monument East, TVR has magnificent vistas along seemingly endless trails. TVR has horses for every ability and offers courses in barrel racing, calf roping, and other equestrian skills. If you want to ride here, it’s best to stay for at least a few nights. The rooms are well-appointed and comfortable. Most have patios with excellent views of the surrounding hills and Rincon Mountains. WiFi but no TV. The food and staff are terrific.
- Double R Guest Ranch is out in Benson on thousands of acres of grasslands. Spend the day exploring. Read our review here.