Horseback Riding and Fine Dining at Tanque Verde Ranch

Saddle up for trail rides, horse riding lessons, mountain adventures, and more at Tanque Verde Ranch, with a cowboy barbecue or gourmet meals at the trail’s end.

Rising into the mountains on the eastern edge of Tucson, Tanque Verde Ranch is the perfect place to experience the American West. From horseback riding to spa treatments, tennis, swimming and kids’ activities, to glorious Arizona desert sunsets, a family holiday here offers something for everyone to enjoy.

A Working Ranch and Guest Resort

Set between Saguaro National Park East and the Coronado National Forest, the ranch enjoys a stunning desert and mountain landscape covering 60,000 acres, with nothing but natural Western beauty in sight. The name Tanque Verde means “green tank” or “green pool” in Spanish, recalling a seasonal river that was an ancient water source for the local Pima Indians.

Emilio Carrillo from Santa Cruz, Mexico established the first ranch here in 1868, later naming it La Cebadilla. In the present-day Card Room, you can still see the beam where bandits hung him by the neck during a robbery in 1904. Carrillo survived but died of complications from the attack four years later.

The next owner, Jim Converse, expanded the cattle operations and changed the name to Tanque Verde Ranch when he opened up the ranch activities to paying guests. Brownie Cote bought the property in 1957, and together with his sons developed it into a world-class, western dude-ranch resort. Today Tanque Verde is both a working ranch and the largest guest ranch resort in the country.

Accommodations at Tanque Verde Ranch

Buildings throughout the ranch feature traditional Western-style architecture, from the adobe walls and high, wood-beamed ceiling of the Dining Room to the massive stone fireplaces in public spaces. The tiny Old Saloon (now the Hiking Office) was the original bunkhouse for the cowhands.

Sleeping quarters are far more luxurious today. There are a variety of rooms (salas), casitas (junior suites) and haciendas (suites), set around courtyards, landscaped desert gardens or along the hillside with splendid views over the surrounding landscape. The Santa Fe-style buildings have high wood-beamed ceilings; wide, shady porches, and are painted the soft pink of a desert sunset.

The guest rooms are furnished in relaxing Western-style, with deep, comfy mattresses on the king- and queen-sized beds, leather sofas and chairs, colorful woven rugs and wall hangings, and beautifully tiled bathrooms. The spacious casitas and haciendas are havens of relaxation, with beehive fireplaces, tables and chairs, mini-fridges, and private patios to make the most of the wonderful views. Some of the haciendas feature whirlpool baths and brightly colored Talavera sinks.

La Sonora Spa and Other Resort Facilities

Tanque Verde Ranch has many amenities to lure guests out of their comfortable rooms. The large outdoor pool features a splashing waterfall and a wading pool for children.

The outdoor whirlpool sits above La Sonora Spa, which contains saunas, a fitness room and an indoor pool with large windows looking out to the mountains. Treatments here range from massages with hot volcanic stones to soothing facials and body wraps.

For more active recreation there are several tennis courts, a basketball court, volleyball, ping pong and bumper pool. A separate Children’s Program building and play area keep kids happily entertained, leaving parents free for their own pursuits.

Horseback Riding at Tanque Verde Ranch

Horse riding is the biggest attraction, and with 162 horses the ranch has the largest stable in Arizona. There are programs to suit all ages and riding abilities. If you’re a beginner or have been out of the saddle for years, a basic or intermediate lesson will soon instill confidence.

Experienced wranglers guide you on easy walking rides along desert trails that let you explore this fascinating landscape up close, or on loping rides that capture the spirit of the Old West. The morning Mountain Adventure ride takes you high into the hills surrounding the ranch, or end the day with a spectacular Sunset Ride through the desert.

Two mornings a week, the popular Breakfast Ride takes you into the desert foothills to the Old Homestead for a delicious pancake breakfast in the open air. A variety of special riding programs are also available, from team penning to advanced horsemanship.

Nature Center, Hiking and Biking

The ranch has a small but excellent nature center, where you can learn about and view some desert creatures you may not want to meet in the wild, such as rattlesnakes. Along with interpretive programs, you can go birdwatching or fishing with a resident naturalist.

Other popular activities include hiking and mountain biking. There are daily hikes and bike rides geared for varying lengths and abilities.

Wining and Dining at Tanque Verde Ranch

For many guests, the day winds down with a cocktail in the atmospheric Dog House Saloon. Prickly pear margaritas are the house specialty, and there are good local microbrews on tap.

Tanque Verde Ranch’s master chef, Ben Drury, and his team serve three meals daily, including a hearty breakfast and generous buffet lunch complete with a mouth-watering dessert bar. But it’s the three-course gourmet dinners that really excel.

The menu features Southwestern cuisine, from a delicious chayote squash salad to entrées such as the citrus roasted half chicken, served with a truly outstanding Oaxacan mole sauce. Prime rib of beef is a regular feature. The wine list features a trio of fine local wines from Arizona Stronghold Vineyards. And the delectable desserts include homemade ice cream.

Twice a week, a Cowboy Cookout is held around a roaring fire in Cottonwood Grove. Barbecue ribs, steaks and all the trimmings are accompanied by live Western music.

Visiting Tanque Verde Ranch

Along with accommodation, all meals, riding lessons, trail rides, and activities are included in your stay at Tanque Verde Ranch. Most meals and some trail ride activities are also open to non-resident guests.

Tanque Verde Ranch
14301 E Speedway Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85748

For rates and information, visit the Tanque Verde Ranch website, or telephone 520-296-6275 or 800-234-3833 (toll-free).


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