Tanque Verde Ranch
Tanque Verde Ranch
Why we love it: Follow in the hoofprints of Mexican vaqueros and Wild West cowboys at this elegant oasis, one of America’s best dude ranches
- the superb riding program, which brings over 150 horses to the mesquite corral each morning
- blueberry pancakes served on a checkered table-cloth, while picnicking beside cacti in the foothills
- the Barn, a new meetings and event venue, has panoramic doors opening to the breathtaking scenery outside
The review: Founded in 1868, this Tucson guest ranch sits below the Rincon Mountains, overlooking the rolling foothills of Saguaro National Park. It’s often ranked among America’s top resorts and wedding destinations — and for good reason. Not only does it deliver southwestern charm with pink adobe Santa Fe-style architecture, but it runs one of the nation’s top horse-riding programs for “dudes” — tenderfoot tourists looking to experience the cowpoke lifestyle!
Tanque Verde weighs in with the usual offerings, from breakfast rides to team penning and adventure treks high in the mountains. But the signature experience remains Harmony With Horses, a program teaching interspecies communication. Delving into equine behavior and psychology, it’s a great way for nervous riders to gain confidence and for bold ones to deepen their understanding of the sport and excel at it more. The ranch also has a host of other activities, including yoga, hikes, mountain biking, photography courses, and naturalist-led walks exploring the desert’s edible and medicinal plants. A kid’s day camp caters to guests ages four to 12.
The rooms feature exposed beams and brick, punctuated with dark furniture and flares of southwestern fabrics. Each has a desk, coffee maker, and small refrigerator. The biggest suite also has a fireplace and sleeps up to six.
Feeling saddle sore? Rejuvenate with an End of the Trail massage in the spa, then grab a prickly pear margarita in the Dog House Saloon. Then head to a cowboy cookout or into the restaurant, dishing up gourmet grub like layered ratatouille, seafood cioppino, and slow-roasted prime rib.