Tanque Verde Ranch: A quintessential Western Adventure

tanque verde ranch

Our summer has been jam-packed with fun activities! We're really savoring it all, since I go back to work this fall for the first time since baby was born. {Deep breaths, mama, deep breaths}. A couple of weeks ago we had our camping adventure in Northern Arizona, and last weekend we headed south to Tucson - only an hour away from the Mexican border. We were invited to spend a complimentary weekend at Tanque Verde Ranch Resort, and it was a blast!

Folks from Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands seem to have figured out about this little slice of desert heaven on earth, (most people staying at the ranch were European!) but I think more locals have got to discover this Arizona gem. It was our first time at a dude ranch, and it had been years (FIFTEEN to be exact) since I'd ridden a horse, so I was counting down the days to our weekend getaway.

We arrived on Saturday, just in time for the weekly cowboy cookout - a great way to get into ranch mode! We had dinner outside, and the food was delicious. The best part was the cookout was surprisingly vegetarian-friendly! There were s'mores by the fire, live music and we even learned some square dance steps later in the evening.

Tanque Verde, nestled between the Rincon and Catalina Mountains, looks straight out of an old western movie. Although it's located just in the outskirts of Tucson, it feels as if it's in a completely remote location. It really was a great opportunity to disconnect from technology and from our busy life and reconnect with nature and each other.

Rocked my faux-leather cowboy boots all weekend

We stayed in a very spacious Hacienda-style room (we wanted to move in for good), and we loved its rustic feel. There was a living room with a fireplace and a private patio, a huge master and a whirlpool bath. There are purposely no TVs in the guest rooms, and our baby had plenty of space to practice his newly-acquired walking skills. These bigger rooms sleep 6 people at least, and are ideal for family vacations and reunions. There are also smaller, more affordable rooms available in the resort.

The view from the living room

Tanque Verde is one of the most family-friendly places I've stayed in so far. Our room had a Pack 'n' Play set up and all ready to, and for the older kiddos, the Kids’ Club is where all the fun is (ages 4-6 & 7-11). There are SO many kid activities, including horseback riding lessons (minimum riding age is 4) and a clubhouse chock-full of games. Tanque Verde has a “Kids Stay Free” package from May 15 to Sept. 16, and children ages 3 and under stay free all year. We are definitely going back when M is old enough to ride!

This time, he only got to wave hi to the horses, while mom and dad got to ride (one parent at a time). My favorite activity of the weekend was by far the early horseback ride that took us through the mountainous desert to the ranch’s homestead for a big ol' pancake and eggs breakfast. For this activity, you need no riding experience. It's a guided walk, and everyone gets a crash course in horsemanship before departing. The views were incredible, my horse a sweetie and I could've ridden all day! (Although that would've been a literal pain in the butt).

Horseback ride to breakfast

When people think of a dude ranch resort, they mainly picture horses, right? Although the trail rides and horsemanship lessons are their top attractions, there are plenty of other amenities, and something for everyone. This mom got to take a yoga class for the first time in about 10 months. There's a saloon, and a restaurant that serves three daily meals (rates include all meals/activities/kids program). There's also a spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis, sand volleyball, basketball, and pickleball courts, mountain biking, a catch-and-release lake, and a nature center that organizes hikes and discussions. (We watched a presentation on rattlesnakes, and got to see the only snake of the trip then, thankfully.) 

The Ranch, which is the oldest business in Tucson, (1861) is also a popular location for weddings and corporate meetings, but families are the biggest and most loyal customers. One family in particular has been visiting the ranch every Christmas for the last 51 years, and I can see why! We could've easily stayed for a whole week. The property was gorgeous, rustic yet luxurious. It was the perfect family getaway, and we can't wait to go back for more!

Have you ever been to a dude ranch before?

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About the Writer

I'm Louise, a Tampa Bay based Brazilian-American travel blogger. Join us as we learn and share the ins-and-outs of traveling with a toddler and our sweet rescue pup Oreo, while promoting local nonprofits and wellness along the way.