A family tradition for 43 years and going strong...
I first went to the ranch when I was 4 years old. That was 43 years ago. Since then I have been fortunate to have returned many times. Bob Cote and his staff have not just been great hosts, they have treated me like family. I was a little jealous when I realized that that's how they treat everyone and not just me.
You may be suspicious of my reasons for giving five stars for all of the categories but I can tell you with all honesty that those ratings are well deserved. I have travelled to many 5 star resorts and the quality of the experience at those do not meet what's in store for you at Tanque Verde. If you are expecting room service and a chocolate on your pillow you should find another vacation destination, this place is not for you. However, if you are looking for a fun, adventurous, family oriented vacation with plenty of amazing activities to keep you occupied then make your reservations early.
Did I mention the food? This was my only complaint - they feed you into submission. I left Arizona with a feeling that I had eaten all of the bacon in the state. The chefs prepare some of the best food I've ever had at a place like this. Each meal is a new surprise but you can always count on the prime rib if nothing else appeals to you for dinner. Vegetarian options are always available and special requests are gladly honored.They even have a dedicated pastry staff that creates a treasure trove of sweet delights to keep you going back for more. (They even have sugar free items for those that have special dietary needs). Every week you'll be treated to a meal down at the Cottonwood Grove, one day for lunch and another for a Cowboy Cookout dinner. The cookout is a festival with fire grilled steaks, chicken, ribs, burgers, dogs, corn, beans, all manner of salads. There's a bar for the grownups and lasso practice for the kids. Deserts are plentiful too with some form of wonderfulness. This last trip had a cobbler made in cast iron skillets that made people's eyes roll back in their heads. All of this is set to live music and on cold nights, roaring campfires.
Twice a week you can mount a horse in the morning and head up to the old ranch house for the Breakfast Ride. You can walk there too. Up there you'll find the owner, Bob Cote, making the best blueberry pancakes you've ever had in your life. He's been doing this for 45 years and will tell you that he's never had a promotion. A sumptious breakfast buffet is there for you including those delicious pancakes as well as eggs (regular scrambled or my favorite - ranch eggs with chillies and cheese), sausage, the best bacon in the world and more. After you've had enough to fill an army you can rely on your horse to get you home. (If you walked up don't worry, it's downhill back to the ranch.)
While we're on the topic of walking, I have to give them kudos for the extra special treatment they gave us on this recent trip. My 75 year old mother came along and she has a lot of trouble walking. No problem! The ranch staff was available 24-7 to give us a golf cart ride from anywhere to anywhere at any time. This is a service that they provide with a smile and it's just a phone call away. We were worried that our room was too far from the main dining hall that it would be difficult for Mom to get back and forth. Problem eliminated. So much appreciated!
So let's face it, this ranch is centered around horseback riding, western style. Be sure to come with jeans and a good pair of sneakers or boots. Don't forget your hat and sunglasses - it can get pretty bright on the trail. The wranglers are experts and will match you with an animal that suits you. Walking rides are very pleasant and easy going but if speed is more to your liking you'd better have your wits about you. These folks are all about safety above all else. You will need to pass a "lope check" before they let you go out on the fast rides and it's not a walk in the park. Don't fret if you don't get the green light the first time. They have all levels of instruction to help you get ready for the trail from beginner to intermediate and advanced. They even have personalized private horsemanship lessons that you can schedule for an extra fee.
If you get tired of riding or you are just not a horse person, there is still plenty for you to do. Interested in mountain biking? The biking department has tons of trails mapped out and an expert guide will take you out through the brush for an invigorating workout. They just installed a "pump track" which is supposedly really cool but sadly I am way out of condition for mountain biking so this was not for me.
If that is not your cup of tea, the Nature Center schedules several daily hikes and strolls through the desert. The hikes are amazing. This is where I spend most of my time. Hiking up into the Saguaro National Park is a treat and a privilege. The scenery is stunningly beautiful and affords you time to see things you would normally miss while atop a horse. Bring your camera on these walks. You never know what you'll come across. Remember, this is a natural, wild environment and all manners of desert creature live here and you are in their home. However, every single snake I have ever encountered (which were few and far between) were all too happy to ignore me or slink away. The Ranch Naturalists are veritable encyclopedias of information and can give you answers to just about any question you can dream up as well as provide you with endless entertaining local lore.
Lastly, this is a great place to bring your kids. I can personally tell you this from a kid's perspective. Being a child at the ranch was a magical experience for me. As a kid I was eager to ride and ride and ride. I was all decked out in boots and hat and loved playing cowboy. The wranglers were friendly and did everything they could to help realize this fantasy. I participated in the "Funkanas", horse competitions involving running around barrels and poles. Receiving a ribbon for participating was especially thrilling. These competitions continue today and have been extended so adults have their own events as well. There are now team penning games where you herd cattle into pens from horseback for the best time. All of this can be done under your supervision or you can leave your child under the supervision of the excellent Kids Program staff. They have specially designed programs for youngsters including their own dining room. I was a little shy at first when I was a kid but once I warmed up to it I had a blast.
After your long day of riding, walking, eating and sitting by the pool, you can be sure to be treated to a beautiful sunset over the corral. There is always some evening activity planned - it might be a naturalist showing local wildlife, it could be dance lessons, it could be a starlight movie, it might even be Bingo (I had finally won after playing there after 30 years!). After this, if you're not completely exhausted, it's time to unwind in the Dog House, the local saloon on the Ranch, where you can grab a beer or cocktail or one of their signature margaritas made with agave nectar.
All in all this is a truly unique place that you will remember for a lifetime and will vow to return to on the sad day that you have to check out.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Tanque Verde Ranch Resort was named "Best Dude Ranch in Arizona" by Dude Republic in 2012, as well as a "Top Ten Family Resort" by the Travel Channel since 2007, and a "Top Five Ranch" by Conde Nast in 2008. Tanque Verde Ranch is one of America’s old time cattle and guest ranches. Located on 60,000 acres of Tucson’s most breathtaking desert landscapes, nestled amongst the Rincon Mountains and adjacent to Saguaro National Park and Coronado National Forest. Established in 1868, the superb guest ranch is recognized as the last luxurious outpost of the old west providing guests with plush accommodations, unparalleled amenities and a vast array of exciting activities such as horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing and hiking. La Sonora Spa is the perfect place for a bit of quiet relaxation, and the kids will love all the supervised children's programs! Don't hesitate – getaway at one of the premier, all-inclusive dude ranches in the country. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Tanque Verde Ranch Hotel Tucson
- Tanque Verde Ranch Tucson, Arizona