Ready to ride off into the sunset? Drive cows like a John Wayne wannabe? Camp out under the stars like an outlaw after a long day in the saddle? It’s quite possible then, that a dude ranch somewhere out on the range, is the Arizona hotel for you. Loathe to give up the golfing, conference facilities, swimming pool, hot tub and maid service that a typical Arizona hotel provides? Quell your qualms. A good share of the dude ranches part of the official Dude Ranch Association also offer these amenities, if not onsite than then within easy driving distance. To put it in perspective: where else can you try your hand at a real cattle roundup or saddle up for a pre-organized pack trip, only to return to a waiting (warm) soft bed? Not to mention, of course, the cookouts, hayrides, cow milking and hiking opportunities that await a stone’s throw from your cheery ranch room hideout. Most dude ranches also provide riding lessons, and many even include that in the cost.
Sold on a few nights under a ranch house roof? Then here are some things to consider during the planning stages. Of the dozen or so dude ranches on offer in Arizona, seven of them are set in the southeast corner of the state, two are close to Alpine, east of Phoenix, and three are near Wickenburg, northwest of Phoenix. Roughly half stay open year-round, though come expecting hot sunny days if you’re wrangling for a for mid-summer visit. The rest (except for one, Sprucedale Guest Ranch, which is open Memorial Day to Labor Day) open in the fall and close early May. Importantly, all the ranches are very child-friendly, so whether you’re looking to find your inner cowboy or commune with your inner child (and real children), a dude ranch may be just the rest your spurs for a few nights.