Who would have thought one can have a luxury all-inclusive resort experience overlooking a breathtaking desert landscape on a dude ranch in the middle of the Old West? Times have changed in Tucson, Arizona—but not too much.
Recognized as the “last luxurious outpost of the Old West,” Tanque Verde Ranch is an old-time cattle and guest ranch nestled among the Rincon Mountains near Saguaro National Park in Arizona.
As publishers of three City Lifestyle magazines and hosts of IN YOUR CITY Show, Gordon Montgomery and Kelley Lamm recently had their own adventure at Tanque Verde Ranch. “Our time spent at this remarkable destination exceeded all expectations and left an indelible mark on our memories,” affirms Kelley.
The ranch consists of more than 60,000 acres of desert, deep-rooted in American history, that passed hands through various ranchers and cattlemen since 1868, until Jim Converse built lodging accommodations and began to welcome guests to the property in 1928.
"Tanque Verde Ranch is not only a dude-ranch vacation destination but also a long-living story with an abundance of truthful tales waiting to unfold and for someone to blow the dust off,” says General Manager Terry Hanley. “The Arizona desert 15 decades ago was filled with ambushing Indians, greedy gangsters and deadly trails. Tanque Verde Ranch lived through it, and did some building along the way."
Now owned by Cote Family Destinations, guests of Tanque Verde Ranch can experience the ranch's rich 150-plus-year American history—an authentic Wild West experience—including more than 200 horses for lessons and rides on miles of horse trails, wound through desert and mountain scenery. “We had the privilege of exploring the breathtaking trails of Tucson alongside the legendary ranch wrangler, Joe Valdez,” Kelley says. “His expertise and passion for the land made every step of the journey an exhilarating experience. From the rugged terrain to the awe-inspiring vistas, we discovered the true essence of the Southwest.”
Kelley says Tanque Verde Ranch is an awesome experience for all of the senses—not only for its spectacular sights but unique and delectable tastes.
She adds that a highlight of her and Gordon’s stay was the unforgettable cookout at Cottonwood Grove: "The rustic setting, combined with the flavors of a well-prepared meal, created a culinary experience that delighted our taste buds and warmed our hearts. The attention to detail and the quality of the ingredients truly showcased the ranch's commitment to excellence. The following morning, we embarked on a sensational ride to a Blueberry Pancake Breakfast, which left us in awe of the breathtaking surroundings, while savoring the delicious pancakes was a feast for the senses. The dedication of the staff to provide such an unforgettable start to the day was evident in every bite.”
Guests also can enjoy more than 30 fun activities, including mountain biking, fishing, hiking, axe throwing, archery, swimming, nature seminars and Jeep adventures. The ranch also offers more than 25 team-building activities and 17 event spaces.
Tennis and basketball courts sit among the towering saguaro and ocotillo as well as two swimming pools and 69 choices of comfortable and inviting accommodations featuring traditional adobe walls and Santa Fe-style architecture. The lodgings combine the spirit of the Old West with modern amenities.
Kelley says Tanque Verde Ranch uniquely allows for the simultaneous experience of an old-time ranching adventure and a sophisticated poolside gathering. “The fusion of the cowboy and cowgirl lifestyle seamlessly transitions into a relaxing afternoon by the pool,” she explains. “This unique blend of adventure and relaxation allows guests to immerse themselves in the true spirit of the ranch. Whether you prefer saddling up for a ride or lounging poolside, there is something for everyone.”
Tanque Verde Ranch’s professional wedding planning staff can assist couples with all of the details for an Arizona dream wedding with a picture-perfect scenic backdrop of rolling mountains and gorgeous desert landscape and a variety of indoor and outdoor venues to accommodate up to 350 guests.
Numerous spa services at the ranch include massages, body treatments and facials. And off-site activities include skiing, golfing, cave exploring and mountain climbing among others.
Tanque Verde Ranch has received some 15-plus awards including being named the “No. 1 Top Resort in the Southwest” in Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards in 2021.
Kelley and Gordon couldn’t agree more. “We wholeheartedly award Tanque Verde Ranch a well-deserved five stars. It is an idyllic destination suitable for families, solo travelers and couples alike. The diverse array of activities, coupled with the outstanding food and impeccable service, make it a true gem among travel destinations,” Kelley says. “The hospitality we experienced at Tanque Verde Ranch was unparalleled. The staff went above and beyond to ensure our comfort and satisfaction, making us feel right at home from the moment we arrived. Their warmth and genuine care created a welcoming atmosphere that added to the overall charm of the ranch.”
Guests today can experience Tanque Verde Ranch’s horse trails, which wind their way through desert and mountain where once silent Apaches waited in ambush to surprise Carrillo’s cowboys.
Four tennis courts now lie in neat formation among the towering saguaro and ocotillo, and the bright swimming pools sparkle in the Arizona sun, where Converse’s Mexican vaqueros once roped bawling steers. The ranch’s 200-plus horses are rounded up in the old roughhewn mesquite corral fence, where both Don Ermilio Carrillo and Jim Converse would gather their cattle for the drive to the Tucson market. Today’s guests can kick off their dusty boots and gaze into the spectacular Arizona sunsets, just as the first cowboys did after a long day’s ride.
“Our time at Tanque Verde Ranch was nothing short of an experience of a lifetime,” says Kelley. “We are grateful for the opportunity to share this remarkable destination with our readers and viewers, and we highly recommend Tanque Verde Ranch to anyone seeking an unforgettable adventure.”
"Tanque Verde Ranch is not only a dude-ranch vacation destination but also a long-living story with an abundance of truthful tales waiting to unfold and for someone to blow the dust off,” - Tanque Verde Ranch General Manager Terry Hanley.
“The Arizona desert 15 decades ago was filled with ambushing Indians, greedy gangsters and deadly trails. Tanque Verde Ranch lived through it, and did some building along the way."