- low-key authentic "ranch resort" has golf, spa, and kids program
- in Wickenburg Arizona, with over 60 years of history
- guests can ride horses twice a day
- great chance to learn about Sonoran desert ecology
Guest Ranch Vacations
Wickenburg was a former gold mining town that, by the twenties, had a revival as as "Dude Ranch Capital of the World". Location is an hour and a half from the Phoenix airport.
Rancho de los Caballeros has had the same family at the reins since opening in 1948. From the start, it aimed at a level of comfort more like a "ranch resort" than dude ranch.
Still, horseriding was and is the focus-- even with today's golf and spa.
Rancho de los Caballeros: The Basics
Guests stay in 79 "casita" guest rooms and suites built in Southwest style.
Where to hang out: Main lodge has dining room, patio dining by the pool, and old-fashioned lobby that mixes western and Santa Fe style: "old-fashioned", in that guests are meant to mingle here. (They can also get wireless internet.) Guests can also pore over giant photo albums of bygone years: see the present owner when he was twelve; nice touch.
All this sits amid 20,000 acres where guests can ride and learn about desert ecology.
The corral can hold a hundred horses; golf course is top-rated; the spa has a peaceful setting and a labyrinth.
Pricing is "Full American Plan", with three meals daily. As at many guest-ranches, horse-riding is not included-- though it is included in the packages most guests buy. The kids' program is complimentary.
Birds and critters: the air is full of birdsong, as birds flit among trees and cactii. Kids love to spot jackrabbits hopping around the grounds.
Activities at Rancho de los Caballeros
- trail rides depart twice a day, with riders grouped in different levels
- nature trail ride is for all levels: a nice ride with informative guide
- feeling confident? Try a "loping ride": trail ride with spurts
- team penning is a fun activity, offered once a week or so: guests on horseback are placed on teams and their challenge is to ride down the length of the corral, pick out three calfs, and herd them into a pen. (To do team penning, kids need to have been on a loping ride.)
- weekly cowboy cookout offers hearty eats, big-sky sunset, and cowboy singing by the fire and under the stars
- trap and skeet is a popular activity. No set minimum age; but most kids are ten and up.
- for golfers: 18-hole championship course, golf school, driving range, putting green
- kids can play on the putting green by the main lodge; croquet, too
Caballeros Kids Club is complimentary, for ages 5 to 12. For a younger child, a babysitter can be arranged; child plus babysitter can join in the kids' club crafts and other fun.
Hours are from 8 am through lunch; the afternoon is prime time for family activities, and then the kids' program counsellors meet the kids again for evening hours from 6 to 9 pm. Kids swim, take hikes, play games -- this is an active-fun kids' club, not the "turn on the video screen" type. (In fact, the Ranch resisted tv's in the guestrooms for years.)
Kids eight and older can go on a trail ride in the morning; those seven and under can do a "ring ride" in the corral. Kids can also ride with their parents in the afternoon.
BC Jeep Tours take guests on nature tours into the beautiful scenery of the Sonoran desert. Try the loop that goes to Vulture Peak. In April, you'll probably see wildflowers.
For an easy little outing: staff will take guests into Wickenburg, where there's a Desert Caballeros Western Museum; or you can shop for cowboy boots at the Double D Western Wear.
Keep in mind about Rancho de los Caballeros:
- season is only from October to mid-May! This is typical of guest ranches in the Arizona climate.
- kids (and grown-ups) can learn plenty about desert ecology, on the nature ride and the jeep tour.
- kids are more than welcome, but this is a quiet place especially in the areas of the guest units.
- DON'T MISS: at the end of the day, the horses -- free of saddles-- run from the corral back to their pasture. A great sight!
- dinner menu is sophisticated and well-executed.
- parents might imbibe the signature purple margarita made from prickly-pear cactii.
- for departure, allow plenty of time to reach the airport, in case of traffic
*Always check destination web sites for updates!