Friday, December 10, 2010

Rancho de los Caballeros Dude Ranch is a Wild Western Time

Where does a city slicker, beach blanket blogger go on vacation? To Rancho de los Caballeros dude ranch in Wickenburg, Arizona. Dude. It's a wild western time. Saddle up, cowpokes. You're goin' with me. I hope you like rattlesnake soup. Or how about a prickly pear margarita? Now we're talkin.' Giddyup!

 Trail Ride Near Vulture Peak
(Photo credit: Melanie Bess Hogan of Saddleback Photography)
Rancho de los Caballeros is a sweeping 20,000 acre desert resort property (and one of the elite Historic Hotels of America) rich in traditional western culture. While the ranch has a longstanding tradition of catering to genteel families from the upper Midwest area of the United States, I think it's time to spread the word about why this dude ranch is an unforgettable family, personal or corporate getaway. Just look at the hauntingly rugged beauty of the ranch.

Rugged Beauty at Rancho de los Caballeros
(Awesomely amateur photo credit: Cowgirl Carrie Keyes)
What can you do at Rancho de los Caballeros? There are many opportunities to channel your inner cowboy or cowgirl. Ride one of their 100 horses, try team penning a herd of steer, hop on a leisurely hayride, and (my favorite) watch the "running of the horses" at twilight. I'd better get out of the way before I get trampled. Holy horses! Hang on to your hats and glasses.

Um, I Might Need to Move
(Awesomely amateur photo credit: Cowgirl Carrie Keyes)
Try the ranch cookouts, where you can stargaze at a pearl-flecked sky and listen to country western music linger over the campfire courtesy of Cowboy Ray Callaway (who authenticates the experience with his endearing presence and vocals) and Cowgirl Caroline Markham (a Grammy award winning singer).

What else? Try trap and skeet. Go birdwatching. Collect quartz with your kids. Hike to the nearby Vulture Mine or visit the Hassayampa River Preserve. Get your boots branded. Revel in the stark beauty of the desert landscape.

Saguaro Cactus in the Sonoran Desert
(Awesomely amateur photo credit: Cowgirl Carrie Keyes)
I know what some of you are thinking. It's dusty in the wild west, and you like the finer things. Well, if the ranch is good enough for a Disney princess, it's good enough for you.

Coronado Preschool Princess Dons Boots
(Photo credit: Melanie Bess Hogan of Saddleback Photography)
And speaking of the finer things, the ranch has plenty of modern amenities. You can also view the spectacular desert from a hot air balloon, jeep or ATV tour. The ranch boasts one of America's Top 75 resort golf courses (as once rated by Golf Digest) and also has a spa, tennis courts, and a swimming pool. Oh, and go ahead and stuff your face with amazing Sonoran cuisine by Chef Lupe. I did. I wonder why my jeans are tight? Dang.

My little dudes and some of their friends went wild at the kids club (allowing me to go wild, too). They enjoyed trail and corral rides, golf, arts and crafts, games, marshmallow roasts and cookouts. Hiking, swimming and tennis clinics are also available for kids. Professional photographer Melanie Bess Hogan, the "shooter" for Saddleback Photography, captured signature moments like these for us.

Coronado Kids Trade Sun Visors for Cowboy Hats
(Photo credit: Melanie Bess Hogan, Saddleback Photography)
Rancho de los Caballeros is more than a vacation. It's a rustic paradise without fences. Git 'em up and move 'em out to Wickenburg's Rancho de los Caballeros for a vacation. Go on, let the family chase the tumblin' tumbleweeds. You'll love being home on the range.

* The YouTube song of the week is Rawhide! Keep them doggies movin'!
* Visit for ranch reservations and information.
* Someone --Hollywood, literary agents, publishers, editors-- please bring back the Western and give it a strong female protagonist!
* I'm reading the epic Lonesome Dove.
* Cactus Hotel is an excellent children's nonfiction book about the saguaro cactus and its symbiotic relationship with desert animals.
* Got a private jet? Wickenburg's got a small airport to accommodate you, cowboy. It has served many a celebrity...
* Wickenburg's Double D Western World is a great store for boots, hats and more!
* Try Wickenburg's Smith and Western for kitschy western gifts.
* Look out for the Javelina!
* The Pioneer Woman's a much better blogger than I'll ever be.
* Thanks to our friends for the invitation! You helped us create an unforgettable family memory.
* Headed to the ranch? Email me with your questions. I have lots of good suggestions for you, like, give the contact lenses a rest!
* Do you have friends or family searching for the perfect venue for a reunion, party, girls' weekend or bachelor party? Forward this article on to them or share it on Facebook.

(Carrie Keyes is the author of the blog Pencil in Paradise at She is also a contributing blogger for and Visit paradise on Facebook (Pencil in Paradise) and on Twitter @Carrie Keyes).


  1. Carrie,

    Thank you for the great write up. Hope to see you and the family soon.

    Rui Pereira
    Manager, Rancho de los Caballeros

  2. So glad to read your review! We are headed there in February with our 2 kids. Everyone is getting really excited. Just received City Slickers from Netflix this week to get everyone in the mood!