“My children are 3rd generation returnees to the Elkhorn Ranch. I cannot say enough how much I and my kids love that place!” That’s the kind of website comment any dude ranch would like to get from its guests.
For Arizona’s Elkhorn Ranch, its the norm. Tucked against the corrugated Baboquivari Mountains southwest of Tucson, Elkhorn Ranch is a traditional family-owned and operated guest ranch offering horseback riding and relaxation for some 32 guests.
Mary Miller, co-owner of the ranch, dropped us a note recently. “We want to let you know that we’ve done a lot of work on our website lately, and hope you’ll take a look! It is a work in progress, but coming along!”
We think they’ve done digital just right. The new site boasts a clean, attractive design with great photographs and illustrations. When we checked it out we saw a story announcing Field Sketching at Elkhorn Ranch, Spring 2014 run by Ruthann Stoner (see her illustration, above), set for March 30 – April 6, 2014. And the ranch recently marked the addition of a third workshop focused on Field Sketching with a horse twist.
Other workshop weeks coming up include one on Digital Photography (led by Stewart Aitchison & Ann Kramer on January 19 – 26, 2014). And an Adventure Vacation and Old Time Jam Workshop (musical inspiration by: Rory MacLeod and Sandol Astrausky; January 5 – 12, 2014).
The Miller Family has owned and operated Elkhorn Ranch continuously since 1946, but that doesn’t mean they can’t change with the times. One guest commented: “We have been going to Elkhorn Ranch for many years, and if you include my parents, children and grandchildren for generations. We like its location at the base of the Baboquivari Mountains, the riding in the mountains or on the desert, the food and accommodations and above all the people.”
Another guest commented,”Spectacular views, universally wonderful people, and great rides for all age groups in the dessert and mountains. The wranglers are genuine and gracious and the rest of the staff is great too.” You can’t buy great advertising like that.
Details: the ranch (trail ride shown at right), is open from November 17, 2013 through April 27, 2014. Take a peek at their cool site at http://elkhornranch.com/category/workshops/ to learn more. Credit cards are now welcome at Elkhorn Ranch. For info, call the Millers at 520-822-1040 or go to Ranchweb.com/dude-ranches/guest-ranches/elkhorn-ranch-az-usa.
With many things in the financial sector and federal government looking uncertain, one thing remains true: “Real estate is and always will be a quality long term investment”. Many ranch brokerage companies have reported record sales for 2012, supporting what appears to be a strengthening real estate market and an inviting time to invest. Interest rates are at all-time lows, and memories of the stock market’s crash are still at the forefront of everyone’s minds, causing many buyer/investors to take advantage of a great buying opportunity, choosing to invest in farm and ranch real estate.
In a recent article in the Billings Gazette, friend and managing broker Greg Fay is cited summarizing the market: “In looking ahead to this year’s market, Fay is cautiously optimistic.” He doesn’t entirely trust the market, although the economy seems more stable. He sees ranch prices as bottomed out, but not yet appreciably rising, making it still a good time to buy. There also could be more ranches for sale if there’s a sense that the market value is increasing. Greg is also quoted as saying, “There are excellent opportunities everywhere right now.”
I personally could not agree more. Along with one of my closest friends, a bank owner and agricultural lender, we are both astounded at how low interest rates are and how long they have remained low. It does not encourage investors to put money into the banks, but the inverse is an excellent borrowing environment. This coupled with a strong agriculture commodities market is bringing many buyers into the ranch market place and encouraging “conservative” farmers and ranchers to expand their operations. There appears to be some longevity to the strong agriculture market and real estate values have stabilized and show glimpses of increasing in value. Both of these factors make it a good time to invest in ranch real estate and enjoy some security in a quality long term investment.
Ranch Broker Associate
Mike Fraley and Fay Ranches represent the finest farms, ranches, and sporting properties for sale in the American West. Contact Us today to learn more, and start living the life you deserve.
Cold there? Fly here! says the home page of Arizona’s Tanque Verde Ranch. You can’t argue with that logic. The Midwest and East Coast are even now gripped in the clutches of various storm systems that— even when the snow stops falling—will leave behind a mess of clogged roads and snow-blocked cars.
So why not plan a Southwest getaway? In March, you might even catch the desert in bloom. Picture it: ocotillo waving their fiery-red blossoms in the breeze, barrel cactus sprouting yellow and scarlet tops, desert verbena spreading a carpet of pink across the sands. And you, not shoveling snow.
Tanque Verde Ranch
This month, there’s a hot deal being offered at Tanque Verde Ranch, where you can “discover the joys of the Sonoran Desert in spring time with a unique vacation”.
Just outside Tucson, the long-established Tanque Verde boasts Southwestern hospitality along with magnificent mountain and desert terrain. There’s so much to do, you and the kids won’t have time to be bored: tennis (on four courts), a swimming pool and spa, mountain biking, fishing, basketball, volleyball and a nature program (with two full-time naturalists).
But most importantly, there’s an outstanding riding program (with 1- hour, 2- hour, all-day, breakfast, picnic rides and daily riding lessons for all skill levels). The children’s program is highly acclaimed and counselor-supervised (for ages 4-11), featuring tennis, crafts, and nature hikes. Parents can ride with kids within the program.
Food is hearty and high-end (a sample menu might include seared sustainable salmon with white anchovy-arugula salad or hop-braised lamb shank). As they say at Tanque Verde “Besides the three gourmet meals served each day in the dining room, several indoor and outdoor specialty dining events are held each week. These special events include the Old Homestead Breakfast Ride, Mexican Fiesta Night, and the Cottonwood Grove Ranch Barbeque with live entertainment. Indulge in mouth-watering southwestern cuisine while also taking in the authentic dude ranch atmosphere of Tanque Verde Ranch!”
And at day’s end, when you want some ‘grown-up time’, you can relax at the ranch’s own Dog House–a free standing, full service bar.
Hot deal: “Desert in Bloom” package | March 1-19, April 8-17; Salas – $329* | Casitas – $369* | Haciendas – $399. What’s included: 2 nights southwestern-style accommodations; breakfast and dinner daily; private hike-planning session with experienced hiking staff; scheduled guided hiking excursions in Saguaro National Park; all additional scheduled hiking and nature activities; one sunset horseback ride for each adult; special discounted rates on scheduled mountain biking activities.
NOTE: Package requires a minimum of double-occupancy, and is based on limited availability for new reservations only. Rates may vary based on room type and dates selected. Package may not be combined with any other offers or specials and may be discontinued without notice. Not applicable to groups. Additional per-person rates apply for parties with more than 2 people. Rates subject to AZ state tax.
The Key to TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice awards: Invisible luxury
It’s a new trend in hospitality, luxury you can’t see but certainly feel. It’s a mix of tangible and intangible, visible and invisible at the same time, a rare quality that has brought repeated awards to Echo Valley Ranch & Spa. Recently, the ranch garnered Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards: #1 Small Hotel and #1 Hotel for Service in all of Canada and they wanted Ranchweb.com to hear all the details.
It is, in part due to this new trend that this British Columbia guest ranch earned these awards – both Canada wide – by the world’s largest travel site, TripAdvisor. These prestigious distinctions are especially meaningful since they were awarded in the Travelers’ Choice category. Over 180 reviews written by its satisfied guests to date indicate clearly that Echo Valley Ranch is doing something right.
For example, writes a guest, “What I got from my stay was totally different and so much better. If you are fortunate enough to stay at Echo Valley then get yourself ready to be welcomed into a family of inspiring people with a long standing tradition of achieving excellence in everything they do.”
“We call it invisible luxury,” says owner Norm Dove. “Many of the reviews on TripAdvisor and in our own guest book talk about it. It’s difficult to articulate, but I think it’s a combination of things. Of course we have the usual amenities ranging from high-end lodging to an excellent chef, and an emphasis on personal service, but the difference lays in our attitude towards our business. What we do we do naturally. It’s true passion versus compelled smiles. It’s warm caring versus butlers’ etiquette guide. Whatever it is, the outcome is magical.”
Coming to Echo Valley is truly a vacation from all the artificial aspects of modern life. “We grow much of our own food, every building on the property has been placed in relation to the others, and the views are amazing. But it’s the intangibles that pull everything together.
We say it is ‘made by nature,’ because it is,” said Dove. “Finding such natural luxury in the midst of remote grandeur literally takes people’s breath away. The intangible immediately becomes felt; the feeling of calmness and serenity can be gauged. It’s uplifting for one’s spirit.”
Echo Valley Ranch & Spa is located in the Cariboo region of British Columbia, at the foot of the Marble Mountain range, about a 40-minute-flight from Vancouver. Guests can enjoy horseback riding, wilderness hikes, a luxury Thai spa, fly-fishing, gold panning and wildlife safaris. Owner Dove says the ranch’s remote location is another draw, but its unique “sense of place” is the key to the extraordinary TripAdvisor guest satisfaction response.
The Dining Difference
Dining becomes an experience at Echo Valley Ranch & Spa as all guests come together to eat “family style” in our main living and dining room. That gives everybody a platform to chat with other guests, Norm & Nan or staff members – it’s the ideal opportunity to share thoughts about the adventures and experiences of the day.
Echo Valley is a Canada ranch that believes in the “eat fresh and eat local” ethos. Consequently, Echo Valley Ranch and Spa grows and produces much of its own food, which our Master Chef turns into a variety of healthy, gourmet meals. The ranch cuisine at Echo Valley Ranch and Spa is just as culturally diverse as its buildings.
Ranch cuisine at this unique Canada ranch will range from western-style BBQ cookouts to wholesome soups, intriguing salads, home-baked breads and many house specialties that change with the season. Special diets are easily accommodated and life-style dishes such as Eat for Your Blood Type are often incorporated into the menu plan. There’s even a specialty Thai Night where authentic Thai dishes sizzle alongside Thai entertainment. Bet this isn’t the ranch cuisine you were expecting on your Canada ranch vacation. And they serve a fine selection of beers and wine.
On the Echo Valley Ranch and Spa grounds, an organic vegetable garden grows a variety of fresh produce such as berries, mushrooms, vegetables and seasonal fruits, and the herb garden is an aromatic pleasure to explore. Check out the vegetables stored in the large root cellar and what’s new in the ranch resort greenhouse before it is prepared into delicious ranch cuisine. In addition to raising its own cattle, pigs, turkeys and chickens right on the ranch, Echo Valley sources other products such as artisan cheeses from nearby farms as well as fresh-caught seafood from Oceanwise suppliers in Vancouver.
East meets West
All therapists are trained by Thailand’s Ministry of Health – that is why the ranch is able to offer very authentic Thai Spa treatments. The western and eastern staff have been working together for so long its a family now. It’s about Thai and Canadian food and Spas with their different treatments. Indeed, their “Baan Thai Spa” is a work of the personal architect of the King of Thailand, Dr. Pinyo Suwankiri. He loved Echo Valley so much that he just wanted it to be there.
And all this is located on a ranch in the Cariboo wilderness. Just another amazing part of the world of Ranchweb.com members.
Details: Echo Valley Ranch & Spa is open April-October, December, January and can handle 40-50 guests. Set in ‘cowboy country” above the Fraser River in BC’s scenic Cariboo Region, the ranch is one hour west of Clinton, BC and a scenic 5.5 hour drive north of Vancouver. Minimum two night stay, rates start at $210 per night.
Photograph by Robert Wright / Courtesy Men’s Journal.com.
AT THE RANCH
Ask Ryan Van Duzer (at left), how he became a travel video journalist and filmmaker for Men’s Journal, and he’ll likely tell you his career began on a bicycle. After serving in the Peace Corps for two years in Honduras, Van Duzer rode his bike home to Colorado—from Honduras! “I met the most wonderful people,” Van Duzer says, “and I just got hooked on adventuring.” The trip took 87 days and covered some 4,000 miles, yet Van Duzer says he had little trouble and few flat tires. “Everybody asks about the tires, though,” Van Duzer explains with a laugh.
Later, the budding journalist rode a cruiser bike from Oceanside, California to Washington, DC, in the quest to promote bicycle advocacy. And each time, he brought a camera and recorded his exploits. He ended up with pretty sophisticated movies: after all, he has a degree in Broadcast Journalism.
His career as professional videographer then wound through Boulder, Colorado (he created an outdoor adventure show called “Out There,”) and his role as ‘adventure guy’ was secure. As a host, he appeared on National Geographic‘, on NPR, the Travel Channel, and a pilot for the History Channel. Van Duzer’s newest venture for Men’s Journal, is called Remote and Refined, an original video series recently launched.
Now, anyone with online access can join Van Duzer as he explores the far corners of America in the Men’s Journal series geared to adventures that end with lodging that’s several notches above spending the night in a sleeping bag. ”We want to highlight ranches,” Van Duzer says,”and find the best hidden spots in America.”
And these online mini-movies aren’t just for men, he notes. “They’re for anyone who has adventure in their spirit—we want to make you say ‘wow’!” So far, Van Duzer has taken his cameras to a number of Ranchweb.com members, including Red Reflet Ranch, The Resort at Paws Up, and most recently Triple Creek Ranch.
In the Triple Creek Ranch fly fishing video, you’ll see Van Duzer heading out through beautiful, forested countryside with one of the ranch’s angling guides. In short order, our man snags a good-sized trout, and later watches as the ranch chef grills up his fresh catch into a gourmet dish. It makes for a compressed but fascinating adventure you can enjoy during a coffee-break. Van Duzer makes Triple Creek Ranch look like the great destination it is (and the host looks pretty good himself). Men’s Journal has snagged a great ‘adventure guy’ reporter, and we’re pretty sure we’ll see a lot more of Ryan Van Duzer in the future.
Details: Go to the Men’s Journal website and you can click on the fishing video and others as they get posted. Or read more. Follow them: @mensjournal on Twitter | MensJournal on Facebook
Tucked against the saw-toothed Baboquivari Mountains southwest of Tucson, Arizona, is a traditional family-owned and operated guest ranch offering horseback riding and relaxation for some 32 guests. A few days ago, I talked to co-owner Mary Miller recently about what makes Arizona’s Elkhorn unique. The Miller Family has owned and operated Elkhorn Ranch continuously since 1946 and enjoys the friendship of many returning guests and crew.
“We open next week on Sunday.’ said Miller, with a smile in her voice. “What we take a lot of pride in is the great ranch traditions,” Miller added. “We’re not a ranch that tries to makes things new every year! We’re a great family destination.”
Special packages for fall/winter
Miller was proud to tell me about the upcoming photography workshop that the ranch has offered successfully for years, covering natural history and digital photography, at no added cost (This season it is January 20-27, with Stweart Aitchison and Ann Kramer). New this year is a Music Workshop-January 6-13, focusing on the old-time music with workshops on guitar, banjo, fiddle. You can join in or simply listen and enjoy.
Miller also wanted folks to know that there is space available for New Year’s Week. “We have a fun night on New Year’s,” she noted, “with games and a piñata for kids. There’s a huge Mexican feast, and later in the night, the adults take over to celebrate.” And during that whole week, the weather is typically lovely. “It’s a great time to get away from the cold in the north,” Millers says with a laugh.
Further, she told me that Arizona’s Elkhorn Ranch has spring break space available in March and April; it’s sunny and warm then and the pool is pretty popular in the afternoon. The kids play outdoors and have hotdog cookouts, and as always rides are tailored to the abilities of the guests. “We focus on one week stays,” Miller explains. “It gives you time to enjoy the countryside and become comfortable with the horses, and enjoy the friendship of the other guests you get the most out of a one week stay.” A weekly stay is a better bargain than the shorter stays. And for longer stays for snowbirds or other sunseekers, the rates are even more favorable.
Listen to former guests sing the praises of Arizona’s Elkhorn Ranch. One says: “I’ve been to the Elkhorn several times over the past 20 years and I’m pleased to report that it never changes. I’ve heard it said that wilderness is the greatest luxury. If that’s the case, then the Elkhorn is exceedingly luxurious! However, it’s a subtle brand of luxury; no spa or marble bathtubs here (though you can get a massage!)”
Another calls it a ‘perfect family vacation,’ saying “We enjoyed an absolutely amazing week at Elkhorn! If you enjoy being in nature, this is your place. Beautiful nature with mountain and dessert surrounding the ranch. We loved the concept of having meals on communal tables with open seating and there were always interesting conversations with people from all over and all ages.
A third raved “Spectacular views, universally wonderful people, and great rides for all age groups in the dessert and mountains. The wranglers are genuine and gracious and the rest of the staff is great too. We met folks from all over and all ages…this place is perfect for families and friends…go there…you’ll love it!”
You can’t buy advertising like that. But then, southern Arizona guest ranch Elkhorn Ranch doesn’t have to.
Scenic Sonoran desert country filled with unique and abundant birds and wildlife is the backdrop for the Miller family’s Elkhorn Ranch. Vacation here and you may enjoy riding ranch-raised horses through desert and mountain; hiking; swimming, tennis, shooting on the rifle range, playing ping ping, or horse shoes.
There’s a well stocked library and a groaning buffet table stocked with plentiful comfort food. Feed the birds on the patio of your cabin, watch for wildlife at dusk, or just enjoy riding the trails that wind toward the mountains. Kids love the freedom of the secluded ranch setting and the twice a day horseback trail rides. Families that lack a certain togetherness in the bustle of home life will love the fact that they can have all of their meals together, sharing the adventures of the day.
That’s Elkhorn Ranch: a great place to ride, relax, revive, recharge and reconnect.
Details: Open Mid November through end of April. Where: 50 miles southwest of Tucson. Call: 520/ 822-1040.
Notes from Elkhorn: Elkhorn becomes a home away from home where everyone enjoys the outdoors, riding, friendship, and the ease of a family friendly vacation where ordering breakfast is the big decision of the day. Everyone has the chance to relax and enjoy time together, as well as time apart – a perfect week long family vacation or gathering place for multi-generation reunions. Rides are arranged daily to suit individual interests and experience. All rides are guided, with small groups. Everyone enjoys the same horse and saddle throughout their stay. Kids must be 6 and older to ride. The 5 and under crowd may come at no charge, and have a ball exploring the ranch (note that Elkhorn does not provide supervised child-care). A heated swimming pool, tennis and basketball court, ping pong, horseshoes, hiking, birding, kick the can by the light of the stars and moon and peeking under rocks — plus a well stocked library and cupboard of games and puzzles keeps everyone busy when not riding. No television. Yes to wireless internet access. Fly to Phoenix or Tucson — visit the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum on your way to Elkhorn Ranch!
TIPS FROM THE RANCHERS
If you haven’t stopped by the Ranchweb Facebook page lately, give it a try. You’ll connect with some awesome people and enjoy their exchanges. They’re moms, dads, kids, ranch owners, horse lovers and lovers of all things Western, from Patsy Cline to polo.
Our Facebook fans are thoughtful, funny, philosophical, kind, upbeat, and enthusiastic. You’ll find everything from a kid’s first reaction to a dude ranch stay, to video of a bison roundup, tips from ranchers, a blog story about a romance, and amazing photos.
Here’s a sample of some of the more interesting thoughts posted on our Facebook home page recently:
Red Rock Ranch
We had a wonderful first week!! I would like to share a statement by one of our guests, Ronny (10 yrs old) – Mom, this is so much better than a hotel, you get to know everyone, they like.. all become your friends.. it is so cool. To me that sums up a great first time dude ranch visit. Doug.
“Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Zapata Ranch added a video from June 2012 to their timeline.
We moved a few cows and a handful of yearlings to a new pasture this morning and left them enjoying the lush grass surrounding the the pond.
# Vista Verde Ranch
Congratulations to newly engaged couple, Kelly & Mike! We were are honored to have been part of your special moment…
(a link to the blogstory about the romance followed)
White Stallion Ranch, Tucson, AZ
Our world and our lives have become increasingly interdependent, so when our neighbour is harmed, it affects us too. Therefore we have to abandon outdated notions of “them” and “us” and think of our world much more in terms of a great “US”, a greater human family.
~ dalai lama~
Horseshoe Canyon Guest Ranch
The great thing about a dude ranch vacation is you can wear yourself out or just sit back and relax.
Three Bars Cattle and Guest Ranch
Welcome to all of our new fans It’s the start of another great week here at three bars the weather is beautiful today and the horses are enjoying their days off out on pasture!
This evening was our first summer Steak Fry in front of the original Rankin home. It is such a gorgeous evening.
Details: Just sign up to Facebook if you haven’t already (it’s free), and give the Facebook.com/Ranchweb site a try by hitting the Like button. You get messages about deals, inspirational thoughts, horse news, ranch news, and some awesome pix.
Nice article in Britain’s The Sunday Telegraph highlighting a dude ranch fantasy trip to The Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana. Author Ian Henderson and his daughter tried living on a working ranch in the Montana mountains. We must admit, though, that this is one of the more luxurious working ranches in the West (Henderson called it ‘the ultimate place to live out those cowboy dreams, whatever your age’)!
The dude ranching industry should be happy with the coverage, as it made the whole industry look good. Gene Kilgore’s Ranchweb got a nice tip of the hat, too.”THE INSIDE TRACK: Gene Kilgore’s website, ranchweb.com, details many ranches, farm stays and b&bs in Montana, including sleep-in-the-dirt cattle drives.”) He could have added, that Ranchweb has more experience than anyone in helping guests find the perfect Ranch Vacation experience for their family. We’re just saying…
Thanks, Sunday Telegraph! For more, see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/activityandadventure/9060187/Cowboy-fantasies-on-a-ranch-in-Montana.html
TIPS FROM THE RANCHERS
A relaxing yoga session sounds great anytime, but it’s even better in a setting as lovely and peaceful as a dude ranch. And since horsemanship is at the crux of Colorado’s C Lazy U Ranch experience, C Lazy U is offering for the second year its unique combination: A yoga and riding program. It’s called The Julie Goodnight riding and yoga retreat for women (that’s Julie at right).
Located at the headwaters of the Colorado River and in the shadow of Rocky Mountain National Park (just two hours from Denver International Airport), C Lazy U is a true retreat from the stresses of everyday life.
In cooperation with Julie Goodnight, the riding and yoga clinics take place May 18-21 and October 19-22, 2012. The internationally-respected trainer and clinician, Julie Goodnight, teaches riders how to be their horse’s leader and master their equestrian skills through understanding horse behavior. C Lazy U’s clinic is developed for riders of all levels, from beginners to advanced riders.
In tandem with the riding program, attendees will also enjoy yoga from instructor Ellen Mesaros, teaching Anusara yoga. In their free time, participants are encouraged to indulge at the “Lazy U” spa for world-class massages, facials and more.
The ranch will also offer a ranch riding adventurefor adult riders of all levels September 21-24, 2012, also in cooperation with Julie. All three weekends feature discounted rates for world-class accommodations with programming, riding, and yoga (during the yoga weekends) included. Some participants will bring their own horses and others will work with one of the Ranch’s 175 horses.
A sample itinerary 7:30 Breakfast, open seating; 9 Group One: Riding lesson; Group Two: yoga; 10:00 Break 10:30 Group One: Yoga / Group Two: riding lesson; 12:00 Lunch 1:30 Group One: riding lesson; Group Two: trail ride or free time;3:00 Group One: trail ride or free time; Group Two: riding lesson; 5:00 Yoga stretch for everyone; 6:30 Cocktails; 7:00 Dinner is served! 8:00 Horse talk around the campfire.
Details: C Lazy U offers a selection of 38 rustically-elegant cabin accommodations. All guest rooms boast beautifully-crafted western and southwestern style furnishings, and most feature stone fireplaces, refrigerators, sitting rooms, balconies, and some, a jetted tub. For more on C Lazy U, visit Ranchweb.
We were pleased to see Ed Wetschler’s story today on Gene Kilgore in Everett Potter’s Travel Report.
As Wetschler puts it “There are more experts on spas, cruises, and ski resorts than stars in the heavens, but when it comes to dude ranches, Gene Kilgore is the expert, a star in his own right. Kilgore dropped out of medical school to write his first guide to ranch vacations in 1980, and since then he has witnessed – and reported to the world – profound changes in how dude ranches entertain their guests. Ranches have updated their programs so much, in fact, that you might even wonder if the term “dude ranch” still applies. So we decided to corral this cowboy and get the lowdown.”
What follows is a neat update on the dude ranching, Gene’s lengthy history of involvement in this unique industry, and some flat-out gorgeous photos. Check out the whole story by clicking here.