Tanque Verde Ranch offers families an authentic dude ranch experience in a gorgeous corner of the Sonoran Desert outside of Tucson. They’ve been welcoming guests since the 1950s … my last visit was 39 years ago!
Dude ranches come in all flavors today. Tanque Verde remains steadfast in its commitment to offer families a real Western experience. There’s nothing pretentious about it. Guests visit to have a good time … and they do, as evidenced by the fact that over 50 percent of them choose to return for another ranch vacation at Tanque Verde.
Tanque Verde is an easy family vacation in every way. Although they offer B&B rates, most families opt for the All-Inclusive program, where activities and meals are wrapped into the pricing. You don’t think about bills or signing checks, you just enjoy all the ranch has to offer and know what it will cost at the end of the stay.
The ranch is convenient to access, as it’s only a 40-minute drive from the Tucson airport. Unlike other dude ranches that require a Sunday-to-Sunday or a Saturday-to-Saturday weeklong stay, Tanque Verde does not have a weekly minimum. Families can come for two or three days. This is huge, as it makes Tanque Verde a short getaway option and it enables families to spend less and still have all the perks of a ranch experience.
Although there is an array of onsite activities, the main entertainment centers around Tanque Verde’s horseback riding program. The ranch has 150-plus well-cared-for horses with a variety for riders of different ages and abilities. Daily rides at different speeds and lengths are offered. Although the rides happen at set times, there are plenty of options for people who want to log hours in the saddle.
Harmony with Horses
The ranch wranglers are experienced and love sharing their knowledge about horses with guests. We had an opportunity to experience a bit of their Harmony with Horses program, where guests learn about how horses think and relate to their riders. Individual tips are provided to each rider; I’ve ridden all my life but learned invaluable lessons in this program.
Trail Ride Options
Walking, intermediate and loping rides are offered daily. Intermediate rides involve a mix of trotting and walking and the loping ride is the option for experienced guests who want to ride at a faster pace.
Guests need to pass a lope test to participate, where wranglers watch you ride in a ring and assess if you have absolute control of the horse. I failed my first lope test, and then implemented the advice provided and passed soon thereafter. This process is indicative of how seriously the ranch takes guest safety.
The daily kids’ club is for children ages 4-12 and involves lessons and a variety of horseback activities. Kids are separated by age and engage in activities including crafts, tennis and nature discovery, in addition to riding. There’s a kids’ clubhouse, dedicated dining room and evening programming too. All of this is included in the all-inclusive pricing.
I learned to ride at Tanque Verde and I can see the program is going strong. Kids are in the ring and on the trail having fun with horses! These are memories that last forever.
Although Tanque Verde is a dude ranch, they have resort amenities, including a swimming pool, mountain bike riding, tennis, a spa and fitness center, and an onsite Nature Center. They also offer yoga and art classes, as well as fishing in their onsite lake.
Tanque Verde does a fantastic job organizing special events each week. Breakfast rides, sunset rides, cookout dinners under the stars, picnic rides, team penning, and dancing are all part of the ranch experience.
We had an unbelievable experience stargazing with an astronomer Tanque Verde brings in occasionally for guests. Given the low light conditions in the desert, stargazing conditions are optimal. Although we had a full moon during our evening, our session was spectacular.
TIP: If you visit Tanque Verde for less than a week, make sure you understand what special events are happening for your dates, as the same events are not offered each day.
No two rooms at Tanque Verde are the same. Options include Salas (rooms), Casitas (Junior Suites) and Haciendas (Suites). Accommodations are spacious with plenty of room for families to be comfortable. This is the one area of the ranch that is a work in progress. Some of the accommodations are dated and they are undergoing a process of refreshing and updating them.
TIP: Ask for specific photos and a description of your unit when you book a room, as they assign specific units at the time of booking.
The food at Tanque Verde is hearty with a great variety of options for all tastes. The fresh menu changes nightly and there are always plenty of vegetarian, fish and meat options. Kids have their own menu and dining room.
The food is not gourmet or fussy, but it’s in line with the ranch experience.
There’s a real feeling of being taken care of at the ranch. The Ranch Manager, Jim Bankson, frequently checks in with guests. The front desk staff is exceptional. Everyone’s aim is make sure guests are happy. The way it should be!
We can help! Our family-friendly hotel review of Tanque Verde has more information about why this property works so well for families. Use the Check Availability button to reach out for Best Available Rates, and one of our Family Vacation Consultants will follow up with you to advise about any additional questions you may have regarding a stay here.
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Editor’s Note: We experienced Tanque Verde as part of a media trip to the ranch. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy.
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