A slow-burn mesquite fire. Cacti for as far as the eye can see. A staff with hardy, real accents. This is a true dude ranch, Rancho de los Caballeros. For 60 years, the “gentlemen on horses” ranch and Gant family have welcomed generations of guests onto its 20,000-acre property. Now with a golf course, standout tennis courts, team penning activities, and more, the property continues to entice a burgeoning throng of international folks and discerning “Millennials,” each hoping for a cowboy inspired escape. Here are my favorite moments during a recent stay at this standout dude ranch.
Horses to play with: Perhaps I adore dude ranches for their horses. A smile always sweeps across my face when I first glimpse at a corral filled with content horses, grazingon a fresh bundle of hay or trotting across an expansive pen. Rancho de los Caballeros' collection of horses is impressive. Over 80 are kept during the season, some of which are owned by nearby residents. I was able to take a private trail ride withCaroline, who grew up coming to the ranch with her family. I love that. The number of resorts that can say, "Our guests love us so much that they eventually work for us, decades later" is very few, I believe. A history of building multi-generation experiences is a luxury of a rare set of resorts, and one Rancho de los Caballeros cherishes well.
Carolineloves the desert. I learned so much during our ride, particularly about the Saguaro, a cacti thriving only in the Sonoran desert, located in Southwestern regions of America. So called the "king of cacti," Saguaro takes centuries to grow and have been environmentally protected since 1933. I knew one the moment I saw it-this cacti is the famous, tall (up to 50 feet!), armed type depicted in countless desert art, memorabilia and Westerns.Carolinesaid she has 4 growing in her backyard. Just 7 seven years old, the four babies are barely an inch tall.Carolineand I spotted a dead a Saguaro, which appeared almost as a bleached, wood-encrusted statue. Riding amidst Rancho de los Caballeros' 20,000 open acres is a must, especially if withCaroline.
Skeet is neat: One of Rancho de los Caballeros' most popular pastimesis skeet and trap shooting. Both major types of competitive shotgun shooting originated in the early 1920s and are as Western as a pair of spurs. I've gone shooting with hand guns a number of times, but the thought of trying to hit flying clay disks propelling across the dessert landscape seemed daunting. Norm, the ranch's skeet expert, insisted it was easier than what I imagined. His strong cowboy accent, weathered look, and dry as a cactus humor entertained and puffed up the confidence of my group. Indeed, after a short introduction and practice round, my group of four was imploding one little clay disk after another.
A spa among cacti: Rancho de los Caballeros' spa is one of my favorites of dude ranches. Housed in a separate area of joint guest cottages, the spa is rather new for the ranch, but has quickly become one of the properties’ favored spots. The main building is washed in sunlight and leads to a charming waiting area that overlooks a cacti spotted courtyard. For an epic indulgence, opt for the Desert Ritual, a four-hour ritual inspired experience featuringtea service, Hohakam Massage, Desert Pearl Facial, Southwest Pedicure and Retreat Wrap Manicure. The service starts off with a walk through the spa’s stone laid labyrinth, framed by rolling mountains in the distance. I enjoyed a fantastic massage on a heated table next to a fire, ideal for keeping me cozy from the desert chill in the winter morning hours. The couple’s treatment room, highlighted by a gigantic white claw foot bathtub, is my inspiration for my bathroom remodel. The “Rubadubdub-Two in the Tub” promises a fun dip for couples, plus dual massages.
Learn more: www.ranchodeloscaballeros.com