White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona

Dude ranches in the American Southwest conjure up all sorts of romanticized imagery, from horses grazing near cacti in the morning to a lone cowboy strumming his guitar by a fire after sunset. The American Southwest has captured our collective imagination and resulting movies (like City Slickers) have led to the popularization of dude ranch vacations for a taste of that purely American “Wild West” experience. That experience, and so much more, is there for the taking at the White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona.

Saguaro Cactus on White Stallion Ranch property in Tucson (Jennifer Miner)

Saguaro Cactus on White Stallion Ranch property in Tucson

A multigenerational family vacation and the 3,000 acre property White Stallion Ranch are perfectly suited for each other. We took our kids and my parents-in-law to the ranch for a family vacation, and everyone had a flawlessly great time. We were there for four days, and we rode horses (at least) once every day. There’s more to White Stallion Ranch than horse riding, of course, but that quickly became our favorite ranch activity. We chose slow rides and fast rides; other options are mountain rides, all-day and half-day rides, team cattle penning — this is one we really want to try the next time we’re on a dude ranch, by the way — wine and cheese rides and the even classier beer and cheetoes rides, lessons, and hay rides.

Multigenerational Horseback Riding at White Stallion Ranch (Jennifer Miner)

Multigenerational Horseback Riding at White Stallion Ranch

Family hike at White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, AZ (Jennifer Miner)

Family hike on huge White Stallion Ranch property in Tucson, Arizona

But, for my urban and suburban family, a long weekend of extended horseback riding through the brush was a continual highlight. Sure, it’s a lifestyle for plenty of folks, but this really make our vacation just what we wanted it to be. The horses are happy and healthy, gentle and sweet (one of mine was very stubborn, too, about nibbling on some reedy grasses while walking through them). The guides are obviously also happy to be there and show city folk the slower life on a working ranch. Four days, six different half-day rides, and every one left us looking to sign up for more. We didn’t “get” the appeal of long, exploring horseback rides before, but now we do.

happy horses at White Stallion Ranch in Arizona (Jennifer Miner)

Happy horses (and kids) at White Stallion Ranch in Arizona

There are lots of other activities at the White Stallion Ranch too, here is a quick list:

•    Horseback riding
•    Hiking
•    Hayrides
•    Rock Climbing
•    Swimming
•    Tennis
•    Volleyball
•    Rec Room Gaming
•    Petting Zoo
•    Cookouts
•    Live Evening Entertainment

That’s a lot of activities! Certainly enough to keep a multigenerational family vacation on the ranch occupied. We only rode horses and hiked, and..well, ate a lot if eating counts as a vacation activity! The meals here are ranch style, delicious and plentiful. It’s pretty amazing, how riding horses for a few hours whets the appetite. Something of note is that the wine menu here is classy; even my oenophile father-in-law was impressed. Drinking a couple glasses of wine as the sun sets in the desert, and a farm hand starts strumming his guitar and singing nearby, is a memory my parents-in-law, husband and I will take with us forever.

Stables at White Stallion Ranch in Arizona (Jennifer Miner)

Stables at White Stallion Ranch in Arizona

The White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona borders the Saguaro National Park, and those amazing saguaro cacti are everywhere. Since these are very slow-growing plants, those giant saguaro cacti  are easily a hundred years old. These cacti are protected and only found in this part of Arizona. It’s an hour and a half flight from Los Angeles to Tucson, but the topography is so distinct, it feels like being in a different country. Honestly, it’s an ideal desert vacation for beleaguered suburbanites; I get the whole “City Slickers” thing now. Even a few days at the White Stallion Ranch is enough to feel relaxed, rejuvenated and ready to face the rest of the world.

Saguaro National Park Petroglyphs (Jennifer Miner)

One activity off the ranch that the staff are happy to arrange is a hike to petroglyphs at Signal Hill in the Saguaro National Park. The hike is very easy, though it’s usually pretty hot (this IS part of the Sonoran Desert, after all). While it’s not what I’d call an accessible hike, it is only about half a mile with limited elevation changes, with a path that is usually easy to see and use. Signal Hill has lots of petroglyphs from the Hohokam, a pre-Columbian people who marked stones with some desert animals, and even more geometric designs whose true meanings are lost to time.

Petroglyphs on Signal Hill, Saguaro National Park (Jennifer Miner)

Petroglyphs on Signal Hill, Saguaro National Park

I participated in the National Park-guided hike to Signal Hill’s petroglyphs the last morning of our multigenerational vacation at White Stallion Ranch in Tucson. The rest of my family opted for — you guessed it — one last half day horseback ride. It was amazing to see the vast expanse of the desert, quite literally as far as the eye could see, and imagine the Hohokam eking out their lives there from around 400 AD to the mid-1400’s. We don’t know why they disappeared; their homes were already in ruins when Spanish explorers reached Arizona in the 1500’s, and other people had taken their place since. What remains now of those ancient people is scratched onto boulders, facing the sun as a last testament to their forgotten generations and lives.

Heading back to the airport with my extended family, I look at my relaxed parents-in-law, my satisfied husband, my tired and happy children. Special multigenerational family time together like this etches its own memories on our lives. How will our children remember it? What will they tell their own kids? Perhaps multigenerational family travel at places like the White Stallion ranch creates our own petroglyphs, our own testaments to our lives together for future generations to appreciate, too. There is nothing on earth more valuable.

Saguaro National Park, Arizona (Jennifer Miner)

Saguaro National Park, Arizona (Jennifer Miner)

My extended family and I were hosted on this marvelous dude ranch vacation.

10 Comments on "White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona"

  1. The landscape is much like here in Almería, Spain, where many many Westerns were filmed. The tall cacti in your pics is different but our garden is covered in Agave and prickly pear.

    A very interesting post and great photos!

    E x

  2. I’ve been fortunate to stay at White Stallion myself–it’s a great experience and a well-run ranch!

  3. Looks amazing! I love it when there’s so much to do, for everyone.

  4. Fab review, thanks for featuring White Stallion Ranch – we lived in Phoenix up until a few months ago, and visited Tucson regularly, so actually have taken quite a few horse back tours through Arizona. Loved it! Especially if you can get a tour which ends just as the sun starts to set – when the sun hits the desert over the saguaros, there’s nothing else quite like it!

    Love your photos – Saguaro National Park is my favorite. Thanks for the memories! Highly recommend horse riding through the desert too!

  5. Our family is talking about taking a trip to the Southwest in the near future. A dude ranch near Saguaro National Park with and easy hike to petroglyphs- that all sounds great. Thanks for this great review.

  6. Great trip for a weekend with friends or family!! a lot of stuff to do

  7. It’s a great tour with lots of adventure. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

  8. Great website you have got here

  9. Gmail sign up | June 16, 2016 at 5:20 am | Reply

    Arghhh. Arizona, the county that i will always live. Great travel experience.

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