The TV series Yellowstone has sparked a demand for ranch holidays in the USA, and this review of White Stallion Ranch might just convince you to try one.
Ranch holidays in the USA are something that I have often thought about booking. I remember Luke watching cowboy movies from a young age and thinking how much he would love to experience a holiday in the Wild West. When myself and Alex went horse riding recently the idea popped into my head again, but it wasn’t until I started watching the TV series Yellowstone, that a ranch holiday was placed firmly on my travel bucket list!
And it seems I’m not the only one! The term ‘cowboy-cation’ started popping up on lists of new travel trends, and I had many queries from readers about Dude ranches.
Luckily former travel agent and fellow travel addict Christine Callinan had one of her most memorable family trips in White Stallion Ranch Tucson, and she kindly offered to write this review for me.
You only have to look at the incredible 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor to know this must be one of the best places for ranch holidays in the USA, and if those reviews don’t convince you to try one, I’m quite sure this one will!
Regardless of whether you are an avid equestrian, or have never ridden a horse before but fancy giving it a go, Christine is convinced that a Ranch holiday is for you!
We are a family of five and none of us had ever ridden a horse before, but as a family with teenagers we are always looking for new and exciting holiday adventures, and the White Stallion Ranch in Tucson Arizona seemed to tick all boxes.
It is a fully working cattle ranch that caters for riding holidays for all abilities. But it is not just a riding holiday, it is a fully immersive ranch holiday.
We were a little apprehensive as it was a new experience for all of us. Before we left home we had to fill in forms to state our weight and ability, and we were assured that they would match us up with suitable horses.
Of course once the first lesson was over, the kids became experts, and the adults – well lets just say we took a little longer…
The Ranch is just beautiful. It has been in operation for over 55 years and is run by the True family. Although all rooms or casitas have been recently refurbished, I don’t want you to think of it as a luxury ranch, but rather a rustic beauty. Rooms are decorated in a typical western style with little cowboy touches dotted throughout.
We stayed in a two bedroom family casita. None of the rooms have televisions, but they do have WiFi and are fully air conditioned. We felt like we were a million miles from home – but in a good way.
We stayed over the 4th of July weekend which is low season in Tucson, as it is just before the monsoon rains arrive. It was perfect for us as it was warm and cloudy, so we had no blistering sun to contend with.
If you are concerned that horse riding my not be for you, you can rest assured there are many more things to do on the ranch.
There is a swimming pool, hot tub, basketball court and games room. You can also try rock climbing, hiking, shooting or fat tyre bikes, and there is a petting zoo and evening entertainment on site too.
All of this, along with daily horse rides in the desert, made it one of our most magical family holidays to date.
Our kids loved the freedom the ranch delivered, and felt like cowboys throughout our stay. Our days consisted of daily treks, and the kids were free to choose their own activity afterwards.
The food was another highlight of the ranch. Breakfast was a feast fit for a king – cowboy steaks and eggs, along with a host of other goodies – a teenagers dream! The kitchen stayed open all day for you to come and go to get tea, coffee or hot chocolate. If there were pastries left over from breakfast, they were also available to enjoy throughout the day.
The children loved being able to go to the kitchen and make themselves at home at any time. They made hot chocolates whenever they felt like it, although I think one of the main reasons they went was to pet the friendly ranch dogs.
Dinner was superb too. We were there for the weekly BBQ which came with an array of salad options, and very large steaks! The whole atmosphere was very casual and everyone was extremely friendly.
In the main living room area there are guitars available to strum on and indoor games to be enjoyed, including billiards, chess and numerous board games.
There was also an honesty bar – it was just fabulous. The stools were made from saddles and we helped ourselves to beers and cocktails.
There was an honesty sheet where we itemised the drinks we had taken and we then settled our bill before we left. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was heavy handed with the delicious margaritas they had left chilling in the fridge for us.
After dinner there was cowboy entertainment around the campfire. For anyone who loves country and western music – this is a show not to be missed. On certain days the ranch offers rodeo shows and hay cart rides too, and as for the sunsets – they were spectacular.
We were used to typical resort style holidays and city breaks, so my kids were fascinated with the landscape. Cacti grow wild everywhere you look, there were countless ranch dogs and cats rambling around looking for some attention. A toad took a swim in the swimming pool one night, and the night time nature sounds were captivating.
Things to do with kids near Tucson
A typical day starts early on the ranch, so we took advantage of early morning rides before heading out to explore the countryside in the afternoons. There is so much to do in the Tucson area that will entertain all age groups.
We travelled south to Tombstone – home of the O.K. Corral. It’s just over an hour’s drive from the Ranch and is like being in the Wild West. There are reenactments of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral throughout the day.
Pima Air and Space Museum is another great family day out and is particularly interesting for anyone who likes aviation. An air force veteran showed us around. He knew all the history of the aircrafts – you could tell this was his passion.
Kids can board a number of the planes and pretend they are fighter pilots. A decommissioned Air Force One aircraft is also on view at the base.
The museum is right beside a live air force base so you could be lucky to catch some military aircraft practice manoeuvres. We were, but blink and you’ll miss them – however, you won’t miss the sound.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is one of the top things to do in Tucson with kids. We didn’t get a chance to visit but it is suitable for children of all ages. 85% of the museum is outdoors and there is an aquarium, zoo, botanical gardens and a natural history museum all set over 98 acres!
What is included in ranch holidays?
While every ranch holiday is different, you can usually expect three meals per day, all horseback riding, approximately five hours per day, tea, coffees and soft drinks and some form of entertainment. In some cases you will pay extra for specific horse riding lessons.
Frequently asked questions about ranch holidays
Can I book a ranch holiday if I have never ridden a horse before?
Most ranches will have horses that are appropriate for first time riders as well as experienced riders. There is an age limit for children, this varies depending on the ranch but is usually 5 – 6 years and above.
Is there horse riding everyday?
Horses are usually given one day off per week.
How hot does it get in the summer time?
Most ranch holidays in the USA will experience high temperatures during the summer months and possibly monsoon rains too. Spring and Autumn are ideal times to travel if you want cooler weather, but I suggest checking looking at the historical tab in Wunderground to give you an idea of what temperatures were like for the same period last year, in the place you wish to travel to.
How to book ranch holidays in the USA?
Ranch holidays are not limited to Arizona, in fact Colorado, Wyoming and Montana have many Dude Ranches. If you wish to stay in White Stallion Ranch, the closest airport is Tucson, which is 30 minutes away, or Phoenix which is 90 minutes.Search flights here
White Stallion Ranch was such a fascinating holiday experience for all of us and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I hope you it inspires you to book ranch holidays in the USA soon.