Win a Dude Ranch Vacation in Random Drawing

Elkhorn Ranch trail ride

Photo: Elkhorn Ranch, Arizona

Head on over to the New York Times Travel Show, January 24 to 26, 2020
for a chance to win a 5-night stay for two at Elkhorn Ranch in Arizona

Experience the Spirit of the West

If you have yearned for the wide-open spaces, have pictured yourself galloping (well, maybe trotting or walking) your trusty steed across fields or high atop a mountain ridge, then you are totally ready for a dude ranch experience.

For many, this is a bucket list vacation. Others make it to a dude ranch on a regular basis because they know this is one of the few vacations where you can really unwind, be close to nature and enjoy the company of family and friends in a stress-free environment.

With so many options, where do you begin to research your dream vacation?

Dude Ranchers Association Healthyaging.net

Photo: Dude Ranchers’ Association

The Go-To Source for A Ranch Stay: The Dude Ranchers’ Association

You might start with The Dude Ranchers’ Association, the governing body of the West’s dude ranch industry that began in 1926. Here’s how they describe the experience:

“Dude ranching is much more than guest rooms and horses. It is a sharing of the spirit of the West and the beauty of the wilderness. On a ranch, you’ll experience a world that is dictated by the seasons and cycles of life. It is a simple way of life that demands honesty, integrity, hard work and a strong spirit. Your appreciation of nature, family and friends will be renewed.

“You’ll find that good riding, good food and good friends will leave you peaceful and content. You’ll discover the luxuries of silence, the wind on your face and the stars shining brightly. More than just a day full of activities, the essence of a ranch vacation nourishes your heart and soul.

“It is unlike any vacation you have ever taken – one that you will return to time and again. It‘s horses, hats, hospitality, heritage, honesty and heart.”

One such ranch is Elkhorn Ranch and you might be able to get there as a winner of the random drawing for a free vacation stay to be held at The New York Times Travel Show, January 24 to 26. Healthy Aging Magazine is one of the official media partners of the show and will be conducting a random drawing for free vacation stays at their booth, #634.

Elkhorn Ranch healthyaging.net

Disconnect to Reconnect at Elkhorn Ranch, Arizona

Elkhorn Ranch is a winter dude ranch located in the Sonoran Desert just 50 miles southwest of Tucson. The guest season begins in mid-November and runs through April. Although families visit during the holidays and school vacations, much of the season attracts adults.

Most guests stay for one week from Sunday to Sunday, and many of them take advantage of discounted rates for two- to three-week stays or more. All-inclusive rates are equally friendly to families, couples, and solo travelers because there is no single supplement and there are healthy discounts for children age 18 and younger.

For almost three-quarters of a century, the Miller family has provided traditional western hospitality and exceptional horseback riding, the latter of which is at the center of guests’ experience.

Elkhorn Ranch for all ages

Photo: Courtesy of Elkhorn Ranch, Nancy Taylor

Riding for All Ages

Over 100 head-of-ranch-raised and -trained horses and individually tailored small rides cater to beginner and experienced riders. Riders adventure into the scenic wilderness of the Baboquivari Mountains and past majestic saguaro cacti to explore the Sonoran Desert where they may enjoy exhilarating, loping rides.

Kids must be at least six years old to ride. Elkhorn specializes in keeping adults in the saddle well into their 80s and even 90s.

The ranch headquarters is located at 3,700-foot elevation and rides climb to above 7,000 feet where riders take in views of the undeveloped ranching country of the Altar Valley.

Hiking, Swimming, and More

Guided hikes are a popular addition to the Elkhorn program for those who would rather explore on their own two feet. A heated swimming pool, tennis court, horseshoes, shuffleboard, ping-pong, puzzles and games, and a tremendous library provide for entertainment around the ranch buildings. Birdfeeders and waters at each cabin attract diverse birds and other desert critters.

The Miller family’s favorite attraction is the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum [desertmuseum.org] where you can learn about the unique and diverse wildlife and plant life of the Sonoran Desert region.

A Dude Ranch Tradition Destination

As a member of the National Dude Ranchers’ Association and the Arizona Dude Ranchers’ Association , the ranch provides hospitality steeped in the dude ranch tradition of families who take in friends.

When guests arrive on Sunday, they begin building camaraderie right away at the Sunday meet and greet and roast beef barbeque. Half-day rides are offered almost every day except Sunday, and all-day rides with a sandwich or a hot lunch cooked on the trail are an option on Wednesday and Friday.

There’s no riding Thursday afternoon, providing time for hiking, birding, swimming, or a visit to nearby attractions. If you leave the ranch, be sure to make it back in time for the Thursday night margarita party and mesquite-fired steaks.

The Saturday desert picnic wraps up the week where everyone meets for lunch cooked over a campfire out on the desert.

Much of the Elkhorn Ranch camaraderie evolves in the Long House where guests gather for meals three times each day. Friendly, open seating invites conversation, and people often linger in the dining room to visit. Deciding what to have for breakfast is the most challenging decision of the day. Luckily, everyone has a week or more to try everything.

Chuck wagon spread Elkhorn Ranch

Always a delicious spread at Elkhorn Ranch. Photo: Elkhorn Ranch

Ranch Grub Not To Be Missed

Meals are well-balanced, nutritiously prepared, and the variety appeals to most appetites. The kitchen accommodates dietary preferences and needs with advance notice. The staff loves to provide celebration cakes for special occasions.

A picnic lunch cooked over an open fire on the desert is a weekly treat as well as a couple of all-day rides with sack lunches or camp cooking. The ranch does not have a bar, but guests are welcome to bring alcohol or purchase beer or wine from the ranch’s main office.

Where To Hang Your Hat

Couples, families, and solo travelers feel equally at home in Elkhorn’s 20 unique cabins. The ranch accommodates around 32 adults at any one time and can expand to the high 30s when families with children are present.

Each cabin has a private bathroom, electric heat, and good reading lights, along with outside furniture and bird feeders. The cabins, dining room, and corral are within a less than five-minute walk of each other, yet there is a feeling of privacy and seclusion. The ranch crew provides daily housekeeping and a nightly turn-down service. They are happy to meet any special requests with advance notice.

Riding for all ages at Elkhorn Ranch

Riding for all ages and levels at Elkhorn Ranch. Photo: Elkhorn Ranch

Dude Ranch Experience at Elkhorn for Every Age

If you are looking for a vacation destination that caters to solo travelers, couples, families, and multigenerational family reunions, Elkhorn Ranch in Arizona should be at the top of your list.

The ranch has been owned and operated by the Miller family since 1945. The first generation, Ernest and Grace Miller, were also instrumental in the creation and curation of the Dude Ranchers’ Association that Elkhorn Ranch has been a part of since the ranch began. The Millers got started in dude ranching at the Elkhorn Ranch in the Gallatin Canyon of Montana [elkhornranchmt.com], which remains a top choice for a summer dude ranch adventure.

Whether you’re a solo traveler or looking for a bucket list destination for your family, Elkhorn Ranch in sunny Arizona provides a memorable outdoor adventure vacation. You’ll likely join the ranks of the many visitors who return year after year. You’ll be inspired by fellow adventurers who stay on the trails, horseback riding and walking well into their senior years

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