White Stallion Ranch is an all-inclusive guest ranch owned by the True family who welcome guests from all over the world to enjoy a resort-type stay with top-notch amenities, delicious meals, horseback riding, and family-friendly activities. It is located in the Arizona desert just north of Tucson and Saguaro National Park with beautiful views of rugged mountain peaks. It is open year-round and we visited in early January.
What we loved:
• A friendly office staff member took us on a quick tour of the property so we could see all the fun things to do and learn about how things worked.
• All the staff (especially Mr. True) knew our names and were friendly.
• 3 delicious meals with quick service.
• A huge family suite with plenty of space for our family of 6, plus a fireplace.
• The game room, playground, and petting zoo that our little kids loved.
• A well-heated swimming pool and old-fashioned wooden hot tub.
• Horseback riding led by excellent wranglers.
• Plenty of activities to keep us enjoying our time all day long.
Our family of 6 stayed in a deluxe family suite consisting of 2 adjoining rooms and 2 bathrooms with Jacuzzi tubs/showers. One room had 2 single beds, a queen pull out couch and room for a roll-away bed. My husband and I enjoyed our own room with a king-sized bed, couches and fireplace. Each room had a table, several dressers, full-closets, reading material, and an empty mini-fridge. Bathrooms were stocked with towels, hair dryers and toiletries. Robes were hanging in the closets for bathroom and pool use. Beds were made with large woolen bedspreads and a western decoration theme made it all homey.
A medium sized pool was heated and ready for our family to jump in and enjoy. Lounge chairs in the sun with plenty of shade (for the summer!) rested around the outside. An enclosed room made a cozy shelter for an old-fashioned wooden hot tub. My little ones played on the steps of the shallow end which was about 3-4 feet and my boys loved diving into the 9 foot deep end.
We spent a lot of time inside the GAME ROOM which had a pool table, shuffleboard table, air-hockey, foosball, poker table, couches, TV with video player (and lots of videotapes), and small video-game table (with Donkey Kong, Ms. Pacman, and Frogger). A juke box that played all my husbands favorites from the 80s, plus a few country favorites for me, made it extra fun. Next to the game room was a “movie theater” with 27 seats and surround sound. We walked through the PETTING ZOO with goats, pigs, and pygmy donkeys and stuck our hands through the fence to pet their soft fur. We couldn’t go inside, but we did feed them little bits of food from a 10cent vending machine. My kids enjoyed the small PLAYGROUND with a slide but they especially giggled on the tire swing. One of our favorite activities was to fill our pockets with HORSE COOKIES (available in the office) and pet the gentle steeds that were resting in the corrals. They flocked to us like ducks on a pond and we loved petting them and feeding them. My husband also enjoyed shooting hoops at the basketball court and throwing horseshoes. A FITNESS CENTER with a gym, sauna, and massage therapy rooms were top-of-the-line.
We checked in to the ranch just in time to join the 2pm slow ride after we filled out the paperwork with our basic height, weight, and riding experience that the wrangler staff used to pair us with a great horse. For each ride, we would wait by the corral until they called our name and helped us load on our horse and get us ready. I liked this system because I rode the same horse during our stay and got to know him well. We rode as a family which I also really liked. Our wrangler took us out on the trails in a group of about 8-10 riders and the horses walked single file. At dinnertime each evening Mr. True would announce and explain the next days activities and then would talk to each guest and find out what they would like to sign up for. Our 4 year old was too young to ride so my hubby and I took turns riding with our other boys. We took several slow rides, a morning mountain ride, and a couple of fast rides. For the fast ride, we had to take a “test” in the arena with the wrangler giving instructions and making sure we had control of the horses and were sitting well in the saddle. My son and husband passed with flying colors and enjoyed the fast rides. I wasn’t quite ready for that, so I joined the team penning in the arena and had a lot of fun riding in a group of 4 riders to corral 3 steer into a pen in as quick a time as we could (32 seconds!) Lessons for $20 were available and I could have used one! Half day and all day rides were available as well as slow and fast mountain rides. On Saturday morning we went on a slow ride to the breakfast cook out and enjoyed hot scrambled eggs and sausage, potatoes and blueberry pancakes; yummy! Some day when our kids are older I’d love to come back and go on the all-day ride to the National Park and enjoy the adventure (and sore muscles!)
We enjoyed 3 freshly cooked meals a day served buffet style in the dining room. We would pick up our drinks (lemonade, water, iced tea) and pick a seat in the cozy dining room and then stand in line to choose our food. The buffet style was excellent for our family since each of us could choose the food we wanted and the amount. We liked sitting as a family at the large tables that sat 6, or at the longer ones that sat up to 20. For lunch we sat outside on the patio where there were lots of tables in the warm sun (and many more in the shade for the warm summer season). Servers walked around checking to see if we wanted more to drink, or to remove our plates, and took our orders for dessert. For breakfast there was a short-order menu to choose from or a buffet of cereal, yogurts, and breads. At lunch and dinner there were specials served such as spaghetti, turkey bacon sandwiches, pork tenderloin, salmon, enchiladas, etc. along with the ever-present salad and fresh veggie toppings, and meat and cheeses. One evening the True brothers cooked tender steaks on the grill and served them to the guests. Everything was delicious including the tempting cookies! HAPPY HOUR took place each evening at 6pm in the bar and lodge with complimentary appetizers and a serve-yourself bar with a wide selection of drinks that were paid for on the honor system. Kids were welcome to be in the bar, lounge, and lodge during happy hour and ours enjoyed the nachos and simple appetizers (except for the shrimp cocktail) while we played chess or chatted with other guests.
Despite the chilly weather (45-50F), we bundled up and braved the desert breezes to watch a world-famous trick roper, Loop Rawlins, perform his skill of gun slinging, whip cracking, and trick roping. We were all amazed and thrilled! He was funny to boot! The next night we were warm and cozy while listening to a famous western singer, Bill Ganz, croon some old favorites like “Get Along Little Dogies” while strumming his vintage guitar with amazing skill. On our final night, we braved our fear and held snakes, geckos, and other wild creatures of the desert after a fun and educational presentation of these animals. Even though we visited the ranch during the off-season, this guest ranch provided top-quality entertainment each evening as if it was peak season. We loved it!
GUESTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD:
We were stunned to learn that our dinner companion was from Japan and had a 30+ traveling day ahead of her to return home. At the other end of the table were a man and his granddaughter from Sweden who came to visit the Wild West and ride horses. Other guests from Germany, Belgium, England, and Canada were visiting while we were there and we were amazed at how far they had traveled. It convinced me that we had come to a gem of a place that was definitely worth our 8 hour car ride. A greater surprise was the friendly family that lived only 15 minutes away and were enjoying a “stay-cation”. We loved chatting with people and making new friends and it was so easy to do. When you are riding on a horse and sharing meals together, it’s easy to strike up conversation!
LENGTH OF STAY and PRICE:
Guests are welcome to come any day of the week and to stay as long or short as they would like. This system can make this vacation more affordable than a week-long guest ranch stay. A 3 night stay during the off-season could cost an equivalent amount to food, lodging, and theme park admission for a family vacation, and in my humble opinion, is much more fun and way less stressful! Children under 5 are free, which also makes this a great deal!
OTHER FUN THINGS:
Because we weren’t there for an entire week, we missed the following fun activities: rodeo, hayride to lunch, Indian oven dinner, astronomy program, and country line dancing.
I would highly recommend taking a family vacation to White Stallion Ranch. The accommodations were excellent, food delicious, and activities fun. It is the perfect way to enjoy time as a family and to relax as a parent.
Disclosure: White Stallion Ranch generously hosted our family in order to complete this review for Trekaroo. I was not asked to express a particular point of view and all opinions are my own.