17 Photos that Capture Life on Arizona’s Best Dude Ranch

Cowboys on the Horizon Silhouette

12 miles on a sandy dirt road between three sets of mountains.

Authentic Cowboys, Jumping Cactus.

Dry Arizona Temperatures and Air Conditioning.

Horse Trails straight out of a Western Movie Set.

During our stay provided by the owners, these are the best real words I can use to describe life at the Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch that finds its home well outside of tiny town Yucca, Arizona.  And I feel privileged to have taken part in that world for two days this summer.

Cowboy Life at Arizona’s Best Dude Ranch

At the Stagecoach Ranch, Cowboys are never far away.  And I mean Cowboys.  Jake (pictured immediately below) left his cattle ranching job on the western edge of the Grand Canyon to come and work at the ranch.

cowboy walking in front of saddles

Jake was a pleasure to be around.. Although he is quite used to entertaining cattle, he was a lot of fun, had plenty of jokes, and interacted well with kids and adults alike.  My son bent his ear off talking about wild animals, cactus and succulent plants, and he smiled the whole time!being directed by cowboy on dude ranch

Jake was the cowboy that took care of us on the ranch.  But he wasn’t the only one.  Our beautiful mustache’d ranch manager brought out his mustache in a wheelbarrow so we could photograph it. 🙂

cowboy mustache and cindy orley

Big Sky in Yucca, AZ Dude Ranch

Living in the woods in Ohio, I look up and see layers of deciduous green.  Not so in John Wayne Country.  Seriously right out of 1960’s technical western, the Bureau of Land Management land surrounding the guest ranch boasts cactus, jack rabbits, coyotes, snakes, lizards, washes, Joshua trees and yucca plants galore.

big sky over arizona desert

Beautiful horse trails, dirt roads, and mountain views.

dude ranch sign at entrance

The picture below shows Peanut.  He is a miniature horse that is more or less the Ranch’s pet.  Kids and adults alike are invited by the ranch owners to lead Peanut around the ranch grounds. Our kids loved it!boy taking miniature horse for walk

Cowboy Dinner Bell

When we heard the cowboy dinner bell, we knew it was time to eat!  Lunch, Dinner, and Breakfast were served in the Ranch’s dining hall.  Served with a heaping helping of Air Conditioning, the food is served Buffet style and guests get to eat right along side their favorite cowboys and ranch hands.

I felt very special and a little awkward because the staff has to wait for all guests to be served before they eat.  Either way, we felt well served.

Food served at dude ranch

There was always great variety and plenty of food to choose from. When a spicy dish was served, they always made sure they had an alternative available for my daughter and I since they knew we didn’t like spicy food. I also noticed on our last day that they were serving gluten-free dishes for the new set of guests that had just arrived.

A Little Bit of Heat

Our visit to the Ranch was during a summer heat wave.  The pool was well welcomed by the entire family.  As water is fairly rare to be sitting out in the open, the pool was frequented by Night Hawks that swooped down with mouths open and gathered water.  Their wings flapped so fast and they were so agile, we thought they were bats!

dude ranch swimming pool

Swimming in the middle of the dessert was an amazing experience that we won’t soon forget.

During our summer visit, trail riding was limited to sunrise and sunset to avoid the scorching sun.  We felt like we were in the scene of a movie because of how the light set around the mountains.  #WaitingforJohnWayne to appear.

Cowboy Leading Guests at Dude Ranch

Unlike other dude ranches, at Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch, you get plenty of time to ride horses. We rode 1 to 1-1/2 hours every morning and every evening, and that was limited because of the heat.  My kids are 8 and 10 and their experience with horse back riding before the dude ranch was just once at a party. The first evening we were there, they rode 1 hour into the sunset! I was astonished. My kids loved horse back riding so much that they are now signed up to take lessons here in Ohio.

Arizona best dude ranch

OK, back to Jake!  When he finished telling us about his John Wayne movie collection on DVD, Jake took time to give us directions to see the trailing edge of the Grand Canyon on our way up to Nevada. Everyone at the ranch made us feel like family, we felt very much at home.jake the cowboy

Common Views

Riding at sunup and sundown brought its share of long shadows,

horse shadows

Beautiful varieties of cactus on and off the Ranch,Cactusscape

and the inside of a gorgeously, newly renovated suite with strong air conditioning and well selected decor. dude ranch ammenities

Did I mention cactus?  My son the aspiring botanist was in heaven.  We had to bring a piece of cactus home with us on the plane.  Have you ever tried to move a cactus in a suitcase?  Fingers were damaged in the process…  Not recommended. He has bragging rights now that he is probably the only kid in Ohio with a jumping cactus.

Dude Ranch Cactus


The nights were cool and refreshing, the sky was brilliant with stars, the ranch buildings were decked out with lights, and the sunsets almost foreign compared to what we have here in Ohio.

starry night at dude ranch arizona

Warm and Brilliant

sunset at dude ranch

Everyone was smiles at the ranch, we all shared in every experience, and our children voted it well above the day spent at Disneyland the day before and the scenic drive on Highway One.  Let’s just say we recommend this trip and cannot wait to go back.being together

The Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch

19985 South Doc Holiday Road
Yucca, AZ 86438

Yucca, AZ 86438

More Links

  1. Visit the Ranch Website
  2. See the Wagon Collection at the Ranch
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Founder and Lead Blogger at Akron Ohio Moms
Cindy is the top Akron Blogger with her own take on awesome brands for families, where to vacation for families, a beat on local activities and family fun, a knack for getting moms to share , and a house that is always 2 weeks away from a complete remodel!
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