Dude Ranch Life in Mesa, Arizona

Visitors will discover untouched Western heritage at Saguaro Lake Ranch, where time stands still and guests can unwind and unplug.

Mesa, Arizona promises a winter escape unlike any other in the Southwest. Western heritage and attractions share a storied history of a bygone era and authentic Sonoran Desert beauty with mountains and canyon lands surrounding the city can be explored all winter long. One of the more treasured experiences this time of year is at Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch, just northeast of Mesa nestled at the junction where the lake meets the lower Salt River.

Visitors will step back in time immediately upon arrival as they enter the lodge dating back to 1927. The ranch still exudes the same charm and character made famous by Zane Grey in his writings about this genuine place. In total, the ranch is a collection of 20 rustic cottages that originally housed workers building Arizona's dams, providing flood control and irrigation to Greater Phoenix. Each one is uniquely appointed and includes all the must-haves of travel – just don't plan on seeing any televisions or clocks and don't ask about wi-fi. Rather, guests visit for a different kind of connection when heading to the ranch.

While here, guests can soak up authentic cowboy life with on-site horseback riding and incredible hikes only accessible to guests into the ranch's nearby desert trails. All paths lead to majestic lakeside cliffs that surround the property. During the river flow, guests can kayak straight from the river bank or gear up and enjoy fly fishing within a short walking distance.

New this winter is Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch's Saturday Night Cowboy Cookouts open to the public and a great way to experience the ranch. These popular dinners feature steaks straight off the grill and are followed up with s'mores around the campfire under a star-filled sky. The ranch's unique location and low light pollution offer some of the best night sky viewing in Mesa.

When touring the grounds of the ranch, be prepared to see wild horses that roam throughout this area of the Tonto National Forest and the adjacent reservation. The wild Mustang herd is admired by locals and visitors are sure to see them on the cactus-studded paths that leads guests across the river.

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