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November 20, 2009

Hotel Spotlight: Saguaro Lake Ranch, Arizona

Saguaro-lake-ranch2 STILL LIFE: Saguaro Lake Ranch and Bulldog Cliffs, Arizona (Alistair Wearmouth)

Saguaro Lake Ranch sits in a tranquil spot just beneath the dam that holds back ten-mile-long Saguaro Lake in central Arizona. Downstream, the Salt River twists beneath the striking Bulldog Cliffs and Goldfield Mountains before flexing some mild Class I muscles on its passage toward the Greater Phoenix metropolitan area. This guest ranch has been run by the same family, the Durands, for four generations, and it shows in the hospitality and homey touches in evidence throughout the riverside property. Guests sleep in simple but comfortable "ranchettes," first built to house the workers who constructed Saguaro Lake's Stewart Mountain Dam between 1928-30. These days, however, you can also count on free property-wide WiFi, hooked up by the current owner's grandkids (but happily no phones or televisions in the rooms). Daytime activities include hiking and horseback riding along the desert trails of Tonto National Forest, kayaking and tubing on the Salt River, or special programs such as art weekends and family reunions. Meals are shared buffet-style in a communal dining room, where you'll feast on homemade treats such as BBQ chicken, biscuits, and fresh-baked cookies. It doesn't get much more relaxing than this.

Saguaro Lake Ranch is located 40 miles east of downtown Phoenix, about an hour by car. Bed and breakfast rates start at $130 for two; the ranch's American Plan includes three meals, plus lodging, and starts at $150 per person, assuming double occupancy. Activities such as trail rides or kayak rentals cost extra. Visit for full details.

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Related Topics: Budget Travel · Family Vacation · Outdoor Adventures · Places to Stay


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This is such a fun, family-oriented place! Last Thanksgiving my whole family hauled out there for my cousin's wedding. I would definitely put it up there as the best family vacation we ever had. Everyone instantly treats you like family, the home cookin' is real hearty home cooking. There's tons to do from hiking the Bulldogs and riding horses to heading out on Saguaro Lake. If you get to know the staff, they'll likely introduce you to kick ass tequilla and corn bombs. And don't forget the lasso lessons!

The cabins can be a little cramped, but it's fun camp-out-in-the-desert living. Regardless, I can't wait to go back this Thanksgiving!

wow, this is a cool place, and that image is nice.
I hope that place is welcome every one.

We stayed at Saguaro Lake Ranch for 3 days on our Southwest Mountain bike trip. Saguaro Lake is famous for horse riding, fishing and tubing in the river. However it is also a place for Mountain biking. You don't need a car as you can get to the trailhead by bike. Search for Hawes Mountain und you will find Webpages where you can download the trail.

The staff was very friendly and it was a pleasure to chat with Stephen the owner.

This is the place if you love the outdoors and rustic lodging. Don't go if you expect hotel chain amenities. Lastly there is Wireless around the lobby. Enough to quickly browse the Web. You can eat at the lodge, but there is also a Restaurant at the Marina nearby.

There is a great steak house near the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa It is owned by the same reserve that owns the hotel but you can't sign to the room. You can order rattlesnake and rocky mountain oysters. The wild west town is also fun.

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