Rancho de los Caballeros, Wickenburg, AZ

Last October we went to Arizona to visit family. We stayed at Rancho de los Caballeros, a resort in the desert town of Wickenburg. Los Cab is a spot of bright green in the desert because of the lovely golf course which is reputed to be one of the best in the area.

We stayed in a Sunset Room, which at $430 per night is a bit pricey. The room was lovely and quite well appointed even if it did show it’s age a bit. The housekeeping staff were wonderful, prompt when we needed something and never showed up to clean when we were in residence. The patio was a quiet place to watch the desert sunrise, the most lovely time of day in the desert. The rooms are very much like any other hotel room furnished in the Western style. The furniture and linens were nicer, but the plaster had cracks and the bathroom, while functional, was personality-free. Everything was immaculately clean. The antiques and even the cracks in the plaster lent a certain charm to things.

We took one family trail ride for for seven and one ‘Mom and Me’ trail ride for two. The wranglers were exceptional, and the mounts were the standard dude-ranch fare–quiet, dependable, and not particularly opinionated. You are required to mount by using the ‘Dude Launcher’ which is a set of steps which they lead the horses up to. This is probably a very good thing for their horses. The trail rides were nice, a good length and wound through some of the desert scenery which gets boring quickly because it all looks the same. Even in October I would recommend sunscreen and light cotton clothing. Sleeves are a must because everything along the trail has prickers on it. Our little one loved riding ‘Cowboy Troy’ each morning at the round corral but was too young to accompany us on the trail.

We ate breakfast in the dining area and the selection and preparation were excellent. Lunch and supper were the same. Be prepared to dress for the evening meal, as it is a more formal affair and then enjoy a cocktail in the bar while listening to some cowboy tunes played by a local. (I must note here that they have since lost their chef, so I can’t vouch for food quality any more.)

There was one point when the sales person contacted us and began her sales pitch. This was the low point of our trip because as soon as she learned that we were visiting relatives at the ranch her entire demeanor changed, she frowned, turned her back on us and walked away. Without even excusing herself. Later, when we attempted to join the hayride going to the cookout, she told us that we could not ride the wagon as it was reserved for ranch guests (which we were) but there were a few upraised voices from old men and mothers about the gall of her kicking a small child off the hay ride and so at least Martina and her older sister got to ride. It was interesting to me how her attitude really soured our entire experience at the ranch and her assumption that she couldn’t make any money from us was a self-fulfilling prophecy: I will not recommend Los Cab to any of my wealthy friends and relatives based on her poor treatment of us and obvious glee in hurting my 6 year old’s feelings. That was a real sticking point for all of us.

Having experienced several guest ranches from both the perspective of customer and young employee, I can say that Los Cab offers a middle-of-the-road ranch experience. As a conference or golf resort, it may well meet expectations perfectly. It’s very much like a huge hotel with Western flair and some ranch activities but it does not, in my opinion, offer a ‘ranchy’ feel. It is very large and not at all intimate, which is one of the main components of a great ranch vacation.

Sadly, I cannot offer reviews of other ranches in the vicinity but happily suggest these other ranches for a better ranch experience:
Cataloochee Ranch, Maggie Valley, NC
The UXU Ranch, Wapiti, WY
The Red Rock Ranch, Kelly, WY

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