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Western destinations or McDonald's Ranch

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Homewood, Illinois
posts: 462
reviews: 22
Western destinations or McDonald's Ranch

We're planning a Thanksgiving trip to AZ and staying in Pheonix a few days before heading to Grand Canyon. Does anyone recommend one ranch over the other; Western Destinations or McDonald's farm for 2 inexperienced but adventurous riders, 11 and 7 year olds? Thanks!

Homewood, Illinois
posts: 462
reviews: 22
1. Re: Western destinations or McDonald's Ranch

Actually, we're not limited to those, two; they both got good ratings. However, western Destinations got lots of one hit wonders which makes me suspicious. We'd like something nearby (we're staying at Marriott Canyon villas). We have a car:). Open to any suggestions.

Phoenix, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Phoenix
posts: 4,642
reviews: 13
2. Re: Western destinations or McDonald's Ranch

Of the two, I'd definitely choose MacDonalds Ranch. (And you're quite right to be suspicious about those reviews for WD. That's all I will say about it.)

MacDonald's Ranch is a lot of fun for kids, and they usually have special activities near the holidays. Call ahead to find out the schedule, and you may need to make reservations for a trail ride or the hayrides.

http://www.macdonaldsranch.com/

And if you happen to be further East, Fort McDowell Adventures also offers a fun trail riding experience, with beautiful scenery and friendly guides.

fortmcdowelladventures.com/create-your-adven…

Have fun, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Edited: 3:23 pm, November 08, 2012
Homewood, Illinois
posts: 462
reviews: 22
3. Re: Western destinations or McDonald's Ranch

Thank you! I'll either plan to go to McDonald's since it's 5 miles away, McDowell's for the scenery (but a little uneasy with my youngest dd for safety) or Cave Creek, which is the furthest from us, but is safe and scenic. Decisions, decisions!

4. Re: Western destinations or McDonald's Ranch

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Phoenix, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Phoenix
posts: 4,642
reviews: 13
5. Re: Western destinations or McDonald's Ranch

Sally, advertising is prohibited on TA.

Yogimomma - Cave Creek Outfitters are good, too, and they do have some nice scenery. With Fort McDowell, are you worried about crossing the river? You can discuss your concerns with the wranglers, and either go ahead with the river crossing, or do one of the shorter rides that doesn't cross water. Regardless, you really can't go wrong with any of those three! :)

Harleysville...
Destination Expert
for Fountain Hills
posts: 3,356
reviews: 166
6. Re: Western destinations or McDonald's Ranch

My granddaughter and her friends have done the Ft McDowell ride with the river crossing several times and really enjoyed it. Our daughter, who went along, felt it was very safe.

Edited: 12:01 pm, November 09, 2012
Homewood, Illinois
posts: 462
reviews: 22
7. Re: Western destinations or McDonald's Ranch

Thank you! The age limit is 8 at McDowell and my youngest is just 7, although they're letting her go after asking me some questions. Thelrose, how were your granddaughter and friends and your dd when they rode? Were they experienced riders? If safety were not a concern, I'd prefer to take this trail and then head to Old Town Scottsdale afterwards.

At Cave Creek trail rides (not outfitters), they provide boots, chaps and hats and they take pictures. Sounds cute. Also, they offered to lead my dd until she felt comfortable. If we do this, we'll do a sunset ride and head to Buffalo Chip Saloon (recommended to me by the wrangler).

I need to hurry up and decide before they book up :)) Thanks again!

Harleysville...
Destination Expert
for Fountain Hills
posts: 3,356
reviews: 166
8. Re: Western destinations or McDonald's Ranch

My granddaughter was somewhat experienced her 2nd trip having taken some lessons. The first time she was not. She was 8 the first time and then was 12 along with 3 of her friends who were also 12. They all loved it and the girls were especially excited about it being led by "Indians" which was a big deal to them. They also rode to see some petroglyphs.

Phoenix, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Phoenix
posts: 4,642
reviews: 13
9. Re: Western destinations or McDonald's Ranch

Yogimomma - sorry for the confusion. I thought you were referring to Cave Creek Outfitters, not Cave Creek Trail Rides. (They are two separate stables; Outfitters is West of Cave Creek.)

If you prefer Fort McDowell anyway, then I recommend going with them. They won't do anything unsafe, and will put your daughter on a good, gentle horse. The family who runs it are experienced horsemen, and the horses they use are quite used to the trail. As long as your daughter is comfortable with it, she'll likely have a lot of fun.

One thing you could do if you have time before your trip, is have your daughter take a riding lesson or two before you leave home. (Assuming she's never ridden before.) That way, she'll have at least gotten on a horse, and will know what it's like. Most training stables will be happy to give her a beginner lesson.

Phoenix, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Phoenix
posts: 4,642
reviews: 13
10. Re: Western destinations or McDonald's Ranch

I forgot to add - if you decide to go with Cave Creek Trail Rides and do the sunset ride, definitely spend some time in the town of Cave Creek beforehand. There are lots of interesting "Western" style shops and restaurants, and the Town Dump (a retail store) is fun for both adults and kids. Also, El Encanto is a nice place to stop for a bite to eat. It's a Mexican restaurant with an outdoor patio surrounded by a duck pond; you can buy food to feed the ducks (bring quarters); kids love it! :)