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“still recovering” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Tanque Verde Ranch

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Tanque Verde Ranch
3.5 of 5 Hotel   |   14301 East Speedway Road, Tucson, AZ 85748   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #12 of 127 hotels in Tucson
1 review
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“still recovering”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2008

My family of 6 stayed at Tanque Verde for spring break last year. I thought that I’d be over the experience by now, I’m not. Anyone who has ever been to a quality dude ranch or resort wouldn’t look twice at this one. Really, to call Tanqe Verde a resort is laughable.

First, the riding: they make a big deal out of a “lope check”, they have guests lope up a hill. Ridiculous waste of time. What dictated whether inexperienced guests passed or not depended on the sit-ability of the horse they drew more than their own ability. It amounts to a public flogging for those who don’t “pass”. You rarely get the same horse twice. On my trip they ran out of horses twice, as expensive as this type of vacation is, to be told that you can’t ride because they are out of horses is not reasonable. The horses are used from dawn to dusk and are given a break when they attempt to dump a guest. This was told to me by an employee of the ranch. Guests being dumped was not an infrequent occurrence during my stay. The coral that the horses stay in when they are on “break” is tightly packed and has no shade. The wranglers who take out the rides are work-a-day folks, not really invested in whether you have a good time or not. Their horsemanship abilities are questionable, you certainly won’t learn anything. If you are an experienced rider, don’t tinker with the horses too much, let them do what they want on the trail. Attempting to get them to pick up the correct lead on a hair pin turn, or asking for a change on a figure 8 can prove worse than running the risk of falling over while on the wrong lead. Also, children of 12 or better can ride with the adults. Many times they don’t control their horses and run amok. I had one who repeatedly ran her horse into the horse that I was riding. You can space yourself from the horse in front of you, but there’s little you can do to get the person behind you to back off if they can’t control their animal. Many of the horses seem ill prepared for guest ranch work. One memorable gelding was two weeks off of a plow in a field, and without further schooling, was put into their program.

The kids program is pathetic. There are so many kids mounted up at any given time that they either move very slowly in nose to tail circles after the eternity it takes to get all the kids up, or they spend their time standing still while waiting for their turn to trot down the line. I found that if I didn’t advocate for my children, they got the short end of the stick. The tennis guy is OK, the nature program is OK. In the kids dining room they plunk your children down in a dimly lit room in front of junk food and a movie while the people that are supposed to be running the program are chatting it up in the back of the room with bored expressions on their faces. Some are down right rude. We kept our children in the adult dining room in order to get them reasonable food. There isn’t really continuity to the program, nor do the kids progress throughout the week. Guest families are coming and going all the time, so there are kids who have been there for a few days and are ready to move on in certain activities but the newbie’s need to start at the beginning.

The food was unremarkable and served tepid at best. The coffee at breakfast is weak despite requests from multiple guests for stronger coffee.

The staff is disgruntled and preoccupied with scheduling issues or interpersonal stuff.

Then there are the rooms. Ours was supposed to sleep 6. In fairness it had a place for 6 people to sleep, but you literally couldn’t walk with both couches pulled out. It was a complete fire hazard. The room was filthy, it had hair stuck to the bathroom wall, I had to call room service TWICE to even acknowledge a problem. Room service took a damp rag and removed the hair and called the room clean. The bar sink fixture was visably broken upon our arrival. Again, it took multiple calls to the office and a lot of aggravation to get it seen too. Additionally, the room reeked of smoke. We kept our windows open the whole time and when I got home the clothes in my suitcase smelled of smoke. I was told that all of their rooms are smoking rooms. I read somewhere that AZ law would be changing and they would legally have to have non smoking rooms in the future, but I was stuck for my stay.

Please review your charges BEFORE you pay. We were erroneously charged for my daughter, who was too young for the kids program and for whom we had to hire a private babysitter. When I addressed my displeasure and that I felt we deserved some type of refund, the management felt that reimbursing me for my daughters’ incorrect charges was sufficient. The owner won’t even return calls. They take no responsibility.

The plus is AZ is warm during spring break. Otherwise, especially if you have children, you’d do well to consider the many family oriented ranches in CO. The riding season is shorter, but overall it’s a much better experience. Most of the CO ranches book for a week at a time during the season. You ride the same horse, unless you’d like to change. The riding groups are smaller and based on ability. You usually ride with the same wrangler and group of adults, unless you want to ride down a level to spend time with a family member or children. Most offer family rides a few times a week. Because you get one horse for the week, if you don’t ride, the horse gets a rest. A reasonable work load, the horses don’t get cranky. The children’s riding programs are grouped by age and ability and the children actually improve through the week. Most kids over 5 go on trail rides, they stop along the way for activities. There are usually teen programs. Most ranches are family owned and the owners dine with the guests. The staff members live on site, are there all the time, and seem to be invested in the guests. You get to know other families from all over the country and the world and your children make friends. The draw back, if there is one, is that your experience can vary greatly depending on the gusts that are there for the same week. Avoid booking the same weeks as large family reunions.

Nothing’s perfect, the ranches that we’ve stayed at in CO have weak coffee too. So I pack my Starbucks and use the coffee makers in the rooms. Problem solved!

  • Liked — warm weather
  • Disliked — too many to mention
  • Stayed March 2007, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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English first
Portsmouth UK
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 7, 2008

I went to the Bellota 2 years running, in March 06 and March 07. It was like staying with family. Cried leaving both times! Fantastic and memorable holiday. So sad that it was sold, I cannot think about returning to a working ranch as all would be compared to the Bellota.

I bought Raider home with me. My boy! Still in touch with Stacey, Kean and Marie. It would be so nice to hear that someone has bought the Ranch to run the same as before. Fab food, Diane & Kent were fabulous people, fab company, horses very well cared for. However, any inexperienced rider did not suit this Ranch. I saw many in pain!!

I will keep very many happy memories of this place for the rest of my life.

  • Liked — Absolutely Everything
  • Disliked — Nothing atall - could not fault it
  • Stayed March 2007, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Greenville, S.C.
16 reviews 16 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 20, 2008

I stayed at Tanque Verde Ranch with my in-laws Feb. 13-18 and had a blast.

There are two activities not to miss: the "breakfast rides" and the cookouts at Cottonwood Grove. On the breakfast rides, guests ride horses to the top of a hill and eat pancakes and eggs while enjoying a specatacular view of the mountains. The cookouts are for dinner. A guy in a cowboy hat sings cowboy tunes next to a bonfire while guests feast on steaks.

Most guests go to the ranch to ride horses. I went on guided "walking" rides once or twice a day. Wranglers take care of everything. They get the horse for the riders, lead the rides and then put the horses away. They chat up riders who are feeling talkative. I'm told the ranch was busy while I was there, but I never had to wait more than 20 minutes to get seated on a horse.

While I'm not much of a cowboy, I never felt in danger. The horses were tame. They seemed generally well-groomed, but a few of us ended up with muddy horses after it rained.

Experienced riders can go loping. They must pass a test first.

But Tanque Verde offers activities other than horseback-riding.

I tried two guided mountain-biking trips, one at the beginner level one at the intermediate level. Both were fun, and I'd do them again. The guide, Paul, waited for the slowest riders and offered pointers without making me feel dumb.

The beginner-level path is tame. I never felt like I was going to flip over the handle bars. And a woman who said she hadn't ridden a bike in years seemed to make it through fine. But the intermediate ride kicked my butt. I ended up walking my bike down more than one hill. Going down some of those rocks would take some practice for me.

The ranch is across the road from Saguaro National Park-East. While the ranch isn't responsible for the national park, it's available to guests who want to use it. The trails were clean and easy to navigate. They were busy but not overcrowded. I ran and hiked the Douglas Springs Trail to Bridal Wreath Falls. It's mostly a gradual uphill for about 3 miles with a few steep parts. Nothing technical. The first couple miles of the Wentworth and Garwood trails were relatively flat. I didn't go beyond the first couple miles.

The ranch offers a range of other activities from nature walks to bingo. (I won $25.) There are two pools and two hot tubs -- indoor and outdoor. Everything was clean and seemed to be functioning just fine.

The workout room had two treadmills, two stationary bikes, an eliptical machine and a weight set. All the equipment worked fine. The ranch kept the room around 60 degrees. I never had trouble getting on a machine. The room smelled like a locker room, but it wasn't enough to bother me.

I found two televisions at the entire ranch. There was a big-screen with a satellite feed in a commons area called the Mexican room. And a TV in the workout room got four or five channels, most of them fuzzy. The rooms have satellite radio, but my in-laws and I coudln't get them working reliably for any length of time. I'm not sure if this was operator error or not.

The owner, Bob, was frequently present. We often saw him in the dining room, and he made pancakes for the breakfast ride. In general, meals were very good. Desserts were spectacular.

The ranch offers some reading material, including Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Time and the Wall Street Journal. Copies of the Arizona Daily Star, Tucson's local paper, are complimentary. There's also a small lending library, but I didn't find anything interesting. The ranch would do well to pick up a couple dozen cowboy novels from a used bookstore and add them to the library.

Overall, this was a great vacation. I highly recommended it to anyone who wants to make horseback riding the centerpiece of a family get-away.

  • Liked — Horses
  • Disliked — No cowboy novels in the lending library
  • Stayed February 2008, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
Top Contributor
87 reviews 87 reviews
32 hotel reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
92 helpful votes 92 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 25, 2008

It's been a while since our stay at Tanque Verde, but to date, this is my favorite vacation. My husband and I went on our own for a romantic getaway during the Thanksgiving weekend. The food was wonderful. We even had a couple of cookouts - one at night where a family of Javelinas were trying to drag the food off the tables!

We loved the wildlife (being from the NW, seeing a Roadrunner, a Red Fox, and a family of Javelinas all in one day, is about as exciting as it gets!). Did I mention the food??!! In addition to riding lessons and excursions, there was hiking outings, tennis courts and pool. There was also a work-out room. The rooms were quite basic, but clean and decorated nicely. No TVs - and for a TV-nut to say this was a favorite place, that's saying something! I just read my book at night before bed and got up early to enjoy the outdoors.

When we went, there were tons of families meeting for reunions here. This is a GREAT place for something like that.

We cannot wait to return with our kids. They are too young now, but we're eager to introduce them to one of our favorite places on Earth. Paul McCartney agreed with this sentiment, I am sure, since his property does (or at least did at the time) border the establishment.

Stayed November 2004
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
14 reviews 14 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 20, 2007

The first time my family went to Tanque Verde was in 1959.

Then I watched as cattle from Mexico were put in a chute, branded and dehorned ( that's a verb).
I can still hear them as they objected to the indignity of coming to civilization.

Consider life on a working ranch is not all hot tubs and breakfast rides, but that the work is relentless and may not always be pleasant.

I have returned 4 times. I met a British family that had been guests at Tanque Verde 18 times!
A fair number of guests from England, Germany and South Africa return.

The owners of Tanque Verde now have their cattle operation on an adjoining 60,000 acres, and today the corrals are filled with 200 horses of all sizes and temperaments, suited to riders of similar abilities. Be prepared, the barn yard smells are part of the ambiance.

I went the second week in December hoping I would get an upgraded room before the Christmas rush.

My foresight was rewarded with a deluxe room on Road Runner Ridge just at the edge of the desert. (king bed, fire place, corner room in a building that had a total of 4 ground floor rooms, a round table w/ 4 chairs, 2 leather reading chairs, walk in closet, desk, bookcase, satellite radio, wet bar, refrigerator and front porch having 2 chairs and a lounge).

The rates include the accommodations, meals, riding, health club (spa services are extra), 2 pools, 3 hot tubs, escorted walks for birders, photographers and botanists. The service is exceptional , especially in the dining room, the front desk and with the wranglers. There are scheduled activities from 8 AM to 8 PM for both adults and children (who actually have their own dining room).

Breakfast is a buffet with the option of ordering hot food. Lunch ( a buffet as well) has both hot and cold foods and is served to many, many folks who just come for a lunch in a beautiful dining room. The dinner menu offers 4 choices and no matter what you order, the quality of the food is outstanding. I had some of the best steaks and prime ribs I have ever eaten. Wine and beer is available in the dining room. And at the watering hole (called the Doghouse) mixed drinks can be ordered. There are snacks (fruit, pastry and drinks) available during the day.

In the dining room you are offered private tables or tables shared with other guests, most of whom may have witnessed you limping into the dining room after riding for hours during the day. We became family after having shared some of the same misadventures.

One night a week there is a steak dinner outdoors in the Cottonwood Grove which can be reached easily by walking from the main complex, or guests are offered the option of a ride if they prefer. Fires are kept going between the tables and entertainment is provided by one of the wranglers who moonlights as a singing cowboy keeping you wanting more with sing-along options. And there is no penality for not knowing the words.

The grounds are a combination of groomed desert vistas, a green lawn limited to the area between the parking lot and the main building, and seasonal plantings.

We usually didn't see the javilina until after dark, but the bird feeders tempted the quail during the daylight.

The TV's were old (think rabbit ears) and scarce, but they are there if you insist. The bathrooms are straight out of the 70's, and could benefit by the addition of skylights.

The property is probably 3 or 4 star for accommodations and food, but the activities are well constructed so as to keep one busy doing things the 5 star properties never could do.

  • Liked — The family atmosphere.
  • Disliked — The scarcity of TV's and the lack of cable if you got one.
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, Canada
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 18, 2007

Bellota ranch was a gem. We have been twice and are very glad we had the opportunity to experience the Bellota. The staff was like family. Food and accommodations were first rate. The ranch itself has enormous character and history. It is very private, small and personable. The scenery was amazing. The riding was fabulous. However I would say it would have been challenging for the inexperienced rider. We were very saddened to hear that the ranch is now closed it is a great loss.

  • Liked — Location, riding, accommodation
  • Disliked — Drive in.
  • Stayed January 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 22, 2007

My wife and I have gone to multiple vacation destinations and this was one of our favorites. It was refreshing to see an establishment run like a family, rather than like a "corporate" investment . We have definately found a place that we can return to year after year. We met so many people that were having the time of their life, relaxing in the unique setting, making great friends from all over the country/world and marking their calendars for their expected return to this great vacation destination.

Having been everywhere from Alaska to Dubai, this place felt like a home away from home. We ran into people that were in their seventies that had been returning to the ranch for the past thirty plus years, all the way down to young couples from Europe living out their dream of riding a horse in a controlled learning environment in the "West". I didn't run into anyone that didn't have a great time.

I found it odd that someone wrote a negative review about not having a television in their room to watch football while at a ranch. My personal recommendations for your daily stay at this place:

1) Wake up early...tough to get out of bed since they are sooo comfortable.
2) Have some breakfast with your new found friends
3) Take a riding class or trail ride through the scenic landscape...their wranglers are calm and professional...no pressure if you are a novice.
4) Schedule a massage [not my forte, but all of the ladies said that the massages were unbelieveable]
5) Have some lunch...try not to over-stuff yourself since the food is soo good.
6) Relax poolside or take another ride/class
7) Head to the bar for a pre-dinner drink
8) Discuss your adventures during a fantastic dinner
9) Take a stroll under the stars
10) Head off to the room to get a great night's rest

I don't have kids, but the ones that we ran into were always busy...nice to see kids that don't look bored and actually enjoy being with their family on a vacation.

Take the time to stay at this vacation destination...you'll be glad you did!

Stayed November 2007
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Tanque Verde Ranch

Address: 14301 East Speedway Road, Tucson, AZ 85748
Location: United States > Arizona > Tucson
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#6 Family Hotel in Tucson
#17 Business Hotel in Tucson
#17 Romantic Hotel in Tucson
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Tanque Verde Ranch 3.5*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Tanque Verde Ranch Resort was named "Best Dude Ranch in Arizona" by Dude Republic in 2012, as well as a "Top Ten Family Resort" by the Travel Channel since 2007, and a "Top Five Ranch" by Conde Nast in 2008. Tanque Verde Ranch is one of America’s old time cattle and guest ranches. Located on 60,000 acres of Tucson’s most breathtaking desert landscapes, nestled amongst the Rincon Mountains and adjacent to Saguaro National Park and Coronado National Forest. Established in 1868, the superb guest ranch is recognized as the last luxurious outpost of the old west providing guests with plush accommodations, unparalleled amenities and a vast array of exciting activities such as horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing and hiking. La Sonora Spa is the perfect place for a bit of quiet relaxation, and the kids will love all the supervised children's programs! Don't hesitate – getaway at one of the premier, all-inclusive dude ranches in the country. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Tanque Verde Ranch Hotel Tucson

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