Travel Channel Names Tanque Verde Ranch a Top 10 Family Vacation Spot – Again!

For the sixth year in a row, Tanque Verde Ranch is honored to receive the Top 10 Family Vacations from Travel Channel. The popular TV station based the accolade on specific vacation destinations that tailor to the entire family. These family-friendly resorts are required to provide a multitude of amenities for families including entertainment for kids of all ages, and relaxing experiences for spouses, all while enjoying the North American outdoors. 

General Manager, Jim Bankson, commented, “It is always an honor to be recognized by such a great vacation authority as Travel Channel. It shows what our guests continue to tell us about not just being a great family vacation, but a great family tradition.” Also showcased in the top 10 include Atlantis Resort and Casino in Paradise Island, Bahamas and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando, Florida.

 Travel Channel is an American basic cable and satellite television channel that is owned as a joint venture between Scripps Networks Interactive and Cox. The channel is headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland, United States. It features documentaries, reality, and how-to shows related to travel and leisure around the United States and throughout the world.

The Fastest Bird in the West

December 30, 2013

The Fastest Bird in the West

“Beep beep,” is what we know cartoon coyotes think they sound like, but the Greater Roadrunner actually makes more of quiet descending coo and occasional clack. These incredible birds are common throughout the Sonoran Desert, as well as the American Southwest and Mexico. The name “roadrunner” comes from the bird’s habit of racing down roads in front of moving vehicles and then darting to safety in the brush.

The roadrunner can grow about 24 inches long (half of which is their tail), around 12 inches tall and can weigh up to 19 ounces. It is the largest North American cuckoo and has a bushy crest and long, dark bill. It also has a lengthy, dark tail, a dark head and back, and is blue on the front of the neck, as well as on the belly. Roadrunners have 4 toes on each zygodactyl foot – two toes face forward, and the other two face backward.

Mainly they feed on insects, fruit and seeds, but also enjoy small reptiles, small rodents, spiders, scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, small birds, their eggs, and carrion, including roadkills. The roadrunner hunts by walking fast and running toward prey but they can also jump straight up in the air when small birds or flying insects are overhead. The adult uses its long tail as a rudder for maneuvering while running. It kills larger prey with a blow from the beak—hitting the base of the neck of small mammals—or by holding it in the beak and beating it against a rock. It is not uncommon to have two roadrunners attack a relatively big snake cooperatively.

Although capable of weak flight, it spends most of its time on the ground, and can run at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. This is the fastest running speed ever clocked for a flying bird, although it is not as fast as the flightless Ostrich.

Some Pueblo Indian tribes, such as the Hopi, believed that the roadrunner provided protection against evil spirits. In Mexico, some said it delivered babies, as the stork was said to in Europe. Some Anglo frontier people believed roadrunners led lost people to trails. Either way, we love the roadrunners at Tanque Verde Ranch. Next time you visit, see if you’re fast enough to capture a photo of these timeless outlaws of the west.

Cowgirl Concierge

December 30, 2013

Cowgirl Concierge

If you’ve visited the ranch lately, you may have crossed paths with wrangers Kelly Hoffman, Melissa Meridew and Kelsey Anderson, but just this fall Tanque Verde Ranch launched a new program featuring the trio to help improve the guest experience. It’s called the Cowgirl Concierge.

While offering a concierge service is no new amenity to the oldest and largest working dude ranch country, the Cowgirl Concierge trio provides a very unique service that offers not only the expected on-on-one assistance, but also provide educational opportunities for guests, regardless of age or activity. Enhancing riding and horsemanship skills and helping create new aptitudes in all other daily ranch activities is all a part of the new service.

The trio has a variety of educational backgrounds and experiences in the hospitality industry, but they all carry a synced personal passion for their guests and horses alike. “The goal of the Cowgirl Concierge service is to give guests a true Wild West vacation,” said Meridew, Tanque Verde’s program director. “We wake up and come to work everyday with a simple goal in mind – to help create a lifetime of memories for our guests and create bonds between the horse and rider.”

Blueberry-Thyme Buttermilk Pie

December 30, 2013

Blueberry-Thyme Buttermilk Pie

‘Tis the season to enjoy leftovers! Use this recipe with all the remaining ingredients from your Holiday cooking! Our Blueberry-Thyme Buttermilk Pie is sure to please into 2014.

(For a printable version of these recipes for your recipe box, click here, print and cut.)

The Diary of Golden Eye – Director of Fun

The long, summer days at Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert remained fresh in Golden Eye’s mind, even months after leaving Minnesota to head back to his home at Tanque Verde Ranch. His experience at camp provided not only new friends, but new skill sets and strengthen talents. It changed him for the better.

Everyone noticed this change in Golden Eye including Tanque Verde Ranch’s General Manager, Jim Bankson, who surprised Golden Eye with a promotion upon his return – Golden Eye was now the official Director of Fun.

The Diary of Golden Eye – Director of Fun

Honored and proud of his new position at the ranch, Golden Eye wasted no time in transitioning into his new role. As director of fun, his focus is placed on leading and organizing current and new activities, teaching the fundamentals of horsemanship, and ensuring each and every guest is making the most of their time at the ranch. His efforts are going to be especially centered on the idea of ‘unplugging’ from the world and technology and hone in on those around you – like family and friends. In Golden Eye’s mind, the ranch is a place of rest, relaxation and a ‘golden opportunity’ to create new memories.

With Minnesota’s 10,000 plus lakes, Golden Eye spent a fair amount of time fishing. It was one of his new, favorite past times. The first time he felt that tug on his line and set the hook on the big, 14” walleye was one of the most thrilling experiences he had ever had in his life. So of course he had to share his passion for fishing with guests at the ranch.

The Diary of Golden Eye – Director of Fun

Lake Corchran Is a 1.5 acre catch-and-release fishing lake which is known to provide a relaxing, close-to-nature experience. Bluegill sunfish, largemouth bass, and channel catfish provide plenty of action and sport for both experienced and novice anglers. Golden Eye’s led a group of guests to the lake and provided them with bait, tackle and instruction. Within minutes after dropping a line in the water, guests were getting bites left and right.

The Diary of Golden Eye – Director of Fun

Golden Eye smiled ear to ear. His first day as director of fun was a success. The anticipation and excitement for what may come next in his new role stirred inside of him as he began daydreaming of future activities he would be in charge of – and then suddenly he was pulled back into reality as he felt a tug on his own fishing line!

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The Jewel of North Tucson

December 30, 2013

The Jewel of North Tucson

Need something unique to do on your next visit to the ranch? Put a hike to Mecca of Seven Falls on your ranch bucketlist! This is a very easy and popular hike everyone should experience at least once. Even though this hike is hot in lower elevations during the summer months, you can cool off in the pools at Seven Falls, and even get your clothes wet in order to keep you cool on the hike back.

Some of the Tucson area’s incredible views are here. Take the Bear Canyon Tram route to the end of the line. The trailhead is approximately 2 miles from the parking lot and it takes another 2 1/2 miles to reach Seven Falls. The trail crisscrosses over Sabino Creek. When the creek is dry, the footing is stable at most of the crossing points, but when water is present, it can be more challenging. After crossing over the creek several times, the trail rises up the side of Bear Canyon, leveling off at Seven Falls.

Hikers are not only rewarded by both pools of water to relax and wade in, but also by the sight of several running waterfalls during certain times of the year. Hikers can expect to see waterfalls during select winter months as the snow melts off the mountain and in the summer months during Tucson’s monsoon season. Also those that are daring enough (and depending on water levels) enjoy cliff jumping into the large pools of water at the base of the falls.

Make sure you allow a minimum of 3 hours for this hike and it is suggested to bring a minimum of 1 quart of water per person. With a total hiking length of around 7.8 miles, you will start at around 2,600’ elevation and hike up casually to about 3,250’.

Depending on the time of the year, the hike can range from easy to difficult, but is considered a great family activity, couple’s outing, or opportunity to bring together friends. Sabino Canyon Tours’ Bear Canyon Trail tram is a non-narrated 2-mile ride that travels to the trailhead of Seven Fall. Visitors can ride for #3 round trip and get off the tram at any of the stops and re-board later. Trams arrive on average every hour. The Bear Canyon tram ride has 3 stops along the way for hikers to choose from. Click here for more information.

A Goodbye to Remember

The first sign of daybreak appeared as the sun peaked through Golden Eye’s window. It was the last time Golden Eye would wake up at Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert this year. He felt a rush of sadness run through his body as he thought of the faces of new friends he wouldn’t see again until next summer. Several other familiar faces popped in his mind too – his Tanque Verde Ranch family! A Goodbye to Remember Today was bittersweet. Golden Eye’s sadness was quickly replaced with excitement, as he would soon be on his way to see friends and family in Tucson, Arizona. He also remembered that he would get to meet so many new friends back down at the Ranch through the Kids Program. The Program provides guests aged four to twelve years old the opportunity to participate in daily activities such as tennis, watercolor painting, and Golden Eye’s favorite, horseback riding. Plus, the winter was his favorite time of year in the desert, as temperatures hovered in the 60s to 70s. Perfect weather for activities!

A Goodbye to Remember

Golden Eye headed over to the Dining Hall to meet some of his friends for their final breakfast together at camp. Laughter filled the air over the sweet smell of pancakes and orange juice as Golden Eye and his friends reminisced about hilarious stories from the summer.

Phone numbers, addresses, and hugs were exchanged while buses, vans, and cars began to fill the parking lot. Golden Eye spotted the bright, yellow van from Tanque Verde and slowly made his way over with his saddlebags. After many heartfelt goodbyes, lots of hugs, and even a few tears were shed, Golden Eye hopped into the van and began his journey back home to Tanque Verde Ranch.

What an amazing summer this was for Golden Eye!  He met so many incredible, life-long friends, experienced Personal Growth and Development in cool, new activities that he never would have been able to try at home, and he came away with more amazing memories than he could count.  Only nine more months until next summer!

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Ride on Air

September 6, 2013

Ride On Air

Every October through April, hot air balloons will become a usual sight to see in the early morning Arizona sky, especially those from Fleur de Tucson. If you’re looking for a fall adventure, look to the skies!

Fleur de Tucson Hot Air Balloons has been providing exceptional flights over the Tucson Mountains and Saguaro National Park since 1985.  Each journey is equipped with leather seats for those that prefer not to stand for the duration of 3 hours and they can hold up to five people.

The ride is unique, combining low-level views as low as 500 feet of the beautiful desert landscape and spectacular panoramas from higher elevations up to 2,500 feet.  On most of their flights numerous wildlife have been spotted, including javelina, deer, bobcats, rabbits, foxes and red-tailed hawks.

Each flight landing is celebrated with a delicious continental brunch and premium champagne, which is an old French tradition. Dating back to 1783, French aeronauts would offer champagne to calm the laborers who were startled by the “firebreathing monster” which was seen descending from the sky. During your flight, you will be able to learn more about the history of hot air ballooning, receive digital pictures of your ride, and a frame-able flight certificate.

Fleur de Tucson is family owned and operated.  Mike Fleury has been FAA certified for over 32 years.  Mike was the key-grab winner at the 1999 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, competing against 850 other balloonists! He has accumulated over 2,700 hours, flying throughout the United Stated and France. They have been featured on the Animal Planet’s Jeff Corwin Arizona Experience, Fodor’s Arizona Travel Guide and Frommer’s Guidebook just to name a few.

Tanque Verde Ranch is excited to offer this exciting adventure to it’s guests for just $250 per person. A complimentary shuttle will be provided to and from Fleur de Tucson and for larger groups, it can be arranged to have Fleur de Tucson take off from the resort grounds. Click here to get a sneak peek of what it will be like to ride in a hot air balloon this fall! For more information on the Fleur de Tucson Hot Air Balloons, click here.

Fall for La Sonora Spa

September 6, 2013

Fall for La Sonora Spa

Our La Sonora Spa is the ultimate spot to relax, find peace of mind and wind down from an adventurous day in the desert. This fall, guests can experience several new services that will help renew not only the mind, but also the body and spirit. To accompany the new services are a variety of organic and locally made spa products that are used during all spa treatments and massages.

Desert Tropics – We begin this anti-aging treatment with a healing and refining apricot raw cane sugar scrub, followed by our gentle mango enzyme wrap.  A light massage is done with Monoi body cream that makes skin appear firmer and smoother from head to toe. (80 or 120 minutes)

Blueberry Bliss – Treat yourself to a luxurious, slimming body treatment with an anti-oxidant-rich blueberry blend with naturally hydrating soy yogurt to replenish dry skin.  Rejuvenate with blueberry fruit and raw sugar cane scrub, and our blueberry soy slimming body wrap to tone, tighten and stimulate your circulation while refining and strengthening your skin structure.  A relaxing massage with a scrumptious whipped blueberry soy massage soufflé will leave your skin hydrated and refreshed after a day in the desert sun. (80 or 120 minutes)

Sonoran Refresh ­– After hours in the Sonoran desert, your body will love being immersed in an invigorating, refreshing cucumber mint body wrap.  Cool down and soothe your skin with cucumber mint cane sugar scrub, to refine and smooth your skin.  A hydrating cucumber mint cream will purify your skin and a replenishing cucumber mint soufflé will leave you feeling revitalized. (80 or 120 minutes)

Catalina Leg Treatment – Relieve tired, aching legs with our lychee and chestnut immunity-boosting leg cream, improving circulation and stimulating the skin while effectively reducing visible signs of varicose veins.  The delicate lychee fruit helps relieve soreness so you can ride and hike all day long. (30 minutes – May be added on to any massage)

Hydrating Floral Facial ­– A positively invigorating facial that addresses a variety of skin concerns starting with strawberries and rhubarb to gently exfoliate your skin. This is followed by a hibiscus and calendula flower application to heal and hydrate leaving you feeling and looking years younger. (30 minutes – May be added on to any massage)

 You can also cool down from the desert sun in the spa’s indoor pool where large windows look out over the mountainous Arizona landscape. A whirlpool and sauna also accompany the spa in order to provide you with the finest pampering experience which you may use prior, or after your spa service.

For a complete list of our spa services and pricing, please click here. All spa sessions are by appointment only. Book two weeks before your arrive to receive $20 off any service! Just mention this article. Please call 520-296-6275 to book your day of pampering!

Joe Valdez – A True Tanque Verde Cowboy

Joe Valdez was born and raised in what he recalls as “an arid and desolate place” within east Tucson, Arizona. Growing up with 16 brothers and sisters, he attributes horses playing a big role in not only his life, but also his siblings. “We rode horses to school most of the time and I remember some of our neighbors still using horses to plow their fields.”

At the age of nine, Joe got his first taste of the cowboy lifestyle when a “tough, old cowman,” otherwise known as Ole Man Lupe Parker, who lived at a nearby cattle ranch was missing one of his cow ponies. He requested Joe’s help. One of his ranch hands had ridden the horse across Redington Pass and into Tucson for a few nights on the town, but never returned. After Lupe had finally found the horse at a nearby farm, he asked Joe if he would ride the horse back to the ranch. Parker drove Joe into Tucson and dropped him off with the horse. Joe saddled him up and started his journey back to Redington.

Joe realized right away that he had forgotten to pack his water canteen. By 2 p.m., the mid-July heat was too much to handle. Mr. Parker had told him of a spring that he would run across on his journey back, however, he had no such luck. He dismounted his horse, dizzy and dehydrated. Just when he thought he wasn’t going to make it, “a miracle happened” Joe explains it. His brother-in-law drove up the dirt road with a gallon of water. “He saved my life.”

After graduating from Tucson High School, Joe worked as a tour guide at Colossal Cave. During this time he also took classes at the University of Arizona where he joined the U of A Rodeo Club and assisted in exercising rodeo horses at the racetrack. In 1977, he joined the Tanque Verde Ranch team and since has been a wrangler teaching western riding and mountain trail riding.

Even as he’s semi-retired now, he still can be found working with the riding program and has enough stories to fill several books. “The best part of my day is when I’m heading up a mountain trail, early in the morning,” says Joe. When he’s not in the saddle, Joe enjoys working with leather, listening to music and going camping in National Parks. “I also get a thrill from reading a good book on the history of the southwest.” Joe has been a pillar of Tanque Verde Ranch, as well as the riding program – staff and guests alike share in the appreciation of his efforts – and his stories.


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