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Every February in Tucson, the city transforms as visitors, buyers and sellers unite at the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase. Also known as the “Gem Show,” thousands of people flock to the more than 40 sites located throughout town. The Gem Show has grown so much in the last few years that it is now the largest gem and mineral show in the United States.

These open-to-the-public exhibits grant individuals opportunities to see rare gems, artifacts and even specimens of dinosaur fossils. Whether you come as a viewer or a buyer, it is an incredible way to spend an afternoon and see what the beauty the earth has created in only a short million years.

The main event of this two-week showcase is the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show™ which packs downtown’s Tucson Convention Center over the final weekend. This show attracts thousands of treasure hunters from every corner of the globe and is open to the public. There are displays from renowned museums and private collections along with over 250 mineral, gemstone, jewelry and fossil retail dealers. It also features free lectures and seminars, and a Junior Education Area. If you plan on visiting the Ranch during this time, here are a couple tips.

1) Make sure you rent a car. Since many of the show areas are scattered throughout the city, having your own transportation may better dictate your own schedule and provide more freedom.

2) Bring water. As many of you know, the warmth of the Arizona sun can take a pounding on your body if you’re not hydrated.

3) We have a special Gem Show package with lodging in our Sales or Casitas for only $99/night. This way you can still stay at your favorite Arizona ranch, but since most of your time will be consumed treasure hunting, you won’t have to pay for amenities you’re not using. But remember, you can always add a meal, a ride or enjoy a Rita Margarita when you get back if you so choose. Now that’s a true gem!

Kids Love Camp at the Ranch!

December 18, 2012

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For over 15 years, Tanque Verde Ranch has been offering a Summer Overnight Camp, in addition to an array of other seasonal kids programs and activities. But just this last year emerged a very new and exciting program – a Kids Day Camp offered year-round.

“The Kids Day Camp evolved as a result of more local residents and school classes visiting the ranch more frequently,” according to Lisa Bedient, Tanque Verde Ranch Kids Program Supervisor. “The demand was there, so we created a fun and exciting year-round Kids Day Camp for ages 4 through 15 to accommodate our visitors,” said Bedient.

A variety of activities will be available during Kids Day Camp such as horseback riding lessons, swimming, tennis, arts and crafts, fishing and so much more! The Kids Day Camp summer hours are 7:00am to 3:00pm, while winter hours are 8:00am to 3:30pm. Cost is $75.00 per person, per day, (not including tax). Click here for more details.

The Summer Overnight Camp for 2013 is an in-depth, summer horse camp, available in both 7-day and 14-day sessions for ages 9 through 16 and will be available June 29 thru August 3rd, 2013. Campers will learn how to become independent riders as they enhance their skills and form a deeper relationship with their horse. They will also take part in many fun-filled on and off-site field trips.  Cost is $1500.00 per person, per week (not including tax) and includes meals and lodging. Click here for more details.

If interested in the Day Kids Camp or Summer Overnight Camp, please contact Lisa Bedient at 1-520-296-6275 ext. 3267 or at 1-800-234-3833 for more information and availability of specific dates. Or click here to view the registration form!

The Culinary Cowboy

December 18, 2012

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While Tanque Verde Ranch is known to be the best Dude Ranch in Arizona, they also are known for their excellent culinary team and exquisite culinary adventures.

Executive Chef Benjamin Drury, has been creating his signature hearty, ranch-styled food since 2011 and says the best is yet to come. He attributes his southwestern, comfort-style cooking to his grandmother, who was also known to utilize all ingredients available when creating a dish.

Chef Drury grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and after relocating several times during his adolescence, graduated high school in San Antonio Texas before attending Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, Texas.

Drury’s culinary team aims to make their guests’ experience at the ranch unforgettable not only in the food, but  also equally important, in the relationships formed among employees and guests during meals. “Each new day and atmosphere provides an opportunity to create something new and better for our guests,” said Drury.

The collaborative efforts between Drury’s culinary team and the Ranch’s Food and Beverage Manager, Brenna Cote, have resulted in a re-vamp movement for both the food and overall dining experience to become more “guest-focused.”  An ever-changing daily menu, specialty items based on what’s in season or bloom, family style seating and being known on a first name basis are all standards at the ranch.

With a cowboy hat on his head, bacon tattoo on his arm and a passion for creating authentic ranch styled food, Chef Drury is sure to rope in your taste buds and keep you coming back for more.

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Experience a taste of the Ranch this holiday season. This Tanque Verde Ranch specialty features a true southwestern flavor with plenty of color and flare that will wow guests and mouths alike. Enjoy! (For a printable version of these recipes for your recipe box, click here, print and cut.)

Mountain Biking at the Ranch

December 18, 2012

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Experience the rush of exploring Southwestern terrain on a full-suspension mountain bike! Bring your own or use ours! There are over 600 acres of Sonoran desert riddled with over 7 miles of private, single-track mountain biking trails offering any skill-leveled rider a truly unique and enjoyable ride.

Depending on your desired terrain, the ranch offers anything from flat, straight and sandy to rocky, uphill and curvy. Our trained staff will provide step-by-step instruction for beginner mountain bikers and can even teach the more advanced riders excellent tips to help maximize their ride on higher elevated desert trails. For those who need it, we provide a high performance, full-suspension bike perfectly fit to you, along with gear which includes a helmet, gloves (available in an abundance of sizes) and of course, water bottles.

There is also a Pump Track that allows riders to coast through a track on their bike using momentum generated from their arms and legs. Click here to watch a typical ride through the pump track!

If you enjoy exploring beyond the 600 acres of Sonoran dessert, there are also many off-site opportunities for mountain biking. The Tucson Valley is surrounded by five Mountain Ranges with over 400 miles of trails. Two of the five trails can be accessed directly from the Ranch, with the other three only a short drive away. Explore and ride during the day and use the Ranch as your base camp at night.

Mountain biking is offered multiple days a week at the Ranch, while the guided offsite rides can be scheduled upon request. For more information, email dude@tvgr.com.

“Gila” Up

December 18, 2012

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The Gila Monster is one of several creatures that are commonly found in the spring and summer months around the Ranch’s 600 acres of Sonora desert. However, they are seen on rare occasions, as they spend 95% of their life underground. They are a big, stout, venomous lizard, with a black forked tongue and distinctive bead-like skin. Their legs are short and feet are comparable to small human hands with claws.

The Gila Monster is one of only two venomous lizard on the planet. It’s venomous cousin, the Mexican Beaded Lizard, is slightly larger and darker and lives in Northwest Sonora Mexico. While they are non-aggressive, they are known to hiss and bite if they feel threatened. As a neurotoxin, it is not fatal, but will definitely ruin your day.

During the warm weather months, the Gila Monster feeds at night. It is both nocturnal and diurnal, foraging during the day when the weather is cooler. The Gila Monster prefers to eat small mammals, baby birds and the eggs of reptiles and birds. Fat stored in the tail is used to sustain them during the winter months.

They live in deserts, semi-arid habitats of sandy, rocky and gravelly terrain in the Western and Southwestern United States. When they are not out and about, they are found in burrows of other animals and in holes that they dig with their claws.

Some tribes of Native Americans have believed the Gila Monster to have mythical powers, which could include healing or causing sickness. Interesting enough, Gila Monsters’ saliva contains the key ingredient in a drug used to help treat diseases such as diabetes.

It’s a rare treat to see a Gila Monster, as they are not only very secretive and shy, but are currently protected under Arizona Law as a threatened species.  So make sure to bring your camera when you go on a hike or stop by the Tanque Verde Ranch Nature Center where our Naturalists will give you more information about the Gila Monster.