Top Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter

September 30, 2014


If you’re looking for something unique and want to escape the typical land adventures, turn to the Mt. Lemon Sky Center and discover several astronomy programs. Their programs include public observing, a multitude of workshops, and remote observing, all of which are offered several times throughout the year.


Just a half hour west of Tanque Verde Ranch is Mt. Lemmon. More than 9,000 feet above sea level, it’s one of the highest mountaintops in the continental United States. The thirty-mile trip up the mountain winds through several ecosystems beginning in the desert and ending in Pine Forest. At its peak lies the Mt. Lemon Sky Center, a premiere site for astronomical research.


Mt. Lemmon’s SkyNights Star Gazing Program is offered nightly and is one of the most popular programs offered. Experience the heavens of the Arizona sky and learn about constellations, observe atmospheric phenomena, and view the wonders of the cosmos from Arizona’s largest public viewing telescope – a high quality 32-inch Schulman Telescope. A five-hour excursion, you will enjoy a shuttle ride up the mountain taking in the beauty of the dessert and experiencing the various ecosystems on your way. After you reach the peak, the presenter will introduce the facilities, the mountain, and elements of the program. A light meal is given and shortly before sunset, the guests will be escorted to a picturesque mountain overlook to observe the sunset. Once deep twilight has fallen, a brief sky orientation and stargazing will unfold.


Another unique program is where you can experience the life as an astronomer through Mt. Lemmon’s Astronomer Nights. As a visitor for this extended observing program, YOU become the astronomer investigating the cosmos and deciding how the night unfolds. Typically the program is limited to 1 or 2 people. You will observe through a telescope with an astronomer’s guide, acquire high quality data, and sleep on-site in the astronomer dormitories. Your stay might offer a significant contribution to the field. Also offered at the SkyCenter are various workshops where you are able to learn about the wonders that happen in the sky.

They also have several workshops available to the public such as the Making Every Pixel Count Workshhop. Learn how to produce stunning images of deep sky objects from Adam Block, a renowned imager whose skill with a CCD camera continues to inspire enthusiasts around the world. His images have appeared in numerous books, magazines, websites and television programs.

This hidden exploratory center is suitable for all ages, and a perfect evening adventure for the whole family. The high quality of Mt. Lemmon’s SkyCenter programs will impress and please both novices and experienced amateur astronomers. Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter offers access to the universe. Capture these exciting endeavors on your next trip to the ranch. For more information, please click here.


Furnishing Memorable Vacations

September 30, 2014


Carmen Petitti owns and operates Que Bonita in Tucson, a wonderful home furnishing store, with an array of items including rugs, jewelry, furniture and furnishings, one-of-a-kind apparel and accessories. Carmen has been instrumental in assisting Tanque Verde with some of the furnishings for the current ‘room refresh’ project that has been taking place this year at the Ranch.

Carmen has a truly unique outlook on life that results from many personal miracles she experience first hand. Originally from Honduras, Carmen immigrated to the United States as a teenager with nothing to her name and no family to support her in the United States. After surviving cancer at age 21, she attended night school while working two jobs during the day.

In 1979, Carmen brought some items from Honduras with her after a visit home, and her co-workers liked them all enough that they purchased everything she had brought. It was here that sparked the idea of going into the import/export business in retail and furnishings. Guided by intelligence, flair and luck, Carmen made her first contacts in Mexico and started her own business in the early 1980s, performing sales throughout the western states. The Que Bonita shop came into being in 1986.


Carmen doesn’t hesitate to offer her intelligence and flair to bring luck to others; not just with the products she sells, but also with where she obtains products. Tanque Verde Ranch will be home to dozens of chairs hand-crafted by the Tarahumara people of northwestern Mexico, fairly isolated in the high sierras. It’s not easy for Carmen to transport the furniture – some will be transported out of the village by mule! Working with the Tarahumara is close to Carmen’s heart, as she looks to give back and help others wherever possible.

Other furniture that Carmen is helping the ranch with will be handcrafted leather chairs, desks, wrought iron lamps and wrought iron copper-topped tables. Each of these is indeed made by hand by craftsmen in different parts of the southwest and Mexico, each, like Carmen, with their own stories and hardships that they survive in special ways as Carmen has.

Carmen’s joy from Que Bonita has been making friends and knowing beautiful people through the store, while giving back and helping others in need. Next time you’re at the ranch enjoy the new furnishings, consider stopping by to see Carmen and her store – Que Bonita. Learn more about her work with the Tarahumara Indians and her story by clicking here.


Building a Legacy, Brick by Brick

When Tanque Verde Ranch was getting ready to welcome back the Bill Brown Family for their 50th year at the ranch, a motion was made to do something special for them.

There are many families like the Brown’s family who have been coming to the ranch for years. Several of the staff, and especially Bob & Rita Cote, have watched numerous families and their children grow up and vacation at TVR generations grow. In light of this family tradition, a ranch-wide brainstorm session revealed an idea that could recognize and honor such a generational celebration – the Legacy Walk.

Building a Legacy, Brick by Brick

The Legacy Walk is located outside the main entrance to the dining hall and will be created by using a single brick for every family that has been coming to the ranch for more than 10 years. This way new guests can see a tradition of history which TVR holds very dear and also a way to say thanks to all the families that share their lives with us.

As this is an ongoing project, the ranch is requesting help from its guests. Although we have made contact with many of the returning families, some haven’t been back in years for a variety of reasons. If you or you know someone who has been visiting the ranch with their family for more than 10 years, please contact them so that they may continue building a legacy, brick by brick.

A World of Special Occasion Possibilities

Over the years, generations of families have chosen Tanque Verde Ranch as their place to reconnect and celebrate family. It is also a sought out location for those who dream of saying “I do” at sunset with a desert mountain backdrop, or on a lush green lawn. With Sonoran-style accommodations specifically designed for large groups, a relaxing spa, an abundance of activities, elegant and authentic dining venues and reception areas, Tanque Verde is the perfect setting for your world of special occasions.

A World of Special Occasion Possibilities

The ranch has seven unique spaces that are great for reunions, weddings or corporate meetings. Brand new in 2014 is a spot like no other, the Cactus View. Its outdoor charm also offers spectacular views of the Saguaro National Park and the Rincon Mountains. The lush lawn, wooden deck and mesquite trees set the stage with a beautiful location for your gathering ceremony.

A World of Special Occasion Possibilities

A couple of other fantastic outdoor spaces include the Rincon Terrace and Desert View. Both sit atop the terrace, surround by a mountainous landscape and fresh desert air. The Cottonwood Grove is a bit more rustic, and is located in a private, wooded area where bonfires light the night and picnic tables hold family and friends. The Ranch Lawn and Lake Corchran are also a great gathering location for events of any type.

A World of Special Occasion Possibilities

If you prefer the indoors, we have several options for you such as the Saguaro and Kiva Rooms. Both are warm, inviting and intimate with a fireplace and mantle, richly decorated in southwestern décor, and windows that overlook the desert. To view all of our spaces, click here!

The truth is, Tanque Verde is more than just a place for families and friends to unite, but also a place to celebrate. Next time you’re planning a reunion, wedding, or just want to bring your employees on a fantastic teambuilding event—saddle up and head to the ranch.


 Biosphere 2 – Where Science Lives

Traveling to Tanque Verde Ranch and want to experience what the book by Life calls the 50 Must-See Wonders of the World? Just an hour north of the ranch is the Biosphere 2, an earth system science research facility that is 7,200,000 cubic feet of sealed glass containing 6,500 windows. Its highest point reaches up to 91 feet. Visitors can observe nature in a controlled state at this world-famous steel and glass research center where desert, forest, ocean and other ecosystems are monitored and studied.

On September 26, 1991, eight people were sealed off inside Bioshpere 2, a 3.14-acre glass enclosure located in Oracle, Arizona. This marked the beginning of its first mission, a study designed to test survivability. The crew’s health was at stake as the oxygen levels decreased making it difficult to breath and it was ended seventeen months after.

Another mission was started, but was terminated six months later because of management disputes. Biosphere 2 was soon reborn, but to be used solely as a scientific research institute. It houses classrooms and research facilities and offers educational programs to the public. University of Arizona currently holds ownership of the Biosphere 2.


 Biosphere 2 – Where Science Lives

The under-the-glass walking tour of Biosphere 2 consists of approximately 150 stairs and the route is just under one mile to walk round-trip. The tour duration is 1 hour and 15 minutes with a considerable amount of standing. The weather can range from quite cold in the winter months to extremely warm during the summer months. The interior of the Biosphere 2 research facility is heated and cooled based on current research protocols, and as a result visitors may experience a variety of heat and humidity conditions on the under-the-glass guided tour.

Experience the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 and see for yourself the various ecosystems of the earth. A knowledgeable tour guide will take you on this adventure to explain the history, research and unprecedented science, taking place inside this engineering marvel. For more information, please visit

Mesquite Smoked Pork Chop

Get your grilling on this summer with this savory, mesquite smoked pork chop. Use our secret recipe for a dry rub that will add just a little zing to your next grilled meal. You’ll spoil your friends and family and have them coming back for more. Click here for recipe.

Almost a Half-Million Dollars in Improvements in 2014

Tanque Verde Ranch aims to consistently improve the guest experience year after year. In the beginning of 2014, plans were laid to renovate, remodel and improve several locations, facilities, and buildings on-site.

The Doghouse Saloon, which was established in 1868 has undergone several remodels and rebuilds over the years. With input from staff and the design and fabrication help of AIS Industries of Tucson, the Doghouse recently underwent a $35,000 facelift during the spring months, but is now ready to one again serve up their famous prickly pear margaritas!

Almost a Half-Million Dollars in Improvements in 2014

Some of the key improvements to the saloon include new deck furniture, fresh paint, new stereo system and hanging glass racks featuring turn-of-the century wagon wheels. Also installed was a complete new stainless back bar featuring two service stations. There draft beer taps and margaritas on taps were relocated and the saloon now features a rustic hanging light fixture made up of over 15 branding irons above the main bar room.

Almost a Half-Million Dollars in Improvements in 2014

Other resort-wide improvements include new roofs on 10 lodging units and installation of high efficiency HVAC units in 14 rooms. There will also be a huge facelift given to the interior of several lodging units. Some of these improvements include new beds for each room, carpet, curtains, furniture, paint and will also be replacing a good portion of the 1950’s vintage windows and sliding glass doors.

We are also excited to welcome one dozen new horses, along with brand new catering equipment including a giant BBQ! Five new electric service carts and one people mover were purchased in 2014. By 2015, the ranch will have undergone a complete transition from gas service vehicles, to an electric fleet to help make the ranch environmental friendly and use more sustainable energy.

Tanque Verde welcomes you to come experience the ranch in 2014 and experience the new and improved facilities, amenities and meet our new 4-legged friends. Pack your bags and bring the whole family. Kids stay FREE on the Summer Spree package now through August 31. Click here to find out more information.

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.”