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It's a source of inspiration, planning, tips, and advice from experienced travelers and outdoor adventurers
with the extra flair of being for women and by women only.


sunset horseback ride in desert around Tanque Verde Ranch
sunset horseback ride in desert around Tanque Verde Ranch
Woman hiking near A Saguaro cactus in the Sonoran Desert near Tucson
Sonoran dessert saguaro
Tanque Verde Ranch
Woman hiking in the Sonoran Desert
Acorn woodpecker in the Sonoran Desert
Sonoran dessert saguaro sun and mountains
Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, AZ
Woman taking a break in the Sonoran Desert during a hike
Ruins of the Presidio in Arizona
Woman visiting the old Tumacacori mission
Sonoran dessert sunset
Hawk flying be a Saguaro Cactus
Saguaro cactus in the Sonoran Desert at sunset
Sonoran desert saguaro cardinal sitting
Sonoran desert saguaro at night moon

Arizona Sonoran Desert Sampler

Destination: Tucson, AZ

| Activities: Horseback Riding, Hiking, and Culture

Nestled on the outskirts of Tucson, the Tanque Verde Ranch, is an ideal spot for exploring the surrounding mountains and desert. We'll start the week with a Cowgirl Cookout and spend some time improving our riding skills and strengthening our hiking legs on nearby trails. A trip to southern Arizona wouldn't be complete without an opportunity to also explore its culture and cuisine. So we will travel south one day to hike at Madera Canyon then visit Tubac - a Spanish presidio turned artist colony for a refreshing prickly pear margarita and time to visit the many galleries and shops. And we couldn't leave out a trip to the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, described as a fusion experience that's part zoo, part botanical garden, part art gallery, part natural history museum, and part aquarium! Our timing also takes advantage of this special time of year in Tucson with its Day of the Dead festivities and annual All Souls Procession. With Tanque Verde Ranch as our base, there's a little something for everyone on this Sonoran Desert adventure! Maximum group size: 13


  • Settle in at Tanque Verde Ranch - recognized as the last luxurious outpost of the old west and located on 60,000 acres of Tucson’s most breathtaking desert landscapes
  • Saddle up for a private lessons and private group rides to see the ranch from a unique perspective
  • Lace up - hike under the towering saguaros and explore some of the Southwest's most diverse landscapes
  • Visit Tubac - a Spanish Presidio turned artist colony
  • Tour the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum
  • Experience some of the unique flavors of Tucson and its legendary Day of the Dead celebrations
  • Treat your tired muscles to a massage at the ranch's spa and relax at the indoor/outdoor pools and hot tubs

Departures and Prices

October 13 to October 18, 2021
$2195.00 - Available
Book Now


  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Five nights of double occupancy accommodation
  • All meals except dinner on the last night
  • All transportation once you arrive in Tucson, AZ
  • National Park and other entry fees
  • Private horseback rides and lessons

What's not included: Travel to and from Tucson, one dinner, travel insurance, spa services, alcoholic beverages, and guide gratuities.


This trip is for women in good physical condition who can hike for three to six hours a day in a desert environment. There will be hikes of over six miles on four of the days and also some time to relax at the ranch. You will have the option to participate in all of the hikes if you train for a level 3 rated trip by engaging in aerobic conditioning, such as walking vigorously up hills, jogging, cross-country skiing or stair stepping for 30 - 45 minutes at least 3 - 4 times a week. Rating: 1 [2] [3] 4 5.

This is primarily a hiking trip with a few opportunities ride at the ranch and explore some of the other highlights and flavors of the desert southwest. We hike some of the areas highlights, including Saguaro National Park, Madera Canyon, Sabino Canyon and Mt. Lemmon to get a feel for the amazing diversity of this landscape. We'll also have a basic riding lesson and walk ride at the beginning and then have the option for a sunset ride later in the trip. There are also opportunities at the ranch to to go mountain biking, take a yoga lesson, or just relax and explore the many beautiful acres of desert on your own, especially if you want to arrive early or stay after the trip ends. There are so many options to make this a truly one-of-a-kind adventure!

There are five double-occupancy "salas" rooms available each with two queen beds, as well as two double or single occupancy "casitas" for a supplement. All of the rooms are located on the north side of the property in "Quail Hollow" with a nice grassy courtyard that invites you to relax and enjoy the sunset with your travel companions. The casitas are more spacious with their own sitting areas and are available for a supplement of $700, which can be as a single supplement or shared for an upgraded double. Both are described here.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Today is arrival day. Please plan to arrive at the Tucson International Airport by 3 PM or at the Tanque Verde Ranch by 4 PM. After brief introductions, we'll settle into Tanque Verde Ranch, our home base for the trip. Located on the edge of the Rincon Mountains and overlooking the rolling foothills of Saguaro National Park, Tanque Verde Ranch offers charming, southwestern lodging, and is one of Tucson's top destinations for horseback riding and other outdoor activities. We'll take a short hike to familiarize ourselves with the ranch and then gather for a welcome dinner! After dinner, relax around the campfire or enjoy the sunset from the courtyard outside our rooms. (D)
After an early breakfast, we'll have a private riding lesson and then saddle up for a walk ride around the ranch. After this warm-up ride, we'll stretch our legs on a hike in neighboring Saguaro National Park. We'll pack lunches and daypacks for a 6.5-mile loop hike of Gardwood Dam and Little Wildhorse Tank trail. The first 30-minutes are fairly flat and then we'll have a few challenging ups and downs but the views and variety of cactus and wildlife along the way are worth it! This hike will also take us to Little Wildhorse Tank - one of the only perennial areas for water in the park. We'll have lunch on the trail and time to marvel over all the interesting plants and animals. For those wanting an extra challenge, there's also the option to take a 1.2-mile round-trip spur trail to Bridal Wreath Falls. For those that would prefer to skip the extra mileage and capture the moment in an artistic way, your guide will lead a sketching and watercolor workshop trailside. We will get back to the ranch in time to take a quick dip in the pool or hot tub and freshen up before heading into Tucson for dinner and a margarita, if you choose! Overnight Tanque Verde Ranch (B, L, D)
After a hearty breakfast we'll drive about 90-minutes south to explore Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains. The canyon is one of the most renowned birding locations in the United States and we'll have ample opportunities to add to our bird lists on the 6.5-mile Josephine Saddle Loop via Super Trail. The trail follows a moderate grade for 3.6 miles before reaching the Josephine Saddle. This is the perfect spot to enjoy our lunch and keep our eyes and ears open for wildlife, including the stunning Elegant Trogon! This is another spot for us to create artistic memories too. At Josephine Saddle, the trail branches in several directions and we'll return via Old Baldy trail, descending the 1700 feet we just climbed up but in only 2.2 miles. After our hike, we will continue about an hour south to the historic town of Tubac, which founded as a presidio, or fort, in 1752 as the Spanish empire expanded into the desert Southwest. Today, Tubac is a thriving artist community with over 100 galleries, shops and great restaurants. You'll have the option to stroll the town at your own pace or shuttle a short distance to the Tumacácori mission - a 19th-century Franciscan mission and now a National Historic Park. You can take a tour of the park or walk 4 miles back to Tubac along the historic Anza trail that follows the Santa Cruz river. We will meet back up around sunset for dinner at Elvira's - an iconic, vibrant and award-winning Mexican restaurant. If you want to try mole while in Arizona, this is the place to do it! Overnight Tanque Verde Ranch (B, L, D)
Come dressed in your cowgirl costume for this morning's Halloween hike. After an early breakfast we'll drive about an hour to the top of Mt. Lemmon, stopping along the way at a few of the highlights and viewpoints. Depending on the conditions and energy levels we'll hike one of the many shaded trails near the top of the mountain. After a lovely picnic lunch, we'll treat ourselves to a cookie at Mt. Lemmon's famous cookie cabin! We'll be back at the ranch by mid-afternoon with the option to take a sunset ride, relax at your room, or partake in one of the numerous activities and amenities at the ranch. Tonight we'll dine together with a special chef's selection at the internationally acclaimed Cafe Poca Cosa. Overnight at Tanque Verde Ranch. (B, L, D)
Today begins with an early breakfast and plenty of cowgirl coffee! We'll then drive a short distance to Sabino Canyon and catch a shuttle to the Seven Falls trailhead. It's one of Tucson's most popular hikes (it's easy to see why) and worth getting there early to beat the crowds. On this 5-mile out and back trail, we'll be surrounded by saguaros, cholla, ocotillo and the beauty of the Sonoran Desert. And after a gradual and steady climb, we'll be rewarded with the views of Seven Falls and time to relax and dip your feet in the cool pools. After a sack lunch, and an optional sketch in our notebooks, we'll hike back to the trailhead for the short shuttle ride down the canyon. We'll then zip over to Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, all in one place! We'll arrive in time to witness the Raptor Free Flight and then tour of this unique museum. Sadly, our time together is coming to end but we'll share a spectacular final dinner together in Tucson. Overnight Tanque Verde Ranch (B, L)
Wow, it's our last day, already? We sure packed a lot of fun into these 5 days together! You are free to leave any time after breakfast. We will have you to the airport by 11 AM for flights out after 1 PM. Or there are shuttles and ride-shares available for a fee if you would like to leave at another time.

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  1. Where do we eat?

    All breakfasts will be at Tanque Verde Ranch. The AGC guides will be preparing all of the lunches and the dinners will be at local restaurants. When out to dinner, you'll be able to order off the menu. The last night's dinner is on your own at the All Souls Procession, which will have many food trucks and the opportunity to get your final taco fix!
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise rooms are double-occupancy and you will be paired with a roommate unless you have requested a specific roommate.