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Leather and Latigos

Where the Arizona Highway ends, a beautiful adventure begins

Posted 3/28/23

This little unknown corner of Arizona is seated on a gently rolling sand-plain and originally served as a small village for the Tohono O’Odham Indians.

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Leather and Latigos

Where the Arizona Highway ends, a beautiful adventure begins


This little unknown corner of Arizona is seated on a gently rolling sand-plain and originally served as a small village for the Tohono O’Odham Indians. A small hamlet in the Altar Valley, immediately north of the international border with Mexico and derived from the Native American language of the Tohono O’odham meaning “head valley.”

Today, Sasabe is best known for its historic Rancho de la Osa Guest Ranch, formerly the headquarters of a three million acre Spanish land grant, far into the high desert grasslands of the Sonoran Desert. The center square consists of the Sasabe Store, Hilltop Bar and an adjoining post office, the tiny border town awaits.

Rancho de la Osa’s tradition and history abounds and echoes Arizona at its finest. The oldest continually operated building in the stands on the ranch, and is now the ranch’s Cantina, built in 1722 by Jesuit missionaries. The property was a cattle ranch beginning in the 1800’s and became a dude ranch in the 1920’s.

It is part of the True Ranch Collection, which offers guests an authentic western experience at its dude ranches in Arizona and Montana.

The ranch has hosted presidents, such as Franklin Roosevelt, and lassoed Hollywood movie stars John Wayne, Joan Crawford and Zane Gray to name a few. The historic property offers incredible sunsets, unobstructed views of the Baboquivari Mountains as it runs adjacent to the 120,000-acre Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge, and an opportunity to reconnect with history as one may trot alongside Pancho Villa in the trails of yesteryear.

“Rancho de la Osa is one of those places you can’t believe you found, but once you do you can’t wait to go back. I don’t know whether it is the history, the desert, or the silence that charms people, but there is something about our ranch that seems to win hearts over,” Ranch Manager Carleigh Gault states.

It is also a sportsman’s paradise with its diverse wildlife for the adventurous soul. Saddle up with the ranch’s wranglers in a morning and afternoon ride or take an off-road tour to the United States-Mexico border and explore the nearby ghost town ruins. Experience the southwest on a fat tire electric mountain bike. Rifle up with sport shooting with a 22 Range with targets such as whiskey bottles that will garner that inner cowboy or cowgirl.

“The horses are our number one, there are more of them than there are of us here. The ranch is a giver, I’ve found that it gives you those feelings only a far-off place in the southwest can,” Ms. Gault added.

The neighboring Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge allows for hiking, bird watching and is home to Golden Eagles, Herons and Gray Hawks to name a few. The National wildlife refuge further offers that opportunity to reconnect with nature and enjoy wildlife-related recreation.

On long tables surrounded by pictures of famous guests, meals are served family style and conversations embark. For some, it is the nearby attractions and the road along the way. Black Canyon City resident and ranch guest, Ruth Ann Sturgill, enjoyed relaxing in the historic grounds and took note of the property painted in its Southwestern vibrant colors.

Ms. Sturgill spoke of the road trip to Rancho de la Osa. A hike through Picacho Peak State Park blanketed with poppies, and a stop further down the road at the Sonoran Desert National Monument Park lended a peek at the saguaro cactus serving as an iconic symbol of the desert.

“On top of the wonderful and historic guest ranch, remember to enjoy the journey and what may be right along your path to your destination. Great little pleasures can await if you keep your mind and eyes open to the peripheral,” Ms. Sturgill said with a smile. “The delicious homemade meals served tasted great after a full day of activities outdoors, before a peaceful night’s rest under the twinkling stars, added to the whole experience.”

The Collection now includes that same hospitality and adventures at National Park locations featuring local area tours. This summer, explore the exclusive Pop-Up Ranch at Yellowstone, just 10 miles from the north gates of Yellowstone National Park at the historic O.T.O. Dude Ranch. The True Ranch Collection ranches allow one to experience a truly unique setting, while each property is a gateway into the past, keeping the traditions of the West alive.

For more information about Rancho de la Osa, visit www.ranchodelaosa.com. For more information about the True Ranch Collection, visit www.trueranchcollection.com.

Sasabe, travel