If warm days, cool, starry nights, horseback riding, tennis, or golf float your boat, coupled with authentic western hospitality, then grab your cowboy boots and Stetson, tennis racket and clubs and giddy up to Rancho de los Caballeros. Located in Wickenburg, Arizona, Los Cab is on the northern edge of the Sonoran Desert, just a tad over an hour from Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, or about a five-hour drive from Los Angeles.
Founded in 1863 by mining magnate and former Arizona legislator Henry Wickenburg, the area often catered to adventure seekers, and due to the desert’s dry climate, medical refugees suffering from lung ailments. According to a U.S. House of Representatives’ Report prepared in 1871, Wickenburg was “by far the most important district in Arizona” for the mining industry.
The Bar FX Ranch, once Henry Wickenburg’s home opened to guests in 1923. By the 1930’s guest ranches became known as dude ranches and Wickenburg became known as the “dude ranch capital of the world,” though is now mainly known as the team roping capital of Arizona. In the same vein, Los Cab has been a part of this western framework for 75 years providing guests with a traditional experience of the west with the comforts of home.
Owned for the past 75 years by the same family, Los Cab was sold a couple of years ago to three families with long and strong ties to the area. Committed to Los Cab, the new owners are investing heavily in the ranch. There are currently 79 rooms of which 12 are suites. Of these, 25 have been remodeled, others refreshed, and 43 new rooms and suites will be added by 2025. A new fine dining restaurant is set to open in October, and two additional swimming pools and a casual eatery are also in the works. In the past Los Cab was only opened seasonally from October to May, however starting this October, Los Cab will be open year-round.
Staying in a spacious Hermosa Room, about 350 square feet, the room had a very comfortable king size bed with high-count sheets, a desk, a window seat, club chair, and a fireplace that kept things cozy in the evenings. There was also a small kitchenette, dinette set, and an enormous patio with deep chairs that made for fantastic star gazing during those dark clear nights.
There is no shortage of activities on site. Golfers will enjoy the 18-hole golf course designed by Greg Nash and Jeff Hardin. With a combination of desert views, rolling hills and those of nearby Vulture Peak, it may be difficult to concentrate on your game. Formerly of Four Seasons Resort Lanai and Four Seasons Ko O’lina, Los Cab golf pro TJ Orban loves the course because the views and the vibe elicit, “cowboy magic on the greens.” Also, where else can you play golf, tilt your head and see nearly 100 horses trotting to or from their pasture twice a day?
Tennis aficionados will definitely want to hook up with Los Cab tennis pro Dave Messersmith. Los Cab has four premier hard courts with cushion surface – two are convertible to pickleball – which makes playing an absolute pleasure. The amiable Messersmith has been Los Cab’s tennis pro for 41 years, provides quick-to-learn tips all while abundantly clear he’s still profoundly in love with the game.
Many come here for horseback riding and will not be disappointed. Los Cab has about 100 horses and seven highly experienced, dedicated wranglers and riding teachers.
There are horses for all riding levels, private lessons, and trail rides, and since Los Cab sits on 1,200 acres and borders another 19,000 acres of Bureau and Land Management land, there are an abundance of trails, so variety is the spice of life here.
As a strong intermediate rider, my horse, appropriately named Uber, was a perfect fit so I requested him again for a second ride. Trotting along trails amid blooming poppies and towering cacti, with both jack rabbits and coyotes making cameo appearances while being regaled with regional lore by my wrangler was a joy.
The Spa at Los Cab, with forever views is a stone’s throw from the main lodge. There are six private treatment rooms including a couple’s suite with a bear claw bathtub and a full menu of massages, scrubs, facials, and mani/pedis.
There is also trap and skeet shooting, archery, axe throwing, hikes, bird watching, nature walks, fitness center, great jogging, and a kid’s club with special activities. The issue will be not what to do, but when to rest!
Hearty breakfasts and lunches at Los Cab are served buffet style in the main dining room, and delicious a la carte lunch items are also available in the Saloon, including gourmet salads. At the Saloon make sure and try a perfectly mixed Cosmopolitan or a prickly pear margarita.
There is an al fresco evening cookout on the property – and you can take a hayride to it – with southwest food, live entertainment, games, and of course, a campfire and s’mores.
If you try no other sweets at Los Cab, make sure and sample each of the pastry chef’s house made cookies. All were excellent, though I may be personally responsible for a depletion of the white chocolate cranberry stash.
Ten minutes away from Los Cab at Wickenburg Ranch Golf and Social Club that is open to the public, Jake’s Spoon offers up roadhouse cuisine relying heavily on locally sourced ingredients and has an extensive wine list. Those with a sweet tooth will want to try their "scary" caramel chocolate cheesecake.
No trip to the area would be complete without a stroll through Historic Wickenburg just a few minutes drive from Los Cab. Two large wall murals near the old train depot - now City Hall - give a sense of place and reflect the strength of the settlers. At Sage Gallery, you’ll find Navaho Rugs, blankets, and jewelry. If you absolutely must have a cowgirl fringed golf or tennis skirt, head to Cowgirl Bling Bling.
At Desert Caballeros Western Museum, there are old photos, sculptures, saddles, and all manner of western paraphernalia on the main floor. Downstairs is an excellent early 20th century town replica. Be prepared to be amazed by the general store and its holographic proprietor. Until September 3, 2023, the museum will host the 18th annual Cowgirl Up! Exhibition which showcases contemporary women artists in the western genre in a range of techniques, styles, and mediums.
The Lesson Learned
Many of the guests at Los Cab have been visiting the ranch annually for decades and it’s easy to understand why. Beautiful surroundings, plenty of activities, good food, and warm, western hospitality by friendly employees many of whom have likewise been working at Los Cab for decades. As a result, it’s a place to return to time and time again. With the heart of an urbanist yet the soul of a cowgirl, I look forward to a return visit to Rancho de los Caballeros. Happy travels!
Written by Julie L. Kessler
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