Rough Riders/Best of the Circle Z Season Finale

Rough Riders/Old Hands Week
Featuring the Best of the Circle Z Season Finale!

The newest special at the ranch, and one to be an old hand favorite, is our Rough Riders/Best of the Circle Z Season Finale. This week is geared towards guests who are wanting more adventure in their riding and are at least intermediate riders. To make sure a guest will get the most out of the week, our managers will help you decide if this is a good fit.

This years Rough Riders Week, we entertained 16 guests. The first ride, to everyone’s delight, was not the usual walking ride, but a loping ride for those who wanted! Because this is a week where we know all the guests are competent riders and are known by the wranglers, we gave more lee-way to our staff for turning it up a notch

During our steak night cook out on Monday, we invited musician Joe Barr to entertain the guests during the meal. This made a wonderful backdrop of music while we dined on the ever delicious steak night dinner.

On Tuesday, we took guests to the Wagon Wheel Bar. Although the day was windy, the views and sky were just amazing. Many said it was the best ride ever! Because of the abilities of the riders, we did a little more exploring and bush waking on our way, discovering a few new trails in the process.

On Thursday evening, after the all-day ride to Castle Butte, the ranch hosted Margarita Party during Cantina Hour.

The highlight of the week was the Red Rocks/San Rafael Valley ride. This ride is about 6 hours long and is definitely a ride for competent riders. With one of our deliciously prepared sack lunches securely packed, we loaded the horses and headed to the trail head of the Arizona Trail. The views on this trail are stunning, starting a winding uphill climb past beautiful red rock cliffs with Red Mountain in the backdrop. We end the ride up in the San Rafael Valley.

Our week ended with the Sonoita Horse Races and our Cinco De Mayo  party. The excitement built all week as our Wrangler Omar worked to get his horse Canejo (Rabbit) ready for the Big  Boy Ranch Horse Race, and boy did he do a spectacular job, beating out 6 other ranch horses to take home the trophy.

One thing we will be adding next year is having Mariachi’s Play for our Cinco De Mayo Party.

The best thing about this week was the camaraderie among the guests and staff. There was a lot of laughter and stories being told and some great riding! We look forward to offering this week every year during our final week of the season, a great way to celebrate a successful year.

By |June 18th, 2018|Community, Specials|Comments Off on Rough Riders/Best of the Circle Z Season Finale

Traveling Solo to the Circle Z Ranch

The welcoming social atmosphere of the Circle Z Ranch lends itself to those who find that traveling solo is a reality. The inclusiveness of our horseback riding program, plus the family atmosphere at dinner and social hour, breeds a camaraderie that is rare at other resort type vacation spots. Our small size makes it easy to meet new friends, and whether you want to mingle out on the trails or find a peaceful place to read, your time at the ranch will be exactly what you are seeking.

Our solo traveler friends Lindsey and Michelle explain how they felt traveling solo to the Circle Z Ranch.

“To all at Circle Z Ranch, Just wanted to thank you for the most amazing holiday. I had wanted to go on a Ranch holiday for over 20 years but coming from the UK on my own always seemed so daunting when I have never traveled anywhere by plane alone before. Transport from the airport to the Ranch was arranged by the ranch at a reasonable price so I didn’t have to worry about hiring a car and driving on the “wrong side of the road” lol. Unfortunately during my stay I was unwell and the owner and staff of the Ranch went above and beyond what I could ever have expected. They took care of me and made me feel a part of their amazing family. The horses and area you ride are just stunning – even though I was the only “new hand” guest there this week and the only guest from the UK I was welcomed by all the “old hands” and the staff and instantly felt part of the group and have already booked to come back next year with all my new found friends. I would thoroughly recommend Circle Z Ranch to anyone traveling alone because you will not be feeling alone for very long – Awesome place, staff and horses. Thanks again” Lindsey Cox.

“I had been wanting to take a horseback riding vacation for some time but none of my family or friends are riders so I hesitated going it alone. Circle Z turned out to be the perfect solution. Going solo as a woman could have been somewhat uncomfortable but I was made to feel part of the group.” Michelle

By |April 20th, 2018|Community|Comments Off on Traveling Solo to the Circle Z Ranch

My visit to the Circle Z Ranch


By Jen Zeller

If you’ve ever dreamed of riding in a place that looks like it could be from a Western Film, then you’ve got to get to Patagonia, Arizona, to Circle Z Guest Ranch.

The ranch was started in 1926 and is the original guest ranch in Arizona!  It’s everything you think a ranch in the Southwest should be.

There’s turquoise everywhere. Turquoise is good for your soul. Seriously.

Their dining hall is so cute. And don’t get me started on the food. The foooooooooooood

They serve continental breakfasts, as well as a hot breakfast. Everyday. Everyday, people!  And if you have dietary restrictions, no worries, the staff will accommodate you!  You will likely over-eat. At each meal. I don’t know what to tell you except that you’re on vacation. Go for it. That’s what they told me!

The ranch is an incredible home away from home. It’s the perfect way for you to get away from it all. Put your cell phone away during meals, and visit. You won’t find Wi-Fi anywhere but in the Cantina, where the daily happy hour is held. Happy Hour is BYOB — so grab a bottle of your favorite wine or preferred spirit and they’ll have whatever you need to mix with it. Plus, they provide fun little appetizers each night — on Mexican Food day you’ll find fresh guacamole and homemade tortilla chips (and let’s not forget Huevos Rancheros in the morning!)

If you’re looking for a television, don’t bother! You won’t find one.

But who needs a to when there’s a corral full of horses?  Everyone here is treated like family! The riding environment is so friendly and the horses are incredibly well trained. They’re great at their jobs, happy with their lives and it shows. Once you’ve been a guest and found your dream horse, you’ll get to hang with them on subsequent trips to the ranch. How cool is that?

The staff are awesome!  They’re all very helpful and super fun!

And it’s okay to forget that the staff exist when you meet Tony, the ranch donkey. He’s super lovable.  He’s the best distraction!

Every day your ride will find you in a different terrain. You won’t ride in anything that looks remotely similar from day to day! I’m not gonna lie though, one of those trails scared the poop out of me!  However my gorgeous horse, Taffy, took great care of me whilst I bit my fingernails, and avoided looking down! I’m not even scared of heights, I’m just slightly claustrophobic and the narrow trail didn’t help me. At all! The view from the top was certainly worth it, however!

Is Taffy not about the most stunning girl ever? Holy wow she’s gorgeous… I wanted to pack her up and bring her home with me. They quickly said “No!!”

Way to rain on a girl’s parade, people! In their defense, she’s super awesome, and if she were mine I’d not part with her either, so I get it!

When you’re ready, if you feel up to it, you can lope on your ride! If you don’t feel up to it, that’s okay too! they’ll send you on a walking only ride!

The scenery will blow you away. Seriously.

Their new covered arena is pretty killer! You can schedule yourself a riding lesson before your day of riding. Not gonna lie — the barrel racer in me thought to myself — I could smoke a run in here!

And speaking of barrel racing — they have a gaming day! You can work cattle, learn the poles and run barrels. For some reason I was chosen to give a barrel racing demonstration. I don’t know how I got volunteered for that gig! Hehe!

A highlight at the end of each day is watching the horses get turned out.

Each day is something new and exciting. The food is great, the staff is great, and often, you’ll find Diana Nash, the owner, as your host.  She’s is so enthusiastic about life, the ranch and the guests you’d have to be a serious cranky pants to not feel welcome and comfortable with her.

A highlight of the week is the Friday ride in the San Rafael Valley.  This valley is where they filmed the movie Oklahoma. Several other movies have been filmed here as well.

On Saturday they ride into town, to the local bar, have drinks, lunch and otherwise get rowdy in the way they once did in the old west!!!! I missed that ride, because “home” called and said I had to get back, but if I ever get to go to Circle Z again, I think the bar ride sounds like a must-do event.

If you’re interested in keeping up with the goings on at the ranch make sure you follow them on Facebookand Instagram, and for more photos from my trip, check out the hashtag: CirlceZRanch.

Until next time, Happy Trails!



This post was brought to you, courtesy of Circle Z Guest Ranch. I cannot find the right words to explain how fun this vacation was.  I combined my love of the outdoors, photography and riding into one phenomenal trip and I’m so grateful to Diana, and the ranch, for giving me the opportunity to capture the spirit of Circle Z. I hope I did it justice and I hope you’ll choose to come here when you’re in search of an epic riding vacation.

By |March 20th, 2018|Community, Horse Talk|Comments Off on My visit to the Circle Z Ranch

Horsemanship Clinic with Carlos Tabernaberri

My friend (and horse-sharer at home) Charley and I have been coming to Circle Z for 13 years now, and always enjoy the varied trail rides with such spectacular scenery.
But this year our annual trip turned out to be even more special than usual as we participated in the Horsemanship Clinic given by Australian clinician Carlos Tabernaberri.
The title of Carlos’s book — “Through the Eyes of the Horse” — (and yes, I am now the proud owner of an autographed copy) tells it all. His training methods are all based on understanding how a horse in a herd thinks and communicates, and then using that understanding to become the human leader that your horse wants you to be.
Carlos’s motto is CCKL = TOR: a human who provides Confident, Consistent, Kind Leadership will obtain Trust, Obedience and Respect from their horse. In Carlos’s world, you never kick your horse in the ribs to get him to go nor pull on the reins to get him to stop. Cues are much more subtle, and much more acceptable to the horse as they never involve pain. The watchwords are softness, lightness, and class (as in classy).
And the most fascinating thing about it? It works!
The 10 Circle Z guests who rode in the clinic each took a Circle Z horse – all of them kind, responsible trail horses used to fearlessly navigating the narrow trails and rocky hillsides of the south Arizona desert. But none of them had any experience working in an arena, learning to move each leg independently in response to a rider’s cues, or working with other horses in a group rather than in a line on a trail.
Yet after five days with Carlos instructing the riders and the riders instructing the horses, all were able to perform such maneuvers as turns on the forehand, turns on the haunches and rollbacks, and all were learning to carry themselves in a classical dressage frame.
I can hardly wait to begin trying out some of the same techniques on my horse here at home!

Written by Barb McLintock

By |February 1st, 2018|Horse Talk|Comments Off on Horsemanship Clinic with Carlos Tabernaberri

Horseback Riding Covered Arena

This past summer, the owners of the Circle Z Ranch decided to build a covered riding arena on our large field located between the day and night pasture. This is a full size arena, measuring 150 feet X 250 feet. Being in the planning and hoping stages for several years, the final push for building this arena was our move into offering more horsemanship clinics, ensuring there a nice working space that was protected from the elements. We did not anticipate how much its’ popularity would go beyond these clinics, and our guests have responded very positively to this addition to our riding program.

Every Monday morning, our new guests are taken into the riding arena for their riding orientation. Wanting to make sure that each of our guests are clear about our riding hints for the trails, our wranglers cover all of the horse and trail riding safety tips. For those riders who are beginners, we further offer a quick horsemanship lesson on the basics on turning, stopping, self carriage, and how best to ride our horses based on western riding horsemanship.

On Tuesday mornings before the scheduled trail ride we are offering riding lessons to any guest that would like to learn more about riding, from trotting, to loping and anything in between! And guests are welcome to ask for lessons on any day they are at the ranch. This has been a huge success, and we have probably given more lessons since the start of the season than we have in the last 10 years! On any given day, guests have been in the arena learning and growing in their comfort with riding, and as a huge bonus we are including these lessons with our all-inclusive ranch pricing. This is such a testament to how important it is to have a designated space where guests feel comfortable and safe, and the footing is perfect for the horses.

Here are some of the comments we have received: “I wish this had been here when I first started riding here years ago, just in the two days of lessons before the trail ride my level of riding has improved so much”, “I am an experienced rider, but had not ridden this horse before, so it was extremely helpful to be able to try him at a lope inside the arena before going out on the trails”. You get the gist, this has been an amazing addition to our riding program as we continue to be fully committed to offering the best horseback riding program of any guest ranch.

In the future, perhaps even this summer, we will offer the arena for large gatherings during the guest off-season as well as a place for different horse related trainings. If you have a use in mind please let us know!

By |January 10th, 2018|Horse Talk|Comments Off on Horseback Riding Covered Arena

Lucia Nash, owner of the Circle Z Ranch

We are all very sad to announce the recent passing of Lucia Nash, owner of the Circle Z Ranch since 1975. Her legacy of conservation and her years of dedication to the ranch will continue on through her family, Rick, Diana and Preston Nash, as well as the Lorta family. A memorial and dedication is being planned the Fall of 2018 at the Circle Z Ranch. Following is her obituary.

Lucia S. Nash died peacefully at her home on December 20th, 2017. Born on August 29th, 1928, in Cleveland, OH to Kelvin and Eleanor Smith. She attended Hathaway Brown School and Smith College. After Smith College she worked for a brief time at White Motors.
Lucia met her future husband Richard Preston Nash, Jr at a White Elephant sale in Cleveland. After they married, the couple moved to her grandparents’ Crosscavan farm in Novelty OH, where she lived for the rest of her life. There she pursued her passion as a horse woman, a champion of nature and her philanthropic work.
Traveling to Arizona in the 1930’s with her family, she fell for the West. With her feet planted firmly in her Cleveland roots, her heart soared in the mountains of the Southwest. She reacquainted herself with the Circle Z Ranch after a thirty year absence, introducing her family to the splendor of Southern Arizona. When the opportunity of owning the ranch arose in the 1970’s, she jumped on it. She bought adjoining lands as they became available, and today nearly the same amount of land is protected and unspoiled as when the ranch began as a dude ranch in the mid 1920’s.
Her acquired love of nature handed down from her parents inspired her to volunteer tirelessly for the Nature Conservancy of Arizona and Ohio. Many conservation success stories exist today because of her dogged efforts. She also humbly worked to better organizations, such as Rainbow Children’s Hospital, The Garden Center (as it was once known), HB School, Severance Hall Restoration efforts, The Natural History Museum, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Case Western University and others.
Lucia was also a passionate gardener, antique book collector, train buff and music lover. She was also a great story teller, weaving tales of her fairy tale life and her myriad of interests.
She is survived by her daughter Audrey Knight (Steve Ells), her son Richard P Nash of Montana (Diana M.), and her grandson Preston Nash. She leaves behind many close friends and family in the Cleveland area. A memorial service and reception will be held at the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club, 7620 Old Mill Rd., Gates Mills, OH 44040 on Friday. January 5th at 5 p.m. In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial gifts to Hospice of the Western Reserve, 17876 St. Clair Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44110.

By |December 25th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Lucia Nash, owner of the Circle Z Ranch

Training with our young colts

Apollo is a rising 2 year old ranch bred horse.

Introducing young horses into the riding herd at the Circle Z Ranch is a process that takes several years and starts with the foundation of trust, which is the basis for all future training. Their first year of life is spent out in the mare pasture with their moms, growing and maturing, learning to navigate the terrain with mom in the lead. Our 2 yearlings Cocoa and Apollo, born in the Spring of 2015, were separated from their mares this past spring and spent the summer passing away the hours at the Bar Z Ranch. They are now ready to start learning how to be around humans and to be a part of the herd.

We first had Cocoa and Apollo in a pen adjacent to the main herd’s day pasture so they could all get acquainted over the fence. It was amazing to watch how many horses came to greet them, to touch noses, and how it thrilled these young ones. When they were ready to be turned out with the herd during the day, the process was seamless. Now, they are part of the herd, learning who the leaders are, how to behave in the group, and who to stay away from! The two are inseparable from each other for now, and are often seen running and kicking up their heels, moving in unison, all while being tolerated by the older horses. They still spend nights and Sundays in our corrals rather than being turned out to the night pasture, as they are still too young to protect themselves.

I have been working with these two for several weeks now and have seen great things from both. The most important thing is for them to trust me, to see me as a confident and consistent leader, and for me to show them kindness and patience. This means lots of head scratches, touching them all over, and to always show them respect while they are learning. At this young age I am focusing on the basic tenants for the rest of their learning; good ground manners and to be relaxed around humans. This means, in part, to walk confidently on a lead and to follow my feet; to stand calmly while I am at their side; to accept my hands touching them; to stop when I stop and not walk over the top of me; and to not nip at me or use me as a scratching post. This is a time of setting boundaries for acceptable behavior, just as the herd dictates on a daily basis. Interestingly, each took to these things with different levels of ease, revealing their insecurities and curiosities. It is so important during this process not to judge or label their behavior, but to work softly and patiently while they are learning to accept me as a human who means them no harm. It is also imperative to introduce things in a non-threatening way.

Cocoa and Apollo have much different personalities. A small black horse, Cocoa is the more daring and for sure the leader of the pair. He is curious about everything and likes to be at the center of the activity. Apollo is a stunning sorrel with a blaze, a little bit shier but so wanting to please. He would rather hide behind Cocoa, and does not like to be separated from him, and is slowly learning confidence through Cocoa’s examples. Both have very soft eyes, and both are very smart. The more time I spend with these two, their trust in me has risen dramatically. Both now come to me when they see me in the pasture. At first they were both a little resistant to haltering, but with patience on my part they are now very accepting of this. Both take a lead nicely and pass through gates without concern. Some of these things seem like such basics for a seasoned horse, but for a young one it is all new territory.

We are looking forward to starting their official ground work when Australian trainer Carlos Tabernaberri returns to the ranch this January. Stay tuned for more posts and photos as their training progresses!

By |December 17th, 2017|Horse Talk|Comments Off on Training with our young colts

Muffie’s Cheesecake Recipe

We are diligently working on assembling a Circle Z Ranch cookbook and boy are we finding some yummy recipes! Here is a sneak peak at one recipe from a long time guest who is quite the cook. This one is surprisingly simply and utterly delicious; it is a guest favorite. Hope you enjoy this Cheesecake recipe from Muffie’s kitchen.



Muffie’s Cheesecake

Make 1, 9 inch cheesecake

¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
1 ½ pound cream cheese, softened
¾ cups sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 ½ tsp vanilla
2 cups sour cream
3 Cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Crust: Mix graham cracker crumb, butter, spices and sugar until combined. Press into bottom and partially up sides of 9 inch spring-form pan. Bake for 8minutes.

Filling: Blend cream cheese and sugar. Scrape down bowl and heat until there are absolutely no lumps. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Add vanilla and pour over crust. Bake for 20 minutes or until set. Remove from oven.

Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees. Mix sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. Carefully spread over cheesecake. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes.

Allow cheesecake to cool completely and then chill.


By |October 2nd, 2017|Community|Comments Off on Muffie’s Cheesecake Recipe

Circle Z Ranch Announces Winter Specials for 2017-2018 Season

p1020754Visiting a guest ranch in the Winter is honestly one of the best vacations you can gift to yourself and your family. An all-inclusive ranch vacation is not always an economical adventure, and at first glance the rates can look ominous. But time after time, old hands and new guests tell us they feel they get more value for the price they pay of visiting the Circle Z Ranch than with any other vacation. And that says a lot!

Just imagine being on vacation where your only decisions are should you take the morning and afternoon ride, or be more adventurous on the all-day ride? Should you watch your waistline at breakfast and eat oatmeal, or live a little with the fresh baked pastries, freshly prepared egg dishes and bacon? Would you sit on your porch and read that book that has been collecting dust for too long, or to join the other guests at cocktail hour? The beauty of a guest ranch is that it is like summer camp for kids, where everything is provided and you can be as active or as relaxed as you want. And we don’t nickel and dime you along the way. Your weekly rate covers everything: Meals, horseback riding, lodging, lessons, swimming pool, tennis courts, guided nature walks and astronomy nights, campfires and musical entertainment. And that, my friends, is the way to spend a vacation.

For those wanting to catch a break, we understand, so we offer 2 periods during our 6 month operating season where we reduce rates 10-15%.

Pre-Holiday Special, November 26th-December 15th, 2017

15%off our published rates!

Sunday to Sunday Stay: $1824

Sunday to Thursday Stay: $1216

Come and rejuvenate before the busyness of the holidays. Trail riding in the spectacular Arizona countryside will clear your head, while the homegrown Circle Z hospitality will ensure all your needs are met. Enjoy all the amenities of the Circle Z including riding on our countless trails, fabulous, fresh gourmet meals, lounging by the pool, and visiting with friends and family. We challenge you not to relax.

*Prices include tax and service charge.
*Prices per person for a standard room. Rates are different for cottages and suites.
*No other discounts apply.

Christmas Getaway Package, 4 days and 4 nights at $1000!
December 17-21, 2017 (Sunday to Thursday)

Take a breather before Christmas with this Sunday to Thursday package at rock bottom pricing! Included in this package are all meals, horseback riding, lodging and use of all facilities.

*Prices include tax and service charge.
*Prices per person for a standard room. Rates are different for cottages and suites.
*No other discounts apply.

Adults Only Special, January 14th-February 11th, 2018

10%off our published rates!

Sunday to Sunday Stay: $1931

Sunday to Thursday Stay: $1287

Pack your finest western wear and join us for a special time where we celebrate our grown-up guests. This adults only special is ideal for guests traveling solo, with friends, or as couples. We guarantee a  quiet and relaxing time. We plan your week, you plan your wardrobe!

*Prices include tax and service charge.
*Prices per person for a standard room. Rates are different for cottages and suites.
*No other discounts apply.

By |August 30th, 2017|Specials|Comments Off on Circle Z Ranch Announces Winter Specials for 2017-2018 Season

An authentic dude ranch experience

An authentic dude ranch is not a resort, nor is it a place for a typical “vacation”. An authentic dude ranch offers true life experiences, where guests not just take a break from reality, but leap into a reality of a different nature. So what makes a dude ranch authentic? Living the history of the ranching lifestyle is the key to the real experience a dude ranch offers.

In the early days of dude ranching, city folks were drawn to the idea of living on the frontier, but without the danger of trying to fend for themselves in the hostile environments. Ranchers would often team up with hunting guides who were looking for safe, cozy places for their charges to stay, and to experience what life on the frontier was like. Also, the unspoiled landscapes, and deep mystery of the wilderness, drew the wealthy to seek out places of leisure where they could experience the wilderness without the work. Taking on dudes was a great way for ranchers to help supplement their operations, while providing once in a life-time experiences for the city folks.

Ranches opened their homes and hearths, providing meals and beds, but most importantly, the opportunity to live vicariously the life of the cowboy. Branding cattle, riding horses, exploring untamed wilderness, all in the safety and careful hospitality of these frontier cowboys. These dudes, as they were called, would return year after year, and they felt a part of the family, of something bigger than themselves, experiencing a change of pace from the cities.

Ranchers still open their homes and hearths to guests who come from all walks of life, seeking the intangibles of a reality that is quite different from a resort. We as owners and managers share our meals, we educate our guests about the horses and the wilderness we call our homes, sharing stories around the fireplace as our fore-fathers did. And we cherish every morsel, each spoken word, and the intangibles that our lives bring to our guests. It is not just about providing the best vacation of a lifetime, but the opportunity to experience life on a ranch.

By |June 30th, 2017|Community|Comments Off on An authentic dude ranch experience