A gift of travel: An Arizona getaway to Sunglow Ranch

Dogs and cats know the perfect spot to relax. Pets know a beam of sunlight streaming through a window creates the perfect place for producing long sighs of contentment. Instinct invites them to bask in the warmth and glow of the sun. Humans can also find place to bask — at a resort in southeastern Arizona: Sunglow Ranch.

Outdoor common areas for relaxing, reading

 

A getaway to one of Arizona’s resorts or guest ranches — like Sunglow Ranch would make a perfect gift, for any occasion.

Sunglow Ranch, located about 45 miles southeast of Willcox, Arizona, reclines at the base of the Chiracahua Mountains, and the boundary of Coronado National Forest. We made a side trip to Sunglow recently as part of our weekend in Willcox. Upon arrival, we were immediately accommodated with a warm welcome. General Manager Brooks Bradbury and his wife Susan, gave us a quick tour of the ranch.

Sunglow Ranch is nestled at the foot of the Chiricahuas

 

Ranch is a bit of a misnomer; even the words “guest ranch” don’t do adequate justice to describe Sunglow. Indeed, it does have horseback riding and stables. It does have gorgeous views of the “great outdoors” — rolling grasslands and sprawling mountain ranges. (Cue western movie music here.) But there’s a line where the rustic meets luxury and that’s the casual comfort that defines Sunglow. Wood and leather permeate the guest rooms, dining room and common areas. Flowers and fountains add a touch of color and finesse to  the outdoor decor. The casitas also are nicely designed — with floral and plant accents, hand-painted walls and innovative lighting features.

 

Stone path leads to pool area

Because we only had a quick tour, I don’t really feel qualified to give a full review but I feel confident recommending Sunglow to anyone who’s considering a “getaway gift” this holiday season. The nightly rates start about $300 per night for two adults which may seem a bit pricey to some, but that includes a country-style breakfast and three-course dinner. Since the meals alone would add up to about $80 to $100 per day; these inclusive rates are appropriate. Guests can choose from one- or two-bedroom units. All have separate entrances and patios — perfect for enjoying a glass of wine while watching the setting sun.

Comfortable seating to watch hummingbirds feed

 

Most amenities are included with the room: use of heated pool, hot tub, fitness room, bocce ball and horseshoe courts, fishing rods, mountain bikes and canoes. Massage services and horseback riding are extra and can be arranged separately. The resort also offers special events such as cooking classes, yoga and photography workshops, stargazing programs and winemaker dinners.

Some casitas have adjoining living areas

 

Sunglow Ranch is eco-friendly too; we noticed the system for recycling rainwater for watering gardens. Locally grown foods and produced goods are emphasized here, plus the wine list includes many fine Arizona selections including one of my favorites: the 2009 Three Sisters Syrah from Keeling Schaefer Vineyards. Arizona beers from Mogollon and Four Peaks breweries are also served.

The bedroom in the two-room Burro Casita

 

Sunglow Ranch definitely isn’t for the jet set. This is place to relax and unwind. Rustic or luxury, Sunglow Ranch can be whatever you choose. It’s both a place to curl up with a good book next to the fire, or a place to soak in the hot tub after a day of strenuous hiking in the Chiracahua Mountains.

 

Certainly a stay at Sunglow Ranch would be a thoughtful gift for anyone on your list. And after you visit the resort’s website, you may just want to treat yourself!

 

Corner table in the Sunglow Cafe

Other than a honeymoon or wedding trip, have any our readers ever been surprised with a gift of travel? Vacation or a resort getaway? What’s your favorite weekend getaway-place to escape and relax?

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from AZGetawayTravel!

Dead Horse Ranch packing list: what to bring to a state park that has ‘it all’

The Verde River provides a lush setting for Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Dead Horse Ranch State Park could be called the “ultimate” state park. It’s everything anyone could ever want in a state park. I mean, when you consider its location, events, history, attractions, beauty, activities — did I say location? — it has got to be up there near the top of the list.

I opted to make up a little packing list in case you want make a visit to Dead Horse Ranch State Park, located just outside of Cottonwood, Ariz.

 

1. Tent, RV or Sleeping bag and toothbrush

That’s right, you have your choice of accommodations. Some like tent camping; others prefer RV’s and the park has plenty of room for both. Or if you think Motel 6 is your idea of “roughing it,” perhaps you could try out one of the camp cabins. In that case, all you need is your sleeping bag and toothbrush (okay, maybe a few extras). Make your camping reservations online.

Two of the camping cabins at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

 

 

2. Soap-on-a-rope

… for your hot shower of course! Dead Horse Ranch campgrounds are equipped with clean restrooms and hot water showers, so naturally you’ll want to bring your towel, shampoo, conditioner and your soap-on-a-rope (shower gel works too.) And judging from the review sites, the facilities are  very well maintained.

 

3. Picnic basket or equivalent

I’m not sure if people still use these, but if you don’t have a picnic basket then just bring the ice chest stuffed with all your favorite goodies. The park has plenty of tables and ramadas in the day use areas, available on a first-come first serve basis, unless prior reservations are made.

 

4. Paddles

…for the kayak or canoe you’ll want to bring! Picture yourself venturing out on the lagoon or exploring the Verde River.  Please leave behind the Hobie Cats, Jet Skis and 90hp Johnson outboard. These waterways are oar-power only.

 

5. Tackle box

You will need a variety of lures, rods and reels in case you want to try all out the fishing possibilities. Arizona Game and Fish recently stocked rainbow trout for the winter months. Lagoons are favorite spots but river provides good places to try your hand at fly-fishing. Don’t forget your fishing license, but if you do, you can always pick up one at the local Walmart, just four miles away in Cottonwood.

 

 

6. Footwear

You’ll need to bring a variety of footwear from your closet: hiking boots for hiking; riding boots for horseback riding and cycling shoes for mountain biking. There are lots of trails: short nature trails, perfect for strolling along the river or longer ones, such as the three trails that make up the 7.8-mile Dead Horse Trail System. And now that the 15-mile stretch of Lime Kiln Trail is complete, you can ride (or bike) all the way to Red Rock State Park. Almost every trail at Dead Horse Ranch State Park is shared use, so remember to follow trail etiquette.

Horseback riding is just one of many activities at Dead Horse Ranch State Park

 

7. Camera, binoculars and nature guidebooks

According to the Park website, common mammals are grey fox, jackrabbit, deer, bobcat, mountain lion, javelina, skunk, and as we were told by the campground host, even the occasional river otters make their home along the Verde. The Park also hosts the “Birdy Verde,” a short name for the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival each April and the Verde River Days, held each September. Both events are not only great family fun, but they promote awareness about outdoor recreation and wildlife. The main reason for the plentiful wildlife is the vast number of cottonwood trees — not to be taken for granted!

Cottonwood trees are 'huge' -- in every aspect of the word

 

8. Credit card or cash

Okay, if you’re still not convinced Dead Horse Ranch could be the perfect Arizona getaway, just remember to bring money. You can always go shopping — at the gift shop in the visitor’s center where you’ll not only find bait, water and incidentals but also souvenirs and t-shirts. Or while your spouse and kids are fishing, paddling, riding, biking or hiking, you can take a two-minute drive into Old Town Cottonwood for a latte or a little lunch, followed by Arizona wine-tasting and window shopping along Main Street  — dotted with quaint gift shops, antique stores and art galleries. And later, If you’re in the mood for some ‘old West’ entertainment, take the family to the Blazin’ M Ranch for dinner and a show. It’s literally just across the street from the park. You’d better add cowboy boots to the list of footwear!

 

 

Kohl’s Ranch: Five reasons keep us returning

Autumn is one of our favorite times to visit Kohl’s Ranch. It’s a great time to see changing leaves and feel cooler temperatures of the Ponderosa pine forest at the foot of the Mogollon Rim. Kohl’s Ranch, nestled next to Tonto Creek along State Route 260, is a rustic guest ranch and Arizona historical landmark. We keep coming back to Kohl’s Ranch for these reasons:

1. Tonto Creek

Tonto Creek runs immediately in front of the Kohl’s Ranch’s lodge rooms, cabins and suites so each morning of our stay, we awake to hear the rustling water over the rocks as it makes its way into the Tonto Basin and on to Roosevelt Lake. On the National Forest land north of State Route 260, there’s plenty of space on the banks for fishing, picnicking or just listening to the wind in the pines. Farther up Forest Service Road 289 is Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery, a nice place to spend an afternoon with the kids to learn how trout are grown for stocking Arizona waterways.

Tonto Creek's occasional still waters in front of Kohl's Ranch

 

 

Feeding time at the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery

  1. Pet-Friendly

Kohl’s Ranch has recently changed their pet policy and now allows pets in selected units. There are restrictions and since only a few such units exist, it’s recommended to call well in advance to reserve a pet-friendly unit. The resort provides a pet welcome kit with treats and blanket.

 

Chuck and Molly walking the fence near pet-friendly Kohl's Ranch

  1. The Lodge

As soon as we enter the building, we’re greeted with the scent of top grain leather sofas and wood, be it from cracking logs in the fireplace or the knotty pine walls. It’s like going back in time 70 years – to when the lodge was popular lodge among hunters and anglers. During the 1950’s and 60’s, the lodge a favorite stopover for vacationing families, with its dining room, ice cream parlor, post office and grocery store.  A gallery of old photographs tells the history. The main lodge building now comprises the front desk, lobby, dining room, saloon, fitness center, kid’s club, studio suites and resort offices.

 

  1. Zane Grey Dining Room

Despite some less than glorifying comments on those always-disputable hospitality review sites, we have always found the dining room at Kohl’s Ranch to exceed our expectations. For one recent meal, we ordered the daily dinner special: Cornish game hens with orange glaze — baked to perfection, with wild rice and steamed fresh vegetables. Our lunch the following day was equally as good. My husband said his onion rings was the best he has ever had — those huge rings of onion dipped in homemade batter. At each of our meals, our servers promptly arrived to our table with menus, drinks, meals and check.

Hiking Trail access

This is probably the most important reason we keep coming back to Kohl’s Ranch – the location. It’s nice to stay in a cabin right near your trailhead. We especially like Horton Creek Trail and other trails nearby. In fact, the Horton Trail is one of our favorites, for a rather easy-to-moderate day hike. This trail has everything: lush forest, lots of wildlife, waterfalls, plus an easy, gradual climb – nothing too steep. Plan to see a lot of hikers on weekends. Check out hikearizona.com or Arizonahikingtrails.com for more information and additional hiking opportunities in the area.

 

Waterfalls along the Horton Creek hiking trail

For anyone who wants to visit some of Arizona’s historical landmarks to commemorate the Arizona Centennial, we recommend putting Kohl’s Ranch on the list. It’s one of the few guest “ranches” still operating in our state – continuing to treat visitors to some western, rustic charm and authentic Arizona hospitality.