Photography Club goes ranching

Robert Thoresen

White Stallion Ranch is a 3,000 acre working cattle ranch and number one guest/dude ranch north of Tucson which is owned and operated by the True family. At the time of the purchase in 1965 it was a modest guest ranch operation (17 rooms, 17 horses and 200 acres). Now greatly expanded since its initial horseback riding days, updates include 41 guest rooms, 120 horses, 150 cattle, a spa and fitness center, heated swimming pool, solar generated power, guest team cattle pending, rodeos, country line dancing instruction, guided van tours of the movie history of the ranch, chuck wagon meals, chef prepared meals for guests, cowboy poetry and campfire sing-alongs. Since the early days as a backdrop in Western feature films and the location for the television series High Chaparral (1968 to 1972), the ranch has hosted prominent publications, photographers, filmmakers and journalists from around the globe. As for dude/guest ranch operations in the Tucson area today, it is pretty much down to the White Station Ranch and Tanque Verde Ranch.

Sons Russell and Michael run the operation but it’s Russell who welcomes guests from around the world. PCQC members mingled with guests from Australia, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland and Belgium on the May 20 photo shoot. Russell does most of the guest relations providing informal presentations of the ranch’s working operations and is well versed in the history of high desert ranching and rodeos. He is currently one of six members making up the advisory board of the Dude Rancher’s Association and is a former member of the board of the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitor’s Center.

About 20 PCQC members arrived at the ranch on a Wednesday mid-morning to partake on a hay wagon ride to the ranch’s barbecue cooking picnic grounds for a buffet style luncheon with all the ranch’s guests. After lunch members went off to explore on their own around the facilities with camera in hand. After a mid-day rest at the ranch’s library and game room it was time to watch the roping and barrel racing by True Family members and ranch hands. Visitors get an excellent view from the stands at the rodeo ring. Every Wednesday afternoon is rodeo day and Russell provides a full narrative of what the experience is like and what the payoff might be for the truly gifted rodeo participant.

One does not have to be an overnight guest to participate in the Wednesday activities at White Stallion Ranch. PCQC trip coordinator Nancy Lammers made all the arrangements for the club’s half day outing for only the cost of the lunch.

Rater places White Stallion Ranch as No. 1 for its hotel rating in the Tucson area. It bests Loews Ventana Canyon Resort (No. 4) and Tanque Verde Ranch (No. 13). Its ranking seems to correlate to the diversity of activities available to guests.

The PCQC was formed in 2009 and makes regularly scheduled field trips throughout the year to interesting and picturesque sites throughout southern Arizona. All Quail Creek residents are invited to the monthly meetings the second Wednesday of the month currently at the Madera Clubhouse at 6:30 p.m. For current events and further details go to the club’s website at Monthly meetings are also regularly announced via What is Happening.