Get a Taste of the Old West in Wickenburg, Ariz.
Known as the “Team Roping Capital of the World,” this desert town offers guest ranches, off-road fun and Western art.
In the high Sonoran desert you’ll find the town of Wickenburg. Tucked amongst saguaro cacti and rocky mountains, often graced by orange and red sunsets it’s not uncommon to see someone riding a horse through downtown.
Wickenburg feels like what Arizona was a hundred years ago, with the addition of air-conditioning of course.
Start at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum which is full of art and history celebrating the West. Be sure to check out Cowgirl Up!, an exhibit with the tagline “art from the other half of the West,” celebrating the cowgirl. Downstairs, see a life-like recreation of the town at the turn of the 20th century where a hologram merchant will guide you through the exhibit.
Wickenburg was built alongside the Hassayampa River. You won’t see water when you’re in town, however. That’s because this unique river runs underground year-round. To see where it surfaces, head to the Hassayampa River Preserve where you can hike several trails through a riparian area. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and tons of species of birds. Like anywhere in the desert, where there’s water, there’s life.
Farther north, Box Canyon offers a great way to cool down. Bring water shoes or sturdy sandals with traction (like Chacos) to hike along the river bed. Most of the year there’s small amounts of water in the river bed, perfect for getting your feet wet. After a heavy rain, however, passage might be impossible. People have called this area home for thousands of years and you just might find evidence of their presence if you look up towards the canyon walls. You can hike for approximately 1.5-miles before turning around.
If exploring on wheels is more your style, rent a side-by-side from Happy Trails of Arizona ATV Rentals or book a Jeep Tour with BC Jeep Tours to explore the surrounding desert.
For an afternoon treat, grab a cone from Chaparral Homemade Ice Cream which serves fun, rotating flavors. When it’s time for dinner, Rancho Bar 7 is a great choice for the whole family. You’ll find staples like burgers and salads, alongside Southwestern dishes like bacon and cheese stuffed poblano peppers and enchiladas.
If you want to really experience the heart of Wickenburg, stay at a guest ranch. With several to choose from, you’ll find an experience that will suit your tastes. For a resort-like getaway, Rancho de los Caballeros offers a spa, golf course and pool alongside traditional ranch activities like horseback riding. To experience what it’s like on a working ranch, Flying E is the place to go. Schedule your stay around events like cattle drives and don’t miss live country music at the Real Country Corral event space on-site. You can even stay at the dude ranch Val Kilmer’s mother once owned at Kay El Bar.
If you’re not staying the night, you can still book a trail ride based on availability at Flying E and Kay El Bar.
Wickenburg is known as the “Team Roping Capital of the World,” and while this rodeo event isn’t the spectator sport that, say, bull riding is, you may want to check out a competition if you’re in town in the winter. Team roping involves a pair of horseback riders roping the horns and legs of a steer as quickly as possible. There are many arenas in town, but Rancho Rio is a great place to watch an event. Check out their calendar at ranchorioaz.com for an event schedule.
Learn more at outwickenburgway.com.