Old MacDonald had a ranch, e-i-e-i-o. And on that ranch he had a farm…and so the story goes. MacDonald’s Ranch, in addition to pony rides, trail rides, train rides and gold panning, has a farm – with goats and chickens and miniature horses and donkeys – only they call it a petting zoo here in Scottsdale. This Sonoran desert ranch, just north of Phoenix, is a great place for kids and cowboys to gather round and swap stories.
I was recently in Scottsdale, Arizona, which happens to be the west’s most Western town, and I thought to myself, why not experience the Sonoran desert from the back of a horse?
Experience the Sonoran desert on horseback. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown
When I arrived on a late afternoon in October, I timed my trail ride to coincide with the Arizona sun setting behind a giant saguaro cacti. My guide and wrangler, Casey Seick, matched me with Domingo, a gentle Quarter horse with an easy gate and willing personality. I opted for the private horseback ride to have the flexibility of moving beyond a walk out on the trail.
Riders with little equestrian experience will be fine out on the trail, while advanced riders should pop for the private guided ride. Like me, Casey was new to Arizona, but in his short time at the ranch he has amassed a great deal of knowledge about the animal and plant life that abound in Scottsdale.
On our ride, we spotted jack rabbits, several types of cactus, ranging from jumping choya, to barrel and teddy bear cactus, as well as Bubble Bob – a rare segmented Saguaro cacti and one of the few in the entire state of Arizona.
Even if you don’t ride, MacDonald’s Ranch is a must visit for those traveling with kids or grandchildren. I loved the old western look of the ghost town and the children around me were wearing ear to ear grins. If I had grown up in Arizona, I would have begged my mom to have my birthday party at MacDonald’s Ranch! This place is a kick.
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If You Go:
MacDonald’s Ranch (480) 585-0239
26540 N Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, Arizona 85255
Article, photos and video by Equine Writer Nancy D. Brown. Thank you to Scottsdale Tourism and MacDonald’s Ranch for giving this California cowgirl a chance to ride in Arizona. As always, all opinions are my own.