A Trip to Rio Rancho Verde in Arizona

 By Patty Wilber

Last weekend we went to Rio Rancho Verde, a horse camp, in Scottsdale, Arizona with some friends. The facility was all it was cracked up to be, and unlike our trip to the Cold Bore Ranch, last year, the weather was goldilocks (just right).

We drove through snowy rain and thick fog on the way through Gallup, NM and Payson, AZ so were pretty happy to drop down into warmer and drier!

The facility is situated between the Tonto National Forest and the 30,000 acre McDowell Sonoran Desert Preserve. The Tonto is right out their back gate and the McDowell is just up the street, so there is more than enough riding to last someone weeks!

We set up camp with full hook-ups for the Shuert and Kingsbury living quarters trailers and just electricity (so we could plug in our little space heater) for our weekender.  The spots were easy to pull into and the whole place was beautifully maintained. The horse pens were fantastic with automatic waterers that our old guy, Cometa, LOVED.  I have never seen him drink so often!

The horse pens were wonderful. Penny and Cometa are in the middle of the photo.

The Shuert’s got a spot with a deck and a grill and that is where we hung out a lot. They also brought their propane fireplace which was fun to sit around!

After we got set up, we rode out into the Tonto for 3.7 miles.  We avoided the teddy bear cholla and caught a gorgeous sunset!

Patty S and Zima.

Me and Jim on Cometa and Penny. Picture by Patty S. or Amber.

Friday, four of us rode to the Rio Verde.  We got verbal directions from Joe, one of the owners, and Bill turned on his Onyx Hunt to help us verify. Joe told us it would be a five to six hour ride, and he was spot on.  We went out the back gate, down an arroyo to a really big arroyo and took that all the way to the river. The big arroyo is heavily used by off-road vehicles on the weekends.  We rode it on a Friday and it was still pretty busy.  Fortunately, they are really loud and it was a wide canyon in most places, so there was plenty of room for us to get out of the way. Also, the drivers were respectful of the horses and the horses were darn mellow most of the time!

Jim and Cometa in the big arroyo on the way to the river.

Me and Patty in a side pool on the Rio Verde. Picture by Jim.

We ate lunch at the Rio Verde and rode back on the uplands.  I found some pretty rose quartz up there! Bill’s Onyx Map program helped us pick the right Forest Service Roads to get back, but we also had a good landmark to ride towards in Granite Mountain.

We were getting pretty close to the end of the day when we spied other riders, and lo and behold!  It was the Kingsburys!  They had skipped the long ride to the river, so it was a treat to meet them for the last few miles.

You can see all the open land right next to Rio Rancho Verde! That is Tonto National Forest land. I did not turn my Equilab off right way when we got back so the time is slightly off.

On Saturday we decided to go into the Preserve.  The advantages of the Preserve included no motorized vehicles, a nice map, and really well marked trails. We were given some tips by Joe and using our map, navigated a nice loop with some interesting features.  This area had a fair number of cyclists and hikers.  All were respectful of the animals and more than one took our pictures.

The saguaros were fantastical.

Amber and Richard on the short ride to the Preserve. These two big saguaros were fun to ride and drive between!

Me and Jim by the crested saguaro! Photo by Patty S.

Another amazing saguaro. There were also big California barrel cactus and the soft and fuzzy-looking (it is all a ruse) teddy bear/jumping cholla that break off if touched and seem to jump onto one’s person. It takes pliers to get them off because if you try to pull them off one hand with your other hand, both hands get stuck together. We’d had experience with them years ago and steered clear. Richard accidentally stepped in a woodrat cache of them and spent a good amount of time pulling them off of his boots (with pliers).

Amber and Richard leading the way, heading toward Granite Mountain. It is indeed granite, whereas the ride to the river was through sedimentary rock.

Coyote Canyon Trail. Photo by Jim.

Coming around Granite Mountain. Photo by a random hiker!

Again you can see how Rio Rancho Verde is surrounded by riding galore! you can also see Granite (the larger) and Cholla (the smaller) Mountains that we rode around. It was a superb day!

The last day, the Shuerts and Wilbers tried to make a short loop in the Tonto but we misunderstood the directions and kept going up the canyons that ended in fences and had to backtrack a lot, so we did an out and back. It was nice to do a ride before we had to head to NM, so the last day felt like part of the adventure rather than just a long slog home.

We got to the house about 8 pm and this was the first year since we started our January Arizona weekends that we did not come home to snow.  In fact, the weather all week has been great!  The better to get Gino, Gette and Luna ready for the New Mexico Buckskin Horse Association all-breed training show on Sunday in Bosque Farms!

Our crew for the show will have six riders and seven equine, including Patty S. and Zima, who were on the Arizona jaunt.

Zima. Photo by Patty S.

Happy Friday!!

About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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2 Responses to A Trip to Rio Rancho Verde in Arizona

  1. Doranna Durgin says:

    What a marvelous adventure!

    Dart Beagle’s passing TDX track went through a woodrat collection of cholla spikes. It was Not Good. He was such a champ for working through it! Another friend once had to carry her GSD off the track after a similar experience. We carry hemostats as a matter of course. Glad you had pliers!

  2. BlogPatty says:

    Lani our dog got pretty stuck 2 years ago. It was pretty sad to see. Jim had to carry her as well. We had pliers then also, fortunately. Our other experience was many years ago when Jim decide to “test” the jumping cholla. He barely touched it and it attacked his one finger which may his other fingers spasm into the spines and his whole hand was stuck. Then, when trying to get that off the first hand, the other hand was also ensnared. We decided to save him. We had pliers.

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