As one of the best working dude ranches in Arizona, a vacation at Cherry Creek Lodge in the Tonto National Forest offers you and your family a unique cowboy experience. From cattle drives and roundups to learning cowboy skills from one of our experienced ranch hands—including western riding techniques, horse care and grooming, use and maintenance of western saddles and tack, and roping—you can experience life on an authentic working dude ranch.
Lawyer Talk: As you know, because of the unpredictable nature and irrational behavior of cattle and horses, regardless of the extent of their training and past performance, horseback riding is considered “inherently dangerous” and involves risks that may cause serious injury and in some cases death. A signed acknowledgment and release will be required before you participate in equestrian activities.
Be a genuine cowboy for half a day. Driving the cattle says it all. This is fun yet hard work. Work side-by-side with our experienced ranch hands. Riding, sorting and moving cattle from one pasture or place to another. For experienced riders only.
Experience a day in the actual life of a cowboy. Accompany one or more of our experienced ranch hands while he or she ranches. Depending on the day, you will monitor the horses, cattle and range conditions, riding the fence lines and so forth. In Arizona, we calve year-round and practice stringent range management.
Working the cattle often includes roundups, branding, sorting, weaning, vaccinating, castrating and moving to new pastures. For advanced riders, this is the ultimate experience. Be prepared for the possibility of long days and less guidance than other activities. As a rider, we’ll instruct you on the activities and guide you on how to take part. Then, you can either sit back and watch the action or jump right in and help.
Playing an active role in working the livestock exposes riders to a variety of terrains, some of which may be relatively rugged, wooded and/or rocky, and may require riding at a fast canter or gallop. Once we round up the cattle, you will sometimes take part in the cattle drive, branding and other activities. It’s an experience not soon forgotten.
Learn a variety of cowboy skills from one of our experienced ranch hands – caring for horses, saddles and tack, saddling a horse, shoeing, roping, branding, Western riding, barrel & pole workouts in the arena, cattle management & care.
Test your riding skills and “cow sense” in our arena. In penning teams of riders separate particular cows from a herd and move them into a penning area.
In sorting, two riders move a herd of ten cattle in numerical order from one pen into a separate adjoining pen. Time is of the essence in both activities. Penning and sorting offer participants the opportunity to incorporate all of their working cow horse skills in a fast-paced, fun, team-oriented competition that embraces the roots of the western lifestyle.