High in the saddle in the Sonoran Desert
SCOTTSDALE, AZ. — I’ve been to this popular winter destination several times, and every time I land at Sky Harbour Airport in Phoenix and make my way north into Scottsdale I’m not thinking about golf, food or shopping — three world-class aspects of the city. I’m thinking about horses.
To do so my wife and I drove east 45 minutes from the Fairmont Princess in North Scottsdale to Saguaro Lake Ranch Stables in the Tonto National Forest. The ranch features 20 rustic cabins and a few outdoor activities, guided horseback tours among them.
What appealed to me about the tours is that, water permitting (usually during the winter months), you cross the Salt River on horseback a few times. That, the numerous Saguaro cactus that gave the lake its name, and the looming Bulldog Cliffs, provided a setting right out of my imagination back in those pajama-ed movie watching mornings. As did the names of the trail sections: Horse Thief Wash, Salt River, Mesa, the Goldfield Mountain Range. My horse’s name, Gus, fell a little short — I was hoping for Maverick, Bullet or even Rider — but the big fella proved a steady and sturdy stead, apart from the odd nibble on the horse’s tail ahead of us.
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