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Circle Z Ranch Horseback Adventure: One Day of Riding

I rode 11 different rides in 7 days of horseback riding at the Circle Z Ranch out of Patagonia, Arizona. Each and every ride was different, some of the rides loping rides and some of them were walking rides. Some of them led us through gnarly canyons and others across grasslands. How could I pick just one to share with you? Well, read on!

Where: Circle Z Ranch Ranch at Patagonia, Arizona
Distance: 9.45 Miles
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Elevation Range: 3,858 – 4,447’
Date: February 20, 2020

Circle Z Ranch is the oldest, continually operating guest ranch in Arizona. Located a smidge south of Patagonia, Arizona, this ranch is truly a family operation, owned by the Nash family since 1976. Last week’s Ranch Life Blog shared what the day to day life was like during my stay. This week I picked one of my favorite rides to share with you. Be sure and check out the Circle Z Ranch Ride Doarama for a video playback of the GPS track overlaid on a 3 dimensional interactive map. More guidance about the Doarama toward the end of this blog.

The horses were saddled up and ready for us when we reached Los Coralles at 915 am. We filled our water bottles that were given to us and our sack lunches were ready for us when we got down there because this ride was going to be an all day ride.

There was a group of 6 of us guests with 2 wranglers. Part of the group elected to lope on the flat portion of the ride and the beginning and end of the ride, so a wrangler stayed with each of our groups for those portions, then we rode together most of the ride. After a short ride out, our wrangler checked our cinches and made adjustments as needed.

What beautiful country we were riding in and from first look, it was rolling desert with occasional shrubs and cactus.

We had to go through a few gates.

As we rode, we climbed slightly, following dirt roads for a bit and single width trails for most of it.

Then we climbed some more, around big old chunks of rock.

We then paralleled a small canyon. So pretty!

Climbing out of that view of the canyon led us through big round bouldery rocks for a while. Those sure-footed horses never stumbled through all of those rocks.

And we headed for that rocky butte.

We swung around and under that red and rocky butte. And that was our lunch spot.

The ponies took a lunch break also.

It was time to head back down and we went back a slightly different route.

I was at the back of our riders and suddenly everyone was stopped. They were looking at some petroglyphs. We all looked at the direct ones from the back of our horses.

Our wranglers shared with us some information about the people who lived on this land long ago. The closely related Sobaipuri and Papago Indian tribes who were also closely related to the Pima Indians who lived in the Tucson area. The Sobaipuri inhabited the main and tributary valleys of the Santa Cruz and San Pedro rivers. The Spanish established missions among them in the late 17th and early 18th centuries to which several visitas were attached. In the mid- to late 1700s, the Apache began raiding the area south of Tucson causing the Sobaipuri to give up their homes and to merge with the Pima and Papago tribes. The Papago inhabited territory mainly south of Tucson along the Santa Cruz River on into Sonora, Mexico. Papago means “bean eating people.” The Papago were mainly semi-sedentary farmers living in small villages, growing corn, beans, and squash. They supplemented agriculture with gathering of wild plants and hunting. Today, the Papago are known as the Tohono O’odham Indian tribe.

There are many sites in the Patagonia Lake/Sonoita Creek area that consist of pictographs, petroglyphs, bedrock mortars, rock cairns, rock circles, and lithic scatters.

It was a challenge to land on just one ride to share with you because all of the other rides were so different in such beautiful and diverse country. So I cheated a bit with a picture from some of the other rides.

What a fun ride and adventure I had with my wonderful pony Shawnee for the week. Boy, that week went by so quickly but I have so many memories to reflect back on and relive the moments.


What is a Doarama?  It is a video playback of the GPS track overlaid on a 3 dimensional interactive map. If you “grab” the map, you can tilt it or spin it and look at it from different viewing angles. With the rabbit and turtle buttons, you can also speed it up, slow it down or pause it.

Circle Z Ranch Ride

Map and Profile:

Circle Z Ranch Ride Map

Circle Z Ranch Ride Profile


Circle Z Ranch

Town of Patagonia

Patagonia Lake State Park Petroglyphs

Prior Blogs in the Area:

Circle Z Ranch Horseback Adventure: Ranch Life

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