Access & Resources
Doubles cost $320 per day, including meals and riding. Closed in August. 800-872-6240 www.ranchodelaosa.com
SCANNING THE DUSTY arroyos around Rancho de la Osa, a guest ranch near the border town of Sasabe, Arizona, it's easy to imagine a time when outlaws crossed this parched landscape to the safety of Mexico.
Today, being on the good side of the lawand on a horse or a bikeis the prime way to explore this area, 66 miles southwest of Tucson. In a glen at the end of a mile-and-a-half dirt road, Rancho de la Osa resembles an old Mexican hacienda surrounded by giant paddle cacti. Nineteen rooms, each painted by a local artist and decorated with traditional Mexican antiques, are laid out in single-story adobe wings.
The pink main building houses a library and a dining room with a long candlelit table where owner Veronica Schultz serves dishes like Yucatán-style orange roughy. A cantina with worn-out saddles for barstools is among the oldest buildings in Arizona, dating back to the late 1600s, when Spanish Jesuits built a mission outpost here.
When it's time to explore, wranglers will put you on one of the ranch's 50 paint, sorrel, or gray horses for trail rides to destinations like Presimudo, an abandoned trading post. Non-riders can hike into the grasslands of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, which surrounds the lodge's 600 acres. Birders can try to spot endangered ferruginous pygmy owls or simply look up into one of the property's eucalyptus trees for the resident spotted owl. And cyclists can borrow the lodge's mountain bikes to explore the refuge's 17-mile Antelope Drive loopimagining they're being chased by a posse and can't rest until they cross the border.