Bellota Ranch: $275-$325 per night, double occupancy, including meals, transportation from Tucson, riding, and all activities 520-296-6275, www.bellotaranch.com
The best adventure lodges are those where you show up a stranger and leave as family. So it is at Bellota Ranch, a homey, horsey oasis in the wild chaparral country above Tucson, where the small staff (ranch manager, wrangler, and a cook) takes the saying "make yourself comfortable" to pleasing extremes.
Room & Board: Surrounded by 60,000 acres of working cattle land and wedged between the Santa Catalina and Rincon mountains, Bellota manages to be sprawling and intimate. The 1930s hacienda, plastered in white stucco, surrounds a sunny courtyard. The eight guest rooms have cozy ranch touches like brick floors, patchwork quilts, Mexican-tiled bathrooms, and kiva fireplaces. Guests and staff eat together in the country kitchen, and no one ever goes hungry with stick-to-your-ribs cowboy fare like buffalo burgers; between meals, you're urged to graze from the bottomless jar of chocolate-chip cookies.
Out the Back Door: With its surefooted quarter horses and vast Coronado National Forest acreage, Bellota has a stellar riding program. Kean Brown, the laconic, perpetually sunburned wrangler, leads morning and afternoon range rides. Once you've demonstrated that you can control your horse, you're free to find your own way into the creosote- and sage-studded hills. There's a handful of mountain bikes for spinning out your horse legs along miles of empty roads, and the 790-mile-long Arizona Trail traverses the property, butin laid-back Bellota fashionthe only mandatory post-ride activity is soaking in the outdoor hot tub.