Arizona Equestrian Connection at Jackpot Ranch's most dazzling amenity: 72 acres of land in the Verde Valley with endless blue sky above. Tranquil ponds reflect the scenery around them as the light mist from fountains floats out over the pastures, gazebo, and previously un-misted surfaces. Guests can climb to a three-story treehouse for a spectacular view of the Verde River, rocket down a water slide that also doubles as part of the ranch's irrigation system, or wander a petting zoo populated by deer, goats, pigs, rabbits, and other feathered and fuzzy creatures. After swaying in a hammock in the shade, playing horseshoes, or doing a little catch-and-release fishing, travelers can cozy up in one of six teepees large enough to sleep six people or one dozen mini horses who are using up their Jackpot Ranch vacation days before the end of the year.
Riders who set out from M Diamond Ranch can thread the dusky red cliffs of a narrow canyon, trot across scrub-covered hills, or climb a ridge to gaze onto the sweeping panorama of the Verde Valley. These excursions are possible thanks to the 100-year-old ranch's uniquely qualified trail guides, the only ones in the area permitted to lead visitors through the scenic Red Rock District of Coconino National Forest. Each holds CPR and First Aid certifications, and can safely lead groups or private rides out on tours lasting up to three hours, either during the day or by moonlight. On each outing, they teach guests basic tenets of horsemanship, cowboy history, and cowboy culture, including the art of switching places with your horse to fool outlaws.
After trail rides, draft-horse-drawn wagons transport visitors to optional cowboy cookouts at an all-weather elevated site with panoramic views. Here, chefs serve traditional frontier fare such as 16-ounce rib-eye steaks, campfire chili, and dutch-oven cornbread, while visitors commune or listen to live country-western and rockabilly music. Though they entertain daily, the ranch's staffers also perform vital tasks behind the scenes; they conduct regular trail maintenance and put proceeds toward preservation—efforts that have earned them a Wildlife Habitat Stewardship Award.
The guides at Sedona Adventure Tours coax visitors out to explore the rugged wilderness and rolling terrain of Sedona and the Verde River Valley. Suited for guests of all experience levels, they helm hikes, horseback rides, and ATV excursions through the desert hills and dusk-red mountains, all the while divulging information on the area's diverse habitats, making sure to cover which rocks are poisonous. Their Verde River tours put guests at the helm of inflatable ducky kayaks which, thanks to their stability and light weight, are easy to navigate through the shady bends and past sweeping desert vistas. Sedona Adventure Tours' signature Water to Wine excursions cap these floating trips with a vino tasting at nearby Alcantara Vineyards.