The finest cowboys are those who truly understand their equine better half, which is why centaurs make great cowboys. Establish a kindred horse-human connection with today's Groupon: for $29, you get a two-hour trail ride at Cocoraque Ranch and Pavillion (a $65 value).
Located on a century-old cattle ranch still in operation, Cocoraque Ranch and Pavillion was homesteaded in the 1890s and remains a century-old snapshot of western life. The 16,000 acres of unspoiled desert gift buckaroos and 10-gallon-hat enthusiasts a setting for a quiet trail ride. Ancient petroglyphs chipped into the region’s granite boulders more than 1500 years ago delight history buffs and remind riders that ancient people saw the same vibrant display of pink and orange at sunset that modern man does, only in black and white.
The working cowboys who lead the ride have plenty of experience in matching horse to rider, pairing gentle mares with novices and more spirited steeds with veteran saddle sitters. The ride is set up to mimic a journey in the Old West as much as possible, allowing an extraordinary viewing of the open country and big sky with minimal Ennio Morricone music.
Cocoraque Trail Ranch & Pavillion
Amid cacti and brush, beneath milk-white clouds, Cocoraque Trail Ranch & Pavillion's sprawling desert scenery makes it impossible to discern whether it's 1890 or the twenty-first century—and it hardly matters. Wranglers and ranch hands still work as they did more than a century ago when Señor Benito Robles homesteaded the rustic ranch. Today, Tucson native and third-generation cattle rancher Jesus Arvizu is at the helm. Under his guidance, ranch hands rise before sun up to shoe and groom horses, mend fences, and film commercials for blue jeans.
Upon arrival to the 16,000-acre ranch, visitors step into the time of cowboys and cattle. A red-dobe ranch house built in the 1890s facilitates cookouts with a mesquite-fired grill and an adjacent picnic area. Aspirant riders can team up with seasoned wranglers and ranch hands to participate in genuine cattle drives, herding livestock in their signature "V" formation. For large-scale old-timey gatherings, the ranch's open-air pavilion accommodates weddings, birthdays, and parties with a saloon-style bar, a covered eating area, a dance floor, and a bonfire pit.