Pantano Riding Stables
About 13 miles southeast of town, out in the shaggy cactus-and-scrub desert not far from Saguaro National Park East, the friendly folks at Pantano Riding Stables (4450 S. Houghton Rd., 520/298-8980, Winter daily 8 a.m.–5 p.m., summer daily 8 a.m.–noon and 4–6:30 p.m., $35 for 1 hour, $45 for 1.5 hours, $65 for 2 hours, $50 for sunset ride) will take you out and make you feel like a real cowboy. Along with the usual one- to two-hour trail rides, they offer a fun “campfire ride” where you can dine under the stars as if you’re working some kind of roundup. The desert out this way is beautiful and thick, and if you go when the cacti are blooming you are in for a spectacular show. It’s a good idea to call ahead for a reservation.
Pusch Ridge Riding Stables
In the northwest foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, about 20 miles northwest of town near Catalina State Park, Pusch Ridge Riding Stables (13700 N. Oracle Rd., 520/825-1664, Daily 8 a.m.–4 p.m., $40 one hour, $60 two hours, $50 sunset ride) go out on fun desertland trail rides every hour on the hour 8 a.m.–3 p.m. every day. During the busy spring season, rides typically include about 6–8 riders and a guide. The “moonlight rides” here are particularly enchanting, making one feel a bit like an outlaw on the run. These last 1.5 hours and cost $60 per person with a minimum of four riders. They also offer half-day ($100 pp) and full-day ($160 pp) rides, and private rides ($85 per hour). Call ahead for reservations, especially on the weekends.
Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Tucson.