Saddle up in Wickenburg, Arizona

Hike a Wild West landscape or take a ride at a dude ranch in this former cowboy town

January in the desert means sunny, crisp days, the perfect climate to soak up Wickenburg's wide-open spaces. Take a hike, admire some Western art, and shop for Southwest decor in a former Wild West outpost that was known for its gold mines as well as cattle and dude ranches.

GETTING THERE

Wickenburg is located at U.S. 60 and U.S. 93, about 60 miles northwest of central Phoenix. For more information, contact the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce (800/942-5242).


GO

Vulture Peak Trail. Get endorphins going with a winding 2-mile hike. The reward is a broad view of the Sonoran Desert. INFO: Off Vulture Mine Rd., 7 miles south of U.S. 60; 623/580-5500.

Hassayampa River Preserve. Gentle streamside trails loop through cottonwoods and willows, where you can glimpse 280 species of nesting and migrating birds. Borrow binoculars from the visitor center, which also offers exhibits about the site's ranching history. INFO: Closed Mon–Tue; $5; 49614 U.S. 60 (3 miles south of Wickenburg at mile marker 114); 928/684-2772.

Desert Caballeros Western Museum. See Ropers, Wranglers & Rascals: The Real American Cowboys, a collection of artwork and cowboy artifacts; or contemplate works by Maynard Dixon and other Western artists in the permanent collection. INFO: Exhibition through March 16, 2008; $7.50; 21 N. Frontier St.; 928/684-2272.


SHOP

Ranch Dressing. Stock up on colorful tableware or chili mix at the shop that's part of the Western Museum. INFO: 18 N. Tegner St.; 928/684-2272.

Buckshot Babe's. Buy Western wall art and decorative E. Garcia silver spurs. INFO: 69 Frontier St.; 928/684-0750.

Gold Nugget Art Gallery. Look for paintings, sculpture, and jewelry by local and Arizona artists, housed in an 1863 adobe. INFO: 247 E. Wickenburg Way; 928/684-5849.


EAT

Twin Wheels Café. Cowboy memorabilia and vinyl booths complement patty melts and breakfast served all day, diner-style. INFO: $; 172 E. Wickenburg Way; 928/684-5331.


STAY OVERNIGHT

Learn about Wickenburg's dude-ranch tradition by checking into Rancho de los Caballeros (from $462, including three meals daily; open through May 11; 800/684-5030), the elegant, John Gaw Meem–designed guest ranch dating to 1948. Ride horses, sample mesquite-grilled ribs, or unwind at the cozy Los Caballeros Spa (treatments from $45; open to the public), where you can soak in a milk bath in a claw-foot tub.

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