Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Arizona's dude ranches meet Hollywood

Humans are notorious for their insatiable desire to ride off into the sunset. And there’s one vacation just over the hillside that gives greenhorns and tenderfoots alike the chance to and rope and ride for real. The guest ranches — also known as dude ranches — popped up during the Westward expansion days and have since become a refuge for vacationers from around the world looking to get a piece of the cowboy fantasy. And many dude ranches have a surprisingly long history in Hollywood, said Leah Bright, the administrative assistant for the National Dude Ranch Association. Circle Z Ranch in Patagonia is the oldest continuously operating guest ranch in Arizona and was the film set for "Red River," filmed in 1948 and "Gunsmoke," filmed in 1953. “It’s just a real-life experience of the movies,” said Bright. There are three types of dude ranches, she said. Luxury ranches are high-end resorts, cattle drive ranchers bring guests to work, and traditional dude ranches focus on horseback riding and other outside activities. The ranches are usually found along train stops in Wickenburg, Phoenix and Tucson, and anyone who signs the books at the front desk is considered a "dude." Dude ranches began as early cabins to house and feed pioneers. The longstanding guesthouses flourished throughout the early 1900s with the invention of the transcontinental railroad and automobile. “Once people from the East coast started coming out West, there was a connection made there,” Bright said. Hollywood began to idolize the cowboy lifestyle during the early and mid 20th century, not long after the O.K. Corral shooting in Tombstone. This helped dude ranches reach a wider audience, said Bright. Actors like Kurt Russell, Clint Eastwood, Sam Elliott, Kevin Costner, John Wayne, Paul Newman, and Robert Duvall played cowboy characters that helped spark a classic appreciation for Western films and culture...more

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