Gluten-free friendly dude ranch in Arizona,
January 31, 2012
I just got back from an amazing week at the White Stallion Ranch in Tuscon, AZ. It's an all-inclusive dude ranch (room, meals, several rides a day, nighttime entertainment, access to all facilities) which I was excited to visit but a little cautious about being away from home for so long and being "stuck" at a place (I didn't rent a car, they picked me up, also included - you can always rent a car at the airport, or actually at the ranch even) w/o access to a grocery store or a "safe" chain restaurant. But when I called to book my stay and asked about how they handle food allergies (yes, I know Celiac isn't an allergy, it's just easier to explain it that way) they knew what Gluten Free was right away and said they handle it all the time with no problem . And indeed they do. MOST of the food is naturally gluten free just because it's fresh and homemade. For obvious things like bread (including banana bread for breakfast), pasta, and dessert, they had substitutions that they buy from a local health food store. Carrie who works there in the morning and afternoon and I went through the menu each day to figure out what was okay as is
(which again, most was) and what needed substitutes and then it was handled w/o me even having to follow-up. I'd walk into the dining room and they'd just say,"Katie, we have the gluten-free bread right here" or at lunch, gluten-free cookies would magically appear on my table. So, the gluten-free bread wasn't always the best (I'm spoiled by Whole Paycheck) but more than edible, and like most GF breads tasted just fine when toasted (which they did separate from the other bread. I had a french dip on a toasted
english muffin). It is buffet style which I was fine with because of the way it was set up (there was space between each food item and wasn't set up in a way that people were swapping serving utensils) but they were more than willing to make me a plate in the back 1st. And when the naturally GF option wasn't something I liked (salmon) they made me my own dish anyway. There were also breakfast rides, and lunch cookouts, and wine and cheese tastings, where again, I got there and there was separate plates marked "Gluten Free" without me even having to ask (I did the first couple of excursions, but honestly, I started to forget to ask because it was all just handled w/o me needing to say anything). I had to laugh when I asked for gluten-free cake at dinner and they were out and "only had GF cookies and caramel swirl ice cream." How often does that happen that you even get a choice?
The Ranch itself was also amazing. Everyone was incredibly friendly to everyone and all the staff seemed to know all the guests names by the end of the 1st day. The place is a dude ranch in the dessert so you'd expect to find horse droppings and dirt everywhere, but it was immaculately clean. The rooms were spacious and comfortable. The horses were great and the wranglers just awesome - I learned so much about riding and got to keep the same horse all week. There were also fun things to do each night and the facilities were beautiful. It's not a kid centric place like Disney World but definitely kid friendly (I think that anyone over age 5 could ride and the wranglers were awesome with the kids that were there). So if you want to have a great time without having to worry at all about the food (they are pretty accommodating so if you have other food issues I'd just ask, and no one goes hungry), I definitely recommend the White Stallion Ranch.
SUBMITTED BY A MEMBER OF THE DC CELIACS SUPPORT GROUP