Observations - Circle Z Ranch

Best Family-Owned & Operated Guest Ranch 2023 – Arizona

Nestled in the heart of the Sonoran Desert in Southern Arizona, Circle Z Ranch (Circle Z) has long been held and appreciated as conservation land for present and future generations. Owned and operated by the Nash family since 1976, its down-to-earth style is reflected in its friendly and welcoming atmosphere. We speak to Diana Nash to learn more as the ranch celebrates a win in the Resort and Retreat Awards 2023.

Whether it’s solo travellers, family groups, or friends, all visitors find Circle Z’s outstanding hospitality and well cared for facilities to be the best in the industry. All guests are greeted with clean and comfortable accommodation, quality made-from-scratch meals, hundreds of miles of horseback riding trails, a herd of 100 well-trained and friendly horses, and a team that will go the extra mile in every interaction.

We are family-owned and -operated and we take great pride in getting to know our guests individually and introducing them to the ranch lifestyle,” explains Diana Nash, the third generation owner of the ranch. “Our guests quickly become part of our family and most return to enjoy our ranch for many years.

With core values revolving around its deep commitment to the property, its horses, its guests, and also its staff, it’s no surprise Circle Z is a popular choice for travellers – plus, as the oldest continually operating guest ranch in Arizona, guests can rest assured that the dedicated owners and team really know their stuff and have created and nurtured an upbeat and welcoming atmosphere for every person who walks through the door.

We take impeccable care of our horse herd and our property, and it shows in every detail around the ranch,” Diana elaborates. “Our team buys into our values because our leadership team is positive, supportive, and treat each individual as family.”

In fact, so renowned for the great treatment of its staff is Circle Z, that most of its recruitment comes from word of mouth due to its excellent reputation within the industry. Many of the staff members return to the ranch year after year on seasonal basis (operating from October to April) and the internal culture is that everyone simply works hard as a team and is encouraged to have fun. As both the managers and owners are hands-on, working alongside the staff and nurturing working relationships, they are truly leading by example.

The travel industry is booming after the pandemic and the nature-based travel sector, which has always been a popular choice, is now experiencing an even higher demand as people clammer to engage their wild side and experience as much of the world as possible.

Circle Z is the perfect choice, being situated in the most scenic and most diverse part of the southwest with beautiful landscapes. The ever flowing Sonoita Creek which runs through the property offers a riparian area, a rarity in Arizona, and is lined with cottonwood trees, sycamores, and a habitat rich with birds and mammals.

We ride through high mountain desert, beautiful grasslands, and steep canyons painted in the rich colours of the desert,” enthuses Diana. “Guests typically stay at the ranch for one week, and along with the great horseback riding and beautiful scenery, they also experience cookouts, roping demonstrations, nature walks, and yoga. We have a heated swimming pool, tennis and pickleball courts, a game room, a beautiful historic lodge where we take our meals, and a cantina for guest socialising and evening cocktail hour.”

Recently, for its dedication and commitment to its staff and guests, Circle Z Ranch gained notable recognition in the Resort and Retreat Awards and was named Best Family-Owned & Operated Guest Ranch 2023 – Arizona.

Now, the 2023/2024 season is already looking set to be a busy one and Diana is adding in extras to the ranch’s offerings, including a horsemanship clinic for those wanting to gain more confidence in their riding. This is in addition to gearing up for the 100-year anniversary which is quickly approaching in 2026 and calls for a huge celebration!


Resorts & Retreats Awards 2023 (lux-review.com)

Equine Dentistry is an important piece in the health of any horse. The teeth of horses are designed to grow and change throughout their lives, and physical issues can arise when the teeth grow unevenly or become damaged. The digestion of food begins in the mouth from the side to side chewing motion of the horse’s mouth. When their normal chewing motion is affected by hooks, broken teeth, or sores in mouth and tongue from sharp points, horses can display a variety of physical problems: Inability to keep on weight; sensitivity in the pole, topline and hocks; and a change in the level  of performance on the trail or in the arena.

For 5 years, we have worked with Equine Dentist Morgan Pearce. Morgan likes to begin her dental checks of our horses once they are 3-4 years old and ready to get under saddle . Morgan comes to the ranch 2 times a year and spends a full day assessing and floating teeth. We have done as many as 25 horses in a day! Each horse has their own needs for how often they need to be floated, depending on their age and their previous dental care. With diligent care over the years, most of our horses are purely maintenance and are on a 2 year schedule for floating. The floating is done with a speculum to hold the mouth open, a power float to even out the teeth, and light sedation to keep the horse calm.

Morgan grew up in South West, Virginia and moved as a young child to a ranch in Arizona with her parents. Morgan is a true cowgirl, raising and training Quarter horses and competing in rodeo events, mainly roping. Morgan also raises AKC Pembroke Welsh Corgis. Morgan is a certified equine dentist and studied dentistry at the Academy of Equine Dentistry in Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho. She now does yearly continuing education to keep up her certification. Andi if this isn’t enough, she is studying Pre-Veterinary Medicine at Arizona State University.

According to Morgan, “The overall purpose of equine dentistry is to make sure horses teeth erupt (grow) yearly. This growth can cause uneven wear, leading to sharp points that irritate the cheeks and tongue, causing major issues when eating and riding. This also leads to weight loss, pain and decreased performance. Regular teeth floating enables full nutrition and peak riding performance. If you don’t get this done the horse can have major health issues. It is imperative for overall health maintenance”.

We are grateful for our partnership with Morgan and the difference she has made for our herd! We hope if you own horses that you have a qualified Veterinarian or Equine Dentist to help you with your horses needs.


Details & Policies