Resort and Retreat Award: Best family owned and operated Guest Ranch-Arizona - 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 (