Arizona Elkhorn Ranch guests first rode high into the Baboquivari Mountains in the spring of 1946. Several generations of Millers and guests later, today’s Elkhorn Ranch visitors experience the same big views. Grace and Ernest Miller, founding members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association, found a perfect spot for a winter guest ranch operation at what had been the Fresnal Ranch School. The idea was to build a winter operation to complement their summer Elkhorn Ranch operation that began in 1922 in the Gallatin Valley of Montana.
Sadly Ernest passed on soon after purchase of the Arizona Elkhorn, but Grace and her son Bob and his wife Jan carried on. For many years, horses, saddles, and all the trappings of guest ranch hospitality migrated north and south with the seasons — many guests did the same! In 1961, Bob and Jan settled permanently in Arizona and Bob’s sister Barb and her husband Ron took the reins at the Montana Elkhorn Ranch. (Elkhorn Ranch Montana is now managed by Grace and Ernest’s granddaughter Linda Miller and continues to be an exceptional summer guest ranch owned by the Minton Family.)
Bob and Jan, with the help of their four children Linda, Don, Charley and Tom built the Arizona Elkhorn into the inviting winter retreat for adults and families that it is today. Buildings were refurbished and decorated. Desert vegetation was trimmed and shaped to attract birds and open the views. Guests returned year after year to create the feeling of extended family that makes a guest ranch experience so warm and inviting.
Up until the early 1980s, when drought conditions forced the Millers to decrease the number of livestock on the ranch, cattle were a lively part of the ranch operation. These days, the 3rd generation of Charley and Mary Miller and Tom and Anne Miller, focus on raising top-notch trail horses, conservation minded land management and ongoing improvement of the ranch, including installation of solar electricity generation facilities in 2012.
Elkhorn is a working ranch that raises and trains cross bred horses to make good trail horses for ranch guests. Since 1995, the Millers are proud to have worked with neighboring ranchers on management of the 600,000 plus acre Altar Valley watershed via the Altar Valley Conservation Alliance, a not-for-profit collaborative conservation organization.
Above all, the Miller family continues the tradition of welcoming friends to their home every winter and spring. Elkhorn is truly a place where friendly horses and friendly people meet to enjoy beautiful country.