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Rancho de la Osa: Ranch Life on the Southern Border

Program No. 23771RJ
Experience life at the most historic ranch in Arizona. Enjoy tranquil trail rides near the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge, and learn grooming, ranch crafts and ancient history.
6 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at

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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
Feb 5 - Feb 10, 2023
Starting at
Feb 19 - Feb 24, 2023
Starting at
Sep 24 - Sep 29, 2023
Starting at
Oct 8 - Oct 13, 2023
Starting at
DATES & starting prices
Feb 5 - Feb 10, 2023
Starting at
Feb 19 - Feb 24, 2023
Starting at
Sep 24 - Sep 29, 2023
Starting at
Oct 8 - Oct 13, 2023
Starting at

At a Glance

Experience authentic ranch life, surrounded by the stunning landscapes of southern Arizona and the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge. Hop into the saddle of gentle horses to ramble along easy scenic trails where John Wayne and Pancho Villa once roamed. Learn skills from roping to caring for ranch animals, and study the rich history of the area. Get hands-on lessons riding horses, making tortillas and take part in a tequila tasting. Learn about Navajo Weaving and Native American Jewelry. Plus, choose an extra activity each day, from off-road UTV adventures to sport shooting. This ranch adventure that will give you a window into ranch life on the Southern border.
Activity Level
Outdoor: No Sweat
Riding horses and UTVs, getting on and off horses, walking up to a mile daily on unpaved desert terrain.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Take a field trip to the U.S.-Mexico border to discuss its historical significance its role in current events.
  • Explore the Presumido Ghost Town Ruins and Petroglyphs, and learn about the area’s 19th-century and ancient history.
  • Enjoy a variety of hands-on classes at the Ranch, from trail riding and roping to art classes, tortilla making and tequila tasting.

General Notes

Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available. Select dates can be taken back-to-back with a sister program, “Ultimate Old West: The White Stallion Ranch Experience (#20193)”. Please check Dates and Prices of both programs for availability and then contact the Ranch directly to make arrangements.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Ute Vaughn
Ute Vaughan, originally hailing from Germany, is an artist and teacher who has studied art in Europe and the U.S. She is now based in Tucson, Arizona. Working primarily in watercolors and wall murals, her work is most often inspired by the colors, animals, and mysticism of the Southwest.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Ute Vaughn
Ute Vaughn View biography
Ute Vaughan, originally hailing from Germany, is an artist and teacher who has studied art in Europe and the U.S. She is now based in Tucson, Arizona. Working primarily in watercolors and wall murals, her work is most often inspired by the colors, animals, and mysticism of the Southwest.
Profile Image of Paul Bear
Being a native son of Arizona with family roots tracing back more than six generations, Paul Bear developed an early penchant for the history of the area. This led to a lifelong pursuit of knowledge about Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. The passion evolved into a career of restoring and repurposing historic buildings. His newest project is a ranch steeped in legend and lore. After two years of research into source material he has the keys to separate the fiction from the fact.
Profile Image of Gail True
Gail True received her first passport when she was seven months old. She spent most of her career working in Human Resources for retail organizations and hospitals. Gail has lived in Arizona, Northern and Southern California, and in West Africa during her time in the Peace Corps. Her travels have taken her to more than 30 countries with plans to visit many more. She looks forward to getting to know her fellow Road Scholars, and to sharing the history and beauty of the true West.
Profile Image of Jerry Freund
Jerry Freund View biography
Jerry Freund was born on the plains of western Kansas. He has explored the natural world and the world of Native Americans for most of his life. His love of Navajo culture and their weavings has intrigued him for more than 60 years. Though retired, Jerry continues to work in an art gallery of Western art that specializes in Native American art.
Profile Image of Diego Dunn
Diego Dunn View biography
Diego Dunn has extensive knowledge about the desert and edible plants, studying under Charles W. Kane and Peter Bigfoot. He is the owner of Desert Gatherings, which sells native desert seeds and makes products such as prickly pear syrup, hot sauce, and cactus jelly. Diego now uses his knowledge to teach others about the edible Southwestern desert.
Profile Image of Doris Evans
Doris Evans View biography
Doris Evans taught elementary grades in Tucson Unified School District and in a small school for park employees in Big Bend National Park, Texas. She also held environmental education positions at TUSD and as Curator of Education at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. She has published several natural history books and her photographs have appeared in numerous publications including Arizona Highways. Doris is now retired and volunteers with the Tucson Audubon Society and Pima County Parks Natural Resources, Parks, and Recreation.
Profile Image of Janay Brun
Janay Brun View biography
Janay Brun is a former mountain lion and jaguar researcher. She spent 10 years roaming borderlands between Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, in search of the big cats’ sign. In the field, U.S. border security rhetoric became her forced reality as she encountered not only big cats, but also immigrants and law enforcement pursuers. Border wall construction forced jaguar conservation to the edge. She blew the whistle on her employer’s under-the-radar plan to capture the nation’s only known jaguar, known to the world as Macho B.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border
by Rachel C. St. John
Cowboys & the Trappings of the Old West
by William Manns, elizabeth Clair Flood & Charlotte Berney
Early Tucson (Images of America)
by Anne I. Woosley and Arizona Historical Society
Medicine in the Old West: A History, 1850-1900
by Jeremy Agnew
Tucson: The Life and Times of an American City
by C. L. Sonnichsen
Dude Ranching in Arizona (Images of America)
by Russell True
Levi's & Lace: Arizona Women who Made History
by Jan Cleere
True Tales and Amazing Legends of the Old West: From True West Magazine
by Editors of True West
20 Reviews
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5 Average
(5) Review left 10/20/2022

Ranch life at De la Osa was a great trip that included horseback riding, shooting, roping, tortilla making and more. We learned the history of the site, Navajo weaving, animals in the desert and more!

(5) Review left 10/03/2022

We thoroughly enjoyed our RoadScholar experience at Rancho de la Osa! We learned so much from the staff there and from the expert presenters and enjoyed the trail rides and excursions. In fact, we're already looking forward to our next RoadScholar trip.

(5) Review left 10/03/2022

We like traveling on our own without a group. However, Roads Scholar is the exception because we really found it to be a in-depth learning experience very different from other group experiences

(5) Review left 4/15/2022

The tour guide was great. The ranch is isolated which I wanted. Nice room. Food was good. Participants were fantastic. Weather did not cooperate, it was cold and rainy. Not Road Scholars problem. I realized I do NOT want to be a cowboy, but the other aspects of the trip were good. I’m glad I did it, but I will not go back. I hear they are doing a major renovation this summer.

(5) Review left 3/17/2022

A knowledgeable, experienced, and gracious staff in an authentic, historical western guest ranch made this trip both enjoyable and educational. Good food, great outings, and accommodations with real character made this a unique and worthwhile experience.

(5) Review left 3/07/2022

If you want try activities that you can’t do in the city—this is the tip for you. The location is worth getting there and the range of opportunities is fun. The staff and horse wranglers will show you a different way of life. A Cowboy hat is optional, but I recommend you wear one. If you can, plan to stay in the region for as long as you can. Diana from Minnesota (who escaped snow and ice).

(5) Review left 2/27/2022

Looking for an outdoor adventure with underlying history and current political implications? Try this guest ranch on the Arizona/Mexico border.

(5) Review left 2/21/2022

This was my favorite Road Scholar trip to date because of the time I was able to spend on and around the horses. It's rustic and very quiet, beautiful weather and great staff.

(5) Review left 2/12/2022

I recently completed the trip to Rancho de la Osa, Life on the Border and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in ranching and border history combined with horseback riding and physical activity. The accommodations are rustic but perfect for the setting and all the staff members are helpful and knowledgeaboe. It is a trip that will stay with you and I want to go back.

(5) Review left 10/08/2021

There are two aspects of this program that are just outstanding. First, the buildings and furnishings of Rancho de la Osa are so beautiful they have been featured in multiple publications including Architectural Digest. The la Osa Cantina, where you can relax and visit with others anytime, was built by Jesuits in 1722. Second, Ross and Lynne Knox are exceptional people with exceptional knowledge and experience, and they also make you feel like family. My other favorite part was that at age 74 I learned I could ride a horse! And it’s fun! My travel partner didn’t ride after the first day, but she totally enjoyed the program also.

(5) Review left 10/07/2021

Great for getting away from the day to day hustle. Wonderful for riding and experiencing the beauty of nature.

This reviewer did not give a star rating. Review left 3/14/2020

One can see Mexico from the ranch: a lovely quiet place far from city noise & traffic. The group leader, Mrs Knox, made sure everyone had an opportunity to participate in all the activities even if it meant setting up a special time. The instructor, Mr Knox, was the closest thing to a frontier man you will ever meet. They did a superior job running this program. For us, they set up special horseback rides.The scheduled rides were wonderful sightseeing trips while the special rides were more challenging. The rooms were comfortable, the food plentiful, the other staff very competent & professional with interesting backgrounds & stories. I hope they will still be there when we return.

(5) Review left 3/14/2020

Spending time at Rancho de la Osa is a true western ranch experience. Though considered a "dude ranch" there is nothing slick or contrived about it. The ranch is old west charming, with comfortable accommodations, really good food and truly wonderful instructors who will have you riding and roping and participating in other cowboy activities with confidence. Go, find your inner cowboy-or girl-and be glad.

(5) Review left 3/09/2020

If you love the west and enjoyed cowboy shows like Roy Rodgers and western movies, I highly recommend this trip. In just six days you have the opportunity to experience riding, roping, branding, tortilla making, horse training, mule packing, riding in a UTV and more while being entertained by cowboy poetry and a western singer. Fulfill your western dream and go to Rancho de la Osa. Ross, Lynne, and Adam were wonderful hosts and teachers.

This reviewer did not give a star rating. Review left 2/01/2020

You don't have to ride horses just to enjoy this RS program. There are plenty of other activities to enjoy while staying at the most historic ranch in Arizona. I really enjoyed the animal skull presentation and the field trip to the ruins and petroglyphs. Yow can take advantage of the nature walk. The accommodations are cozy with a fireplace in each room. The food was excellent. if you horseback ride, you will enjoy yourself. Ross and Lynne are wonderful hosts. Presentations were informative and interesting. Loved the tortilla making. it was a great week.

(5) Review left 1/27/2020

What stunning landscapes, just awesome, especially if you're from the east coast. I've never been to a R.S. with so many options of activities every day, where you could repeat a favorite or try something new. Every meal was delicious, prepared from a great chef. Every morning began with a mesquite wood fire in our room, such a treat. Lynn and Ross were so interesting and accommodating, seeing their skills and hearing their stories made this trip very unique; we left feeling we had some new best friends and really consider going back again. Side note, no need to bring a water bottle with a filter, their well water out of the tap was a 10!

(5) Review left 1/23/2020

Having never been to Sasabe (although I lived in Robles Junction for several years), I ejoyed this experience.

(5) Review left 1/20/2020

If you enjoy horseback riding and want an experience on a beautiful, historic ranch, this is the program for you! There are also options for non-riders, plus everyone can have a chance to try out the shooting range, rawhide braiding, and lasso-ing.

(5) Review left 1/19/2020

It's a great program to learn about the history of cattle ranching and a cowboy's life in Arizona's old west.

(5) Review left 1/17/2020

Time travel to the old West. What great fun staying at a historic ranch with real life cowboys and cow girls. The horses were steady and dependable. Riding near the Mexico border. Seeing a ghost town. Weather was awesome. Loved it

Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.