MacDonald’s Ranch | Scottsdale

sb10063600cl-001When taking a stroll through Old Town Scottsdale, you’ll likely notice many public art sculptures and you’ll probably stop in to visit an art gallery or two. Perhaps you’ll take a carriage ride through town or take a picture with the mounted singing cowboy. Wherever your path through town takes you, you’d be hard pressed not to notice the ubiquitous equine– the horse, that is – in sculpture, paintings or even the real thing.

Horses are as much of a part of the Old West’s history, culture and landscape as cowboy hats and cacti. If you’ve been inspired by these majestic mares, head to MacDonald’s Ranch in North Scottsdale, just a few minutes from Old Town, where you can have your own personal experience with a trusty steed.

Owned by the Richardsons since the 1950s when it was a working horse and cattle ranch, MacDonald’s Ranch has been welcoming the public since 1970 when the family decided to offer visitors the chance to experience life on an authentic Arizona farm. Today, the ranch offers a variety of activities for all ages, including trail rides, stagecoach rides, hayrides, a petting zoo and more. Families and groups can even reserve cowboy cookouts, birthday parties and other private events with entertainment on the property.

With a staff of about 15, MacDonald’s Ranch feels very much like a family place from the minute you arrive and are greeted by the wranglers and ranch hands. Each horse is thoroughly trained on the trails by the ranch’s own staff, ensuring their dispositions are suitable for riders with any level of experience. Many of those who work at the ranch live on the property as well, further extending the family feeling as well as the pride and dedication shown in the care of the animals and attentiveness to visitors.

If you’re lucky, you may get a quick tour from 13-year-old Thomas, who has worked at the ranch for two years and has an enthusiasm for the ranch that is contagious as he introduces you to the animals in the petting zoo and talks about the ranch and its history. When it’s time for you to mount up, you may be lucky enough to get Mikey as your wrangler and trail guide, whose warmth and friendliness will allow you to relax and enjoy the scenery as you learn about the plants and animals of the desert from a vantage point that can’t be beaten.

Whether you’re a city dweller excited for your first experience with horses, or an experienced equestrian looking for a relaxing vacation ride, MacDonald’s Ranch is the perfect place to explore your inner cowboy or cowgirl and see a new side of the Sonoran Desert.

  • More than 100 horses call MacDonald’s Ranch home. The horses are bred off-site and brought to the ranch as colts and fillies to start their training.
  • Most of the wranglers and ranch hands engage in additional equine-related activities including pro bull riding and participating in the Scottsdale Mounted Posse.
  • MacDonald’s Ranch offers a 6-week program in which at-risk children visit the ranch to learn the basics of horse care to provide them with opportunities they otherwise may not have access to.


MacDonald’s Ranch
24540 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85255
(480) 585-0239
Be sure to wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes or boots with a small heel.
Reserve your trail ride (or other ranch activity) in advance, especially in the Spring and Fall.
The minimum age for riders is 5 years old. Free pony rides are available for little ones under 5 along with the petting zoo and other games and activities.




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