Elkhorn Ranch Arizona

A view of the ranch headquarters amidst the wide open Altar Valley.
Our family's been here ranching since the fall of 1945!
Ranch headquarters is 7 miles from the paved highway.
Lots of old fashioned hospitality goes on around here!
Yes ~ you can tan here in the AZ sunshine.
You can hike everywhere the horses go ~ plus some place they don't go!
You'll eat and help serve good beef a couple nights a week!
Here's a glimpse of one of our guest cabins ~ there are 20 in all!
You won't be home for the holidays, nor will you be alone!
Enjoy spring time in the Sonoran desert!
You'll probably get your picture taken by guests ~ especially at the barn.
Livestock skills are valued here!
Befriend fun-loving guests!
Become a birder!
Get into mountain country!
Wear boots to work!
You could be part of this photo next year!

Work in sunny Arizona this winter!

Elkhorn Ranch, in the rugged Baboquivari Mountains southwest of Tucson, Arizona, is a guest ranch offering horseback riding and comfortable living for about 32 guests. The Miller Family has owned and operated Elkhorn continuously since 1945 and enjoys the friendship of many returning guests and crew. Note that our family takes Covid-Care seriously for our crew and guests.

Located southwest of Tucson, AZ in the Altar Valley at the base of the Baboquivari Mountains -- about 1.5 hours drive from Tucson. On a map, follow Ajo Highway/Route 86 southwest out of Tucson; head south at Three Points onto Sasabe Highway/Route 286; the ranch road is between milepost 26 and 25; take the ranch road 7 miles to the very end.

About Elkhorn Ranch Arizona

Join us during our 75th anniversary season!

Working at Elkhorn is about joining our family business and in turn helping our guests feel like part of the family. Horseback riding is our main organized activity, and we have a hiking guide.  Most guests enjoy an all-inclusive lodging, dining, and riding experience for a week or longer.   The crew gathers in October to open the ranch -- a time for getting to know the fellow crew, our family, and the ways of the ranch. Guests arrive in mid-November and the season ends in early May. With a small crew, every job is vital, and pulling your weight is a must. Appreciation of the outdoors and rural living makes the winter here a treat -- if you need city life, we're not the place for you.

Learn about our COVID-Care Program

Elkhorn Ranch is committed to making safety a priority for guests and crew and has developed an extensive risk management plan to provide a cohesive environment for both crew and guests to enjoy their time at the ranch.  Elements include:

  • Additional handwashing stations and sanitizer at strategic locations;
  • Provision of cloth masks for crew, and guidance for crew and guests as to situations and times appropriate for wearing masks;
  • Changes to our housekeeping and dining to minimize risk;
  • A flexible and generous cancellation policy for guests that encourages them to not travel if ill or exposed.

Check our website for COVID-Care information.  

The Employee Experience

You can begin and end each day with birdsong in the background and usually an above average sunrise or sunset.  It is quiet here, well away from town.  If you need daily Starbucks, we're not the place for you.  If you can go weeks without driving your car, you'll be right at home.  If you like the outdoors, hiking, peace, and quiet -- you'll love it.  If you seek a horseback guiding position, you'll find rugged and scenic country, good horses to learn from and teach, and traditional western cowboy culture.

Our crew ranges in age from late the 20s to the 60s.  As a winter operation, the crew does not tend to be a college student crowd -- though we always have people in their early 20s on the crew.  The social dynamics vary year-to-year depending on the crowd, but the nearest bar is a solid hour away and evenings are often quiet.  People need to make their own fun -- campfires, games, puzzles, watching a movie. The crew are invited to all ranch social functions, and usually, there's some sort of ranch supported social function just for crew about once a month.  If you seek a party every night, you might be a bit bored here -- and given our long season, you'd be exhausted if you found one.

Speaking of the long season, one of the biggest differences between Elkhorn Ranch AZ and many seasonal jobs is the long season.  In comparison to summer seasons, we are barely hitting our stride in mid-January after the crew has been here for about 3 months.  We often say that our season is more of a marathon in comparison to the sprint of a summer season.  Some people find this very difficult, particularly if they work back to back seasons without any break in between.

We aim to treat our crew well here.  We take maintenance of crew housing seriously, do our best to have plenty of good food available, try to be supportive when issues and challenges come up.  We strive to be fair and have jobs clearly defined.  We encourage people to value each others' privacy (which can be difficult in close quarters).  That said, we are not white glove-wearing rules and regulations people.   We aim to treat people like adults and trust that they will behave accordingly.  Most of all, we strive to work closely with our crew to model the family-style hospitality that is the essence of traditional guest ranching.  We aim for an environment that's all about friendly horses, friendly people, and beautiful country.  

We recognize the challenges of doing our work safely given the COVID-19 situation and are working hard to develop new systems aimed to keep crew and guests safe.  Look for "COVID-care" info at our website ~ highlighted in blue.  

Ideal Candidate

Our ideal candidate already knows that you don't wear your cowboy hat and spurs at the dinner table, or you're wise enough to look to the head of the table for a good example.  You don't need to know everything when you get here - but be ready to learn fast, and make it stick.  You do need to genuinely enjoy people, both guests and fellow crew.  We hope you'll like the beautiful Sonoran desert country where the ranch is located -- we're not in or near the city!  For horseback guide jobs, you need real livestock and guiding experience, including ability and willingness to shoe horses -- we don't have any entry-level guiding jobs. Ranch life is physically demanding, with long days and at least some heavy lifting for all jobs.  An applicant should be willing and able to lift a minimum of 50 pounds (think of a saddle, 50 pound bag of flour, loaded suitcase, or the like).  Candidates should be ready to commit to the entire season.

Room and Board

Full room and board are part of your compensation and everyone who works at Elkhorn lives on the ranch. Everyone has their own room and most likely shares a bathroom with one other person. Rooms are furnished and linens are provided.

The Elkhorn kitchen works hard to provide for both guest and crew dietary needs and preferences, but if you have strict dietary needs, you might find it difficult given that you do not have individual access to kitchen facilities and town is over an hour away.

Employee Perks

Compensation consists of biweekly compensation, guaranteed portion of the gratuity pool distributed monthly, and full room and board. Distribution of remaining gratuity pool occurs at the end of the seasonal commitment, and you must complete the seasonal commitment to receive this payment. Six-day work week with one regularly scheduled day off. Reimbursement for a portion of medical insurance costs after one full season, and we try to assist the crew in finding medical insurance to complement your seasonal work life.  Note that finding good medical insurance is increasingly difficult -- if you've got something that works for you, think hard before letting go of it!

Crew are welcome to use ranch facilities like the pool, tennis court, library, etc... and are welcome to join horseback rides, which can be a great part of the experience!  (Note that when the ranch has a high guest count crew may not be able to ride.)

Getting Here and Getting Around

Most of the crew prefer having their own vehicle.  During our long season, it can be refreshing to be able to leave the ranch on your day off.  We certainly have had many people work here who do not have cars, and we are happy to help purchase occasional staples for the crew on the weekly town run.  That said, it can be very difficult to feel dependent on the ranch or fellow employees for transportation.  If you have medical or other needs that require frequent town visits, you definitely should have your own wheels.  

If you do choose to be here without your own vehicle, we are happy to pick you up at the Tucson airport or elsewhere in Tucson.

Tucson is a big biking community, but at the ranch, you'll be in a rural environment that is not suitable for road bikes.  The ranch road is ok for mountain biking, but we discourage mountain biking on the ranch trails due to conflicts with the horse program.  If you're an avid biker, there are many places you can go on your day off.

For Fun

You're welcome to ride and enjoy the pool during your free time, though crew riding is limited when guest numbers are high.  The hiking is wonderful on the ranch and regionally.  City fun, shopping and the like are about 1-1/2 hours from the ranch.  The ranch crew room has satellite TV plus a video/DVD player and many games, puzzles, and books -- you can also sample the ranch guest library.  Crew are invited to all ranch social functions.  There is a "crew only" wireless area around the crew dining room that is available to you if you join the crew cost-share pool and a computer (no printer) provided by the ranch for your use.  If you need to be online a lot, you'll want to arrange your own internet access so as to not overuse shared bandwidth.  Verizon has the best cellular or cellular-based data service.  

How to Apply

Elkhorn Ranch will accept applications during July and early August, and beyond until all positions are filled.  We ask that our returning crew confirm their plans for the upcoming season by July 31st, 2020, and should know by then exactly what positions are open.  We will begin a serious review of applications on August 1st. 


  • Complete the online application form available by clicking on Apply Here below. You can also contact the ranch for a paper application form if necessary.
  • We encourage you to provide a resume ~ you can attach it to your application.  You may also email your resume or any other materials to office@elkhornranch.com.
  • Provide professional references ~ and please check that contact information is up to date.  We do check references and if we can't reach people we will quickly give up on your application.

Please note that it is very important to let us know the dates when you will be available.  We expect crew to arrive in October, ideally for an October 5, 2020 starting date, and the seasonal commitment is May 3, 2021.  

Feel free to contact us, preferably by email at office@elkhornranch.com, to check on the status of your application.

Attention: The Miller Family
Elkhorn Ranch
27000 W Elkhorn Ranch Road
Tucson, AZ  85736

520-822-1040 ... office@elkhornranch.com (email preferred for correspondence)

UPDATE October 20, 2020  We have one position open ~ Kitchen Assistant.   Thank you for your interest in Elkhkorn Ranch!

Contact Elkhorn Ranch Arizona