Elkhorn Ranch Arizona

Work in Arizona this winter!

Elkhorn Ranch, located 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 1946 and enjoys the friendship of many returning guests and crew.

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.

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About Elkhorn Ranch Arizona

Working at Elkhorn is about making our guests feel like part of our family and helping them enjoy the country horseback. With a small crew, every job is vital and pulling your weight is a must. The crew gathers in October to open the ranch -- a time for getting to know fellow crew, our family, and the ways of the ranch. Guests arrive in mid-November and the season continues through April with the possibility of a week or so of post-season work to help close the ranch in early May. Appreciation of the outdoors and rural living makes the winter here a treat -- if you need city life, we are most likely not the place for you.

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.

There's a pretty solid corps of returning crew ranging in age from late 20s into 60s.  As a winter operation, the crew does not tend to be a college age 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 sometimes evenings are quiet.  People need to make their own fun -- with late night campfires being the usual approach to a crew party. 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 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 crew have been here about 3 months -- the equivalent of many summer seasons.  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.  We can't always control how our crew treat each other. 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.  

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 wrangling 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 -- be strong and ready to work!

Room and Board

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 a monthly compensation, guaranteed portion of the gratuity pool distributed monthly, and full room and board. Remaining gratuity pool is distributed at end of season. Six day work week with one regularly scheduled day off. Reimbursement for portion of medical insurance costs after one full season, and we try to assist crew with finding a medical insurance to compliment 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!

Getting Here and Getting Around

Most 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 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.

Our Jobs

Around 18 seasonal crew work plus the Miller Family work in the office, dining room, housekeeping, kitchen, grounds-keeping, maintenance, driving and barn/guiding areas.  Our crew is small.  We aim to have well defined jobs and roles, but occasionally we must pitch in to help in other departments.  Our family works in the thick of it with our crew.  

When we hire crew, we fully expect everyone to make a commitment for the full season -- from ranch opening in October through the end of April.  We bring people on about a month ahead of opening day to "open" the ranch, and we view this as an important team-building time.  

Thank you to all you considered Elkhorn in your job search.  We have filled all our position exept one guide position.  We keep all your applications on file, so if something changes, we'll look there first!  Good luck!   

Good luck with your job hunt!  Thanks, The Miller Family, Sept 2, 2017


Breakfast Cook / Baker - Filled by returning crew for 2017/2018

Elkhorn Ranch
Responsible for food quality and presentation, sanitation, and special diets during breakfast. Prepares crew and guest short-order breakfast daily. Prepares fresh baked goods for: guest breakfast, lunch-time cookies, supper dinner bread and dessert. Also prepares granola and breads used for breakfast toast. Prepares all 3 meals on chef's day off. Must be able to lift up to 50 lbs and be on feet during work hours.

Dining Room Server (2 positions) -- Filled for 2017/2018 Season

Elkhorn Ranch

A two person team is responsible for set up/serving of 3 guest meals, daily cleaning and weekly deep cleaning of portion of kitchen, communal kitchen bathroom, and guest dining room. Provide very personal family style hospitality and individual guest attention, including knowing all guests' names. Good team work key! Must be able to lift up to 50 lbs and be on feet during work hours.


Experienced Cook - Filled for 2017/2018 Season

Elkhorn Ranch

Team leader responsible for food quality and presentation, sanitation, and recipe / special diet choices. Prepares crew and guest lunch and supper (and all 3 meals on breakfast cook/baker's day off). Works with Operations Manager on crew management and inventory /ordering. Seeking experienced & talented applicant who loves food and people for this critical role. Must be able to lift up to 50 lbs and be on feet during work hours.


Guide (Horseback) / Farrier (6 positions) - ONE POSITION STILL OPEN for 2017/2018 Season

Elkhorn Ranch

Job involves horseback guiding, packing, shoeing, developing young & trade horses and ranch work. Each guide issued a string to develop. Rough rocky mountain country requires solid backcountry navigation and first aid skills. Not an entry level position -- must have substantial horseback and shoeing experience. Must be able to lift up to 50 lbs and be on feet during work hours.


Housekeeping (2 position) - Filled for 2017/2018 season

Elkhorn Ranch

Responsible for daily housekeeping of 20 guest cabins and dining room plus communal crew bathroom, ranch linens and guest laundry, and nightly turn bed turn down and quick tidy of 20 guest cabins. An eye for detail, efficiency and team work critical. Must be highly organized and self motivated. Must be able to lift up to 50 lbs and be on feet during work hours.


Kitchen Assistant - Filled for 2017/2018 Season

Elkhorn Ranch

Responsible for daily pot washing, crew dining room cleaning/meal set-up, and daily kitchen cleaning jobs; and responsible for weekly chores such as storeage and refrigeration cleaning, put away new supplies, set up sack lunch buffet, and kitchen deep cleaning. Kitchen assistant will be cross-trained as dining room server, and will work in dining room periodically. Must be able to lift up to 50 lbs and be on feet during work hours.

Physical Plant

Maintenance, Grounds & Driving (2 positions) - FILLED for 2017/2018 season

Elkhorn Ranch
Maintenance of physical plant and groundskeeping, guest airport runs, driving for town shopping, and daily chores such as wood cutting, garbage and the like. Requires substantial and varied skill set (plumbing, electricity, carpentry, etc), as well as Sonoran desert gardening. Must be able to lift up to 50 lbs and be on feet during work hours.

Office -- Positions filled for 2017/2018 season

Elkhorn Ranch
Provides hospitality and guest service from office, and cross-trained to assist in dining room and housekeeping as needed. Assists with guest requests and staffs office / reception / emergency radio / phone. Excellent communication skills, flexibility, and responsibility critical. Must be able to lift up to 50 lbs and be on feet during work hours.

Swing - Filled for 2017/2018 Season

Elkhorn Ranch

Provides day off coverage for housekeeping, serving and/or kitchen assistant (1 day). Please see other jobs for descriptions to see if you're interested. Flexibility, quick learning, and positive team energy important. Great job for someone who wants to build diverse experience. Must be able to lift up to 50 lbs and be on feet during work hours.

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, 2017 and should know by then exactly what positions are open.  We will begin serious review of applications August 1st.  Please 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)

To apply:

  • Application form available at our website - note that the application requests references!
  • Personal statement or cover letter
  • Resume with your complete education, training and work experience
  • Photograph 

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 9th starting date, and the seasonal commitment is through the end of April.

Also, please confirm that your references' 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.

Contact Info