By Dorie Morales.
Rustic, yet with modern conveniences. That describes Cherry Creek Lodge, where visitors are treated to an authentic American cowboy ranch experience. Cherry Creek is the perfect destination for a history lesson of the old Wild West, and to experience Mother Nature’s beauty.
Located three hours from Phoenix and Flagstaff, and four hours from Tucson in Young, Ariz., the lodge sits in the heart of the Tonto National Forest. Here, you will leave your busy life behind as you enter through the gate to the ranch. It is a magical place to connect with nature, the environment, and recharge your mind body and spirit.
Truly, when I arrived I felt like I immediately stepped into a slice of heaven. You can see why Sharon and Mike Lechter, the owners, fell in love with their “survival property” (it is in a remote area, off-the-grid, and a place for respite and retreat). It is very calming. Also, the ranch is powered by 10kw of solar.
We (I was traveling with my sons, Carter and Keaton) arrived at 9 p.m. Stepping out of the car, the first thing we noticed was how crisp and clean the air smelled. I looked up at the sky—the stargazing was splendid. A noise caught out attention, and we found quickly learned it was frogs.
Mike—and his dogs—meet us at our car and helped us with our bags into the incredible lodge, where rustic meets elegance. We were given a snack when we arrived, along with some delicious water from the on-property well, where the windmill pumps the water. It was some of the best water that I’ve tasted! When the Lechters had expanded the lodge, they used some local sourcing of materials, as well as Arizona contractors.
A Location Rich With History
The ranch was established in 1873. During the 1880s, there were a number of range wars over water rights and grazing rights. This included the Pleasant Valley War, a range war that was fought from 1882-1892. The feud was fought between two families—the Tewksburys and the Grahams. It also involved other cattleman, sheepherders, cowboys, and law enforcement.
The fighting was over cattle rights. The war went on for over a decade, and by the end, was one of the deadliest ranch wars in the U.S., and almost all the males from both feuding families were killed.
There are many books, videos, and movies written about this war.
Exploring the Property
In the morning, I was greeted by Summer, who had prepared both a regular and a delicious vegan breakfast for us. She was a delight. There were also cute and friendly goats roaming on the patio.
The ranch itself is set on 40,000 acres and is also home to 30 horses, 300 cattle that are grass-fed, and baby chickens. The landscape is breathtaking. There is a beautiful lake where you can fish, paddle boat or board, as well as a pond with beautiful ducks.
We began our morning with a tour of the ranch in a Polaris. We saw juniper trees, beautiful flowers, cattle, and some of the small homes that are on the ranch. Mike’s dogs came with us, as well, and the boys had fun putting hats and sunglasses on them. The four of them were nestled in the back seat.
After the tour, we saddled up the horses for a ride. We saw the gravesite one of the battles that had taken place on the property. We saw footprints of elk and deer. We went through beautiful creeks.
It was a truly incredible experience, and it was wonderful to see my sons connecting with horses and nature. After the ride, I had the chance to take my horse to the arena to trot and gallop.
When we were done with our rides, we all took the horses back to the stable where we took off their saddles, brushed them, and sprayed them down after their ride.
So Much More to See, Too
Keaton and I took some time to pet the baby chickens. Then we went to paddle boat and paddle board. I lost my balance on the paddleboard and went into the lake. Oops!
The day ended with a happy hour on the deck, overlooking the beautiful lake and stables. It was so serene. For dinner, there was a delicious meal of pasta shells, salad, and a tantalizing lime tart.
The next morning, I woke up and had a beautiful experience watching the sun come over the moon, and listening to the cows, horses, and frogs. Mike took the boys and I shooting— Cherry Creek Lodge is a hunter’s paradise.
The team at Cherry Creek goes out of their way to ensure you have an unbelievable experience. I highly recommend Cherry Creek Lodge to everyone if you are looking for a place for respite and to feel at home.
Cherry Creek Lodge is located at Forest Service Road 54A, Young, AZ 85554. For more information call 928-462-4029.