Sonoita, AZ

Christmas at the Empire Ranch

Janet de Acevedo Macdonald

This Saturday, December 11, from 10 am to 2 pm, the Empire Ranch Foundation welcomes guests to its annual Christmas at the Empire Ranch event in Sonoita. The four hours of festivities include time to stroll and marvel at the decorated Empire Ranch House, sip a bit of holiday cheer, and engage in some retail therapy shopping for unique, cowboy-esque gifts.

Stay for the chow
The award-winning EZ Cattle Company Cow Camp Café and Chuckwagon will be serving up your choice of carne asada, chicken or a vegetarian option with beans and a vegetable! Lunch is served from 11 am to 1 pm.

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Christmas at the Empire RanchCREDIT: Empire Ranch Foundation

Reserve your chuckwagon lunch with pre-sale tickets.

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EZ Cattle Company Cow Camp CafePHOTO CREDIT: Empire Ranch Foundation

Directions from Tucson
Go east on I-10 and exit at Route 83 (scenic highway)

Proceed south on Route 83 approximately 18 miles to the paved road on your left between mile post 40 and 39. Watch for the brown Historic Empire Ranch sign on the right side of the highway.

Turn east (left) onto paved road and follow for 3 miles to the Empire Ranch House on your left.

Directions from Sonoita
Go north on Route 83 for 6.6 miles, to the paved road on your right between milepost 39 and 40. Watch for the brown Historic Empire Ranch sign on the right side of the highway.

Turn east (right) onto the paved road and follow for 3 miles to the Empire Ranch House on your left.

Its history
The historic Empire Ranch has been a working cattle ranch for 140 years. Its rich history includes successive ownership by two prominent ranching families, two corporations, and finally by the federal government on behalf of the general public. Its history is summarized in this 18-minute video presentation on the history of the Empire Ranch from its founding in 1876 to present day efforts by the Empire Ranch Foundation and the Bureau of Land Management to protect and preserve the historic buildings.

Arizona’s Empire Ranch: A Prominent Past and Promising Future

Its mission
In 1988 the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acquired for public use and preservation the lands that now form Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, including the intact buildings and much of the land holdings of the historic Empire Ranch whose founding dates to the 1870s.

In 1997, a group of private citizens formed the Empire Ranch Foundation as a volunteer 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

Working in partnership with the BLM, the mission of the Foundation is “To protect, restore and sustain the Empire Ranch historical buildings and landscape as an outstanding western heritage education center.”

The Foundation, in partnership with the BLM, provides funds and organizes volunteers to support and complete numerous preservation projects and educational activities at Empire Ranch.

The Empire Ranch Foundation is managed by a 15-member volunteer Board of Directors. Its 2020-2021 leadership include: Faith Boice, president, Raymond Patrone, vice president, Marti Conroy, secretary, and Christine Haaksma, treasurer

Get social
The Empire Ranch Foundation has many events and volunteer opportunities during the year. Be sure to follow its activities on Facebook and sign up for its informative newsletter at the website.

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I am continually fascinated by all there is to do, see, eat & drink in Arizona, especially in Cochise County.

Hereford, AZ
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