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BULLETLodging Archive
Featured Lodging LocationFor more information about Saddlerock Ranch, call 818-530-6788 or visit www.sedonasaddlerockranch.com.

© Paul Markow


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John Wayne Slept Here
It's true. The Duke spent a night at Saddlerock Ranch. So did Orson Welles, Jimmy Stewart and many others. The historic property in Sedona isn't limited to Hollywood types, however. It's open to anyone who wants to be treated like a celebrity.

By Maryal Miller

sedona When we're young, we see history as a school requirement, a class taught by an old man who resembles the Crypt Keeper and smells like mothballs. But as we grow older, so does our appreciation for history, and eventually we realize that it's a subject to be celebrated. Sedona's Saddlerock Ranch does just that.

As one of the city's lesser-known landmarks, the ranch and its 85-year history are part of what makes the property's intimate, modern accommodations so enchanting. It proves that some things really do get better with age.

Perched on what is now the Airport Mesa hillside, Saddlerock was built in 1926 as a homestead for the Cook family's sprawling 6,000-acre ranch. In the late 1940s, the owners downsized the homestead to a 3-acre parcel and sold it to Ed Ellinger, who transformed the property into a dude ranch with all the accoutrements.

An Ellinger contribution — one that remains the centerpiece of Saddlerock today — is the 900-square-foot great room in the main house. It's equipped with 14-foot ceiling-to-floor windows that frame an unobstructed panoramic view of Sedona that stretches from Cockscomb in the west to Steamboat Rock in the east.

Thanks to those red-rock vistas, Saddlerock's upscale Old West charm and penchant for privacy, the ranch became a veritable Hollywood hideout in the '40s and '50s, hosting screen legends like John Wayne, Orson Welles, Hopalong Cassidy, Jimmy Stewart and Arlene Dahl. However, Saddlerock's high-profile habitué wasn't exclusive to Tinseltown. The ranch also served as a hiking and horseback-riding respite for political heavy hitters like the Goldwater, Bush and Quayle families.

Today, beautifully updated and under new management, Saddlerock serves as a tranquil guest retreat with all the modern amenities of home. Groups may book the entire property for a ranch-style family reunion complete with s'mores around the campfire and meals at the colossal dining table. The only caveat is that you'll have to take your own food or hire a chef. It's also possible to plan a scenic Sedona wedding or a girls' weekend, the latter of which can be spent lounging on plush poolside chairs or enjoying spa services in the peaceful Sedona Room.

Guests may also rent any of the rooms individually, including the main house's rustic Saddlerock Suite, the secluded Rose Garden Suite, the cozy Red Rock Loft or the quiet Writer's Retreat, all of which feature private baths. Ellinger's original tack shed, now called the Artists' Studio, also still stands on the property and offers a funky, frontier-style space for gatherings of all agendas.

But even after decades of transformation, remnants of Saddlerock's rich history — the original adobe walls; flagstone floors; stone fireplaces; pristine 1930s claw-foot bathtubs; a weathered upright piano; massive ponderosa support beams; and a mature, mesquite-smoked aroma that lingers in the main house — still serve as the ranch's heart and soul.

So, escape to Saddlerock for the R&R, but if history class is still on your schedule, be sure to ask Mr. Mothballs for some extra credit.

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