What’s New

Cowboy Festival

Don’t miss the Empire Ranch Cowboy Festival on Saturday, November 3, 2018 from 10 am to 4 pm.  Formerly known as the Roundup and Open House, the Empire Ranch Cowboy Festival is a Western experience for the whole family, featuring Western heritage demonstrations, arena and livestock exhibits, cowboy cooking and entertainment. Click here for the 2018 program listing, and  here to view a short video about the event.

Updated  9/6/2018

Yes! 2018

Thirteen enthusiastic students participated in the 2018 Youth Engaged Stewardship (YES!) program at Las Cienegas NCA.  After learning about the history of LCNCA and area inhabitants, the students spent several days working at the
Hummel Ranch, located a few miles south of Empire Ranch Headquarters. They measured, photographed and documented the ranch structures, removed vegetation from the ranch house, and cleared brush to make the area surrounding the structures “fire safe.”

They visited the Sacaton flats at Gardner Canyon to learn of past work by YES! groups and identified a need to record quantitative data to document the success of erosion mitigation efforts.  They also surveyed one LCNCA prairie dog colony
and contributed data to a formal report with retired Arizona Game and Fish Biologist, Robert Fink. At “Bill’s Pond” Dennis Caldwell worked with the students to transplant native aquatic plants, improve habitat along the edges of the pond, and create a water flow structure to help aerate the pond, and built overwintering structures for the endangered
Chiricahua leopard frog.

Posted 9/6/2018

View 3:10 to Yuma Under the Stars

Over 100 guests enjoyed the free outdoor showing of 3:10 to Yuma at Empire Ranch Headquarters on Thursday, September 20th.  Special thanks are due to The Loft Cinema and the ERF volunteers who made the evening under the stars possible. The event was part of The Loft Cinema’s Shot on Location series.  Click here to view photos of the event.

Updated  9/21/2018

National Public Lands Day

Help us celebrate National Public Lands Day at the Empire Ranch on Saturday, September 22, 2018.  Visit the re-opened Ranch House and help with some of the preservation and maintenance tasks planned for the day.  Work starts at 9 a.m.  For more information or to volunteer call (888) 364-2829 or email admin@empireranchfoundation.org

Posted 8/29/2018

The Outlaw Josey Wales

Almost 200 guests attended the 2018 Western Movie at the Loft Cinema in Tucson showing of The Outlaw Josey Wales on August 8th.  Prior to the movie, guests enjoyed a panel discussion with Michael F. Blake, retired Hollywood make-up artist and the author of Cowboy President, a book about the cowboy days of Theodore Roosevelt. He was joined on the panel by retired Hollywood stuntman Bunker DeFrance.  Colleagues of Blake and DeFrance’s close friend Neil Summers worked on the film, portions of which were shot on the Empire Ranch.

Click here to view photos of the event.

Updated 8/16/2018

Empire Ranch House Stabilization Update

The Empire Ranch House is open after a 15 month closure for a major stabilization project!  It will take several months to put the Ranch House back in order but it’s wonderful to see the rooms without bracing supports, a smooth coat of lime plaster on the exterior walls, and be able to explore the Children’s Addition which has been inaccessible for years for safety reasons.

Updated 7/29/2018

Volunteer Days

Dedicated volunteers have been key to preserving the historic Empire Ranch House and Headquarters. Volunteer Days for hands-on preservation activities at the ranch are held generally on the third Saturday of February, April, June, August, and October.  Join us for the next Volunteer Day on  Saturday, October 27th from 8am to noon. To volunteer, please submit a Volunteer Opportunities Form, and we will contact you with more details!

Post updated 9/6/2018

Pima County Proclamation

At its meeting on July 3rd the Pima County Board of Supervisors declared July 28, 2018 to be “Empire Ranch, Walter L. Vail, and Arizona Cowboy Heritage Day.” The text of the proclamation reads:

WHEREAS the Empire Ranch is part of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, a key component of the Pima County Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan; and

WHEREAS Pima County supports the preservation of its cattle ranching heritage and culture, and the role that cowboys and cattle played as one of the Five Cs of Arizona; and

WHEREAS the Empire Ranch Foundation serves to protect, restore, and sustain the Empire Ranch historical buildings and landscape as an outstanding western heritage and education center; and

WHEREAS the Empire Ranch Foundation is hosting the National Day of the Cowboy at Empire Ranch on July 28th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and

WHEREAS the National Day of the Cowboy celebration will include a tribute to Walter L. Vail, founder and partner of Empire Ranch, who was recently inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and served as a member of the Pima County Board of Supervisors in 1884, and who that same year founded and served as the first president of the Arizona Stock Growers Association;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Pima County Board of Supervisors, hereby proclaims July 28th 2018 to be:


and encourages all citizens to attend the celebration at the Empire Ranch, or if they can’t attend, to support the Empire Ranch Foundation and all its good works.

PASSED AND ADOPTED this 3rd day of July, 2018.

Legacy Day 2018

On May 2nd sixty-nine students from Patagonia and Elgin middle schools enjoyed a day at the historic Empire Ranch. This year’s instructional sessions included horsehair braiding, roping, range management, and horse care. Chris Schrager described the preservation needs of headquarters buildings and led the students on a tour to illustrate work completed or underway.A hearty lunch of brisket, tortillas and beans was served.

Click here to view photos of Legacy Day activities.

Published 9/6/2018

National Day of the Cowboy

Over 300 enthusiastic visitors celebrated National Day of the Cowboy at the Empire Ranch on July 28th.    The day’s events included Western heritage demonstrations, Van Fower’s re-enactment of the “Story of Walter Vail,” a presentation on “Multi-generational Ranching” by Ian and Addie Tomlinson, and the opportunity to view some western pilot movies. The docent-led tours provided everyone with a special opportunity to re-enter the main Ranch House after a 15 month closure for a major stabilization project.

Click here to view photos of the day’s events.


Updated 7/29/2018