What’s New

Empire Ranch House Stabilization Update

We’re close to the finish line!  Lime plaster has been applied to exterior walls and the roofs are almost done. Click here to view photos of the project as it proceeds. Statistical Research Inc. is doing the work under a BLM contract.  To assure public safety the Ranch House will be closed until the work is completed.

Updated 7/18/2018

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.

National Day of the Cowboy

Help us celebrate National Day of the Cowboy on Saturday, July 28th at the Empire Ranch, 9 am to 1 pm.  It’s a free family event featuring demonstrations, presentations, tours, and  The Story of Walter Vail reenactment by Van Fowers.

Posted 5/8/2018

The Outlaw Josey Wales

Plan to attend the 2018 Western Movie at the Loft Cinema in Tucson showing of The Outlaw Josey Wales, starring Clint Eastwood, on August 8th. A panel discussion at 6:30 pm precedes the 7:00 pm show time.  Click here to purchase your tickets online: $15 for ERF members, $20 for non-members.

Updated 6/6/2018

Docent Tour Reservations

Effective June 2018 reservations are now required for docent-led tours during the summer months (June-August).  Tours are scheduled for 11am on the second and fourth Saturday of the month.  Click here to make a reservations or by calling 888-364-2829.  Reservations are due by 5 pm on the Friday before the tour.

Posted 5/1/2018

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 2017 program listing, and here for photos of last year’s event.

Updated  5/1/2018

Hall of Great Westerners Award to Walter Vail

On April 14, 2018 Walter L. Vail (1852-1906) was inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Hall of Great Westerners.   This high honor is bestowed by the Museum “on exceptional individuals who have made an indelible impact upon the history of the great West.”  Walter Vail joins Frank Seymour Boice (1894-1956), who operated and owned the Empire Ranch from 1928-1956, and more than 200 other individuals who contributed to the advancement of western heritage.  Click here to view photos of the event, and click here to view the video about Walter Vail shown at the induction.

Updated 5/18/2018

Mormon Trek Re-Enactment

Over 190 youth from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Tucson South Stake) spent four days (February 21-24) re-enacting a Mormon pioneer trek on Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (LCNCA).  Between 1856 and 1860 three thousand Mormon pioneers, who could not afford to join wagon trains to travel to Salt Lake City, made the 1,100 mile trip on foot pulling handcarts carrying their belongings.

The trek re-enactment allows participants to experience the hardships and challenges encountered by their ancestors.  Dressed in period clothing the youth pulled handcarts between four LCNCA locations (Cieneguita, Ag Fields, Airstrip, and Empire Ranch Headquarters) travelling more than 23 miles on foot and camping in below freezing temperatures.

Click here for photos of the last day of the trek.

Posted March 4, 2018

Spring Trail Ride

The Spring Trail Ride on Saturday April 7th, 2018 was enjoyed by all.   Click here to view photos of 2018 ride.

Post updated 4/12/2018

Are You an ERF Member?

Did you know that in 2017 membership dues provided 47% of the Foundation’s income?   ERF’s first membership drive was held in 2002 to implement one of the Foundation’s strategic planning goals– to expand the number of interested, contributing members to provide a continuing source of funds for preservation and outreach programs, and to participate in Empire Ranch Foundation programs and activities.  Current membership in 2017 totaled 347.

A strong membership base is as critical to ERF’s success today as then.  If you are not a member, please consider joining by clicking here.   If you are a member we hope your membership is current.  If you’re unsure of your membership status contact Lahsha Brown, ERF Administrator.

Posted 2/3/2018
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