What’s New

Expansion of the Empire Ranch House

By 1879 the Empire Ranch was supporting 1,500 head of cattle and the original 1870s four-room house was no longer adequate to meet the needs of the growing operations. A building expansion was essential.

Read more about the expansion of the original Ranch House on p.2 of the June 2023 ERF Newsletter.

Posted 5/24/2023

Night of the Lepus

Don’t miss a Movie Under the Stars’ free showing of Night of the Lepus, Saturday, September 23rd at 7 pm at the Historic Empire Ranch. Bring your own seating, food & flashlights. Snacks and water will be available for purchase.

Click here for more information.

Posted 5/23/2023

National Day of the Cowboy

Plan to attend the 2023 celebration of National Day of the Cowboy on Saturday, July 22, 2023.

Click here to see the 2022 program. Click here to see photos of the 2022 celebration.

Posted 5/8/2023

Tour the Cienega Watershed

Take a free audio driving tour of the Cienega Watershed and learn about the social and cultural history, ecology, wildlife management, and conservation efforts in the watershed. Start by downloading the TravelStorys.Com App to your phone or other device.   Open TravelStory and select “Tour the Cienega Watershed” to save the tour on your phone. Once you’ve download the app and the tour, no Internet access is needed.

The tour includes 21 podcast-style stories that will automatically play at the appropriate location using your phone’s GPS. The route loop includes the Gabe Zimmerman Trailhead (in Vail), Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, the Empire Ranch Headquarters, wildlife viewing and many other features along Hwy. 83 ending (or beginning) in Sonoita.  And you don’t even have to drive through the watershed to enjoy the tour! You can download the tour to your computer or tablet, listen to each of the site descriptions, and view photos of the sites wherever you are!

Posted 4/9/2023

Gunman’s Walk

The Movie Under the Stars’ free showing of Gunman’s Walk on Saturday, May 20th was enjoyed by 85+ viewers.  Many enjoyed the popcorn and other snacks available for purchase, and browsing the ERF gift shop offerings.

Click here to view photos of the event.

Updated 5/24/2023

Empire Ranch Celebration Video

Click here to view the video of the Celebration of of Western Culture at the 140 year old Empire Ranch in Southeastern Arizona created by Tony Heath of the Birdland Ranch and Madrean Archipelago Wildlife Center (MAWC).

Volunteer Days

Dedicated volunteers have been key to preserving the historic Empire Ranch House and Headquarters.  Please join us on Saturday, June 3, 2023.

To volunteer, please submit a Volunteer Opportunities Form, and we will contact you with more details!

Post updated 5/8/2023

History of the 1870 Ranch House

When Walter Vail and Herbert Hislop established the Empire Ranch in 1876 two important features of the 160-acre homestead they purchased was a building with an attached corral which were constructed circa 1870 by Tucson businessman, Edward Nye Fish.  Read more about the history and configuration of the original Ranch House on p. 3 of the March 2023 ERF Newsletter.

Posted 2/21/2023

Spring Trail Ride, April 1, 2023

A bright sunny day greeted the riders and volunteers for the 2023 Empire Ranch Spring Trail Ride on April 1st. ERF President Faith Boice led two 1.5 hour rides through Las Cienegas National Conservation Area.  A delicious chuckwagon lunch was dished up by the EZ Cattle Company Cow Camp Cafe’ Chuck Wagon Catering.

Click here to view photos of the ride.

Updated 4-5-2023

2022 Cowboy Festival

Almost 2.000 excited visitors enjoyed the 21st annual Cowboy Festival on November 5-6, 2022.  It was a fun-filled two days for the whole family featuring western music & entertainment, history & culture demonstrations, ranch life exhibits, 45 minute trail rides, kids activities, skilled artisans and speakers, silent auction and food.

Special thanks to the sponsors who provided financial support for the Festival and to the 200+ volunteers who made the day possible.

Click here to view the day’s program.

Updated 11/9/22