Saguaro Lake Ranch – A Rich History

Ranch HistorySaguaro Lake Guest Ranch was created out of the work camp built in 1927 to facilitate the construction of Stewart Mountain Dam between 1928 and 1930. The main lodge functioned as the mess hall, ice house, and commissary for the construction crew. The workers lived in cabins lining the roadway to the new dam.

The dam is the last in a chain of four reservoirs that provide flood control and irrigation to the Phoenix Valley.

From Work Camp to Fishing Lodge

When the dam was completed, Phil and Marie Lewis from Kansas purchased the work camp from Salt River Project, and negotiated a concessionaire permit from the U.S. Forest Service and Department of Interior to provide services to the public.

The first marina was built on the east side of the dam and the work camp was turned into a fishing resort with a general store, gas station, restaurant, and overnight cabin rentals. Phil and Marie added the touches that still give Saguaro Lake Ranch its charm today.

The native river rock walls and fireplaces were built by several local artisans, originally from Mexico. Heavy reinforcing steel from the dam was used for curtain rods, and indoor plumbing was added. Western motif Monterey oak furniture was purchased for the rooms and remains today as a timely reminder of that period.

During the 1930s the Lewis family constructed the horse trails that surround the ranch. They developed more than 20 trails; some penetrating the Goldfield Mountains wilderness, others climbing the Bulldog Cliffs that overlook the ranch or exploring desert washes and canyons next to Saguaro Lake.

From Fishing Lodge to Arizona Guest Ranch

Saguaro-Lake-Ranch-History-smAlthough the ranch started out commercially as a fishing lodge, it soon became a popular guest ranch by offering an Arizona ‘destination vacation’ for tourists from across the country. The attractions it offered back then differ little from those that still draw guests today: the scenic beauty of the quiet rural setting, the fine winter climate, and the western ranch atmosphere, as well as the variety of outdoor recreation opportunities in the Salt River Recreation Area and the Tonto National Forest.

View of The BulldogsToday the ranch is still owned by the Durand family – the family that bought the property from the Lewis’s in 1948. Three generations have managed the ranch – John and Dottie Kissinger, Steve and Susan Durand, and sons Justin and Kevin Durand.

Famous Guests

Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch has played host to some famous guests over the years including Dr. Karl Meninger, Mary Martin, Glen Campbell, Henry Ford III, Gaylord Perry, Norman Rockwell, Bill Moyers, Senator Carl Hayden, Senator Barry Goldwater, and famed Western artist Lon Megargee.

Location Location Location!

The stunningly beautiful location of the ranch makes it a great location for shooting movies, music videos, and catalogs/commercials.


  • The Ride – Starring Michael Biehn and Jennifer O’Neill
  • Family Plan – Starring Leslie Nielsen and Judge Reinhold
  • Arizona Summer Starring Morgan Fairchild & Lee Majors – Directed by Joey Travolta
  • Skinwalkers – Starring Wes Studi and Adam Beach
  • Invasion – Starring Luke Perry and Kim Cattrall
  • Down Will Come Baby – Starring Meredith Baxter
  • The Lost Child – Produced by Hallmark, Starring Mercedes Ruehl
  • All My Friends Are Cowboys

Music Videos

Catalogues and Commercials

  • J. Jill
  • Nordstrom
  • JCPenney
  • World Wrestling Federation‎
  • BlueCross BlueShield
  • J.G. Wentworth
  • PetsMart
  • Kellogg’s
  • Sunset Magazine
  • Law Tigers

Contact Us

If you’re ready to book your next Arizona vacation, you can make your reservation online. For general information, or for destination wedding and corporate events, call 480-984-2194 or email

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