The annual ride of the Verde Vaqueros of Scottsdale, Arizona, is believed to be the only six-day trail ride in the nation where a man contributes something both to himself and to others.
Our riders treat themselves to nearly a week of sociability and camaraderie in which they forget the stresses and tensions of business and thrill at the relaxing and picturesque beauty of Arizona.
At the same time, they have help others by contributing over $1,296,600 to the Boys' and Girls' Clubs of Scottsdale. Such donations are prerequisite to participating on the ride, which is by invitation only.
Men from the United States, Canada and England have donated to the Boys' and Girls' Clubs since that first ride in 1959 when Jim Beaman, Doyle Willis, Howard Gunnels, Bob Bohannan, George Keebler, Lyle Hyner and a few others organized as a fund raising arm for the Club. During the past 49 years the Vaqueros individual donations plus other funds raised during the rides have added more than $1,000,000 to the Boys' and Girls' Club treasury.
Seventy-five members and three guests enjoyed the first ride that left from the Pink Pony restaurant in downtown Scottsdale. They traveled north on Scottsdale Road to the Arizona Canal and then east to the Salt River Indian Reservation. From there they worked their way north through what is now Fountain Hills and Rio Verde crossing the Verde River below the Box Bar Ranch. They continued on across the Mazatzal Mountains to John Whitney's Dos S Ranch where they spent the first night. The next day on the way to Sunflower, the two trail leaders had a disagreement on which way was the best route to take. The ride split with each member following the leader they thought had the best chance of making it to Sunflower. Both groups arrived for the two nights and a day in camp at Sunflower. During the first ten years of the ride, the camp was moved each day, with the exception of two nights around a "day in camp." When the ride camp moved the riders would catch up to their bedrolls and the chuck wagon in time for campfire cocktails and dinner. As the size of the ride grew, the Board wisely decided to establish a base camp from which daily rides were conducted. These camps were located at a number of beautiful ranches around Arizona. In 1991 the Verde Vaqueros purchased their current ranch located south of Prescott on the west slope of the Bradshaw Mountains surrounded by the Prescott National Forest to serve as a permanent base camp for future rides.
Generally speaking, Mother Nature has looked with favor on the Vaqueros. Among the more notable exceptions was 1969 when the riders awakened in Sunflower to find the mercury down to 8 degrees with sleeping bags covered with snow.
In 1970 a downpour at the Box Bar Ranch turned the camp into a quagmire, but the Vaqueros persevered and still managed to have a good time. In 1978 only part of the Vaqueros made it across the Verde River to base camp at the Johnson Ranch before warm rains in northern Arizona hastened the melting snow pack and sent excessive water down the mountain washes into the Verde River. The resultant flooding stranded riders, horses and vehicles in separate groups, which had to be supplied by helicopters. Regardless of the elements, camaraderie has always shone brightly.
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