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Interview with a Yonder Steward—Russell True, White Stallion Ranch

Russell True

August 25, 2020

Tell us your personal story and how you came to be a Steward of the land?

My parents first brought me and my brother to the White Stallion when I was 5 years old and I’ve been here ever since. I even commuted to the University of Arizona in Tucson. Our family story started when my father, who was born in Wyoming and raised in Montana and my mother, who had lived in Denver all her life, decided they had had enough of the snow and cold. They both loved Tucson so one night after a blizzard, my father had enough and got on a plane to Tucson. He started his search for a new life that next morning and after looking at all kinds of businesses, he decided he wanted to buy White Stallion. There were 24 dude ranches in Tucson in 1965, down from 137 and only 4 of them were for sale. My mother and I came down and stayed as guests for a week and my mother, the more pragmatic of the two, said that it was a terrible idea since they had no background or experience of this type. After my father took her through the same journey he had been on to look at boring businesses, she eventually said, “If I can look at those mountains every morning when I get up, I will let you throw our lives away.”  He built her a home with floor to ceiling glass, looking at those mountains and the rest is history.

Share some of the ways that your property is committed to nature.

Our ranch is about 4 ½ square miles of untouched Sonoran Desert that shares a two-mile border with the Saguaro National Park, the longest private boundary with a National Park in the US. If not for the fence, you wouldn’t know where the ranch ends and the park begins. We religiously protect the ranch land and reserve it for our guests’ enjoyment. The ranch has always been heavily landscaped because our parents genuinely spent more energy and money on the outside, rather than the inside of the ranch, during the early days. Any dude ranch experience is nature-centered and horse-focused. While we have as extensive a horse program as any ranch, we also offer several other ways to experience nature with our e-bikes, rock climbing, and guided hikes.

What is unique about your property that guests can’t find elsewhere?

Likely, the most unique aspect of our ranch is the fact that we are a very real, historic ranch, including cattle, that is only five minutes from the conveniences of town. The best of both worlds, in other words.

Can you share an experience that is a favorite among your guests? 

White Stallion offers a multi-faceted experience however, the clear favorite overall is team cattle penning. Our ranch version of this competitive event is open to anyone 8 years old or older and can be pretty fast-moving. The guests, in teams of 4 people, separate, move, and corral three cattle. It is all timed and gets very competitive and everyone has a great time doing it. They love the freedom, action, and being able to accomplish something they never imagined possible.

What is one thing that you hope your guests will return home with- after experiencing a Yonder stay at your property? 

The experience at White Stallion is so varied, with rock climbing, horseback riding, evening entertainment and more. And our guests are the same, families and people from all over the world. I believe the one thing that we want our guests to go home with is the thought that we exceeded their expectations with the warm, welcoming atmosphere of our ranch that made them feel right at home.

What is your best advice for sustainable living and staying close to nature in everyday life?

The best way to live in a sustainable way is to be mindful of waste and excess in all aspects of your life and eliminate it if possible. Nature is available to almost everyone at some level. My guess is that an urban resident appreciates their small pieces of nature, like city parks, more than some rural people who might forget how lucky they are to be surrounded by open land. My advice is don’t take nature for granted because everyone needs it in many ways.

Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

We feel that Yonder is the long-awaited voice for all the destinations that, due to their size and location, are most often overlooked.

See White Stallion and hear more from Russell.