A Guide to Southern Arizona’s Historic Farms and Ranches



About the book: Experience southwestern heritage, culture and cuisine while learning to rope and herd cattle, trail ride through the wilderness or make prickly pear syrup. With roots dating back to the mid-1800s, Southern Arizona’s historic guest ranches and farm stays include Spain’s first mission in the continental United States, a former World War II prison camp, a boys’ boarding school and a Butterfield Stagecoach stop. Intimately connected to Arizona’s land and legacy, these unparalleled retreats have hosted countless artists, movie stars and politicians and continue to enrich their present-day communities through food, education and conservation. Pack your bags and join travel writer Lili DeBarbieri for a journey into the rural west south of the Gila River. (The History Press, 2012)

Featured on Tucson Morning Blend, FOX Daybreak, Voices of the West, Montreal’s Travel World Radio, Rosie on the House and Pennsylvania Farm Country Radio.

An Amazon Best Seller Travel Pictorial

Top Ten in Books–Tucson Weekly

A COSTCO top seller

 A Reading Arizona selection

Read Lili’s blog for History Press: “Southern Arizona’s Top Ten Agri-cultural Tourism Experiences”

Reviews & Praise:

I have book envy over this…a very good idea with history, recipes, historic pictures… Every state ought to do a book like this… — Tradicion Revista Magazine

“If I could, I’d visit every place listed, some of which I’d never even heard of before this book was published…From taking you to a place where you can watch first-hand the sand hill crane migration, to the inside look at a farm that specializes in heritage seed farming, to having fun with trying to count how many guest ranches might have hosted John Wayne, this book is entertaining, informative and fascinating…” — Jackie Dishner, author of Backroads & Byways of Arizona 

“A treasure” –Western Writers of America

“Lili DeBarbieri has captured the depth and breadth of Southern Arizona’s amazing ‘rustic Southwest retreats’ in this detailed, amusing and well researched book. I’ve lived in Arizona for 46 years and she found places I’d never heard of! I was immediately taken with this gem. If you like history or good recipes or great old photographs, this book is a must read.” —Sharon Holzman-Cox, Library & Information Sciences Professional

“…a fascinating mix of farming and ranching with history and culture.” Lynne Trimble, award-winning journalist and arts blogger

“This book is a beautifully written and photographed resource for travelers and historians. DeBarbieri (librarian, travel writer and photographer) takes the reader on a journey into the rural American West (south of the Gila River) exploring ranches, haciendas, and farms while educating about food, art, conservation, agriculture and wildlife. There are ghost stories, recipes, black and white photos and stories of the people living on the land. Twenty two ranches or guesthouses are featured in separate chapters, which include contact information and an explanation of the accommodations.” —Book News Inc.
“Ready for a vacation but undecided where? This spryly written vacation catalog will not only put you in the mood but will tell you where to spend an unforgettable day or week pampered at a southern Arizona guest ranch or farm…Very tempting!” —Bill Broyles, Southwestern Subjects Specialist & Reviewer, Southwest Books of the Year
“…Tucson native Lili DeBarbieri offers a remarkable guidebook of noteworthy sites along the hot, dusty desert trails. Among the highlights are the first Spanish mission in the continental United States, the Butterfield Stagecoach stop, and rustic retreats that have hosted visits from movie stars, artists and world leaders. There’s a lot more to see south of the Gila River than cactus and scorpions.” —Cowboys & Indians
“This rendering by Lili DeBarbieri is a highly informative revue of more than 20 local ranches, B&Bs and farms that provide outlets for the public to have an on-site experience. The range of livestock and agricultural operations, past and present, is entertaining and informative…” — Green Valley News
“This is a book that will be of great use to lots of different people. From western history buffs to travelers looking for a great place to stay, as well as locals who want to either place visiting family and friends somewhere more interesting than a chain hotel or take off for a unique weekend themselves, DeBarbieri gives 22 great options for all of the above.” —Southern Arizona News-Examiner

Farm Stay U.S. interviews Lili on the book’s beginnings and trends in agri-tourism

Book Goodies Q & A

“Not San Diego Again: The New Guidebook for Your Next Ranch Experience or Farm Stay in Southern Arizona” — Phoenix New Times

Prescott College Chef Molly Beverly review for Transitions Magazine

Featured Arizona author, Frontdoors News

“Rustic Southwest Retreats Are Featured in New Book Release” — The Antique Register.

“Excellent. You changed my viewpoint about Arizona. Till now Arizona was just a desert. But the book brings out another side of the place…the narration is so inviting that you feel like catching the very next plane and going to Southern Arizona…”–Reader’s Favorite