Looking for a Family or Group Summer Outing?
Date Creek is your answer. The ranch is located along beautiful Date Creek, a riparian oasis within the Joshua tree-studded desert bisected by Highway 93 as it heads north from Wickenburg to Kingman.
Historically, Date Creek served as a resting spot on the roadway from Prescott, territorial capital, to population centers developing in the Phoenix valley and the Old Pueblo of Tucson. A reminder of the importance of this route is the protective presence of Date Creek Fort, a military outpost, the remains of which are several miles away from Date Creek Ranch. By the 1880’s, the Goldwater family had established their mercantiles along the Colorado River and in Prescott. They shipped their supplies along this road and traveled it themselves frequently. It was a major thoroughfare for sheepherders too, as they drove their flocks from winter to summer grazing grounds and vice versa. The main house at Date Creek Ranch was built in 1883.
The Knight family has owned it since 1966, raising cattle in the rocky hills butting picturesquely against the nearly infallibly blue skies above the creek. Three generations of Knights claim Date Creek Ranch as home. Phil Knight and his children planted the orchards in 1970. Early Blaze apples, Elberta and Red Haven peaches are ready for harvesting in July, Red and Golden Delicious apples by September.
For the Knight family, the ranch is more than a home and much more than just a business. They see themselves as the current caretakers of the land in a long line of others, from primitive, native hunter-gatherers to the present. As stewards for all the life the creek supports, they never use pesticides or herbicides. Beef is grass-fed, raised without hormones or antibiotics. Orders for meat may be placed at the fruit stand, phoned in (1-928-231-0704), or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The goal is to provide the best in nutritional and healthful food to the customer. The Knights guarantee their fruit can be picked and eaten right off the tree.
When you come out for a U-pick season at Date Creek Ranch, you’ll find boxes, wheelbarrows, picking tools, no admission fee, and no charge for the fruits you eat while you pick. There’s a rustic outhouse and water available at the fruit stand for your comfort. An attendant at the stand will help direct you to the best parts of the orchard for the fruit you want and weigh your boxes when you finish. Peaches are 90 cents a pound. The temperatures are only slightly cooler than Phoenix, so wear a hat and sunscreen, freeze a bottle of water to drink as it defrosts, and you’ll find your stay that much more enjoyable.
Hiking and birding along Date Creek is encouraged, but ask the attendant at the stand first, to be sure cattle aren’t being moved through the area. It is a working ranch, so visitors need to keep that in mind as they roam about. Cattle are sometimes penned in the yard, horses corralled near the barn, chickens and wild turkeys are close to the house. Ranch dogs frequently greet you upon arrival and escort you into the orchard.
Kids love the close contact with the animals and nature. They learn that the food they eat comes from the land first, then the grocery store. There are picnic tables under the shade of mesquite trees in the yard, flanked by a couple of old wagons dating to pioneer days. Visitors who bring out a lunch or who want to relax after picking their fruit are invited to rest there.
The ranch is off Highway 93, 22 miles north of Wickenburg. Between milepost markers 177 and 178, Date Creek Ranch Road heads northeast for four miles. Its a rough dirt road, but passable to all types of vehicles. The road ends in the orchards and signs along the way help direct you. Picking hours are from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM weekends only. 2007 Peach season starts June 30/July 1 and lasts until the fruit runs out. Arrangements can be made, however, to come out during the week by calling 1-928-231-0704. Please call before coming out, whether on a weekend or during the week, because the message will let you know whether or not fruit is still available. It gets picked out rapidly. Another option on checking for updates on fruit availability is to check www.datecreekranch.com.
Consider Date Creek Ranch as the destination for your next family, church youth group, school, boy or girl scout troop, or neighborhood outing. Individuals and groups are cordially invited to share a few hours of ranch life with the Knight family. Their hope is that you’ll love the land as much as they do. Enjoy your adventure and come back again and again.
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- Winners of Morristown Elementary School's Art Contest - October 15th, 2008