Escaping to the desert has never been more exciting. Fort McDowell Adventures, which is on the 25,000-acre Fort McDowell Yavapai Reservation, offers guests the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of the land while providing a new perspective to meetings and events. Fort McDowell Adventures is an oasis in the Sonoran Desert where history and adrenaline collide through an exciting mix of activities. It is set in a stunning landscape of sprawling mountain ranges cut from the Verde River, which runs alongside the venue.
There’s no such thing as a regular day at Fort McDowell, where the adventure can begin even before groups arrive. A surprise “bus holdup” can put two of the group’s most notorious guests up against a team of sheriffs to have them escorted to the party location at gunpoint for questioning. The holdup is only one of the many fun ways to get the party started and break the ice for corporate retreats, and the events and meetings team at Fort McDowell offers a full range of custom itineraries to choose from, including cattle drives, firework displays and even a competition to build two bicycles that will be inspected and then donated to a children’s association charity.
Outside of scheduled gatherings or planned entertainment, the remaining days spent at Fort McDowell can be filled with any number of activities to get guests out and exploring. From January through June, visitors can spot bald eagles soaring over the property while the eagles are in the area for their annual nesting season. The venue features numerous trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, and kayaks and fishing gear are available for any guests looking to spend time on the water. In addition to the four indoor and outdoor venues that can accommodate anywhere from 20 to 2,000 guests, groups can join the adventure staff during their free time for an exhilarating Tomcar UTV tour, a relaxing guided horseback trail ride, a unique desert Segway excursion or a scenic jeep tour.
For more than 20 years, Fort McDowell Adventures has welcomed Fortune 500 companies, wedding parties, fundraising and social event guests and other groups that would like to meet at any of the four venue sites. The Puesta del Sol venue offers more than 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space for 100 to 1,200 guests. Rosa’s Ranch features more than 25,000 square feet of event space for 20 to 300 guests. The Stables offers a great spot for a traditional cookout and can accommodate 15 to 30 guests, and the North Point sits at the farthest point north at Fort McDowell and can accommodate 15 to 200 guests in a private location.
The catering team at Fort McDowell Adventures can provide meals that range from barbecues to high-end options. Menus include plated dinners, buffet lunches, passed appetizers, and culinary events like chili cook-offs and margarita mix-offs. The culinary team is known for baby back ribs, seasoned beef brisket and smoked chicken quarters. Other favorite menu items include prime rib with au jus and horseradish cream, chips with homemade salsa and homemade apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream. A full bar is available on-site for events, with options for beer burros, wine tastings and tequila tastings; outside alcohol is not permitted.
In addition to the ample space for gathering and meeting while at Fort McDowell Adventures, each location offers a few extra-special touches. The La Puesta del Sol venue features attractive Edison lighting on the ceiling with retractable walls that open the space to the venue’s four fire pits and an authentic saloon. Guests can cook out under the stars at Rosa’s Ranch, where a handcrafted copper bar top provides a trendy place to imbibe. Other extras include fireworks displays, hot-air-balloon rides, a cigar-rolling station and an astronomer to give guests a roadmap to the sparkling sky above.
Fort McDowell Adventures specializes in taking attendees out of the boardroom and engaging them with activities and cultural opportunities during their stay at the property. Musical options include an interactive DJ, karaoke, strolling musicians and Native American flautists. Take part in the Racin’ Bacon, Quick Draw, Horseshoe Toss or Mechanical Bull challenges, or paint an even more vibrant picture of the Southwestern landscape with costumed saloon girls that mingle through the event. Other fun options include adding an old-timey tintype photo booth with an authentic 1910 Grafalex camera and the popular Tequila Sheila, a sassy saloon girl who passes out shooters throughout the event.
Fort McDowell Adventures
Location: Fort McDowell, Arizona
Type of Venue: Off-site, outdoor adventure venue
Nearby Accommodations: Lexington Hotel and Suites, Fountain Hills, Arizona