Dorothy Patterson and her husband, affable businessman Burke Patterson, moved from Cleveland, Ohio, to Phoenix in 1946 to start an air conditioning business. After a few years, the couple grew tired of the cooling game and decided to venture into the resort industry. In 1949, they purchased 80 acres in the desert just south of Indian Bend Road and opened the Ride ‘N Rock Ranch, a dude ranch where snowbirds could warm their wings and enjoy rustic comforts in the desert.
The Pattersons leveraged an extensive network of wealthy and influential friends when they began the resort, and this network grew with the success of Ride ‘N Rock. The ranch became popular with celebrities, including actor Fred MacMurray, and the ranch opened early to accommodate parents bringing their kids to the exclusive Judson School. These well-heeled guests in turn became customers of Scottsdale’s artists and artisans and other businesses. The Ride ‘N Rock welcomed guests from 1949 to 1967, and during that time, it helped support the burgeoning city’s economy and burnished Scottsdale’s reputation as a destination for Western fun.
Ride ‘N Rock offered guests an extremely intimate resort experience. The whims of their clients and the weather often determined the activities for any given day, and the Pattersons participated in these excursions and entertainments along with their guests. In the evening, Dorothy Patterson, a part-time actor, might entertain guests with a spontaneous song. There were many communal activities for the resort’s 55-person-max guests, including square dances on Friday nights, card tournaments, golf tournaments and desert cookouts. A stay at Ride ‘N Rock might have felt like summer camp with a large group of friends. Ride ‘N Rock’s history reveals the joy people felt in simply being in the desert in the winter – no fancy accommodations or amenities necessary.