b&w panorama photo of ranch landscape and fence

Kay El Bar in Years

western font 1909
Eighteen-year-old Romaine Lowdermilk purchased 160 acres of Arizona ranchland from the U.S. Land Office for $1.25 an acre. The working cattle ranch was named KL Bar, in honor of Katherine Lowdermilk (the owner's mother).

candid B&W photo of Romaine Lowdermilk in cowboy attire walking a fence
western font of 1914

The first adobe building, the current Homestead House guest casita, was built as the ranch headquarters and a bunk house for the cattle wranglers. A number of adobe brick building were built over the years by Maricopa Indians who lived on the nearby reservation.

b&w photo of guest casita construction
western font 1918

Just nine years after Lowdermilk started the ranch the first paying guests arrived. Kay El Bar was still a working cattle ranch then, but an enthusiastic newspaperman who had visited the ranch spread the word about the "authentic western experience" and soon paying guests started arriving.

western font 1925

Lowdermilk took a partner, Henry Warbasse, with the goal of developing a full-time dude ranch. The first structure they build was the large adobe lodge, which is still used to house guests. "

b&w aerial photo of the finished guest lodge
western font 1926

Kay El Bar became a full-time guest ranch. Most guests arrived by train at the Wickenburg station, where they were transported by Touring Packard to the ranch.

b&w photo of old car, cowboy, and horse in front of the ranch
western font 1970

Romaine Lowdermilk, founder of Kay El Bar Ranch, dies at age 80. He became known as the "Father of the Arizona Dude Ranch" , first establishing Kay El Bar as a guest ranch and later starting other Arizona ranches. He had a second career as one of the first cowboy entertainers.

b&w profile photo of Romain Lowdermilk in cowboy hat
western font 1975

In recognition of its contribution to the State of Arizona, and for its historical significance, Kay El Bar Ranch was placed on the State Register of Historic Places in 1975.

photo of Kay El Bar's certificate of registration on the State Historic Register
western font 1978

Kay El Bar was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1979.

photo of Kay el Bar's National Register of Historic Places plaque
western font 2012


After many years as a guest ranch, Kay El Bar was converted back to a private ranch.


On the 100th anniversary of welcoming the first paying guests, Kay El Bar resumes operation as a year-round guest ranch.

photo of group riding away on horses under the Kay El Bar guest ranch entrance gate

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