Keeylocko
Keeylocko is a working ranch but also draws in music festivals, weddings, and film productions
Published May 2015

Funky and Far Out

Near Tucson, a ranch called Keeylocko pairs wacky with the Wild West

BYMonica Surfaro Spigelman
A cow town where pigs outnumber citizens? Yep. This offbeat attraction is part ranch and part art, and it’s worth a visit if you hanker for adventure.
 
Head about 40 miles southwest of Tucson along Arizona State Road 86, to the Hayhook Road turnoff at Milepost 146. Take this south 4 miles, making a right turn onto a passable yet washboard ribbon of a road. Next, follow four Keeylocko signposts through three more bumpy miles. At the final signpost, make a left. With a hoop and a holler, just ahead up the rise is Keeylocko — one gritty, bizarre place on 80 acres near the Coyote Mountains.
 
In all its spunky glory, Keeylocko is a collection of 10 wacky tin and wood buildings owned by Ed Keeylocko and guarded by a drove of squeaky pigs. At one corner of this peculiar “cow town” is the weathered Blue Dog Saloon. If you’re lucky, it’s open. You step inside to a gaggle of dusty memorabilia and a spiffed-up Ed Keeylocko, who sports a silver bolo and proper cowboy hat. He sits at the bar, welcoming you heartily.

At 84, Ed still runs his ranch with a swagger and the help of friends who double as ranch hands. He encourages visitors to pull up a bar stool to hear his tales.

Ed traveled the country after an Army career before settling in Arizona. He built his ranch in the 1970s to breed livestock. Ed still has 100 head of cattle and a dozen horses, but over the years his eccentric Keeylocko became successful in catching the interest of unconventional explorers. Now it draws a handful of music festivals, weddings, and film productions each year.
 
There’s plenty of character in this tumbledown place that includes a fort, library, barn, arena, and bank, as well as the saloon (all part of Ed’s ranch). The public is welcome to meander. For group appointments, Ed fires up the generator, lights the smoker, opens the saloon, and spins stories about his buildings, which usually are closed until events like October Keeylocko Days, an annual weekend fest of music, crafts, barbecue, and primitive camping.
 
Be prepared for the unexpected in this handmade oddity. There are no restrooms but plenty of photo ops. Look out yonder to the wild landscape, and maybe — just maybe — you’ll feel a tingle of your inner wrangler.
 
MONICA SURFARO SPIGELMAN spent 30 years in corporate communications, and now enjoys discovering the nooks and crannies of the Southwest’s nature, arts, peoples, and cultures.
Discover More
Take to the road to explore other other Arizona locales at AAA.com.
If You Go
Plan a visit: For event listings and to schedule an appointment with Ed, visit Facebook.com and search “Keeylocko.”

Make a pit-stop: Todd’s Restaurant at Ryan’s Field, 9700 W. Ajo Highway (Arizona State Route 86) in Robles Junction, Arizona, is a neighborly restaurant with a view. Just 12 miles from the Keeylocko turnoff is located at Ryan Field (opened in 1942 for flight training during WWII). Open seven days a week (8 a.m. – 2 p.m.). Todd’s offers homemade baked goods as well as a place to refresh either before or after a Keeylocko visit.

Refuel: Three Points/Robles Junction, at the intersection of Arizona State Routes 86 and 286.
 
Reminder: Four-wheel drive is not required for this trek, but it’s advisable to check the weather (and not travel during monsoon rains). Follow directions indicated, and do not follow GPS or digital map apps, as some Native American roads restrict travel.
 
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