Gene Kilgore’s Ranch Vacations

Ranch Vacations
The Leading Guide to Guest and Resort, Fly-Fishing, and Cross-Country Skiing Ranches in the United States and Canada, 6th Edition.

Now is the time to book a summer dude ranch vacation

Summer at a mountain ranch

What with all the economic uncertainty, we understand if you haven’t gotten around to planning your summer vacation yet. But you know what? There’s still time to book your best summer vacation ever—at a dude and guest ranch resort.  Even some of the smaller, more intimate ranches have availability for this summer. If you’re new to the idea of a dude ranch vacation, roam around this blog for tips on how to choose a ranch resort, what to bring, how to dress, and what to expect. But don’t wait too long to book, or your choices will narrow and you risk not getting the exact ranch on the exact dates you want.

Todd Mountain Guest Ranch, BC Canada

At the Tod Mountain ranch, you have room to roam— to be exact, 30,000 hectares (that’s the Canadian equivalent of tons of acres). Explore old logging and cattle trails in the Louis Creek Valley in British Columbia by mountain bike or horseback. The Tod Mountain Guest Ranch is surrounded by majestic mountains, but it’s not so remote that you can’t get Internet access. Cute cabins blend modern comforts (think pillow top mattresses and feather duvets) with traditional style. Ask about specials: the August holiday weekend deal and the Labour Day Weekend at the Rodeo offer.

Highland Ranch, CA

Ride horseback through old-growth redwoods? You can at California’s Highland Ranch. Above the Anderson Valley, just about a 3-hour drive north of San Francisco, Highland Ranch combines great riding and hiking programs with fishing, mountain biking, swimming and boating. Plus there are the extra special options, like skeet shooting, yoga classes, and massages. One nice extra: all the wine tasting you can do in the Anderson Valley on your way home from the ranch. Ask about their “7th night free” offer.
Bar H Bar Ranch, ID

Hike in the pines, fish in snow-fed streams, ride through glorious aspen. Idaho’s rustic and intimate Bar H Bar Ranch offers simple pleasures and plenty of natural beauty. It’s a working cattle and horse ranch and guests are invited to pitch right in with branding cattle or fixing fences. Or you can cast a line into the frothy Bear River and pretend you’re Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It. It’s your vacation to craft as you choose.

G-M Ranch Cattle and Guest Ranch, MT

Set outside Bozeman, the G-M is a working horse and cattle ranch run by one of Montana’s most respected ranching families, the Leffingwells (Mary Leffingwell’s father homesteaded the ranch at the turn of the century and Mary and her husband began taking guests in the 1930s). Tradition, hospitality, and good stewardship of the land are important here. And so is making sure guests have a good time, whether its from helping out with ranch work (from checking fences to moving cattle between pastures) or just plain relaxing. If it’s an authentic ranch experience you’re looking for, you’ll find it here, with some bookings still open into the summer.

Sweet Grass Ranch, MT
Near Big Timber in Montana’s Crazy Mountains, the Sweet Grass Ranch is one of the West’s oldest ranches, ranching since 1880 and hosting guests since 1930. This is the real deal, a working cattle ranch high in the cool mountains and rolling foothills. Riding is a big focus here. And guests can dive into the real life of a working rancher—from helping move cows and wrangling horses to feeding the pigs. Or they can just enjoy the old-fashioned fun: swimming in the creek, hiking and riding, playing horseshoes or singing around the campfire. Bookings are available for summer stays in their small, rustic log cabins, family cabins with more amenities, or the main ranch house.

Clear Creek R, NC

Cool off in Clear Creek, NC

Cool off in Clear Creek, NC

Clear Creek Ranch, in Burnsville, is just 50 miles north of Asheville, North Carolina. Set in the cool, beautiful Great Smoky Mountains, this is a ranch you can reach easily by car and, if time is short, you can visit for less than a full week.  From swimming and volleyball to fishing in the private pond and nearby South Toe River, there’s plenty to keep your heart pumping. And in the evening, enjoy line dancing classes, cookouts, or horse drawn carriage rides. Nearby, you can visit the Roaring Fork Waterfall, play a round at the Mount Mitchell Golf Course, or join a local craft tour. Whether you want to stay in a cabin or the main lodge, it’s not too late to book for the summer.

Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch, NM

In New Mexico’s Black Range Mountains, Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch offers all the color, magic, and mystery of the southwest. A day at the ranch may take you riding or hiking into the cool, scented forests of tall Ponderosa pine, following the outlaw trails of Billy the Kid, or roaming Native American ruins from 1150 AD. Adventures range from bird and wildlife watching (elk to coatis) New Mexico has a rich history of outlaws, gunfighters and cowboys, some of whom rode the same territory that you can at  Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch and there are several fine museums nearby where this history comes to life.

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