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.

Brush Creek Ranch, Lost Valley ranch news

Newsflash

The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch

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Wyoming’s newest guest ranch, The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch aims to offer something different. In talking to Michael Williams, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the ranch, we ask him what sets the ranch apart. “We want to be different from a typical dude ranch,” he notes, “so we have so much to offer in terms of activities: in our selection and availability, and our four-season range of activities.”

At Brush Creek Ranch, guests may explore more than 50 miles of spectacular wild country. Choose your adventure: roam by hiking, biking, trail running, horseback riding or angling. Swing into the saddle on guided rides or cattle roundups. You’ll be offered instruction from the best riders around: individual instruction, clinics, and trail rides. Then you can canter across some 13,000 acres and 50 miles of trails or work your horse in the indoor arena.

Cast a line into the North Platte, or challenge the private waters on Brush Creek Ranch, and you’ll be assured of an unforgettable fly fishing experience. Choose waders or drift boat, or start out with pond fishing on the ranch (a great spot for beginners). The fly fishing is multi dimensional, from the North Platte River to nine miles of private water and those five stocked ponds. Why so many stocked ponds? “Because we want to tell guests that in high water-which is what we’re in right now-they can still fly fish here,” Williams explains. Levels are way up on Brush Creek and the North Platte—too high for good angling right now.

Learn more about the ranch with a Ranger Tour, a guided tour with a narration of Brush Creek Ranch’s storied history and its sustainable plan. Or tackle a mountain biking escapade—guided or solo—exploring a trail system and challenge course designed by endurance and adventure sport racer Mike Kloser.

Into hunting? “In season, guests will be now be able to hunt for chukars and pheasant, as well as Wyoming’s famous bigger game.” The Brush Creek Bow and Gun Club has a ten-station sporting clays course, a five-station skeet course and competition archery, plus its own casual clubhouse. In the fall, the ranch offers “a limited number of big-game hunts for antelope, deer, elk, moose, buffalo and mountain lion.  Guests can also experience one-on-one or two-on-one guided Wyoming hunting excursions.”

Still have some energy left? Try paintball, geocaching, or orienteering right at the ranch. With all the adventures, bring your own gear or use the equipment provided by the ranch

And don’t worry about getting bored here. “We literally have up to 20 activities going at any one time,” Williams says, “and we have capacity for 150 people in those activities, so rarely will you want to do something you can’t do.”

“But let’s talk food and beverage,” Williams insists, “because it’s not an afterthought here.”  He tells us that the ranch chef is a Culinary Institute of America (CIA) graduate and offers a variety of ‘distinct culinary experiences, each uniquely inspired by the character of the Rocky Mountain region’, from casual to sophisticated. “Plus we have many places to dine,” Williams adds, “from the elegant Trailhead Lodge to an open air chuckwagon and our creekside dinner camp. We can do multiple groups at once, and they won’t even bump into each other.”

Details: Pricing is all-inclusive (per unit, not per person), so a cabin costs x amount, for however many are in your cabin (to its stated maximum). All food and beverage (including premium beer, wines, and spirits), all dining and activities on ranch are included; gratuities are a simple 10 percent service fee added upon checkout.

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Newsflash

Kid-friendly: Colorado’s Lost Valley Ranchpic1

When it comes to a great choice for families with children, one venerable ranch leaps to mind— Lost Valley Ranch in Deckers, Colorado. When Walt Disney stayed here years ago he suggested, “If I had this place, I’d do all that I could not to change its character.”

Owners Bob and Karen Foster have stayed true to Disney’s advice, which is why Lost Valley remains such a wonderful place for families. Children’s programs range from supervised crafts, nature walks, and storytelling for the younger ones to riding, river tubing and dances for the teens.

But while they love the kiddies here, there’s also a ttime set aside for adults only. Several times, in fact. Coming up: Fall Cattle Week Round Up: Sept. 25 – Oct. 2. Fall Colors Week Sept. 18–25. Horsemanship Weeks Ride Ride Ride: Sept. 18–25. Wegener: Sept. 11–18. Krause: Oct. 9–16. Check the ranch’s brochure for details on these special weeks.

And if your corporate or company group wants a really memorable meeting getaway, consider getting lost–at Lost Valley Ranch. Lost Valley Ranch offers a variety of special rates to groups during Spring and Fall. Rates are based upon number in your party (up to 65 members), length of stay, arrival date, number/type of accommodations required and special services/activities you may require.

While the ranch celebrates tradition, it hasn’t let technology pass it by. Check out the photo gallery on their website or take a peek at their live webcam.

Details: Season is March through November. Spring (March 1 – May 22, 2011) and Fall (September 3- November 28, 2010), minimum stay is two nights. Summer (May 27 – August 28, 2011), minimum stay is seven nights, from Sunday to the following Sunday. Located near Deckers, the ranch is some two hours from Denver or Colorado Springs.

Tips from the ranchers

What to know before you go

When you pick your guest ranch and book your vacation, you’ll find that a lot of key information is right there on the website (either on Ranchweb or the ranchs’ own site). But every ranch is different, so make a quick call to your chosen ranch so you can brush up on some particulars before you go. Here are some of the details you should ask about.

–If you just gotta stay connected, ask about cell phone and internet service; both are possible at more and more ranches, but be sure to confirm it.

-Scope out out how many kids of your own children’s ages will be there during your visit; the answer may determine whether your child will need to bring that Gameboy or not.

-Find out what is included in the rate. Typically, rates are all-inclusive, covering meals, horseback riding, all facilities, children’s and teen supervision, special programming. But sometimes extra options—spa treatments, trap shooting or fly fishing school—are extra.

-Check what activities beside riding, hiking, and fishing you need special clothes or shoes for. You may want to add a skirt or your dancin’ shoes for that square dancing evening.

-Clarify check- out and check-in times—they’re different from most hotels. Often, you’re okay to check in at 2 PM and asked to check out by 10 AM (exceptions are made individually).

-Find out if the ranch has a liquor license and, if not, what their policy is about guests bringing their own bottles. Some ranches will let you bring your own bottles but ask you not to consume it in the public areas, in order to preserve a family atmosphere. Check ahead.

-Medical needs are an issue for some guests. Ask if their staff is Red Cross First Aid certified and where the nearest hospital emergency room is located and how long it takes to reach. If your family members have serious medical issues, you may want to select a ranch that’s fairly handy to a major city.

-If you’re a smoker, be sure to ask about the ranch’s smoking policy. In Colorado, for example, a new law restricts smoking in public places so you’ll be asked to step outside before you light up. Many ranch cabins are non-smoking now, as well.

-Don’t assume Fido will be welcome. Ask what the ranch policy is first. Many ranches prohibit pets, as their safety may be at risk (among the cattle, herd of horses, and ranch dogs).

We thank our friends at the Lost Valley Ranch for their help in compiling this list.

June news at Colorado’s Vista Verde Ranch

Our pal Stephanie, at Vista Verde Ranch, tells us that Steamboat Springs’ snowpack made history this year.   “As we get ready to open on the first weekend in June, I’m happy to report that the summer views at Vista Verde will be especially green (hence the name vista verde).”

Steph also told us about some new programs at Vista Verde, like My Horse Said What? “A horse can say some amazing things – if you know how to listen. At Vista Verde, guests are eager to learn theories of horsemanship and how to communicate with their horses. Our in-depth riding clinics and trail instruction forever change the riding experience by teaching guests to hear what their horses are saying – and how to talk back effectively.”

Next is: Why is Santa Yelling? “Holidays are often more stressful than fun. Smart families have a great strategy for managing holiday stress: leave it behind. In recent years, Vista Verde has seen more guests giving the gift of a holiday getaway. Guests trade endless shopping, cooking, cleaning and entertaining for sleigh rides, sledding and back country skiing. Even Mom gets to relax while the family spends time together and creates memories that last a lifetime.”

Final new program: Win-Win for the Family. “Some family resorts entertain the kids while the parents watch. Others stash the kids with babysitters while adults play. Here’s a novel idea: a vacation for parents and kids. Vista Verde’s kids and teen programs offer a slew of “can’t do it at home” activities such as a kid’s rodeo and outdoor rock climbing. Parents have just as many choices, from mountain biking to wine tasting and herding cows.  And there are plenty of chances for kids and parents to have a great time playing together.”

Thanks for the update, Steph!

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