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.

Enjoy a traditional ranch Christmas

Families yearning for the traditional ambiance of the Old West this Christmas will find a ranch vacation to suit them on Gene Kilgore’s Add holiday traditions like a sleigh ride through the snow, a visit from Santa, Christmas trees decked out in their finery, and celebratory meals, for a family holiday experience to remember.
When it comes to ranch stays, Gene Kilgore, author of, the leading guide to ranches worldwide, has been a reliable source of ranch vacations for 30 years. “Ranch vacations are a perfect way for families to spend quality time together,” says Gene Kilgore. “What better place to celebrate the magic of the holidays than at a guest ranch, where traditional values, a warm welcome and healthy outdoor activities await.”

With a vacation for everyone, Ranchweb invites guests to pack their saddlebags and celebrate the holidays Ranch-style:

* At Triple Creek Ranch , a luxury resort high in the pristine Bitterroot Mountains of the Montana Rockies, clean mountain air and freshly fallen snow create the perfect backdrop for A Christmas to Remember. Guests take a brisk horseback ride or an invigorating snowmobile expedition through the powder, and then enjoy the festive Christmas splendor back at the ranch. Cabin rates start at $750 US per couple per night, inclusive of accommodations, three gourmet meals, house wines and spirits, as well as featured on-ranch activities. (Three-night minimum stay required.)

* A stay at historical 320 Guest Ranch in Big Sky, Montana, features all the traditions of ranch hospitality with the romance of winter activities. Book the Sleigh and Stay package and cozy up in the star-lit sleigh ride pulled by majestic Percheron draft horses, enjoy cowboy cuisine at the Steakhouse & Saloon, and settle into one of the log cabins. Rates begin at $220 US per night for two people, from December 10, 2011 – March 31, 2012. Tip: you can even request the historical McGill Cabin.

* Staying in the land of blue skies and big mountains, for a more active winter vacation 320 Guest Ranch has also created the 2012 Celebrating Snow Special, including dog sledding, a snow coach tour of Yellowstone National Park and Old Faithful, an evening sleigh ride and hearty ranch meals. Discounted tickets to Moonlight Basin are also slipped into the package, which runs at $465 US per adult and is valid January 2 – March 15, 2012. Rates are based on double occupancy. Taxes, park passes and gratuities are excluded.

* And if you prefer your Christmas a few degrees warmer, then Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort offers all the trimmings and traditions of the holiday season, in Santa Barbara County wine country, the heart of California’s central coast. The Holiday Package features plenty of Christmas spirit, along with unlimited horseback riding, golf green fees, tennis and fishing, complete with a studio accommodation for two nights. As well as 50 miles of riding trails and a ride in a carriage drawn by Belgian horses, families will enjoy building a gingerbread house, a visit by Santa, and nightly carols and hot chocolate. The package costs $550 US for two people, and runs from December 1 – January 25, 2012. (See the website for children’s discounts as well as blackout dates for the Christmas season.)

* Located on 60,000 acres of Tucson’s desert landscape, Tanque Verde Ranch is a working ranch, situated beside the Rincon Mountains in Arizona. Families love Tanque Verde Ranch for its range of activities: fishing, hiking, mountain biking, horse back riding lessons and rides, kids programming, and evening cook-outs. The New Year, New You all-inclusive package runs from January 3 – 20, 2012, and starts at $230 US per person, per night, with activities and three daily meals included. Guests booking a three-night stay will receive the fourth night free.

* Rancho de los Caballeros, named for the horsemen who first settled in the southwest, is a historic ranch resort on 20,000 acres in the Sonoran desert near Wickenburg, Arizona. Each Christmas, Rancho de los Caballeros turns into a western holiday hideaway as flickering luminaries line the paths throughout the Ranch. Guests return year after year to take part in special traditions like decorating the tree, and leaving their boot “stockings” by the fire on Christmas Eve, hoping for a gift from Santa when he arrives on horseback. To enjoy the setting of crisp, starry nights and warm crackling fires book the Ranch Getaway Package at $335 US per night, double occupancy, featuring three meals per day and unlimited scheduled horseback rides.

A note about Ranchweb

Ranchweb, founded in 1995 by Gene Kilgore, has become the ultimate ranch finder for ranch vacations in North America. More than a directory, Ranchweb is a resource for anyone considering a ranch vacation. Kilgore has travelled the world for 30 years to bring the best ranches to his readers. The guide features over 100 of the best, from dude ranches to working cattle ranches, horseback-riding vacations to fly fishing ranches, each offering a different experience. Kilgore also publishes Ranch Vacations, just out in its eighth edition, a full-color handy guide to all the ranches, including tips on how to select the perfect one for your family.


Around the world on horseback

We love bloggers who love horses, so we were delighted to chat recently with the author of As a child, Nancy D. Brown was like so many young girls, dreaming of owning a horse. “ I cleaned out many a horse stall to earn my riding lessons as a child,” Brown admits. “But when my parents saw how serious I was about it, I got my first horse.” That Quarter Horse—Cricket—fired a lifelong passion in Brown. Now, she has combined her passion for horses with her love of travel and created a career. CowgirNancy

With her blog Writing Horseback, professional travel writer Nancy D. Brown (at right) guides her readers to the best equestrian-based lodging properties and resorts all over the world. For Ranchweb blog readers, it’s a good additional resource for travelers who love horses. And she notes that she’s enjoying Ranchweb’s redesigned website and its blog. “Horse lovers will find ranch recommendations, and those looking for ranch jobs will find resources, as well,” Brown comments. “Like a good team roping pair, I think Ranchweb/Ranchweb blog and make a great duo.” (We couldn’t agree more!)

Take a look at her blog’s home page and you’ll see a black and white picture of Brown aboard Cricket (look to the upper left). Admittedly horse-crazy in her youth (Brown says she missed out on many high school dances in favor of showing her Quarter Horse in as many shows as her budget would allow), she never stopped loving all things equestrian. So now, Brown travels world-wide in search of the best resorts offering quality riding opportunities. Does that include dude and guest ranches? “I do cover dude ranches!” Brown says. (The photo of her on the fjord horse below is from Big Bar Ranch, a dude ranch in Clinton, BC, Canada.)

She’s clear about one goal: no ‘nose to tail’ riding trips for her. The destinational rides she writes about are always adventurous and cover the globe, from the Argentinean Andes to Perthshire, Scotland and lots of U.S. destinations in between. Her favorite trips so far: riding fjord horses in Norway (see a fjord horse, below) and a trip up to a butterfly-filled valley in Puerto Vallarta, ending the trip with a swim beneath waterfalls.

Nancy on a fjord horse in Bergen, Norway.

Nancy Brown on a fjord horse.

Next, Brown heads for Darby, Montana and the Triple Creek Ranch for ‘Clicks for Chicks”. It’s a 4-day endurance ride that she says she’s really up for. And if she gets sore, Brown notes, “I’ll just have to soak my aches away in the Triple Creek Ranch hot tub.” Oh, tough.

What’s on her bucket list? “I’d like to ride in an African safari” Brown says. Another dream trip: “Someday I hope to ride to the Blue Lagoon on an Icelandic horse.” Sounds fab.

Details: When she’s not traveling, she makes her home in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two teenagers. Brown writes the “What a Trip” travel blog and authors a column by the same name for the Contra Costa Times Lamorinda Sun, a publication of Media News Group. She is the Lodging Editor for She writes an on-line travel column for Diablo magazine and the “Traveler Making a Difference” column for Escapes magazine.

She is a BootsnAll Insider for California and has contributed to InsideBayArea, and Write to Travel blogs. She is a member of Bay Area Travel Writers (BATW), BlogHer, Matador and She also owns a public relations consulting business.


Artistry in Arizona



Open Mid November through end of April, Elkhorn Ranch offers desert and mountain riding insouthern Arizona. Here, the Sonoran desert country has unique and abundant birds and wildlife. Which is why its fitting for them to offer a Photography, Art & Natural History Workshop, Jan. 22-29, 2012. Learn the secrets of digital photograph from equipment to composition and cataloging. Photographer and naturalist Stewart Aitchison, plus artist Ann Kramer, are your instructors. In this, the fourth workshop offered, you’ll enjoy workshop activities along with all the rest of the Elkhorn fun, from riding to hiking and relaxing.
Details: Cost: $1398 per person per week (plus tax and gratuities). Accommodates 32 – 40 people, 20 cabins. Comfortable for singles, couples and families. For the workshop, bring your laptop and camera gear.