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.

Getting the family ready for a guest ranch vacay

So, last week we told you how to plan ahead for your guest ranch trip. HomeRanch_1Now the question is: How do you get the family ready for this unique vacation?

Simple: ask Ranchweb.

Gene Kilgore, chief wrangler here at Ranchweb, has visited most of the guest ranches in the West and beyond, and has learned a few things in his decades in the dude ranching industry.

“Over the years, after hundreds of miles on horseback and thousands of miles in automobiles and airplanes, I know quality clothing is better than quantity. Well, I guess that goes for most everything in life.”

Yep. So check the family’s wardrobes. If those jeans are torn: replace ’em. If they’re new and unwashed, we guarentee they’ll result in saddle sores or chafing. Wash ‘em ahead–at least four times–using fabric softener (the liquid kind).

Some kids just don’t like to wear hats, but try hard to find a hat or a visor they WILL wear. Otherwise, bring extra sunscreen and sunglasses (with leashes, cuz they will fall off).

Make sure everybody brings a warm sweater, and a jacket for cool mornings and evenings by the campfire.

Check their footwear: riding means boots. Comfy boots. Invest in a good pair and get these far enough ahead so they can break ‘em in. (You too, Mom!) And you’ll want a pair of sneakers for running around and flip flops for just hanging out.

With the kids, start adjusting bedtimes. The kids will want to get up early on the ranch so as not to miss the morning pancake ride, lessons, and so on. Get them adjusted ahead and there will be no arguments on the first morning of vacation.

Reality check #1: are your family members really into riding? If so, a working ranch will suit them just fine. But if they’re more laid back in the saddle, then a family-oriented ranch is a better choice.

Reality check #2: is everyone in shape? If not, getting them off the couch a couple weeks ahead of time and out for a walk after dinner will mean they’re in better shape to enjoy the great outdoors.

Reality check #3: if you’re going for a bargain, go during the off-season or shoulder season. But if you do, be prepared for weather extremes and dress accordingly.

Finally, ask the ranch or lodge to send you a clothing list to help with your packing. Don’t forget a flashlight, some lip protection, mosquito repellant, and sunblock. And one last thing: bring along a smile–you’ll use it constantly on your guest ranch vacay!


Fourth of July package at Brush Creek Ranch


Tips from the rancher

Here’s news from one of Wyoming’s newest ranches: Bring family and friends together for a July 4th vacation celebration of a lifetime at Wyoming’s The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, an ultra-private guest ranch, set on a 15,000 acre working cattle ranch in south Central Wyoming. Authentic western fun includes something for everyone including the 3rd annual Brush Creek Ranch professional rodeo, a barn dance in the loft of a historic barn, July 4th fireworks, a ropes course tournament, a complimentary scenic float trip, nightly live entertainment and much more. (NOTE: Book by 5 p.m. MST June 15th to receive 20% off your 4th of July Package! Mention Website Special when booking.)

This 4th of July Dude Ranch Vacation Package includes all of these additional July 4th activites & adventures:
• July 4th Fireworks display
• Third annual Brush Creek Ranch Rodeo with professional bull riders
• Nightly Live Entertainment
• Boot Scootin’ Barn DanceLodgeSpa_7
• Complimentary family scenic float trip for up to 6ppl per trip
• Outdoor Movie Night
• BCR Ropes Course ‘Tournament of Champions’

Plus, the ranch’s standard “All Inclusive” rate inclusions:
• Unlimited ‘on ranch’ ranch activities including horseback riding, fly fishing, Brush Creek Ranch Gun club shooting, mountain biking, roping & bull riding lessons, falcon peak yoga, hiking, paintball and more, including all gear, guides/wranglers & instruction; and Daily Lil’ Wranglers Kid’s program for children ages 4-11
• All meals and beverages, including premium beers, wine and spirits program.

Details: All-inclusive rates start at: $750-875 per adult per night, based on double occupancy and lodging unit selected. Plus receive 20% off this rate when booking by June 15th.

Minimum stay: 3 nights

Valid: 7/1/12-7/8/12. Excludes: 10% ranch fee, taxes, spa experiences and off-ranch activities. For more, click here.


Getting ready for a guest ranch vacay


Hey Mom, let’s say you did all the right planning. You surfed the web and picked your place: you found THE perfect ranch for your family’s special package of needs. Okay, smartypants, now what?  How do you actually get the family ready for a guest ranch stay?

Well, Ranchweb can be a great resource there. Check the ‘Ranch Categories’ section to find out if your chosen place meets your specific needs regarding Computer use, children’s programs, pet’s welcome, and so forth. Then, make a quick call to the ranch itself to brush up on some facts at that perfect ranch you’ve chosen. Here’s what you’ll wanna know:

*Want to bring a pet? It is an option at many ranches (check Ranchweb’s list of Ranch Categories/Pets Welcome). But please 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). Some pet friendly ranches: 320 Guest Ranch, the Coulter Lake Guest Ranch, (below right), or the Diamond D Ranch.CoulterLake_1

*What’s the weather usually like at the time you’re booked? And is altitude an issue (many ranches are in the mountains, and if your child has asthma or other breathing problems or allergies, you may want to pack an extra inhaler or antihistimine).

*What is included in the rate you were quoted? Typical rates are all-inclusive, (covering meals, horseback riding, all facilities, children’s and teen supervision, special programming). But  maybe you’ve chosen a special discount rate–double check. And of course find out if sometimes extra options, like spa treatments and trap shooting or fly fishing school are extra—you’ll want to know that ahead.

*Find out the check-in/check-out times—this is not a hotel, so rules vary. Commonly, check in is at 2 PM and check out by 10 AM is typical, but exceptions may be made individually.

*Ask out how many kids of your children’s ages will be there when you’re there. And then, tell your kids so they know they’ll have some buds to hang with.

*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.)

*Are serious medical concerns a possibility for you or the kids? Ask if the ranch staff is Red Cross First Aid certified and where the nearest hospital emergency room is located and how long it takes to reach. With serious medical issues, you may want to select a ranch that’s fairly handy to a city.

*If you’re a smoker, you’ve gotta ask about the ranch’s smoking policy. In Colorado, for example, a 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.

*Those who need to stay connected (and who doesn’t, these days?) should ask about cell phone and internet service; both are possible at more and more ranches now, but be sure to confirm your ranch’s availability.

And remember, you can always check Ranchweb for your answers!

Next week, we’ll tell you how to get your family ready for the trip! Stay tuned…