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.

A Roundup: Rx for stressed-out doctors and lawyers

Ask any doctor, lawyer, or other high-powered professional how they choose to relax from their challenging work and chances are they’ll opt for something physically demanding that they can do out in the fresh air. And if the activity is unique, all the better.

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In that case, the best medicine for doctors or lawyers just might be a ranch vacation with a cattle drive thrown in. Call it our roundup Rx.

But unless you’re tough as Clint Eastwood, you may want to join a cattle drive that offers some comforts, like good food and outstanding scenery. Ranchweb.com to the rescue!

What does a dude wear to his/her first roundup? Good riding boots, well-worn (soft) jeans, and layers that include a rain jacket or poncho. DO bring a ‘stampede string’ or chin strap for your wide-brimmed hat. Ask what else to bring when you book your drive; some outfits will rent or sell chaps and chinks. Ask about weather and trail conditions, how long you’ll be riding each day, and so forth. What NOT to bring:  No sneakers or spurs, please.

WYOMING
The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch

Just east of Cody and Yellowstone National Park is an upscale riding, horsemanship and working cattle guest ranch called The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch (pictured above). And while there are tons of recreational activities to choose from, cattle work is their signature activity.

And it’s not just laid on for the entertainment of ranch guests. Here, with more than a thousand cows, calves, and yearlings wandering across some 250,000 acres, cattle work is genuine and necessary work that guests can help with.

“Our key staff is trained in the Bud Williams Low Stress Stockmanship concept of handling livestock,” says ranch literature. “During your orientation on Monday morning you will learn the basic concepts.  We can also organize a 1 day session during your stay given there are enough participants.”

Details: Ride into crisp fall mornings against a backdrop of aspen trees changing colors.  Mid September through October is roundup time in the high country around the Hideout. Look for elk and wildlife moving down from the high country while you round up the calves and drive them back down to the valley basin. But note: “Cattle work hinges on range conditions and weather; we are seldom able to say in advance exactly when we’ll do a long distance drive.” To stay tuned, visit: http://www.cattle-work.com/

Bitterroot Dude Ranch

Spend all day in the saddle driving the herd, then return to your cozy cabin each night to spend all night in a comfy bed. Now that’s my idea of a cattle drive. You get all the adventure without all of the discomfort of sleeping on the ground and going days without a shower.

Guests who ‘ride well enough’ are allowed to pitch in with herding the cows into or back down from the mountains. It’s challenging work, since the cattle are spread out over 50 square miles of mountains, forests, and river valleys. You may ride off the beaten path in country where encounters with wild game like elk, deer, moose, wolves and grizzly bear are possible. But at the end of each day, you’ll head back to your cabin for all the comforts of home (like a meal, shower, and good bed).

Details: the first week of July or the last week of September. Meet at Riverton or Jackson, trip lasts 8 days/7 nights (with 6 days riding). Guests with riding experience only. $2,100 per person based on double occupancy.

Bucking S Ranch

Bucking-S-Cattle-Drive-to-LakeSet near the foothills of the Seminoe and Shirley Mountains, the Bucking S is the real deal: an authentic working cattle ranch running some 200 cow-calf pairs. As if that wasn’t enough, they also help three ranch neighbors with their cattle work.
“The whole season from mid-May to mid-October we rotate cattle to new pastures as grazing conditions and water dictates. Between taking care of our own cattle and helping neighboring ranches, we have plenty of cattle drives every single week.”
Details: Open May through October 7. Located 65 miles southwest of Casper, Wyo., at altitudes between 6,800 and 8,000 feet. Rates from $ 1,550 per week/per person double occupancy (includes all ranch activities, meals, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages).  “After you had a chance to browse through our web site, we would very much enjoy speaking to you personally about our ranch, answer any questions you might have and make sure you have a good understanding of what to expect from a ranch vacation at The Bucking S.”

ARIZONA
Tanque Verde Ranch
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If you’re new to riding, or don’t have the time to spend on a full cattle drive, there are loads of other ways to get your cowboy on and work up a sweat. At Tanque Verde, you can join the Team Penning Competition.

Team Penning pits you (and your teammates) against is a herd of eight sometimes-ornery cattle. Team Penning is done at a walk or trot, so riders of all skill levels may participate.  The goal of this timed competition is to maneuver the cows through a series of obstacles and into one of three pens. (Doctors or lawyers may find this exercise akin to getting a patient or client to do what they’re supposed to do.) Or you may find it’s just a fun twist on your dude ranch experience and a great way to bond with friends, family or co-workers.

Details: May through October is Value Season, so rates are the best of the year. (Rates, from $395 per night, double occupancy, include three meals, all trail riding and horseback lessons, fishing, guided hiking and mountain biking, art classes, water aerobics, tennis clinics and lessons, and a fully supervised children’s program.  Also included are outdoor BBQ cookouts (Wed and Sat), and breakfast ride. All rates INCLUDE service charge!)

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