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.

Ranch sales good, reports Fay Ranches



It’s a gorgeous Montana day when I find myself talking to Ever Charles of Fay Ranches, Inc. based in Bozeman. Though I’ve never thought of owning a ranch in the Rockies, this is the kind of crisp, blue-sky day when that kind of thought could cross the mind of even a city kid like me.

Ms. Charles has been with Fay Ranches—a ranch real estate company—for two years and says she “absolutely loves” her job. Check out the website (pictured above) and you can see why—her ‘office’ is some of the most beautiful land in the world. “And the people are down to earth and family-oriented. We enjoy the outdoors life and have fun together.”

But they do get down to business—the business of selling American ranch lands, that is, like the ranches you’ll see on our sister site, Charles tells me that 2012 has been a good year so far for the company—they’ve sold ranches in every price category and genre, from large working ranches valued at over $20 million to small fishing ranches in the $1 to $3 million range.

But if I really want the inside scoop, Charles says I should talk to Gregory Fay, owner/broker of Fay Ranches, Inc. I learn that Greg Fay graduated in 1984 from the University of Colorado with a degree in English Literature, but has been a full-time real estate broker since 1986. Now, his company operates in five states with 19 agents and seven satellite offices.gfay1109788967

So of course I have to ask Mr. Fay (shown at left) how one goes from a degree in English Literature to being a real estate broker. But really, it’s not a fair question, since how many college grads actually end up with a job in the field their degree covers?

Still, Fay says, his studies have helped, “I do a great deal of writing and I have a tremendous appreciation for good writing. So my degree has been handy for all the writing and communications for the company—accurate communication is essential in this work.”

Ranch transactions are far more complex than residential real estate–and why folks need a specialist And even after twenty years as a realtor selling ranchlands, he continues to find the job fascinating. “Every day I’m learning something new,” Fay contends, “which is what makes this job so fun and challenging. A lot of multi-generational ranches have water rights issues, title issues, neighbor issues. My experience of twenty-odd years helps me solve them.”

Flexibility is another skill that has helped make Fay Ranches, Inc. a success during the past few years of a challenging economy. “The last three years have changed the real estate landscape,” Fay notes, adding that many brokerage firms haven’t made it. “But the first two quarters in 2012 have been the strongest in the history of Fay Ranches. There’s a slingshot effect coming out of the recession and it has been an opportunity to increase market share.”

It may also be a fantastic time to buy a ranch. In his 2012 Ranch Market Update, Fay says “When I ask buyers why they have entered the ranch market, the reasons I hear are as follow:

‘I feel the market has hit bottom, and I want to take advantage of the opportunities.’

‘I want to invest in something tangible that I can enjoy; I like ranches because there will always be a diminishing supply.’

‘I have frugal fatigue.’

‘My business is doing well, and I have discretionary money again.”

What’s even more interesting is that today’s buyers aren’t just speculators. “Its really satisfying to work with today’s clients–largely families,” Fay tells me. “Any property today, it has to pass the investment test. The consistent theme is value.”

“Once the transaction is completed, it becomes very much a family investment,” Fay concludes. Overall, Fay feels ‘tentatively optimistic that we are in the beginning stages of a slow and moderate growth market for ranches.’

Four pillars—sporting pursuits, family, conservation, ranch value—are the bedrock of Fay’s success as a realtor. “It central to our mission and its who we are. It was not a strategic decision, just who we are. As a broker, you can have a very tangible effect on these lands,” Fay says. And the Fay Ranches outfit wants their effect to be a positive one.  “To float down a river and know that a whole bank is protected by a conservation easement of clients of ours–it’s pretty gratifying.”


C Lazy U hosts a Thanksgiving holiday weekend special



C Lazy U Ranch

C Lazy U is hosting a Thanksgiving holiday weekend special. Why? Well, there’s a LOT to be thankful for this Thanksgiving—and we can’t think of a better place to enjoy it than at the C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado!

The ranch invites you to “Bring your attitudes of gratitude and share the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend with our family” from November 21-25. You’ll enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner served on Thanksgiving Day, three gourmet meals included daily. There’s a two-night minimum.

Details: Rates: $325 per adult per night and $150 per child per night. BONUS: Buy three nights, get the fourth FREE!


Arizona’s Elkhorn Ranch: ride, revive, reconnect

DSC_0407Tucked against the saw-toothed Baboquivari Mountains southwest of Tucson, Arizona, is a traditional family-owned and operated guest ranch offering horseback riding and relaxation for some 32 guests. A few days ago, I talked to co-owner Mary Miller recently about what makes Arizona’s Elkhorn unique.  The Miller Family has owned and operated Elkhorn Ranch continuously since 1946 and enjoys the friendship of many returning guests and crew.

“We open next week on Sunday.’ said Miller, with a smile in her voice. “What we take a lot of pride in is the great ranch traditions,” Miller added. “We’re not a ranch that tries to makes things new every year! We’re a great family destination.”

Special packages for fall/winter

Miller was proud to tell me about the upcoming photography workshop that the ranch has offered successfully for years, covering natural history and digital photography, at no added cost (This season it is January 20-27, with Stweart Aitchison and Ann Kramer). New this year is a Music Workshop-January 6-13, focusing on the old-time music with workshops on guitar, banjo, fiddle. You can join in or simply listen and workshop.aspx

Miller also wanted folks to know that there is space available for New Year’s Week. “We have a fun night on New Year’s,” she noted, “with games and a piñata for kids. There’s a huge Mexican feast, and later in the night, the adults take over to celebrate.” And during that whole week, the weather is typically lovely. “It’s a great time to get away from the cold in the north,” Millers says with a laugh.

Further, she told me that Arizona’s Elkhorn Ranch has spring break space available in March and April; it’s sunny and warm then and the pool is pretty popular in the afternoon. The kids play outdoors and have hotdog cookouts, and as always rides are tailored to the abilities of the guests. “We focus on one week stays,” Miller explains. “It gives you time to enjoy the countryside and become comfortable with the horses, and enjoy the friendship of the other guests you get the most out of a one week stay.” A weekly stay is a better bargain than the shorter stays. And for longer stays for snowbirds or other sunseekers, the rates are even more favorable.

Listen to former guests sing the praises of Arizona’s Elkhorn Ranch. One says: “I’ve been to the Elkhorn several times over the past 20 years and I’m pleased to report that it never changes. I’ve heard it said that wilderness is the greatest luxury. If that’s the case, then the Elkhorn is exceedingly luxurious! However, it’s a subtle brand of luxury; no spa or marble bathtubs here (though you can get a massage!)”

Another calls it a ‘perfect family vacation,’ saying “We enjoyed an absolutely amazing week at Elkhorn! If you enjoy being in nature, this is your place. Beautiful nature with mountain and dessert surrounding the ranch. We loved the concept of having meals on communal tables with open seating and there were always interesting conversations with people from all over and all ages.

A third raved “Spectacular views, universally wonderful people, and great rides for all age groups in the dessert and mountains. The wranglers are genuine and gracious and the rest of the staff is great too. We met folks from all over and all ages…this place is perfect for families and friends…go there…you’ll love it!”

You can’t buy advertising like that. But then, southern Arizona guest ranch Elkhorn Ranch doesn’t have to.

Scenic Sonoran desert country filled with unique and abundant birds and wildlife is the backdrop for the Miller family’s Elkhorn Ranch. Vacation here and you may enjoy riding ranch-raised horses through desert and mountain; hiking; swimming, tennis, shooting on the rifle range, playing ping ping, or horse shoes.

There’s a well stocked library and a groaning buffet table stocked with plentiful comfort food. Feed the birds on the patio of your cabin, watch for wildlife at dusk, or just enjoy riding the trails that wind toward the mountains. Kids love the freedom of the secluded ranch setting and the twice a day horseback trail rides. Families that lack a certain togetherness in the bustle of home life will love the fact that they can have all of their meals together, sharing the adventures of the day.

That’s Elkhorn Ranch: a great place to ride, relax, revive, recharge and reconnect.

Details: Open Mid November through end of April. Where: 50 miles southwest of Tucson. Call: 520/ 822-1040.

Notes from Elkhorn: Elkhorn becomes a home away from home where everyone enjoys the outdoors, riding, friendship, and the ease of a family friendly vacation where ordering breakfast is the big decision of the day.  Everyone has the chance to relax and enjoy time together, as well as time apart – a perfect week long family vacation or gathering place for multi-generation reunions. Rides are arranged daily to suit individual interests and experience.  All rides are guided, with small groups.  Everyone enjoys the same horse and saddle throughout their stay.  Kids must be 6 and older to ride.  The 5 and under crowd may come at no charge, and have a ball exploring the ranch (note that Elkhorn does not provide supervised child-care).   A heated swimming pool, tennis and basketball court, ping pong, horseshoes, hiking, birding, kick the can by the light of the stars and moon and peeking under rocks — plus a well stocked library and cupboard of games and puzzles keeps everyone busy when not riding.  No television.  Yes to wireless internet access.  Fly to Phoenix or Tucson — visit the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum on your way to Elkhorn Ranch!


A grand horse show: Las Vegas National Nov. 13-18

Las Vegas NationalNEWSFLASH

Is your daughter, son, wife, or husband horse mad? If so, we have the perfect event for them. The Las Vegas National at the South Point Equestrian Arena, from November 13-18, 2012. Exhibitors are already signed up and on their way, and the producers, Blenheim EquiSports, expect a big turnout, so if you want to attend, start your trip planning now.

This annual hunter-jumper show is a big deal for riders and trainers. For the spectators, the free admission and a ton of giveaways are just part of the draw. You’ll see Olympic and international level show jumpers, get to meet many of the riders, attend autograph sessions and maybe take a guided barn tour. Tuesday through Sunday, a show-wide raffle includes prizes from sponsors and vendors from free Tee-shirts up to a $5,000 saddle.

Each day has a different focus: Thursday, November 15 features the $32,000 FEI Jumper Classic (7:30 PM); its also Barn Night and features raffles and T-shirts. Friday, November 16 is the Salute to the Community. Just World hosts the $30,000 Las Vegas Speed Classic (7:30 PM). And on Saturday, there’s the $10,000 Royal Champion Classic (5:30 PM) and the $50,000 Las Vegas World Cup Grand Prix (7:30 PM) plus a raffle and autograph session.

Spectators will also get the chance see Rich Fellers, the reigning Show Jumping World Cup champion and the highest placing US Olympic Show Jumping Team Member.

The free event is all produced by an equestrian-event management company called Blenheim EquiSports, based in San Juan Capistrano, California. The company produces over thirty events per year in three locations: San Juan Capistrano, Del Mar and Las Vegas, NV. The events include 18 USEF “A” or “AA” rated hunter-jumper shows featuring several World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix, USHJA International High Performance Hunter Challenges, Pony Finals, Medal Finals and more.

While at the event, check out (or into) the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa. The South Point  is a 2,200-room resort in Las Vegas, providing “affordable luxury while catering to visitors and locals alike’’. This hotel has a world-class spa, a bowling center, eight restaurants, showroom, , convention center, exhibit hall, bingo and all of the casino games that made Las Vegas famous–and, of course, a major equestrian arena.

In fact, the South Point Equestrian Complex is considered by those in the horse world to be among the finest indoor horse facilities in America. It boasts a 4,600-seat arena and 1,200 horse stalls (all climate-controlled, of course); that’s why the South Point Equestrian Center hosts some of the world’s grandest equestrian events.

Details: If you want to be a VIP, you’ll have access to a private bar, the best seat in the house, special VIP hours and access. The three-night VIP package costs $250 per person; call Melissa Brandes at 949/234-1695.
For more, click here.