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.

Do horses get allergies? Find out on Facebook…

If you aren’t following Ranchweb on Facebook, you just don’t know what you’re missing. It ranges from the sublime (lovely photography of horses and other ranch themes) to the silly. Sometimes, you’ll find info that is downright fascinating.

For example, we asked recently on Facebook: Do horses ever get allergies? We got some interesting replies:

Anne R Horstman yes they do. mine was allergic to barkdust.

Denise Longland yup they do… my old horse had asthma.

James Randolph Thomas Jr. Yes, been sneezed on by ranch horses a few times. Must be ragweed or goldenrod.

Sherrie DeFreitas Johnson I had one who had Hives!

Stormy Harbour I worked with a horse that had to take steroids because she was allergic to pretty much everything. I felt so sorry for the poor thing. This fine specien doesn’t seem to have that problem though. Gorgous coat.

Gene Robinson Yep, they sure do. Had a working cow horse once upon a time. But when it came time to work, he wouldn’t. But if not under saddle, he would sure as hell chase ’em.

You can’t make this stuff up, so we don’t even try. We love our Ranchweb Facebook followers and hope you’ll decide to become one!


What to wear at the ranch

Children-riding-at-White-Stallion-RanchTIPS FROM THE RANCHERS

Riding into the mesquite. Fly fishing in a rushing mountain stream. Mountain biking down an alpine slope. Getting a mani-pedi in the spa by the pool. Whether you’re planning a dude ranch vacation that includes lots of lounging or lots of miles in the saddle, you’re going to have to pack accordingly. Yep, a guest ranch vacation is different, and all of those options require a little planning, and we at Ranchweb have talked to lots of ranchers to get the best packing list.

First, understand that you’re going to be outside. A lot.

So know what kind of climate and elevation you’ll find and check (and double check) local weather forecast. Arizona dude ranches can be in mountains or desert (or both). Colorado, Montana and Wyoming ranches are often at high altitudes. At any of these locations the weather can change quickly.

All of which means: layering, hats, and sunblock. If you’re traveling with children, you have to think about protecting their tender skin from sun with long sleeves, hats, and jeans (like the children shown above). Packing is easy if you remember that they’re always casual at the ranch; jeans, khakis, sweaters and wind and rain-proof jackets are all good. But some ranches are more upscale than others, however, and casual there might mean ‘cruise casual’.

For sun, choose a higher-rated sunblock and SPF-rated lip balm; hats are a must as are kerchiefs (especially if you’re riding the last horse in the string). Bring a daypack for those trail daytrips. And sorry, guys, but a ballcap doesn’t offer the protection of a wide-brimmed hat.

If you can bear the added expense, SPF-rated shirts and pants (found at sporting goods stores and even Costco) are worth the price. Choose hand washable and drip dry (if you’re really having fun you’re going to get a little dirty).

For riding, Gene Kilgore has a favorite tip for to a comfy week of riding: wear a pair of panty hose underneath your jeans to prevent chafing. Of course you want well broken-in jeans (pre-washed with fabric softener).

You’ll be on your feet a lot (if you’re having fun outdoors-that’s a given), so broken in hiking boots, tennies,  and for riding, boots with about a ½” heel. Throw in the flip flops for when you want to give your feet a break. Shorts, t-shirts, swimsuit, and extra socks are a must.

Find out what kind of evening activities the ranch offers (you may want some nice slacks/shirt for that square dancing party).

Pack a jacket for sitting out beside the campfire, and don’t forget the just-in-case items: aspirin, Band Aids, bug spray, Pepto, and the like. And if you forget your camera, to record all the precious memories you’re making, you’ll be kicking yourself for years.

But at the end of the day, don’t stress it: a lot of ranches have small gift shops where you can pick up emergency items.

Packing list
Baseball cap or cowboy hat
Camera (and batteries or charger)
Cool looking shades (and a holder to make sure they stay on your face)
Day pack
Flip flops
Heeled boots for riding
Hiking/ walking shoesJacket
Long sleeved shirt (with SPF rating)
Pre-washed jeans
Slacks for evening


Make your ranch dream happen

burnt-leather-fly-fishing-ranchRANCH REAL ESTATE

Hello 2013. Maybe this is the year you live your dream. A dream of wide open spaces and big skies, of fast-moving streams alive with trout, of snow-topped mountains filled with elk. Ranch country—and it’s all yours.

Big country, big dreams. But it doesn’t have to remain in the realm of make-believe, thanks to an outfit like Fay Ranches. You can make it happen—with the help of these ranch real estate experts. We profiled Gregory Fay, partner in Fay Ranches, Inc. last month. Now, with their permission, we’re sharing tidbits from the Fay Ranches blog, just to whet your land-owning appetites. It helps us kick off a new feature for 2013: Ranch Real Estate.

Enjoy. . .

Five Montana Fly Fishing Properties For Sale

By admin on Tue, 09/18/2012 – 1:22pm

Buying a Montana fly fishing property for sale is a wise investment, and a decision that will give you and your family years of adventures and innumerable memories. The fly fishing in Montana is some of the best in the lower 48 states, and blue-ribbon trout streams and fisheries wind through the entire state. Montana’s Jefferson, Madison, Missouri, and Yellowstone Rivers are world-renowned for their fly fishing. Bozeman has an abundance of blue-ribbon trout streams within an hour’s drive, and neighboring Livingston also provides access to Paradise Valley and Yellowstone National Park.

Fay Ranches is proud to represent the following five Montana fly fishing ranches for sale, which are some of the most famous and unique ranches in the West. Some feature custom-built ranch homes and structures, some are productive agricultural properties, but all of them feature private access to some of the most sought-after fly fishing in the United States.

Circle B Ranch The Circle B Ranch features over three and a half miles incredible fly fishing waters, including 1.6 miles of frontage along Baker and V Creeks, and 1.5 miles of West Gallatin River Frontage. This 427+- acre property is a true sportsman’s paradise, with excellent whitetail, waterfowl, and pheasant hunting, a beautiful 5-bedroom luxury home, barn, guest quarters, machine shop, and the potential to expand the length of the fisheries on the ranch. Read more about this Manhattan Montana fly fishing property for sale.

Dome Mountain Ranch The Dome Mountain Ranch is an enormous Montana fly fishing property, featuring 5360+_ deeded acres, 470+_ State leased acres, and 508 acres leased from the BLM. One side of the ranch is bordered by over six miles of Yellowstone River frontage, providing world-famous wild trout fishing, and the rest of the ranch borders the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and Yellowstone National Park. The ranch includes 3 lakes, a stunning log home, guest homes, barns, sheds, and a commercial lodge. The wildlife is abundant and diverse, and moose, elk, deer, mountain lion, antelope, waterfowl, and birds of prey are only a few of the animals that frequent the Dome Mountain Ranch. This property has been featured on several nationally televised programs and large publications, and it is rightfully one of the famous ranches in Southwest Montana. Learn more about the Dome Mountain fly fishing ranch for sale in Montana.

Burnt Leather Ranch The Burnt Leather fly fishing ranch in McCleod Montana (pictured at top) is one of the most scenic fly fishing experiences in Montana, and also contains 2 miles of both sides of the West Boulder, a renowned and prolific fly fishery in the middle of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. The property includes the Steen Place Headquarters, is under Conservation Easement, and hosts an extraordinary array of wildlife, from deer to turkey to mountain lion. The Burnt Leather Ranch is a historic and iconic ranch, and is only 35 minutes from Livingston Montana.  Learn more about the Burnt Leather fly fishing property for sale in Montana.

mccoy-fly-fishing-ranchMcCoy Spring Creek Ranch The McCoy Spring Creek Ranch is a 1209-acre fly fishing property for sale near Dillon Montana, in the Beaverhead Valley. The ranch houses several ponds and wetlands that provide endless hours of fly fishing and waterfowl hunting, and both sides of a productive spring creek flow through the property. Several other blue-ribbon fisheries are nearby. In addition, McCoy Spring Creek Ranch has five circle pivots and produces grain, alfalfa, and corn. This ranch has an astounding amount of recreational value for a property of its size. Learn more about this Dillon Montana fly fishing ranch for sale.

oyler-fly-fishing-ranchOyler Ranch on the Gallatin River The Oyler Fly Fishing Property in Bozeman Montana straddles the West Gallatin River for approximately 2 miles, as well as two other spring creeks, providing immediate access to over three and a half miles of blue-ribbon fly fishing. The property is known for its excellent whitetail, pheasant, and waterfowl hunting, and it also includes around 90 acres of irrigated production ground. Only 15 minutes from a commercial airport and 30 minutes from the boutique shops, restaurants, and historic downtown of Bozeman, Montana, this world-class recreational ranch is an opportunity not to be missed. Read more about this Bozeman Montana fly fishing property for sale.


July is rodeo month

spur_mFor a real dose of Old West tradition, rodeos are a true reality check. They’re a transformation of some of the real, back-breaking work that takes place on a ranch—roping calves, taming bulls—and sometimes the cowboy comes out the worse for wear.

But the contest between man and bucking bronc is always breathtaking (and a bargain for the all-day family entertainment you get). July and August are big rodeo months, with major events all across the country (and in Canada, too). You can even find some ranches with their own rodeo arena (like Malibu Ranch, mentioned earlier this month); for a complete list, click on Ranchweb’s list here.

Here’s a brief roundup of some of the more unusual rodeos this month:

The State’s Largest Night Rodeo
July 18-21, Pretty Prairie
It’s the big 75th this year! Offering the country’s best professional cowboys, top-quality stock, and prime family entertainment, this little Kansas town has it all. For more, check or 800/638-2702

Last Chance Stampede & Fair
July 25-29, Helena
Country Music Stars, a PRA rodeo and the Demolition Derby, plus fun family-friendly events like a kiddie stick horse rodeo, an amusements carnival, and more make the Last Chance one popular event. Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds; or call 406/457-8516.

Now through-Sept. 29, 2012
Cowtown Rodeo, rural Salem County
What? Cowboys in New Jersey? You bet! Come experience Cowtown Rodeo every Saturday night at 7:30pm. Set in The Boss’s home state, Cowtown brings it, with all seven of the rodeo events that are sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, from bareback bronc riding to girls barrel racing. At some 57 years of age, it’s been called the oldest weekly running rodeo in the U.S. For more, or call 856/ 769-3200.


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.


How to plan your ranch vacation


HomeRanch_1Or maybe a better title for this particular story is How to NOT plan your ranch vacation. If you want to de-stress even before you take your family on a gust ranch trip, then here’s a term you’ll want to study: The all-inclusive vacation.

What a great concept for time-stressed parents. No hassles, no major planning required, just pack and show up at the ranch (or the airport–some ranches will arrange to pick you up from there). And Ranchweb can help you find ranches still offering all-inclusive vacations. Used to be, all dude ranch vacations came that way, but no more. The dude ranch industry has evolved to provide more customization—offering shorter, less costly trips and some inexpensive options that let you pay only for what you want (rather than one all-inclusive package).

Still, the all-inclusive option has a lot to offer, including lodging, sports, all meals, riding lessons, and so forth for one price. At some ranches, like Colorado’s Home Ranch (shown above), all inclusive means gourmet cuisine (some of the best dude ranch meals you’ll find), year-round multi-sport adventures and fly fishing guides (and gear), exceptional children’s programs, live music, roaring campfires, and even shuttle service to/from the airport.

Averills_1Some of the larger ranches like Averill’s Flathead Lake Ranch, provide all kinds of play and sports gear for your use and optional side trips to national parks, along major rivers, and more. Those kinds of extras can make it worth the sometimes price tag that comes with the all-inclusive option. But think of it this way: how much would you pay simply for tickets for a family day at the amusement park–not including meals, lodging, transportation and so on? Thinking of it that way, the all-inclusive price tag— including all your meals, lodging, and your choices of so many unique amusements—seems reasonable.

Greenhorn_1And some ranches, like California’s Greenhorn Creek ranch (shown at right) offer all-inclusive packages and activities for weddings, reunions, special interest groups, business/corporate meetings & retreats. It makes planning those types of trips a breeze.

The all-inclusive option is designed to let parents relax and let kids have fun and a little (supervised) freedom in the great outdoors. Fresh air, great food, family bonding in a no-stress zone. That’s the promise of the all-inclusive ranch resort vacation.


Ranch chic: what to pack for a dude ranch trip


Summer vacation’s coming up faster than a freight train. Got to plan in order to pack right. What should Mom, Dad, and the kids wear to the ranch? And do you need to do any shopping first?

Well, a guest ranch vacation is different, and requires a fresh set of expectations and plans. And that takes a little planning. We polled a number of ranchers and compiled their ideas below.

Of course, you’ll know where the ranch is located and what the elevation is there, so you can then check local weather forecast (thank you Google). Remember that whether you’re going to be in mountains or desert, the weather can change quickly and dramatically. Of course, the sun is stronger at higher elevations, and parents will want to remember that little ones need extra help against sunburn. See the little guy in our photo, above? He’s dressed perfectly, including the coat of sunblock you can’t see.

First rule: layer, layer, layer! Whew. Glad we got that off our chest. Packing is easy if you remember that they’re always casual at the ranch. Whether you wear simple jeans or khakis or a full-on cowboy getup is up to you. But some ranches are more upscale than others, however, and casual there might mean ‘cruise casual’.

Of course you and the kids need sunblock and SPF-rated lip balm; hats are de rigeur as are kerchiefs. I like the SPF-rated shirts and pants you can get a sporting goods stores like REI. The best clothes are hand washable and drip dry (because, let’s face it, if you’re really having fun you’re going to get a little dirty).

For riding, you want comfy jeans (be sure and pre-wash them with fabric softener), extra socks, and boots with about a ½” heel. One of Gene Kilgore’s favorite secrets to a comfy week of riding: wearing a pair of panty hose underneath your jeans to prevent chafing.

Throw in shorts, t-shirts, swimsuit, and hiking boots and gear for any other special activities in the area or on the ranch. You’ll want some nice slacks for evening meals or special events (like square dancing). And bring a jacket, against possible sudden rainshowers and those cool, star-filled mountain or desert nights. And pack a few of those little extras that can make a vacation go smoothly: bug spray, Pepto Bismol, aspirin, Band Aids, and the like.

A lot of ranches have small gift shops where you can pick up emergency items like rain ponchos, hats, and so forth (ask ahead).  Some high-end ranches have goodie baskets in your cabin, stocked with spa products, robes, and even coffee makers, but again, ask ahead. Ask what you’ll need for any planned overnights, rafting trip, jeep tours, or pack trips. And of course, check to see if the ranch has Wi-Fi, or a computer available to guests.

Packing list
Baseball cap or cowboy hat
Camera (and batteries or charger)
Cool looking shades (and a holder to make sure they stay on your face)
Day pack
Flip flops
Heeled boots for riding
Hiking/ walking shoesJacket
Long sleeved shirt (with SPF rating)
Pre-washed jeans
Slacks for evening
Socks-lots of extra pairs
Sunscreen/ Lip Balm (SPF 30)

Those are our suggestions. What do you think folks shouldn’t forget to take to a dude ranch vacation? Write us a comment or post to our Facebook page!


A special spring at Arizona’s Elkhorn Ranch


You know TripAdvisor, that popular travel website where guests can comment on their lodging experiences? Listen to TripAdvisor’s comments about Arizona’s Elkhorn Ranch: “Perfect family vacation” – 5.0 of 5 stars (Expatriat2012   March 27, 2012)”… an absolutely amazing week at Elkhorn! If you enjoy being in nature, this is your place. Beautiful nature with mountain and dessert…” And then there’s this: “Must be best small riding ranch in Arizona.” –5.0 of 5 stars (Griffon_10   December 12, 2010). “The Elkhorn Ranch, south of Tucson, is outstanding … If you enjoy riding, hiking and ranch life, this is for you…”

Elkhorn Ranch, located in the rugged Baboquivari Mountains southwest of Tucson, Arizona, is a traditional family owned and operated guest ranch offering horseback riding and comfortable living for about 32 guests. The Miller Family has owned and operated Elkhorn continuously since 1946 and enjoys the friendship of many returning guests and crew.

I talked to co-owner Mary Miller recently about what makes Elkhorn so special.  “We are fundamentally a riding ranch. We have a swimming pool, ping pong, tether ball and a tennis court, but we’re a small, traditional riding ranch.We really tailor rides to your needs and abilities.”

It is family owned and operated, so you get that feeling of family hospitialty, too. which may account for all those rave reviews. “We have a lot of loving return folks,” Miller notes, “and people enjoy the comraderie of friends they make and return to visit here. But its wonderful to get new guests, too!” Miller adds.

Elkhorn_5And about that riding focus? “All of our rides are guided. Our horses are ranch raised and trained and only used here. They have summers off and we have a large variety of horses (and saddles) to match people’s abilities,” Miller contends. And rides here are kept small, with each one arranged for your needs and what you want to do.

“We talk to everybody before each ride and design rides accordingly,” Miller says, “so the emphasis shifts with the people we have here. At Elkhorn Ranch, they  have a lot of country to ride–open deseert for loping rides and mountain and valley for scenic rides. “You’re well away from the city and you get really big views–that’s not easy to find these days.”

“It’s been a lovely spring,” Mary reports. “The cactus flowers are blooming and the mares should be foaling toward end of the month.” But don’t wait too long to decide to visit. “We close at the end of April, so call soon to hold your spot or try for next season (from mid-November to end of April)!” Thanks for the update, Mary!

Details: Elkhorn Ranch’s twenty cabins and Long House where you gather for meals are tucked amidst the mesquites of Sabino Canyon, surrounded by mountain views and the wide open Altar Valley. The cabins provide comfortable living for singles, couples or families, each with a private bath, electric heaters, good reading lights, a sitting area, and your own birdfeeder with unlimited birdseed. No phones or televisions in the cabins. Daily housekeeping and nightly bed turn-downs. They’re happy to take care of special needs. Check for details.


Dude ranch jobs: new help for jobseekers & ranchers


You want to be a wrangler, cook up stacks of hotcakes or gourmet meals, or take guests out on fly fishing expeditions? Then maybe you want a job at a guest ranch. But how to find it?, of course!

You could think of it as a dating site where job seekers and prospective employers meet. The goal: the perfect marriage between ranch job holder and dude ranch owners. That’s the idea behind, Gene Kilgore’s newest website, and it couldn’t be more timely.

The site is attractive and very user friendly (if we do say so ourselves). It lists each ranch, next to a  photograph and box listing the contact person and email address that job seekers should reach out to. Then, there’s a brief desecription of the ranch and below that, a list of each job and the dates when the worker is needed.  Put your cursor over the job listed and you get a pull-down menu with a whole lot more information about each job. And if you’re a ranch owner looking for staffing help, the site delivers candidates right to you.

Easy, right? Yep. The guy who created and the author of the best selling Gene Kilgore’s Ranch Vacations guide has done it again.

If you’re looking for workers to staff your dude & guest ranch resort, check out our site. And if you’ve ever had a hankering for a fulfilling, interesting job in one of the most beautiful spots on Earth, then look at the listings on It could be a match made in Heaven.


Want a mention in Ranchweb’s Oct. blog? Tell us!

Fall colors at the dude ranch–that’s the topic we started this blog with in, gulp, 2008. And it’s what we want to write about in October. Now you can help us. Post a note on our Facebook page.Tell us what kind of fall color trees your ranch guests can enjoy, when the fall color peaks, and how late in the year you’re open. We’re waiting to hear from all you Ranchweb members!