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.

Eco-friendly and ‘green’ dude ranch vacations

Green dudes

What better way to vacation ‘green’ than to visit an eco-friendly dude or guest ranch. After all, ranches have had years of practice in being careful stewards of their lands in order to be successful.

In recent years, many dude or guest ranch ranches have gone beyond their regular practices of ensuring streams stay clean and pastures stay healthy. Now they’re actively working to make sure they use less energy, recycle, re-use, and compost whenever possible, and grow their own fruits and vegetables.

Some have harvested the power of the wind, others tap into geothermals, and a few have put lands into conservation easements, making sure they’ll stay ‘green’ for generations to come. If you want a fun, relaxing vacation that lets you stay ‘green’, think of a dude and guest ranch vacation. Here are some places to start:


Echo Valley Ranch & Spa

Echo Valley Ranch and Spa

Echo Valley Ranch and Spa

Owners Norm and Nan Dove believe that “our responsibility as stewards of the land extends to the community with whom we share this wilderness. We believe that all cultures can live and learn from each other in harmony, and make every effort that our staff reflects the traditions of many nationalities. This includes our working alongside the local First Nations peoples whose territory lies at our door, as well as with others in our local community so that we all might prosper.”

Since 1998, Echo Valley Ranch & Spa has embraced the values of a Triple Bottom Line philosophy (sustainability in environmental, social, and economic terms). Caring as much for its people as it does for the environment, the ranch has long enjoyed success as an eco-aware destination (in fact, well before ‘living green’ went mainstream).

Some of the things are possible simply because it is a ranch and not a hotel, including:

Food recycling: Echo Valley is practicing zero-waste in its food acquisition and production. “We have pigs–enough said!!”

Composting: The ranch composts everything it can for the organic vegetable gardens (including beans, beets, leeks onions, peas, salad greens, and more).

Recycling. Water: “We operate our own wells and have a large septic field so what come in goes out ( we do have ultra low flush toilets and water saver shower heads).”  Water comes from natural springs on site. Other: Guest rooms have recycling boxes for various recyclables, from paper to tin and plastic.

Energy: low energy light bulbs are in place throughout the ranch. Two self-sustaining geothermal systems heat the Baan Thai, swimming pool and Lookout Lodge. It works as a heat exchange system (owners say it’s “expensive to install but once its in, its pretty foolproof”.) Supplemental energy is generated hydraulically or with propane, both of which deliver zero to a low C02 emissions
Packaging and water bottles: They reduce the amount of package that comes into the ranch and provide all guests with stainless steel water bottles.

For more details, visit the sustainability section on their website.


Coulter Lake Guest Ranch

Coulter Lake Guest Ranch is nestled in a small mountain valley
twenty-one miles Northeast of Rifle, Colorado. Situated in the White River National Forest, the ranch is home to incredible natural beauty as well as a wide range of wildlife. That’s why being eco-friendly is so important here. Owner Jack Allard writes to tell us, “We are off the grid, using hydro, some solar, and a propane generator for our backup on all electrical needs.  And our water comes from underground springs.”

Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch

The new buzz—Going Green— isn’t new at Sylvan Dale.

According to ranch history, green practices have been in place on the ranch since 1946. Today, their philosophy—Renewable, Sustainable, Responsible— reflects their commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices.
In fact, the ranch has been green ever since the lessons of the Great Depression. “Our parents, being children of the Great Depression, knew what it meant to recycle.” Which meant that nothing was ever thrown away. “Mom recycled plastic bags, and tin foil. Dad put things in storage, saying ‘We’ll use that some day!’”

In the 1990’s, the ranch made a major commitment to go green, initiating conservation easements. To date, Sylvan Dale has preserved over 1700 acres of foothill views and wildlife habitat.

“We’ll continue to follow the example our parents set to save the planet. It is so gratifying that doing the right thing and upholding the sustainable values we have held for years have become popular and important in today’s world,” says Susan Jessup, a second generation owner of the Sylvan Dale Ranch.

Sylvan Dale Ranch has a special Sustainability logo to reflect their Sustainability Mission: “To apply practices in our daily work routine that support a sustainable operation in harmony with the natural environment through the principles of “Reduce – Reuse – Recycle”.

(Congratulations:  Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, a Ranchweb Member, was recently selected as a member of The Green Hotel Association reflecting its status as an eco-friendly place to stay.)


Buck and Spurs Guest Ranch

A  haven set in the scenic Ozark Hills, Buck and Spurs Ranch has ‘just enough comforts to let you enjoy roughing it’. The 700 acre ranch has cattle, horses, and wildlife along with 2 miles of private frontage on Big Beaver River. At the ranch, you can try your hand at fishing, swimming, canoeing, and, of course, you can ride Missouri Fox Trotter ranch horses (famed for their smooth gait) trained by a ‘Horse Whisperer’. The ranch also specializes in natural horsemanship clinics.

But when I speak to Sonny Huff about their ‘green’ practices at the ranch, you can hear the excitement in her voice. “We started several years ago adding solar and wind generated power to the ranch,” she says. “And our guests often ask for a ‘solar tour’, so we know they’re interested, too. She ticks off a list of what’s powered by alternative energy: a solar well, the lights in the new barn, a solar kiln, blowers, and fan in their small sawmill.

C. Huff (nobody has called him Cecil since his school days) confirms that  “our barn, where we train our horses, is powered by wind and solar, including our lights and small tools.” How well does it work? “When its cloudy and the solar panels don’t get a full charge, then its windy, so the combo works well.” They recently added a solar well–it has four panels and two strings of batteries that runs the pump. “So during the day, those batteries are getting a full charge, so I could potentially pump water three or four days without any sun,” he says. “And here, its unusual to have more than four cloudy days.” The ranch guests are very curious when they see the solar and wind power setup. C notes that, “I’m happy to show them how it all works!”

Initially, the cost of running electric lines to their new barn was what drove them to explore alternatives. But then, it took on new meaning. “It’s nice to know we are using nature for our power, and not adding to the problem of energy use,” Sonny notes. “And of course, there’s never a shortage of wind and sun out here!” When a recent storm blew through, knocking down power lines to the house, she explains, ‘we simply took our coffeemaker down to the barn, plugged it into the solar-powered system, and had a high old time!”


T Cross Ranch

The T Cross Ranch lies inside the Shoshone National Forest at an elevation of 7,800 feet, surrounded by an untouched country of pine forests and open meadows, trout-rich streams and small lakes, country that is scenically magnificent. This historic (1920’s-era) dude ranch is protective of its magnificant mountain setting and pristine wilderness. Threaded by trout-rich streams and dotted with breathtaking alpine meadows of the greater Yellowstone area, the T Cross is both unspoiled and environmentally friendly.
Owner Gretchen says “We have a wind turban and we raise our own beef!”  And, the ranch has “always followed the principle of treading lightly in our wilderness, leaving no trace behind.”

The ranch opened in 1918, first called the Hermitage. But to ensure that this beautiful place will always retain its original beauty, the T Cross has been on a conservation easement since 1978. Beyond that, the T Cross has gone further in the green direction:

Once you reach the ranch, most transportation is done “a horseback” (There are no excessive greenhouse gases here!). The ranch raises its own beef to ensure a high standard of quality meat with no hormones and no steroids. And, as of 2008, the ranch is powered from a wind turbine, harnessing the wind and conserving energy.

The goal of the T Cross? To “provide an opportunity for all to come and enjoy their public lands, while working toward another 90 years.” Sounds pretty good to us!


Hot off the presses: Gene Kilgore’s latest Dude Ranch Vacations guide

There’s a NEW BOOK out that wraps up the world of dude and guest ranch vacations in a neat, well-organized and well-written package. Gene Kilgore’s  Ranch Vacations 2011 ($22.95), the ultimate guidebook to all the best dude and guest ranch resorts around. Featuring more than 100 ranches across the country and the world, the guide this year takes on a new format and an easier-to-use size.  Featured on the cover is Montana’s newest ranch, the luxurious Ranch at Rock Creek.

The book, Ranch Vacations 2011, is available now on Amazon and also on Look for it!


Find our page on Facebook!

You know we love dude and guest ranch resorts. Now we’re telling the world of Facebook all about the world of dude ranching. Come pay us a visit.

We share ranch news, deals, features, and even a few laughs. Tell your friends about our new Facebook page ( on your Facebook page. And if you want to keep up with what we’re doing, become a fan and “like” us.


Eastern dude ranches, spring dude ranch vacation specials


Eastern dude and guest ranch news

You may not think about taking a dude and guest ranch vacation in the states east of the Mississippi, but there are several terrific guest ranches there, especially in New York and North Carolina. This month, we’re putting the spotlight on ranches with an eastern twist. Now’s the time to start planning your summer dude and guest ranch vacation way down east.


Clear Creek Ranch (near Burnsville)

With 68 horses on the ranch, every guest at Clear Creek Ranch is sure to have a horse suitable to their taste. Riding is big here. Just ask owners Rex and Aileen Frederick. “Riding is definitely a top priority,” says Aileen. “We offer an 1-1/2 ride in the morning, and either a 1-1/2 or 2-1/2 hour jaunt in the afternoon.” And don’t forget their lunch ride on Wednesday, and rodeo on Saturday.  “We also have what we call The Junior Wrangler Ride for kids on Friday,” Aileen adds, explaining that the Junior Wrangler Ride is a lunch horseback ride with tubing on the river after the ride. Cool!

But there’s so much more, including line dancing, carriage rides, swimming and volleyball, cookouts, and plenty of quiet spots for just relaxing. Nearby outings range from exploring the Roaring Fork waterfall, to tubing or whitewater rafting on the South Toe River, dropping a line for some fantastic trout fishing (brook or wild mountain trout), or challenging a championship golf course. For a change of pace, you can fit in visits to local craft studios.pic4

They’re not in the West, but Clear Creek takes full advantage of their position. “We are quite unique because we are the only “true” dude ranch in North Carolina, and in fact, most of the East Coast,” remarks Aileen. She notes that, while there are some other establishments with horses, “they charge extra for riding, and are more of a resort type environment.”

This year, Clear Creek is planning to offer team penning as a new activity, and they are also adding square dancing to the program, joining their popular line dancing program.

Details: Open Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day and October. Some specials: in spring and fall, they are offering 25% discount off the posted price.

Pinegrove Ranch and Family Resort
Ranchweb has a cool a new member: the Pinegrove Ranch and Family Resort. Set on 600 acres in the serenely lovely Catskill Mountains of New York, the Pinegrove Ranch is accessible by bus from New York or flights into nearby Newburgh. It’s open year- round, located in Kerhonkson, New York.

Family run and dedicated to family fun: that’s the motto of 126-room Pinegrove. And boy, do these easterners know how to entertain their ranch resort guests. The ranch boasts dozens of activities, from horseback riding to a workout in the fitness center, fishing, paddle boating on their private lake, or chilling out in the spa.

And for the kids, it’s a slice of Heaven. Sure, beside horseback riding and hiking, there is traditional outdoor fun from archery, basketball, miniature golf, and volleyball. But there’s plenty of indoor fun like laser tag, karaoke and a heated pool with a new double flume water slide, plus coin operated air hockey and arcade games. And parents needn’t worry: the kids are all right, well taken care of in the new ‘Barn Brats” program or the “Junior Wrangler” program.

Of course, while the kids are off romping around, some parents want to just relax by the pool in a classic Adirondack chair. For the rest, there’s plenty of activity in the fresh air. The resort offers three full meals a day (including special kids menus) and an all day snack bar (and in the evening, there are cocktail parties for the grownups.)

Details: Pinegrove Ranch and Family Resort offers lots of specials, from midweek summer vacation packages to family group discounts. Call 800/ 346-4626 and tell ‘em Ranchweb sent you. look for them on our website soon or click here.

Hot Deals

Spring dude ranch specials


Mountain Sky Guest Ranch

Look for exquisite service, a terrific children’s program, fine dining, and riding and hiking on more that 6,000 scenic acres. Special: Spring into paradise, May 26 – 31, 2010. Cool crisp mornings; bright, brilliant sunrises; and roaring fireplaces to curl up to in the evening. Join us in beautiful Paradise Valley, just south of Livingston, Montana, for a getaway you’ll always remember.

Details: $ 325.00 per night; includes accommodation, meals, all on-ranch activities and gratuities.
Daily Activities: 
7 a.m. Sunrise Hike; 
9 a.m. Ride or Hike; 
2 p.m. Ride or Hike.
Fly fishing instruction, Yoga classes, and an all-day ride or hike are also available.
In addition to on-ranch activities, you may want to tour Yellowstone National Park (extended stays available during our Visions of Yellowstone Package, June 1 – 7).

The Ranch at Rock Creek

Bring together Montana’s Big Sky and the Ranch at Rock Creek’s super luxury and you have a spectacular marriage. You’ll always be comfy at this amazing and beautiful ranch, where accommodations range from the Granite Lodge, the Luxury Tent Cabins, and the Log Homes. It’s near Philipsburg, MT, and is open year-round.

Amanda at the Ranch at Rock Creek dropped me a note the other day. “Just wanted to be sure you have our two latest Spring Packages!”

Memorial Day Weekend – Stay 4, get 1 free.

Validity Dates: May 20 – June 5, 2011 – This offer is not valid for groups of 10 rooms or more.  Kick off summer at The Ranch at Rock Creek.  The ranch is all about having family fun–parents and children will enjoy creating memories that will last a lifetime.  For those visiting for Memorial Day Weekend, enjoy horseback riding, clay pigeon shooting, archery, guided hikes and mountain bike treks, paint ball, photo safaris, fly-fishing Rock Creek and more. Applicable Room Categories: All Accommodation Categories Rates: Enjoy Four (4) nights for the price of three (3) Minimum Night Stay: Four (4) nights Additional Fees: Spa Treatments, reserve wine & spirits and off ranch fishing are not included. Plus note details/restrictions below.

Wildflowers and Wildlife Spring Package

Validity Dates: May 15 – June 15, 2011.  This offer is not valid for groups of 10 rooms or more. Ride through spring wildflowers and newly greened pastures looking for shooting stars, fairybells, lilies of the valley and more. Or dive into any of a number of world-class usual activities such as archery,  clay pigeon shooting,  fly-fishing Rock Creek, guided hikes and mountain bike treks, horseback riding, paint ball, photo safaris,  and more!

Uou’ll get four all-inclusive* nights in luxurious accommodations  and all Spring activities listed above, a daily children’s program, and more. The package represents a 20% Rate Discount. Applicable Room Categories: All Accommodation Categories. Rates: From $720.00 per person, per night (Minimum Night Stay: 4 nights . No Blackout Dates. Additional Fees: Spa Treatments, reserve wine & spirits and off ranch fishing are not included.

For both packages, Amanda spells out the details: “Our Rates Include: Luxury accommodations, all gourmet dining options, top shelf bar, wine and non- alcoholic beverages, horseback riding, private water fly fishing on over 4 miles of Rock Creek and several private trout ponds, hiking, archery, paintball, mountain biking sporting clays, hiking, daily children’s activities, excursions to the 19th century town of Philipsburg, Gem Mountain Sapphire mining, Silver Dollar Saloon activities including movies and television programs on our 14-foot HD screen, billiards, darts, ping pong, shuffleboard, karaoke and bowling.  Long-distance phone calls, internet access, taxes are included.  Not included: Airport transfers, reserve wines & liquor, spa treatments, and off-ranch guided fly fishing excursions. The packages are valid for new bookings only.

Contact: Reservations 406/859-6027 or by email


Tod Mountain Guest Ranch

Spring is a great time to visit the ranch. Everything is lush and green and the wildlife return to the valley after the long winter. They’ve got some great deals for guests throughout May and June.

3 Night All-Inclusive Ranch Stay – $695 per person. “Available on all dates throughout May & June, including weekends, this package is great value for those looking for a short break. This rate includes 3 nights accommodation and 2 days horseback riding.”

5 Night All-Inclusive Ranch Stay – $1,135 per person. “This package includes 5 nights accommodation and 4 days horseback riding. A great value package that is available at this rate on all dates throughout May & June.”

Mother’s Day Celebration.  May 6 – May 8; $545 per person. “This is a special time of year to celebrate Mothers and show our appreciation for all that they do. Arrive in time for dinner on Friday, and spend the weekend riding and relaxing, leaving the ranch after a special Mother’s Day lunch on Sunday. Rate includes 2 nights accommodation, horseback riding on Saturday (morning & afternoon) and Sunday morning, all meals snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, wine & beer with dinner each evening, use of all ranch facilities during your stay.”

May Long Weekend:  May 20-May 23; $745 per person. “It’s Victoria Day in BC on Monday 23rd, so that means a long weekend off work for Canadians. Arrive in time for dinner on Friday, and spend the weekend riding and relaxing, leaving the ranch after lunch on Monday. Rate includes 3 nights accommodation, horseback riding on Saturday, Sunday (morning & afternoon) and Monday morning, all meals snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, wine & beer with dinner each evening, use of all ranch facilities during your stay.”


Winter wonders at Montana’s Rock Creek Ranch

snowsceneHot Deals

In rugged Montana ranchland southeast of Missoula, lies The Ranch at Rock Creek—a guest ranch where wide open spaces and upscale amenities have been brought together. The Ranch at Rock Creek is a place that offers the feel of the ‘true West’ without sacrificing true comfort.

Visit in winter and you’ll find a balance between invigorating exercise and relaxing tranquility. Strap on your skis or snowboard and head for the downhill runs at Discovery Ski Area, just a short drive from the ranch.  You can make it into a workout in the deep snow, or just go for a leisurely stroll on one of their snowshoe specific trails.  Enjoy a sleigh tour of the ranch, or bound through fresh powder as you explore the ranch on horseback.  There are sledding hills, snowmen to build, hockey or ice skating on one of the frozen ponds. And always, the state-of-the-art Rock Creek spa awaits with a soothing hot stone massage or body wrap.

Winter Rates include: • All meals – festive menus and memorable cuisine • House wines and cocktails  • Downhill Skiing or Snowboarding at Discovery Basin with 60+ runs for all ski levels • Transportation to the Ski Area • Lift tickets • Equipment Rental  • Cross-country skiing • Snow-shoeing • Hockey • Ice Skating  • Hiking • Horseback Riding • Sleigh or Carriage Rides with hot buttered rum  • Sledding • Children’s Activities • Sporting Clay Shooting • Bowling • Billiards & Shuffle Board • Karaoke • Movies in the theatre
The Deal: Pay for three, stay four nights (when you book this special offer, you will also receive 2010 accommodation pricing). Offer valid now through April 3, 2011.


A young mom makes her first dude ranch visit

My new pal, Carolyn Flinn McCool, sends word that she’s just wild about dude ranches. Last summer, she took a ‘girl’s getaway’ with a friend to a ranch near Granby, Colorado. Carolyn was so thrilled with the vacation, she wanted to tell Ranchweb readers all about her experiences (turns out, she makes a pretty good travel writer). Here’s her report:

A Dude Ranch Vacation Is Unlike Any Other

“Someone might get hurt doing that.”  “Doesn’t interest me.”  “Too expensive.”  “A week would be too long.” Over the years I mentioned to my friends and family I wanted to go to a dude ranch.  I got plenty of looks and responses like the ones above.  Then I became reacquainted with a friend at a high school reunion and I mentioned I wanted to go to a dude ranch but no one, even family, ever wanted to go with me!  Her face lit up and she said she would love to go to a dude ranch and we should plan it!  She even pushed me along to make it a reality.  Hooray!  This trip might be possible now I thought.


I got to work.  I loved Colorado, so I had the state picked and I knew I wanted something within a few hours of a major airport.  I located dude ranches from web sites, visited their sites, and I called some of them.  From them I gathered lots of information and a woman I spoke with encouraged me there were lots of good choices; I just needed to search for what I wanted.

In my search I learned the people in the industry love what they do and offer.  I sought out ranches based on experience (hotel vs. ranch), location (remote or nearby a city), and connection with those I spoke with, and price.  I made a list of those ranches that offered what I desired and narrowed them down to four ranches.  I then surveyed these ranches more carefully–making a spreadsheet for comparison and mulling over the options for some time.

I spoke with my friend often about my finds and she kept saying what she wanted in the experience or what we couldn’t miss out on, so that drove my search.  In the end it was personal contact, however, that sealed the deal after getting the 3 R’s of ranching—price, place, and prescription.  A business that treats me like a good friend or attempts to value my thoughts while making me feel welcome has a good chance of securing my trust!


After thinking about the choice over the months, a Rocky Mountain ranch won the vote of approval.  Reflection tells me it was a great choice and my friend would agree.   I savor the memories, the moments, and the mountains still…almost daily.

I am so glad I didn’t let other’s negative or uniformed comments derail my quest to experience a dude ranch.  While I was at the ranch I kept thinking of my family and how I wished they were a part of my experience.  This was something we should have shared.   You really can get close to people, nature, and enjoy some of the best things about life on a dude ranch vacation!

A dude ranch vacation is different, so unlike most vacations.  Maybe it’s the camaraderie and closeness you feel with others sharing a meal or maybe it’s the removal from the everyday hustle of life and the beauty of the out of doors.  I am still not exactly sure why, but all I know is a dude ranch vacation may be one of the best ways to share life with those you care about while at the same time renewing your spirit.

Editor’s note: Carolyn Flinn McCool is a freelance writer with twin sons.  Making new memories and sharing something special is one of her favorite ways to experience life.


Holiday at a dude ranch

Holiday fun, ranch style. If you’re looking to escape the December craziness, crowded malls, and repetitive jingles, we can’t think of a better escape than to a guest ranch. Chose a peaceful mountain ranch wrapped in a mantel of snow, a warm California ranch getaway, or a sun-drenched Arizona guest ranch resort, then sit back and let the ranch staff take care of your meals, entertainment and decorating–you’ll be in good hands. Make it a holiday getaway, or a post-holiday respite. Either way, your winter ranch escape will be unforgettable.
Stagecoach Trails Guest RanchStagecoach trails
You’ve gotta love a ranch that’s located on a street called S. Doc Holliday Road (named for the famed Western gambler and gunman), and that’s just where you’ll find Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch. Open year-round (except June- July 13), this Arizona ranch has a ten-year history and a loyal following. You can help them celebrate their big anniversary in January. The special Ten Year Anniversary rate for January amounts to a 60 percent discount (approx).

Dates and rates: Between January 1-10, 2011.  Rate: $99 single occupancy, $79 per person double occupancy, $69 per child ages 4-11. Valid on reservations made after November 23, 2010. No minimum night stay requirement.
They’ll continue the deals with  February and March specials adding up to a roughly 50 percent discount. Dates and rates: February 7-17 and March 2-6, 2011, rates are single occupancy $119 per night, double occupancy $89 per person/per night, Children ages 4-11 cost $69 per child/per night. No minimum night stay requirement. Valid on reservations made after November 24, 2010.

The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resortalisal
Discover the warmth and spirit of the Alisal during the Holiday Season. Lavish decorations, twinkling lights, and eight uniquely themed trees transform the resort into a winter wonderland the whole family will enjoy. Set in Solvang, the Alisal offers a Locals Only Holiday Package including:
• Cottage with wood-burning fireplace  • Golf on two championship courses
• Gourmet breakfast and dinner  • Horseback riding • Fitness Center & Spa access and more.
Dates and rates: Available December 1-23 (excluding nights of December 17 & 18) on a space available basis; two-night minimum is waived.  $395 per night double occupancy*, $295 per night double occupancy (without activities)* *Must mention this ad and reside in Santa Barbara County to receive special rate.  Taxes & service charges are additional. Or buy an Alisal Gift Card by Dec. 23 for a special Holiday Package rate which can be used from January 2 – March 31,2011. (Space available basis. Excludes weekends and holidays.)


Chico Basin Ranch

Chico Basin Ranch is an 87,000-acre working cattle ranch 35 minutes southeast of Colorado Springs, Colorado. “It’s a unique experience,” notes Caroline Ferguson, Executive Director. “Our message is working together to live with the land.”cowboywithpond

Part of what is special is that the ranch is owned by the Colorado State Land Board and managed under a one-of-a-kind lease by Duke and Janet Phillips and their family. The ranch offers education and recreation opportunities for both adults and children, and the Chico Basin Ranch is a working cattle ranch that derives its main income from grazing and running cattle. For guests, Chico Basin Ranch is open-year round, but to get the full experience, most guests visit spring thru fall. That’s when they can watch or participate in the most activities–from branding to cattle drives. And you can send time with ranch hands and families. You’ll stay in on of just two guest rooms that share a bathroom, sitting room, and full kitchen. Guests cook their own meals or chose to dine in their cabin on the ranch’s chef-prepared meals.
Since it is dedicated to the enhancement and preservation of the natural world and of western heritage, as are many ranchers themselves. In philosophy and style, staying at Chico Basin Ranch is a little like being a rancher–without the worries.
Dates and rates: book any 2011 week vacation before December 31,2010 and you’ll get a 10% discount off of the weekly rate.


Lone Mountain Ranch

Hankering for a really white Christmas? You can’t miss with snowy Montana. Check out the wintery fun the holidays  at Lone Mountain Ranch. From snowshoe treks to gourmet meals, and side trip to schuss down the alpine slopes at nearby Big Sky Resort, there’s a lot to choose from at Lone Mountain Ranch. Saturday, December 18, 2010 Full Moon Snowshoe with one of our guides.  Explore the Ranch trails by moonlight!  A festive snowshoe through the woods and up to the hill to overlook the cabins and the Ranch glowing in holiday lights.  Includes snowshoes, hot cider and hot chocolate, cookies, trail pass and guide.

Christmas at Lone Mountain Ranch Christmas week has always been special at the Ranch. What a magical place to spend the holidays with snow laden trees, festive holiday meals, and the Lodge and cabins dressed in their holiday finest. Christmas week is December 19-26, 2010.  Each year we “surprise” guests with something new and special, whether it’s a Christmas Eve feast, complete with ice carvings and Santa or a Christmas torchlight ski.

Triple Creek Ranch
Turns out,  Triple Creek Ranch is set a place that happens to offer terrific winter birding–the Bitterroot Valley. With the help of guides, guests can search for the 250 species known to visit the valley (just don’t get distracted by the spectacular mountain scenery). Watch a peregrine falcon swoop from the sky at 150 miles per hour as one of their local falconers shows off her prize bird. Visit Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge to see migratory ducks, geese and swans, then move on to the CB Ranch to watch eagles and hawks soar through Montana’s big sky. Also look for majestic bull elk, moose, mule deer, big horn sheep, antelope, an occasional shy wolf and the track of the silent mountain lion. Ask for the Ranchweb Special: Nature Lover’s Birding Weekend. Dates and rates: January 21, 2011 to January 22, 2011; February 25, 2011 to February 26, 2011. Beginning at $750 per night, per couple.
Powder1smallSki Package: Triple Creek offers a new “Ski the Northern Rockies” package, with downhill skiing at Lost Trail Powder Mountain Ski Resort (shown at right) and cross-country skiing at Chief Joseph Pass, through February 28, 2011. The 4-night* “Ski the Northern Rockies” package** includes downhill ski passes, snowboard and ski rental, and transportation to Lost Trail Powder Mountain; cross-country equipment use and transportation to the eight ski loops at Chief Joseph Pass on the Montana-Idaho border; accommodations in a luxury log cabin; all meals and house wines and spirits; complimentary bottle of wine upon arrival with freshly baked cookies and trail mix; to-go lunch and snacks for all winter excursions. On-ranch activities including horseback riding, hiking, and snowshoeing.
Dates and rates: Now through the end of February, the four-night* “Ski the Northern Rockies” package is priced at $2,700 based on double occupancy (*Additional nights are available at a discount of 10% off nightly $750 rate;** Blackout Dates:  December 23-25 and December 30-January 1).

And for those who want to brush up their horsemanship skills, don’t forget Western Horsemanship Weekends. All riding levels are welcomed in, but only real cowboys and cowgirls will check out from Triple Creek Ranch after their Western Horsemanship Weekend. Dates and rates: January 7, 2011 to January 8, 2011; January 28, 2011 to January 29, 2011; February 25, 2011 to February 26, 2011. Beginning at $750 per night, per couple

Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Set in the Gila National Forest, between the Gila and Aldo Leopold Wildernesses, the Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch is located in southwest New Mexico. Cozy cabins are nestled in the pines; they are large, with fireplaces, queen beds (and bunkbeds), coffee maker, full bath/shower, reading chairs, magazines and books, snacks, table/chairs, covered porches, and a cookie jar filled with homemade goodies. Cabins are comfortably furnished in a Native American style or a Cowboy motif. Dates and rates: Open March 1 – New Year’s (Closed for Christmas, but open December 27 – New Year’s). Groups of seven or more save 10 percent.


Running -R Guest Ranch

Diane at the Running -R Guest Ranch tells us that the ranch has two specials going on. The first offering: Stay 3 nights get the 4th night free (excluding holidays).  Dates and rates: January 2, 2011 through February 28, 2011 (NOTE:  Must mention code 344 to get the discount.)  And don’t miss out on the big Running –R Guest Ranch Cattle Drive, set for February 25 through February 27. On this special three-day event, you get the chance to taste life as a cowboy as you drive cattle across the Texas Hill Country State Natural Area.  One thing’s for sure: you’ll get a lifetime of memories. But don’t delay or you will miss out on this unique experience.
Dates and rates: The cattle drive will take place rain or shine Feb 25-27. Space on the cattle drive is limited and they expect this to sell out very quickly.The cost of the three-day event is $150.00 per night for adults, and $110/night for children from 10-16 (plus tax), which includes horse and tack, park entry fee, camping fees, meals, the assistance of park wrangler guides. Check out the Texas Hill Country site at Email for more information.

The buzz about Arizona’s Elkhorn Ranch

Our friends at Arizona’s Elkhorn Ranch dropped us a note about their latest ventures into the cyber world. “Some of us are a bit reluctant to launch ourselves into the world of social networking, but luckily we have young people around to help us! Facebook and Twitter are a fun way to keep up with friends and share news, so we’re out there! If you’re on Facebook, our “fan page” is ElkhornRanchAZ. We’ve got some new photos up that you might like. If you’re into Twitter, you can get our latest “tweets” by following ElkhornRanch. And if you aren’t so keen on high tech news, rest assured Elkhorn Ranch will greet you with old fashioned paper a few times a year!’

‘We’ve also adventured onto TripAdvisor, which provides traveler reviews and opinions. We’d love to have yours on the Elkhorn Ranch listing! You can find our listing by copying and pasting this link into your browser:” Thanks to our pals at Elkhorn for the news.


Food and wine shine this month at Paws Up

Paws upA weekend of bliss, interrupted only by food and wine? That’s what they promise you’ll find this month at Montana’s
Resort at Paws Up.

If you hurry, you just might catch the Montana Master Chefs series at this spectacular ranch, set to run from September 30 through October 3. The five chefs (from the Campanile Restaurant’s Mark Peel to the Bravo TV Channel’s “Top Chef contestant Lee Anne Wong) will present cooking demos, a cook-off challenge, and featured dinners. In between, there are wilderness activities and a champagne reception. The wines are just as impressive as the schedule: Grgich Hills Estate, Merry Edwards Winery, and Trefethen Family Vineyards. Don’t miss it! Rates: for 4 days/3 nights, $4,323 per couple. Call 800/ 473-0601 or go to


What to wear for a dude ranch vacation

Ah, summer at the ranch. Horseback riding, hiking, fly fishing, oh my! But how you pack may determine whether you’re prepared for all the kinds of fun stuff you can enjoy on the ranch. A little planning goes a long way.
Going to the mountains? Prepare for every kind of weather, from summer sun to sudden showers and mountain breezes. Out on the plains, its bright sun and hot weather most of the summer. And at a California coastal ranch, you’ll have to dress for the occasional fog bank that drifts in fro the ocean (yep, even in summer). So check with the ranch, and check the forecast before you go. But relax: ranch dressing always means comfy and casual.

The basics
Jeans: Well, duh. But here’s a tip from Gene Kilgore himself: before the trip, wash all the jeans with fabric softener so you can avoid saddle sores from the rubbing of that heavy, stiff denim inseam (ouch!). Most ranches have washing machine/dryers available but if you don’t want to spend vacation time doing laundry, bring extra jeans (at least 3 pairs)19590029, socks and tee-shirts for all.

Cowboy hat: You want to fit in, like the cute pair at left, don’t you? Splurge on a good triple X felt hat.

Boots: You gotta have riding boots for horseback riding. Ranchers advise against riding in sneakers or hiking boots—your foot could slip through the stirrup or get stuck in it. But if you don’t have any, check ahead: some ranches have spare pairs of kids and adults’ boots for you to borrow while at the ranch.

Riding helmets: It’s not the wild, wild, West anymore, and most ranches recommend wearing a helmet while riding, especially for kids. Most ranches have a supply of helmets available if you don’t own a riding helmet.

Everything else
Light waterproof jacket with hood
T-shirts and long sleeve shirts
Shorts and bathing suits
Hiking boots, sneakers
Socks (at least 3 pairs)
Fleece pullovers or sweaters
Tevas/water shoes/old shoes that can get wet
Sunglasses and a hat
Sunscreen and bug spray
Gloves for riding (for morning rides)
Backpack or fanny pack


The ranch news roundup

Our report this month ranges from the snow covered valleys of British Columbia to the sunny mountains of Mexico, with news, programs, and great deals at dude and guest ranches everywhere in between. There’s still time for a late winter getaway, and it’s not too soon to start planning for a summer vacation.

Canada's Tod Mountain Ranch

Canada's Tod Mountain Ranch

Hot Deals


Tod Mountain Ranch
Tod Mountain Ranch is the perfect relaxing winter getaway,” enthuses owner Tracey O’Connell. Situated in the quiet beauty of Louis Creek Valley, it offers peace and tranquility backed by stunning views.  The lodge has a large but cozy living area with fireside lounge, TV lounge, recreation room and a dining room where they serve hearty, home-cooked meals. Accommodation in cabins provides a hint of luxury at the end of the day.

Take advantage of close proximity to Sun Peaks Ski Resort and vacation at Tod Mountain Ranch. Located only 15 minutes’ drive from the ski resort, a stay at the ranch means you can enjoy all the activities of Sun Peaks during the day, then relax in comfort at the ranch in the evening.
Details: All-inclusive rate of $110 per person per night includes accommodation, 3 meals daily and use of all ranch facilities.  Package available from Feb. 1—Mar 31, 2010.


Rancho Las Cascadas
Giddyup, amigo. Yep, you can combine a sunny, south-of-the-border getaway with traditional dude ranch fun and horseback riding. The authentic Mexican cuisine and massage/spa treatments are nice twists on the usual ranch vacation theme.

Located just 90 minutes from the Mexico City International Airport and tucked in the mountains overlooking waterfalls, Rancho Las Cascadas is something special. This month, they have some special offers coming up.
Details: Stays from Feb. 27—Mar 13, 2010 there is no single supplement on new bookings.  Visits Apr 24—May 1, 2010 include a shopping trip to famous San Miguel de Allende. And, notes Kristin, “We are also arranging Mexican Cooking Courses which will combine with a riding package. And in terms of news, we have 10 new arrivals at the ranch—boxer puppies—which will be on sale if anyone is interested!”

The Hideout Guest Ranch & Resort
From Shell, Wyoming, Natalie Longwell is calling me in the middle of a snowstorm.  “It’s snowing right now,” she says, “which is good because we’ve got a bunch of photographers here doing a photo shoot.” It’s part of a ‘winter photo safari’ trip, she explains. It’s not surprising that The Hideout Guest Ranch & Resort is popular with photographers: it’s right by the scenic Big Horn Mountains and home to ton of wildlife (including one of America’s largest wintering bighorn sheep herds).

“We’re looking forward to a busy spring and summer,” says Natalie. But before that, a host of special programs kick off. First comes the Natural Horsemanship Clinic “A new program, focuses on our fantastic horse trainers. Natural horsemanship is a quieter, more gentle approach rather than the old cowboy way of breaking the horse. You end up with calmer animals and better communication from the rider.” Then Branding Week. “Guests can ride in the spring roundup and help with the branding. It takes them back to a piece of the old West. It’s a lot of fun and they really help.” A typcial day starts with round up where all the cow/calf pairs are brought into pens and sorted. After a wonderful picnic lunch (or barbecue lunch), the roping and branding commences throughout the afternoon. Space is limited,so book soon.
Details: Natural Horsemanship Clinic (March 14-20, 2010) costs $1,633 per person/double occupancy $1,849 per person/single occupancy. Branding Week–April 11-17, 2010 costs Space is limited: $1,906 per person/double occupancy $2,029 per person/single occupancy For each, pricing is all-inclusive land only and excludes tax and gratuity. Air and transportation not included



Marble Mountain Guest Ranch
All the wet weather California has had this winter promises a fabulous rafting season this spring and summer. And there’s one dude ranch poised to take advantage of the news. Tucked into the forest at Somes Bar, California (north of Redding), Marble Mountain Guest Ranch offers mountain trails, great fishing streams, a range for sporting clays, and upscale cuisine. But whitewater rafting on the nearby Klamath River is one of their passions.

“It should be a spectacular rafting year, what with good snowpack and rainfall,” notes owner Doug Cole. And for him, rafting ranks high. “We came here as whitewater rafting outfitters, then we created this as a dude ranch to bring together the whole Western experience.” That’s the signature of the Marble Mountain Guest Ranch, adds Cole. “We don’t do horse rides all day–we bring in other experiences. We’re in the middle of a whitewater mecca, and we’re in the perfect spot to take advantage of it.”

With warm flows in the summer, great swimming, and beginner to intermediate level rapids (class II and III), the Klamath is perfect for the whole family. “The Klamath flows fairly steadily all summer long,” says Cole. Marble Mountain Guest Ranch schedules whitewater rafting and kayaking during the warmer afternoon hours (smart!) and they hit a different stretch of the river each day; shuttles take no more than 35 minutes to the launch site on any day. Talk about a cool summer escape.
Details: These guest ranch packages are all-inclusive and combine a horseback trail riding program with whitewater rafting, sporting clays, fly fishing, jet boat adventures on the Lower Klamath and other, more traditional ranch fun. Says ranch owner Doug Cole, “These unique combined activity days, our superb dining experience, and our youth buckaroo programs, create the best setting for an American dude ranch vacation that can meet the diverse interests and needs of your entire family. Our focus is not on cheap prices but on dollar value—what you can get here for an all inclusive week stay is our strength.”

Green Dudes


Zapata Ranch
Outside Mosca, Colorado, hard by the Great Sand Dunes National Park, sits the storied Zapata Ranch. Visitors here find a unique ranch experience. The ranch is owned by the Nature Conservancy, and managed by a third-generation ranch family (the Duke and Janet Phillips Family) with a unusual mission: to create a working ranching as an ecological resource base, supporting a mix of activities and always emphasizing sustainability, innovative management, and diversification. But it’s not a ‘pretend’ ranch; they work hard to maintain both economic and ecological viability.
They believe that ranchers provide an increasingly important role in the stewardship of our nation’s native rangelands.

Oh, and did we mention that they run bison as well as cattle on this 103,000-acre spread? Here in the high desert grasslands, the bison are managed as a ‘conservation herd’, meaning that they run as a wild herd. The Zapata Ranch does no branding, feeding, or weaning. Bison are gathered once a year (in November) and get sorted out to be sold for meat, tagged, vaccinated for bruccelosis, or sold to another rancher. And yes, you can buy Zapata Ranch grass fed/finished bison meat.

Nature is more than just a backdrop. The ranch borders the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, the newest National Park in America. The ecosystem includes alpine forests, creeks and wetlands, grasslands, sand dunes, and lush meadows. The ranch and surrounding San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado is a wildlife mecca where you’ll find bison, coyote, deer, elk, and birds of many species (including thousands of migrating sandhill cranes).
Details: Vacations here revolve around learning through experience, as guests learn about real ranch life and about the great outdoors. You’ll choose from three primary programs: horsemanship experience, ranch experience, or  nature experience.


Holiday ranch roundup

For our December news roundup, we’re continuing to roll out new features for the blog. Last month, we introduced Newsflash, Hot Deals, and Tips from the Ranchers. New to the blog this month: The Smart Ranch Traveler: suggestions on ways to save money on a ranch vacation. Stylish Dudes: New stuff ranchers/guests are wearing at the ranch. And Green Dudes: about new environmentally-friendly practices ranches have introduced. Happy holidays!



It’s the newest guest ranch in the West, set to open in May 2010 (but with a soft opening this month, see below). Set roughly halfway between Butte and Missoula, Montana, The Ranch at Rock Creek is a 6,800-acre ranch, anchored by the stylish Granite Lodge, with its spa, and Silver Dollar Saloon. Two private rental houses and several glam safari-style cabin/tents on platforms by the creek and in the woods augment the lodging. Lucky guests have private access to activities from sleigh rides, ice skating, cross country skiing and snowshoeing, to bowling, shooting sporting clays, and horseback riding. Inside the stone-and-timber Granite Lodge, guest rooms are decorated in iconic Western themes, but include all the comforts and luxury of a high-end hotel.

It’s all the vision of investment banker Jim Manley, who spent 30 years searching for the perfect setting for a ranch that he’d dreamed of owning since his youth (when Bonanza was his fave show). This unique combination of the authentic ranch setting with luxury amenities, five-star equivalent food and wine, and state-of-the-art facilities is right here in the American West. While the facility is new, it retains a sense of place and fits the surrounding environment perfectly. Dining room

In summer, the fun is endless: angling on blue-ribbon trout streams, mountain biking, archery, target shooting at sporting clays, hiking, or horseback riding in the famed big sky country. Nearby, you’ll find ghost towns, battlefields and museums to roam, rodeos, parades, and wildlife to watch.
At some point, after all that action, you’ll want to relax and rejuvenate at the ranch’s full service spa. Or maybe just hang out and enjoy the wine pairing, tea and cookies, and four-star level cuisine.

“Guests have exclusive use of the 6,800 acre ranch, including The Granite Lodge, Spa, and Silver Dollar Saloon, plus private access to all activities, and everything ‘big sky country’ has to offer,’ notes General Manager Paul Robertson.

Details: The ranch celebrates its official grand opening in May 2010; starting rates (includes meals, activities) in May: rooms from $800 to $950 per person per night, tents from $825 to $1150; houses rent for $5000 to $6200 per night. This holiday season, private groups may get a sneak preview. Starting on December 17, The Ranch at Rock Creek is open for private groups who book the entire facility.It includes downhill skiing at nearby Discovery Basin with 60+ runs of all skill levels, horseback riding, on-ranch cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, massage treatments, and so much more. “Share this unforgettable western destination with your best clients and they will always be grateful.” For the holiday season, the all-inclusive package price starts at $17,600 per night; for details, please call 888/-757-2624.

Smart Ranch Traveler

Northwest Nebraska

At the Ponderosa Ranch, Kim & Jeff Lund tell me that “families can save a lot amount of money with the a la carte pricing that we offer our guests”. That is offered in additional to the traditional all inclusive vacation package. Essentially, guests can choose the amount of horseback riding they wish to do and pay only for the hours they ride. Families who do not have a lot of riding experience or are not into the sport only want 1-2 hours of riding at a time and that may be all they wish to do for the entire day. The Ponderosa’s guests can then fill their day with sightseeing activities in the area, which they can pick and choose to fit their budget as well. They can also choose the number of meals they eat with our family. “Each of our cabins have their own kitchens,” say the Lunds, “allowing families on a tight budget to prepare some or all of their own meals.”
Great cost-saving ideas! And it works at Ponderosa because, as the Lunds say, “Our guests chose our ranch because its a small, family-owned operation. We only take one family at a time riding (generally 4-5 people maximum) which allows for a very personalized experience.”

Hot Deals

Holiday Packages abound this month. It’s a great way to spend a festive holiday at the ranch and let them take care of the hard work! Here’s a selection of packages:


From her desk at Sandpoint’s Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, Janice tells us, “We are trying something a little different this year at the ranch with our sleigh rides.” Indeed. They’re hosting A Simple Christmas – Sleigh Rides And Christmas Trees beginning Sunday, November 29 and ending December 19 or until trees are gone. So gather the family together, bundle up and get ready to enjoy this family outing at the Western Pleasure Guest Ranch.

First, you’ll load up on a horse drawn sleigh and ride through the forest out to the tree lot.  Pick out your own fresh cut, locally-grown Christmas tree, warm up at the bonfire, then hop back into your sleigh and ride back to the lodge where for popcorn, hot chocolate, and coffee.
A Simple Christmas—Sleigh Rides And Christmas Trees runs:
Sundays – Nov, 29th, Dec. 6th, Dec. 13th  at 3:00, 4:00, and 5:00
Wednesdays – Dec. 2nd, 9th, and 16th,  at 4:00, 5:00 and 6:00
Fridays – Dec.  4th and 11th   at 4:00, 5:00, and 6:00
Saturdays – Dec. 5th , 12th , 19th  at 11:00, 12:00 and 1:00
Reservations are required and available. Cost including tree is $90 plus tax for a family of four.
Each additional person is $15.00.  Kids five and under are free. If there is not enough snow, wagon rides will be substituted.

British Columbia, Canada

In Clinton, B.C., the Big Bar Guest Ranch offers a Christmas Package with a difference. “This year we are presenting a Danish Christmas,” our friend Susan notes. “This special Christmas will be complete with ceremonies and specialties from Denmark.” Following the Danish tradition, they’ll be celebrating Christmas on December 24.

Go ice skating, gaze at the star-filled night sky, ride through the snow, go on a dog sled trip, cross country ski, or perhaps just snuggle up in front of a crackling fire with a cup of warmth in your hands. Danish Christmas  Package: December 23–26 (3 Nights – 4 Days),
All Inclusive, Sagebrush Inn, $569.30 per couple (taxes included) – special pricing for children includes 3 Nights Accommodation (1 night free) and all meals, including special Christmas Eve Supper. Free outdoor activities: skating, snow shoeing, x-country skiing, star gazing. Activities with fees: Horseback riding, skidooing, dog sledding. All outdoor activities are weather dependent. Adds Susan, “Please let us know which activities you want to commit to at the time of booking.”

At Canada’s Tod Mountain Ranch, Christmas is a pretty big deal. “We take a traditional approach to the Christmas holidays. Our Christmas tree, which was grown here on the ranch, will be decorated with hundreds of twinkly lights and shiny baubles,” says Tracey.

During the day, relax and enjoy the comfort, calm and tranquility of the ranch. Go hiking, snowshoeing or cross country skiing on ungroomed trails around the ranch. Visit Sun Peaks Resort (just 15 minutes away) for downhill and cross country skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiles. Sun Peaks has 100 runs open on all three mountains and we hear it has snowed pretty much every day for the past three weeks. But the ranch is down in the valley with warmer weather and less snow plus the quiet, calm, relaxing environment of the ranch. Christmas Special Package: December 23- 28 ($125 per person per night). On Christmas Eve, after dinner, you can join the local ranchers at the annual carol service at our country church followed by mulled wine and mince pies back at the ranch. Dinner on Christmas Day will be a traditional Christmas feast with roast turkey, baked ham and all the trimmings. dog sledding and sleigh rides. You can even ski with Santa at Sun Peaks on 23rd and 24th December. Rate includes accommodation, all meals, unlimited non-alcoholic drinks & snacks throughout your stay and use of all ranch facilities.

Stylish Dudes


ESTANCIA LOS POTREROSEstancia Los Potreros Argentina by Astrid Harrisson Guides

Set in a lush reserve in Argentina’s Cordoba Hills, Estancia Los Potreros dates from 1574 and is deservedly proud of its heritage. Travelers to the ranch often come away imbued with the Gaucho spirit that permeates the ranch. Happily, they can take away something more tangible as well.

Shown at right is the boina headgear worn by Estancia Los Potreros gauchos. “This is the ‘new stuff’ we all wear on the ranch,” our friend Robin tells us. “They attract such respect that even the men wear them.” And you can buy boinas on the ranch.

Green Dude Ranches

We also wanted to mention the Estancia’s Environmental Memorandum, which may be reason enough for some environmentally-conscious travelers to visit the farm in Argentina. The owners have a passion for conservation and the preservation of the environment. They cherish the farm’s spring water and use wind and solar energy.

“We take inspiration from a Native American Proverb,” says Robin. “It goes: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”. Well said.

Here is an excerpt from their memorandum:
“…The horses are bred locally and the farm is the source of employment for a number of local people. The farm believe in totally organic farming; they do not use any growth hormones, pesticides, insecticides or chemical fertilizers.”

“They are careful not to overgraze and keep the stocking rate to a minimum level that allows the natural grasses to regenerate. The cattle and horses are free range and the cattle eat back certain paddocks to build natural fire breaks in the winter.”
For more, read their philosophy in full by clicking here.


Spotlight on British Columbia

aprils-horses-in-the-water-108With snow still on the ground in some parts of the U.S., it may seem early to start planning a summer getaway to a Canadian ranch. But early birds can get the best choices and some great deals.

Let’s start with British Columbia; B.C. has a wide variety of guest ranches, from traditional to high end, and Canada travel can be a great value now. Take the Three Bars Ranch (shown at left), owned by the Beckley Family and nestled up against mountains and near the St. Mary’s River.

Built in 1989 of massive logs, the main lodge and 21 cabins blend modern amenities with classic European styling. Riding is big here. Three Bars Guest Ranch has more than 110 head of horses and their horse-to-guest ratio is over 2-to-1, so they can surely find a horse to suit any rider’s ability and experience level. Besides a world-class horse training facility, you can enjoy tennis and sport courts and a heated pool and hot tub, or try hiking, mountain biking and rafting (among many activities).

But mostly, its just drop-dead gorgeous. “Three Bars Ranch is set in the crown of the continent and is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth,” says April Beckley. “With over 75,000 acres to roam there is literally no end to the possibilities for you to explore.” They often run internet deals—check their website soon.

More B.C. ranches: Don’t forget to check out Sundance Guest Ranch, south of Ashcroft, for great riding and hospitality. And for a fabulous setting and the opportunity for great adventures, try the Tsylos Park Lodge, 200 miles north of Vancouver.