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.

Winter ranches for snow fun, value vacation

SMART RANCH TRAVELER
CLazy_4Admit it—you love winter. The real thing: crisp, clean air, clouds scudding over snow-dusted mountains; inside, a hot drink beside a crackling fire awaits. Or not. Maybe at your home winter is all traffic jams and rain-slicked highways, with a cooling cup of bad coffee at your desk.

So get the heck out of that faux-season and go where real winter lives— out in clean, snow-covered ranch country. And while you’re at it, find some bargains out there!

COLORADO

C Lazy U Ranch

At Colorado’s C Lazy U, shown above, January means that all your fave winter activities are going full blast. The pond is frozen, kids are sledding down the driveway luge run and the snowcat is fired up and ready to take you out for some private skiing. Sleigh rides, snow tubing, snowmobiling and even horseback riding are on the menu.

Ice hockey, ice skating (on a pond kept smooth by Zamboni grooming), as well as snow tubing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing round out the winter sports program at C Lazy U. Don’t worry about gear—they’ll provide just about everything you will need.

Don’t worry about anything, for that matter. Personal service is a big deal here—the kind of friendly, dedicated service that can only be provided by people who love their jobs and strive to make guests feel welcome and pampered. “At the C Lazy U Luxury Guest Ranch & Resort, we go that extra mile to welcome you and make sure you have a great time: we call it 5-Spur Service and it is what makes our Colorado dude ranch “Miles Above Ordinary.”

Open year round, this may be the ultimate Colorado winter resort, with cozy fireplaces and a world-class spa with a hot tub. Ahhh…


WesternPleasure_2IDAHO

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

Another Year round ranch, Western Pleasure guest ranch offers four seasons of fun, but winter has a legion of fans. I saw this on TripAdvisor recently, posted by guests who’d taken a cross-country ski visit to Western Pleasure Guest Ranch.

“We had the most incredible day of cross country skiing at Western Pleasure Ranch. It was a glorious, sunny day when we arrived at this beautiful setting in the wilderness. We met friendly “grandma” Janice who was babysitting her two grandchildren in the spectacular lodge. She answered all of our questions and allowed us to check out one of the empty cabins. Wow! If anyone wants a very reasonable getaway, this is the place to go!! The start of cross-country trails are just a hop, skip, and jump from the lodge. The scenery along the 2-mile trail loop is incredible with views of Schweitzer, creeks, mountains and open fields of untouched snow (except for moose tracks?). When you finish cross-country skiing, drop by the lodge for coffee and popcorn. We will definitely return! G. and M., Cranbrook, BC”

Check out their “Log Cabin Getaway Ski Packages” and ski down remote hills and perfectly groomed runs in the secluded wilderness. Then, return to a cozy cabin and a crackling fire. Or try the ‘Schweitzer Ski Vacation package’, do all of that starting with a hearty country gourmet breakfast in the Grand Lodge and then travel a few miles to Schweitzer Ski Resort, North Idaho, and Sandpoint’s premier ski hill. This all inclusive ski package includes two nights lodging for two in a log cabin, one day of skiing at Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort, a romantic horse drawn sleigh ride for two, and a hearty ranch breakfast served in the main lodge two mornings. $430.00/Couple (taxes does included).

Crystal ranch-angle-rev2UTAH

Crystal Ranch Lodge and Resort

This intimate, year-round lodge is best known as a fly fishing resort, but since Utah is known around the world for winter sports (Utah hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics), they really know how to play in the snow here.

Snowmobile ‘junkies’ know its hard to find a good balance of mixed terrain and untouched snow, but the folks at Crystal Ranch can help you find it. They know the Uinta Mountains well and can help you find the best. And while the ranch is in a remote area, the road is maintained in good condition year-round so you can drive your car or truck right to the lodge.

DETAILS: For more winter trip-planning help, including finding deals, go to Ranchweb.com.

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Getting the family ready for a guest ranch vacay

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

Simple: ask Ranchweb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Getting ready for a guest ranch vacay

320GuestRanch_5SMART RANCH TRAVELER

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

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

*Want to bring a pet? It is an option at many ranches (check Ranchweb’s list of Ranch Categories/Pets Welcome). But please ask what the ranch policy is first. Many ranches prohibit pets, as their safety may be at risk (among the cattle, herd of horses, and ranch dogs). Some pet friendly ranches: 320 Guest Ranch, the Coulter Lake Guest Ranch, (below right), or the Diamond D Ranch.CoulterLake_1

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

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

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

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

*Find out if the ranch has a liquor license and, if not, what their policy is about guests bringing their own bottles. (Some ranches will let you bring your own bottles but ask you not to consume it in the public areas, in order to preserve a family atmosphere. Check ahead.)

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

*If you’re a smoker, you’ve gotta ask about the ranch’s smoking policy. In Colorado, for example, a law restricts smoking in public places so you’ll be asked to step outside before you light up. Many ranch cabins are non-smoking now, as well.

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

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

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

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How to plan your ranch vacation

SMART RANCH TRAVELER

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.

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Ranch chic: what to pack for a dude ranch trip

19590023TIPS FROM THE RANCHERS

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
Kerchief
Long sleeved shirt (with SPF rating)
Pre-washed jeans
Shorts/tee-shirts
Slacks for evening
Socks-lots of extra pairs
Sunscreen/ Lip Balm (SPF 30)
Swimsuit

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!

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Sun-drenched Arizona dude ranch getaways

SMART RANCH TRAVELER
Tanque_1
Never mind that our winter season hasn’t been as snowy and miserable as it was last year. That doesn’t mean you still couldn’t use some fun in the sun and time to stop and smell the desert wildflowers.

It’s easy to  get away for a last-minute vacation at a warm, sunny Arizona dude ranch resort vacation. Can’t you just picture yourself saddled up at your guest ranch resort and riding through a spectacular show of blooms–or just hanging out by the pool and working some color back into your skin?

When to go?  Timing the wildflower season in the Southern Arizona and Tucson dude ranch region is tricky–those darn flowers are as unpredictable as the rainfall. Anytime from February through May, is peak season for everything from purple swaths of sand verbena to red, yellow, and white cactus flowers. And when you do get a great wildflower display in the desert, it can be awe-inspiring.19590032

But which ranch to choose? Arizona ranches have much to offer. One shining jewel is Rancho de los Caballeros, noted for its Old West lodge, and championship golf in Wickenburg (79 elegant casitas).  Don Weintraub of Rancho de los Caballeros adds: “We are proud that our property is a unique combination of traditional resort and western ranch, with horseback, award-winning golf, trap & skeet shooting, tennis, full-serice spa, and gourmet cuisine.”

The resort was recently chosen as one of Arizona’s best by Golf Weekly. Weintraub notes, “If a golf escape is what you’re looking for, our ‘Golf Getaway’ has everything you need. Play the award-winning Los Caballeros Golf Club and stay at The Ranch for a visit full of long drives, low scores, and resort-scale amenities.” Call 800/684-5030 or e-mail reservations@sunc.com for more info or to make reservations.

And Elkhorn Ranch is loaded with family-friendly fun, wide-open spaces, and bountiful meals served family style. At an altitude of 3,700 feet, the ranch is surrounded by the high peaks of the picturesque Baboquivari Mountains and the open desert of the Altar Valley.Elkhorn provides plenty of country for relaxed walks or vigorous hikes and other activities for those who choose not to ride. The tennis court and fifty foot heated pool supply fun and relaxation for kids of all ages, along with shuffleboard, ping pong and horseshoes. Bring your camera and binoculars – the wintering birds of Southern Arizona are numerous and colorful, views are magnificent and spring flowers can be glorious. And Family-friendly Bar 10 Ranch is near the Grand Canyon, with hearty ranch meals and genuine western hospitality (and high altitude, so summer is high season here).  Their Three-Day Outdoor Odyssey showcases the grandeur and history of the Grand Canyon and Arizona Strip. “Descend back in time as you traverse the heart of the Grand Canyon, learning the colorful history of Indians, ranchers, homesteaders, and outlaws who inhabited and hid out in this primitive land.” This package is all-inclusive including meals, lodging, and cowboy guided activities such as ATV tours, extended horseback rides, hiking, ranch demonstrations, living history, and free time activities. Add an additional day and night to your odyssey and book our four-day outdoor odyssey. Three-Day Outdoor Odyssey from $567.00/person

If you’re seeking a luxe hideaway, Hidden Meadow Ranch near Greer boasts an elegant log main house and 12 luxury log cabins. Their Valentine’s Day package is a pip, with a 2-night stay in a 900-square-foot private, luxuriously furnished log cabin. “Our getaway includes all your gourmet meals in front of a crackling fire in our beautiful Ranch House plus, on one night, a champagne toast before dinner followed by our “Two Hearts Eat as One” special dessert selections, a complimentary rose petal and chocolate heart truffle turndown, and a CD of romantic music to play and keep. You can also decorate a handmade Valentine’s sugar cookie for your sweet sugar!” Sweet. Book soon; since Valentine’s Day is on Tuesday, February 14th, this package is available from Friday, February 10th, through Tuesday, February 14th.

Both White Stallion Ranch and Tanque Verde Ranch outside Tucson have stellar reputations as resorts with lots of variety in family friendly amusements: nature walks, swimming, gourmet cuisine, along with the kind of classic southwestern design and décor that many clients come for.

At White Stallion Ranch, act fast and you can join the Dawson Bridge Vacation (February 6 thru February 10, 2012) and brush up on your card-playing skills (cost: $1,050 per person double occupancy, $1,321 single; includes tax and service charge; Does Not include riding). Call 888-977-2624.

And at Tanque Verde, you can swing a racket or swing into the luxe little spa. Check out Tanque Verde’s ‘Last Minute Vacancies’ for special rates for accommodations that are ready and waiting. Or try the ‘Back in the Saddle’ package (available| January 10 – February 29); Book 3 nights, get the 4th night free (Valid for stays taking place through March 4, 2012 ); 25% savings with rates starting at $225 per person/night. You get deluxe lodging, 3 daily meals, daily activities. Ahhh! Take me away.

Details: Need more help with your selection? Don’t forget how easy it is to simply turn to Ranchweb for help. To begin, click on Selecting A Ranch and you’ll see groupings of ranches by lists of all the options that various ranches have to offer, from riding, fishing, and cattle drives to spas and luxury options. If you’re looking for deals, click on Travel Bargains on the Ranchweb.com home page. It’s another handy sorting tool.  For a wildflower update, go to
www.desertusa.com/wildflo/wildupdates.html

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Mom, writer, dude ranch fan: Nancy Schretter

IMG_3807SMART RANCH TRAVELER

At the recent Dude Ranchers’ Association Annual Convention in Cody, Wyoming, one of the keynote speakers was Nancy Schretter (at left), Managing Editor of The Family Travel Network. That’s the award-winning family travel site featured on the The Today Show, CNN, America Online, Parents Magazine and in USA Today.

Ranchweb’s own Gene Kilgore attended the conference and was impressed with Schretter’s talk. “It was upbeat and positive,” says Kilgore, “ explaining how much guest ranches have to offer to families and how guest ranch owners can position a ranch vacation as a multisport family travel outlet.” So we set out to learn more about Schretter and her online Family Travel Network (FTN).

Launched in 1995, FTN serves readers as an’ unbiased source of family travel advice, reviews, bargains, and articles by travel industry experts’. According to the website, FTN is the nation’s ‘oldest and most comprehensive free online site devoted exclusively to family travel and planning great vacations with kids’. Based in McLean, VA, FTN is produced by Beacon Interactive, a division of The Beacon Group, Inc.

FTN’s Managing Editor, Nancy Schretter,  is an award-winning travel journalist and editor, mom, and a busy gal. But in between deadlines, we pinned Schretter down for a brief chat with her to talk about how she got into the world of family travel,  how dude ranches can work best in a families’ vacation plans, and how ranchers can work smarter to appeal to families.
Here is Ranchweb’s  Q&A session with Schretter:
Ranchweb: How did you get started with FTN?

Schretter: The Beacon Group (parent company of the Family Travel Network) was publishing  newsletters in 1995 and we saw the need for more information on family and multi-generational travel. America Online (AOL) came to us to talk about partnering to take some of our other newsletters online. I told AOL about the family travel newsletter and they suggested that we do it online with them. It turned out to be a winning combination—we launched and grew with AOL, reaching hundreds of thousands of families. Eventually, we moved out onto the Internet where our content can be seen by everyone.

Ranchweb: How is FTN’s coverage different from other travel sites?

Schretter: The Family Travel Network is an independent, award-winning online travel magazine providing unbiased coverage of family travel destinations and lodging options. The site provides extensive firsthand destination information and city guides; detailed reviews of resorts, cruises and lodging options; lots of family trip planning advice; a wide variety of vacation ideas; “been there-done that” family travel tips; money-saving hot deals; and more. We do not sell travel of any kind, so we can cover whatever we think is best with no hidden agendas. Our articles are written by seasoned family travel journalists and travel industry experts who are also moms and dads who travel extensively with their own families. Our coverage is widespread, so we have information on great family places that are around the corner or across the globe.

Ranchweb: We heard you’ve taken a ranch vacation in New York. What did you love most about your dude ranch trip?

Schretter: Our family loved the horses, the outdoors, and all of the cool things there were to do. My kids and I were very into horses and animals, so that was a huge attraction. There were lots of activities that we could do as a family, which made for great memories and bonding experiences. In addition to all of the horseback and pony rides, there were sports activities, water fun, kids programs and lots of evening activities, too. The kids liked the sing-alongs. We packed a ton of fun into our short time there. The fact that it was all-inclusive was also a big plus.
Ranchweb: How can the dude ranching industry (and ranches specifically) work harder to get its message out to the world of family travel – especially to moms?

Schretter: Picking the right ranch can be a confusing process, and Moms are always stressed for time when searching for the perfect family vacation. That’s why I love Ranchweb. It’s a great informational resource for families. Ranchweb cuts through all the Internet clutter and helps parents find the perfect match between their family’s need and interests and what individual ranches offer. That’s a real time saver!

When I started looking into ranches, I was blown away by the number and types of ranch experiences that are available for families. There are so many different options, and there’s definitely a ranch to suit almost every type of family. There’s no one “set” ranch experience, so it’s important to get rid of any preconceived notions. Parents need to understand that there are also so many different things that families can do on a ranch. It’s more like a multi-sport vacation: you can do horseback riding, hiking, fly fishing, rafting, swimming, mountain biking, and so much more. It’s impossible to get bored!

Moms need to hear how well a ranch vacation works for all ages – from younger children, ‘tweens and teens all the way up to grandparents. Ranches need to get their message out to everywhere moms are: online, via social media, print, and broadcast. It’s also important to hear the message from moms who have taken ranch vacations so they can get firsthand information and an accurate feel for all the activities and what makes ranches so great for families. I also think that people need to understand how great the owners and staff are. That’s definitely a big part of the ranch vacation appeal. It’s families catering to families, and that makes it very special.

Ranchweb: Thanks, Nancy! We hope moms who follow the Family Travel Network will try Ranchweb to help them in their search for the perfect ranch vacation. And we’ll make sure to ask our readers to take a gander at The Family Travel Network.

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Holiday gifts from ranch country

P1000132SMART RANCH TRAVELER

A perfect stocking stuffer for ranch vacation planning

Everybody’s doing more vacation plan-ahead work these days. It’s one way to save time, money, and hassle. And now is a good time to begin the planning process for your big summer getaway. Sure, you could surf the web (that’s what Ranchweb is for), but sometimes there’s nothing better than a real, honest-to-God book, with color photos to pour over, and tactile pages to flip through as you dream about the perfect ranch vacation with your loved ones.

There’s nothing better, more accurate, or up-to-date than Gene Kilgore’s Ranch Vacations 2011; ($22.95), now available on Ranchweb.com and on Amazon. On the cover: Wyoming’s newest, The Ranch at Rock Creek. Its a great way to find dude ranch deals, value vacations, backcountry getaways, and the best dude ranch food and wine. Inside, a total access guide to more than 100 great ranches across the West, the USA, and the world. It’s got details on pricing, dining, kids’ programs, plus loads of color pix, all in a handy glovebox size–a great stocking stuffer (just try stuffing a web page into that stocking).

WESTERN WEAR AND GEAR

Gifts right from the ranch

Sometimes, you want a memento from that long-ago ranch vacation. Where to find ranch-y things? Well, some ranches let you shop for their own branded, logo-ed duds and goodies online.

CALIFORNIA

Alisal Guest Ranch

Alisal Ranch’s online store offers hats and gear, gourmet products, jewelry, spa products, branded apparel and gift cards. Here’s how they put it: “From a variety of Alisal-branded apparel, to our signature spa products, to Chef Pascal’s renowned barbecue blends, you will surely find the perfect gift for a family member, a friend or yourself. If you have any questions about a product that is offered in our General Store, please contact Guest Services at 805/686-7700.” At the site, you can choose from four of Chef Pascal’s custom spice blends. Also available are the Ranch’s Old Adobe Pancake Mix and its very popular granola blend. New from their sterling silver jewelry collection is the ranch’s popular charm bracelet with an Alisal brand charm (natch!). Every year a new charm will be introduced. Spa Products feature their signature Woodland Sage scent.
MONTANA
The Resort at Paws Up

Seeks out treasures of the West, some molded by hand, others by the hand of nature, but always “crafted with a spirit of adventure,” says the resort. Don’t look for typical western wear here. The hand-selected items are split into categories: Clothing and Apparel, House and Home, Montana food and snacks, and accessories and jewelry, it’s all unique. Want to bring a little of the flavor of the Rockies into your home? The Montana huckleberry honey, huckleberry jam or syrup will remind you of those high mountain berries every time you pop it into your mouth (for $8 and up). For more expensive tastes, order up a Silver Paw Belt Buckle (a hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind belt buckle made by a local Montana silversmith) for some $1,200. And there’s a lot in between.

COLORADO
How about a really BIG present?

How about buying a piece of a real dude ranch? You can at Colorado’s C Lazy U Ranch. As they put it, “Our guests only get to spend a week here, but owners can experience it as often as they wish for generation after generation and in every season. Inquire about our Colorado land for sale or our mountain homes for sale. Become a member of our happy vacation real estate community…become one of the family.”

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