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.

Nifty travel websites


We know, there are a million of ’em: travel-oriented websites. You already know about Kayak, Yahoo, Orbitz, Trip Advisor, Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity and the rest. Because anyone who has flown recently has had to search for cheap tickets online and those sites do that job well.

But before search engines like Google and Bing existed (aka the Dark Ages), if you wanted to find other interesting travel sites, you had to get the web address from a friend just to find them. Frankly, we still like the personal touch, so we’ll tell you about some of our favorite travel sites. They can be a good way to find out about deals, last-minute travel bargains, and tips from those in the know.

The Lonely PlanetLonely Planet home

We love this site just because it has stuff you’ll never find on those other sites. For example: Italy’s Regional Pizzas; the Glutton’s Guide to New Orleans; and the Worst Travel Pick-up Lines. It reminds us that travel should, after all, be fun.

The Virtual TouristTravel Guides, Hotel Reviews, Photos, Forums, Deals

Quirky, unusual, and independent. That describes what you’ll find here because a lot of the content is posted by members. The Travel Guides give you the inside scoop from fellow travelers and locals. The Hotel Reviews section rates more than 262,000 hotels. And the Travel Forum tells you what’s on the minds of travelers right now. One recent question: “Well its only 2 weeks to go until my first ever cruise, does anyone have any usefull do’s or don’ts on the art of cruising ?” got a lot of helpful replies.

The Travel Channel

Sometimes a video says it best. When you want an actual look at the destinations you’re considering, the Travel Channel has a vast store of videos of top travel sites to check. Right now, they have Sexy Weekend Getaways, the world’s most decadent chocolate tours, and more all geared to Valentine’s Day (which has now become Valentine’s Week, it seems).

Going overseas? Then this is your number one site, listing consular services for US citizens abroad, Visa services for foreigners, links to foreign consulates, visa fee tables and downloadable passport forms. And for faster info, check their Facebook page.

And of course, no matter where you are headed, you have to know what to expect weather-wise. So try to get the latest flight delays and airport weather conditions. At The Weather Channel you’ll get more than the basics: maps, videos, news, trip planner and so much more.


Home, home on the Facebook range


If you haven’t stopped by the Ranchweb Facebook page lately, give it a try. You’ll connect with some awesome people and enjoy their exchanges. They’re moms, dads, kids, ranch owners, horse lovers and lovers of all things Western, from Patsy Cline to polo.

Our Facebook fans are thoughtful, funny, philosophical, kind, upbeat, and enthusiastic. You’ll find everything from a kid’s first reaction to a dude ranch stay, to video of a bison roundup, tips from ranchers, a blog story about a romance, and amazing photos.

Here’s a sample of some of the more interesting thoughts posted on our Facebook home page recently:
Red Rock Ranch
We had a wonderful first week!! I would like to share a statement by one of our guests, Ronny (10 yrs old) – Mom, this is so much better than a hotel, you get to know everyone, they like.. all become your friends.. it is so cool. To me that sums up a great first time dude ranch visit. Doug.
“Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Zapata Ranch added a video from June 2012 to their timeline.
We moved a few cows and a handful of yearlings to a new pasture this morning and left them enjoying the lush grass surrounding the the pond.

# Vista Verde Ranch
Congratulations to newly engaged couple, Kelly & Mike! We were are honored to have been part of your special moment…

(a link to the blogstory about the romance followed)

White Stallion Ranch, Tucson, AZ
Our world and our lives have become increasingly interdependent, so when our neighbour is harmed, it affects us too. Therefore we have to abandon outdated notions of “them” and “us” and think of our world much more in terms of a great “US”, a greater human family.
~ dalai lama~
Horseshoe Canyon Guest Ranch
The great thing about a dude ranch vacation is you can wear yourself out or just sit back and relax.
Three Bars Cattle and Guest Ranch
Welcome to all of our new fans 🙂 It’s the start of another great week here at three bars 🙂 the weather is beautiful today and the horses are enjoying their days off out on pasture!
Rankin Ranch
This evening was our first summer Steak Fry in front of the original Rankin home. It is such a gorgeous evening.

Details: Just sign up to Facebook if you haven’t already (it’s free), and give the site a try by hitting the Like button. You get messages about deals, inspirational thoughts, horse news, ranch news, and some awesome pix.


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!


Yoga + riding at Colorado’s C Lazy U Ranch


A relaxing yoga session sounds great anytime, but it’s even better in a setting as lovely and peaceful as a dude ranch. And since horsemanship is at the crux of Colorado’s C Lazy U Ranch experience, C Lazy U is offering for the second year its unique combination: A yoga and riding program. It’s called The Julie Goodnight riding and yoga retreat for women (that’s Julie at right).

Located at the headwaters of the Colorado River and in the shadow of Rocky Mountain National Park (just two hours from Denver International Airport), C Lazy U is a true retreat from the stresses of everyday life.

In cooperation with Julie Goodnight, the riding and yoga clinics take place May 18-21 and October 19-22, 2012. The internationally-respected trainer and clinician, Julie Goodnight, teaches riders how to be their horse’s leader and master their equestrian skills through understanding horse behavior. C Lazy U’s clinic is developed for riders of all levels, from beginners to advanced riders.

In tandem with the riding program, attendees will also enjoy yoga from instructor Ellen Mesaros, teaching Anusara yoga. In their free time, participants are encouraged to indulge at the “Lazy U” spa for world-class massages, facials and more.

The ranch will also offer a ranch riding adventurefor adult riders of all levels September 21-24, 2012, also in cooperation with Julie. All three weekends feature discounted rates for world-class accommodations with programming, riding, and yoga (during the yoga weekends) included. Some participants will bring their own horses and others will work with one of the Ranch’s 175 horses.

A sample itinerary 7:30 Breakfast, open seating; 9 Group One: Riding lesson; Group Two: yoga; 10:00 Break  10:30 Group One: Yoga / Group Two: riding lesson; 12:00 Lunch 1:30 Group One: riding lesson; Group Two: trail ride or free time;3:00 Group One: trail ride or free time; Group Two: riding lesson; 5:00 Yoga stretch for everyone;  6:30 Cocktails;  7:00 Dinner is served!  8:00 Horse talk around the campfire.

Details: C Lazy U offers a selection of 38 rustically-elegant cabin accommodations. All guest rooms boast beautifully-crafted western and southwestern style furnishings, and most feature stone fireplaces, refrigerators, sitting rooms, balconies, and some, a jetted tub. For more on C Lazy U, visit Ranchweb.


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!


Autumn leaves: falling for a dude ranch


fall color ranch“Split rail fences zig-zagging into golden groves of aspen. Chocolate brown horses stepping across a meadow. A tangerine alpenglow melting over the top of a nearby mountain. Those are some of the hues of a typical fall day around some dude ranches. You see, not all of the Ranchweb ranches close for the season at summer’s end.”

That’s how we started the Ranchweb blog three years ago this fall. Today, the blog and the Ranchweb home site that the blog springs from still anchors our place in new media. But recently we launched a Facebook page that opens up another door of communications between Ranchweb members and those who love ranches and are eager to know more about them. The latest hot info about them.

So now, as the kids are back in school and the autumn leaves are turning in the mountains, it’s a good time to reflect. Maybe this is your time. A time to treat yourself to a guest ranch weekend with a little leaf-peeping on the side. Here are four choices. but they aren’t the only ranches with fall color right now (if you hurry). For more, roam around the Ranchweb home site, pardner…

Hidden Meadow Ranch

Celebrate autumn at this luxury ranch, set in eastern Arizona’s White Mountains and bordered by majestic national forest. Near the historic town of Greer, Hidden Meadow Ranch is an escape from urban life—a peaceful retreat for relaxing in a hammock under the whispering pines or for reveling in the wonders of nature. At 8,500 feet, the aspen are turning fast.
Details: Fall Foliage Package: October 1-18. “Book three nights during the most beautiful time of the year in the White Mountains, and receive a scrapbook, compliments of Hidden Meadow Ranch. Fall brings the changing of the color of the Aspen leaves to vibrant yellows and golds. Imagine riding a horse beneath a canopy of colored leaves. It is a sight to see! Not to mention the cool mountain air that gives you a break from the heat. Bring your camera and fill your scrapbook with amazing photographs of fall color! The aspen trees are quivering with excitement for this beautiful time of year.”

Hunewill Guest Ranch

Just east of Yosemite National Park in the lush Bridgeport Valley, the Hunewill Ranch is a family-owned and operated. Here, the big attraction is great horseback riding. Ride through shimmering groves of aspen. Bring your rod and reel: streams and lakes in the beautiful Bridgeport Valley offer an angler’s paradise. Or kick back in the evening with cookouts, roping lessons, hayrides, some bingo, square and round dancing, campfires and sing alongs. Its fun the old fashioned way.
Details: October 7-11, Columbus Day Weekend 4 Night Stay. You’ll love riding your horse through this 26,000 acre expanse of cool lush meadow, bordered by timbered peaks. Hunewill offers you a full ranch experience, including evening activities such as talent night, family dance night, barbecues on the creek, or watching as young foals and yearlings are being gentled. There is world class trout fishing in the nearby East Walker River, and in the many lakes and streams in the adjacent Toiyabe National Forest. Home style meals are served in the dining room in the founder’s Victorian ranch house. You’ll stay in comfortable cottages near the horse pasture; allowing you to watch the horses come thundering in early each morning.”

Coulter Lake Guest Ranch

Enjoy the unspoiled scenery in the remote White River National Forest of northwestern Colorado. This year-round resort fall colors mid September into early October (hurry!) from groves of quaking aspen. The ranch is also open for hunting season, September thru November. Details: after Labor Day, low season rates apply. “Full American Plan includes all lodging, meals, horseback riding, swimming, hiking, children’s programs, trout fishing (in our private lake), and all evening activities. For a 6-Night stay: Arrive Sunday after 3pm and depart Saturday by 1pm after lunch.
For a 3-Night stay: Arrive after 3pm and depart by 1pm on the day of your choice.”

Red Rock Ranch

Fall is for fly fishing at Red Rock. The ranch is home to over 2.5 miles of private fly fishing water. Crystal Creek flows through the Red Rock Ranch, and it’s a famous fishery, noted for abundant native Snake River (Fine Spotted) Cutthroat Trout. Angling on the private waters of Crystal Creek is for fly fishing/catch and release only with barbless hooks. The ranch offers a guide service with local fishing experts who know the subtleties of this stretch of water (please book fly fishing guides in advance; service rate can be added to your final billing). Details: The weekly all-inclusive per person rates include cabin accommodations (keeping an authentic western ranch feel), a private sitting area and sun porch, all ranch meals and snacks, complimentary house beer and wine during nightly cocktail hour and through dinner service,  ranch activities, horseback riding, kids program and fly fishing on stocked ponds. The rates for a six-night all-inclusive vacation (Sunday through Saturday) are: Adults 13 yrs. and older – $1,925; Children 6-12 yrs. – $1,425.


Ranch etiquette: how to tip at a guest ranch

Whether you’re at a restaurant, on a cruise ship, or visiting a guest ranch, knowing just how to tip can make you look like a sophisiticated world traveler…or a rube just off the boat. First, policies vary depending on the ranch, so you won’t be out of line by asking about tipping policies when you book your reservations. At one time, rates usually didn’t include gratuities, but that is changing. Some ranches now add on a gratuity of about 16 percent (of your total bill)  ‘for your convenience’ and are up front about it when you book. But do ask: an intimate, family-run ranch might have very different attitudes about tipping than a large, complex ranch.

Also, when you book outside excursions, you’re often expected to tip the outside guides (such as raft operators, fishing guides) directly (but ask ahead). Same goes for special services at the ranch, like a spa treatment; in that case, figure 15 percent as a base.



Take a tumble for Tumbling River Ranch

A mid-sized, family run ranch (capacity 50-55 guests), Tumbling River Ranch is best known for it’s fun-filled children’s and family programs. But the big news, say co-owners Scott and Megan Dugan, is in their shoulder seasons. “We’ve been really expanding our wedding offerings–just in the spring and fall–since we built a new Recreation Hall,” says Scott. “That gave us the space and options to hold events like weddings. Each wedding takes over the whole ranch, so wedding guests have their privacy. What makes a ranch a good choice as a venue for nuptials? “It’s a destination wedding-so guests who come here get a mini-vacation, too. That’s nice for everyone,” notes Scott.
“We don’t do it during our normal dude ranch season, so it doesn’t intrude on other guests,” notes Scott. And the new red hall has created a better venue for the ranch’s evening programs during dude ranch season: live music, square dancing, and such. So if you’ve got nuptials pending, consider heading for Tumbling River Ranch. “We’re on Guanella Pass, on the Front Range, about an hour from Denver, comments Scott.

Details: They’re open for weddings the last week in June and first week in Aug thru September (and may expand into October).


Brush Creek Ranch, Lost Valley ranch news


The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch


Wyoming’s newest guest ranch, The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch aims to offer something different. In talking to Michael Williams, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the ranch, we ask him what sets the ranch apart. “We want to be different from a typical dude ranch,” he notes, “so we have so much to offer in terms of activities: in our selection and availability, and our four-season range of activities.”

At Brush Creek Ranch, guests may explore more than 50 miles of spectacular wild country. Choose your adventure: roam by hiking, biking, trail running, horseback riding or angling. Swing into the saddle on guided rides or cattle roundups. You’ll be offered instruction from the best riders around: individual instruction, clinics, and trail rides. Then you can canter across some 13,000 acres and 50 miles of trails or work your horse in the indoor arena.

Cast a line into the North Platte, or challenge the private waters on Brush Creek Ranch, and you’ll be assured of an unforgettable fly fishing experience. Choose waders or drift boat, or start out with pond fishing on the ranch (a great spot for beginners). The fly fishing is multi dimensional, from the North Platte River to nine miles of private water and those five stocked ponds. Why so many stocked ponds? “Because we want to tell guests that in high water-which is what we’re in right now-they can still fly fish here,” Williams explains. Levels are way up on Brush Creek and the North Platte—too high for good angling right now.

Learn more about the ranch with a Ranger Tour, a guided tour with a narration of Brush Creek Ranch’s storied history and its sustainable plan. Or tackle a mountain biking escapade—guided or solo—exploring a trail system and challenge course designed by endurance and adventure sport racer Mike Kloser.

Into hunting? “In season, guests will be now be able to hunt for chukars and pheasant, as well as Wyoming’s famous bigger game.” The Brush Creek Bow and Gun Club has a ten-station sporting clays course, a five-station skeet course and competition archery, plus its own casual clubhouse. In the fall, the ranch offers “a limited number of big-game hunts for antelope, deer, elk, moose, buffalo and mountain lion.  Guests can also experience one-on-one or two-on-one guided Wyoming hunting excursions.”

Still have some energy left? Try paintball, geocaching, or orienteering right at the ranch. With all the adventures, bring your own gear or use the equipment provided by the ranch

And don’t worry about getting bored here. “We literally have up to 20 activities going at any one time,” Williams says, “and we have capacity for 150 people in those activities, so rarely will you want to do something you can’t do.”

“But let’s talk food and beverage,” Williams insists, “because it’s not an afterthought here.”  He tells us that the ranch chef is a Culinary Institute of America (CIA) graduate and offers a variety of ‘distinct culinary experiences, each uniquely inspired by the character of the Rocky Mountain region’, from casual to sophisticated. “Plus we have many places to dine,” Williams adds, “from the elegant Trailhead Lodge to an open air chuckwagon and our creekside dinner camp. We can do multiple groups at once, and they won’t even bump into each other.”

Details: Pricing is all-inclusive (per unit, not per person), so a cabin costs x amount, for however many are in your cabin (to its stated maximum). All food and beverage (including premium beer, wines, and spirits), all dining and activities on ranch are included; gratuities are a simple 10 percent service fee added upon checkout.



Kid-friendly: Colorado’s Lost Valley Ranchpic1

When it comes to a great choice for families with children, one venerable ranch leaps to mind— Lost Valley Ranch in Deckers, Colorado. When Walt Disney stayed here years ago he suggested, “If I had this place, I’d do all that I could not to change its character.”

Owners Bob and Karen Foster have stayed true to Disney’s advice, which is why Lost Valley remains such a wonderful place for families. Children’s programs range from supervised crafts, nature walks, and storytelling for the younger ones to riding, river tubing and dances for the teens.

But while they love the kiddies here, there’s also a ttime set aside for adults only. Several times, in fact. Coming up: Fall Cattle Week Round Up: Sept. 25 – Oct. 2. Fall Colors Week Sept. 18–25. Horsemanship Weeks Ride Ride Ride: Sept. 18–25. Wegener: Sept. 11–18. Krause: Oct. 9–16. Check the ranch’s brochure for details on these special weeks.

And if your corporate or company group wants a really memorable meeting getaway, consider getting lost–at Lost Valley Ranch. Lost Valley Ranch offers a variety of special rates to groups during Spring and Fall. Rates are based upon number in your party (up to 65 members), length of stay, arrival date, number/type of accommodations required and special services/activities you may require.

While the ranch celebrates tradition, it hasn’t let technology pass it by. Check out the photo gallery on their website or take a peek at their live webcam.

Details: Season is March through November. Spring (March 1 – May 22, 2011) and Fall (September 3- November 28, 2010), minimum stay is two nights. Summer (May 27 – August 28, 2011), minimum stay is seven nights, from Sunday to the following Sunday. Located near Deckers, the ranch is some two hours from Denver or Colorado Springs.

Tips from the ranchers

What to know before you go

When you pick your guest ranch and book your vacation, you’ll find that a lot of key information is right there on the website (either on Ranchweb or the ranchs’ own site). But every ranch is different, so make a quick call to your chosen ranch so you can brush up on some particulars before you go. Here are some of the details you should ask about.

–If you just gotta stay connected, ask about cell phone and internet service; both are possible at more and more ranches, but be sure to confirm it.

-Scope out out how many kids of your own children’s ages will be there during your visit; the answer may determine whether your child will need to bring that Gameboy or not.

-Find out what is included in the rate. Typically, rates are all-inclusive, covering meals, horseback riding, all facilities, children’s and teen supervision, special programming. But sometimes extra options—spa treatments, trap shooting or fly fishing school—are extra.

-Check what activities beside riding, hiking, and fishing you need special clothes or shoes for. You may want to add a skirt or your dancin’ shoes for that square dancing evening.

-Clarify check- out and check-in times—they’re different from most hotels. Often, you’re okay to check in at 2 PM and asked to check out by 10 AM (exceptions are made individually).

-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.

-Medical needs are an issue for some guests. Ask if their staff is Red Cross First Aid certified and where the nearest hospital emergency room is located and how long it takes to reach. If your family members have serious medical issues, you may want to select a ranch that’s fairly handy to a major city.

-If you’re a smoker, be sure to ask about the ranch’s smoking policy. In Colorado, for example, a new 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.

-Don’t assume Fido will be welcome. 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).

We thank our friends at the Lost Valley Ranch for their help in compiling this list.

June news at Colorado’s Vista Verde Ranch

Our pal Stephanie, at Vista Verde Ranch, tells us that Steamboat Springs’ snowpack made history this year.   “As we get ready to open on the first weekend in June, I’m happy to report that the summer views at Vista Verde will be especially green (hence the name vista verde).”

Steph also told us about some new programs at Vista Verde, like My Horse Said What? “A horse can say some amazing things – if you know how to listen. At Vista Verde, guests are eager to learn theories of horsemanship and how to communicate with their horses. Our in-depth riding clinics and trail instruction forever change the riding experience by teaching guests to hear what their horses are saying – and how to talk back effectively.”

Next is: Why is Santa Yelling? “Holidays are often more stressful than fun. Smart families have a great strategy for managing holiday stress: leave it behind. In recent years, Vista Verde has seen more guests giving the gift of a holiday getaway. Guests trade endless shopping, cooking, cleaning and entertaining for sleigh rides, sledding and back country skiing. Even Mom gets to relax while the family spends time together and creates memories that last a lifetime.”

Final new program: Win-Win for the Family. “Some family resorts entertain the kids while the parents watch. Others stash the kids with babysitters while adults play. Here’s a novel idea: a vacation for parents and kids. Vista Verde’s kids and teen programs offer a slew of “can’t do it at home” activities such as a kid’s rodeo and outdoor rock climbing. Parents have just as many choices, from mountain biking to wine tasting and herding cows.  And there are plenty of chances for kids and parents to have a great time playing together.”

Thanks for the update, Steph!


How to pick the perfect dude ranch; spring ranch vacations


Tips from the ranchers

Match the right dude and guest ranch with your family’s needs

Our mission at Ranchweb is to help you match the right ranch with your family. When you get that perfect match, you can form a lifelong connection, and have a dude ranch vacation you’ll never forget. But what kind of ranch to visit–luxury resort, working cattle ranch, kids-oriented or spa-oriented, or a combo of several types? And do you want to go to Wyoming, Colorado, or a state much closer to home? Given the hundreds of dude ranches there are, finding that match can be like, well, herding cats.

At we’re here to help. Gene Kilgore and his team have personally visited  ranches throughout the world, and have documented all the details (and photos) you could ever want about hundreds of ranches. And the amazing search programs at Ranchweb will make your search a computer-aided breeze. Click over to it and you’ll find several special features to help narrow your choices (and we provide detailed information on more than a hundred ranches located  all over the country).

Check out our exclusive Space Availability Finder and the Dude Ranch and Guest Ranch Search Engine helps you check out ranches and lodges that meet your preferences. For example: the price range, ranch activities you want, and whether or not you will be traveling with children.

Then, narrow the list by selecting a specific state, province or country, and click one of the resulting ranches or lodges to find more details on activities, accommodations, rates, food, kid’s programs and an array of photographs.

Or just go to the Ranch Categories page, showing more than 100 categories designed to help you find ranches that meet your specific interests. Want to combine some fishing with your guest ranch vacation? Click on Fishing and more than 80 ranches show up. Golf? See about 75 ranches. Or look for ranches with spas, pack trips, winter programs, conference facilities, riding specialties, resorts, working cattle ranches, cattle drives, and so forth.

At Ranchweb’s Interactive Map, you get a bird’s-eye view of the area you would like to travel to. Click on an area of the map and zoom into a state or province to see a listing of dude ranches and guest ranches. Then, just click on a ranch listing for more information; use the navigation tools at the top or bottom of the page or use the back button on your browser to review additional ranches and lodges. Finding the right ranch for you and your family can be a breeze.


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

There’s a NEW BOOK coming out soon. 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, will be available on soon on Amazon and also on Look for it!

Hot Deals

Spring ranches: Arizona and California


It’s peak season in Arizona right now. From the Bar 10 Ranch to the White Stallion Ranch, Arizona has great spring weather and a ton of variety.

Bar 10 Ranch

Bar 10 is near the magnificent Grand Canyon and serves up a choice of western ranch activities, delicious country-style meals, and real western hospitality, and lets you combine your trip with an exciting river rafting trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Its run by the Heatons, fifth generation ranchers on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

White Stallion Ranch

White Stallion is set in the wide open, unspoiled Arizona desert, yet is easy accessible to Tucson. With the the True family at the helm, White Stallion Ranch has established a reputation of caring about customer service and a real dedication to providing quality family vacations. The southwest ranch style cabins offer everything from small rooms for singles to deluxe suites. All rooms have plenty of comforts: air conditioning, private bath, tub/shower combination. Most have a queen bed plus a twin bed or a king and the deluxe suites have fireplace, whirlpool tub, king-size bed.


Ranches in the land of Hollywood, movie stars, and Silicon Valley? Yep! Ranching has a long and fabled tradition in the golden state, and you can still tap into that history at some seven dude and guest ranches here, from the lovely Alisal Guest Ranch in SoCal to the luxurious Sierra Ranch Retreat in the high country. Spring is glorious in California (and so are the spring package deals).

Alisal Guest Ranch

Golf, horseback riding programs, and fabulous dining. A storied past includes visits from the Reagans, the Clark Gables, and many more celebs who didn’t want their names mentioned (no pictures, please!). What more could you ask (except, maybe 73 cottages range from one-bedroom studios to executive suites).

Sierra Ranch Retreat

In the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains, Sierra Ranch Retreat is just two hours by car from Reno and a world away from stress. This six- bedroom custom-built log home features six river rock wood burning fireplaces, a complete gourmet kitchen, private baths in each room, Jacuzzi tubs and spectacular views. This is just the place when you want your vacation to be truly “one of a kind.”

Find Ranchweb on Facebook!

Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook ( for news, fun, and even a few horse laughs.


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


November news roundup

Hideout095Just as snow is beginning to dust the high country, (check out Wyoming’s Hideout Ranch, shown at right), we’re happy to announce some cool new improvements to the November Ranchweb blog, with the introduction of several new features: NewsFlashes, Tips from the Ranchers, Very Hot Deals, and others which we’ll roll out soon.

It’s a fresh way to get out the news about ranches and information about the latest deals. Newsflashes are: special programs, additions, or recent changes have happened, or are coming up at a ranch.  Very Hot Deals: are great bargains, or package add-ons for this month or coming soon. Tips: are the best advice ranchers can give travelers about coming to/planning ahead for a dude ranch trip. And there are more improvements on the way. That said, here’s the latest:


In Colorado
Vista Verde Ranch has just changed the way they help out those who recommend the ranch, called their Word of mouth special.  They normally pay a finder’s fee (paid in ‘Vista Bucks’) when guest refer a friend, but this winter they are upping the ante: send a new guest to the ranch for a winter stay and both you and your friends save 25% on your 2010 winter stay.

In South America
Go south of the border to Estancia Los Potreros if you want a dude ranch experience with a little something extra—Argentine culture. Explore the real ‘estancia experience’ at  Estancia Los Potreros. Argentina’s Estancia Los Potreros dates from 1574 and lies in a beautiful reserve in the Cordoba Hills in the center of this lovely South American country. It’s a working farm, organic, breeding Aberdeen-Angus cattle and the lovely Paso Peruano horses. Known for its horses, riding and polo are big deals here, but there’s also trekking, birding, wine tasting, and golf. All sprinkled with a dash of Argentine culture. Keep up with The Estancia by checking out their blog, discussing everything from their latest polo matches to featured wines (last month: wines from the bodega Nieto Senetiner).
Very interesting. Or should we say Muy interesante?


In Colorado,
Vista Verde Ranch is running several specials for this winter, but please read the fine print:  Discounts can not be combined. Packages include: Share and Save (January-March). Prices as stated for the first 2 people in a cabin.  Bring along some friends or family and the extra guests are 50% off.  Give winter a try (January-March).  Pay for 3 nights and get the 4th night free.  Pre-Christmas special. Sneak away for a 4-night stay to rest up before the holiday madness! Cost is $1,200/person for the 4 nights. Book quickly as they have only one cabin available for this special rate!

In Montana

Triple Creek Ranch is gearing up for their 2010 Spring Vintner Series & Spring Roundups. First, Vintner Weekends Each spring, Triple Creek offers 3-day weekend packages for wine lovers.  Each event features a winemaker from a different winery and we showcase wines from that vineyard.  The weekend begins with a wine seminar on Friday evening.  Guests enjoy a grand tasting dinner on Saturday night with wine pairings from the featured winery (variously this spring: Flora Springs Winery, Chappellet Winery, Koenig Vineyards, and Fidelitas Vineyards).

Then, Spring Roundup Weekend runs May 2-6, 2010 and May 9-13, 2010. The four-night Spring Roundup combines adventure and romance. By day, you either learn about horses, move and brand cattle, or experience a rodeo. Then you return to the privacy of your cabin to relax by the crackling fire, enjoy a couple’s massage and relax in a hot tub before dining in the candelit dining room of the Lodge at Triple Creek Ranch. The package (for two people), includes all meals, beverages, house wines and spirits and on-ranch activities.  (Taxes and gratuities not included.)

In Wyoming

The Hideout Guest Ranch & Resort is a year round, all inclusive, upscale guest ranch with a variety of winter activities, from cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling on over 400 miles of groomed and natural trails, to horseback riding. Yes, you can still ride in winter (Shell Valley boasts generally mild winters) and so, weather permitting, scenic rides are available at lower elevations, including riding with wild mustangs. The Hideout will be running Winter Riding Adventure Packages in November, plus January and February, 2010.
In British Columbia, Canada
Tod Mountain Ranch

“Winter has now arrived up here.  It’s a beautiful sunny crisp day today but we already had our first snowfall last week,”owner Tracey O’Connell tells us, then adds, “Here’s our latest Hot Deal for your blog. Book your 2010 summer vacation before 31st December 2009 and pay the 2009 rates.  This represents a savings of up to CAD$150 per person, including taxes.  Offer is available on all dates from 1st May – 31st October 2010.”
Thanks, Tracey. Now those are great deals!