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.

Thanks to Brush Creek Ranch

Thanks to Brush Creek Ranch for letting Ranchweb share so many photos on our home page. We love the photo from Dan Ham of a great Brush Creek Ranch spot to end the evening at …under the stars amidst the warm glow of a fire!

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Anglers’ paradise: Deschutes River, Oregon

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We know you anglers out there–even in the dead of winter, you’re thinking about the next time you’ll be out on the water with a rod in your hand.

Maybe you got some cool new hand-tied flies for Christmas, or other gear that you’re eager to test (see our story on the 10 Best gifts for Fly Fishermen).

The Fly Fishing Ranches and Lodges.com site is made for you avid anglers. Part of the Gene Kilgore RanchWeb.com network, the site is devoted to creating the finest network of fly fishing ranches and lodges. As we continue to build our dedicated fly fishing community, we hope you will share with us: suggestions, new properties you recommend, and gear tips. And finally, we hope you will help us spread the word by telling your friends and colleagues. Tell us your fishing tales—and we’ll tell you a few of ours.

The newest member of the Ranchweb family is Deep Canyon Outfitters of Central Oregon, a Deschutes River vacation ranch. Here’s how they introduce themselves: ” For the past 15 years we have been offering guided fly fishing trips on a wide variety of fisheries, from small spring creeks, vast reservoirs, and large tailwater rivers. Each location offers a unique angling experience and allows us to cater each outing to the specific needs and wants of our guests. With over 15 fisheries within an hours drive of the lodge, it is easy to create a memorable fly fishing adventure.”

Sounds pretty inviting. So whether your goal is wading on the world famous Deschutes River in search of rainbow trout or summer steelhead, casting streamers for trophy rainbows in one of the area lakes, or presenting dry flies to tremendous spring fed trout, it’s all in their back yard.

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Find your ideal ranch property

Ranching can get into your blood. To the point that just spending a few weeks on a ranch vacation isn’t enough. You simply must have your own spread.

That kind of burning desire is exactly why we started Luxuryranchrealestate.com, which we just re-launched in a cool new format. It’s now easier to use, to search through, and decidedly easier to look at. Experienced staffers at United Country Real Estate have said, “We use various means of advertising our listings and Luxury Ranch Real Estate is one of the best sites we use. It is very easy to navigate and upload listings. The staff is very helpfuland easy to communicate with. Top Site!”

Even if you’re not in the market for a ranch right now, Luxuryranchrealestate.com makes a great dream book. Take the example now on our front page: Ranch on the Roaring Fork, in Aspen, Colorado. “In the most prestigious resort valley in the scenic Rocky Mountains, the 282-acre Historic Snowmass Canyon Ranch spans the second largest privately held river frontage on the Gold Medal designated Roaring Fork River. Current owners have protected the ranch with a conservation easement but have retained the right to build on two additional homesites and have secured generous entitlements with a rare 20-year timeframe from Pitkin County. In addition to the trophy rainbow and brown trout, owners will share this land with elk, deer, waterfowl, grouse, fox, and both Bald and Golden eagles.
With one full mile of river running through the ranch lined with a mature cottonwood forest, spring creek, three spring fed trout ponds and a mile of shared boundary with forested Federal lands, this Aspen Valley property represents a rare ownership opportunity for the serious outdoor enthusiast. Located just 12 miles north of the world-class resort in downtown Aspen, 10 miles from the Aspen commercial airport, and 12 miles from Snowmass Village, resort amenities are quite convenient.”

Wow–I’m ready to buy. Okay, maybe not now, but it’s sure fun dreaming.

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Happy New Year from ranch country

Hideout095Happy New Year from Ranchweb! It’s been a productive year for us, with all kinds of innovations and added services to bring to our friends in ranch country. What a privilege it is to serve the guest ranch industry.

Other ranch-oriented websites may come and go, but Ranchweb is backed by Gene Kilgore’s 30 years’ worth of real-world dude ranch industry experience and face-to-face relationships with ranchers and visits to ranches. We’re not sitting at some cubicle imagining what a dude ranch vacation is like–we’ve been there and done that. And we keep doing all we can technologically to spread the word about the wonderful vacation opportunities in the world of dude and guest ranch resorts–Facebook, Twitter, and more help us connect to you and help you connect to other fans.

We’re here to celebrate not just the business of guest ranch resorts, but the genuine traditions and healthy lifestyles and great personalities of ranch country.
This year, we produced an eighth edition of the most widely respected guide to the guest ranch resort industry, Gene Kilgore’s Ranch Vacations. The book, too, is revamped–lighter, easier to handle and take along, and more user-friendly.

We’re getting the word out on the news and new things happening in ranch country: great deals, the new activities from spa treatments to wine seminars to zip lining.

And we’re telling the story of the lasting traditions and amazing family bonding that has always been part of the guest ranch vacation. Honestly, that’s the part we love the most.

Here’s to a bigger, better year across the industry for 2012.

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The 10 Best Gifts for A Fly Fisherman

courtesy of: www.flyfishingranchesandlodges.com/blog

The Holidays are upon us and you’re frantically searching for the best gift to give that special someone who is a fly fishing enthusiast.   As fellow freshwater fly fishing aficionados (sometimes referred to as fly fishing fanatics!) we offer our top 10 suggestions for either the novice or expert fisherman in your life.

For those who really want to impress, giving the gift of an unforgettable experience tops our list.   Every year for the past ten years for Christmas, my best friend sets up a fishing trip for the two of us in a spot we’ve never fished before.   This gift of sharing my passion for fresh water fishing in amazingly beautiful locations with my best friend is by far the highlight of my entire year.  If this idea appeals to you, check out our website, FlyFishingRanchesAndLodges.com, to find the very best places to fly fish in the world.

Second on the list- again the inspiration of my best friend/life-time fishing buddy- is to invest in the purchase of an electric bicycle.  What does an electric bike have to do with fishing???  Check out the picture of me, on a day outing to a remote location with the U-Boat and complete fishing gear on my back.  I could never have experienced this day trip without a little electrical help to not only speed me on my way but carry my load.  The U-Boat weighs in at a mere 7 pounds (when empty) and comes with back pack straps, an exceptional float for fly fishing in a lake or gentle waters.  Both the bike and the U-boat help reach places otherwise inaccessible.   A little unusual, and yet an unforgettable gift that lasts a lifetime!

Sticking with the unusual, another unique gift idea is to purchase a “Lure of the Month” from Fishing Enthusiast.   Much like a Wine-of-the-Month club, only instead of wine, each month a premium lure arrives at your doorstep in a beautiful gift box with the history of the lures included.  A gift that keeps on giving throughout the year.

Next up, would be have to be a tried-and-true classic:  a Rod or Reel.  Regardless of how many rods and reels may be in the collection, there can never be too many.  For the experienced, try reels such as the Tibor Everglades, Hardy Perfect, or Wheatley Fly Box.  For the more novice fly fisherman, Redington’s Voyant fly-rod outfits are perfect for those just learning.  The smooth-casting outfit comes ready for fishing right out of the box and is available in various weights for both fresh and saltwater use.

For the technology-savvy fisherman, apps for computers, iPhones, and smartphones can make great gifts.  Favorite fly-fishing apps are FlyBench, FishHead, Orvis Fly-Fishing, and Hatch.   Some of the Apps are free, so your gift would be merely showing how to best fully utilize the apps for fishing.  Other technological gadgets to consider would be a fishfinder, a sonar unit that allows one to explore below the surface, or a handheld GPS unit that shows geographic and topographic data to help anglers navigate to and from fishing spots.

New tackle can always come in handy, yet recommending specific tackle for fresh water fly fishing is almost impossible as there are thousands of types depending on the fish species running in the specific regions during different times of the year.  Having a fly kit with an assortment of flies can be used in a variety of situations.  To see an expansive selection, check out Rene Harrop’s fly collection with over 1300 patterns and sizes to choose from.

For those that enjoy a drink or two along the river or in the afterglow of a good catch, there are several gift ideas.  Dry Fly Distilling, created by and for fly fishers, produces the finest vodka, gin and whiskey, presented in thematically designed bottles at affordable prices.  In addition, one of the nicest selections of fly fish themed flasks, glasses, tumblers and other containers are available at The Rogue Angler.

The last three of the ten top gift ideas for the avid angler are:

  • Tools- such as fishing pliers, multi-tools, fishing nets, scissors, tackle boxes, etc.  I ordered five of the Micro-Tool – a great hand-sized tool that covers almost every need.
  • Clothing and Accessories- wading boots, waders, rain gear, sunglasses, backpacks and the like.  My two favorite for this season are the new Guide Wading Boots that have an interchangeable sole system and the Orvis Angler’s Day Pack, customized specifically for fly fishers.
  • Books and Videos- instructional as well as guide and recreational books and videos make great gifts.  Subscriptions to fishing magazines included in this category as well.

These are just a few of the many gifts sure to be enjoyed by anyone who loves to fly fish.  We wish you a happy and safe holiday season and many happy days throughout the year on the water!

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September ranch roundup

3731615686_8c535f266dLook to the aspen and maples in the high country— the first leaves are just starting to glow gold and red. And  our thoughts turn to winding up the summer season in the ranches back East and in the high Rockies, then getting ready for the transition to fall and winter activities.

But make no mistake: there’s still lots happening on the ranches and so many reasons to visit now—including some innovative programs and good deals. And in Arizona and California, more exciting new programs are spicing things up.

CANADA

Sundance Guest Ranch, Ashcroft, British Columbia, Canada

Fall is prime time at Sundance, with a ton of fall specials. Start with  a 15% mid-week discount for bookings between Sunday and Thursday in September and October. Or check out the  Cowgirls’ Fall Getaway for ladies only, October 16-18, 2009, with contests, prizes, pyjama breakfasts, and lots of chocolate – great “girls-only fun. Next month, Halloween comes early at Sundance -October 23-25, 2009—with costume contest, prizes, a Haunted House and the last dance of the season. It’s so much fun, its spooky.       BOOK: 800/553-3533, or click on www.ranchweb.com/sundanceguestranch/index.html

Tod Mountain Ranch, British Columbia

It’s one of the prettiest times of year in British Columbia, yet September/October also brings some pretty great deals. For all bookings of 3 nights or longer during September & October, we are offering one night free.  Example stay for 5 nights, pay for 4.  Saving of approx $250 per person.  Applies to all bookings – no restrictions on dates.    BOOK: 877/488-8881 or 250/578-8881; or click on www.ranchweb.com/todmountain/index.html

ARIZONA

Stay for a cause, or an anniversary at Grapevine Canyon Ranch

Warm days and cooler nights are heading to the ranch in Pearce, Arizona. Saddle up and ride with them this fall or later on to ring in the New Year. Enjoy great food, great horses and fun times!  SPECIALS: American Breast Cancer Week: Grapevine Canyon Ranch marks American Breast Cancer Week Sept. 26— Oct. 3, when 20% of all bookings are donated to the American Breast Cancer Foundation.  The ranch’s own Breast Cancer/Grapevine Tees are also still available on their online gift shop, and 50% of the t-shirt profits are also donated. Silver Anniversary for Grapevine Canyon Guest Ranch:  Don’t miss this one— it only comes around once. Come help  celebrate Grapevine’s first 25 years during the month of December, leading up to a huge New Year’s Eve 25th Anniversary party. As a  bonus, the ranch will take 25% off  regular rates for the month of December.         BOOK: 800/245-9202 or 520/826-3185 or click on www.ranchweb.com/grapevinecanyonranch/index.html

CALIFORNIA

At Alisal, the Outback meets the Wild West
Experience a taste of South Australia in the heart of California Wine County with this month’s The Outback at Alisal, (September 17-20, 2009) a weekend filled with riding, food and wine with an Aussie theme and Aussie Chef Curtis Stone (reservations limited to the first 10 bookings). Southern California’s Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort, and the South Australian Tourism Commission saddle up for a cowboy adventure highlighted by an intimate and interactive wine dinner by Chef Stone. Guests will also have the opportunity to horseback ride, sip Shiraz, dine at an Australian and American BBQ feast, and be eligible to win a trip for two to the Great Australian Outback Cattle Drive in August 2010 (valued at $8,000).

COST: Three-night stay (Thursday – Sunday) is $1247.00 per person double occupancy; Two -night stay (Friday – Sunday) is $897.50 per person double occupancy. The Outback at Alisal All-Inclusive Weekend Package includes Studio accommodations for two or three nights and unlimited ranch activities including golf, horseback riding and more; a reception, lakeside lunch; wine dinner featuring Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone; Australian and American BBQ; breakfast horseback ride; screening of “Australia” the movie, under the stars. Also included: all meals, including wine, taxes, gratuities, etc. and a chance to win a trip for two to the Great Australian Outback Cattle Drive in South Australia. NOTE: The event is limited to the first 10 bookings (the dinner can be purchased separately for $135pp).
BOOK: To reserve, call 800/4-ALISAL, visit www.ranchweb.com/alisal/index.html or email: reservations@alisal.com

Rest and Relaxation Week at Rankin Ranch
Set in the beautiful Walker Basin, of northern California, the Rankin Ranch is an ideal place to chill out. So they’re offering a brand new program: Rest and Relaxation Week, October 5-9, 2009.  This is the perfect time for those of you who need a quiet and peaceful getaway before the hectic holiday season begins.  You can enjoy the Walker Basin’s beautiful autumn season when the leaves are turning and the evening temperatures are dropping.  The ranch supplied all the food, lodging, and atmosphere…all you need to bring is mind, body and soul willing to relax and enjoy. Join the gang at Rankin for just one night or all four nights.  You’ll also enjoy the lowest rates of their season…only $80 per person per night, double occupancy.  BOOK: Call and reserve today at 661/867-2511 or visit www.ranchweb.com/rankinranch/index.html.
COLORADO

Wind River Christian Dude Ranch

September brings family fun, fall color, and deals to this Estes Park area ranch. Labor Day Family Camp (Sept. 4-7): celebrate Labor Day weekend with this wonderful, shortened family camp, action-packed with lots of horseback riding, children’s, tween’s and teen’s programs in the mornings, a pool and hot tub party, climbing wall, zip-line, and more. Guest speaker: Jeff Hutcheon from Parker, Colorado. Call for details and discounts. Estes Park Golf Retreat (Sept. 10-13): Links Ministries is putting on a golf retreat at Wind River Ranch on September 10 -13.  The cost for the golfers is $495 and $395 for non-participating spouse. Call for details.  Women’s Retreat (Sept. 17-20): Walking in Grace Ministries is putting on a conference that is open to all ladies.  Melissa Shaver is the speaker and this is a wonderful conference and fall is spectacular time to enjoy the golden aspens that fill our mountain forests with the cool crisp mountain air. Call for details.    BOOK: 970/586-4212, 800/523-4212 or click on www.ranchweb.com/wind-river-ranch/index.html

Wilderness Trails Ranch

Near Durango, the Wilderness Trails Ranch offers discounted adults-only weeks September 6-26 at $1895/person for a 6 night all-inclusive (no gratuity) package. Then, September 27-October 3 is the Ride the Colors of the Fall Week during the peak of the fall color change.  Daily all-day rides are geared to ability level and view the stunning vistas of Colorado ’s fall foliage.  Evenings include educational wine-paired meals, live musical entertainment, hayrides, roping lessons, and  social hours around the fireplace.  The week is in conjunction with Durango ’s annual Cowboy Gathering Festival which includes music and poetry events, rodeos, horse competitions, education events, and a cowboy convention  click on durangocowboygathering.com).   BOOK: 800/527-2624
970-247-0722 or click on www.ranchweb.com/wilderness/index.html

MONTANA

Cowgirl UP at Bar W Guest Ranch

Get in touch with your inner cowgirl (or just relax and have an exciting vacation with some galpals).  The Bar W’s popular Cowgirl UP program is a 6-night all inclusive woman’s adventure retreat. Held at the beautiful ranch near Spencer Lake in Northwest Montana, this special package starts with a horsemanship clinic, roping, shooting, fly casting lessons and archery and moves to spa treatments, massages, vintners presentations, and cocktail receptions. Dates: Sept. 27-Oct. 3 and Oct. 11-17.       BOOK: 866/828-2900, 406-863-9099 or www.ranchweb.com/bar-w-guest-ranch/index.html

Unlock your artistic talents at Triple Creek Ranch

Stay in one of 23 luxurious log cabins, roam 600 tranquil acres, and get in touch with your artistic side. Nine high-profile Western artists will lead three weekend workshops  from Oct 1-4, Oct. 8-11, and Oct. 15-18. Called A Spectrum of Color & Artistry, the program offers an opportunity  for art lovers to work, watch, and learn side by side with talented artists in a dramatic and inspirational setting. From $1,725. Artists: Carol Hgan, Nancy D. Cawdrey, Brent Cotton,Steve Seltzer, Loren Kovich, Sheila Reiman, Dawn Emerson, Steve Olestad, Thomas English.    BOOK:800-654-2943, 406/ 821-4600 or www.ranchweb.com/triple/index.html

NEW MEXICO

Go wild over wildlife at Vermejo Park Ranch

Stay at media mogul Ted Turner’s place in northern New Mexico. Vermejo Park offers “an unparalleled opportunity to hunt and fish in one of the last large tracts of the West that still resembles what the West was before we altered it almost beyond recognition in the last century.” At some 588,000 acres, this is the largest contiguous deeded ranch in New Mexico.  News: bald and golden eagles winter here, among the wildlife you can watch, along with 8,000-10,000 elk, 3,000 deer, and 2,000 bison (hunting is allowed here—call ahead to inquire about the rules and regulations).     BOOK: 505/445-3097 or visit  www.ranchweb.com/vermejo_park_ranch/index.html

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Ranch news roundup for July

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Across the travel industry, it has been a summer like no other, and the guest ranching industry has faced its share of challenges. But with the true pioneering spirit of the Old West,  ranchers (even those not located in the West)  have responded with creativity, optimism, and a slew of new offerings.

Here’s a quick roundup:

Out in New York’s scenic Hudson Valley, Rocking Horse Ranch Resort has been around for more than 50 years, but it’s not resting on any laurels. The news: this year brings a new Super Wii Room, a Red Ryder shooting gallery, and a giant indoor water park (by fall). That’s in addition to their horseback riding and other family fun. Call 800/647-2624.

At Colorado’s C Lazy U Ranch & Resort, extra service is on the menu this summer. The news: Dubbed 5-Spur Service, it is what makes the C Lazy U “Miles Above Ordinary.” When you arrive, Head Wrangler Bill Fisher personally interviews you to evaluate your riding ability and matches you with the perfect mount– for your entire stay. From there on, a concierge makes sure you’re never bored, offering everything from spa treatments and yoga, to mountain biking, trap shooting, archery, whitewater rafting, and more. Call them at 970/887-3344 or click on the above link.

Now here’s big news: Diane, the proud new owner of Texas’ Running R Guest Ranch (as of April 1st) reminds us that the National Day of the American Cowboy is coming up on July 25th. The news: “The Running R Ranch is going to be the title sponsor for our town’s activites,” says Diane. And it sounds like it’s going to be a hoot; check their website for more details (the link above) or call  830/796-3984.
In Philo, California, the lovely and peaceful Highland Ranch boasts that “wildflowers are bloomin’ and the pond is just cool enough to cool you down! Think of a collection of cozy lodging cabins scattered around a 125 year old ranch house nestled among the most majestic trees you’ve ever seen.” Besides riding and mountain biking, there’s yoga and skeet shooting. The news: Last-Minute July Discounts are available. Until December 31, 2009, there’s a 10% discount. Call 707/ 895-3600.

Other ranches have a roundup of bargains this summer. Below, we list a few. As you can see, bargains are everywhere in ranch country this year; for a complete list of more ranch deals, go to www.ranchweb.com/special.htm

Arizona
At Arizona’s Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch, you can really get a feel of the Old West, while you enjoy the grandeur of the Northwest Arizona desert. The news: August 1 to August 31, 2009 brings a discount: ~30% off a 3 night special for stays in August 2009; call them at  866/444-4471 or 928/727-8270. Oh, and in other news, there’s a new puppy, Nova, at the ranch (a Catahoula Leopard/Lab mix).
And at White Stallion Ranch, outside Tucson, they’re looking ahead,  hoping to kick off their season with great deals. The news: A Labor Day Weekend Special (Doubles $450* per person and Singles $550; * plus tax and 15% service charge) arriving September 3rd and departing Monday, September 7th, 2009. This four night-five day package includes lodging, all meals, ranch activities and airport transfers. There will be three rides daily and one Sunday morning ride, or just enjoy amenities such as the recreation room, the pool and redwood hot tub, the fitness center and massage therapy.

Montana
Triple Creek Ranch
is an intimate, all-inclusive resort for adult travelers offering magnificent elegance high in the Bitterroot Mountain Range of the Montana Rockies. Their rates include gourmet meals, house wine and house cocktails, Pool, Hot Tub & Fitness center; Hiking, On-Ranch Trail Rides, Downhill Skiing, Cross-country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Fly-Casting lessons, Tennis, Putting green and much, much more. The news: Right now, they’re offering a special promotion, a Last-minute Summer Escape package, good for stays from now through August 31:  15% off stays + $100 ranch credit.

Wyoming
Moose Head Ranch
, near Jackson, Wyoming. Boasting spectacular views and a great fishing program, Moose Head Ranch is privately owned and operated, yet surrounded by Grand Teton National Park. Panoramic vistas of the Teton Mountains are everywhere; while you’re out for a ride, you’ll likely see elk, bison, mule deer or antelope up close. The news: Last Minute Vacation Specials – 20% Discount (approx); 20% discount on stays over 4 nights for summer 2009 only.

British Columbia, Canada
Up in beautiful British Columbia, the Sundance Guest Ranch is offering two special packages this year. The news: from July 1 to September 3, 2009, ask about the 25% Discount/Kids’ Summer Special. And ask about the 10% “Greenhorn Discount” for referred first-time guests; returning guests should ask about “Trail Credits”. Call them at 800/553-3533 or 250/ 453-2422/2554.

Rodeo news

For wholesome family fun in the Old West tradition, rodeos are a good bet (and a bargain for the all-day entertainment you get). July and August are big rodeo months, with major events all across the country (and in Canada, too). For a complete schedule, go to www.ranchweb.com/rodeo.cfm

Here’s a roundup of some of the biggest this month:

California Rodeo Salinas
July 12-19, 2009
Salinas, CA
Catch the spectacular finish of one of California’s biggest events: this weekend features a mini parade (Friday), a downtown horse parade (Sat and Sun); all days feature the big evening and Grand Entry and Rodeo, kids corral, and loads of entertainment. For details, go to www.carodeo.com/ or call: 831/ 775-3100, Toll Free: 800/ 771-8807. Tickets: 800/ 549-4989.
Kansas Largest Night Rodeo
July 15- 18, 2009
Pretty Prairie, Kansas
8:00 pm
Pull on your boots, put on your hat, and join in the fun!
You’ll find the country’s best professional cowboys, top-quality stock, and prime family entertainment in this aptly named Kansas town. For more, check www.pprodeo.com/ or 800/638-2702 (Starting June 27, 2009)

Last Chance Stampede & Fair
July 21- 26, 2009
Helena, MT
New Grandstand Show Package: “Five Shows for $65″ includes general admission tickets to Country Music Stars Little Big Town with Kristy lee Cook scheduled for Wednesday, July 22nd at 7:30 p.m.  General Admission tickets to Thursday Nights PRA rodeo and the Demolition Derby, plus reserved seats in Section 5 of the new grandstand or the east bleachers for Friday and Saturday performances of the PRCA Rodeo. Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds; www.lewisandclarkcountyfairgrounds.com/ or call 406/457-8516.

Cowtown Rodeo
Through- Sept. 26, 2009
Every Saturday Night 7:30 PM
New Jersey
Celebrating 55 years of professional rodeo, it’s been called the oldest weekly running rodeo in the U.S. Set in rural Salem County, New Jersey, Cowtown brings it, with all seven rodeo events sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, from bareback bronc riding to girls barrel racing. Come and join hundreds of cowboys and cowgirls as they compete in the traditional sport of the Old West, rodeo. Refreshments are available at the rodeo and parking is free. For more, www.cowtownrodeo.com/ or call 856/ 769-3200.

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A hot new girlfriend getaway: at the ranch

pic11Looking for a really different kind of girlfriend getaway (one that maybe doesn’t include the cliche activity: shopping)? Well get ready to play cowgirl, girlfriend!

At Wyoming’s Lost Creek Ranch, they launched a ‘Ladies Only Ranch Getaway Week’ two years ago and it has been a smashing success. Ranch general manager Mike Evenson notes, “To make this type of stay work it seems that a variety of activities are required.” For example, they offer horseback riding, hiking, yoga classes, horsemanship demonstrations, and culinary classes. “Our women guests are always looking for something to do and want to be active,” Evanson adds, so they make sure the program is loaded with activities. And we ladies do like our discounts: the Ladies Only week is priced at 20 percent off! Call for availability and pricing.

In Big Sky, Montana, Lone Mountain Ranch has Skirts and Spurs, a women’s-only package that offers a chance to “live your dream of being a Montana cowgirl”. You take riding lessons, eat fabulous food, stay in a cozy log cabin, and ride into the backcountry of Yellowstone. All the while, you’re meeting new friends and experiencing pure western hospitality. Cost: 6 night/5 day riding packing, including lessons, 3 meals daily and evening socials (plus pickup/return to Bozeman airport): $2200-$2500. Dates: August 30-September 5.

And at Montana’s Runamuk Guest Ranch’s Yoga Getaways, you can enjoy a combination of yoga, horseback riding, relaxation, and massage. Says ranch co-owner Jody Dahl, “Get lost in a world of comfort and seclusion. In a time of cell phones, schedules, deadlines, and stress, we offer a setting of renewal and relaxation!” Choose a program that lets you work either with a master of Taoist Yoga (a Chinese style) or Hatha Yoga. It’ll be a getaway within a getaway, girlfriend. Check for cost and date availability.

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Women in Ranching: A tale of two ranches

pic1This tale of two ranches—both named Elkhorn—all started fairly simply in 1922 with the purchase of Elkhorn Ranch, Montana. It was a summer guest ranch operation that also offered pack trips.  It was run by Grace and Ernest Miller and—eventually—their son Bob Miller.

In 1945, the ranching operation doubled with the purchase of the Elkhorn Ranch in Arizona, as a winter ranch. And here the story gets a bit more complicated. When patriarch Ernest Miller passed away in 1949, that left both operations in the hands of Grace Miller, Bob and his new wife, Jan.  In 1961, Grace and Ernest’s daughter Barb and her husband, Ron Hymas, moved to the Gallatin Gateway, Montana ranch; Bob and Jan moved south to Arizona permanently.

Today in Arizona, the 3rd generation —Charley and Tom Miller and their wives Mary and Anne— run Elkhorn Ranch, just southwest of Tucson.  When Barb and Ron retired, they sold the Montana operation to the Minton Family, long time guests.  Ginger Hymas, Barb and Ron’s daughter managed the ranch briefly during the transition, and then the Mintons hired Bob and Jan’s daughter, Linda, to take over the reins. Got the picture?

Mary Miller clears things up: “So, you can say that the Elkhorn Ranch in Arizona has been owned and operated by the Miller Family since 1946  and the Elkhorn Ranch in Montana has been under continuous management by the Miller family since 1922.” That’s a lot of history and hard work. And the Miller family, now into their third and fourth generations, are running two Elkhorn Ranches to this day.

“Both ranches are in really lovely country,” notes Mary. They’re very scenic, mountainous, with great riding terrain.”  Obviously, they’re very different, from the green pines of Montana to Arizona’s Sonoran desert. The Montana ranch has more structured evening activities—such as campfire sing-a-longs (because of the number of children)— whereas the Arizona ranch is less structured after dinner.

But there are a lot of similarities, too. “Overall, the spirit of both ranches is very similar,” notes Miller. “And many guests say that it hasn’t changed a lot over the years, which they consider a good thing!”

Both ranches have really top notch riding programs, catering to all levels. Mary Miller adds that “they’re special because we tailor the rides daily to the guests’ needs and abilities”. Guests have the same horse and saddle all week and the option of many different trails, scenic walking rides, as well as loping. Both ranches do half day, as well as all day rides.

Says Linda Miller: “There are so many things to love about both Elkhorns, but it’s mostly sharing the life style with so many different kinds of people.” And her favorite aspects? “There is nothing like teaching a child to love riding or showing a Grandma her first bear in these huge spaces.”

But just don’t ask her to choose between the two ranches. ” I can’t compare Montana and Arizona as both have their assets,” Linda adds. “Montana has lots of kids – both guest and crew – but Arizona has a longer season to enjoy.”
However, one thing is certain: both Elkhorn Ranches—Arizona and Montana—feature plenty of down-home hospitality.

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TODAY goes to a dude ranch

Like Willie Nelson, the TODAY hosts are going “on the road again.” And they’re going to a dude ranch (we’re just not sure which one).

Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, Al Roker and Ann Curry will pack their bags and head to some of America’s most beautiful destinations on “TODAY Takes a Vacation”, a five-day series, begining Monday, May 4. “Kicking off our TODAY family getaway, we’ll be live in San Antonio, Texas,” Vieira said on the show Thursday. “We’ll spend some time at the oldest working dude ranch and, of course, we’ll remember the Alamo.”

We’re sure that when their fans see the show they (and America) will get the idea that a dude ranch is the perfect vacation for them.

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