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.

C Lazy U hosts a Thanksgiving holiday weekend special



C Lazy U Ranch

C Lazy U is hosting a Thanksgiving holiday weekend special. Why? Well, there’s a LOT to be thankful for this Thanksgiving—and we can’t think of a better place to enjoy it than at the C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado!

The ranch invites you to “Bring your attitudes of gratitude and share the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend with our family” from November 21-25. You’ll enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner served on Thanksgiving Day, three gourmet meals included daily. There’s a two-night minimum.

Details: Rates: $325 per adult per night and $150 per child per night. BONUS: Buy three nights, get the fourth FREE!


Arizona’s Elkhorn Ranch: ride, revive, reconnect

DSC_0407Tucked against the saw-toothed Baboquivari Mountains southwest of Tucson, Arizona, is a traditional family-owned and operated guest ranch offering horseback riding and relaxation for some 32 guests. A few days ago, I talked to co-owner Mary Miller recently about what makes Arizona’s Elkhorn unique.  The Miller Family has owned and operated Elkhorn Ranch continuously since 1946 and enjoys the friendship of many returning guests and crew.

“We open next week on Sunday.’ said Miller, with a smile in her voice. “What we take a lot of pride in is the great ranch traditions,” Miller added. “We’re not a ranch that tries to makes things new every year! We’re a great family destination.”

Special packages for fall/winter

Miller was proud to tell me about the upcoming photography workshop that the ranch has offered successfully for years, covering natural history and digital photography, at no added cost (This season it is January 20-27, with Stweart Aitchison and Ann Kramer). New this year is a Music Workshop-January 6-13, focusing on the old-time music with workshops on guitar, banjo, fiddle. You can join in or simply listen and workshop.aspx

Miller also wanted folks to know that there is space available for New Year’s Week. “We have a fun night on New Year’s,” she noted, “with games and a piñata for kids. There’s a huge Mexican feast, and later in the night, the adults take over to celebrate.” And during that whole week, the weather is typically lovely. “It’s a great time to get away from the cold in the north,” Millers says with a laugh.

Further, she told me that Arizona’s Elkhorn Ranch has spring break space available in March and April; it’s sunny and warm then and the pool is pretty popular in the afternoon. The kids play outdoors and have hotdog cookouts, and as always rides are tailored to the abilities of the guests. “We focus on one week stays,” Miller explains. “It gives you time to enjoy the countryside and become comfortable with the horses, and enjoy the friendship of the other guests you get the most out of a one week stay.” A weekly stay is a better bargain than the shorter stays. And for longer stays for snowbirds or other sunseekers, the rates are even more favorable.

Listen to former guests sing the praises of Arizona’s Elkhorn Ranch. One says: “I’ve been to the Elkhorn several times over the past 20 years and I’m pleased to report that it never changes. I’ve heard it said that wilderness is the greatest luxury. If that’s the case, then the Elkhorn is exceedingly luxurious! However, it’s a subtle brand of luxury; no spa or marble bathtubs here (though you can get a massage!)”

Another calls it a ‘perfect family vacation,’ saying “We enjoyed an absolutely amazing week at Elkhorn! If you enjoy being in nature, this is your place. Beautiful nature with mountain and dessert surrounding the ranch. We loved the concept of having meals on communal tables with open seating and there were always interesting conversations with people from all over and all ages.

A third raved “Spectacular views, universally wonderful people, and great rides for all age groups in the dessert and mountains. The wranglers are genuine and gracious and the rest of the staff is great too. We met folks from all over and all ages…this place is perfect for families and friends…go there…you’ll love it!”

You can’t buy advertising like that. But then, southern Arizona guest ranch Elkhorn Ranch doesn’t have to.

Scenic Sonoran desert country filled with unique and abundant birds and wildlife is the backdrop for the Miller family’s Elkhorn Ranch. Vacation here and you may enjoy riding ranch-raised horses through desert and mountain; hiking; swimming, tennis, shooting on the rifle range, playing ping ping, or horse shoes.

There’s a well stocked library and a groaning buffet table stocked with plentiful comfort food. Feed the birds on the patio of your cabin, watch for wildlife at dusk, or just enjoy riding the trails that wind toward the mountains. Kids love the freedom of the secluded ranch setting and the twice a day horseback trail rides. Families that lack a certain togetherness in the bustle of home life will love the fact that they can have all of their meals together, sharing the adventures of the day.

That’s Elkhorn Ranch: a great place to ride, relax, revive, recharge and reconnect.

Details: Open Mid November through end of April. Where: 50 miles southwest of Tucson. Call: 520/ 822-1040.

Notes from Elkhorn: Elkhorn becomes a home away from home where everyone enjoys the outdoors, riding, friendship, and the ease of a family friendly vacation where ordering breakfast is the big decision of the day.  Everyone has the chance to relax and enjoy time together, as well as time apart – a perfect week long family vacation or gathering place for multi-generation reunions. Rides are arranged daily to suit individual interests and experience.  All rides are guided, with small groups.  Everyone enjoys the same horse and saddle throughout their stay.  Kids must be 6 and older to ride.  The 5 and under crowd may come at no charge, and have a ball exploring the ranch (note that Elkhorn does not provide supervised child-care).   A heated swimming pool, tennis and basketball court, ping pong, horseshoes, hiking, birding, kick the can by the light of the stars and moon and peeking under rocks — plus a well stocked library and cupboard of games and puzzles keeps everyone busy when not riding.  No television.  Yes to wireless internet access.  Fly to Phoenix or Tucson — visit the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum on your way to Elkhorn Ranch!


Act now for deals in Arizona

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Tired of the constant barrage of election news and political commercials? Maybe what you need is a quick getaway to a place that seems timeless–filled with autumn leaves, brisk air, peace and quiet. If you plan a trip now, you can find some great low-season deals in northern Arizona. Low season in Arizona’s northern region is generally November through April, when the bargains start to pop up in the high deserts.

For anyone on a budget, you’ll find great deals located around hubs like Flagstaff and summer-crowded parks like Grand Canyon. Bring a hat and warm jacket and load up the iPod with some grand tunes to match a grand landscape–you’ll appreciate them all here.

Hotel lodging rates dip by at least 10 percent in fall, more during winter in the region. Worried that there won’t be enough to do? Then you don’t know northern Arizona. Explore the mysteries of the Native American site of Canyon de Chelly, picnic with views of fall color in the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, or take pictures with nobody else in them at the edge of a peaceful Grand Canyon. Plan a fall or winter escape to the state’s northern region and you’ll feel like you have Arizona all to yourself.
Then, after you’ve seen the gorgeous fall color or taken in a few snowy landscapes, perhaps you’ll want to warm up again by swinging back down to the state’s southern half.  Good thing you’ve saved some dough on the northern half of your trip, because fall and winter are high season here. But its worth it, because this is where most of Arizona’s working and luxury dude ranches are. And they boast some of the most amazing scenery in America. Bring sunscreen, a camera, and your sense of wonder–you’ll need them all here.RanchoDeLos_1

Take Rancho de los Caballeros, in Wickenburg, for example. Trial rides and jeep tours take you over rugged, saguaro-edged trails to views of purple mountains, then back to the spa to relax. And if you want the kids to learn a little bit of history while they’re sunning themselves, you won’t have far to look: Arizona has well preserved settlements from prehistoric Native Americans, Spanish vaqueros, and the Old West.

Details: For a list of Arizona ranches and a host of travel bargains, go to


A Roundup: Rx for stressed-out doctors and lawyers

Ask any doctor, lawyer, or other high-powered professional how they choose to relax from their challenging work and chances are they’ll opt for something physically demanding that they can do out in the fresh air. And if the activity is unique, all the better.


In that case, the best medicine for doctors or lawyers just might be a ranch vacation with a cattle drive thrown in. Call it our roundup Rx.

But unless you’re tough as Clint Eastwood, you may want to join a cattle drive that offers some comforts, like good food and outstanding scenery. to the rescue!

What does a dude wear to his/her first roundup? Good riding boots, well-worn (soft) jeans, and layers that include a rain jacket or poncho. DO bring a ‘stampede string’ or chin strap for your wide-brimmed hat. Ask what else to bring when you book your drive; some outfits will rent or sell chaps and chinks. Ask about weather and trail conditions, how long you’ll be riding each day, and so forth. What NOT to bring:  No sneakers or spurs, please.

The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch

Just east of Cody and Yellowstone National Park is an upscale riding, horsemanship and working cattle guest ranch called The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch (pictured above). And while there are tons of recreational activities to choose from, cattle work is their signature activity.

And it’s not just laid on for the entertainment of ranch guests. Here, with more than a thousand cows, calves, and yearlings wandering across some 250,000 acres, cattle work is genuine and necessary work that guests can help with.

“Our key staff is trained in the Bud Williams Low Stress Stockmanship concept of handling livestock,” says ranch literature. “During your orientation on Monday morning you will learn the basic concepts.  We can also organize a 1 day session during your stay given there are enough participants.”

Details: Ride into crisp fall mornings against a backdrop of aspen trees changing colors.  Mid September through October is roundup time in the high country around the Hideout. Look for elk and wildlife moving down from the high country while you round up the calves and drive them back down to the valley basin. But note: “Cattle work hinges on range conditions and weather; we are seldom able to say in advance exactly when we’ll do a long distance drive.” To stay tuned, visit:

Bitterroot Dude Ranch

Spend all day in the saddle driving the herd, then return to your cozy cabin each night to spend all night in a comfy bed. Now that’s my idea of a cattle drive. You get all the adventure without all of the discomfort of sleeping on the ground and going days without a shower.

Guests who ‘ride well enough’ are allowed to pitch in with herding the cows into or back down from the mountains. It’s challenging work, since the cattle are spread out over 50 square miles of mountains, forests, and river valleys. You may ride off the beaten path in country where encounters with wild game like elk, deer, moose, wolves and grizzly bear are possible. But at the end of each day, you’ll head back to your cabin for all the comforts of home (like a meal, shower, and good bed).

Details: the first week of July or the last week of September. Meet at Riverton or Jackson, trip lasts 8 days/7 nights (with 6 days riding). Guests with riding experience only. $2,100 per person based on double occupancy.

Bucking S Ranch

Bucking-S-Cattle-Drive-to-LakeSet near the foothills of the Seminoe and Shirley Mountains, the Bucking S is the real deal: an authentic working cattle ranch running some 200 cow-calf pairs. As if that wasn’t enough, they also help three ranch neighbors with their cattle work.
“The whole season from mid-May to mid-October we rotate cattle to new pastures as grazing conditions and water dictates. Between taking care of our own cattle and helping neighboring ranches, we have plenty of cattle drives every single week.”
Details: Open May through October 7. Located 65 miles southwest of Casper, Wyo., at altitudes between 6,800 and 8,000 feet. Rates from $ 1,550 per week/per person double occupancy (includes all ranch activities, meals, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages).  “After you had a chance to browse through our web site, we would very much enjoy speaking to you personally about our ranch, answer any questions you might have and make sure you have a good understanding of what to expect from a ranch vacation at The Bucking S.”

Tanque Verde Ranch
If you’re new to riding, or don’t have the time to spend on a full cattle drive, there are loads of other ways to get your cowboy on and work up a sweat. At Tanque Verde, you can join the Team Penning Competition.

Team Penning pits you (and your teammates) against is a herd of eight sometimes-ornery cattle. Team Penning is done at a walk or trot, so riders of all skill levels may participate.  The goal of this timed competition is to maneuver the cows through a series of obstacles and into one of three pens. (Doctors or lawyers may find this exercise akin to getting a patient or client to do what they’re supposed to do.) Or you may find it’s just a fun twist on your dude ranch experience and a great way to bond with friends, family or co-workers.

Details: May through October is Value Season, so rates are the best of the year. (Rates, from $395 per night, double occupancy, include three meals, all trail riding and horseback lessons, fishing, guided hiking and mountain biking, art classes, water aerobics, tennis clinics and lessons, and a fully supervised children’s program.  Also included are outdoor BBQ cookouts (Wed and Sat), and breakfast ride. All rates INCLUDE service charge!)


Two of Montana’s fly fishing hotspots


There is a magic to angling. That perfect spot on the lake or the river can be a place that feels as good as home. In the heat of August, what sounds cooler than wading into a rushing river and dipping a line into the water in the hopes of pulling out a trophy-sized trout?

You can do just that on the Gallatin River at the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, just one hour out of Yellowstone. Similarly, at Montana’s Triple Creek Ranch the sport of fly-fishing is more than just a hobby–it’s a passion. And here’s a newsflash: Coming this fall to Triple Creek—the first Steelhead Fly Fishing Celebration–something worth planning ahead for! At both ranches, a Montana Fishing License is required but not to worry—staff at each ranch will be happy to assist you in getting one.

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch

At the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, they offer guided angling trips that satisfy both the hardcore flyfisher and the rest of the family. They have a diverse program, moderate size (65 guests, maximum) and personal attention. Try your hand at trout fly fishing in this part of the Gallatin River drainage and you’ll find true blue ribbon waters and once-in-a-lifetime angling thrills.NineQuarter_1-1

“We have a fly-fishing guide on the ranch, at no extra cost, to help with your fishing needs and instruction,” says the Nine Quarter Circle. “We also have licenses and flies for sale right at the ranch. Loaner equipment is available. Weekly fly-casting lessons at the trout pond will entice you to fish our local waters.” And for the non-anglers in the family? Not to worry; there’s everything from hiking, horseback riding, rafting, and games (plus that noted national park—Yellowstone—to explore). There’s a Kiddie Wrangler and Babysitter here so that the parents can take off for a day of fishing with no worries.

Details: Rates from $1,666 weekly (per person, double occupancy). What anglers go for: brook, brown, cutthroat, and rainbow trout. When to go: guided fishing trips are available now; or plan ahead for fall—prime time for both water conditions and weather.

Triple Creek Ranch
If its trout adventure you’re after, don’t miss the Triple Creek Ranch and its access to 98 miles of the scenic Bitterroot River, West Fork or East Fork of the Bitterroot River. When you’re here at Triple Creek Ranch, complimentary Orvis fishing gear is available and your guide will furnish the rods, reels, flies and his or her expertise.

If you’re new to fly fishing, you can begin with fly-casting lessons right there on the ranch; when you’re ready, you move to wade fishing in the nearby West Fork of the Bitterroot River. The Bitterroot also offers blue ribbon-quality fishing for trout (Rainbow, Brown and West Slope Cutthroat).

The ranch practices ‘Catch and Release’ fishing (they say there have not been any fish introduced into the Bitterroot since the 1940’s and all fish caught are wild). The peak of your adventure might be an all-day guided float fly-fishing excursion with an experienced guide on hand.

And for the non-anglers in the group, there’s horseback riding, hiking, nature and birding tours, swimming (outdoor heated pool), tennis, and use of a fitness center.

Coming this fall to Triple Creek: The first Steelhead Fly Fishing Celebration will be held November 8-12 on the Salmon River (the famed ‘River of No Return’). Led by owner Craig Barrett, this fishing trip is open to all experience levels and includes two days of guided fly fishing on the Salmon River, a daytrip to the Hamilton Trap Club, for trap shooting, and an Idaho fishing license.

Details: Triple Creek Ranch rates start at $950 per night per couple. Rates include:
accommodations in an elegant private cabin with a wood-burning fireplace, private or nearby hot tub, king log post bed and more. Breakfast, lunch, snacks and gourmet dinners, house wines and spirits.


Comfort camping at Montana ranches

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You’ve heard about ‘glamping’ by now—which lets you combine the fun and adventure of camping with a touch of glamour and comfort. A canvas cabin with a real  bed inside. A BATHROOM. And a floor. If its not exactly a bargain, it is one way to get a whole lotta luxury at the best price possible–especially if you go during the shoulder seasons of spring or fall.

But at ranches like Montana’s Paws Up (shown above) and  Ranch at Rock Creek, they’ve taken the concept to whole different level. It’s as if someone took good old comfort food and gave it a gourmet twist. Put another way—if Ralph Lauren camped out, this is where he’d stay. Navajo-style rugs on the floor, hand-crafted furniture, twice daily maid service. Yeah, you can bet the drovers on the Chisholm Trail never camped out like this!



The Ranch at Rock Creek

The minute you arrive at Montana’s The Ranch at Rock Creek, you’ve got some 50 miles of mountains, meadows, lakes and streams to help you shake off the bonds of civilization.

That’s just for starters. Where you decide to lay your head at night is the rest of the story. If you’re looking for the perfect cross between comfort and a sense of being in the wilderness,The Ranch at Rock Creek offers three different options.

For example, you might want to try their canvas-topped cabins, with luxury bedding and a private bathroom. Choose ‘Glamping for Two’ and you get one of Rock Creek’s four Classic Canvas Cabins (each a generous 630 square feet), which give you a spacious main room for your bedroom with enough living area to include a comfortable sitting area.

Or consider the ‘Family Glamping’ option; each of the four Family Canvas Cabins (at 810 square feet) has two rooms separated by a curtain with space for a reading nook. And finally for two guests, there’s ‘Trapper’ for the most secluded glamping of all—‘the ultimate accommodation for those wanting to experience nature and luxury with maximum privacy’.RanchAtRock_5

Details: Open year-round with amenities that include a full spa. Some 15 miles from Philipsburg, Montana, and 1 hour 20 minutes from Missoula. Glamping rates start at $950 per night and include  ranch activities from archery to riding and fly fishing. All rates include full board with breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Granite Lodge and the Blue Canteen.

The Resort at Paws Up

ResortPawsUp_5Here, they call glamping ‘the original American Safari’, and that’s a pretty good description. Settle into one of 24 luxury tents featuring a rustic elegance that’s hard to find. Whether you’re looking for a romantic honeymoon destination or a way to ease the kids into camping (without having to listen to ANY whining), glamping at Paws Up is something else.

Beyond the tent, which looks like it was furnished out of a designer catalogue, there’s electricity, a deck, first-class service, luxurious amenities, and world-class dining. And can you say Personal Camping Butler? Yep, he’s the guy that makes sure your every whim is satisfied (as far as legally possible).

Details: Missoula International Airport is only 35 minutes away. Nightly rates start at $1555 (at the River Camp) and include meals and a mind-boggling list of activities, including guided activites, fun stuff for kids, winter sports, and wilderness workshops.

For more detail and photos, check out both ranches on


Surprising Malibu Dude Ranch


Malibu_Ranch,_Bull_Riding,_5x7,_100_dpiI admit I was intrigued when I saw this on the website for Pennsylvania’s Malibu Dude Ranch:
“Think you’ve got what it takes to be the next rodeo star?? Sign up for one of our speed events and compete against other guests during our guest participation rodeos, held during major 3-day holiday weekends.
I knew the ranch had recently added a sanctioned arena and announcer stand so that they could host professional rodeos and shooting competition events (newsflash!). What I didn’t realize was that guests could also star in their own rodeo show!

Somehow I’m not surprised. That’s the kind of entertaining twist  Allan “Doc” Detweiler and his wife Phyllis brought to the ranch when they bought it in 2010. In purchasing Malibu Ranch, they saved it from total destruction (a townhouse style residential community was one plan for the property), and in so doing, they saved an East Coast tradition.

And its all been onward and upward ever since. This day, it is 80 degrees, sunny and warm as Doc Detweiler tells me about how he came to own the Malibu Ranch. “I’m the ranch’s sixth owner—the last one owned it for 46 years!” he says. “I hope to God I own it as long!” Doc laughs. “I came to the ranch in 1974 as a kid—I wanted to be a cowboy when I was five. Now my whole family rides—my daughters barrel race.”Malibu_Dude_Ranch,_4x5,_100_dpi

Malibu Dude Ranch is located not on the California coast near the iconic movie enclave of Malibu, but in the scenic Pocono Mountains of northeast Pennsylvania, just 75 miles from New York City. When I ask how an East Coast ranch got the name of a California coastal town, Doc explains how the first owner (a rich Wall Streeter in the 1920s) had grown up in the California town and named his ranch after Malibu. Eventually, he opened it up to the public. Today, the 800-acre ranch offers something for all ages and tastes- from archery to fishing, skeet shooting and horseback riding galore.

Established in 1928, the ranch has a long history of entertaining guests: it is described as the oldest authentic working dude ranch east of the Mississippi River. Thanks to Doc and Phyllis, it still provides the Old West cowboy experience and horseback riding on woodland trails. The ranch suffered a fire in 1973 that took out the original lodge, but the massive two-story stone fireplace in the lobby is a survivor; it showcases the grand entrance to the lodge just as it always did.

Doc first visited the ranch as a youngster not long after the rebuilding that resulted from the fire. That ranch stay molded his young character and he credits it with helping him stay focused on goals later in life. Eventually, Allan became a doctor of family medicine with a main practice is in Long Island, New York (he also employs many physicians in five locations in New York, New Jersey, and Florida).

“I feel this ranch is a legacy, so there’s an obligation to keep this up,” Doc notes. “We’ve put in more than $4 million to renovate the ranch. We updated the entire infrastructure and added the arena, brought our own cattle onto the property, and added a Wild West show for the kids. Everyone who comes leaves pleased.” Doc knows the timing of the ranch’s purchase—during a tough economy—wasn’t in his favor but he’s hoping that the economy will soon turn around and “we’ll reap the rewards.” Now the biggest hurdle is to let the public know (and that’s where Ranchweb can help).

Saddle up (and other diversions)
There’s horseback riding, a Saturday night bonfire and hayride, fishing or row boating out on the lake if you’re into nature.  If you’re not so much into the great outdoors, there’s always tennis or basketball, horseshoes, board games, and an indoor pool. In the evening, hang out at the country western nightclub or check out the cable TV on a flat screen.

Not into horses? That’s okay: ride the trails on your own ATV or snowmobile. Enjoy stargazing in the ranch’s clear night skies; shoot skeet or archery on the rifle range (the ranch also offers a hunter package the first three days of the deer rifle season). Golfing is 15 minutes away. Any season, there’s plenty of fun at the Malibu Ranch.

“Come cowboy with us and keep the tradition of an East Coast ranch alive!” Doc says. “We’re only an hour’s drive from Manhattan, about two hours from Philadelphia, and three hours from Boston.”

Details: Malibu Dude Ranch is set in the Pocono Mountains of northeast Pennsylvania, a 3-mile drive from Milford and 75 miles from NYC. It makes a great location for family vacations, reunions, and anniversaries and is a place for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to earn merit badges (ask about group rates). Stay in private cabins among the trees, chalet and motel style rooms near the main lodge, or in the lodge itself. Not ready for a full commitment yet? Ride the ranch’s horses by the hour, take lessons, or bring your own and board your horse here.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photos by Teresa Crerand


Getting ready for a guest ranch vacay


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…


Happy Trails for Ranchweb

imagazineJust saw the latest issue of Luxury Las Vegas, a hot new upscale magazine. On page 49 you’ll see the first pages of a multiple spread story that features Ranchweb’s own Gene Kilgore, discussing the benefits of a ranch vacation.
And there’s more good news for the dude ranch vacation business: five Ranchweb member resorts got big play in the story: Resort at Paws Up, Vista Verde, Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, Rancho de los Caballeros, and the Ranch at Rock Creek. Our thanks to author Kara Williams and Luxury Las Vegas Magazine!


Ranch getaways for grownups only

horsebackThe other day, my friend C was telling me about how her six-year-old daughter has learned how to really push C’s buttons, and that on those occasions, a long soak in a bubble bath just wasn’t enough of a getaway. It’s true. No matter how much we love the little ones, sometimes you just need to leave them with the grandparents and sneak away for a little ‘grownups time’.

Maybe you work with other people’s kids and need a getaway with no rugrats for a change of pace (teachers, we hear you!). Or maybe you just enjoy a big slice of peace and quiet with a side of adult conversation. Whatever the reason, specialty weeks like Adults-Only weeks at a dude or guest ranch resort can be a real lifesaver.

They’re easy to locate when you use the right tools. Check out the Ranch Categories on and look for Adults Only section. You’ll find some 30 ranches listed with such weeks, from Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge in Montana to the Sweetgrass Ranch in Wyoming. It’s just another way helps you find your perfect guest ranch vacation. Here’s a sampling of what as few of those ranches offer:

Rankin Ranch
Best known for its children’s programs, Rankin Ranch is a cattle and guest dude ranch that offers horseback riding, haywagon rides, barbeques, fishing, square dancing and evening activities for all. It has since branched out to included adults-only periods built around special activities. Its set in Central California in the beautiful secluded mountain valley of Walker’s Basin at the southern tip of the Sierras, about a 1 hour drive northeast of Bakersfield.
Details: Art Week: May 20-25 (special rates/ adults only; Off Season Rates Apply). Scrapbooking Weekends: Oct. 18-21; Oct. 25 to 28; Nov. 8 to 11 (special rates/ adults only); $379 for Fri. & Sat. Nights Additional $100 for Thursday Arrival.

Black Mountain Ranch
Call it a guest and dude ranch, or a working ranch, Black Mountain offers everything from horseback riding to cattle drives, fly fishing, trap shooting, and over night pack trips. Choose among four private cabins and eight cozy suites each featuring a private bath, fireplace, sitting area and custom log furniture built right on the ranch. What’s included: Unlimited horseback riding and instruction, genuine longhorn cattle drives EVERY WEEK, overnight pack trips, whitewater rafting, skeet shooting, riflery, archery, children’s program, trip to the rodeo in Beaver Creek. They pride themselves on the quality of their herd. Details: ADULT ONLY WEEKS:  May 27 – June 3, June 3 – 10, June 10 – 17. All options of accommodations available.


Flathead Lake LodgeAverills_1
Join the crew at the Flathead Lake Lodge for their annual Adults Only Fall Getaway set for September 2-6. What’s included: lots of horseback adventures (breakfast rides, arena lessons, an extended luncheon ride, guide horseback rides), plus lake cruises, sailing excursions and an evening of music around the campfire. Guests can relax at the pool or explore the shores of Flathead Lake, and all the lodge’s outfitters will be on hand for fly fishing, lake fishing, whitewater rafting, massage and so much more.
Details: per-person, 4 night package rate of $1,500.00 is all inclusive of ranch recreation, lodging, meals, tax and service charge. Contact 406/837-4391 or click here.

Sweetgrass Ranch
A sixth generation, family-owned working ranch and guest ranch on about 10,000 acres, Sweetgrass is set in the Crazy Mountains of Montana. You’ll find unparalleled riding opportunities, including cattle drives, lessons, swimming horses and wonderful adventures for families and singles. Hiking, packtrips, fishing in the Sweet Grass Creek, numerous alpine lakes and local ponds, horsemanship clinics, photography are also possible. Details: Adult-only weeks:  September 2-16.

7D Ranch
Set in the remote and pristine valley called Sunlight Basin, the 7D has been giving families great vacations for over fifty years. You can’t buy experience like that.  Details: Adults Only Weeks are offered: August 26- September 2, September 2 – 9,  September 9-16.