Ranch holidays - Common misconceptions can prevent people booking the holiday of their dreams. Here are some excuses why people opt out of going to a ranch and why it’s time to think again.
There are endless opportunities, activities and adventures to be had on a ranch vacation. Riding is just a small part of what’s on offer, and the choice of a Luxury Dude, Working or Family Guest ranch means you can tailor-make your holiday to best suit the whole family’s needs. Whether you’re considering a holiday with a partner, children, the whole family, friends or on your own, a ranch is the way forward. Forget excuses because we’ve heard them all, and they couldn’t be further from the truth. Excuses, excuses I’d like to go on a ranch holiday but…
1)…My partner isn’t horsey and he’d get bored.
Not true. Riding is only a small part of the activities available on a ranch. Check out the various centres at www.top50ranches.com and you’ll be surprised at what’s on offer. So what can your non-horsey other half do while you saddle up and head off across the open prairies or into the mountains? The list is endless, but for starters there are various water sports to get involved in, as well as fishing, golf, climbing, shooting, walking, cycling, wagon rides and much, much more. For those wanting to take it easier, there’s bird spotting or the chance to simply enjoy a relaxing day by the pool and take in the glorious sun’s rays.
A ranch can be a truly romantic vacation for couples – in fact many couples choose to get married at a ranch, and many cater for weddings very well. With stunning backdrops and good weather, you can be sure to truly experience the best day of your life and go home with wedding photos that are second to none.
Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge in Montana, for example, is a guest ranch which caters for weddings, as well as offering a number of other activities, too. Couples can take a romantic river cruise on one of the centre’s historical sail boats to an art gallery, or head into Big Fork for shopping or to experience local nightlife.
2)…I can’t afford it.
While a ranching vacation can cost more than some other types of holidays, don’t forget that once you’ve paid, everything is included. Taking children on holiday can be really expensive with so many shopping temptations along the way, not to mention the cost of buying lunch, ice cream and other snacks. At a ranch you can sit back and relax knowing that you won’t need your purse until you get back home again. What’s more, your children will be so immersed in the activities on offer that spending money will be the last thing on their mind.
Badger Creek Ranch is a working ranch set in Colorado and caters well for those on a budget. The nightly rate is set at an all-inclusive rate of $200 dollars ($100 for non-riders) and hosts Eric and Sue only take 2-4 guests at a time, promising a quieter trip away. At that price, a ranch vacation is much cheaper than many other holiday destinations, not to mention much more fun, peaceful and educational, too.
3)…I’m quite a novice rider and the riding would scare me.
At www.top50ranches.com there really is a suitable ranching holiday for anyone, whatever your riding experience. For nervous or novice riders, choose a ranch which operates at a more leisurely pace, or one which offers riding lessons to help you improve. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that many ranches take guests with no riding experience whatsoever! With safe horses and riding Western style, you can plod along at a leisurely pace knowing you are in good hands.
Working cattle ranch, McGinnis Meadows, situated in Montana, offers Buck Brannaman style horsemanship courses, allowing guests to learn more about handling and training horses in a kind, considerate way. This ranch welcomes beginner riders and takes pride in the fact that their guests improve dramatically in a short space of time. And don’t forget that there is so much to do at a ranch that you don’t even have to get on a horse if you don’t wish to. Go for a leisurely walk and take in the stunning scenery, go bird watching, wildlife spotting or take advantage of the numerous water sports and other activities on offer. One thing is for sure – you won’t get bored on a ranching vacation, whatever you enjoy doing.
4)…I have young children and it’s not really a holiday for kids.
Wrong. A ranching vacation is the perfect holiday for young ones because there are so many activities for them to get involved in. Many ranches offer children’s programs which are safely supervised, allowing adults to do their own thing and escape from the stresses of looking after children during the day.
Other parents may wish to participate in activities which involve the whole family, so if you do want your children around you during the day, check out the numerous family activities on offer. Estancia Ranquilco, Neuquen, Argentina, is a 100,000 acre working guest ranch situated at the foothills of the Andes. Many children over the age of four have learnt to ride here on the ranch’s gentle and safe horses, and here children can also participate in activities such as egg collecting, milking, lassoing, fly fishing and sleeping under the stars. A ranch gives children the chance to run free to their heart’s content and be at one with nature.
5)…I’m a vegetarian and there’ll be nothing for me to eat.
Most ranches will happily cater for vegetarians and other dietary requirements, such as food allergies or lactose intolerance. Apache Spirit Ranch in Arizona is just one of many venues that puts a guest’s dietary needs first. Like many other ranches, they even cater for vegans, which may surprise you!
If you’re really passionate about animals and worry about what you might see at a ranch, then opt for a Luxury Dude or Guest ranch, such as Echo Valley Ranch and Spa in British Colombia, Canada. Here you can ride for miles across the varied scenery and take advantage of the spa facilities after a long day in the saddle. There’s a great chance to go bird or wildlife spotting, too, where you may see the likes of black bears, deer, snakes, marmots, California big horn sheep, Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, Red-tailed Kite and more than 200 other bird species.
6)…isn’t it a bit HOKEY?
This couldn’t be further from the truth. A ranch vacation is all about educating the public to what it’s all about - unfettered views, wide open landscapes, freedom and a variety of activities for all the family. It’s about being wholesome and having a tie with nature. Fresh air is plentiful and you will soon disconnect yourself from real life and submerge yourself into another’s culture. In a nutshell, a ranch vacation is healthy and relaxing, yet full of adventure, and promises memories that will last a lifetime.
High Lonesome Ranch, Colorado, USA, offers the experience to ‘have it as wild as you want’. Offering views of the Rocky Mountains, guests can ride at whatever speed they wish or enjoy a lesson to improve their riding skills. In fact, if you look at some online forums you only have to read guests’ comments to know that a ranch vacation is far from corny. Comments such as ‘I thought it would be a bit hokey, but actually, it was very authentic and the best holiday I ever took’ and similar are not uncommon.
So really, there’s no excuse not to take a ranch holiday this year. What are you waiting for?