Ranch Holidays - I'd like to go ranching but..

Published by Jody on January 16 2013 14:45 in Dude Ranches | Press Release | Ranch Life
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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?

www.top50ranches.com

Family dude ranch vacations: 10 ways to tear your kids away from their X-Box!

Published by Jody on May 10 2012 04:22 in Cattle drives | Children's Programs | Dude Ranches | Montana | Press Release | Rodeos | Top50 Feature Articles | United States | Working Ranches
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Family dude ranch vacations could provide the solution to the problem faced by almost every parent: getting the kids away from the X-Box! Whether your child is glued to their games console, computer, television screen or cell phone, family dude ranch vacations can tear even the most gadget-savvy child out of the digital age and enlighten them to the simpler ways to enjoy life.

Top50 Ranches has come up with 10 wonderful ways to de-gadget your kids on a family dude ranch vacation – try these simple strategies for size…

1. Get ‘em in the saddle at Red Horse Mountain Ranch and you’ll have a hard time trying to get them back off the horse! The Idaho family dude ranch’s children’s program includes horseback riding for children as young as three years, allowing kids to go horseback riding on the trail with the rest of the family.

2. Let them jump in at the deep end – literally! – at Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge, whose all-inclusive Montana family vacations include lake water sports among a whole host of other ranch activities. In fact, at Flathead Lake Lodge the kids can enjoy the most diverse range of all-inclusive activities offered by any USA ranch – think horseback riding, sailing, personalized fly-fishing, water sports, horseback riding, rodeo, tepee campouts, family barn dances and so much more.

3. Send them mountain biking at Majestic Dude Ranch, which boasts an impressive fleet of brand new, state-of-the-art bikes for every age and size. With pro-cyclist Nick as their guide, the kids will be awestruck at the exciting cycle trails to tackle in Colorado’s beautiful Mesa Verde National Forest, some of which have been named in the top 10 mountain biking trails in the USA.

4. Make ‘em cowboys! At Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge, kids get to try out real rodeo games in the arena during the week, then put their new cowboy skills to the test in the weekly take-part family rodeo. The only thing they’ll want to watch on TV after this is ‘Eight Seconds’!

5. Set your teens loose in Yellowstone on Lone Mountain Guest Ranch’s “Teens Only” tour of the national park, on a backpacking trip into the Spanish Peaks. Not only will they not be able to get cell phone service in the mountains, they’ll probably forget why they ever bothered with texting in the first place.

texas horse camps

6. Get bonding with your daughter at the Sugar and Spice Ranch in Texas, USA. The moms-and-daughters dude ranch encourages bonding through fun horseback games, rodeo and horse care activities. If your little girl loves horses, she’ll love this Texas family vacation – and so will you!

7. Forget heading to town for 10-pin bowling – Montana's The Ranch at Rock Creek’s Silver Dollar Saloon entertainment area comes fully equipped with a four-lane bowling alley, complete with computerized scoring, a selection of balls and bowling shoes in assorted sizes. Strike!

8. Swimming with dolphins? So last year. This year’s family ranch vacation is all about swimming with horses. That’s right, head to Sweet Grass Ranch for a Montana family vacation where the kids – and you! – can enjoy swimming your horse bareback in the creek.

9. Roll them down a hill. Yes, really! It’s all about “zorbing” these days, so take a Montana family vacation at The Resort at Paws Up, which offers exactly that. What could be a better way to get your thrill-seeker kids outdoors than to ask them to strap themselves inside a giant bouncy ball and launch themselves down a hill? (See above.) Don’t worry, it’s all fully supervised and totally safe!

10. Get ‘em chasing cows on cattle drives at Bonanza Creek Ranch. Your Montana family vacation will see them doing the job of wranglers, with guests of all ages, if able to control their horse independently, encouraged to play an active role in the working ranch’s style cattle drives. Prepare to unleash their inner Billy the Kid!

For more information on family dude ranch vacations, visit Top50Ranches.com

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10 ways to ruin your dude ranch vacation

Published by Jody on April 10 2012 11:04 in Press Release | Top50 Feature Articles | What to wear
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Top50 shares some handy tips on how to ruin your dude ranch vacation (ie, do the exact opposite)

Some 'souvenirs' are best left at the ranch...

1. Leave the kids home alone

Tempting as it is to get away from the children and enjoy a dude ranch vacation alone, you can’t guarantee you’ll return with your house intact or at least one family heirloom broken after the raucous party they will – trust us – throw while you’re away. For your own sanity, take them with you on a family dude ranch vacation. Sign ‘em up on a teens’ program and you won’t even have to look at them.

2. Assume the weather will be great

If you go into hibernation at the slightest fall in temperature or drop of rain, or have a tendency to pass out in anything above 90 degrees, you’ll want to know what to expect before you a) sign on the dotted line and b) start packing nothing but shorts and bikini tops. Check the climate charts on your chosen dude ranch’s Top50 profile before booking your dude ranch vacation.

3. Go off the ranch website alone

Pretty website = best ranch in the world. Right? Well you could chance it, but we recommend checking out Top50 Ranches as well. Not only are all of Top50’s luxury dude ranches, guest ranches and working ranches carefully vetted to guarantee you excellence in riding, hospitality and accommodations, but comparing your chosen dude ranch to other Top50 ranches might throw up some options you hadn’t considered. Better still, get in touch with Top50 and we can recommend to you the best ranches that match your needs and expectations.

4. Assume horseback riding is easy (on your butt)

It’s not. Even the most experienced riders will find all-day rides, every day, a little testing on the derriere – not to mention every other muscle in your body. While riding like John Wayne can be taught on your ranch vacation, getting in shape for horseback riding takes time and effort prior to setting off for your ranch vacation. Whether it’s getting in some saddle time, hitting the gym or sitting on a big round barrel for a few hours a day, getting in shape for riding will avoid all sorts of embarrassing wheelchair/bed-bound situations.

5. Don’t pack a sports bra

What could be better than loping through tree-lined pastures with the wind blowing through your hair – and your ample cleavage bounding along with more enthusiasm than your trusty steed? While guys might be immune from chest-related trauma, we advise women to pack several change of sports bra. Heck, wear 'em all at once if you have to.

6. Don’t buy travel insurance

Save money to spend on cowboy boots by not bothering with travel insurance. Just remember losing your horsey wardrobe before you even make it to your dude ranch (cue spending the entire vacation swathed in your partner’s oversize jeans and shirts) might get a little tedious. Oh, and not being able to afford to save your limb after being bitten by a rattlesnake on your pack trip could prove inconvenient.

7. Forget your passport

Remembering you left the entire family’s passports on the sideboard in the hallway is THE way to kick-start your dude ranch vacation. And while native travellers might not need a passport for domestic flights, flashing your library card as ID won’t get you far past immigration officers.

8. Make jokes with airport staff

Test the humor of airport security officials by making witty remarks about what you’ve got in your bag – be it 50lb of cocaine, a rare strain of bird flu, or a small Mexican. They’re unlikely to find it as hilarious as you do. Likewise, we advise against making sarcastic comments regarding a bomb in your bag to an air steward – unless you’d prefer to stay in a prison cell than a cozy log cabin at your luxury dude ranch.

9. Take to the saddle all guns blazing

(Not literally, that would be stupid.) You’ve arrived at the ranch and you’re ready to ride the range – so you promptly sign up for a 10-hour horseback ride. Well make the most of it, because it’ll be the only horseback ride you’ll be taking this vacation – and probably this year. Starting out with a couple of 1-2 hour trail rides and building up to longer, faster rides and cattle drives will ensure you get the most out of your ranch vacation. Your butt will thank you for it.

10. Infuriate (and possibly injure) fellow horseback riders

Sitting astride your ranch horse as you ride through open ranges, you’re swept up in the moment and decide it’s time for an ad-hoc lope through the long grass. “Yeehah!” Not so much fun for the less experienced riders in the group, nor your wrangler guide who’s trying to give a history of the guest ranch. You might be capable of controlling your horse, but don’t assume the same goes for the rest of the group. Taking off unannounced isn’t going to make you particularly popular around the dinner table that night. Or ever.

For more information on all of Top50's great range of dude ranch vacations, guest ranches and working ranches, visit Top50Ranches.com

Romantic ranch retreats for couples

Published by Jody on February 9 2012 05:46 in Argentina | Canada | Dude Ranches | Food & Wine | Montana | Press Release | Ranch Specials | Relaxation Ranches | United States | winter sports
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Romantic ranch retreats are the ideal way for you and the special someone in your life to get away from it all on Valentine's Day. It's not to late to book a last-minute dude ranch vacation at one of Top50 Ranches' romantic ranch retreats, but if you've already made plans for the big day, why not surprise your loved one and book a ranch vacation for later in the year?

Last-minute Valentine's ranch vacations


Your own luxury cabin at Triple Creek Ranch

Iconic romantic images from Legends of the Fall spring to mind when you think of Montana dude ranches, so jet of to Big Sky Country Valentine's for a romantic ranch vacation. Triple Creek Ranch is a couples haven: the mountain retreat has luxury private log cabins in the woods, complete with welcome basket of wine and goodies, private hot tub, and his-and-hers bathtubs - perfect for a secluded romantic getaway. Dine at the chef's table or enjoy candlelit dinners in the romantic dining room with dramatic views of the Bitterroot Mountains, plus moonlight strolls and movies under the stars. This Valentine's Day at Triple Creek, pastry chef Troy Himmelmen will offer a selection of chocolate delights, while sommelier, Jerry White, will suggest the right wine for each treat.

Montana dude ranch The Ranch at Rock Creek's winter season offers an ideal alternative to busy, expensive ski resorts, with phenomenal skiing hidden just minutes away. Offering tailor-made experiences and with no strict schedule, Rock Creek's secluded environment is perfect for a romantic getaway. Enjoy a couples massage in the full service spa and 5 star dining in The Granite Lodge, or for real romance take an evening horseback ride or intimate 2-seater winter sleigh ride.

Montana dude ranch Lone Mountain offers 85km of Nordic ski trails and world class downhill skiing just 6 miles away. Or why not head off the ranch and explore Yellowstone National Park? For a more relaxing vacation, enjoy a romantic on-the-snow buffet or sleigh ride dinner, gourmet ranch cuisine and relaxing massages.


Romantic sleigh rides on C Lazy U's Valentine's Special

For an extra-special Valentine's weekend dedicated to couples, head to Colorado dude ranch C Lazy U Ranch, and book the Valentine’s Day and Weekend Special* where you can enjoy a 39% discount on normal rates, plus 2-for-1 on couples massages. The romantic package includes afternoon arrival, a candlelit dinner for two, overnight accommodation in a luxury cabin, breakfast the next morning and a horseback excursion or sleigh ride prior to departure. *Available February 10-15, 2012, priced at $399 per couple/$199.50 per person. Standard two-night winter minimum waivered for couples. Additional nights, including standard meals and activities, priced at normal rate.

Or head to Echo Valley Ranch and Spa in British Columbia, Canada, which offers winter packages ideally suited to couples. A welcome glass of champagne or mulled wine awaits in your private deluxe cabin or sumptuous Baan Thai suite, and you can take a dip in the outdoor hot tub or indoor heated swimming pool, and indulge in one of the many treatments offered by the full-service spa. With self-guided snowshoeing & ski trails, you and your partner can get away from it all in the snowy Canadian wilderness.

Couples' ranch vacations for 2012

If booking a last-minute ranch vacation is out of the question, you can still surprise your loved one on Valentine's Day by booking a romantic ranch vacation for you both to take later in the year. A good option if you prefer your holidays to involve warmth and sunshine! Best of all, during the summer season you have the choice of all of Top50's best romantic ranch escapes. Here's our top pick of romantic ranch vacations for couples...

Relax during couples' week at Free Rein Ranch

Free Rein Guest Ranch in British Columbia, Canada, is all about letting you do what you wish, when you wish - whether that's horseback riding, bathing in secluded lakes, picnicing by the shoreline or simply enjoying a snooze in the shade. For a romantic ranch getaway, the best time to visit is in October, when Free Rein waves goodbye to the kids and dedicates the entire month to adults, meaning a quieter and more intimate atmosphere. As the nights start to draw in, drinking, partying and long lie-ins become more commonplace that action-packed days, so if you're looking for true relaxation and the freedom to do what you choose, this is the ranch to come to.


Kick back during Couples Bootcamp at Alisal

Also in October, Alisal Guest Ranch in California, USA, will play host to 'Couples Bootcamp'. From October 18 to 21, 2012, treat your other half to daily horseback rides, breakfast rides to the historic old Adobe, nightly entertainment, and all meals including gourmet wine dinners and a special lakeside dinner. The two of you will also enjoy a moonlight hay ride, romantic turn-down gifts and, of course, plenty of time for relaxing in each other's company.

Head to Vista Verde Ranch in Colorado, USA, and enjoy the privacy of your own private log cabin and private dining opportunities. Dining at Vista Verde is a real treat, with wine an integral part of the dining experience and Executive Chef, Matt Campbell, leading wine tastings and cookign classes.

Three Bars Ranch in British Columbia, Canada, offers wonderful spa facilities if you or your other half want a pampering ranch vacation. Here, high season for couples is concentrated more in spring and fall, so visit at these times of year for a more intimate and adult-oriented dude ranch vacation.

The Resort at Paws Up in Montana, USA, offers first-class service and luxurious accommodations. Think gourmet cuisine, couples' spa treatments, personalized service, and amenities such as heated bathroom floors, rain showers, organic spa products and hot tubs. Romantic accommodations don't get better than private luxury homes and luxury tents, and with the ranch staff's attentive, anticipatory service, first-class hospitality is guaranteed at Paws Up.

Siwash Lake Ranch in British Columbia, Canada, is a small, private and truly intimate hideaway perfect for a romantic ranch retreat. Enjoy private fine dining, couples' massages magically delivered in the woods under canvas, and private horseback rides. With a high staff:guest ratio, you and your partner are guaranteed royal pampering and personal service.


Luxury safari camp at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort

Another British Columbia luxury Canada guest ranch is Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, Top50's only luxury tented safari camp. Just like Prince William whisked Kate off on a safari adventure to pop the question, you can treat the love of your life to the ultimate romantic safari setting. Privacy is ensured in your own luxury tent complete with King bed, full en-suite bathroom with double sinks, heated floors, and indoor and outdoor showers. Take guided wiildlife safaris to see orca whales, sea otters and black bears, then relax back at the ranch with a couples massage and private 5-course meal.

Elk Mountain Ranch in Colorado, USA, might be a family ranch, but visit in September for adult weeks and you'll experience a much more intimate and relaxed atmosphere, thanks to a reduced guest capacity and an emphasis is on riding and relaxing. Think romantic trail ride cookouts, champagne brunches and a country candlelight dinner, as well as massages and hot tub facilities.


The Castle Room Suite at Estancia Ranquilco

For a more exotic romantic ranch vacation, head south to Argentina where adventure at Estancia Ranquilco awaits. Head out into the romantic wilderness for a pack trip into the mountains for all or part of your stay, or base your entire stay at the beautiful estancia where you'll have your own 'wing' of the stone lodge. We recommend The Castle Room suite, boasting a raised double bed offering amazing views of the river canyon below, and French doors to your private stone patio overlooking the river and mountains where you can enjoy private meals. When night draws in, cozy up in the adjoining sitting room by the stone fireplace complete with natural “heart” stones from the area, with a glass of Argentine Malbec. Sumptuous meals can be enjoyed out on the terrace with sweeping views of the Trocoman River or, for a more romantic setting, silver-service style with crystal and fine china in the dining room.

For more information on any of Top50's romantic ranch vacations, visit Top50Ranches.com

Colorado guest ranch Badger Creek offers authentic western vacations for keen riders

Published by Jody on January 30 2012 10:34 in Cowboy Culture | Horses | New Ranches | Press Release | Ranch Life | United States | Working Ranches
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Colorado dude ranches offer some of the world's best guest ranch vacations, and Badger Creek Ranch, located high in the spectacular Colorado Rocky Mountains, is no exception. As a traditional working cattle ranch, Badger Creek Ranch offers authentic working ranch vacations perfectly suited to keen riders and wannabe cowboys.

Cowgirl moving cattle at Badger Creek Ranch Cattle work at Badger Creek

Step through the gates of Badger Creek Ranch owners Susan and Eric Hotaling promise you the guest ranch vacation adventure of a lifetime. Join their crew of wranglers and ride fences, round up, doctor and sort their cattle as you immerse yourself in western cowboy culture. Life at this Colorado guest ranch is traditional and authentic, and with a guest capacity of just six, Badger Creek creates a small, homely atmosphere where first-rate hospitality and service come first.

Saddle up one of the ranch’s sturdy cow horses to cover mile upon mile of mesas, and ride the open range. After a long day in the saddle, enjoy hearty home-cooked meals, served family style in the dining room with the family. After an evening spent sitting out under the starry Colorado sky recounting the day’s adventures and planning the next one, retire to traditional and comfortable accommodations in the ranch bunkhouse and prepare for another day of western adventure.

With no set schedule, each day at Badger Creek runs to guests’ requests and needs – be it improving horsemanship skills in the arena under the quiet, calm tutelage of Eric; taking relaxing horseback rides through beautiful open country vistas or to ancient ruins on the ranch; or tackling everyday ranch work with Badger Creek’s cowboy crew. Whatever it is you want from your guest ranch vacation, Badger Creek will provide.

Not a rider? Not a problem - although ideal for keen and competent riders, the adult-oriented ranch welcomes guests without any prior horseback riding experience. Beginners are coached on the basics in the arena until confident and able to head out on the open range, and Eric is always on hand to impart his extensive horsemanship knowledge and ensure your comfort. Feeling a little saddle sore? Then take advantage of Badger Creek’s many off-ranch activities, which include rafting, fishing, trips to ghost towns and festivals, and much more.

If you're looking for an authentic taste of western ranch and rural life in a peaceful, tranquil environment, you'd be mad not to take a guest ranch vacation at Badger Creek Ranch!

For more information and to book, visit Badger Creek’s ranch profile at Top50Ranches.com or Email us.

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