Family Ranch Vacations Embolden Children to Become NextGen Environmentalists, Explorers, says Dude Ranch Expert

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Rankin Ranch, California: Dude ranch vacations are ideal for families, says Gene Kilgore.

SONOMA, CA – Kids, horses and wranglers are the heart and soul of family dude ranch vacations, says Gene Kilgore, a leading expert on dude ranch vacations. “Take children to a beach and ask them 10 years later to name that beach and they will have forgotten. But take them to a ranch and they’ll remember the name of the ranch and the names of their horses for the rest of their lives.”

“A thread common to these ranches is the attention staff lavish on children exploring an exciting new, wild world of ranch vacations,” he adds. “Meanwhile their parents are unplugging, riding or maybe fly fishing, reading a book or musing about becoming a family who lives year-round on a ranch. They’ve never seen their children this happy.

He points to ranches from the Rockies to California “where Mother Nature emboldens children to become next generation environmentalists, explorers and adventurers.”.

In the Canadian Rockies, Three Bars Guest and Cattle Ranch invites ages 6 and up to ride, target practice with kid-size archery equipment, shoot clays with lightweight rifles, river raft, swim (supervised), mountain bike, fish, hunt for frogs, build forts and pan for British Columbia gold. Host Tyler Beckley notes, “The first day or so most families tend to ride together. As children feel more secure and after they’ve made friends, they’re off and running.” Evenings everyone eats together. Children under 6 can ride around the arena on horses led by wranglers and meet other animals in a petting zoo. Log cabins of up to three bedrooms accommodate 45 guests (see https://www.top50ranches.com/ranch-vacations/three-bars-ranch).

California’s Rankin Ranch has run cattle at the southern tip of the Sierra Nevada mountain range since 1863. Supervised activities for ages 4 to 11 combine hiking and swimming with ping pong, shuffleboard, archery, badminton, horseshoes and the list goes on. Ages 6 and up enjoy twice daily trail rides through areas where cattle are grazing. “Evenings youngsters feed chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, a miniature donkey and miniature horses. They get to brush the animals and collect eggs,” says Amanda Rankin Barrett, Ranch Manager. More fun comes with hay wagon rides, square dancing and a children’s race on stick horses they’ve created.  Adults bet on them with play money. Accommodations are for 45 in duplex cabins (see https://ranchweb.com/tour/bill-rankin/).

Colorado’s Lost Valley Ranch in the front range of the Rockies welcomes ages 6 and up to walk, trot and even lope under the supervision of trained counselors. Ages 3 to 5 can also be led around on horseback to explore the ranch. “Children learn the true ropes of being cowgirls and cowboys,” explains Stephanie Geary in Guest Services. “Sometimes they ride from ten in the morning until four in the afternoon. Every day the rides are mixed up with games, a creek swim or stories the wranglers tell about the history of Lost Valley.” Scavenger hunts and themed outings challenge imaginations while exploring this ranch world. Cabins with one, two or three bedrooms accommodate up to 85 guests during the summer season (see https://ranchweb.com/tour/lost-valley-ranch/).

Montana’s Nine Quarter Circle Ranch wants parents to feel comfortable fishing and riding while their children are learning the ins and outs of horsemanship with a kid wrangler or spreading their wings playing hide and seek or fishing. “Our Small Fry group (5 and under) can be led around on horses and supervised while parents spend time in the saddle.  One of our gems is our Rough Riders group (ages 6 to 9), which has the individualized attention of our Kiddie Wrangler. They learn skills on horseback, gaining confidence with their peers throughout the week,” underscores Sally Kelsey, co-general manager. Ages 10 and up are paired with horses and group trail rides according to ability levels. Accommodations for 55 are log cabins from one to four bedrooms (see https://ranchweb.com/?s=quarter+circle).

Wyoming’s Paradise Ranch in the Big Horn Mountains has been a dude ranch since 1907. “We get a lot of extended families because the kids are totally taken care of,” says Clay Miller, who is Managing Owner with his wife Leah. “We really emphasize getting the kids – even the teens — outdoors and becoming involved in activities that re-attach them to the outdoors.” One staff person is assigned to teens and three others to younger guests. Under age 6 can enjoy pony rides and older kids are on horses. The ranch can also accommodate infants. Accommodations for 70 are in newly renovated log cabins with up to four bedrooms. For details see https://www.top50ranches.com/ranch-vacations/paradise-ranch

Gene Kilgore publishes three websites, www.top50ranches.comwww.ranchweb.com and www.ranchvacations.com, which focus on what truly is one of America’s most iconic homegrown experiences – the dude ranch vacation.

 

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