That is quite a bold claim and of course, it is subjective, but I think these are the best. They vary in size and facilities but they all offer exemplary service, excellent food, good riding and the wonderful chance to be the cowboy of one’s childhood dreams. A ranch holiday is a wonderful thing as there is something for everyone.
All ranches make for an unforgettable family holiday for you and your children but these add a touch of luxury even though they are working ranches. They are also superb if grandparents want to join in the family holiday as four out of five of these ranches have multiple activities for all ages. A ranch also makes an amazing holiday for couples There is plenty of time and space for some high quality time together; singles will appreciate the chance to mingle with others on all the group activities.
Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort, British Columbia
Despite its name, Siwash is a working, family-owned boutique guest ranch lying in the middle of British Columbia’s cowboy country. It does not matter if you choose to stay in one of the luxury prospector tents or in the main lodge, you will be cossetted from morning to night whether you want to be out and about enjoying the many activities on offer or relaxing with a good book by the lake surrounded by beautiful meadows, forests and the horses. With a maximum of 24 people including children during the summer holidays, you could take over the whole ranch with a group of friends or the extended family. Outside of the summer holiday period, Siwash is an adult-only ranch.
Aside from the riding, there is fly-fishing, target and clay pigeon (skeet) shooting, kayaking and swimming in the lake, mountain biking, outdoor yoga as well as foraging tours and a forest spa. The children are well catered for with the Free-Range Kids Club. The Siwash Synergy with Horses™ is a unique programme regarded as the best in Canada. You will be able to ride through pristine wilderness of the Cariboo Mountains on a well mannered and trained horse chosen to suit your ability whether it is the first time you have ridden or are an expert before returning to the ranch house for a delicious dinner. Food is an important part of your stay at Siwash; as much as possible is sourced locally and lovingly prepared for you.
The Resort at Paws Up, Montana
Apparently, Abraham Lincoln said “My favourite state has not yet been invented. It will be called Montana, and it will be perfect”. The Resort at Paws Up is an authentic working cattle ranch sitting on 37,000 rolling acres, surrounded by the magical Montana wilderness. It is vast and yet manages to be personal as well, partly because there is no main lodge.
You have a choice of staying in either one of the 28 luxury homes scattered in the woods or down by the riverside there are 6 safari style camps offering super-luxurious tents with ensuite bathrooms where your neighbours are tall trees and undulating meadows. It is one of those places where you can leave the outside world behind when you land at Missoula. The ranch will collect you from the airport and transport you directly to Paws Up where your rate includes all on-property transportation (each home has its own compact car), all meals including soft drinks, beer and wine and vast array of recreation activities. These will include horse riding, clay-pigeon shooting, a quad bike tour as well as boating, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, even a high ropes course and a whole host more.
Children aged 3 to 12 are well catered for with their own clubs monitored by qualified staff. For a little extra cash, you can indulge in spa treatments, hot air ballooning, or a helicopter tour of nearby Glacier National Park. Like most ranches, The Resort at Paws Up is perfect for a large family gathering but if you are a couple, go in 2018 and stay in one of their new Cottage Suites, just perfect for two.
The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana
Renowned as the only Forbes Travel Guide’s Five-Star Guest Ranch, The Ranch at Rock Creek, along with Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort, was selected by National Geographic as a Unique Lodge of the World and is a member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux group. This should give you the idea that Rock Creek is a pretty special place and you are right. Back in the early 1900s Rock Creek was a working ranch homestead, however, since 2010 it has been metamorphosed into one of the most luxurious places to stay on the planet.
A maximum of 125 guests are accommodated in a variety of 29 rooms ranging from a one-room suite in the Granite Lodge to a five-bedroom log home. In between you will find glamping canvas cabins and an historic barn. The cabins are my favourite as they are a lovely combination of wooden cabin leading into a tented sleeping area. Any thought that you are camping can be banished as they have full private bathrooms, a gas burning stove and screened in porch many of which overlook Rock Creek.
Included in the cost of your stay are twice-daily guided on-Ranch adventures: these include riding, fly fishing, archery, hiking, mountain biking, a ropes course and Stagecoach Rides. The little ones are well taken care of in the Little Grizzlies Kids Club while the adults can indulge in spa treatments, golf or a heli-adventure. If you are thinking of getting married or celebrating a special occasions, Rock Creek would be a great choice.
Brush Creek Ranch, Wyoming
Voted Number 1 Resort Hotel in the US and Number 3 in the World 2017 by Travel & Leisure Readers, Brush Creek Ranch actually comprises three guest ranches set on a 30,000 acre working ranch. The main one is the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch which is a family-friendly lodge sleeping up to 150 guests. At its centre is the timber built Trailhead Lodge with its 28-foot high ceilings and wonderful views of the Sierra Madre Mountains and the Snowy range. Here you will find the Great Room where you can enjoy a multi-course meal paired with wine chosen from the 800 bottle wine cellar, a vast fireplace and an expansive bar. Meal time is an important part of your stay at Brush Creek; try the feasts at the Chuckwagon or outdoor dining at the Creekside Dinner Camp. The historic Magee Homestead is perfect for a small group (maximum 27 people) and for the sportsman, there is the French Creek Sportsman’s Club on the Platte River Valley for exclusive fly fishing and shooting.
Wherever you choose to stay, you will have to make your way to the Outfitters Barn where the professional staff will prepare you for the day’s adventures. These could be riding, fly-fishing, archery or hiking; there are over 75 miles of biking / hiking trails as well as ziplines and a ropes course. All kinds of sports take place in the gymnasium, basketball, bocce, Pool, air hockey. If you have heard of it, Brush Creek probably provide it.
Triple Creek Ranch, Montana
Hidden away in the Bitterroot Mountain range of the Montana Rockies is the intimate Relais & Châteaux member Triple Creek Ranch. This adult-oriented ranch, sleeping a maximum of 62 guests, focuses on its award winning cuisine accompanied by fine wines: Triple Creek has been awarded a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence every year since 2012. If you plan your visit carefully, you will be able to join one of their Vintner weekends, the cooking school or an Artist Workshop. Triple Creek is all about planning. Meticulous care is paid to every detail and it shows in the exceptional personal service, the comfort, positioning and furnishings of the cabins of which there are a variety ranging from a one-bedroom cabin to luxury ranch homes.
Included in the cost of your holiday is a wide range of activities. Depending on the time of year, you can choose from riding, hiking or snowshoeing, a fly-casting clinic, sapphire panning, tennis or archery. If all this sounds just too energetic, you can always relax by the pool, kept at 84 degrees during the summer months. For an extra cost, you can also whitewater raft, join a cattle drive or a guided ATV adventure among many other options.
Sandra Potter is Founder of Frontier Travel.