Bar W Guest Ranch

December 15th, 2014 by Ashlie Dove

A Western Vacation for the Whole Family

If you want to slip away from the hustle and bustle of the city and into the rolling ridges of the countryside, Bar W Guest Ranch is where you should be. Stretched on 3,000 acres on Spencer Lake in Whitefish, Montana, the ranch is open all year round to extend true western hospitality to all its guests, be it through its accommodation options or variety of activities. So whether you’re planning your upcoming winter vacation or your summer holidays next year, read on to find out why Bar W is where you should be.

A Look at the Past of Bar W Guest Ranch

Before it evolved into a dude ranch, Bar W was the sanctuary of a father who wanted to escape the chaos of his workplace. Former world-class skier and outdoorsman Dave Leishman moved permanently to Montana with his wife Jan and his daughters Meghan and Emily after falling in love with the western way of life. Previously, he and his girls would visit a ranch in Northwest Montana where they would ride, work, interact with interesting people, and enjoy the rodeo experience. However, short holidays weren’t enough, which is when he decided to partner with Double D Guest Ranch’s owner Phil Dukes to buy his own.

Why It’s Time that You Drop By Bar W

Under Dave’s and Phil’s leadership, Bar W Guest Ranch received numerous accolades, including the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2014, Signature Ranch Best of Horseback Riding in 2012 and 2013, and Signature Ranch Best Dining 2012. These alone make the dude ranch worth exploring, but here are more reasons that truly make it stand out.

Dogs Welcomed – Bar W Guest Ranch truly is for the whole family, including members on all four feet. While you can’t keep them inside the lodge or cabin, they’ll be comfortably placed in stalls in the barn and provided with relaxing beds, shavings and water. Just remember to have your pet on a leash while roaming the ranch.

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Frosted Chocolate Chip Bars

December 2nd, 2014 by Ashlie Dove

Christmas cookie making is here again. Add these delectable frosted cookie bars for your cookie repertoire and you won’t be disappointed. A buttery flaky crust with gooey chocolate chip flecked filling topped with creamy frosting. Can we say heavenly!! We must thank the folks over at Red Horse Mountain Ranch for the recipe.


Flour 1 cup

Sugar ¼ cup

Butter ½ cup

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl cut butter into flour and sugar until crumbly.
  3. Press the mixture into the bottom of a parchment paper-lined 9”x13” pan. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes.


Graham cracker crumbs 1 cup

Baking powder 1 tsp

Salt ¼ tsp

Chocolate chips ¾ cup

Sweetened condensed milk 14 oz can

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  2. Spread over baked crust and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.


Butter ½ cup

Powdered sugar 1 ½ cups

Vanilla 1 tsp

  1. Blend all ingredients until creamy.
  2. Spread over cooled bars.

Cut into 36 bars and enjoy

Winter Dude Ranch Vacations

November 27th, 2014 by Ashlie Dove

Enjoy the Cold Season in a Rustic Setting of a Dude Ranch

If you want to enjoy the beauty of winter in a setting different from home, you’ll be glad to know that dude ranches are open during the colder season. In addition to allowing you to watch the falling snow while cozying up with a loved one in front of the fire, ranches open in winter host a different set of winter activities like snow-shoeing, ice skating and horseback riding through snow. So if you’re sold to the idea of heading to a dude ranch this winter, here are three great options you should seriously consider.

#1) Echo Valley Ranch and Spa

Nominated as TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice, Echo Valley Ranch and Spa is nestled in the mountains of British Columbia. A few hours away from Vancouver, the ranch is an all-natural treat where Canadian wildlife grazes peacefully around and the mountain spring water reflects the same purity as the air. On the inside, the rooms are warm and comfortable while the exclusive Royal Suite promises privacy and total relaxation. However, if you’d rather stay at a cabin, you can take your pick from a number of unique types available at EV Ranch.

If you’re in the area during winter, make sure to avail the Winter Ranch Vacation Getaway between December 12, 2014 and January 5, 2015. Some of the great offerings of this vacation package include:

• A glass of champagne or mulled wine on your arrival
• Guided snowshoeing walks every day
• Ice fishing at the nearest lake with the ranch’s own equipment
• Cross Country skiing
• Thai yoga stretching classes every day
• Weekly Thai banquet and Thai dancing
• Weekly cooking demonstrations

For a minimum of $186 per person per night (Canadian $210), you’ll also get to use all the ranch’s facilities, including free Wi-Fi, a heated swimming pool, games room, Karaoke, and fitness center.

Echo Valley Ranch

Echo Valley Ranch

#2) Lone Mountain Ranch

Established as a cattle ranch in 1915, Lone Mountain Ranch is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in Montana. It was added to the National Registry of Historic Places, giving it a significant role in the history of the state as well as the guest ranch industry nationwide. You can still see many century-old original structures on the dude ranch, including the Meadowlark guest cabin, corrals and barns. Lone Mountain also flaunts exclusive Northern Rocky Mountain cuisine delicacies such as elk chops.

If you want to head to Montana this winter and rough things up a little, the Winter Discovery Package at Lone Mountain Ranch will cost you $2,300 per week per adult. For this price, you’ll get the following perks:

• A choice between cabins and rooms in Ridgetop Lodge
• Access to Nordic trails and snowshoe trails
• Sleigh ride dinner
• Ski and snowshoe rental
• Gourmet BBQ trail lunch between January and March
• Evening programs at the Ranch saloon

For a little extra, you can add other things to this list, including Yellowstone Park snowcoach tours, ski lessons, and massage therapy.

Lone Mountain Ranch

Lone Mountain Ranch

#3) Big Bar Guest Ranch

Six hours away from Vancouver and nestled in the Marble Range of the Southern Cariboo in British Columbia, Big Bar Guest Ranch is the perfect place to experience rustic living just like the cowboys. Its main attraction is the Harrison House, which was built on the land in 1936. On the inside, it welcomes guests to relax and enjoy the warmth of a fireplace built with rocks from the Fraser River. Surrounding the house is an extensive lawn where you can play soccer, badminton or even horseshoes. After a long day, you’re welcome at the communal dining room where you can enjoy authentic ranch delicacies in hearty portions.

Now if you plan to head to Big Bar Guest Ranch during the colder season, be prepared to be welcomed by plenty of snowfall. The serenity of the area combined with the cozy atmosphere inside the cabins will make you forget your worries back home. You can also visit the nearby pond to skate, go ice fishing, or explore the surrounding country either on skis, snowshoes or even horseback. Currently, the winter rates are $150 per night for cabins, $25 per stay for the ski pass, and $65 per person for each ride.

One thing you should know is that the dude ranch’s restaurant will be closed, so you’ll be cooking your meals in your cabin’s fully equipped kitchen. However, if you plan to be at the ranch during Christmas, you can celebrate with a traditional meal with the ranchers and other guests for an additional fee.

Big Bar Ranch

Big Bar Ranch

So whether you plan on spending your winter dude ranch vacation indoors or out in the snow, check out these three options first for the best experience around.


Ranch at Rock Creek Beet Salad

November 18th, 2014 by Ashlie Dove

The Ranch at Rock Creek combines modern  luxuries with rustic ranch living and their Granite Lodge is where all the activity begins. Inside the Granite Lodge is the Great room, dining room, Silver Dollar Saloon, the Granite Spa, outdoor pool with patio, jacuzzi and  Mercantile. Executive Josh Drage serves up world class cuisine featuring Montana raised beef, lamb and chicken accompanied by local organic produce. This Beet Salad is an example of the caliber of dining you can expect at the Ranch at Rock Creek.


6 medium-large beets
1 lemon
1 orange
3 twigs of thyme
olive oil
sea salt
1 bunch of watercress
1 small bunch of parsley
1 kumquat
Marcona almonds to taste
1/2 cup goat cheese
1 cup olive oil
fresh mint
1/2 cup white balsamic
salt and pepper


  1. Trim and clean the ends of the beets and place on a long piece of aluninum foil.
  2. Halve the orange and lemon and place on beets along wiht a dash of olive oil and fresh sprigs of thyme
  3. Fold foil over and fold again on edges to create a sealed package. Roast in a 400F oven for an hour. The foil will puff to create a pillow shape
  4. Remove from the oven and let rest for an hour without puncturing the foil
  5. In a blender, add the goat cheese, mint, white balsamic, salt and pepper. Turn blender on and add olive oil by drizzling it through the top of the blender until fully mixed
  6. Remove beets from the foil and trim tops and bottoms again. Peel off skin with a paring knife and quarter.
  7. Trim the watercress and slice the kumquat removing any seeds. Pick the parsley.
  8. To serve, place a small puddle of vinaigrette in the center of the plate and build the salad on it.
  9. Garnish with the almonds, white anchovy and parsley
Beet Salad

The Creek Beet Salad

Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch

November 10th, 2014 by Ashlie Dove

Rediscover the Wild West Experience at Colorado’s Oldest Dude Ranch

Log cabins, authentic Wild West meals, horseback riding, hayrides, and campfire – these are most of the things you may have on your list while vacationing at a dude ranch. However, at Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch, these are just some of the numerous attractions and activities you can indulge in. Perched at 7,500 ft. elevation in the southwest of Rocky Mountain National Park, this friendly guest ranch will give you a taste of days past while relieving you from the hustle and bustle of your daily routine in a peaceful valley on the banks of the Colorado River.

Bar Lazy J Ranch

Bar Lazy J’s Origins

Bar Lazy J takes pride in being the oldest continuously operating dude ranch in the state. Named the Buckhorn Lodge originally, the ranch was purchased in 1904 by James S. Ferguson and Edgar M. Messiter. James, his wife Florence and Edgar then decided to turn it into a resort, a profitable idea considering that many people stopped by during the travels. Even after James passed away, Florence married Edgar and continued his dream.

To add a dash of class to their resort, the ranch had a newly out debutante acting as the social secretary. In addition, guests had to produce a letter of reference before staying at the ranch. This was all the invitation Colorado’s elite needed, all of whom paid the then-hefty price of $5 for the American Plan, i.e. lodging, meals, horseback riding, fishing, singing and square dancing, and cookouts.

The Buckhorn Lodge has undergone many changes since it opened its doors in 1912. Under the ownership of Jerry and Cheri Amos-Helmicki since 1995, it became less of a posh resort and turned into an original dude ranch that radiates hospitality and friendliness while promising a quality ‘Western Experience for everyone’.

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