Posts Tagged ‘vacation ideas’

A Southern Cross Guest Ranch Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 4th, 2016

Autumn brings to mind cooler temperatures, vivid colour displays of fiery red, burnt amber and orange falling leaves as well as spectacular sunsets and brilliant harvest moons. It is also the time of year when families, friends and loved ones gather together under one roof to celebrate Thanksgiving. Lavish meals, friendly games of touch-football and endless football games to watch on T.V. are usually par for the course for this time-honoured holiday tradition .This year why not choose to do something totally different? Let someone else do all the cooking and cleaning and instead of lazing around on that oh-so comfy couch, make this year’s Thanksgiving holiday an event to remember!  Although there are lots of options and destinations to choose from when considering a Thanksgiving getaway, Southern Cross Guest Ranch should definitely be at the top of your list.

Georgia Guest Ranch

Southern Cross, considered “One of America’s Best Dude Ranches” by Travel + Leisure Magazine, features quality All-Inclusive vacations in a horse lover’s paradise. The ranch is best known for its exceptional hands-on horseback riding program with unguided riding opportunities, and is also home to well over 150 quality Paint and Quarter horses. Conveniently located in Central Georgia’s Historic Heartland and within an hour’s drive from Atlanta the ranch prides itself in providing good old southern hospitality, delightful accommodations, delectable cuisine and stimulating activities all year round. Here you will rediscover life’s more simple pleasures.

Thanksgiving at Southern Cross is their most popular week of the year and often sells out months in advance. In fact, many of their guests during this time period, return year after year and even book up for the following year while still at the ranch. In addition to their All-Inclusive schedule of meals and horseback riding, they also cook up a large Thanksgiving feast. Oven roasted turkey, baked ham, lamb, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, corn, and green beans, as well as all of the traditional “fixin’s” make this a truly memorable meal.

Southern Cross Guest Ranch

Your ranch vacation at Southern Cross has lots of opportunities to relax and unwind, as well as an exciting array of activities to enjoy; take a dip in the pool or soak in the hot tub, hop on a mountain bike, shoot some hoops, try your hand at fishing in the pond, play a game in the rec. room, go on a hike, visit the horses in the pasture, or throw some horseshoes. Attractions nearby include golfing, tennis, boating, skeet shooting, kayaking, museums, historical tours, and shopping.

Georgia Guest Ranch

This year put your shopping list away, pull out your suitcase and book a Thanksgiving getaway at Southern Cross Guest Ranch. Fill your days with fresh air, beautiful autumn-coloured infused scenery, fun activities, great food and make some memories that will last a lifetime.

Happy Trails!

Let RanchSeeker help you find your ideal guest ranch vacation!

Join Three Bars Ranch in 2017 for a Week of Equine Photography

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

Are you a photography buff? Do you love the great outdoors and horses? If so, then Three Bars Ranch has the ideal vacation package for you. From May 21st-27th the ranch is offering their 2017 Equine Photography Week! Join them and award winning photographer Ryan Courson for a week long equine workshop.

With the Canadian Rockies as your backdrop, and a herd of 100 horses as your subjects, you will have all of the opportunities and assistance that you may need in capturing some incredible equine images. In between customized shoots, you can enjoy all the amenities horseback riding and activities offered at Three Bars Ranch.

Workshop cost is $2690.00 per adult, + 6.2% tax. Packages include all meals, upscale log cabin accommodations, unlimited horseback riding, and all other ranch activities, plus custom horse shoots, workshops and coaching by Ryan Courson.  Space is limited so don’t wait too long to book!

For more info email: info@threebarsranch.com  or call: 1-877-426-5230.  Be sure to let the ranch know that you heard about this exciting workshop through RanchSeeker’s Blog.

Three Bars Ranch Workshop

Voted Canada’s # 1 Guest Ranch 4 years running Three Bars Ranch considered “THE Adventure Ranch of The Canadian Rockies” is located just south of Banff in Cranbrook, Super Natural British Columbia. Three Bars specializes in 3 – 6 night all- inclusive riding and non- riding packages. Here you will find an abundance of nature, clean, rushing water, green fields, and breathtaking mountain views. There is a wide range of activities to choose from like horseback riding, hiking, river rafting, mountain biking, fly fishing, and tennis. Every day is a new adventure for you and your loved ones to experience!

At the end of the day a spacious log cabin awaits you where you can kick-back and relax on your porch while enjoying all the western charm that your cabin affords you. There are cabins suited for couples and families alike.  Aside from all of the modern amenities that are included there is also an indoor swimming pool, outdoor hot tub and Jacuzzi ideal for soothing sore muscles after a long ride.

Canadian Guest Ranch

When you choose to vacation at Three Bars Ranch you are choosing to experience something more than just your regular vacation you are choosing a “real ranch for real people!”

Happy Trails!

Let RanchSeeker help you find your ideal guest ranch vacation!

Here’s One New Year’s Resolution You’ll Want To Keep . . .

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

White Stallion Ranch New Year’s Resolution Special

Monday, January 2, – Friday, January 6, 2017    

If a riding vacation is on your bucket list, this is it. It’s never been more affordable.

Make the most of winter in Arizona while experiencing a riding adventure with plenty of relaxation.

This four night package includes lodging, all meals, horseback riding, ranch activities and airport transfers from Tucson.

There will be a breakfast ride Tuesday morning, a lunch cookout Wednesday with their hay wagon as your transportation, plus lots of specialty rides like Wine and Cheese, all-day and half-day rides as well as team penning.  In addition there will be many daily scenic desert and mountain rides.   Guided hikes are available every morning plus they have rock climbing for an additional fee.  Evening entertainment varies, but there will definitely be country/western line dancing and a cowboy singer around the bonfire.

Arizona Guest Ranch

Cost:  $720 per person sharing a double or $784 single for four nights.  Tax and 15% service will be added.

At White Stallion Ranch, the personal touch and hospitality of a traditional dude ranch is carefully blended with the service and amenities of a fine resort. Reconnect with nature, family, friends and serenity while riding through the unspoiled desert, rugged mountains and cactus that have brought Hollywood film-makers to the ranch for over 70 years.

White Stallion Ranch is a proud member of the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame as the #1 property in Tucson for 5 consecutive years. The ranch is situated between Phoenix and Tucson, making it easy accessible from Arizona’s two major airports.

Fun fact: White Stallion Ranch has been featured in 27 Hollywood films dating back to 1939.

Happy Trails!

Let RanchSeeker help you find your ideal guest ranch vacation!

Cowtown! Calgary’s Stampede City!

Friday, August 19th, 2016

The following article 1st  appeared in  Ranch & Reserve Magazine’s  8th issue.

Many years ago, as a young, British immigrant, I found myself at the Calgary Stampede…..one of the most famous and largest rodeos in the world. It totally blew me away!  I had never experienced or seen anything quite like it. An amazing kaleidoscope of events, from a foot stomping, mind boggling opening Parade of marching brass bands, flamboyant floats, honorary marshal, parade queen and princesses to heart-stopping feats as cowboys and cowgirls showed off their skills and competed for major prize money in the huge Stampede Grandstand arena. The rodeo events were an eye-popping spectacle of calf roping, steer wrestling, barrel racing and, most thrilling of all, bare-back riders exploding out of the gate astride big bucking bulls or broncos. Between various events, nimble rodeo clowns kept the stands laughing and rearing animals distracted, when a rider tumbled to the ground!  Every night, enthusiastic aficionados of chuck wagon racing filled the stands to hoot and holler and cheer on their favourite teams as wagons careened and thundered around the track.  After that heady rush of adrenaline, it was time for spectators to sit back and enjoy big-name entertainment at the evening concert, climaxed by a brilliant firework display at the evening’s close.

During the day and into the night, good-natured crowds jostled and pushed their way around the various venues, trying to take in as much as possible.  Vendors hawked their wares and sold everything from hot dogs and cotton candy to the latest kitchen gadgets. The constant hustle and bustle was an infectious mix of good times and fun-filled days that invoked a true carnival atmosphere.  Among the major attractions, was an authentic Indian Village recreated on the banks of the Elbow River, representing the six local tribes, replete with tipis, native art and tribal members resplendent in ceremonial dress and traditional attire.  Other big draws were the many agricultural exhibitions and magnificent prize livestock on show in the cattle sheds, polished and groomed by their proud owners, as visitors gingerly picked their way around bellowing animals and sawdust strewn floors!

Free pancake breakfasts, free barbecues and impromptu street parties were hosted at countless outdoor venues around town… western hospitality at its finest and a sure-fire Stampede staple.  Saloon-type restaurants did a roaring trade happily serving up large plates of steak and eggs to customers from early morning ‘til late at night. White Stetsons, cowboy boots and blue jeans were de rigueur as everyone got in on the act to celebrate Stampede week. Calgary residents and visitors alike lived and breathed in a bygone western era, which then, as now, remains the true essence of the Calgary Stampede.

But what exactly is the Calgary Stampede and how did it come to symbolize and define Calgary as Stampede City, hosting the largest, richest, most successful rodeo festival to date?

Calgary Stampede

Basically, the Stampede is a 10-day annual Rodeo, Exhibition and Agricultural fair held every July in Calgary, a prosperous modern city situated at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers surrounded by foothills and prairies in the Province of Alberta, about 80km from the east range of the Canadian Rockies. The Stampede is run by a “not for profit organization that preserves and promotes western heritage and values.”  Thousands of volunteers help to make the annual Stampede possible, which bills itself as, “The Greatest Show on Earth!”  Only the present-day midway funfair is a for profit run business by an entirely separate entity.

But let’s go back to the very beginning when Calgary was truly deserving of its nickname Cowtown!   Like all great and enduring ventures, it has an uneven and colourful history dating from 1886 when the Calgary and District Agricultural Society put on its first fair and exhibition to encourage farmers to move west.  At that time, Calgary was a small town with most of the 2,000 population involved in farming, ranching and raising cattle.  The society’s fair enjoyed a modest profit and success which continued in one form or another until 1895 when poor weather, failed crops and declining attendance put an end to it.  However, in 1899, the Western Pacific Exhibition stepped in, took over the Victoria Park facility and resumed the fairs which began to grow annually. In 1910 the fair became known as the Calgary Industrial Exhibition.

The big break came in 1908, when the Canadian government chose Calgary to host the Dominion Exhibition and provided necessary funds. The city, seizing an opportunity to promote itself, invested a further $145,000 to build six new pavilions and despite a recession the Exhibition was a total success.

But the birth of the Stampede as we know it today, was the idea and brainchild of Guy Weadick, an American trick roper at the Dominion Exhibition, who later returned to Calgary and convinced four Calgary businessmen, Pat Burns, George Lane, A.J. McLean and A. E. Cross, forever immortalized in Calgarian folk-lore history as the Big Four, to back an authentic wild-west type Stampede.  The Big Four thought it would be a fitting, one-time only event to celebrate their lives as cattlemen, and so the first Stampede took place in 1912 as a joint venture with the Calgary Industrial Exhibition and was an instant success. It took another 7 years before Weadick managed to get the Big Four to sponsor another such event, which was the 1919 Victory Stampede to mark the end of W.W.1 and honour returning war veterans.   It too was an immediate rip-roaring success. However, it wasn’t until 1923 that the Calgary Industrial Exhibition, suffering losses and falling revenues, agreed to merge with Weadick’s Stampede group and form the “Calgary Exhibition and Stampede” which became a permanent fixture on the rodeo circuit.

Calgary Stampede

With the discovery of the Leduc 1 oil well in 1947, far-reaching changes took place in Calgary having an enormous impact on the city’s future and that of the Stampede. The former small cattle and farming community was transformed into the present-day oil and gas capital of Canada and financial hub of Alberta. As Calgary grew, so did the Stampede, attracting notables from afar, including the Queen and Prince Philip twice, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope as parade marshals and six Hollywood-made films featuring the Stampede……some using actual footage.  But by the 1950’s it was evident that further expansion was necessary to accommodate the increasing number of attendees and rodeo events to ensure the continuing success of the Stampede.

With this in mind, the organization embarked on an ambitious building program, which included a 7,500 seat Stampede Corral in 1950 followed by a race-track in 1954. The Big Four Building (named after its four benefactors) was completed in 1959, the city’s largest Exhibition Hall at the time.  In 1961, the OH Ranch, in Hanna, Alberta was established to raise and breed cattle, horses and bulls for the Stampede’s six rodeo disciplines using humane methods. By 1968, the Stampede had grown so rapidly that it was extended to its current 10 days. The Roundup Centre came next in 1979 and served as the new Exhibition Hall and finally in 1983 the Olympic Saddledome took its place as the Stampede’s newest and biggest venue. Owing to the improved and expanded facilities, attendance rose steadily until it finally plateaued at around 1.2 million with a one-time peak of 1.4 million in 2012 at the Stampede’s Centennial year celebrations.

In 2007, “Exhibition” was dropped and the event was called simply, The Calgary Stampede. At the same time, the Stampede organization finally acquired additional lands at Victoria Park, expanding the original site, now known as Stampede Park.  Long-term plans include it being a year-round destination for both locals and visitors.  The Stampede Park complex is located in S.E. downtown Calgary in the Beltline district, serviced by a rapid transit line and consists of the following facilities:  the Saddledome and Corral, the Big Four building, the BMO Centre and the Stampede Grandstand.

Calgary Stampede

In the years since my long-ago visit, many new attractions have been added to the Stampede, such as the ever- popular Midway,  an exciting Adventure Park , a Nashville North venue showcasing well-known country and western artists and the Transalta Grandstand, which features a troupe of talented young Canadian performers strutting their stuff in front of a packed house!

The horrendous 2013 floods, which decimated much of Calgary, threatened to cancel that year’s stampede, however, Stampede City literally pulled itself out of the mud and with the help of selfless volunteers the show went on… a testament to the indomitable spirit that has infused the Calgary Stampede since its inception. As a direct result of the floods, millions of dollars were raised from government and private donors for ongoing improvements to the Stampede facilities and future expansion projects.

In the summer of 2015, I had the opportunity to stay at a cattle farm 120km outside of Calgary and got to explore the neighbouring  high country and arid badlands, plus renew my acquaintance with Calgary’s downtown, now an imposing, sophisticated city of skyscrapers, condo towers and trendy restaurants. But at the heart of all this modernity, Cowtown is alive and well with a warm invitation to step back into the past and soak up the spirit of the old wild-west at the next Calgary Stampede!

Sheilan Dove/ June 29/2016

Need a Reason to Book a Guest Ranch Vacation?

Monday, July 18th, 2016

You don’t have to be a cowboy to love a dude ranch vacation. Here are 4 great reasons to book your next vacation at one of RanchSeeker’s guest ranches.

Horseback riding

If you love horses then a dude ranch vacation is definitely for you. Whether you are an experienced rider or will be riding for the first time responsible wranglers will help you find the right horse for you. Enjoy riding through forests, surrounded by majestic mountains, or through canyons or even the desert on your next dude ranch vacation. Many ranches will pair you with a horse at the beginning of the week who will be yours for the rest of your stay so be prepared to make a new friend.

Ranch Life

City hotels and beach resorts are usually quite anonymous.  You come, you stay and you leave, scarcely meeting a soul or getting to know a very different way of life.  At a guest ranch, there is an immediate sense of family with the owners, the ranch hands and fellow guests.  There is communal eating, shared activities during the day and get-together dining and entertainments at night.  People talk, exchange ideas and histories, as well as their varied experiences that day.  Many people form lasting friendships or acquaintances and some return regularly to renew and relive their fond memories of past vacations. It’s a unique personal feature and attraction of a ranch vacation.  It feeds into our psyche of wanting to feel at home, a sense of belonging, while enjoying the freedom of the great outdoors. It’s a way of getting back to the fundamentals, away from the distractions and duty of everyday life.

Spa Facilities

Lots of guest ranches now boast spa facilities…..from a full-on spa complex complete with qualified staff and health professionals to administer facials, body care and massages plus heated pools, mud baths and float therapy to a modest beauty salon providing more basic personal care. This is of benefit to guests wanting to invigorate and rejuvenate during their vacation and an ideal way to indulge the senses and be pampered after participating in an all-day exciting outdoor excursion.  In addition, many ranches offer yoga and Pilate classes to kick off the day. Some ranches have a complete program by fully trained personnel devoted to health care management and an exercise and diet regime, especially tailored to seniors and those in need of life-improvement treatments conducted in a peaceful environment.

Ranch Lodges & Accommodations

When most people think of a ranch, the image that frequently springs to mind is bunk beds and baked beans…….maybe, once upon a time, but not in this day and age. Guest ranches have come a long way from those days and now compete superbly with stylish hotels and resorts.  It all depends on what you want and expect from a guest ranch vacation.  Some ranches offer a more intimate approach, with family-style cabins equipped with kitchenettes, able to sleep a family or group and a patio for casual BBQ meals.

BC Guest Ranch

Photo courtesy of Echo Valley Ranch & Spa

Other more upscale ranch resorts have private, spacious suites, fine dining and select wines, swimming pools, tennis courts and in-house spas.  In between is a wide variety of guest ranch accommodations and amenities that is designed to ensure the comfort and well-being of every type of guest and their expectations.  The great news about ranches is their versatility and adaptability to all different kinds of guests flocking to their homesteads and their ability to accommodate all types and all budgets.

Guest ranches usually have a comfortable lodge where guests mix and mingle, eat, dine and socialize every night.  Most guest ranches provide some form of nightly entertainment or special event depending on their locale, their staff and their size.  Each guest ranch is unique and has its own special attractions.  And yes…the food ranges from down home, plentiful wholesome fare to haute cuisine prepared by trained chefs designed to satisfy even the most discerning palate.

So…. just go for it and embark on a different kind of adventure , the sort of vacation that will bring endless delights and fond memories long after your trip is over.

Happy Trails!