Visit a Guest Ranch on Valentine’s Day or Anytime!
February 10, 2011
Our guest post comes from Jody Dahl who grew up on a ranch and currently owns a Montana guest ranch. Feedback from guests and research on hundreds of ranches led her to create Top50Ranches– a resource for travelers worldwide featuring a select collection of ranches that have met established criteria.
Valentine’s Day – you couldn’t miss it if you tried (unless, of course, you’re a man)! It’s the only time of year when storefronts can get away with cramming in heart-shaped- everything in more shades of red and pink than should legally go in one space; when grown men with giant teddy bears casually slung under their arms make strolling down the sidewalk a major hazard.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m all about the cliche and, if I’m honest, pretty partial to a good bit of red/pink clashing as well. But, let’s face it, there’s a better way of saying those three little words than plastered on a giant chocolate heart. You guessed it: a dude ranch vacation. Ladies, it’s time to start dropping hints. Fellas, it’s time to start picking ‘em up!
They say the way to a girl’s heart is through her stomach (very true in my case!) and with this in mind, The Ranch at Rock Creek should be on your shortlist of dude ranch vacations. Seasonal ingredients and ranch-raised meat are the key to the gourmet meals served up here. Add a candle and a cozy corner in The Granite Lodge, and what could be a more romantic setting? I can just see myself musing over the events of the day over a Bison Rib Roast caramelized beautifully and paired with red wine demi glace.
Satisfied that a ranch’s dining meets my stomach’s exacting standards, the next place I look when choosing a suitable dude ranch vacation is the ‘reviews’ page. After all, there’s nothing like an impartial opinion to give you a real insight into what to expect. I hit the jackpot when I come across Triple Creek Ranch – ranked #1 resort by Travel & Leisure! This dude ranch’s rustic, fireplace-equipped log cabins and gourmet dinners sound ideal for a romantic escape with more than a smattering of luxury. A sneaky glance at the dude ranch’s dining and I’m sold – chocolate treats and wine pairings over a candlelit dinner, plus the option of extravagant chocolate lover’s buffet will do quite nicely!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally obsessed with food, but you can’t deny there’s nothing quite like cooking with your partner. If you’re a foodie couple, take a look at Triple Creek’s cooking weekends. With classes such as wine pairing, dessert prep and basic technique, this is the ultimate culinary Valentine’s escape.
Now there’s nothing better than sharing a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience with your other half. As a bit of an adventure seeker, I’d jump at the chance to take a heli-tour over Glacier and Yellowstone, something offered by The Ranch at Rock Creek.
For me, a working ranch would always be my first choice over any other type of ranch vacation, simply because of its authentic nature – but stumbling across Tod Mountain Ranch, I feel I could be converted… This small and exclusive ranch, hidden in the Louis Creek Valley and surrounded by forested mountains, is a dude ranch with a difference. Privacy and relaxation are practically mandatory here – if you’re looking for the ultimate in luxury accommodations and a focus on riding, then this adult-oriented dude ranch is the vacation spot for you.
If you’ve got a family, you’ll know all about structure and schedule – great for getting the kids to bed, but not so much when you’re taking a dude ranch vacation without the little ones! Want to rediscover your spontaneous side? Then try a dude ranch like Free Rein, where you get the opportunity to do just that – have free reign! Head to British Columbia’s Free Rein in the summer time and bathe in secluded lakes, picnic by the shoreline or simply enjoy a snooze in the shade in peaceful, tranquil surroundings. And if you feel like hopping in the saddle, there’s ample opportunity to improve your riding skills in the arena or venture out on the trail.
Busy parents? Try a little role reversal and have someone answering to your beck and call 24/7 – head to Vista Verde, where there’s an almost-too-good-to-be-true 1:1 guest to staff ratio! Everything is catered to exactly what you want to do – from the arena riding to the fine dining. To really escape the demands of family life, visit in September – it’s adult-only month and a beautiful time of year to boot!
There’s no better person to crack open a bottle of the finest vino with than your partner, and wine buffs can taste some of California’s finest at Alisal Guest Ranch. Nestled in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley and the renowned Santa Barbara County wine country, this working cattle and guest ranch was voted one of the Top 10 Guest Ranches in the US by Travel & Leisure, and Sunset Magazine named it one of the Top Guest Ranches in California. Couples shouldn’t be put off by this ranch’s high capacity for guests or family-friendly attitude – with 10,000 private acres of ranch to explore, there’s more than enough opportunity to ‘get away from it all’ with your loved one, not to mention taste some of the Sunshine State’s finest wines.
Wine lovers shouldn’t discount Los Potreros as well – this 6,000 acre, organic working cattle farm on Los Sierras Chicas (the oldest mountain range in South America) is located in an exceptional wine producing area. Personally, I’d be straight down to local La Caroyense winery for a wine tasting session, followed by a barbecue and wine drinking session back at the ranch – Los Potreros’ house wine taking centre stage, of course! Mental note to self: make room in suitcase for a take-home bottle.
Top 50 Ranches Couples Retreats will certainly make a romantic out of me! And you?