Get away from it all and gain an inside view of an authentic working family ranch... ride the foothills, check cattle, fix fences, learn to rope the dummy or just kick back and relax. Set at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Canada this small working cattle ranch is the real thing. On 2 week programmes guests will experience cattle work and learn the basic techniques of working cattle and ranch roping. Riding experience would be beneficial for this but is by no means essential as on this horse riding holiday beginners can also participate.
Why not combine your stay at the Ranch with a two day stay in the city for the world famous Calgary Stampede in July? Please contact Unicorn Trails for details.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from EW of Liversedge on 11/10/2016
There are many different programmes on this riding holiday and they vary with the time of year, work needing to be done and guests requests. Varying length of stays are possible on this ranch.
Short Break 5d/4n for those passing through
Ranch stay 7d/6n probably the minimum needed to get to grips with cattle work
Cow puncher 14d /13n for those serious about learning the ranch lifestyle
This is a genuine working ranch and you will learn about all this entails. On the longer stays, you will experience more cattle work and learn the basic techniques of working cattle and ranch roping. Riding experience would be beneficial for this but is by no means essential. There are a number of special occasions during the typical ranching year and these are detailed below.
Branding Week 7d/6n
Take in a traditional branding experience that even today, echoes the practices of the past. Help the crew gather, sort and brand; you're welcome to observe or pitch in and learn the basics.
Cattle Drives 7d/6n
The first cattle drive takes place in late May/early June and allows you to take the yearlings into the Forest Reserve.
Usually they are gathered on one day and then we drive them three miles to the neighbour's corrals. They will stay there overnight, and the next morning we combine the herd and move them between 15 and 20 miles into the Forest Reserve.
The next cattle drive's will take place in mid-August time when it is time to move the rest of the cow-calf pairs out west to the forestry.
The final cattle drive is the Fall Roundup. This drive takes place at the end of September/beginning of October as the cattle need to be out of the Forest Reserve by the 15th of the month.
We usually leave early from the ranch buildings and ride into the reserve from the back of the ranch. The cattle are gathered and pushed to the corral setup, which is located in the Reserve. At the end of the day we will return to the ranch for a well-earned rest and a wholesome supper. The next day will be very similar as all of the stragglers need to be found and corralled.
While the search is on for the stragglers, a group of ranchers will be separating the cattle as there are five ranchers with herds combined on the Reserve. When everyone has returned, each owner will leave with their herds at different intervals. The ranch herd will then be driven the seven miles home. This is two hard days in the saddle and riders must be experienced and able to handle 6-10 hours per drive day in the saddle.
We would also suggest that if you are interested in a cattle drive, please book early as space is limited and these weeks are always the first to book.
There are 3 single rooms on the ranch. Single guests can have these at no extra cost subject to availability.
Please note that there is no riding on arrival and departure days. Arrival time at the ranch is after 3pm and departure time on your final day is before 11am. If you have booked an airport transfer then pick up is between noon and 6pm on the arrival day and drop off is between noon and 6pm on departure day.
Please enquire for transfer costs if arriving on a day other than a Sunday or departing on a day other than a Saturday.
Please note that all our ranch prices are fully inclusive of taxes and charges. Extras that are commonly charged onsite ranches which we include in our prices are: state taxes, local town taxes and accommodation tax. Gratuities are payable on site; 12-15% is commonly expected as the staff are paid largely via tips. We recommend a tip of approximately CAD$175. In addition our prices are guaranteed not to be affected by currency fluctuations once booked.
We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.
The Penguin History of Canada - Kenneth McNaught. A basic but useful primer on the country's history.
Native Peoples and Cultures of Canada - Allan Macmillan. This provides a historical framework and raises contemporary issues regarding Canada's Native people.
City to City (also published as O Canada!: Travels in an Unknown Country - Jan Morris. This is a collection of essays written after she traveled in Canada from coast to coast.
Maple Leaf Rag: Travels Across Canada - Stephen Brook. A somewhat quirkier collection of travel essays.
The Road to Canada's Wilds: Parks Along the Trans Canada Highway - John and Martha Stradiotta describe the many national and provincial parks across the country in .
For a taste of Canadian literature, read Margaret Atwood's Surfacing and Booker-winning The Blind Assassin, Alice Munro's The Moons Of Jupiter short story collection, Michael Ondaatje's In The Skin Of A Lion or Robertson Davies' Fifth Business .
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
There are 60 quarter horses and Appaloosas on the ranch and usually a selection of 12 for guests to choose from. They are all working ranch horses, good natured and fit. The horses live out and are in excellent condition. They are ridden in Western saddles and riding is in western style with neck reining. This is very easy to learn and first time western riders will be given tips and advice. Normally guests ride for 2 hours in the morning and return after lunch for 3 to 4 hours of riding. The terrain is rolling hills with one or 2 guides, depending on amount of guests (2 guides for more than 5 riders). Daily programmes change with the time of year and guest requests. See our web site for likely activities at different times of the year. Apart from the cattle drives, branding days, fall round-up, checking cattle & horses you can also take in team roping practice & learn the basics of roping the dummy at any time. Stopping to view wildlife and vistas in the country is always on the programme!
Beginners onwards can be accommodated on this ranch. More experienced riders will get more out of the advanced riding techniques, such as cutting, team penning and roping. The hours of riding can be tailormade to your requirements - you can ride as much as you like or as little as you like. The cattle work is as necessary however and cattle are moved most days on this ranch.
For the cattle drive, riders must be experienced and fit for the 6-10 hours in the saddle on the drive days.
There is a weight limit of 250lb/110kg on this ride, there is a minimum age of 12 years old.
Riders may tack up their horses if they wish to but no participation in the horse care or saddling is required. There is plenty of help to get you on and comfortable.
The weight limit for this ride is 18 st/250 lb/114 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The ranch enjoys a set of well-established ranch buildings, some of which date back to the 1800s. In the main ranch house there are two double guestrooms with a shared bath & sitting room on a private floor. A new guest cabin features two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living area on the main floor and a loft area upstairs. Alternatively guests may choose the rustic life in a turn of the century refurbished log bunkhouse. Decor in all of these reflects the ranch's western flavour. There is a maximum capacity of 12 guests at any one time. Meals are home-cooked with ranch-raised beef & plenty of vegetables. Desserts are varied, homemade & delicious! Hearty ranch breakfast served. Vegetarians can be catered for but they do need to know that the ranch makes a living by selling and eating beef. There is no wine on site, so guests wanting some are advised to bring their own. In the evenings, relax around the ranch firepit or rest on the spacious deck while you enjoy a spring-fed brook that bubbles through the ranch yard. Brush up on your roping skills or find a seat in the peaceful shade garden; wander through the yard scattered with trees, flowers & birdlife. Guest conveniences also include TV, VCR with varied videos/DVDs, a woodburning fireplace and a horseshoe pit.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
The climate is very cold in the winter and warm and sunny in the summer (mid 20's) - perfect for riding. It is cool at night even in the summer. Spring and autumn are crisp with lovely foliage and again great for riding and working. The climate can change fast, so it is best to come prepared!
We strongly advise you to consult with your General Practitioner before travelling. The best medical advice regarding suitable immunisations and prophylaxis to enable you to travel safely requires knowledge of your medical history and therefore cannot be covered in this advice sheet. Recommendations are also subject to change and it is important to obtain the most up to date information available.
There is electricity available on the ranch for recharging cameras, video's and telephone equipment. You should bring all the film and batteries you require before heading to the ranch.
Jeans or jodhpurs
Long sleeved shirts
Casual dinner wear
T - shirts
Rain gear (no ponchos)
Sweater / fleece
Sneakers or soft shoes
Riding boots also suitable for walking in
Broad rimmed hat for sun protection
The ranch does have a small selection of boots, chaps and hat to borrow (free of charge).
There are ranch weeks available each week from mid May to mid October.
Some special programmes are on set dates each year. In general cattle drives are the first of June, mid July and second week of October (all weather permitting). Branding week is usually the second week of June. Please check our website for exact dates as they change each year. Book early for these weeks.
Stays as follows:
Short Break 5 days / 4 nights
Ranch stay 7 days / 6 nights
Cow puncher 14 days / 13 nights
2017 Ranch stay and short break: 25 Jun, 16, 23 Jul; 6, 20, 27 Aug; 3, 10, 17 Sept.
2017 Cattle drives: 28 May (FULL); 13 Aug (FULL); 27 Sept (FULL) (experienced riders only).
2017 Branding Week: 4 June (FULL)
2017 Cowpuncher: 16 July; 20, 27 Aug
Guests have own room
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2017 Cattle Drive||7d/6n||5||double pp||1,155|
|2017 Cattle Drive||7d/6n||5||Double with ensuite pp||1,219|
|2017 Branding Week||7d/6n||5||double pp||1,155|
|2017 Branding Week||7d/6n||5||Double with ensuite pp||1,219|
|2017 Cow Puncher||14d/13n||11||double pp||1,795|
|2017 Cow Puncher||14d/13n||11||Double with ensuite pp||1,885|
|2017 Ranch Stay||7d/6n||6||double pp||909|
|2017 Ranch Stay||7d/6n||6||Double with ensuite pp||969|
|2017 Short Stay||5d/4n||3||double pp||655|
|2017 Short Stay||5d/4n||3||Double with ensuite pp||719|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2017 Cattle Drive||7d/6n||5||double pp||1,385|
|2017 Cattle Drive||7d/6n||5||Double with ensuite pp||1,455|
|2017 Branding Week||7d/6n||5||double pp||1,385|
|2017 Branding Week||7d/6n||5||Double with ensuite pp||1,455|
|2017 Cow Puncher||14d/13n||11||double pp||2,145|
|2017 Cow Puncher||14d/13n||11||Double with ensuite pp||2,255|
|2017 Ranch Stay||7d/6n||6||double pp||1,089|
|2017 Ranch Stay||7d/6n||6||Double with ensuite pp||1,159|
|2017 Short Stay||5d/4n||3||double pp||765|
|2017 Short Stay||5d/4n||3||Double with ensuite pp||839|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2017 Cattle Drive||7d/6n||5||double pp||1,539|
|2017 Cattle Drive||7d/6n||5||Double with ensuite pp||1,625|
|2017 Branding Week||7d/6n||5||double pp||1,539|
|2017 Branding Week||7d/6n||5||Double with ensuite pp||1,625|
|2017 Cow Puncher||14d/13n||11||double pp||2,395|
|2017 Cow Puncher||14d/13n||11||Double with ensuite pp||2,515|
|2017 Ranch Stay||7d/6n||6||double pp||1,215|
|2017 Ranch Stay||7d/6n||6||Double with ensuite pp||1,295|
|2017 Short Stay||5d/4n||3||double pp||855|
|2017 Short Stay||5d/4n||3||Double with ensuite pp||935|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2017 Cattle Drive||7d/6n||5||double pp||13,485|
|2017 Cattle Drive||7d/6n||5||Double with ensuite pp||14,195|
|2017 Branding Week||7d/6n||5||double pp||13,485|
|2017 Branding Week||7d/6n||5||Double with ensuite pp||14,195|
|2017 Cow Puncher||14d/13n||11||double pp||20,939|
|2017 Cow Puncher||14d/13n||11||Double with ensuite pp||22,005|
|2017 Ranch Stay||7d/6n||6||double pp||10,615|
|2017 Ranch Stay||7d/6n||6||Double with ensuite pp||11,319|
|2017 Short Stay||5d/4n||3||double pp||7,455|
|2017 Short Stay||5d/4n||3||Double with ensuite pp||8,165|
Revel in breathtaking scenery while keeping a lookout for an amazing diversity of wildlife that calls this region their home - elk, moose, deer, coyotes, hawks, eagles and more. Abundant wildflowers will provide photographic opportunities and ample excuses to rest and drink in the views.
Challenge someone to a game of horseshoes! Spend an evening around the firepit and enjoy cowboy camaraderie. Hike the hills & enjoy birds and other wildlife or if you have your own transport, visit one of southern Alberta's local tourism venues.
The ranch was formerly known as the Circle L Ranch.
It was one of the first ranches in the district and was established in the Porcupine Hills Northwest of Fort Macleod in July, 1881, by Captain Charles Augustus Lyndon and his wife Margaret. The Lyndons came from Salt Lake City and when they landed at the Post at Fort Macleod the Captain and an Indian named Doodney toured the Porcupine Hills. Doodney took a fancy to the Captains pinto horse, so they reached an agreement... if the Indian could show the Captain some land with plenty of good grass, shelter and water he could have the pony.
After several days they arrived at the present Ranch site. This had been used as an Indian camping ground for many moons. The Lyndons purchased a few head of cattle and the Circle L cattle brand was granted to the Captain. It was considered one of the first brands given to a homesteader in the Northwest territory. Ranch life was filled with challenges. Going to market was not an easy task. This was a once-a-year trip took about a month with a wagon and 4 horse team. Ft. Benton, Montana was the shopping centre. During the Riel Rebellion, Louis Riel tried to induce American Indians to come north. William Lyndon was assigned a look-out point on a hill west of Claresholm, near the ranch.
In 1896 a house and barn was built near the spring site. The big barn that still stands was built in 1919. The Lyndons were assigned the post office in 1895. The Captain purchased a phonograph in 1899 and the neighbours often picked up their mail and stayed to listen. The Lyndon family continued to run the post office until 1945 when it was moved to Claresholm. The Captain's son William married and had 2 sons and a daughter. His wife died in childbirth when their daughter was born. Because of flooding, her body was buried at the ranch and later moved to Fort Macleod. William died in 1938, and his son Charles was killed at Hong Kong in 1941.
William's second wife Clara continued to run the ranch until 1944. She then moved to Calgary and the ranch was run by Alec Patterson. The Lyndon family continued to own the ranch but the Pattersons managed it until 1966. In 1966 the ranch was sold to Bob Lindsey, ending 85 years of ownership by the Lyndon family.
In 1974 the ranch was sold again, this time to the Lucas family but the original circle L brand did not go with the transaction. Many changes have been made, but several of the old log buildings are still in use and the spring has never gone dry.
People migrating from Asia crossing the Bering Strait first settled the North American continent. They formed a number of tribes that can be distinguished by language: the Algonquian in the eastern sub-arctic and maritime areas spreading into the prairies and plains of the mid-west; the Iriquioian speaking tribes mostly in the St Lawrence Valley and around Lakes Ontario and Erie; the Salishan, Athabascan and other linguistic groups lived along the rivers and coastline of British Columbia. Small, isolated Inuit bands developed a unique culture in the harsh environment of the Arctic.
John Cabot, a Venetian working in the service of the English sailed to Newfoundland in 1497. This and later explorations formed the basis of the English claim to Canada. The Frenchman Jacques Cartier undertook a series of explorations, mainly along the route of the St Lawrence River during the 1530s and 1540s and he claimed the land for France.
It's the edginess between Canada's indigenous, French and British traditions that gives the nation its complex three-dimensional character. Add to this a constant infusion of US culture and a plethora of traditions brought by migrants, and you have a thriving multicultural society.
Canada is between 3.5 and 8 hours behind GMT depending on where you are in the country. They use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.
The international dialling code is +1.