herding cattle on horseback holiday in USA

The state of Colorado was named for the Colorado River, which early Spanish explorers named the Río Colorado for the red coloured silt the river carried from the mountains.

This is an excellent family run ranch surrounded by millions of acres of wilderness and forest. Here you ride on trails often travelled by deer and elk where each turn you take is different, wind through stands of native aspen, lope over rolling hills of sage brush and cactus and meander across lush meadows ablaze with wildflowers of course all the while you'll be surrounded by endless vistas of the majestic Colorado Rockies, that are simply spectacular.

The Ranch has around 100 Quarter Horse types, all Western trained and very responsive to heel and weight signals, each rider will be assigned their own horse for the week.

On this Riding Holiday activities range from cattle work in the form of team penning, fly fishing in stocked ponds, a full day of white water rafting, guided hiking, 4WD back country drives, great evening entertainment and a fully supervised children's programme. Adult only weeks in the first two weeks in September are great for a relaxing getaway.

Accommodation comprises of either a lodge with 8 bedrooms, all en suite or family cabins. There is an outdoor heated swimming pool and a hot tub to relax in after an exciting day on the ranch.

 

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 GM of Nottingham on 20/06/2015

Ride Summary

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Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback Gavin!

RIDING ABILITY
No previous riding experience is necessary to ride on this horse riding holiday. Riders weighing more than 97kg/215lb/15 stone may be limited to walking only rides. When you see the terrain you will understand why.

HORSES
The horses are mainly Quarter Horse with some paints, appaloosa and draft crosses. They range in size from 15hh to 16hh. There are about 100 horses on the ranch at any one time. Some are real schoolmasters while others are more sensitive and respond to the slightest leg or weight shift. Everyone gets to do some cattle work on this ranch. Once a week there is a team penning session. Here everyone splits into teams and tries to separate a few cattle from the herd and take them across the coral and into a pen. This is usually fast and fun!

ACCOMMODATION
Authentic log cabins, some dating back 100 years, and a lodge house form the accommodation on the ranch. The lodge and cabins are scattered along a creek, some reached across a small bridge. The cabins have from 1 to 4 bedrooms for singles to families. The larger cabins with more rooms also have a private sitting room. The cabins are decorated in western style with carpeted floors and twin or double beds. Every booking group has their own shower and toilet en-suite. All have coffee making facilities and many have fridges. Each has its own verandah where you can watch the sunset or just watch life pass by. Wi-Fi is available in the communal lounge (next to the dining room). There is some mobile phone reception depending on network and also a landline for guest use.

FOOD
Sometimes the food is gourmet and sometimes western but always delicious. There is an informal atmosphere and guests are always welcome to drop into the kitchen for a snack, a drink or just a chat. Vegetarians can be catered for as can other special diets with advance request. There is no alcohol served at the ranch due to the family atmosphere. Guests are welcome to bring their own, or the ranch staff will buy some for you from the local store. This can be enjoyed in your own cabin, sitting room or verandah. In the autumn adult only weeks you are welcome to enjoy alcohol on all parts of the ranch at any time.

OTHER ACTIVITIES
There is a huge variety of activities on offer and a programme is done for each individual week. Non riders will not feel left out even if they do not intend to sit on a horse at all! Fly fishing instruction and fishing for trout are available both in stocked ponds and on the Colorado River. One day an all day river rafting programme is available on the Colorado River (float only in September). Mountain biking, guided hiking, Four-Wheel drive trips into the mountain, a hot tub, swimming in the heated pool, 4 nearby golf courses to choose from (only golf involves a fee), not to mention evening entertainment such as campfire sing-alongs, country and line dancing, old fashioned play acting and carnival nights.

CHILDREN
There are counsellor-led programmes for children from infants to teenagers. Activities include riding instruction, brushing the horses, river tubbing on the Colarado River, mountain biking, nature hikes, story telling, fishing, crafts, heated swimming pool, cycling, hay rides and wagon rides to mention a few. The counsellors and programme supervisors are college students selected for their experience, attentiveness and interests in child development and recreation. They treat the children with understanding, patience, love and respect. The children very quickly feel at home and often make life long friends under these circumstances.

SHOP
There is a gift shop available on site which stocks western hats, souvenirs, crafts and postcards

Transfers
The meeting point for this ride is Granby, Colarado.
There is a shuttle service called 'Home James' that can be pre-booked. This service operates from Denver Airport to the Granby 7/11 shop. The ranch then comes out and picks guests up from there and takes them back to the ranch (about a 20 minute drive).
The Home James website can be found here.
If guests cannot meet this shuttle service due to the time of their flight then a private transfer can be arranged. Please enquire.

Another good alternative is to rent a car and drive the very scenic 125 miles across the continental divide to the ranch. For three people this is an economical alternative. Driving in the USA is very easy - the cars are large, the roads wide and everyone drives slowly. Having a car also gives you the freedom to visit the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park on your visit.

There is also an AMTRAK train from Denver to Granby, one of the more spectacular rail journeys of the world. The train departs daily.

Please note that all our ranch prices are fully inclusive of all taxes, charges and gratuities. Extras that are commonly charged on site at ranches which we include in our prices are: state taxes (2-8%), local town taxes (1-5%), accommodation tax ($1-5/night) and gratuities (12-15% is commonly expected as the staff are paid largely via tips). Our prices include all of the these and are guaranteed not to be affected by currency fluctuations once booked.

It is possible to stay the Saturday night after the week long program, to make up a stay of 7 nights. Please enquire for costs. This is booked on a B&B only basis.

We have an extensive range of Western Riding holidays across the world. Please click on the link below to go to our listings page:

Western Riding Holidays

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.

Horses & Riding

The horses are mainly Quarter Horse with some paints, appaloosa and draft crosses. They range in size from 15hh to 16hh. There are about 100 horses on the ranch at any one time. Some are real schoolmasters while others are more sensitive and respond to the slightest leg or weight shift.


Riders are separated in groups according to ability and ride at appropriate speeds with plenty of loping for experienced riders where the terrain permits. There are lessons for all levels, also in the art of western riding. The horses are ridden in western tack and the western riding style is utilised.


Children from 6-13 have their own riding programmes which adults may join on request. Children under 6 are only led on the horses. Riders can opt to join a slower group to ride with a friend or family member.


Everyone gets to do some cattle work on this ranch. Once a week there is a team penning session. Here everyone splits into teams and tries to separate a few cattle from the herd and take them across the coral and into a pen. This is usually fast and fun! On some days the owner may invite advanced riders to visit neighbouring ranches and ride over really rough terrain doing more cattle work. This is a long, slow and hard day.

Rider requirements

No previous riding experience is necessary to ride on the ranch. Riders weighing more than 97kg/215lb/15 stone may be limited to walking only rides. When you see the terrain and high altitude (2,400m) you will understand why.
The rides gradually increase in difficulty and time so no training is needed before coming out. There is tuition in western riding available on the ranch.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 18 st/255 lb/116 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Authentic log cabins, some dating back 100 years, and a lodge house form the accommodation on the ranch. The lodge and cabins are scattered along a creek, some reached across a small bridge. The cabins have from 1 to 4 bedrooms for singles to families.


The larger cabins with more rooms also have a private sitting room. The cabins are decorated in western style with carpeted floors and twin or double beds.

Every booking group has their own shower and toilet en suite. All have coffee making facilities and many have fridges. Each has its own verandah where you can watch the sunset or just watch life pass by.


Wi-Fi is available in the communal lounge (next to the dining room). There is some mobile phone reception depending on network and also a landline for guest use. Guest laundry is available for about $5 / load.


The food is lovingly prepared often from recipes handed down for generations. Sometimes the food is gourmet and sometimes western but always delicious. There is an informal atmosphere and guests are always welcome to drop into the kitchen for a snack, a drink or just a chat. Vegetarians can be catered for as can other special diets with advance request.

Breakfast: You can turn up to breakfast anytime from 8-9am. Breakfast is a hearty full western breakfast with hot pancakes, sausages, eggs, French toast as well as the usual cereal, yoghurt, juice, coffee, bagels, toast, jam, tea, hot chocolate.

Lunch: This is usually a lighter affair with for instance a Mexican buffet with tacos, nachos and burritos or salads and quiches. On picnic days a selection of ingredients is put out and riders choose their own pack lunches to put in the saddle bags. Various meats, subs, cheeses, condiments and pickles, juices, crisps, chocolates and fruit are available.

Dinner: Usually consists of a starter, main course and desert and can be a barbeque special or open fire cookout in nature.


Once a week the children under 18 leave on a wagon ride and cookout while their parents are treated to a gourmet style dinner served at the table.


There is no alcohol served at the ranch due to the family atmosphere. Guests are welcome to bring their own, or the ranch staff will buy some for you from the local store. This can be enjoyed in your own cabin, sitting room or verandah. In the autumn adult only weeks you are welcome to enjoy alcohol on all parts of the ranch at any time.

Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.

General information:

All travellers are required to provide details online 72 hours prior to travel. For more information, and to apply online please visit the following website at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. Electronic travel authorities once obtained will be valid for a period of two years, or the validity of the travellers passport (whichever is shorter). There is a $14 charge for this service (2015). Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely to be detained and sent home.

On 5 January 2004, the US Authorities introduced the US-VISIT Programme. This means that all those aged between 14 and 79 travelling to the US are now finger-scanned and digitally photographed on arrival at passport control.

There are British consulates at many locations in the US, please check with the Foreign Office website for your closest one. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on 020 7008 0232/0233 or see www.fco.gov.uk

Climate Summary

Typically the night time temperatures drop to the low 40s F and daytime temperatures are usually in the 70'sF but can reach the 80'sF in July and August. This means it is cool enough to sleep under a blanket and pleasant to ride in during the day. The ranch is situated in a deep valley, so it takes a while to heat up in the morning once the sun hits.

Climate Chart

Health

No specific health precautions are required for visits to the USA.

Medical treatment can be very expensive; there are no special arrangements for British visitors. The British Embassy and Consulates-General cannot assist with medical expenses.

Comprehensive travel and medical insurance is essential; at least $1,000,000 cover, which includes hospital treatment and medical evacuation to the UK, would be wise. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake including horse riding.

For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org

Electricity

The voltage is 110V in the USA and you will need a flat blade plug and possibly an adaptor depending on the appliance. Check the voltage input required for mobile phone and digital/video cameras before leaving.

Film and Camera Equipment

Camera with plenty of film – it is nigh impossible to video, ride and carry out cattle work simultaneously! Wi-Fi is available in the ranch living room. There is intermittent mobile signal at the ranch, the best carrier is Verizon.

Packing List

Riding hat (there are none to borrow on-site)
Jeans or jodhpurs
Jacket
Long sleeved shirts
Casual dinner wear
Short sleeved shirts
Rain gear (no ponchos)
Sweater
Sneakers or soft shoes
Riding boots
Sunscreen
Chaps (optional)
Chapstick
Gloves

Guest laundry is available for around $5 / load.

Programmes

This is a 7 day/6 night programme starting Sundays available May to September. You can also stay the Saturday night at the ranch, a good way to visit the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park by car the next day. If staying for two weeks the middle night is included free and you are part of the family, visiting the local rodeo if one is on, taking a ride to town and eating round the table with the staff and family.

Departure Dates

2019: Sundays from 26th May to 15th September.
Week starting 1st September is Adult Only,
Week starting 8th September is reserved for group bookings.
15% off for weekly stays for week starting 26th May and 1st September.
10% off for weekly stay for week starting 25th August.
5% off for weekly stay for week starting 2nd June.

Pricing
A single room can be booked for no extra supplement when available.

A 12% tip is included in the price displayed.

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2019 Daily Rateper night1double pp415
2019 Daily Rateper night1Child 13-17 years369
2019 Daily Rateper night1Child 6-12 years 345
2019 Daily Rateper night1Child 2-5 years199
2019 Daily Rateper night1Child under 2149
2019 Daily Rateper night1non-rider339
2019 Daily Rateper night1Saturday night B&B37
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5double pp2,359
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5Child 13-17 years 2,065
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5Child 6-12 years1,869
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5Child 2-5 years1,185
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5Child under 2699
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5non-rider1,919
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5extra night (B&B) - Saturday only48
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2019 Daily Rateper night1double pp479
2019 Daily Rateper night1Child 13-17 years429
2019 Daily Rateper night1Child 6-12 years 399
2019 Daily Rateper night1Child 2-5 years229
2019 Daily Rateper night1Child under 2175
2019 Daily Rateper night1non-rider395
2019 Daily Rateper night1Saturday night B&B43
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5double pp2,729
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5Child 13-17 years 2,389
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5Child 6-12 years2,165
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5Child 2-5 years1,375
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5Child under 2809
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5non-rider2,219
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5extra night (B&B) - Saturday only55
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2019 Daily Rateper night1double pp539
2019 Daily Rateper night1Child 13-17 years479
2019 Daily Rateper night1Child 6-12 years 449
2019 Daily Rateper night1Child 2-5 years259
2019 Daily Rateper night1Child under 2195
2019 Daily Rateper night1non-rider445
2019 Daily Rateper night1Saturday night B&B48
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5double pp2,995
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5Child 13-17 years 2,619
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5Child 6-12 years2,375
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5Child 2-5 years1,505
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5Child under 2885
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5non-rider2,435
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5extra night (B&B) - Saturday only61
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2019 Daily Rateper night1double pp5,079
2019 Daily Rateper night1Child 13-17 years4,539
2019 Daily Rateper night1Child 6-12 years 4,239
2019 Daily Rateper night1Child 2-5 years2,435
2019 Daily Rateper night1Child under 21,829
2019 Daily Rateper night1non-rider4,179
2019 Daily Rateper night1Saturday night B&B449
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5double pp29,035
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5Child 13-17 years 25,429
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5Child 6-12 years23,019
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5Child 2-5 years14,599
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5Child under 28,585
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5non-rider23,625
2019 Weekly Rate7d/6n5extra night (B&B) - Saturday only585
Recommended Reading

Monty Roberts particularly ‘The Horse Whisperer’.

We also recommend Notes From A Big Country by Bill Bryson and Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck.

For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com. Another fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com

If you prefer films we suggest you try Lonesome Dove.

Other Activities

There is a huge variety of activities on offer and a programme is done for each individual week. Non riders will not feel left out even if they do not intend to sit on a horse at all!
Fly fishing instruction and fishing for trout are available both in stocked ponds and on the Colorado River. One day an all day river rafting programme is available on the Colorado River. Mountain biking, guided hiking, Four-Wheel drive trips into the mountain, a hot tub, swimming in the heated pool, 4 nearby golf courses to choose from (only golf involves a fee), not to mention evening entertainment such as campfire sing-alongs, country and line dancing, old fashioned play acting and carnival nights.

Children:
There are counsellor led programmes for children from infants to teenagers. Activities include riding instruction, brushing the horses, nature hikes, story telling, fishing, crafts, heated swimming pool, cycling, hay rides and wagon rides to mention a few. The counsellors and programme supervisors are college students selected for their experience, attentiveness and interests in child development and recreation. They treat the children with understanding, patience, love and respect. The children very quickly feel at home and often make life long friends under these circumstances.

Wildlife

Like to see some wildlife? The ranch and its surrounding area have quite a selection. Keep your eyes open for elk, moose, deer, badger, mountain lion, coyote, beaver, fox, antelope, wild turkey, eagles and more, whether you’re on foot or on horseback.

Other Country Information

The USA has 4 main times zones - Eastern Standard Time (EST), Central Standard Time (CST), Mountain Standard Time (MST) and Pacific Standard Time (PST).
Vermont is on EST, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah are all on MST, California is on PST.

Weights and measures are imperial although weight is always expressed in pounds, not stone. The US gallon is 3.8 litres in contrast to an imperial gallon which is 4.2 litres.

Mobile telephone: In 2015 3G is widely available throughout the US in cities, towns, villages and along main highways with AT&T having the best overall coverage and T-mobile offering better speeds in cities. 4G is beginning to be available in cities. There are still a few rural areas which have no GSM reception but do have the older CDMA telephone networks. To be able to call from these areas we recommend buying a cheap Verizon phone from eg Walmart (from $13) and topping up with credit. Almost all hotels and airports offer free wifi connection.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Granby, Colorado. Closest Airport is Denver Airport (DEN)
Transfer:
2019: Included from meeting point. A shuttle runs from Denver to Granby and can be booked online (approx. $80pp) and there is also an AMTRAK. Private transfers can also be arranged - please enquire. Car hire is another option.
Flight Guide:
Return from London £580 -£750. Please see "getting there" for flight information
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