Horses at the ranch
Horses and cowboys
Cowboy roping
Cooling off in the lake
Feeding the horses
Herding cattle
Horses in the lake
Horses on the ranch
On the horizon
Out on the prairie
Riding through the lake
View from the lodge
The lodge

This is a family-run working ranch in the north-east region of Wyoming. Italian brothers Ferdinando and Roberto head up this friendly Italian-American ranch. Nestled deep in the Black Hills, the livestock roam in more than 30,000 acres alongside a variety of local wildlife in picturesque surroundings varying from mountains to clear streams and forests to canyons. As well as 2,000 black Angus cattle there are 100 horses so plenty to help out with during the summer months.

Guests are welcomed to the ranch between April and October. Riders need to be of intermediate ability in order to help with the work and have a good level of fitness. Guests join in with the working routine of the ranch which includes activities like: cattle roundups, roping, branding, checking on calves, cattle drives, checking fences, bringing the horses into the corrals, or simply hanging out at the Old West style saloon which includes billiards and a foosball table. There is a comfortable guest lodge with 8 bedrooms, all with private bathrooms as well as a separate cabin, also with bathroom for guests that want more privacy.

There is a very relaxed atmosphere at this ranch and guests can do as much or as little riding as they want. Many of the horses at the ranch are homebred and you'll have the chance to try out a few before choosing your favourite. Your hosts are extremely welcoming and one day each week take guests to see local sights such as the mysterious Devil's Tower as well as local rodeos. You will not be considered a tourist at this ranch but a friend and you'll live a real ranch life experience during your stay.

There are no reviews for this holiday at the moment

The ranch is very flexible and the days itinerary depends on the guests wishes. There is riding 6 days out of 7. One day a week there are excursions into the local area instead of riding. This could be a visit to Devils Tower which is a few miles from the ranch, the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, Badlands or Deadwood depending on the time of year. These guided excursions are included but meals while not at the ranch are not included. When possible your hosts are also happy to take you to attend rodeos and horse auctions. See below for 2019 rodeo dates.

Sample Itinerary

The day begins with an extensive buffet breakfast including coffee, fruit, yogurt, cereal, ham, cheese, cookies, eggs, bacon and so on.  Around the table the cowboys will explain the plan for the day. You'll be able to ask any questions before it's time to go and meet the horses. The cowboys will gather the horses from the pasture into the corrals, where a horse will be assigned to you for the day. 

During the trip you will have the chance to try several horses and find your favourite. You'll ride for 3-4 hours in the morning, return to the ranch for lunch and will ride again in the afternoon for another 3-4 hours. When no cattle work is necessary you will just ride for fun, enjoying the beautiful landscape through canyons, forests and endless prairies. In the evenings, you'll eat dinner all together in the lodge dining room, or maybe a barbecue outside if the weather is good. You can then relax in the saloon, perhaps brushing up your skills at pool or foosball. For those who want to enjoy the peace and quiet a hot tub is available for guests to use. Accommodation is at the ranch in a purpose-built lodge.

Cattle Work

April-June 
Calving Season. You'll join the cowboys, riding out to the herd to check on the babies every day to make sure that they are ok. 
At the end of calving season there is a branding which is still completed like in the "old west: horses, ropes, sweat and dust.

July-August 
During this time you'll join the cowboys in managing the pasture moving 1200 cattle to different areas. The cowboy will explain to you the technique used for the cattle drive.

August-October 
This is round-up season where your hosts will be deciding which cattle to keep on for the winter and which to sell. The cattle that are kept need to be moved to winter pastures. This is a full-on period of ranch work and you can expect to be riding all day.
When you have time you can go into arena and practice:

  • team penning
  • breakaway roping
  • barrel racing
  • cutting horse

Alternatively you can spend a day relaxing on the shores of the beautiful lake from which the ranch gets its name or soothing any aching muscles in the ranches hot tub.

Rodeo dates 

During these times you'll be invited to spend the day at the rodeo with your hosts, or you can stay at the ranch if you prefer.

Belle Fourche Rodeo 2nd-6th July - 1.15 hours away from the ranch.
Deadwood Rodeo 26th-28th July - 1.30 hours away from the ranch.
Ride Horse Feed a Cowboy Benefit Rodeo Hulett 23rd-25th August.
Rapid City 23rd-24th August - 2.15 hours away from the ranch.

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 ranch has 35-40 saddle horses between 3 and 15 years old for every level of rider from beginner to advanced. Most of the horses are Quarters with a few Paints and Mustangs, all with great cow-sense. The ranch has an exceptional Registered Quarter Horses breeding programme, of which they are very proud. Most of the horses are raised and trained by the ranch cowboys, ensuring that all the horses are trustworthy. From April to October the cowboys begin the training of the 2/3 years old that will become the new saddle horses of the ranch.



During the holiday every guest will have the chance to try several horses and find which ones they prefer. You'll be riding for 3-4 hours in the morning setting off around 8.30am and returning for lunch at around noon. Once fully sated and rested you'll saddle up again around 3pm and will ride for another 3-4 hours. When no cattle work is necessary you'll just ride for fun, enjoying the beautiful landscape and exploring the canyons, forests and endless prairies. You are not required to wear a hard hat at the ranch although under 16's do need to wear one, along with a body protector. If you want to wear a hard hat you will need to bring your own as these are not supplied by the ranch.



Cattle Work



April-June 

Calving season -  You'll be riding to the herd to check on the new calves every day to be sure that they are ok. At the end of calving season there is a few days of branding which is still done in the traditional way with horses, ropes, sweat and dust.



July-August 

During this time the cowboys job is to manage the pasture by moving the 1200 herd of cattle. Prior to joining the cattle drive, the techniques used will be fully explained to you.



August-October 

This is round-up season where your hosts will be deciding which cattle to keep on for the winter and which to sell. The cattle that are kept need to be moved to winter pastures. This is a full-on period of ranch work and you can expect to be riding all day.



Throughout the season, you are always welcome to go into the arena and practice:




  • team penning

  • breakaway roping

  • barrel racing

  • cutting horse



Alternatively you can spend a day relaxing on the shores of the beautiful lake from  which the ranch gets its name or soothing any aching muscles in the ranches hot tub.


Rider requirements

Riders must be of intermediate ability in order to help with the work, and have a good level of fitness, although no previous knowledge of western riding is required. The work carried out depends entirely on the time of year and what needs to be done. Riding hats are not required to be worn unless riders are under 16. If you want to wear a riding hat you will need to bring your own as these are not supplied by the ranch.

Rider participation with the catching, grooming and saddling is not required but is very welcome. The riding schedule is flexible but they ride every day or 6 out of 7 days, if the weather allows (rain or snow is not a problem but thunderstorms or hail might be). Riding is not nose to tail and riders are given a lot of freedom. Some rides involve cattle work, some are trail rides. The minimum age on the ranch is 10 years old and the maximum weight limit is 110 kilos.

Children must be accompanied on all ranch activities and wear a riding hat and body protector whilst riding. These are not supplied by the ranch.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 242 lb/110 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Your accommodation is provided in the purpose-built lodge which has eight bedrooms, each with their own bathroom. Rooms can be twin, single (for a supplement) or double. There is also a standalone cabin which sleeps two with a private bathroom for couples that would like more privacy. The entire lodge is built completely out of wood and all rooms are very comfotable. Bedding, towels and hairdryers are all provided.



Meals are served in the dining room at the lodge and are primarily Italian-American cuisine served buffet-style. A typical breakfast could be juice, milk, coffee, tea, bread/toast, cured meats, cheeses, bacon, sausages, eggs, fruit and yogurt. A typical lunch might be a home-made lasagne with salads. A typical supper: meat (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, with vegetables, bread, salads and potatoes/rice/pastas and dessert, drinks.



Drinks like lemonade, coffee, tea, juice and milk are included. Canned drinks (Coke etc.) and alcoholic drinks are not included. Guests are welcome to purchase these in the ranch's very own bar. Vegetarians can be accommodated although vegans cannot. In good weather, barbecues are often held outside for dinner.


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

April, May and the beginning of June can be still cool, rainy and sometimes even snowy (it can be warm and sunny as well but it won’t be hot). Later June, July and August are hot with little precipitation (thunderstorms in the evening, nights are cooler). September is usually still warm but there may be some rain. October: anything is possible, some years it snows a lot, other years it's a perfect Indian summer.

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

Health (ride specific)

There are no specific health requirements although do remember sun block. There are not many midges but if you are sensitive, take protection.

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

There is electricity available each night in the lodge to recharge camera batteries etc. There is limited mobile phone reception but there is wifi in the guest lodge.

Packing List

Riding hat if you want to wear one and compulsory riding hats for children (the ranch does not supply riding hats)
Riding boots or shoes with a heel and little or no tread
Body protector - compulsory for children, not supplied by the ranch
Jacket - wind proof
Long sleeved shirts
Casual dinner wear
Short sleeved shirts or T shirts
Rain gear (no ponchos)
Sweater or fleece
Trainers or soft shoes for evenings
Sunscreen
Chaps (optional)
Gloves
Swimming costume for hot tub and lake
Plug-in adapters

The ranch supplies bedding, towels and a hair dryer.

Programmes

The ranch is open from April to October and there is a 3 night minimum stay. We recommend a stay of 7 nights.

Departure Dates

2019: April to October - Wednesday or Saturday arrival.

Pricing
No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.


No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2019 - per nightper night1Double pp Per night175
2019 - per nightper night1Single Supplement Per night35
2019 - per nightper night110-14 years, sharing with 2 adults.87
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2019 - per nightper night1Double pp Per night199
2019 - per nightper night1Single Supplement Per night41
2019 - per nightper night110-14 years, sharing with 2 adults.99
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2019 - per nightper night1Double pp Per night219
2019 - per nightper night1Single Supplement Per night44
2019 - per nightper night110-14 years, sharing with 2 adults.109
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2019 - per nightper night1Double pp Per night2,159
2019 - per nightper night1Single Supplement Per night435
2019 - per nightper night110-14 years, sharing with 2 adults.1,079
Recommended Reading

E. Annie Proulx’s three books of Wyoming short stories (“Close Range”, “Bad Dirt”, “Fine just the way it is”), Mary O’Hara’s “Flicka” triology. “The Virginian” by Owen Wister (a classic one) and Zane Grey’s Western novels. I love the detective novels (contemporary) by C.J. Box (i.e. “Open Season”) and Craig Johnson (i.e. “The Cold Dish”). Cowboy poet Baxter Black … he writes the column on the last page of the biggest Western riding magazine “Western Horseman”. “Where Rivers change Direction”, a memoir by Mark Spragg about life on an early dude ranch. And “Where the Rivers Run North” by Sam Morton, a historical novel. “The Meadow” by James Galwin. Brand new: Dan Simmon’s “Black Hills”. Movies: Brokeback Mountain, Shane, Cat Ballou, Did you hear about the Morgans? (from 2009), Dances with Wolves, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Latter one is a science fiction movie but Devils Tower plays a major role in it as the landing place for UFOs.


Other Activities

As well as riding, you can hike and watch the abundant wildlife or relax by the beautiful lake that gives the ranch it s name. Once a week, the ranch organises excursions for guests to local sights such as Devils Tower, an ancient volcanic vent which was exposed by millions of years of erosion and is the setting of many movies and a holy place for the Lakota Indians. The old gold digger town of Deadwood and the famous presidential heads of Mount Rushmore can be reached in two hours or less. When time and the season allow, you can visit rodeos and horse auctions with your hosts. If you want to combine a ranch vacation with travelling though the Wild West, you should plan a trip to Yellowstone National Park in Western Wyoming, the Badlands in South Dakota or the battlefield on the Little Big Horn where in the 19th century General Custer and Chief Sitting Bull fought one last big battle.

Wildlife

Wild animals like deer, antelope, bobcats, porcupines, skunks, raccoons, prairie dogs, turkeys, eagles, beavers, coyotes, snakes, mountain lions may all be spotted.

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):
Rapid City Airport (RAP) or ranch.
Transfer:
2019: Transfers are included if arriving/departing on a Wednesday or a Saturday. If other days, a supplement of $150 per car each way, payable on-site, applies.
Flight Guide:
London to Rapid City from £770 return
Riders who booked this ride also considered
Herding horses
USA, Idaho Horse Drives

Fast adventurous cowboy trip driving horses in Idaho, cam...Read more >

from $2,349
Riding on the prairie
Canada, Prairie Working Ranch Stay

This relaxed working cattle-guest ranch in Saskatchewan h...Read more >

from $185
Taking part in a cattle drive
Canada, Coast Mountains Ranch Stay

Experience Canada's wild west on this working guest r...Read more >

from $1,679