If you are in search of a wonderful ranch experience in a remote setting surrounded by nature and wildlife then this is the riding holiday for you.

In the late 1890s, Norman Meldrum drove a herd of cattle from Colorado up Wyoming, where he had acquired some land. The cattle were wintered near the present Soldier's Home and summered in the upper meadow range of the Big Horns, which was to become Paradise Ranch or, due to the abundance of moose, more appropriately called Moose Ranch.

No region in Wyoming is provided with a more diverse landscape, from lush grasslands to alpine meadows, from crystal-clear lakes to glacial carved valleys, from rolling hills to sheer mountain walls.

This ranch has 18 rustic log cabins each with a verandah where you can relax, read, soak up the excitement of a ranch day, or enjoy the splendor of the evening while the shadows of the sunset dance up Fan Rock.

The horses are mostly quarter horses with some paint and appaloosas, all western tacked and trained. The riding program is very flexible, and features a number of choices; two hour rides as well as both half-day and full-day rides. Some day rides include lunches packed on mules and cooked along the trail.

In addition to the extensive horse riding programme there is a fully supervised children's programme from infant onwards, outdoor heated swimming pool, hot tub, guided and unguided fly fishing and lots of evening fun with singing around the campfire, square dancing and cookouts. Expertly guided hikes are also available into the surrounding wilderness areas.

The welcome here is genuine and the nature pristine, almost everyone returns to visit again.

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 JS of Farnborough on 28/06/2016

Ride Summary
I had never ridden Western style before, and although I adapted easily to it - I did find the saddle fairly uncomfortable
What was your overall impression of the holiday

Unicorn Trails sales staff
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Friendliness     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Speed of response     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Efficiency     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Knowledge     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Other(please specify)     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Riding tour leader
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Horsemanship     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Pacing of Ride     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern for Safety     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Leadership     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Friendliness/availability     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Culture     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern with Environment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Language skills     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments

Horses and Tack
Condition of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Condition of Tack     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Performance of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments
My horse O'Quin was an amazing mare, a real gentle lady who seemed to realise I'd not ridden for over 20 years yet still gave me a nice lively ride when required!
Meals
Meal Quantity     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Accommodation
Camping Equipment     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hygiene standards     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Miscellaneous
Transfer arrangements     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other office staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other ride staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Weather     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
    (X) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
It far exceeded any descriptions by Unicorn Trails - It truly was Paradise!
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Unicorn Trails failed to tell us there would be a large number of children, which initially disappointed us, but they were so very well behaved and many activities were planned for them that did not interfere with our enjoyment.
What could we do to improve this ride?

How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
5
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
I had never ridden Western style before, and although I adapted easily to it - I did find the saddle fairly uncomfortable and my joints ached quite a bit, but this was probably down to my advanced years!
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
    (X) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
I felt we weren't very well informed on things like electronic passports, visas. Arrangements for pick up from Sheridan were left 6 days before arrival and I had already emailed to arrange myself.
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Any other comments:

Unicorn comments: Glad you enjoyed the ranch! All ranches have a large number of families with children staying in school holiday times, we will make this clearer in our literature, thank you for the feedback.

RIDING ABILITY
Good safe horses and slow riding for beginners on scenic rides in the surrounding wilderness, plenty of lope rides, team penning and barrel racing tryouts for experienced riders.

HORSES
The horses on this riding holiday are mainly Quarter Horse with some paints, appaloosa and draft crosses. They range in size from 14.3hh to 15.3hh. There are about 160 horses available for riding with the rest being young horses in training or breeding stock. They vary from calm and reliable schoolmasters to very responsive and well bred quarter horses. They are all ridden in a long reined western style and tacked up with western saddles and bridles. Tuition is available on request from the head wrangler. The riding program is very flexible, and features a number of choices; two hour rides as well as both half-day and full-day rides. Some day rides include lunches packed on mules and cooked along the trail.


ACCOMMODATION
Accommodation is in 18 solid log cabins set on a hillside between tall Ponderosa pines, all with spacious living areas and own verandah with a view. It is very common to wake up to find moose and their babies grazing in the pond below the cabins or elk or deer wandering around the ranch. The comfortable log built cabins all have quality furniture and linen, their own bathrooms, living area and verandah.

FOOD
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. There is a bar which is open from 5pm every evening which has an excellent selection of wines, beers and cocktails at very reasonable prices.

OTHER ACTIVITIES
Apart from the extensive riding program there is a fly fishing programme on the ranch. All equipment and lessons are available for beginners. Guided hikes into the wilderness and an archery programme are other options. There is a heated outdoor swimming pool and hot tub as well as a complete evening entertainment program with music playing an important part. From singing around the campfire, cowboy bands, square and line dancing and even a hotly contested talent show for staff and guests alike, the fun is endless here. There is a full bar which is open every evening. Off site entertainment which can be arranged for a fee includes professional fly fishing, a golf course near Buffalo and clay pigeon shooting. There is so much on offer here that non-riders will not be bored!

CHILDREN
There are fully supervised, award winning children's programmes for children from infant onwards leaving parents free to enjoy their activities. The programmes include riding (parents can ride with the children's ride if they like) and a balance of other activities such as craft programmes, hiking, swimming games, fishing at the ponds, volleyball, movie social and a kids rodeo. One night the kids all go on a sleep out in the woods nearby while their parents enjoy a gourmet meal served at the table. 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 and crafts as well as more mundane items like postcards.

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. 

As a fully ATOL bonded and registered agency we would be delighted to book your flights for you. Should you wish to book your own flights please see our flights page for some options.

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 14.3hh to 15.3hh. There are about 160 horses available for riding with the rest being young horses in training or breeding stock. They vary from calm and reliable schoolmasters to very responsive and well bred quarter horses.



They are all ridden in a long reined western style and tacked up with western saddles and bridles. Riders are separated in groups according to ability and ride at appropriate speeds with loping for experienced riders. The pace depends on the terrain with some steep climb and some large open grassy meadows on the higher plateaus suitable for long canters.



There are no more than 6-8 riders per wrangler on rides. Tips on western riding will be given along the rides and if wanted riding lessons can be booked on site for $20/hour three times weekly. The lessons are semi private with a maximum of three people per instructor. Salvador, the head wrangler usually takes the lesson. You are assigned your own horse for the week. The horses are saddled and bridled for you but you are welcome to unsaddle and brush your own horse after the ride.

There are no riding helmets on site and you are recommended to bring your own if you have one. Riding helmets can also be rented in Sheridan for $10 per week.

Three times weekly there is cattle work in the form of a team penning session. The principles of working cattle are explained and 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!

For the more adventurous a barrel racing clinic is on offer once a week too.

Rider requirements

No previous riding experience is necessary to ride on the ranch. A complete orientation is given and after the first trial ride, riders are separated by ability, with faster and longer rides for the more experienced.
There is a weight limit of 250lb for the riding activities. Children under 6 years will be limited to lead rides on ponies. The rides gradually increase in difficulty and time so no training is needed before coming out.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 18 st/250 lb/114 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Accommodation is in 18 solid log cabins set on a hillside between tall Ponderosa pines, all with spacious living areas and own veranda with a view. It is very common to wake up to find moose and their babies grazing in the pond below the cabins or elk or deer wandering around the ranch. The comfortable log built cabins all have quality furniture and linen, their own bathrooms, living area and veranda.

There is a mix of one, two, three and 4 bedroom cabins. Each cabin also has a pull out sofa bed. An under occupancy supplement is charged for each person less than the minimum occupying a cabin. This minimum is:

One bedroom - 2 people

Two bedroom - 4 people

Three bedroom - 6 people

Four bedroom - 7 people



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 7.30 - 8.30am. Breakfast is a hearty full western breakfast with hot pancakes, sausages, eggs, French toast as well as a buffet of cereal, yoghurt, juices, coffee, bagels, toast, jam, tea, hot chocolate.

Lunch: This is usually a buffet with cold meats, home baked muffins and breads, three types of salad, pasta or a stir fry, burgers and desert.

Dinner: Dinner varies depending on the occasion: chuck wagon cookouts, steak nights, gourmet dinners are all part of the variety. Three course meals, home cooked with plenty of choice is the standard. There is a bar which is open from 5pm every evening which has an excellent selection of wines, beers and cocktails at very reasonable prices.

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

Although they do say, "if you don't like the weather in Wyoming just wait an hour", the ranches operating months of May through to September tend to feature good weather. June can be a little cooler, and August a little warmer but generally daytime temperatures range between 70 - 85 degrees fahrenheit and evenings between 45 - 60 degrees. Layering clothing is always good policy...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

Health (ride specific)

There are no specific health requirements, but do bring plenty of sun block!

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

Electricity is available in all the cabins to recharge camera and film equipment. A limited amount of film may be available in the gift shop, but it is best to bring any stocks required with you to the ranch. Wireless internet connectivity is available throughout the ranch.

Packing List

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

Programmes

This is an 8 day/7 night programme available on set dates. Adult only weeks are available.

Departure Dates

2019 Early Season: 2 Jun
2019 Discount Week: 9 Jun
2019 Prime Weeks: 16, 23, 30 Jun; 7 Jul; 4 Aug.
2019 Premium Weeks: 14, 21, 28 Jul.
2019 Late Season: 11 Aug.
2019 Adult Weeks: 18, 25 Aug; 1, 8, 15 Sept.

Pricing
Single supplement must be paid if booking alone.

Occupancy supplements are charged if there are less than the allocated number of people in a cabin e.g. one person in a 2 person, or 2 people in a 4 person cabin. This is not charged if we can find you a person of the same sex to share.

Recommended Reading

Monty Roberts particularly ‘The Horse Whisperer’.
For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com
Also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com

Other Activities

Apart from the extensive riding program there is a fly fishing program on the ranch. All equipment and lessons are available for beginners. Guided hikes into the wilderness and an archery program are other options. There is a heated outdoor swimming pool and hot tub as well as a complete evening entertainment program with music playing an important part. From singing around the campfire, cowboy bands, square and line dancing and even a hotly contested talent show for staff and guests alike, the fun is endless here. There is a full bar which is open every evening.

Off site entertainment which can be arranged for a fee includes professional fly fishing, a golf course near Buffalo and clay pigeon shooting.

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.

Some of the more popular hikes include the Fan Mountain sunrise hike, wildflower identification hikes, and beaver pond and picnic hikes to scenic viewpoints in the surrounding area. The naturalist guides are knowledgeable, attentive and love what they do.

Other Information

Children:
There are fully supervised children's programmes for children from infant onwards leaving parents free to enjoy their activities. The programmes include riding (parents can ride with their children if they like) and a balance of other activities such as craft programs, hiking, swimming games, fishing at the ponds, volleyball, movie social and a kids rodeo. One night the kids all go on a sleep out in the woods nearby while their parents enjoy a gourmet meal served at the table. The children very quickly feel at home and often make life long friends under these circumstances.

There is a gift shop available on site which stocks western hats, souvenirs and crafts as well as more mundane items like postcards.

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):
Sheridan, Gilette, Casper or Billings airports
Transfer:
$200 from Gilette, $300 from Casper and $350 from Billings. Transfers are payable on site and are per car. Transfer time is approx 1 hour
Flight Guide:
Return from London £600 -£790. See below for flight info
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