I wish that I could lay claim to the strategic advantage of starting a dude ranch that is at a relatively low 1000 feet in elevation. Unfortunately, I am the recipient of some serious serendipity and I cannot claim the authorship to this kind of careful planning. Obviously I see some advantage here for operating in low elevations, and here is the point.
Many of our visiting family reunions and larger groups are sponsored by a fiscally secure elderly matron or patron. We also are witnessing an increase in guest populations exploring elder travel and grandparent travel (grandparents traveling with their grandchildren). How does this connect to low elevation vacation sites? The answer is (drum roll) SCIENCE!
“The fall in atmospheric pressure at higher altitude decreases the partial pressure of inspired oxygen and hence the driving pressure for gas exchange in the lungs.”
In other words: High elevation ranches are difficult places for people with compromised lungs or hindered breathing! Yep, many of our elderly ranch guests cannot endure a trip to a 7000 foot elevation ranch. Those majestic high elevation plateaus that make phenomenal riding, also make for some difficult breathing for a good segment of the traveling public.
Admittedly, I did not give a single thought to this point during the start-up phase of our California dude ranch. I am just simply the benefactor of a fortunate happenstance when it comes to marketing to an elderly travel audience. It also places us at a disadvantage when we are competing for a younger and more athletic crowd capable of the “high and open” riding experience. Our low elevation trails are dramatic, heavily forested, and make phenomenal riding experiences, but they are strikingly different from riding in more open and less “intimate” terrain. However, the grandparents can inhale properly during the ride at 1000 feet!
A growing market segment of grandparent travelers, the multi-generational travel niche, and the growth of “elder travel” all spell better market shares for any business that can accommodate the unique physiological needs of these mature travelers. A low elevation ranch might in fact, be the only viable option for some travelers.
That high plateau that reaches to the stars is a dramatic and remarkable ranch feature. It might also be a difficulty for those of our elder friends residing in low places that are hoping to visit those ranches in high places. OK, so time to turn up the Garth Brooks: “I’ve got friends in low places¦.”