Dude Ranches And Guest Ranch Choices
Dude ranches are so variable and numerous that selecting the right dude ranch vacation can be a formidable task. Dude ranches and guest ranches vary in almost every imaginable regard. Satisfaction with your vacation choice depends first on your understanding the differences in ranch programs and by selecting the ranch to best match your desires and needs. Disappointment is usually the result of expectations not being met by the ranch you are visiting. By working through the following “introspective survey” we hope you can find the dude or guest ranch vacation that most closely matches your interests, needs, and expectations.
Do you want a “riding only” vacation, or do you hope to participate in other outdoor activities? If the horse program is the defining point of your vacation and other activities are less important, you may want to choose a “working ranch” and try joining a cattle drive or other working aspects of the ranch. Marble Mountain Ranch is not a working cattle ranch, but has riding as the foundation of it’s activity program. Our target niche is families and groups that have a diverse set of activity interests and need to be engaged and entertained in a variety of ways. We aim to meet those needs by building an all inclusive program of Western horse riding, rafting, kayaking, fly fishing, sporting clays, and great evening events such as karaoke, line dancing and campfires.
Would you be comfortable choosing a dude ranch that has an 80 – 400 person capacity? The larger ranches are often better categorized as large resorts and may come complete with championship golf courses, tennis courts, day spa facilities, phones and TV in the rooms, and nearby shopping. Marble Mountain Ranch has an intimate capacity of 30 and is quite remote. We have no TV in the rooms, and strive for whole family participation in outdoor Western adventures. We intentionally de-emphasize access to technology (other than free WiFi in the lodge) so that urban bound youth are motivated to discover adventure in our natural settings.
Is the published fare truly “all inclusive?” Most dude ranches have a base price, but charge extra for private riding lessons, sporting clays, a rafting trip, or an extra glass of wine at dinner, and then add the taxes and surcharges on top of it all. Marble Mountain Ranch fares include everything we offer with the exception of gift shop purchases and voluntary gratuities.
Are the ranch owners on site and involved in the daily operations? Try to choose a dude ranch with direct owner involvement. Shorter chains of command resulting from on-site owners will improve quality control, hospitality, and risk management. Marble Mountain Guest Ranch is owned and operated by the Cole family, their children, and grandchildren. We welcome you and encourage you to meet our ranch family prior to booking.
Have you checked the reviews? Find out about the public’s perception of who you are going to spend a week with! At a minimum, we suggest you read the reviews of your prospective dude ranch choices at Trip Advisor, and google+. Objective voluntary reviews can be invaluable in evaluating the options and may serve you better than references cherry-picked and supplied directly by the ranch or even from a ranch association protecting it’s members.
Are you choosing a ranch with sound risk management practices? No ranch can entirely eliminate all of the risk from your riding, rafting, and other adventures. Doing so would destroy the inherent nature and quality of the sports. However, ranches should “manage risk” to eliminate unnecessary exposure. You should ask if there is a riding skills screening prior to assignments to a horse. Are helmets required or at least made available? Who are the wranglers? Are they certified with First Aid and CPR cards? Before you saddle up at the Marble Mountain Ranch, you will be given an informative orientation and a short round-pen riding skill assessment so that we might assign you an appropriate horse and ride suitable trails for your ability.
What atmosphere do you hope to find at your selected dude ranch? Are you looking for a ranch with a saloon? Are you traveling with children? Do you prefer small or larger group settings? Marble Mountain Ranch targets families, extended families in a reunion setting, and grandparents enjoying elder travel with grandchildren in tow. While singles and young couples certainly visit us regularly and find our ranch rewarding, the operational style of Marble Mountain Ranch in the Summer is specifically targeted to parents, grand parents, and accompanying children. Our target capacity is between 24 – 30 guests on site. If you are looking for more of an adult social group at Marble Mountain Ranch, we suggest you visit in the Spring and Fall while the youngsters are in school and the group sizes are more intimate.
What climate and geography do you hope to find on your ranch vacation? Dude ranches can be found in Northern mountains, in open deserts, the vineyards of central California, and adjacent to larger cities! Marble Mountain Ranch is located in the spectacular Klamath National Forest, with rivers surrounding the ranch, and with few urban intrusions anywhere near the ranch. The choice of the ranch climate you choose is also connected to your season of travel. Hotter Southern locations have a prime season in the cooler Winter months, while more Northern ranches have prime seasons through the warmer Summer months.
How can you find a dude ranch with truly good cuisine? Most dude ranches and guest ranches offer hearty home style meals and many modern ranches present a more sophisticated menu. You might ask for a sample menu. Ask who the lead chef is and what are they known for. Is there fresh produce coming from the ranch? Can the ranch handle vegetarian or other dietary restrictions? Heidi Cole is the executive chef at Marble Mountain Guest Ranch. She has been professionally catering and presenting cuisine to the public for over 35 years. She teaches culinary classes at our culinary retreats, and is known for her culinary originality. She has published her own cookbook “Ranch Cooking, Simply Good” and your meals here will be absolutely unforgettable. The most lingering memory of your vacation may well be connected to the caliber of the meals during your stay!
Please call us at 800-552-6284 FREE or 530-469-3322 if we can answer questions or give you more tips to help you find the ranch vacation that fits.
“My grandson and I had the vacation of a lifetime at Marble Mountain Ranch. It far exceeded our expectations. We are excited to make a return trip in 2010. We miss all the staff and will continue to keep in touch with guests we met this past summer. Louise Duren”