The folks I chat with on the phone are so thrilled to have found the right place for themselves and/or their family. But the struggles they describe to get to that point don't have to be shared by you. With these four pointers that I've learned from our future and past guests, I hope to help steer you in the path of decisiveness and easy hunting.
1) Figure out what you want to spend. There's more to this than simply what you can afford. The Elk River Guest Ranch is toward the lower price range, but we still get guests that could afford to go to a ranch that costs $4,000 per person instead of sub $2,000/person. If money is a non-issue, then skip this point. Otherwise, whether you have a lot or a little, decide how much you're willing to spend on this type of vacation. Then, you can view which ranches fit your needs via the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association website. Simply click on the drop-down that allows you to search ranches by their listed "Rates."
2) Figure out the atmosphere you want. Big or small? Is it important to you to have lots of interaction with lots of different people, or do you prefer a more intimate guest experience? The guest ranches range anywhere from 15-90 and everywhere in between. Every ranch offers a different perspective, different personalized experience. But, it doesn't have to be a difficult choice. Get a feel for what you want...lots of kids, lots of quiet, lots of personal time with the owners and staff, lots of different guests to boogie with on dance night? The choice is yours.
3) Decide what location of the western states you want to see. It really comes down to what type of geography and remoteness make you happy or give you that "West feel." Cactus or aspens? Remote or easy access? Or, a mixture of both? Snow-capped peaks or gently rolling mountains? What's your view of the West? And, if it doesn't matter to you except to be in the mountains on a horse, then skip this one, too. :)
4) Decide what activities of a western vacation entice you the most. If you're most interested in horseback riding, make sure that the ranches on your short list have a variety of horseback options that will keep you entertained throughout the week. Or, if you or someone in your family isn't as pumped about riding, check to see that there are other activities that you enjoy that are included in your vacation package.
I hope this helps! If you have any more questions about finding a ranch without getting overwhelmed by the process or if you need more information about Elk River Guest Ranch, give me a call at (970) 879-1946, and I'll be more than happy to help you in whatever way I can.
3 Encouraging Characteristics of Organizing a Corporate Retreat at a Dude Ranch That You Need to Know
1) You're organizing the most personal experience that a meeting place or vacation can offer. The unique aspect for us ranchers is that you're organizing the retreat, not for your family, but for your coworkers or employees. The dynamics are different. You're vacationing with us to get away from your work environment, participate in team building activities, and simply "get-away-from-it-all." The combination makes for folks who are eager to explore, have fun and maybe even act-a-fool on the dance floor to "Boot Scootin' Boogie."
2.) Team building embodies a whole new meaning on a Colorado dude ranch. Are you tired of scavenger hunts and made-up games for your team building activities? Colorado ranches offer all sorts of adventure from horseback riding, whitewater rafting, fly fishing, archery, kayaking, overnight camp trips and more. These adventures are intrinsically team building, so you don't have to worry about organizing speakers or activities yourself.
3.) Ranches are happy to give you more "chill," and a little less work. You'll come to find that sometimes "getting out of touch" with the rest of the world can build relationships and put you "in touch" with the things that are just as important to you and your coworkers or employees in the workplace.
"Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience." --Ralph Waldo Emerson
Need more information about organizing a corporate retreat at the Elk River Guest Ranch? Then visit our Corporate Retreat page, or give Bex and Scott a call at (970) 879-1946 for information, availability and rates.
1) You have built-in older brothers and sisters. Whether you bring one kid or five, be prepared to welcome several more into your family while you're at the guest ranch. Luckily, the extra aren't the type that require your supervision. Instead, these "older brothers and sisters" are the wranglers, housekeepers, waitstaff, and activities' coordinators. Most ranches tend to hire college-age employees or a bit older for their seasonal positions, and they make the perfect age to be great role models for your kids.
2) His/her ipad and phone become irrelevant. With horseshoes, roping the dummy steer, wading in the river, casting a fly rod, shooting a bow and arrow, kayaking and more, kids just don't have time to retreat back to the cabin to grab their phone or ipad. And the best part, they don't want to.
3) Your child quickly becomes more independent. One of the most special parts about a guest ranch vacation is that you can do as much or as little as you please in a family unit. We have lots of activities (and, of course, meals) that are conducive to the family doing things together. And, whenever your kids or teens want to venture off on their own to do activities, that option is there, too. The Elk River Guest Ranch property is also very friendly to kids and teens exploring, having campfires, hiking out to the teepees, and more. Your cabin quickly becomes a home base for sleeping, and not much more.
4) You didn't expect these tears. It's a special vacation experience. One that's hard, if not impossible, for you to recreate unless you go back to the ranch again.
1) Don't get bogged down in the process of trying to make everyone else happy. No matter if you're organizing this trip for a family of six or a family of 20 people, for every person you'll have different suggestions on what this vacation should look like.
Everyone has their own image as to what a vacation on a dude ranch really is. Some feel like it's going to be a cheesy experience, to some it's been their dream vacation since they were children, and some just don't know what to expect. The key is to remember that once you actually get your family to step foot on a Colorado guest ranch, all those worries if everyone's going to be happy subside.
2.) Start your search with the best. The members of the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association are the elite of the elite. Each member goes through an inspection process to make sure that they qualify by offering a western experience that promotes horsemanship, incredible customer service and a wonderful all-around experience for guests. The association website allows you to search through the list of ranches based on several parameters that are likely important to you: price, capacity, dates open, etc.
3.) Go with your gut. Once you've narrowed down the price that's suitable for your family, how big or small a guest ranch you want to visit, what activities you want provided, and what dates work best, then it's time to call the handful of ranches that made the top of your list. Make sure that you get on the phone with a person (whether owner, operator, manager, whatever the title) who's going to be directly in charge of your family's experience. Is this person someone you'd like to know more about? Do you get along well on the phone? Is this someone you can trust to give your family the best vacation of their lives? What's your hunch? If you get a positive vibe on the phone, it's likely that this will truly be a great fit for you and your family.
Once you've settled on your ranch, have an incredible time anticipating the trip and then actually enjoying it while you're there! In the meantime, if you need more help in finding the right place for your family, don't hesitate to reach out to me (Bex) at (970) 879-1946. Or, if you'd like more information about the Elk River Guest Ranch or are ready to make a reservation, don't hesitate to call me soon. Cabins are booking up for this coming season! :)