Idaho dude ranch offers memorable experience
There are not too many destinations around the Inland Northwest where cowboy boots are required footwear. A greeting at Red Horse Mountain Ranch may more likely bring a “Howdy, Partner” rather than “Hey, Dude.”
And after a day of horseback riding, kayaking, fly fishing, white water rafting and other activities, you’ll be able to sit down to a six-course dinner while your dusty or wet clothing get washed by the staff.
This ranch’s destination, just south of Coeur d’Alene near Harrison, really defines what a stay-ca-tion can be. Dude ranches are associated with cowboy country and usually found in Wyoming, Montana or Texas. But traveling to one of these states can be expensive and time-consuming.
Luckily, that same ranch idea can be found nearby.
The image is enticing. Climb up on a horse and take a ride along a forest trail. Your senses awake to the clear fresh air, the aroma of pine trees and the distinctive scent of horse hide. As your horse climbs up the trail, you see views of mountain meadows and Lake Coeur d’Alene.
In the evening, a resident chef serves well-prepared food in the log cabin style dining hall. Dinner conversations are made with other guests that could be from New York, Florida, California, and Canada or even from overseas like Great Britain or Australia.
How does such a diverse group discover a North Idaho dude ranch? On the Internet. Why did guests choose this ranch over the numerous other ranches listed? This ranch offers other, varied activities besides horseback riding. Activities are offered that are organized and suited for adults only, children only or ones involving the whole family. Special needs children are more than accommodated; they are mainstreamed with the other children but are almost given one-to-one supervision by the staff.
Repeat guests are not unusual as some families like to use this ranch annually for their vacation. Each morning, family members can choose a day of playing together or splitting off with the children and adults going separate ways. Cabin choices include small ones for a couple to large cabins with three bedrooms plus a loft and two bathrooms that will sleep a three-generation family.
At Red Horse Mountain Ranch, a horse is central to most of the activities. Each guest is assigned a pair of cowboy boots and rides the same horse for the entire stay. For example, there is an obstacle course built by a previous ranch owner who was interested in retreats for company employees and thought a course would be good for team building.
Now it has turned into the favorite activity (except for the horses) for children with its climbing tower, cable slide and swinging tire courses. The horses are ridden up to the course that has a view overlooking Lake Coeur d’Alene. Safety is emphasized and children are required to wear riding helmets when on horseback.
Guests who like to fly fish or want to learn are taken to the St. Joe River. Kayaking is on Lake Coeur d’Alene. White water rafting trips are also offered. Extended, scenic trail rides are available on any day. Days and evenings are as busy as a guest chooses to be.
Before dinner a social hour is offered and after dinner guests can relax with live entertainment and later a hot tub soak or a swim in the ranch heated pool. Board and card games are offered in the lodge. The seven-course dinner is a special time for the adults. The children have their own dinner around a campfire.
At first glance the weekly cost may seem expensive. But the fee is all-inclusive, meaning that all activities, lodging, transportation, meals, and training are included in the price. For someone who is going to take advantage of most of what Red Horse Mountain Ranch has to offer, the cost is actually very competitive. For example, to make use of other individual outfitters for each activity could easily cost $100 per person per day. Add on motel costs and three meals a day and this ranch financially can make sense.
Red Horse Mountain Ranch offers a Western experience that couples and families in the Inland Northwest can enjoy for three to seven days without traveling a long distance. In fact, within a two-hour drive, a horse is waiting for you along with accommodations, activities, food and hospitality that rival any in the west. They will supply the cowboy boots; you provide the need to get away and live an outdoor adventure.
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