As summer winds down, it’s time to start thinking about our plans for fall. Ruth Daly, Marketing Director at riding holiday specialist, Ranch Rider, talks us through her favorite fall ranch holidays and offers her expert opinion on the most enchanting places to saddle up.
Fall is arguably one of the best times of year to book a ranch holiday in North America, as there’s no better way to see the changing colors of the season, than from the saddle.
With rider and mount both traveling under their own steam, often in places inaccessible by anything other than a horse, visiting a ranch is an enticing prospect year-round. But, the breathtaking kaleidoscope of fall colors adds something special to the mix, the continent’s larger-than-life landscapes — all of them dusted in shimmering gold — making trail riding almost meditative.
That’s not to say I don’t feel kind of giddy when we approach the summer. Thoughts of longer days and spending more time in the saddle is something every rider looks forward to; then again, it has to be said the season’s crisp winds and more temperate climes are the perfect complement to an afternoon of ranch holiday fun.
I have travelled extensively across North America and these are some of my favorite ranches for fall riding. If there is a ranch you feel ought to be included, please share it in the comments below as I always have room for more travel inspiration.
Colorado’s Vista Verde Luxury Guest Ranch offers a taste of the old West with modern-day creature comforts. September and October are reserved for adults and this is when the ranch has their ‘Fall Cattle Round-Up’. Over this period, guests and wranglers head out onto over 16,000 acres of forested land to find and gather the cattle before the winter weather sets in. Leaf peeping with a purpose, you won’t regret exploring the mountains against the backdrop of the fiery red quaking aspens.
At Saskatchewan’s La Reata Working Ranch, the splendor of the fall’s golden colors is hard to put into words. The rolling prairies, open range, canyons and the river hills bask in a cozy orange glow when the day is drawing to a close. In October, its round-up time, so expect to be pitching in with the real cowboys and girls. One of the best parts of the holiday is taking five down by the sandy shores of Lake Diefenbaker and watching the warm hues of the season reflected in the water.
See the fall hillsides begin to glimmer at Wyoming’s Klondike Working Ranch, the property standing below the towering Big Horn Mountains. The brilliant yellow aspens with their orange canopies are like art by Mother Nature as they contrast sharply against the evergreens. At this time of year, you will be spending 90% of your time in the saddle, allowing you to savor the season in all its glory.
Offering an all-round introduction to Western riding, at Oregon’s Long Hollow Guest Ranch you will learn to lead, groom and saddle your horse. One of the best times to visit, in the fall the cowhands will be bringing the cattle back home from their summer pastures. Alternatively, ride for pleasure across the state’s high desert landscape and play western horseback games in the arena. My tip, if you have your heart set on seeing one of those magical fall sunsets, ask to book the upstairs room with mesmorising views over Smith Rock!
Still on my bucket list is Washington state’s K-Diamond-K Guest Working Ranch.
Why? The vibrant foliage in and around the Coleville National Forest is said to be a spectacular sight to behold during fall, the ranch backing onto its 954,409 acres. Also a great riding holiday to enjoy with friends, there’s a wealth of activities on offer. Choose from horseback riding (go round up the horses), fly-fishing (lakes and streams running through the ranch’s open meadows), trapshooting, gold panning and mountain biking. A pursuit that sounds like it was made for the fall — an exhilarating buggy ride through the woods and fields is on my must-do list!
Ruth Daly is Marketing Director at Ranch Rider, an independent specialist selling a collection of handpicked riding holidays. She is also the proud owner of Kizzy, a 14.2 color cob mare, and riding horses is very much part of her lifestyle. When Ruth is not running campaigns and looking at up and coming destinations for horseback adventures, you will almost always find her out and about with her horse. Kizzy and Ruth are retired from show-jumping and cross-country, but they still take part in sponsored rides, including the sponsored ride during the UK Burghley Horse Trials, and they enjoy leisurely hacks around the countryside.
Ranch Rider is an independent riding holiday specialist, its handpicked collection of horseback adventures covering the USA, Canada, Argentina, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania. The company has been operating for over 25 years, the team constantly adding new experiences to the mix, from pack trips in North America’s backcountry to riding safaris in Africa – its aim to offer horse riding holidays for everyone.