Gene Kilgore
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RANCH VACATIONS

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Questions to Ask

It is strongly recommended that individual properties are contacted directly to confirm information presented. Also, we recommend that you ask ranches for references, or visit TripAdvisor.com

Ranch Rates

  • What are your rates?
  • What is the tipping/gratuity policy? (Rates don't always include gratuities or all activities.)
  • Are there special rates for families, children, seniors, or corporations?
  • Do you have a non-riding rate?
  • Are there off-season rates?
  • Is there a minimum length of stay?
  • Besides state and local taxes, what do your rates not include?

Vacationing with Children

  • Is this a child-oriented ranch?
  • Does the ranch have a children's program? What does it include?
  • What age must children be to ride? (Today's insurance regulations may not allow very young children to ride.)
  • Is child care provided, and to what extent?
  • What are the qualifications of the child care providers?
  • Are parents welcome in children's activities?
  • Can children ride with parents?
  • Can parents ride with children?
  • Do children eat separately?
  • Can children eat together?

Horses and Riding

  • What kind of riding program does the ranch have?
  • What kind of rides are there — morning, afternoon, all-day, side-by-side, slow to fast?
  • Is it open-meadow riding, or mountain-trail riding?
  • How long are typical rides?
  • Are riding lessons available?
  • What style of horsemanship do you use or teach?
  • Is the program best suited to beginners, or are there opportunities for intermediate and advanced riders, too?
  • If I'm an intermediate or advanced rider, can I trot or lope?
  • Do the owners/managers take part in the riding program?
  • How many wranglers and guests go out on rides at a time?
  • Do I get the same horse all week?
  • Can I brush and saddle my own horse?
  • Are riding helmets required? Are they provided? Can I bring my own helmet?
  • Do I need my own cowboy boots, or is there a boot rental program?
  • Can I bring my own saddle?
  • Can I bring my own horse?
  • Are there non-riding days? Do I ride all days of the week?
  • Will I need to sign an assumption of risk or waiver form before riding?

Cattle Work

  • How many cattle do you run?
  • Do guests participate in all cattle activities?
  • Can guests brand with the cowboys?
  • Do you teach roping?
  • Do you teach cattle or team penning?

Miscellaneous

  • Is there a staff naturalist?
  • Are there enough activities at the ranch for non-riding or non-fishing members of a family?
  • Will the ranch cater to special diets? (Some have vegetarian, low-salt, and low-cholesterol menus.)
  • Will the ranch provide guest references?
  • Are there special clothing requirements? What should I wear on my ranch vacation?
  • Will the ranch provide a clothing/equipment list? (Usually standard procedure.)
  • What equipment does the ranch provide? (Fishing rods, tennis rackets, etc.)
  • Do I need a license to fish? Should I buy one before I arrive?
  • What will the weather be like?
  • Can we buy sundry items at the ranch? (Not all ranches have stores on the premises.)
  • Do you provide airport, train, or bus pickup? (Many ranches are happy to pick you up. There is often a nominal charge.)
  • Do you recommend rental cars? (In most cases, once you arrive, you'll not want to leave the ranch. However, you may opt for flexibility and independence.)
  • Are laundry facilities available? (Many ranches have laundry facilities; some will even do your laundry.)
  • What is your liquor policy? (Many ranches ask that you bring your own wine or liquor. If desired, you can pick these up on your way, or the ranch will get them for you with advance notice. Some ranches offer wine and beer, and a number have fully licensed bars and extensive wine lists.)
  • Are any foreign languages spoken?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • What is the elevation of the ranch?
  • Are there wheelchair facilities?
  • What is your smoking policy?
  • Are there nonsmoking rooms?
  • Do you provide email access?
  • Do you allow cellular telephones?