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Siwash Lake Ranch Now Featured on National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World!

July 7th, 2015 by techsupport

National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World has added BC’s prestigious Siwash Lake Ranch to it’s “network of world-class accommodations where sustainability is the touchstone and the guest experience is exceptionally rich and meaningful.”


The network is comprised of a collection of boutique hotels in remarkable destinations around the globe and Siwash Lake Ranch is one of just three in destinations in Canada to receive this distinguished honour .

“We are delighted to be working with National Geographic,” said Allyson Rogers, founder of Siwash Lake Ranch. “Being welcomed into the fold of National Geographic means we can make a more powerful impact in helping to preserve this spectacular land and showcase Super, Natural British Columbia.”

By helicopter safari, Siwash guests explore the mighty Fraser River basin; they soar over sandstone hoodoos, discover native petroglyphs, pan for gold, and then alight on an Alpine ridge for a walk amid wildflowers, with sweeping views of the Cariboo plateau. Or they can ride horseback on a full-day trail excursion with a private guide, pausing to enjoy lunch cooked over an open fire high atop a scenic mountain bluff.

The ranch at Siwash Lake is a private hideaway located in the rugged heartland of British Columbia. Spread throughout 80,000 acres of pure Canadian wilderness, Siwash guiding territory features rolling hills, grasslands, lush forests and a majestic river canyon. Sustainability is at the heart of this solar powered resort, where 5-star cuisine is prepared from food grown on the ranch or foraged from the wilds nearby, and an extensive activity program offers adventures to suit all. Authentic frontier accommodations feature the ranch’s legendary canvas cabins—lavish safari tents with nature all around.


Request more information about Siwash Lake Ranch. 

Your Dollar Can Take You On the Vacation of a Lifetime

March 20th, 2015 by bc guest ranches

Now is a perfect time for US citizens to visit their friendly northern neighbour, Canada.

Thanks to a positive exchange rate your US dollar will now take you further; all the way to British Columbia and your ideal BC Dude Ranch vacation!

Be whisked away into the Canadian wilderness and choose to stay at one of BC’s many exquisite dude ranches.

Relax and unwind at a luxury ranch, or pull up your sleeves and join in the excitement at a working ranch. You can bring the whole family, enjoy just a romantic vacation for two or spend some ‘you time’ meeting new people.

Jump on the back of a horse and explore the acres of peaceful, scenic surroundings, learn about the rich heritage in Canadian cowboy country and, finish the day by enjoying a delicious dining experience and refreshing drinks under the setting sun.

With seasonal specials during the spring months you can get an even better deal on a truly breathtaking getaway!

For more information, contact BC Guest Ranchers Association at 1-877-2-STAY-BC

It’s our pleasure to help you plan the perfect dude ranch experience!

Spring Season Openings

Campbell Hills Guest Ranch – April 1st

Free Rein Guest Ranch – May 1st

Tod Mountain Ranch – May 1st


Spring Is In The Air

March 3rd, 2015 by bc guest ranches

2015.01.23 – Guest Ranchers – FAMILY

The grass is turning greener, the sun is shining brighter, the days are lasting longer, and Spring is finally on the horizon.

This is a perfect time of year to visit a BC guest ranch. Join us for the vacation of a lifetime!

Relax and watch the landscape begin to transform from a winter wonderland to a green oasis filled with blossoming new life.

Listen to the sounds of rushing water, rustling leaves and lively wildlife.

Breathe in the smell of fresh air, feel the dirt beneath you and reconnect with the beauty of nature.

If you are looking for the perfect reason to escape to the beauty of BC, many of our wonderful ranches are offering specials right in time for Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day Specials

Tod Mountain Ranch
$495 per person (min. 2 ppl)
Friday May 8th – Sunday May 10th
Includes: 2 nights accommodation, 3 x 2 hr rides, all meals, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages, and use of all ranch facilities.

Campbell Hills Guest Ranch
$475 per person (min. 2 ppl)
Friday May 8th – Sunday May 10th
Includes: 2 nights accommodation, all meals, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages, and unlimited Horseback riding and all ranch activities.

Seasonal Specials

Big Bar Guest Ranch
$221 per adult per night
Friday May 8th – Sunday May 10th
Includes: Cabin accommodation, three inclusive meals and all your activities on the ranch.

Check out our BC Guest Ranch Map for more seasonal information.

Visit a Cowboy Guest Ranch

August 15th, 2014 by bc guest ranches

If you’ve always dreamed of taking a true cowboy holiday – full of adventure and camaraderie – then you need to saddle up to some of Canada’s best cowboy guest ranches, right here in British Columbia.

Some of our member guest ranches are actually working cowboy guest ranches, where you can try your hand at typical cowboy activities and cattle work, including cattle drives, round-ups, horse drives, and even cattle branding.

Plus, our ranches in Canada’s cowboy country feature huge tracts of private and crown land, giving you nearly endless ranges to explore on your cowboy vacation.

Of course, a holiday on a cowboy guest ranch goes beyond cattle work. You’ll also get a hearty serving of Western Canadian cowboy hospitality our members are know for – to make up a perfect horse riding holiday.

Just because you’re on a cowboy holiday doesn’t mean you have to rough it. All of our members are committed to providing a comfortable, clean, homelike atmosphere. Some even offer luxury guest ranch amenities.

All of our cowboy guest ranches and dude ranches have horses available to accommodate the needs of all guests who want to ride – regardless of their experience level – and will carefully match you to the right horse to suit your needs. Many will also let you be as involved as you like in your horse’s care during your stay.

Our horses are very well cared for, and all of our members are focused on providing you with a memorable cowboy vacation.

You can use our amenity search tool to find the best cowboy guest ranches in BC. If you want specific details about each ranch’s cowboy activities, just contact us and we’ll help you find the perfect cowboy vacation for your holiday needs.

To start planning your next cowboy holiday, check out our member ranches today!waving

Ranch Holidays: What to Expect

July 29th, 2014 by bc guest ranches

RS_3bars_7_campfire_800Never been on a guest ranch holiday and curious what to expect?

Well, each of our member guest ranches in BC has their own personality and specialties. So if you’re picturing something specific for your ranch vacation, you can use that as your starting point to find the perfect ranching holiday.

For example, if you’ve always dreamt of an overnight pack trip, we can introduce you to ranches that specialize in that.

Or, if you’re thrilled by the idea of taking part in traditional cowboy cattle work – like cattle drives, round-ups, horse drives, and even cattle branding – then look for a dude ranch that offers those specifics options.

One advantage of choosing a BC Guest Ranchers Association member for your ranch holidays is that we’ve already done the quality control, and represent only the best established ranches who adhere to a common standard. That way, you know what to expect from your ranching holiday, while avoiding unpleasant surprises.

All of our member ranches exemplify the western ranch ideal of personal, homelike hospitality and atmosphere. They are all horse-oriented and able to accommodate all guests who choose to ride. Riding instruction is always available.

In terms of meals, our members operate primarily on an all-inclusive basis, offering packages that include all of your food, accommodation, and horseback riding and other ranch activities. That lets everyone relax and focus on creating the sort of holiday you want, without worrying about the details.

That combination of common high standards and varied riding programs means you can find the ranch holiday that meets your needs and expectations.

Use our amenity search tool to find the perfect ranch holiday in BC. If you want specific details about each ranch’s riding activities, just contact us and we’ll help you find the perfect ranch vacation for your needs.

To start planning your next ranch holiday, check out our member ranches today!

Luxury Dude Ranch Vacations?

June 13th, 2014 by bc guest ranches

Fine Cuisine

Fine Cuisine

The idea of luxury dude ranch vacations may seem like a contradiction.

After all, for some folks the thought of dude ranches and guest ranches conjure up certain simplicity – and a good chance to get your hands a little dirty by chipping in on the ranch work.

But many British Columbia guest ranches have a secret side that surprises some people – luxury! From luxurious accommodations and fine linens to gourmet food and wine, many BC dude ranches pride themselves in bringing a high level of comfort to your ranch vacation.

Of course, everyone has a different definition of luxury – for some, it means being able to add a tennis match of game of golf into your vacation. For others, a full-service spa, hot tub, or even just fitness facilities bring their horse riding vacation to the next level.

At their root, all of our member guest ranches are firmly focused around the horse riding experience, of course: It’s what they do. After all, sometimes getting your hands a little dirty during the day is just fine, but having luxury options back at the ranch is always a great option to keep everyone happy!

When looking for the best luxury ranches in BC you can use our amenity search tool. If you want specific details about each ranch’s luxury options, just contact us and we’ll help you find the perfect luxury guest ranch for your needs.

To start planning your next luxury dude ranch vacation, check out our member ranches today!

The Best Horse Riding Holidays

May 20th, 2014 by bc guest ranches

Cheryl & Dakota lead the ride at Tod Mountain RanchThere’s something special about horse riding holidays: Whether it’s your very first time on a horse, or the latest in a long line of horseback riding vacations, horse riding holidays are like nothing else.

And the friendly guest ranches and dude ranches in British Columbia offer the very best horse riding holidays in the world.

Our member ranches exemplify the Western Canadian ranch ideals of personal, homelike hospitality, and atmosphere. Plus, all BCGRA ranches are horse oriented. Riding isn’t an afterthought for our members, it’s the core of a complete horseback riding vacation.

Riding instruction is offered at all member guest ranches, and your horse will always be matched to suit your weight and experience level – ensuring safe and comfortable horse riding holidays for everyone.

Plus, because we’re blessed to live in beautiful British Columbia, all of our ranches have plenty of acreage on – or adjacent to – their ranches for horseback vacations unlike any in the world. There’s a full range of landscapes to explore here in BC, from mountains to open forests to free range.

Overnight horseback riding trips and cattle work are also available at some ranches. If you can imagine a horse riding holiday, chances are one of our member ranches can make it come true.

While all of our ranches offer full-day horseback riding trips, they all have other activities to balance out your vacation, too, so you can do as little or as much riding as you want.

Our guest ranches have been providing memorable horse riding holidays and equestrian vacations to people from around the world for decades.

When looking for the best horse riding vacations you can use our amenity search tool. If you want specific details about each ranch’s horse vacation options, just contact us and we’ll help you find the perfect guest ranch for your needs.

To start planning your next horse ranch vacation, check out our member ranches today!

Unforgettable Family Ranch Vacations

April 14th, 2014 by bc guest ranches

Family Ranch Vacations If you’re looking for a real vacation experience to help your family re-connect, family ranch vacations at family-friendly dude ranches in BC are the way to go.

One of the reasons dude ranch vacations for families are a great idea is that the horseback riding lets everyone focus on the experience – and each other – rather than their mobile phone, tablets or computers. Guest ranches and family dude ranches in British Columbia have a magical way of making time slow down a little, and help folks focus on the stuff that really matters – like family.

Plus, learning new skills in a family environment is a great confidence-booster for kids.

Not only are our member ranches family-friendly, many of them are also owned and run by families – the very definition of a family dude ranch!

When looking for the best dude ranches for families you can use our Amenity search tool. If you want specific details about family ranch vacations, just contact us and we’ll help you find the perfect guest ranch for your family.

All BCGRA ranches offer horse riding instruction, and also have horses to suit any level of experience. Most ranches will have a minimum age for horseback riding, but some of our members welcome riders as young as 6 years old! Many of the best dude ranches for kids also have dedicated children’s programs.

Family Ranch VacationsWhether you want to ride as a family, or have the kids occupied and engaged with other activities while you ride, our members love creating memorable family ranch vacations.

Many of the best dude ranches for families feature plenty of activities beyond just horseback riding, too – including swimming, canoeing, fishing, and other wonderful outdoor pursuits.

Plus, since all family ranch vacations include meals and most other costs, it means everyone in the family can put their feet up at the end of the day and relax.

Start planning your family ranch vacation today by checking out our family-friendly guest ranches.

What is a Dude Ranch?

February 27th, 2014 by bc guest ranches

What is a Dude Ranch? The word dude has had many meanings, but in the 19th century “dude” generally referred to men – often rich, and always urbanites from the Eastern US – who would come West looking for a taste of the cowboy life. The term was similar in meaning to city slicker – as in the movie of the same name.

Dude RanchDude ranches, then, were working ranches that welcomed guests to expose them to the Western lifestyle, including horseback riding and wrangling. That’s the original dude ranch definition, also called a cowboy guest ranch.

So what’s the difference between dude ranch and guest ranch?

In short, not too much these days.

In the past a dude ranch holiday often meant more of a focus on horse-oriented activities. Now, of course, you’re just as likely to find a luxury dude ranch that offers other amenities. They’re often more kid-friendly than 100 years ago, too! Just about every dude ranch is a family dude ranch.

Dude Ranch GameDude ranch is more commonly used in the US, but for the most part, the terms are interchangeable. Guest ranch is a much more common term here in Canada. Either way, all of the BCGRA members offer horseback riding activities and instruction, and promote a total package inclusive of food, accommodation, horseback riding and all other ranch activities.

Whatever you call it – dude ranch or guest ranch – our member hosts will provide you with an authentic Western Canadian experience that you’ll never forget.

Robbie’s Auction High Bid

June 4th, 2013 by bc guest ranches

Dave Knubley 

Dave Knubley of Comox, BC was thrilled to discover on the evening of May 22 that he held the winning bid for the “Experience Package at Echo Valley Ranch and Spa”.  He and a guest will enjoy three nights of exquisite pampering at one of the provinces premier guest ranches.

Dave is with the Royal Canadian Air Force 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron based in Comox.  He has not yet decided who will accompany him on this amazing getaway… and did we mention he is single.

All the proceeds from this auction will go to a trust fund for the son of Robert Gill-Marcussen who was the original winner of this prize package vacation when the BC Guest Ranchers’ held their contest last year. 

Congratulations Dave and best wishes to the Gill-Marcussen family.

A Special Chance to Win a Guest Ranch Vacation!

May 14th, 2013 by bc guest ranches


Robbie and Nathan

Robbie and his son, Nathan.

Kathy Gill-Marcussen of Ontario was one of our winners in the GREAT CANADIAN GUEST RANCH GETAWAY CONTEST held last year. She was the recipient of a wonderful prize package vacation at Echo Valley Ranch & Spa valued at $3,480. Kathy’s plan was to take her 24-year-old son, Robbie, who was battling an aggressive brain tumour. Robbie was so looking forward to this holiday with his mother who had been his caregiver through this difficult time. Sadly his condition took a downward turn mid summer and they were unable to take this vacation. Robbie passed away on August 4, 2012.

With the blessing of Robbie’s family the BCGRA would like to auction off the prize package to the highest bidder. All proceeds will go to a college fund for Rob’s young son, Nathan. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to experience a guest ranch vacation while giving to a family who has dealt with a great loss.


Send your bid to moc.sehcnartseugcbnull@ofni with “Robbie’s Auction” as the subject by May 22, 2013. Bids will be logged according to time of receipt and you will be notified of acceptance plus what the current highest bid is. All bids must be received by 9 pm on May 22, 2013 to be eligible. ~ Follow the action on Facebook!

Echo Valley Ranch

Echo Valley Ranch


This Eco adventure resort is located 435 km/270 miles north of Vancouver, BC via Whistler Resort or Fraser Canyon route. You will find direct flights from many major cities to Vancouver International Airport. ~


Three Night All-Inclusive “Experience Package” for Two in a Premium Room
Dates valid: June 15 to September 30, 2013

  • All meals prepared by our executive chef including a glass of wine or beer with your dinner, and soft beverages at any time. The cookie jar is always stocked!
  • Daily turndown service with treats and weather update
  • A daily guided half-day horseback ride or a daily $60 spa credit. The choice is yours!
  • An introductory equestrian lesson or horsemanship lesson in the ranch’s riding ring Weekly Guided Hiking program
  • Daily Thai yoga (Ruesri dat ton) stretching classes with our instructor
  • One Fly fishing casting lessons and fly fishing on our own well-stocked ponds (equipment provided)
  • Weekly evening entertainment program including roaring camp fires, barbeque dinners, authentic Thai banquet and traditional Thai dancing
  • Weekly cooking demonstrations with nutrition tips from our chef as well as tips on Thai cooking
  • Use of all ranch facilities including: Large outdoor hot tub, indoor heated swimming pool, sauna, fitness centre, numerous self-guided hiking trails, large games room featuring: pool table, shuffle board, darts, card table, Karaoke and a large TV screening room
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Spring Fever & BCGRA Contest!

February 26th, 2012 by bc guest ranches

It’s that time of year for guest ranches throughout Canada, and they are gearing up for the 2012 season. Most of the ranches will open their doors to guests from mid to end of May, before then there is a lot of preparation that takes place.

If you have vacationed at a guest ranch, then you know there is a lot that goes into making a ranch run smoothly and keeping them in working order.

Even with a blanket of white snow, spring cleaning begins. Fences are inspected and tended to accordingly. Once accessible, trails will need to be checked for any fallen trees or change in footing.

For the working ranches, fields are becoming speckled with little black or brown calves, and for some small foals are not far behind – a sign that spring is just around the corner. Around the first of May, all those calves will need to be branded. Several ranches offer vacation packages allowing guests to get in on the branding fun.

The horses all need to be vaccinated, and checked over before open season. Their teeth are floated to remove all sharp points, making sure they get the best from their food. Any horses with long hooves are trimmed and their coats, manes and tails are inspected for burs they may have accumulated from being turned out to pasture over the winter months.

Any last minute staff hiring will be done and lodges and cabins will be cleaned and set up for the arrival of the first guests. Once staff arrives at the ranch, they will be put through weeks of training before guests arrive, in order to provide the best service and vacation.

There’s a lot to get done over the next month and a half in preparation for the 2012 season and the ranches of Canada are all looking forward to meeting new guests and doing what they love best – sharing the western lifestyle.

Want a chance to stay at a beautiful and adventurous guest ranch? Here’s your chance! The BC Guest Ranch Association (BCGRA) launched their “Great Canadian Guest Ranch Getaway Contest” and, at its close, 12 entrants from around the globe will have won once-in-a-lifetime getaways to some of beautiful British Columbia’s most exciting guest ranches.

This unique contest, which boasts an accumulated prize value of more than $30,000, is taking place online via the association’s Facebook Page, and is comprised of six rounds. Every two weeks, a new round will begin and two new prizes will be up for grabs – that’s two guest ranches and two winners!

Winners will receive all-inclusive stays at one of the BCGRA member guest ranches. Some of the activities they might enjoy while they visit include horseback riding, world-class fishing, and riding the range on a working cattle ranch. Whether they’re looking for pristine nature, rest and relaxation, or thrilling adventure in the wilds of B.C., they’ll find it there.

People are entering the contest via the association’s Facebook Contest Page and have been asked to provide, along with their contact details, short but creative explanations as to why they think they’re the most deserving of the prize. The winners will be those entrants who’ve successfully convinced the BCGRA judges that they deserve a stay at one of the province’s best guest ranches.

Making the contest even more exciting is the fact that people can enter more than once! At the end of each round, eager entrants who entered but didn’t win can enter again!

The BCGRA is a non-profit organization that represents over a dozen BC Guest Ranches. Says BCGRA: “From horseback riding, world-class fishing, wilderness retreats to western family vacations our members offer a diverse selection of BC’s best.” And this contest promises to show the world (and especially the winners) just what it means to leave behind the hustle and bustle of life and escape to the wilds of beautiful BC.

For more information about the BCGRA and the Great Canadian Guest Ranch Getaway Contest, visit the association’s website at or Facebook page at Alternately, feel free to call the BCGRA and contest organizers directly at (250) 593-0258.

Do What You Love & Love What You Do

May 1st, 2011 by bc guest ranches

Professional horse trainer, Jesse Beckley is a third generation cattle and guest rancher. His family owns Three Bars Ranch, located in the Canadian Rockies. Growing up on the back of a horse, Jesse decided early on that he wanted to earn his living working with horses. He started out riding and training horses for the Guest Ranch and then moved into the reining discipline.

Jesse Beckley and one of the reining horses.

Jesse started showing reining horses at age 12, continuing his interest and education in the horse industry he moved to Oklahoma and California for five years where he worked for two of the top five reining horse trainers in the world. Following this time he returned to Three Bars Ranch to run Beckley Reining. Through hard work, Jesse has become one of the best and most sought after trainers in Canada.

Recently, Jesse and his dad, Jeff Beckley, traveled over 40 hours to Texas to compete at one of the world’s greatest reining competitions, the National reining Breeders Classic, which pays out over $1,200,000! With the trailer packed and horses in tow the two cowboys were gone for three weeks.

Competing against the best in the world, it was no easy feat to pick up a check. Jesse had to first show in the go-round and if he marked a high enough score he would advance to the finals, which is a huge accomplishment in itself. Drawing up near the end Jesse knew he was going to have to put down a flawless run. At this point it was looking like it would take a score of 222 to make the Open Finals.

So you understand reining a bit better, let me explain how it works. There are four categories, Level 1 through 4, four which is also known as Open being the highest category and Level 1 or Limited Open Level 1, is the “lowest”. Categories are based on earnings and standings. In Jesse’s case he is only eligible for category 3 & 4 because he has “won” himself out of the lower two categories.

Reining is a judged event, with scores being issued by each judge. Every competitor walks in with a score of 70. Each competitor is required to complete the given pattern exactly as it states, if the competitor goes off pattern it will result in a score of zero. Each maneuver is scored from -1.5 to a +1.5 and is based on degree of difficulty. A zero mark on a maneuver means it was correct but not over the top. A -.5 means it was poor and so on. Penalties can also be issued.

Sample of a score sheet.

At this particular show there are five judges, with the high score and low score dropped to take a total of three scores.

Now back to the story…Jesse was mounted on a mare named Mizzen Whizzen. The duo laid down an electrifying run, scoring a 223.5, resulting in making both the level 3 and 4 Open Finals. Only the top 25 with ties make it back to the finals. The go-round starts with almost 300 competitors riding for those 25 spots. For a young trainer to make the finals, this is a dream come true and a stepping stone in his career.

Jesse and Mizzen Whizzen

The Beckley family back home watched Jesse and Mizzen show against the top horseman  on Finals night via live feed on their computers. It was an exciting night in Texas and back in Canada. The pair put in another stellar run and took home a nice pay-cheque for their performance.

Throughout the summer, Jesse gives the Three Bars Ranch guests a reining demo one night a week.

Many of BC’s Guest Ranches are more than just a Guest ranch. They are a real working cattle ranch, they grow hay or in this case train horses for performance. Life with horses is never boring and it is so rewarding. Some people are fortunate enough to make their living doing what they love – working with horses has to be one of the best jobs one could ask for.

We don’t yet have Jesse and Mizzen’s run from this year’s NRBC, but enjoy one of their championship runs from 2010 where they set a new record high score! Click on the link below.

Mizzen Whizzen & Jesse Beckley set new record at the 2010 West Coast Classic

Spring Fever

April 12th, 2011 by bc guest ranches

It’s that time of year! The guest ranches in British Columbia will be gearing up for the 2011 season. Most ranches will open around mid to end of May. In a typical year the snow would have melted by the first of April and staff would be tending to the yards for the spring and summer season. This year however, Mother Nature had other plans. In many areas, the snow is still lingering, having melted away many times to nothing but s few small patches of white – a teaser of warm weather to come, just to get yet another full on dump of snow. So for many BC guest ranches, spring cleaning and preparation has been put on hold.
Even with the unsightly white stuff, some things just can’t wait. For the working ranches, fields are becoming speckled with little black or brown calves. For some it will be the first year that foals are   born in the snow. Even the horses are getting tired of it.
The horses all need to be vaccinated, and checked over before open season. Once accessible, trails will need to be overlooked for any fallen trees or change in footing and any broken fences will need mending.
Any last minute staff hiring will be done and lodges and cabins will be cleaned and set up for the arrival of the first guests.
There’s a lot to get done over the next month and a half in preparation for the 2011 season and the ranches of British Columbia are all looking forward to meeting new guests and doing what they love best – sharing the western lifestyle.




Ranch Learning

July 12th, 2010 by bc guest ranches

The Hills Guest Ranch & Spa, located in the Cariboo region of beautiful  British Columbia, is a great vacation if you are looking to learn more about horses and how to communicate with them.
Many horseback and spa activities will be part of your day. Join Bryce, one of the Hills top wranglers, on the half day breakfast ride were you are served a healthy cowboy breakfast on the trail, or choose from one of the full day cowboy cookout rides and picnics, or even hourly rides. You can choose from private lessons, horse care, horse safety and horse whispering workshops.
Private western riding lessons help to advance your knowledge, skill and your abilities in horse handling and riding. Balancing in the saddle, the correct posture for safe riding, improving your ability to find the rhythm of the horse, improving your rein skills, and possibly overcoming certain fears are some of the many things you will learn in a one-on-one lesson.

Learn more about what it takes to care for your horse, how to  groom, how to clean, what to watch for and how to protect your horse’s health. These and many other topics are covered and will help you to  become an improved rider, and a better horseman. How to lift all of  the legs of the horse, how to clean a horses hoof, what to look for!

At The Hills Ranch, they also teach riders about the western saddle and all its parts, the different bits they use and why they differ from one another. When you fully  understand the equipment, you have a better understanding about riding, and how all the parts come together to form a wonderful, relaxing ride.

Guests at The Hills learn how to communicate with their horse.

Guests at The Hills learn how to communicate with their horse.

The Hills also provide a special program for kids of all ages. The day starts with feeding and grooming the horses. Kids also learn about the chores involved with owning a horse, such as mucking stalls. Kids gain a better understanding of horses and ranch life, plus they enjoy some fabulous games that are focused towards improving their fitness level. The goal is to give kids exciting activities that happen to improve their personal health and wellness during their time at The Hills, and also introduce them to the exciting aspects of ranch life, being around animals and caring for them.

Ranch Dining

June 21st, 2010 by bc guest ranches

Sundance Guest Ranch is located in one of the warmest, sunniest spots in Canada with sweeping, panoramic views of the wide open Thompson River Valley and is only a four hour drive from Vancouver. But that’s not all…they have some of the best ranch food around! One look at their Black Angus burgers will have your mouth watering and your taste buds asking for more.

Dining room at Sundance Guest Ranch.

Dining room at Sundance Guest Ranch.

The dining rooms at Sundance are across the patio from the adult lounge, just past the outdoor barbecue pit where they cook up their specialty – Black Angus burgers and charcoal-grilled New York steaks (if you’re a vegetarian no worries their chef has it covered). Sundance’s licensed dining rooms look out over the pastures where the horses spend the night grazing and cooling off among the sprinklers. Choose some wine from the list and have a glass to sip on as you watch the herd run by on their way to the fields, then sit down to a delicious three-course candlelit dinner. At Sundance, all the outdoor fun builds up quite a healthy appetite.

Breakfast is served a la carte between 7:30 and 9:00 am, with that all-important morning coffee being on from 5:30 am for you early risers. For lunch and dinner, kids 14 years and under eat all together, one hour before adult meal sittings, so they get to know each other quickly, which hugely enhances the fun factor for them! You may also choose to have your children join you for adult meals if you wish, and either request an upgrade to adult meals for $20 a day per child, or have a kids’ meal held over to adult mealtime at no extra charge – whatever works for you.

Adult mealtimes are 1:00pm and 7:00pm, with a more sophisticated menu – and again, everyone sits at big tables together, so it’s a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Whether you’re with a group or all on your own, you’ll quickly become “part of the family” once you’re there. For Sunday lunch, adults and kids all eat together for a big burger barbeque. There’s nothing more mouth-watering than that charcoal-grilled aroma drifting across the patio!

Chef Chris cooks up some tastey Black Angus burgers.

Chef Chris cooks up some tastey Black Angus burgers.

Working Vacation

June 19th, 2010 by bc guest ranches


Through Spring Lake's working vacation, guests learn the in's and out's of ranch life.

Spring Lake Ranch is tucked in the heart of British Columbia’s Cariboo country. Unique to many guest ranches, Spring Lake offers a “Working Vacation”. Involved in this, vacations offer free room and board for a minimum of six weeks. Work involves maintenance, cleaning of cabins, yard work, kitchen duty and of course working with the horses. In the early spring, fall and winter, some work involves working with cattle as well. Time off for line dancing, hayrides, fireside cookouts, swimming, canoeing and some short trips including rodeos and Bakerville.

Many of the young work experience guests come back for several years in a row. Two young Swiss work experience girls said, “Right now we are realizing our dream, having a work experience holiday on a Canadian ranch. We are so happy that we have found this beautiful place. The ranch has a private lake and our cabin is situated directly on the lake shore. We’re really enjoying this incredible stillness, the pure nature and our job variation. The work with young horses and also moving cows is exactly what we wanted to do and the work is a lot of fun; we’re laughing all the time. Also to witness a foal be born and to see the four eagle nests when riding around the lake is stunning. The ranch motto: close to nature, far from crowds; that’s what it’s like at Spring Lake Ranch.”

Through the working vacation, guests get some good one on one time with their favorite horses.

Through the working vacation, guests get some good one on one time with their favorite horses.

Wells Gray Country

June 7th, 2010 by bc guest ranches

Amongst the rolling hills of British Columbia‘s Cariboo Chilcotin, on the shores of Crystal Lake, you‘ll find Crystal Waters Guest Ranch. Established at the turn of the century, the ranch sits in a scenic valley of lakes, meadows, wetlands and forests. It’s home to some of the finest horseback riding back country and fly-fishing that can be found anywhere in Canada and across North America.

The scenery at Crystal Waters is breathtaking.

The scenery at Crystal Waters is breathtaking.

Since the elevation of the region ranges between approximately 800 and 1250 meter, with a few higher areas and peaks here and there, spring doesn’t really arrive before the months of April and May when flora and fauna then explode into growth and activity. The temperatures are quite mild during the day but could still drop below zero degrees Celsius during the night. The ice disappears from the lakes during the second half of April, in higher elevations it can even be May before the boats can go in the water.

June, July and August are the summer months in the South Cariboo with hot and usually dry days and comfortably cool nights. The lakes reach a pleasant temperature for swimming, canoeing, kayaking and other water sports.

Quite spectacular is the “Indian Summer” during late September and early October, when the leaves of the trees change to colors of yellow to dark red and every shade in between. The days are dry, sunny and can still be quite warm, the nights are getting cooler until snowflakes start to fly in October.

Winter doesn’t really arrive with all its force before late November or early December. The region is soon covered in a white blanket and turns into a Winter Wonderland with cold, but dry, and very sunny days, offering the perfect location for a huge variety of winter activities such as skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating and more, all in the heart of British Columbia’s beautiful and pristine interior.

Crystal Waters is open year long.

Crystal Waters is open year long.

Wells Gray Country is a spectacular, pure wilderness area. Known as a world-class destination, it is a must stop on any tour of British Columbia. Within Wells Gray Park, experience stunning vistas of high mountains, deep canyons, volcanic cones, brooding old-growth forests & raging white-water rivers.

Take in the landscapes, forests, wildlife and human heritage of Wells Gray, often known as ‘The Waterfall Park’. Enjoy the sounds, sights and serenity of countless impressive cascades, torrents and rapids – including world-famous Helmcken Falls, a waterfall three times the height of Niagara and North America’s largest canoe only lake, Murtle Lake!

If you’re looking for a summer trip of deep blue skies over deep blue water, where you can wander lush alpine meadows and cool, ancient forests, or paddle and fish big lakes and majestic rivers, then a summer visit to Wells Gray Park has a lot to offer!

In winter, Wells Gray Country is transformed into a very different world: many locals look forward to the arrival of snow and ice, and getting out on their skis, snowshoes, dog-sleds and snowmobiles. In the valleys the snow-cover ranges between a few centimeters and half a meter or sometimes more: up in the mountains it’s more like 3m to 4m of fine powder in the average year. This gives you the perfect setting for all manner of winter fun.

Delicious Cuisine

June 3rd, 2010 by bc guest ranches

I don’t know about you, but when I’m on vacation, half the appeal is eating great food everyday that I don’t have to cook. I’m about quality not quantity. The dining at Siwash Lake Ranch is like no other.

Guests sit around the table for a delicious meal where they interact and share their life stories.

Guests sit around the table for a delicious meal where they interact and share their life stories.

At mealtimes, you’ll be delighted with delicious cuisine and great fellowship in their cozy 20-seat main dining room. Hand-hewn log walls, a rich fir plank floor,  casually elegant furniture and candle light combine for a wonderfully warm dining ambiance. Tables vary from large group and family size, to intimate window settings for two that overlook wild bird feeders and horse pasture.

At Siwash, you will start your day off with a wake-up tray that is placed at your door, brimming with home baked muffins and your choice of freshly brewed tea or coffee. Canadian breakfasts in the dining room are hearty, and lunches, served outside whenever possible, feature nourishing homemade soups, pastas, salads, and breads. Later, enjoy chef’s daily hors d’oeuvre, presented on the sun deck or fireside. Dinners are three-course, culinary adventures infused with international flavours.

The ranch offers outstanding gourmet meals, prepared from the best seasonal ingredients and served with Siwash-style flare. Whenever possible, they incorporate organic food produced on the ranch — mouth-watering beef and pork, free-range eggs, and baby greens for your salads, picked right from our garden. Regional British Columbia cuisine, featuring wild trout, salmon and venison are our specialty.

Siwash Lake Ranch uses their own fresh garden greens.

Siwash Lake Ranch uses their own fresh garden greens.

If you’re a true romantic at heart and want to treat your honey, Siwash offers in-suite and alfresco dining in the meadow or on a private balcony is a special treat for couples taking romantic holidays.

Romantic dinner for two.

Romantic dinner for two.


Day One

~ Hors D’oeuvre ~
Spicy Crab Bruschetta
~ First Course ~
Baked Chevre, ranch grown organic baby greens, warm honey walnut vinaigrette
~ Second Course ~
Grilled Halibut, sundried tomato, white wine & cream reduction
Wild rice pilaf
Roasted red pepper, pan seared zucchini, steamed baby carrots
~ Third Course ~
Pumpkin Cheesecake, caramel sauce laced with brandy and star anise

Day Two

~ Hors D’oeuvre ~
Wild BC Smoked Salmon, crostini, fresh dill & cream cheese
~ First Course ~
Vine Ripened Roma Tomatoes, Bocconcini, garden basil & balsamic vinaigrette
~ Second Course ~
Filet Mignon, brandy & green peppercorn demi-glaze,
~ grass fed, organic Black Angus ranch beef ~
Garlic whipped gold potatoes
Purple cauliflower & grilled baby asparagus
~ Third Course ~
Dark Chocolate Ganache, wild raspberry coulis

Fine Cuisine

Fine Cuisine

Cast & Catch

June 1st, 2010 by bc guest ranches

When looking for the perfect family vacation, sometimes it’s hard to find a holiday that every member of the family will enjoy. The kids and mom want to go horseback riding everyday, but t dad would like to cast his reel and do a little fishing.

Chaunigan Lake Lodge has some of the best fishing around.

Chaunigan Lake Lodge has some of the best fishing around.

At Chaunigan Lake Lodge in the Nemaiah Valley of British Columbia has the best of both worlds. The kids and mom can go for a guided trail ride on horseback along forested trails with birds, wildflowers and the beautiful vistas the Chaunigan has to offer. Head out each morning on a different trail and you will never get tired of what you see.

Now as for Pa, well the Chaunigan Lake Lodge is best known for its world class rainbow trout fishing. It started as a fishing lodge in 1935 and history has proven that their greatest asset (aside from the breathtaking scenery) is their wild rainbow trout fishing. With careful management and remote location has preserved the rainbow trout lake fishing. The average fish size is 2 ½ pounds. The lake has many weed beds and shoal areas, and cool water temperatures year round. The abundant freshwater shrimp population produces a clean firm rainbow trout.

There are many days when experienced fly fishermen will catch 50 fish a day. Chaunigan Lake Lodge has an angling guide available to take guests out on the water, explain the entomology, or help with casting and retrievals.

For a change of pace try one of the 6 fly-in fishing lakes within a 70 mile radius of Chaunigan Lake. All these remote lakes are equipped with boats.

This is a vacation for the whole family! There’s always something new to try each day. Go for a ride, or cast your reel and catch the big one.

Catch of the day.

Catch of the day.

Building a Guest Ranch

May 24th, 2010 by bc guest ranches

Big Creek Lodge

The Big Creek Lodge is classified as a Canada Select Four Star "Country Inn".

If you’ve ever visited a guest ranch, you may have had this overwhelming feeling that there would be no better job in the world than to own and run a guest ranch of your own. The benefits are countless – live in a beautiful part of the world with animals of all kinds, working with horses on a daily basis, live in a gorgeous log home and get to meet people from all over the world. But what does it take to start up a guest ranch? It’s no piece of cake that’s for sure.

Take Big Creek Lodge for example. Owners Joe and Sabine Hoessl started out with the traditional cattle ranching on a range of more than 25,000 acres in the beginning of the 80’s. They then decided they wanted to share this once in a lifetime experience of the land with others, so they built their first cabin for guests to stay in. It was a huge hit! The guests loved the fresh air and the absolute peace and quiet of the cabin.

The Hoessl’s soon encountered a dilemma. The cabin was always booked full because the guests would always book for the following year. So they decided it was time to think bigger in order to satisfy their many guests. That was the beginning of the Big Creek Lodge.

The Big Creek Lodge consists of massive white cedar logs, that were found on the Pacific Coast of BC. From the first cut to the last nail, it took the Hoessl’s a good four years to build their vision. In this time everyone worked from dusk till dawn. Skilled carpenters were few and far between, so they were forced to employ the help of the local natives who were unskilled in this area of expertise. Joe’s solid German education as a carpenter became invaluable.

The lodge has been classified as a Canada Select Four Star “Country Inn” and it is the only four star Country Inn in this region. It accommodates ten guests in five comfortable rooms. All rooms have a cozy interior, floor heating and a private bathroom. There is also a roomy lounge and a dining area warmed by a massive stone fireplace. Their homestyle country kitchen serves you breakfast, lunch and dinner in a relaxed atmosphere.

Additional cabins were also added, which are nestled among the trees lining the Big Creek, giving guests a feeling of remoteness and comfort. There are two bedrooms for four guests or a family with kids, private bath and equipped with a living room in every cabin. From the porches of the cabins, where comfortable seats surround a massive table, guests overlook the creek and the breathtaking wilderness.

Guests can enjoy sitting on their cabin's porch overlooking the creek and surrounding wilderness.

Guests can enjoy sitting on their cabin's porch overlooking the creek and surrounding wilderness.

History Lesson

May 20th, 2010 by bc guest ranches

Big Bar Guest Ranch is nestled in the rolling hills of the Cariboo where time has no meaning. The ranch dates back to 1933 when Harry Marriott and George S Harrison purchased the ranch (back then it was a cattle ranch) and started the OK Ranching Co Ltd.

The Harrison House, (where today’s guests enjoy relaxing in front of the stone fireplace) was built for George Harrison in 1936 to house his family, as well as any guests who may come visit from the coast.Harrison and Marriott sold the OK Ranch in the 1950’s to a family from Vancouver, the Squarrey’s. The family built the two older cabins that still remain at Big Bar today. They were originally built to accommodate their friends who came to visit.

The Harrison House is where Big Bar guests gather and enjoy each others company.

The Harrison House is where Big Bar guests gather and enjoy each others company.

As the Squarrey children grew and married and moved back to the coast, the ranch was left to a caretaker until Brian Gunn and his wife bought the ranch in 1989. Brian was an engineer and he and his wife were looking for a slower pace for themselves and their two boys. Their dream was to own a guest ranch, so they quickly built the Sagebrush inn and added two more cabins and four tipi’s to accommodate guests. In 1997 Brian Gunn sold the ranch to Anne Freeman, who ran the ranch for 10 years before selling it to Elise-Marie and Kresten Vestergaard, who lived in Denmark.

Elise-Marie and Kresten made their first visit to the Cariboo in 2006 where they stayed at Big Bar Ranch, which at the time was up for sale. Like so many others, the couple fell in love with the Cariboo, the land, wildlife and the ranch life. For them the ranch is about the passion for the cowboy way of life, and getting back to a simpler way of living. With the purchase of Big Bar Guest Ranch, the Vestergaard’s feel that they found their own little corner of heaven, which they want to share with people from all over the world.

Elise-Marie and Kresten still live in Denmark where they run their farm and a breeding facility for American Paint Horses. They come to their dream ranch as much as possible. They wish everyone a good time, with good food, good riding and great memories.

Big Bar tipis.

Big Bar tipi's.

So You Think You Can Ranch?

May 18th, 2010 by bc guest ranches

Free Rein Guest Ranch is situated amidst some of British Columbia’s most beautiful Canadian wilderness on 285 acres. Opening day for the season was May 1st, but there was a lot that had to be done prior so everything was ready and up to par for arriving guests.

This year Free Rein implemented a new way to get ready for the season, an idea that formed So You Think You Can Ranch. The concept was three-fold, first to generate revenue outside the ranch’s main season, second to give guests an opportunity to see behind the scenes and get involved, and third to help the ranch prepare for the up-coming season with some extra hands on deck. This package was of course offered to experienced riders only as the horses can be a little “fresh” in the spring. With a successful first year, Free Rein hopes to continue to offer this package, one that is a win win for everyone.

All tack at Free Rein is cleaned upon guests arrival.

All tack at Free Rein is cleaned upon guests arrival.

The list of things that need to be done around the ranch before opening day are long; fencing, painting, clearing trails, laundry, cleaning and of course preparing the horses to name a few. When it comes to preparing the horses, the first thing is to have them all checked out by a vet to make sure they are in tip top shape. They are 5-way vaccinated, dewormed and teeth floated if necessary. Then comes the ground work training for a week before riding to reestablish boundaries (which they sometimes tend to forget over the winter months). The horses are lounged to take the edge off and get them in shape. They are then rode in the arena before heading out onto the trails.

Once everything is cleaned, cleared, painted and tidied the doors are opened to another season of memory making experiences for Free Rein guests.

Horses are "tuned" up before opening day at Free Rein Guest Ranch.

Horses are "tuned" up before opening day at Free Rein Guest Ranch.

Curly Joe

May 14th, 2010 by bc guest ranches

The horses at Chilcotin Holidays are reliable with sweet temperaments and intelligence. Several of their horses come from wild stock, meaning they are great for mountain riding and sure footed. One of Chilcotin’s most memorable horses was Curly Joe.

Curly Joe was caught by a Native Indian on the north slope of the Chilcotin Mountains on a cold January day. He was only a year old then and was still running with his mother in a small herd of 12. Winter was in full force dropping to -40 and two feet of settled snow. Food was only to be found in the swamp meadows. The deep snow had to be pawed away to reach the grass hidden below. This is an environment where only the tough survived. Wolves scout the meadows hoping to pick off on old or a young horse from the herd, but leave quickly when the smell of the wild horse hunter approaches.

Curly Joe’s first introduction to man was being roped by the wild horseman as he tried to race for the big timber and safety from the rope. Snubbed up to the saddle horn, a halter was slipped over his head, the short lead rope clipped into a ring on the tail of the spare riding horse and followed back to camp in the foot steps of his leader. The year was around 1970. In May 2004, Curly Joe sadly passed away of old age.

Curly Joe giving a Chilcotin guest a ride.

Curly Joe giving a Chilcotin guest a ride.

Curly Joe lived an adventurous life. He chased the wild horses on the North slope of the Chilcotin Mountains and could weave in between the pine trees at a full gallop while his rider tried to rope one of his relatives. Curly Joe had another life that he was able to be good at, that was one of a ranch horse, where chasing cattle on the open range was the work of the day. It was a job that he did well but tolerated, leading horse pack trips into the mountains seemed to be his favorite work. The fresh grass in the Alpine Meadow, exploring new country, then the special treatment from the new guests each week and their generous portions of oats made the job all worth it.

For nearly 40 years, Curly Joe ruled the Chilcotin Mountains, working first from the north side with Tee Pee Heart Guest Ranch then from the south side with Chilcotin Holidays. Curly knew every trail through those mountains, all the shortcuts and the places not to go. He put in 3000 miles a season on these trails and with 30 years work over 90,000 miles of travel in the Chilcotin Mountains, this is a record no horse will ever match.

Curly Joe was a great pack horse.

Curly Joe was a great pack horse.

Chezacut Cattle Drives

May 10th, 2010 by bc guest ranches

Chezacut Wilderness and Ranch Adventures is a real working ranch located along British Columbia’s Chilcotin River. Here you will find cattle, ranch horses and knowledgeable horseman. If a little adventure is what you seek, Chezacut delivers every time. Get up close and personal on one of their cattle drives, where you will learn skills every ranch hand must have.

Get to work moving cattle at the Chezacut Ranch.

Get to work moving cattle at the Chezacut Ranch.

A typical cattle drive starts off with one or two days of natural horsemanship  to get rider and horse well acquainted with one another. Safety and comfort are of the upmost importance at Chezacut.

After the horsemanship, preparations are made for the cattle drive – getting the horses packed and the riding horses saddled. Everyone is equipped with rain gear, boots, hat and of course a western saddle. Camping gear and food supplies are either transported by pack horses or a horse drawn wagon, depending on the terrain traveled on.

The most basic cattle drive begins with collecting the cattle together and then driving them approximately 6-10 kms per day to the next point at which camp is made. Campfire is started and guests are encouraged to sing and bring along small packable instruments for the evening.

All camping gear is supplied, tents, food and sleeping pads. Some guests prefer to sleep tentless on a starlit night, an experience in its own.

A cattle drive at Chezacut is an experience you will never forget and you will leave with a whole new skill set.

There's nothing more exciting than spending a day on horseback moving a herd of cattle.

There’s nothing more exciting than spending a day on horseback moving a herd of cattle.