Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Stress Free Vacation at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

Disclosure: Horseshoe Canyon Ranch and the Dude Ranchers' Association provided this trip for myself and 4 other bloggers to help promote the ranch. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% honest and my own. 

What does your summer vacation normally look like? Trying to keep your eyes on your kids on a beach full of people or waiting in long lines at an amusement park? Do you have to make dining reservations months in advance and then still wait in line when you arrive for your meal? That sounds more stressful than relaxing to me! I want to go on a vacation and enjoy my time with my family. I don't want to worry about a schedule or trying to keep my kids entertained in a long line.

My recent trip to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, Arkansas opened my eyes to an entirely different kind of family vacation. Unlike many vacations where you need to schedule your activities months in advance, you can do as much or as little as you want at Horseshoe Canyon and you don't need to "sign up" for anything until the meal before. And trust me, if you forget to sign up like we happened to do, the staff will probably forgive you and let you go anyway! A trip to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is a truly relaxed experience that is made special by the amazing staff.
The Adventure Guides
The Wranglers

From the moment we arrived to the farewell dinner, the staff made every effort to make our trip as memorable as possible. I have never seen a destination that makes each visitor's experience as unique as this one. Each activity is done in small groups and we never felt rushed. The staff ate meals with us, answered every one of our questions, and made us feel like friends. There were many kids there during our stay and every single one told us how much they loved all of the staff. Not only does the ranch offer numerous activities for kids, the staff really take the time to interact with the kids. From teaching them how to rope and use a whip to taking them on critter hunts, none of the kids were ever bored. It wasn't unusual to see one of the wranglers take 5-6 kids on a trail ride while their parents went on a different ride. The parents and kids were both thrilled with the setup!

For the all inclusive experience, the ranch limits it to about 50 guests per week. There were between 25-40 people during our visit which allowed all activities to be done in small groups with individual attention. Each of our trail rides were done with 1 wrangler per 5-6 people. The adventure guides took small groups of 5-10 through the adventure course. The staff made sure that each group got try everything they wanted. When one group had to leave early, the guides took them up to the adventure course a day before it was scheduled so that they could try it. A wrangler, Emily, took us on a trail ride/hike up to the goat cave and a waterfall that we had missed earlier in the week so we wouldn't miss it.

During our skeet shooting experience, another of the wranglers, Jessie, took us over to throw Tomahawks since we had missed trying it earlier in the week. I did well skeet shooting, I actually managed to get one of the clays!
 But Tomahawk throwing doesn't seem to be a talent of mine. It's harder than it looks!

During our time at the adventure course, the guides took the time to talk to us, encourage us, and cheer us on when we conquered something we never expected we could do.

After a fun day of adventure, there's no need to wait in line for a meal, simply take the short walk to the lodge for a delicious homemade meal. The chef is amazing (I promise more about the food tomorrow) and I loved everything she made (and I am an extremely picky eater!). If you need a break during the day or simply want to indulge in a homemade treat, there are jars of yummy cookies and jugs of lemonade and tea in the lodge all day long. I won't admit how many of those cookies I ate but let me just say we spent a LOT of time on the couches in the lodge.

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch offers the most personalized vacation experience I have ever seen. We were all sad to leave the staff that now feel like friends. If you're looking for a unique family vacation, check out Horseshoe Canyon Ranch and you'll find out why families return year after year. I can't wait until I can take my family there to experience everything the ranch has to offer!

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