At California's guest ranches, cowboy culture and the California lifestyle collide. From the outdoors to the homestead, the activities and accommodations offered at these five California dude ranches make for great summer vacation spots for the whole family. So grab your Stetson, put on your boots and get ready for an authentic country vacation, California style.
1. Coffee Creek Ranch
Located in Northern California's Trinity Alps, Coffee Creek Ranch promises 367 acres of outdoor fun. Activities include fly-fishing, horseback riding, hiking, wilderness backpacking and hunting trips, archery ranges, rifle ranges and much more. You can make your visit as rustic or as luxurious as you and your family desire (heated pools and plenty of children's activities are available).
2. Hunewill Ranch
Located just east of the Yosemite Valley, Circle H (Hunewill Ranch) is home to 1200 head of cattle, 190 horses and an assortment of llamas, goats and sheep. There are 26,000 acres of land for horseback riding, cattle work, fishing and real ranch work. You'll also enjoy the home-style meals, barn dances and BBQs by the creek. Circle H offers some special cattle events during the year, such as Spring and Fall Cattle Work, the Big Fall Cattle Gather and the Fall Cattle Drive to their winter ranch in Nevada.
3. Greenhorn Ranch
Greenhorn Ranch boasts plenty of BBQ fro guests, horseback riding and fishing to last the summer. Not only can you take part in lessons in the Rodeo Arena, you can also compete in the Greenhorn Games, which includes barrel racing, pole bending and keyhole competition. If you're looking for more than just rodeo games, you can play some Cowboy softball, take one of the wagon/trail rides offered almost daily and spend your evenings in true cowboy style by attending one of the trail Mixers in the dancehall or a bonfire and sing-along.
4. Rankin Ranch
Rankin Ranch is a 31,000-acre cattle ranch built in 1863, making it one of the oldest and largest family-owned ranches in California. Rankin Ranch is still owned and ran by the Rankins, a fourth generation family. Located just east of Bakersfield in unincorporated Kern County, Rankin Ranch offers horseback riding, with trail rides that accommodate all levels of riders from beginners to experienced riders and vary from mountainous trails to flat land. The ranch also has acres and acres of land for hikers and bicyclists to enjoy. And, fishing is sure to bring everyone a catch in Lake Julia, Rankin's fully-stocked pond. You can even clean your catch and then give it to the kitchen staff to cook for you. After a long day of riding, hiking or fishing you can take a load off in Rankin's heated pool.
5. Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort
Alisal Ranch is located in historic Solvang. They offer everything from Horseback riding, fishing and boating on beautiful Alisal Lake, ropes courses, world-class golf, hiking trails, horseshoes, breakfast rides, rodeos, western barbecues, seafood barbecues at the lake and everything you need for a true western vacation. Alisal has a long-held tradition of no telephones, TVs, mini-bars or room service. Also, no matter how dirty you get on the trail during the day, no dinner jeans are allowed, and men are required to wear jackets at dinner. By sticking to these western traditions, Alisal offers that feeling of "rustic elegance" that's rarely found in other resorts.