It occured to me just recently that there must be alot of folks out there that feel like a dude ranch might be a wonderful family vacation option, but are wondering how do I find the very best dude ranch? I've been involved with the dude ranch industry for nearly 20 years now, so hopefully I can give you an idea on what to look for in a great ranch. First off the perfect dude ranch for you and your family is going to offer something for each member of you group.
While it is a way of life for some, most people's daily routines do not include mountain trails on the back of beautiful creature that is often more in tune to its surroundings than we are. Taking a breath of fresh mountain air at the top of rock formation that lets you see for miles is not something that comes in a classroom or office. Seeing the excitement in a child's eyes as she pulls in a trout all by herself is something that can't be generated from beating a video game or receiving and A on a spelling test.
Highlights of a Week at Paradise
Quotes and Stories from Paradise
Every establishment of family and friends needs that one central gathering place. The place that everyone feels safe to be themselves. I grew up in a family of Italians, so naturally ours was the kitchen. Some of the best memories are centered around the table, everyone talking over one another, laughing uncontrollably, and of course mass amounts of food. At Paradise, The French Creek Saloon is more than just a bar.
The first breath of pure mountain air blended with the sweet aroma of lupine is engraved in my memory from my first ride I took at Paradise. Coming from the Midwest, the majority of my riding had been through wooded areas, open meadows and arena work. As I first loped across the mesa into a horizon of snow capped peaks, Wyoming felt like home for the first time.
As we stay bundled in our layers, I dream in anticipation of the ear-to-ear smiles that sprinkle into Paradise every Sunday from June until September. The image of people exiting their cars or hopping out of our shuttles and letting the first glimpse of the beauty of our valley sink in is guaranteed to refresh me for a new week of guests. After plane rides or road trips, Paradise creates a perfect oasis from the outside world.
Throughout the summer, as guests found out that I was staying at the ranch over the winter, nine times out of ten I was greeted with one response: “You better get a hobby!”. I even had a guest offer to teach me how to knit! There were also a few promises I made to some annual guests that I would be able to play guitar when they returned next summer. Well, now that I am two months into my first winter at Paradise, I can respond with proof that our day to day jobs here at the ranch do in fact keep us quite busy.
Growing up in the Chicago, I know how to deal with snow. I can drive in it; I can live with horizontal winds blowing it in my face; I can even join in on the universal frustration from every person on the road forgetting how to drive with only the first dusting. As mentally prepared as I felt for experiencing a Wyoming mountain winter, waking up to 18 inches of snow on September 27th with no power was still a shock. What had I gotten myself into?
It is an odd realization to walk into the dining room the morning of August 25th and not be greeted by contagious giggles, smiles lacking two front teeth, clusters of teens chatting about inside jokes made at camp-out and miniature cowboys walking around the cereal buffet. Just as the aspens begin to shift into their autumn beauty, the Paradise crowd gains a new atmosphere as we say goodbye to the kids and begin our adult weeks at the ranch.