North American riding holidays with a touch of extravagance

Rough and ready riding holidays that appeal to your rustic side? Yes, there are endless options, and any hard-core movie buff heading to North America could pick up John Wayne’s reins in an instant (or at least try!). As it stands, the working ranch will continue to be a main staple of the west’s allure, but those hoping to indulge in the more extravagant, whether a private horseback adventure or gourmet five course dining, will still have plenty of choice.

Resort ranches were a late-entrant on the continent and Hollywood’s interpretation of cowboy culture might have kept us a little in the dark. Personal concierges and full service spas don’t immediately spring to mind when you’re considering a holiday where you can round up the cattle, so the opportunity to land yourself in the lap of luxury can come as somewhat of a surprise to more cultured nomads.

The Grand Canyon state was probably one of the first to lure the luxury traveller back to cowboy country, the Tanque Verde Resort Ranch and the White Stallion Guest Ranch combining great service, a few more creature comforts and horse riding “know how” in one exclusive package. Spa treatments are available at both ranches, but for the bona fide indulgent traveller, Montana, British Columbia & Wyoming have certainly refined the concept of extravagance.

Once a billionaire’s home, The Ranch At Rock Creek is the latest addition to premier ranching in Montana. After a three million dollar refurbishment, the property now features a selection of safari style half wood, half canvas style cabins, and a saloon complete with billiards hall, whiskey bar, movie theatre and bowling alley. A restful spa also adjoins the main lodge, the scent of Icelandic Moonflowers and Mountain Laurel beckoning to riders in search of post-trail pampering. Riding on the 10-square mile run near Philipsburg, and even more bespoke “horseback adventures for two” are the norm, the owners catering to almost every foodie or adventure led passion. Cabin wise, if you want to go the whole hog the 1,000-square foot Bluebird cabin is a quaint one-bedroom suite featuring a mini spa, sauna and large bathtub, as well as a spacious front deck overlooking a meadow and large screened-in back porch. Offering a whole new take on the “Big Sky” state, it’s also said to be the ultimate location for “a massage with a view”. A year-round ranch the property comes complete with an “on ranch” cross country skiing course – sleigh rides and cocoa making classes with Executive Chef, Josh Drage proposed as alternative end of season activities.

Also based in Montana, the Triple Creek Resort Ranch is described as an adult only wilderness hideaway. The Condé Nast Johansens’ award winner is situated at the base of the highest peak in Western Montana’s Bitterroot Mountains – each of the ranch’s spacious log cabins nestling amongst the towering pines. The accommodation features king and queen size beds, a smattering of occasional furniture, dreamy log burning fireplaces, steam showers and whirlpool baths. Winter activities vary from cross-country skiing, snowmobile rides and snowshoeing, and in the summer guests can enjoy croquet on the lawn, scenic float trips, mountain biking and of course horseback rides. Ideal for romantics, private massages are also on offer, couples enjoying sensuous pampering, followed by wine in the hot tub and a private dinner for two in the privacy of their own cabin.

The Echo Valley Resort and Spa Ranch in British Columbia is a blend of East and West. Somewhat of an anomaly when it comes to its location, this vision stems from the owners who spring from the UK and Thailand. It’s true that spas are almost an expected add on at any high end ranch, but here the treatments are as authentic as they would be in their own native South East Asia. The Baan Thai Spa features signature treatments, a fitness facility and a heated indoor swimming pool, and the accommodation is equally as luxurious. A secluded suite, the hideaway cabin is the perfect option for honeymooners seeking more privacy – a four-poster bed draped in lace and silk flowers, love seat, log burning fireplace, en-suite bath and in-deck hot tub adorning the room. In addition to riding, guests can take a leisurely morning hike on one of the ranches many nature trails or opt for a 4X4 safari through nearby Fraser Canyon.

Wyoming’s state emblem of a Stetson waving cowboy sitting astride a bucking bronco might seem out of kilter with luxury, but not in Greybull. The Hideout is a half way house for anyone who wants to combine authentic cattle drives with a little rustic extravagance. Spanning 250,000-acres there’s certainly no shortage of trails, and the 1,000 head of cattle that reside at the ranch make this the real deal. When it comes to the accommodations you’ll be treated to the ever-changing vistas of the Shell Canyon, the one bedroom casitas overlooking the creek and the orchard. Alternative options include lodge based rooms and the luxurious Shell Valley Homes, all of which feature two master suites with oversized bathrooms, private decks and sitting areas with incredible views of the Bighorn Mountains.

Tony Daly is Managing Director of Ranch Rider.

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