My family recently returned from a week at the Marble Mountain Ranch, and all of us gave the experience a big thumbs-up. I first heard about Marble Mountain from a friend who raved about the trip when he went a few years prior with his own family. Before that, I had never even considered a dude ranch type trip.
I'm not sure how often the schedule changes, but for our week, each day started with breakfast at 7:45am, followed by a rotating block of four 1-hour activities before lunch: arena games, trail riding, shooting, and free time. After lunch, most days featured whitewater rafting/kayaking on the Klamath River, with the exception being fishing day on Thursday (and the Saturday of departure). After rafting, everyone returned to the ranch for hors d'oeuvres, followed by dinner, then a campfire and free time. My family tended to hang out in the game room after dinner, playing foosball, ping pong, and air hockey.
Arena games were probably my family's least favorite activity, since you spend much of your hour standing in the sun outside the arena watching others take their turns. Both of my sons wanted to skip this activity after the second day, though only one followed through with this threat. The trail ride was more interesting, since everyone in the group gets to ride the whole time, and the scenery is gorgeous. The only negative here was that the first few rides were pretty slow, and on a hot summer day it can get uncomfortable in the sun, especially if you get the last trail ride slot at high noon. The last trail ride of the trip was a highlight for me, since for this ride the groups were shuffled to put more advanced riders together, allowing for a faster and more adventurous trip. My family always enjoyed the shooting hour, which featured .22 rifles and handguns, 20-gauge shotguns for skeet shooting, archery, black powder muskets, and tomahawk throwing. Both of my sons seemed to like the tomahawk throwing best.
The daily whitewater rafting trips were a family favorite. The river was fairly gentle, featuring lots of easy class II and maybe class III rapids, but enough excitement to keep things fun. The first rafting trip included a wonderful hike to a waterfall. The hike was something of an adventure, but well worth the effort. On the two other rafting days, those who wanted could take an inflatable kayak down the river instead of sitting in a raft, and my sons specifically requested me to mention how much fun that was.
About the only other complaint we had was with the mosquitoes. Be sure to bring some strong repellent, plus some anti-itch cream for the bites that get past your defenses.
In my opinion, Marble Mountain is probably more of an adventure resort with horses than a classic dude ranch. You spend maybe an hour on a horse each day, and I'm pretty sure real cowboys seldom ate baked brie, went whitewater rafting, or sang "I Will Survive" on karaoke night. For the most part this is a good thing. My wife in particular has a limited tolerance of horse riding, and was worried that most activities would be horse-centered. She ended up doing all the scheduled horse activities except the final advanced trail ride, and the abundance non-horse activities (particularly rafting) made the trip a success for her.
Finally, what others have said about the food and Marble Mountain family is all true. Food was good the first day, and seemed to just get better each day after, and the whole family and staff at the resort was wonderful. Very friendly, and good at keeping things organized and moving efficiently.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hi Seabeasty, thank you for your comments and the fine review.
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Regarding your question about our morning schedule, we modify the schedule, depending on the size of our guest population and the season of the visit. When we reach our target capacity of 30 guests, we divide the guest population into 4 activity groups so that we can have lower client/staff ratios more personalized experiences. We start a little later in the morning when we have smaller guest populations or when we are expecting cooler temps for the week. Our agenda is to make all of our activities as comfortable as possible. Land based events are scheduled in the mornings, with water based events in the warmer afternoon hours. Your visiting week landed on a hotter weather pattern and we moved to a 7:45 A.M breakfast with rotating schedule to maximize the comfort of the morning events. To this point, we are also planning on constructing an arena cover during this next year, to make the instructional games of the arena more comfortable in the late morning of warmer weeks.
It is inherent to a mixed activity schedule that one participant prefers one event or activity over another. Often though, when I quiz our guests as to “what is your favorite part?”, the answers are spread evenly across all the activities we offer. So, if the arena was your least favorite, I hope that the shooting range, the trail riding, the rafting, kayaking, fishing and fine food filled in the gaps for you. We actually find the majority of our visitors are appreciative of the opportunity to learn better horsemanship in the arena, rather than simply being “plopped” on the back of a horse and told to “go”….
I also appreciated your comment about the slow first ride, since this is too by our design. We have a rotating population of guests that arrive each weak with extremely mixed skill sets, and we prefer to start with rides that are as simple and easy as possible. This allows time for our arena instruction with equestrian games to prepare more timid riders for the more challenging trail rides and for us to better evaluate the capacities of our newly arriving guests.
Your review is quite accurate as to who and what we are: an adventure ranch with horses. My biggest fear in marketing this ranch is that someone purchases a vacation with us, with an expectation that is dramatically different from the reality. For those that need a holiday on horseback, with morning through evening riding, we may not be the best fit. For those that are looking for a “Dude Ranch with More Than Horses”, we may be your best fit. I hope that the variety and mix of our schedule was engaging for you and your boys, that the accommodations were more than you expected, and that we might see you all again someday. Our best to you and your family.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.