A friend and I decided to go to Wilderness Trails Ranch for Cowgirl Week after reading the good reviews. We went to bond and have some camaraderie with ladies of similar interests. Well, we soon found out that, other than one woman who brought her own horse and stayed in her trailer, we were the only guests staying at the ranch! The other lady was a friend of the owners, so I don’t really consider her a guest on our level and that was a surprise to us, but I suspected something was off because I never got a definitive answer as to how many other cowgirls were coming. They told us that 4 had canceled, but I tend to doubt it.
The ranch staff didn’t want us to come to the ranch directly from the airport because check in was after 3pm. That was strange, but we walked around Durango for a couple hours and had lunch. The staff driver picked us up and drove us the ranch where we checked in but had to pay upfront before even seeing the cabin! Apparently there were only two guests the week before and we didn’t understand why we couldn’t check in right away. The driver didn’t really know how many guests or how many staff at the ranch, which was odd. I think he knew about the guests, but didn’t want to say. Also, about half the staff had left the week before.
The cabins are well appointed with a great western theme. The scenery is beautiful but with a limited view from the porch of the lodge. Meadows had horsed grazing, but there were prairie dogs and their holes. The staff actually said they shoot the prairie dogs for target practice! I am an animal lover and that made me very upset. What a thing to say to guests!
My horse was selected for my riding skills very well. His name was Tigger and he took signals very well. My friends horse seemed to fit her skill set also. The wranglers were what we called “the real thing” including chaps, scarves, spurs, etc. I appreciated that a lot. We worked with a mustang on ground work in a ring, which was a lot of fun and educational. Also, one day we did an equine clinic wit Barb Richter, also fun and educational.
Due to the lack of guests one or two staff members were invited to join us in activities, which I didn’t appreciate because we were the paying guests.
There was something peculiar about the ranch and staff and the vibe of the ranch was off, which we picked up on. A husband and wife, Jan and Gene, own the ranch. Sadly Gene has dementia, however was allowed to intermingle with us. That was very uncomfortable. Apparently he had an altercation with the chef. Yikes!
The schedule we had been given was loosely followed and some activities were either forgotten or ignored altogether. I believe it was because it was just the two of us, which in reality shortchanged us. We did a cattle drive, but were not told exactly what to expect and thought we would be doing arena work with the cows first. That didn’t happen and we drove the cattle up the mountain bushwacking through the trees and over stumps and logs. My horse jumped a log when I thought he was going to step over it and I almost fell off. I didn’t want to ride after that due to the bad vibes and drama at the ranch. Drama being that almost every staff member had issues and problems. Unfortunately we had to hear them because they sat with us during meals, partly our fault because we asked questions.
The pool was not heated because we heard the heat was turned off. The hot tub didn’t work either because the motor was burned out. Housekeeping was also lacking. We heard that staff couldn’t get paid and they were asked to leave earlier than they expected to for the season. We could tell something happened because of the attitudes of staff and the wranglers. They were distracted and distant.
We really wanted to leave as fast as possible by the end of the week. Friday we had had enough. We went for a hike on Friday to get away from the bad feelings. There is much more, but I think you will get the idea.
I would like to know who wrote the previous, positive reviews as our experience didn’t come close to theirs. It wasn’t all negative and we did have fun in the beginning of the week and on our visit to Mesa Verde. The scenery was beautiful but the elevation is over 8,00 feet and the oxygen is thin. Be aware of the thin air as it affected me for a few days. Both of us did get used to it after three days.
All-in-all I would not recommend this ranch for Cowgirl Week. Perhaps family week or adult week there are more guests, which would make for a better vacation.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Ride, Relax, Recharge! Experience the freedom of the West at our stunning, secluded, family-operated dude ranch. Wilderness Trails is nestled in a true mountain valley surrounded by wilderness. All-inclusive 3-6 day packages include exceptional dining, cozy cabins, tailored horseback riding and cattle work, youth programs, water skiing, fishing, excursions, and evening entertainment. Serving western hospitality and lasting memories since 1970, join WTR for the best week of your year! ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Wilderness Trails Ranch Hotel Durango