On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I would give Nine Quarter Circle Ranch a 10. This was one of our best vacations ever.
I had always wanted to stay in the Rocky Mountains in Montana. When surfing the internet, looking for some vacation ideas, I came across the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch. It sounded intriguing---a log cabin, in the Rocky Mountains, right on the Continental Divide, very close to Yellowstone National Park. It sounded just like what I was looking for. Except, it was a dude ranch. I hadn't considered staying at a dude ranch. But the location sounded great. So I started to do some internet research on dude ranch vacations. Once I started to compare the different dude ranches, the more I liked what Nine Quarter Circle Ranch had to offer. I requested some brochures and information, which readily arrived. I was even given a name and address of a woman who stayed on the ranch as a guest in the past. She was from the same area where we live. I wrote to her and explained that I was given her name as a reference from the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, and they suggested I contact her to ask her all about her experiences there as a former guest. I gave her my phone number and asked her to call. In a few days, I received a call from an elderly woman who just couldn't wait to tell me all about her MANY trips to the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch with her family. She had been there several times, and now that her children had grown up, they now go there with their children! She gave me many details, and a glowing recommendation for the ranch. The next hurdle was convincing my husband and son that this is where we should spend our vacation, and our money too---it was more than what we normally spend for a vacation. My son was immediately excited about staying on a ranch and having his own horse for a week. He had lots of questions, like, "Will the horse sleep in our cabin with us?" (You can tell we are not horse people.) My husband said, "So we're supposed to ride horses all week?" Needless to say, 2 out of 3 won the vote.
The day when we arrived, we checked in and were asked some simple questions about our riding abilities (none), our height and weight and ages. This would enable the Corral Boss to assign a horse that was just right for us. Then we were taken to our cabin. At first, we were taken to a very nice cabin. It was decorated with horses, and had two bedrooms with a bunk bed in one of the rooms. The we realized that they made a mistake, the name on the paper they gave us for the cabin, was not our name, but another guest's name! So we went back to the office and told the woman there that we think we were given the wrong cabin. We were. So then we were taken to another cabin. It was small, not nearly as nice as the first one. And not as nicely decorated. We were quite disappointed. The cabin we were assigned to was older than the rest, and very, very cramped. Two people had to sit down for the third person to move about. There was no air conditioner. No hair dryer. No refrigerator. No microwave. No T.V. No internet access. No little shampoos or conditioners. Not even a lock on the door! We were paying big bucks for this??!!! (To be fair, we knew there would not be a T.V.)
There was supposed to be a pool on the grounds. But it was completely drained. It was being repaired. The temperature was in the 90's so without a pool, my husband took my son to the stream on the property to splash around in. The water in the stream was so rough, it took my son's sandles away, and when he went after them he fell.
My son is frightened of dogs, and two (friendly) dogs came bounding out at him and scared the heck out of him. He was terrified to go outside again.
All of this and we had just arrived. I was so depressed. We spent a lot of money, and everyone was miserable and disappointed. My husband wanted to ask them if we could leave--that this just wasn't for us. And maybe we could get our $ back and salvage our vaction by finding another place to stay. I said, well, we haven't even seen the horses or done any of the activities. Let's just give it one day---we'll stay overnight, see how the horse rides go in the morning, and take it from there. Well, I am glad that we did.
From the next day on, we had nothing but a wonderful time! We spent so very little time in our cabin, that it didn't matter that it had no T.V., microwave, airconditioner, refrigerator, etc... We went to our cabin only to sleep and get showers and freshen up for our meals. And at night it was cool enough that an airconditioner was not needed at all---even in July. We got used to waltzing around one another in the cramped space.
And the pool was repaired in two days. And guess what? We never even went in it after it was fixed and filled up because we were having so much fun doing other stuff. And we never saw those dogs again either.
The Corral Boss, Tracy, was excellent. He was great with all of the guests, and wonderful with the kids. The kids are divided up into groups according to ages. My son was in the "Rough Riders" group. The wrangler for his group was Jenny, and she was good too! And we all loved our horses. We thought that the horses that were chosen for us were just perfect. We had no problems at all! When you would arrive at the barn, the horses would be saddled up, the wranglers would call out the name of your horse, and you would get on and wait for everyone in your group, then go. The rides were scenic and fun. The rides went over rivers and streams, up and down mountains, through valleys, through forests, etc... We saw lots of other wildlife along the way. We always did a 2-hour morning ride and a 2-hour afternoon ride, but there were other rides available, such as a half-day ride, or a whole-day ride, and even an overnight pack ride. You could go on a beginner, intermediate, or advanced ride. The wranglers were always very knowledgeable, friendly, and great with both the horses and the guests!
One of the highlights of the week was the "Gym Khana" or "games on horseback". It was a lot of fun for both the kids and the adults.
All meals were included with your stay. A bell would sound ten minutes before the meal. You were to make your way from your cabin to the main ranch where everyone would gather for the meals. Breakfast was always eggs, any style, toast, cereal, milk, juice, coffee, and then some other special item which would change daily--such as french toast, sausage, bacon, muffins, etc..You would eat breakfast with your family and be able to choose any seat at any table. At lunch, the children would eat at a table with other children their age. The adults would have assigned seating. You would be together with your spouse, but you would be seated with other families each time. That way you were able to meet other guests at the ranch. Every lunch meal was different. There was always some sort of fresh salad, iced tea or lemonade, then we would have a sandwich, or tacos, or soup, homemade breads, etc.. And lunch and dinner were served "family style". At dinner time, the adults could go to "Happy Hour" (BYOB), while the kids ate dinner. Then once the kids were done, the adults would have the dinning room to themselves for their dinner. The kiddie wrangler would take care of the kids while the adults ate dinner. Some examples of the dinner meals were pork medallioins, cornish hen, beef, etc.. One day there was a family steak cookout. Another day for dinner we rode our horses to another outdoor location for a picnic style dinner of chicken and potato salad. All of the meals were wonderful. Desserts were delicious. The kid's meals were not always the same as what the adults had---they were more "kid friendly". Also, the owners, Kim and Kelly Kelsey, would eat their meals with the guests. I thought that this was especially nice as you had the chance to get to know them and ask them questions about the ranch and its history, etc... They were very friendly and welcoming. They were wonderful hosts. Oh, and everything was casual...no dressing up for dinner, unless you wanted to.
I mentioned that the kiddie wrangler would take care of the kids while the adults would eat dinner---there was a playgound on the property, and the kids would usually go there to play. They were always supervised. There was also a play room too. It had some toys and paper and things to keep kids busy if they had to go inside.
In the main ranch building where you ate your meals, you would also sign up for the horseback rides, and fly fishing. They also had a board where the daily activities were posted. One day after dinner they had a softball game for guests and ranch hands. Another day they had an all day picnic for the kids. Once there was a hayride. The day of the outdoor steak fry they had a cowboy playing guitar and singing. There was always something going on. Also in the ranch building was a huge living room area. One night they showed a movie about "bringing up the horses", and another night there was a Native American speaker on hand. They also had a pond on the property that was stocked with fish. Many people would practice their fly fishing there.On the last evening, there was a big barn square dance. Again, both guests and workers from the ranch and the owners were there.
All of the people who worked at Nine Quarter Circle Ranch were very friendly and helpful. And they all seemed to enjoy being there, and they even seemed to enjoy being in each others' company. It was really a wonderful environment. I thought it was nice to see that the people who worked there enjoyed interacting with the guests in the softball game and the square dance, etc...
We even managed to do a bit of hiking while we were there. Lincoln Mountain is right across from the ranch. There is a trail that goes to the top of Lincoln Mountain. At the top is a mailbox. Inside the mailbox is a notebook. You can write a message in the notebook and return it to the mailbox. We all had fun writing our own messages. And the view from on top of Lincoln Mountain is beautiful. The mountains in the distance still had snow on them---even in mid July.
SO....after a rocky start in the Rocky Mountains, we found that all of that soon did not matter, as things only got better and better as the days went on. We really enjoyed ourselves. Later in the summer, well after we had returned from our vacations, I asked my son which vacation of all of our vacations that we ever took, was his favorite. Without hesitating, he said "Nine Quarter Circle Ranch". And he didn't even have a horse in his room!
I also sent that woman who gave me a reference a postcard from the ranch. I imagine she liked it!
Some other miscellaneous thoughts:
There were coin-operated washers and dryers on the property. You would have to bring your own detergent--but there was some left over from other guests when I was there so you might get lucky and find some laundry detergent.
There was no refrigerator in the rooms, but there was a big one in the room where the washers and dryers were. You could put your stuff in there if you wanted to. A lot of people had pop and drinks in the 'frige (no alcohol was allowed in there). But I noticed that a lot of the kids would "help themselves" to the drinks, and I don't think that they belonged to them. So if you choose to store some stuff in that community 'frige, I would put your name on it.
The did have pop machines too.
There was a little gift shop on the property.
They have a landing strip on the property. While we were there, someone flew in for a visit with the owner. Kinda cool to see.
Yellowstone National Park was only a short drive away from Nine Quarter Circle Ranch. And if you wanted to go there in the day, the ranch would pack you a lunch to take with you. We stayed at Yellowstone for three days before coming to the ranch. I am glad that we did, because I would have felt that I was missing out on something if I left the ranch to go to Yellowstone. And then I would not have been able to enjoy Yellowstone.
Also within driving distance is the Lewis and Clark Trail at Three Forks, in Headwaters State Park--if you are interested in that sort of thing.
I would definately check out Nine Quarter Circle Ranch's website if you are interested. There is a lot of details there that I certainly couldn't cover here.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.