Big Rock Dude Ranch at Ponderosa

Big Rock Dude Ranch at Ponderosa, Pigeon Forge: Address, Phone Number, Big Rock Dude Ranch at Ponderosa Reviews: 4/5

Big Rock Dude Ranch at Ponderosa

Big Rock Dude Ranch at Ponderosa
4
Horseback Riding Tours
Read more
Write a review
About
Horseback Riding, Petting Zoo, Fishing Pond, Gem Mining, ATV Rides, onsite Chow-Boys Cafe & General Store Free picnic area Heritage museum. peace/guitet swings around the duck pond playing area kids ,Horse shoes pit.or just rocking on the General store porch.And surrounded by little cove creek to wade in.
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing
What is Travelers’ Choice?
Tripadvisor gives a Travelers’ Choice award to accommodations, attractions and restaurants that consistently earn great reviews from travelers and are ranked within the top 10% of properties on Tripadvisor.

Top ways to experience Big Rock Dude Ranch at Ponderosa and nearby attractions

Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
Popular mentions

4.0
941 reviews
Excellent
633
Very good
115
Average
53
Poor
30
Terrible
110

zanb112020
2 contributions
Aug 2021
It was okay, but expensive and they are very pushy about needing to tip, even after you’ve paid $60 pp. They are first come, first serve, so we arrive a few minutes after opening Saturday morning. The lady getting us registered seemed very flustered/put out. It was a very disorganized process. Someone finally came to take us to the barn about 30 minutes later, after insisting that we put everything in the car. They wouldn’t allow you to take cell phones/cameras, etc. They claim this is because it could “spook” the horses, but it’s really because they want to sell you a $20 5x7 picture once your done. Once in the barn, there is a line of helmets you can use if desired, but the kids helmet are questionable. For small children, they are using bicycle helmets, which do not meet the same standard as riding helmets. The loading process was fairly efficient. The trail ride is along a gravel path up and down a mountain. It was okay but nothing scenic, as you are in tree cover the whole time. While the trail is probably 3.5 miles or so as claimed, you are really just winding around the same area the whole time. Our guide was nice enough. The horses seemed well taken care of and were typical trail horses—they followed the horse in front of them and no real skill is required to stay on. The petting zoo is sort of lacking-you get a tiny bag of food to feed a couple of mini horses, goats, 2 emus and a peacock.
Written August 22, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

NYTravelerBD
Westchester County, NY1,144 contributions
Jun 2021
My 7 year old daughter absolutely loved our ride into the Smoky Mountains. The guide was personable, attentive, and very reassuring to our family of three novice riders.

The horses were very gentle and the ride was slow and easy, and gave us a lovely taste of the Smokies. As an animal lover, I also really appreciated learning that this stable - unlike many others - rescues horses and when they retire, they live out their lives peacefully at a sanctuary in Georgia, as opposed to being auctioned for horsemeat, which I personally find reprehensible.

My only constructive criticism is they really ought to consider a reservation system where customers pay for a set ride time. We waited easily 90 minutes after paying to get on our horses, and with the threat of afternoon thunderstorms, it was unnecessarily stressful.

Overall though this was an A plus experience, and we'd be thrilled to visit again!
Written July 6, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

DChelle312
Iowa100 contributions
Jun 2021 • Family
My teens wanted to ride horses. Okay, found a place not far from hotel. We saw they didn’t take reservations so showed up about a half hour after they opened. We paid a considerable amount, was told our coupon was already included in pice that gave us a bottle of water, ride, and petting zoo food. Hmm.. okay.
Upon paying, were told was about an hour wait….. three hours later, we were finally on the horses.
It was a neat place, just wish they woul have accepted reservations or told us up front it would take all morning. Like most visitors to the area, we had other things we would like to do. When you’re first called up that your group is ready, then you go back and wait in another area.
We showed up at 9:30 and I believe we were finally done shortly after 1:30. The horses were well behaved for the most part and lady in back getting people situated was nice and fun. Ride was acceptable for beginners.
After spending more than expected because didn’t take our coupon, then they ask to tip the guides who take you on your horse ride.
Which we did, but it felt like leaving a sour taste in your mouth. I don’t know, the experience was just okay for me.
The area was well maintained and easy to find. Had chickens, goats, and exotic birds. Also fishing available at a pond.
Written June 26, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

CV
2 contributions
Jun 2021 • Couples
We read some reviews before going and thought this would be a nice thing to do. I agree with everyone that the experience of riding the horse is nice, but this place could be doing a much better job with their business to offer a more positive time for everyone involved.

We were told it would be 2 hours for a wait. I appreciate that they told us up front that the wait would be 2 hours after we showed at 11am. We asked them if we could just put our name down for the 3pm or 4pm, but they don’t take reservations. If your number is called and you’re not around, that’s an easy $50+ per person down the drain.

We were asked to wait for our number to be called around two hours later. Unfortunately, once your number is called, you’re simply moved to another area of the ranch to endure another 45-60min of waiting before finally getting on a horse.

So some recommendations to customers: In sum, show up early right when it opens or don’t bother (or just expect to be there 4-5 hours). Prepare to wait. Bring water and cash and lunch. You will be charged a lot for paying with a card. Ask for a receipt. They don’t seem to have any system for your purchases (no receipts, no names written down for slots, etc.). They write numbers down on blank receipt paper, which I could easily do myself. This poor group in front of us lost their paper and the front desk had no record of them purchasing something and told them if someone picks up their lost paper, those strangers can have their spots. Really didn’t seem like they were interested in helping these customers…so ask for a receipt! We wanted to leave several times due to the long wait but our lack of receipt made a refund very unlikely.

Management: please start accepting reservations. You don’t need to start a fancy system up online. Walk ins can do if you insist but if you’re only allowing 200 riders a day, we would greatly appreciate just signing up for time slots. A lot of people ahead of us were very grumpy when their numbers were called but all this meant was they still had to wait in line for 45-60min to get onto a horse. Please also put on your website the importance of cash not only to avoid credit card charges but to tip your guide. Finally, if someone is not comfortable with a particular horse, please address this. I asked if there was a different horse since mine seemed very tired and other horses were irritating him and making him jerk around before we took off, but they completed ignored me when I asked for help and even asked for tips on how to handle this particular horse. My mom’s horse was awesome and gentle for her, but I think more needs to be done to make sure the horses are getting enough rest and not putting the riders in danger.

So good experience but really takes up the whole day so plan for that unless you get there right away
Written June 16, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Josh G
Portland, IN551 contributions
Mar 2022
My family and I were in Pigeon Forge the week of March 25th and they wanted to go horseback riding. My wife and kids love riding, but I usually just wait and let them enjoy. We are used to calling and making reservations to ride, but this place was close to our hotel and needed no reservations. We get there and are told we had an hour to an hour and twenty waits at 11:30. Our party got back to the riding area at 1:30, started at 2:00, and finished their rides at 3:00. They said the ride was great and the trail was beautiful.

The issues that I have had nothing to do with the ride. I understand that I am in Pigeon Forge, and there are fees and nickel and diming everywhere, but I felt this was a little excessive. We looked up the rates and it was $56 per person, and they said pay cash or you have to pay a 4% fee. I also had a $5 off-per rider coupon. So it should have been roughly $51 per person and a total of $204 plus tax. I grabbed $225 in cash just to be safe so I wouldn't have to use a credit card. So I signed up my riders and we went up there and our total was $250. Like...How? They made you feel like you couldn't ask questions. So I had to use the card and pay the 4% that put me around $260. That is nowhere near $51 per person. What are you going to do? That is what I felt. The other issue we had was we had to spend a whole chunk of our day there waiting. The appointments would be better for folks to plan around instead of spending 3+ hours there.

A very cool experience, but shady in some aspects.
Written March 26, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

TnD
4 contributions
Jun 2020
I have to agree with numerous reviews about the cost, organization and management issues. The website stated the Web Special was "$49.95". When we got there, I was informed the cost was $69.95 but they were discounting it by $10 and had changed the web special the day prior (of course!). Jesse was our trail guide, and he was fabulous the entire time. The horse riding and trail was also great! We all enjoyed feeding the animals in the petting zoo area, but you get a small 3 lb. bag (3/4 of which is silt and sand) for the gemstone mining. We also paid for fishing, but never saw anyone catch a fish and ended up not doing it ourselves. Therefore, we paid $204 for a trail ride, some animal food and gemstone bag for 3 people. I also saw where someone else mentioned the fee for using a card. I think she told me that my rate was 7% b/c my total was more. They charged my mom $45 just for animal feed, fishing and gemstone mining. If you go (and we would probably go back), I would recommend ONLY RIDING THE HORSES or going with Special #1. I just chalked up spending the extra money to help take care of the horses and other animals. The place is nice and our ride was great, but they could use some work on pricing, card fees and organizational skills.
Written July 8, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Want to go over this bill to let you know what your charges were. On our website special #1 is $49.95 you choose special #3 and it is $69.95. fishing by its self is $24.95, gem mining is $14.95 and animal food is 2 for $5.00,add the totals plus 9.75 sale tax and your total is $48.67. IF YOU USE A CREDIT CARD there is a 4% charge. We are a small business and do not ever want anyone to feel that they were over charged if there are any question about your bill PLEASE ASK US and will take the time to make sure it right,Also about the fishing people do catch them all the time,But when its the heat of the day 80 plus degrees the fish don't bite, But I give you my word people do catch them try coming early for fishing.
Written July 8, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Bobby R
1 contribution
Nov 2021
This place really made my family’s trip worth every second of the travel. We live in HI and my wife loves horses. Big Rock helped me make my wife’s dream come true with a sunrise horseback riding trip through the Smokies. It was incredible, the staff really worked with me a lot and were very accommodating, the horses were very well trained and seemed very happy, and our tour guide was PERFECT. Jessie actually came in early on his day off, and gave us the private tour on his own time, just to make the experience exactly how I had asked for it to be. Jessie made sure my wife and I were warm and comfortable on the horses, gave me one of his coats, and gave us an awesome history lesson on TN, the mountains, and how to take care of horses. On the trail he was so much fun and kept us laughing the whole time, he was so entertaining and helpful for both of us. The tips he gave us were very helpful and the stories he told us were so much fun to listen to. I would recommend Jessie and Big Rock Ranch to all of my family and friends. It was an 8 out of a 5-star experience. THANK YOU Becky, Jessie, and Big Rock Ranch. We will be back as soon as we can.
Written November 13, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Nana Niecy
2 contributions
Oct 2020
My husband and I were in Pigeon Forge to celebrate our 30 yr anniversary. We were trying to find outdoor activities because of Covid-19. The horseback ride through the woods for about an hr about 350 ft high wasn't a disappointment. The guide Mike was patient with the customers that had problems controlling their horse and made sure everyone stayed together. They took pictures of each rider before going on the path. I wish they could have taken a picture of people in your group together instead of separately. My husband and I had to get two pictures just to have one of both of us. They have riding packages which are a little pricey ranging $50-$70 (not including tax) if you only want to ride a horse. The packages include 3-4 different activities from mining gems, horseback riding, fishing, feed for zoo animals & a bottle of water. You can also purchase ATV rides, which we did 4 yrs ago. Make sure if you plan to ATV, wear old clothes that you don't mind getting dusty and dirty. We were covered from head to foot with dirt once we were finished riding the four wheeler. Overall this is an awesome place to enjoy the outdoors. I plan to return with my grandkids in the future.
Written October 20, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Natalie B
1 contribution
Mar 2021 • Family
The person that was “supposed” to let us sign up wasn’t letting us and saying that there was too many people.Well we when there TWO times and the first time she said that there was because of the weather and we could go but proceededs to sine up the people behind us then she tells us to come back tomorrow. So we went back a few hours later and they were letting people back in and we went back in the line and she was helping the people behind us again and we went up to her and she was like there is no more when we heard on her Walkie-talkie that there were 99 more spots left. And the lady said we should come back tomorrow.😀 we are never coming back again that was the worst ever and you know maybe it was because my mom was black but I don’t want to jump to the racist conclusions but I sure seems racist to me.so I don’t recommend that place AT ALL.
Written March 18, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
not sure about what went wrong Thursday there were lightning thunderstorm ⛈ not safe at all there were times that the weather would break and we would let people sign up for the ride our guest safety during bad weather is our number one concern.so sorry that you felt singled out but its wasn't because of any reason other than the weather.please understand that we want everyone to be safe and have a great time.
Written March 19, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Kelsie M
1 contribution
Nov 2020 • Couples
Great price for the experience! Special #1 got us the horse ride, a bottle of water, and food for the petting zoo animals for $50 a person. The ride was very relaxing and laid back. The horses are wonderful and for the most part you don’t have to guide them, they follow the horses in front. Our guide was Nate and he was fantastic! It was only my husband and I in our group and Nate talked to us the entire time and gave us recommendations on other things to do in the area and good places to eat. Since it’s fall, you could see through the trees and see the mountains and nice cabins on the mountain which was nice. I would definitely come back here next time we’re in the area!
Written November 19, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Showing results 1-10 of 940
Anything missing or inaccurate?
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing
Frequently Asked Questions about Big Rock Dude Ranch at Ponderosa