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“Fabulous Family Fun--Full of Firsts”

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Marble Mountain Ranch - Family Guest Ranch
Certificate of Excellence
Charlottesville, Virginia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Fabulous Family Fun--Full of Firsts”
Reviewed August 5, 2013

Can't say enough about our 5 days at the ranch. So fun. So filled with new experiences and firsts for our family. So filled with laughter and joy and great food and wonderful hosts and their family. As a family, we had extremely limited experience with horses, zero experience with shooting/archery, and pretty limited experience in white water rafting and kayaking. But it was all amazing.

The whole Cole extended family was completely focused on making our trip memorable, safe, delicious, and fun. The safety part is not to be understated. They took great care in not just providing an experience, but in actually teaching us so many things we didn't know. The arena riding program is all about sharpening skills and confidence, and Chelsea, Rachel, and Chloe were so patient in teaching and challenging us every day. The trail rides were similar--we worked our way up from reasonably "easy" rides early in the week to more technical and challenging rides later in the week. And the shooting range (which includes guns, archery, tomahawks) was all about safety first. My two sons (age 9 and 12) were very responsive and responsible to Jason and Adam's instructions and teaching. They were great teachers who focused on creating a great experience for the whole family.

Don't get me wrong--this is an adventure, very physical, exhausting, and your days are full from dawn to dusk. But they take great care in not letting you do anything you're not ready to do or that you can't do safely, whether it's riding, or shooting, or kayaking. So they customize things by age and ability, and make sure everyone has an adventure appropriate for their skill level and experience.

The rafting and kayaking were great too. The Klamath River is beautiful, with lots of different sections winding through the mountains. I think we hit up to Class 3 rapids, and it was super fun. Doug is a very experienced guide on the river (45 years), and he was great with my kids. On one occasion, we were going through a rough-and-fun rapid with my kids paddling in the front. Doug was shouting out commands ("forward one!") and the kids were dutifully responding. Doug expertly steered us through the rapids, and at one point it sort of looked like we were getting too close to one of the rocks. Doug's shouting commands to the boys and they're paddling for all they're worth, and at the last moment with a flick of his oar, Doug steers us away from the rock and on down the river, knowing all along that we were not going to hit that rock. Then he gave all the credit to the boys and their paddling skills. How great is that?

The food. Well, you probably noticed that all the reviews mention how great the food is. It's no exaggeration. The food is lovingly prepared and delicious. Great home-cooked meals 3 times per day, with a snack or two in between. Fear not--you'll need all those calories because of all the activity. So eat up. The ranch is all-inclusive, which is a nice touch. There's beer and wine at dinner, but it's not really that kind of place. In fact, after a long day, 1 or 2 beers and you'll be ready for bed.

The accommodations are a little spartan, in the sense that you don't get turn-down service and new towels every day. The cabins are basic but very comfortable. So if you are expecting something more extravagant, just be ready for simple living. And you won't really care; you'll be so worn out at the end of the day that you'll fall asleep easily.

The ranch is seriously off the grid. No cell service (blissful), and all power and water generated on site. I really appreciate their approach to power and water management and conservation. They are living right, very minimal waste (even of food--used to feed the animals). Eat all you want, but make sure not to waste. Turn off your lights. Take short showers. The way the ranch functions is a good lesson for us all.

There is so much to do, and so many wonderful people to do it with, that this has really been my favorite vacation we've taken as a family in a long time. We've done the all-inclusive thing in Cancun, and that's fun and relaxing in its own way. We're from the east coast and used to go to the Outer Banks, also fun and can be relaxing. But my kids are two active boys who need a little more adventure, and this was really perfect. Seeing my guys confidently shoot skeet with shotguns--safely and under great supervision by me (not an expert) and Jason and Adam (both experts)--was fabulous. Their confidence grew every day of riding, or rafting, or shooting that went by.

Room Tip: We had the cabin called "Sleepy Hollow" which is a little larger and made for families. I...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank Edward B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
randomaxeoflove, Owner at Marble Mountain Ranch - Family Guest Ranch, responded to this review, August 26, 2013
Hello Edward! What wonderful comments you have shared! Thank you for your thoughts.

You have touched on a key point of our week that I would like to elaborate: the progression through the week to more challenging events. We walk a fine line at the ranch, in offering participatory events that are safe, yet exciting. I think the key for us is in the training and risk management. By getting riding instruction in the arena, whitewater instruction daily, and progressive shooting events, we can grow the challenge level as the week progresses. You have done a great job of highlighting this for our readers, and thank you for your thoughts.

We hope you can return soon, Doug and Heidi
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English first
San Francisco
1 review
Reviewed July 30, 2013

“Cowgirl is an attitude really. A pioneer spirit, a special American brand of courage. The cowgirl faces life head-on, lives by her own lights, and makes no excuses. Cowgirls take stands; they speak up. They defend things they hold dear.” – Dale Evans

It was decided. We were going on a dude ranch this summer.

Cowboy hats and boots. Jeans and checkered shirts.

My daughters were going to be cowgirls in the wild west.

Vacation booked, I could already feel the pull of the pioneer spirit. Vibrant. Brave. Deeply connecting.

Destination, Marble Mountain Ranch. A 60-acre working ranch located in Northern California on the Klamath river, just down the road from the tiny town of Somes Bar. Owned and managed by the Cole family, it’s an oasis of good old-fashioned farm family values and life.

Homemade family style meals prepared with love, rich in comfort and extremely satisfying after our extended days of activity. Comfortable cabins with air conditioning to ease the heat of the day. Comfy beds we fell into each night; sleeping the deepest of sleeps while dreaming of horses. Meandering trail rides through the stunning river valley with towering mountain backdrops. Mastering the art of riding in the arena; horsemanship school for us city folks. White water rafting over class II and III rapids intertwined with lingering stretches of smooth river water; perfect for floating. And finally, shooting, archery, and tomahawk throwing; a new frontier for us.

A week off the grid. No work. No electronics. Time to reconnect with family, share in a community experience, and master the outdoors.

You can read all the trip details at http://beyfamily.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/cowgirl-adventures-and-other-stories/

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank mmaxbey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
randomaxeoflove, Owner at Marble Mountain Ranch - Family Guest Ranch, responded to this review, May 9, 2014
Wow! Wish I could write like that MMaxbey! What a pleasure your family was to spend a week with. I love the picture of your daughter on the hay bales - CLASSIC! So - please return soon, bring that camera, and let's show you all that's new at Marble Mountain Ranch in 2014! Best to you and your family, Doug and Heidi.
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Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed July 29, 2013

Where do I start?? From the minute we arrived to the minute we left we had the best time on Marble Mountain Ranch. We wanted to experience something different whilst holidaying on the West Coast of the US, we got that and much more. Doug and Heidi are so welcoming and make sure that everything is taken care of. The cabins were clean and the beds so comfortable after a day of horse riding, shooting and white water rafting. The food is cooked by Heidi and the Ranch family every meal was delicious, there was always more than enough and we left full ready for our next adventure. The ranch runs a fantastic program of three activities in the morning and white water rafting/kayaking in the afternoon. We did trail rides everyday in the some of the most beautiful countryside, on horses that were matched to complement our ability as a rider. Apache, Charlie an ThunderBuns we miss you.. The night activities were great fun - games room, chatting around the campfire (even though it was 100F!), Karoke and 4th July celebrations. A lot of firsts for us - shooting shotguns etc, archery, eating cinnamon buns and of course s'mores (now I am addicted to them). Just a tip it is requirement from all the dogs on the ranch to give them a belly scratch every time you walk past them, especially after breakfast, loved the dogs.

I know it may not look like it however I am finding it very hard to put into words how amazing this experience was and the memories it holds, we met some of the most amazing families who we consider our friends. It ticked every box, and to tell you the truth we have never experienced anything like it. Thank you to Doug, Heidi, Adam, Chelsea, Cierra, Jason, Chloe, Kate, Rachel and baby Zac for giving us truly a great family holiday. We miss you all, thank you again for everything, we will definitely return sometime soon. The Roffey's (Aussie GoPro)

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Ree R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
randomaxeoflove, Owner at Marble Mountain Ranch - Family Guest Ranch, responded to this review, July 31, 2013
So, I recall your comments about our home-made cinnamon buns served at one of our morning "bakery brunches"....do they not have these in Australia? I am so shocked! But, I hope we were able to introduce a large range of authentic western cuisine to you and your family.

I think I mentioned this to you during your stay, but: Why is it that the Aussies plan for our Fourth of July more thoroughly than our native citizen guests? You are Awsome! And...we have yet to meet an Aussie family that we did not immediately love. I hope you can make it back for a visit.

As an aside, You inspired my 59th birthday gift suggestions...so know we are "go-pro" camera experts too. I am getting a bit more creative on the camera placement options however!

Our best to you and your family...Doug and Heidi
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Sacramento, California
Level Contributor
3 reviews
Reviewed July 22, 2013

The entire Cole family are a true joy to be around! My daughter and I could not have felt more welcome at their ranch. The kindness, good humor, and genuine care and concern for their guests is evident in everything the Cole family does. The grounds are beautiful, full of fruit trees and gardens with all of the perfect amenities for children as well as adults. The food they serve is all homemade, baked by Heidi and her family and tastes so good you dream about the sounds of dinner bells. Our experience at Marble Mountain Ranch was beyond anything we could have expected. My daughter began and ended our stay saying she wanted to live there forever...I too look forward to our next visit in this magical place that feels like home.

Room Tip: All of the cabins are neat and tidy and the grounds around them well maintained. If you like a litt...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Carrie L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
randomaxeoflove, Owner at Marble Mountain Ranch - Family Guest Ranch, responded to this review, July 31, 2013
Hi Carrie L,

Thank you for your great review! You can tell your daughter that she may in fact have a second home...since our kids are grown and we are needing to replenish the labor pool. So...she should bring muck boots, gloves of all types, band-aids, and lots of work clothes! Just kidding....but you the two of you will of course be welcome back as soon as you can arrange it. Our best to you and your daughter.

Doug and Heidi
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Bogart
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed July 8, 2013

I am a single woman and was somewhat apprehensive about traveling alone. But, I needed a break from a stressful life and job and decided to take a chance on Marble Mountain Ranch. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. From the moment I arrived at the ranch, I felt at home. Doug and Heidi are wonderful hosts and went out of their way to make me feel welcome. Heidi is a fabulous cook and even whipped up some classic Southern dishes for this Georgia girl (amazingly, I only gained 3 pounds). The activities were great – shooting, riding and rafting every day. I learned some new moves on the range and really enjoyed shooting the old black powder rifle (if only I’d had my coon-skin cap with me !). I’ve been rafting many times over the years, but kayaked for the first time and absolutely loved it. The river is beautiful and the trips were relaxed and fun. The river is easily accessible – no hour-long bus rides to get there. Horseback riding was a new experience for me but the hour-long rides were perfect. I could still walk when we finished ! I’m very grateful to old Max for carrying me around those trails (he was definitely the one in charge). Chloe, the wrangler, was terrific. And, I can’t write without mentioning the ranch dogs – they were adorable. I was sad to see my trip come to an end. It was a week away from the real world with lovely people, delicious food, fun activities and time to relax. It was much more than I expected and I’m looking forward to a return visit. See you soon !

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank Chickenina B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
randomaxeoflove, Owner at Marble Mountain Ranch - Family Guest Ranch, responded to this review, July 31, 2013
Hi Chickenina! Thank you for your input and thoughts as a single traveler to our ranch. We have an intimate setting here, so it does not take long for us to welcome new guests into our extended ranch family.
I personally enjoyed shooting with you on the range and find personal gratification in helping the gals push through the gender barriers that are sometimes present in the shooting sports. I wish you had brought that nice 9mm to show me!

I also got a lot of satisfaction with your quick learn of some kayaking skills! I hope you can continue in the sport. Please visit again, and if you return in the early summer, we should have another lightly booked week when we can continue the one-on-one. Don't forget: "eat your vegetables!"..

We miss you...
The Cole clan and staff
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Irvine, California
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviewed July 6, 2013

I did a lot of online investigating and calling around to search out a family friendly guest ranch where we could spend quality family time for our vacation. We had a few goals for our family in this. First, to get a bit off the grid (so we would not be tempted with the latest work crisis during our family time). Second, to indulge my daughter's passion for horses and horseback riding in a safe and structured format (emphasis on safe, as my husband and I both have enough riding experience to know how important this is). Third, to keep the family together as much as possible (we had no desire to drop her in a daycare program and not see her until the end of the day). Fourth, as much as my husband and I also love riding, to have a mix of activities that everyone could enjoy. Last, we just really wanted to get our seven year old out of the city to experience nature. All I can say is that MMR exceeded the hopes of every individual in our family. Doug, Heidi, their family and the staff were truly a pleasure to get to know, even for a short time. The level of organization and work they put in to make sure that everyone's experience was enjoyable was amazing, and the food was fantastic. The entire day is structured as one of the other reviewer notes, so it's important to pay attention to the sample itinerary on the MMR website, because this is really how it goes. For us this worked wonderfully, enhancing both the number of activities we were able to engage in as a family, and making the week one long relaxing coast from one fun thing to the next. The mix of riding in the morning and rafting/swimming/kayaking in the afternoon was perfect (and my daughter has a new goal to learn to kayak on the river in another year or two). I should note that there were five different families on the ranch the week we stayed, and it is clear that the MMR folk have a great deal of experience in tailoring activities to different levels as appropriate, as well as being able to accommodate kids of a variety of ages. As for us, we are not even home yet and my daughter is asking to go back.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank RokuC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
randomaxeoflove, Owner at Marble Mountain Ranch - Family Guest Ranch, responded to this review, July 31, 2013
Hi RokuC, Thanks for the amazing review! You bring up an important point that could be reiterated for new guests. We pack the day FULL of activities knowing that the worst vacation for young adults and kids is to be bored. The capacity to just relax, though, is never lost, since you are of course always free to opt-out of a raft trip, trail ride, arena instruction, shoot, or what ever,. However, we find that it is more uncommon for our guests to not fully participate. The sense we get is that there is an eager anticipation of the next event and a drive to experience it "all".

We also enjoyed your family, and are hoping that you can join us again.
Best
Doug and Heidi
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Long Beach, California
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed June 29, 2013

My family and I had a wonderful time at Marble Mountain Guest Ranch! Doug, Heidi and their awesome staff made our week truly unforgettable. Skill-building in the arena with Chelsea & Rachel inspired even the novice riders in our group to gain confidence and excel in the saddle. Trail rides with Doug and Chloe enabled us to get a bird's-eye view of the region's picturesque landscape, including scenic overlooks, lush forests and riverbeds. We also consumed many an hour perfecting our aim and trying out a variety of weaponry & firearms at the shooting range with Adam & Jason. Afternoons spent barrel racing at the arena, rafting on the Klamath River and fishing at Fish Lake rounded out this once-in-a-lifetime, action-packed family adventure. Although the Coles kept us busy, they also treated us to some fine, down-home hospitality. Every meal was a savory affair. We learned quickly that we could always count on Heidi and her staff to entice us with a homemade baked masterpiece at the conclusion of each meal. I dedicated much of my free time to exploring the grounds. I loved being greeted by the dogs and horses, visiting the goats, chickens and kittens or just strolling among the gardens, photographing the many wonders of nature that reside on this unique property. This ranch is California gold and I recommend that you book a family stay with them soon!

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank CFC3164
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
randomaxeoflove, Owner at Marble Mountain Ranch - Family Guest Ranch, responded to this review, July 9, 2013
Hello CFC3164, what a wonderful review! Thanks for your comments and summary of our program. We pack the day full of activities, and I appreciated the point you made about just taking time to wander around the ranch and relax. The activities are one of our signatures, but quiet time for reflection is important too. Thank you also for your recognition of Heidi's culinary skills. No matter how good the activities are, if the food is poor, it all falls apart. So, we give it our best to keep you well fed with new recipes and fresh cuisine. I hope you can join us again, and thank you once more for the wonderful comments.
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Additional Information about Marble Mountain Ranch - Family Guest Ranch

Property: Marble Mountain Ranch - Family Guest Ranch
Address: 92520 State Highway 96, Somes Bar, CA 95568-9713
Location: United States > California > Somes Bar
Amenities:
Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Specialty Lodging in Somes Bar
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
California family dude ranch / guest ranch - the Western riding holiday with a signature raft & ride family vacation. California's best family quest ranch mixes daily horse riding, rafting, shooting sports and fly fishing. All inclusive packages cover lodging, meals, taxes, riding, rafting, fishing, sporting clays and more. Join us for California's only saddle/paddle family vacation. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Marble Mountain Ranch - Family Guest Ranch Hotel Somes Bar

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