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.
- 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