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“The Best Dude Ranch for Families”

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Nine Quarter Circle Ranch
Certificate of Excellence
Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Level Contributor
1 review
“The Best Dude Ranch for Families”
Reviewed July 17, 2013

As this is our 21st visit to the 9 Quarter Circle Ranch, it is clear that this is our family's favorite vacation. There is no better vacation for parents and kids to share together. First, the scenery/location is stunning. Five miles back in a beautiful valley off the main highway. Trust me, you cant lose your kids here! The horseback riding is very tailored to the individual family member: 0-5 (all-day babysitters and the kids will ride a horse), 6-10 (roughriders) and then three different levels of rides for 11+. I love to flyfish and there is no better stream than the Talylor Fork that runs through the ranch and empties into the Gallatin River, one of Montana's best. And the mountain biking opportunities are endless. One price covers the week so no decisions to make.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Dale T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
9QuarterCircle, Manager at Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, responded to this review, July 24, 2013
Thank-you so much for your great review! We are so happy that so many of our guests return for many years to continue building memories and to become an integral part of our history. We hope that we'll see you again next year!
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71 reviews from our community

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Saint Paul, Minnesota
1 review
Reviewed June 25, 2013

I have a wonderful time at the NQCR .. The scenery is just as good as yellowstone inf not better. The cabin was cozy and quiet, The ranch owners and employees were so accomdating and friendly that you felt like you were visiting friends.

I would love to go back again and again if possible, maybe next time i wont travel alone, even though that did not make any difference i still felt that i had friend all around me no matter what i did.

the ranch is easy to get to is is just south of Bozemand and just north of the west enterance of yellowstone all within a hour drive and there was plenty of places close by to white water raft or zip line.

I had hoped to do some square dancing that week that i was there but for some reason we did not do it.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank Judi M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
9QuarterCircle, Manager at Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, responded to this review, July 2, 2013
Thanks so much for your kind review! We are so happy when we hear that our guests have had a memorable and enjoyable vacation. We do try to have a square dance every week, but have learned that it does take a minimum number of guests for those dances to be enjoyable, and so on the few occasions that we have less than 20 people, we don't typically schedule those. But, we certainly hope you'll be able to return next year and that we can have a dance then.
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PIttsburgh, PA
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed January 6, 2013

Our trip to Nine Quarter Circle, July 1-8, 2012
This was our third time at Nine Quarter Circle. I wish I could say it was consecutive years, but time does not permit us to go every year. There are plenty of families that are fortunate enough to do just that. Once you visit you'll understand why they have such a loyal following. My husband and I first stayed at the ranch about 8 years ago. We are middle aged adults with no children. We talked three of our friends into coming with us that first visit. We visited two years later with five friends and then just this past July with our dear friends that were with us on our first visit. I think bringing that many friends speaks volumes to how much we like it.
The location of Nine Quarter Circle can’t be beat. Not that the roads are all that busy out there in Montana (two lanes, few cars) but it was great to be back five miles off of the main road nestled among the mountains with a beautiful stream running right beside. What a view - Location, Location, Location! The proximity to Yellowstone is great. Close enough to take a day trip, which we have and you should - SEE Yellowstone. Since we hate to lose any time at the ranch we added a day for travel in front of our stay at the ranch this most recent visit. Although it is an easy one hour and some drive from Bozeman Airport to the ranch, this time we flew from Pittsburgh, PA to Salt Lake City, Utah. We then drove to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and spent the night – great little town. Then the next day we drove up through the Grand Tetons (fantastic) , made several photo stops and then right into Yellowstone (Old Faithful was en route so we stopped to see it), then on to the ranch. Although Old Faithful is popular to see, I would advise spending my time checking out other areas of the park. Most notably for us was a beautiful drive we did all the way up to Cooke City and back.
My husband and our friends have our own horses in Pennsylvania. We are avid trail riders. Although we love our riding in Pennsylvania, the beauty, vastness and wilderness of Montana is breathtaking. Having been a horse rider for over 45 years and having been to other riding ranches/venues, etc., we know the riding program at Nine Quarter Circle is top notch. The horses are well trained and well suited for their jobs. The trails are beautiful and even though I can be somewhat anxious on some of the steeper trails, I felt very assured on their wonderful horses (shout out to Duster and Cutthroat).
As you have probably read elsewhere about the ranch, you are paired up with a horse for the week that suits your abilities as a rider. The rides are broken up into beginner, intermediate and advanced. It is best to be honest and not overstate your abilities as the advanced rides go on more rugged terrain and may go at a faster pace. On our last visit, there were quite a few riders who graduated themselves from a beginner rider to an advanced towards the end of the week. That is quite impressive and probably not realistic for most – but not to worry, the wranglers will put riders where they should be! It is easy to understand this self-promotion because you do learn so much by spending so much time in the saddle, and the folks at Nine Quarter Circle have a way of making you feel like an authentic cowgirl/cowboy before you leave! You will most definitely feel accomplished by the end of the week no matter what skills you started with – a feeling worth taking home and one of the reasons so many of us return.
As adults we always enjoyed the daily happy hours with small appetizers and sodas – or whatever you brought to drink. At least one family member was always present to host - sometimes all those residing on the ranch. Their son Konnor, now a mature young man, jumped in with the hosting and we thoroughly enjoyed talking with him and also their daughter Kyleen. It is good to know that the western hospitality tradition of Nine Quarter Circle will continue thru to the next generation. Upon the ring of the dinner bell, happy hour is over and it is off to the dining lodge.
It was a smaller more intimate crowd the week we visited (July 1-8, 2012), but enough to make it interesting and fun. It was a nice mix of adults and families with children. The smaller clientele gave us an opportunity to spend more time getting to know one another (if you so desired) and more time talking to the owners themselves, Kelly and Kim Kelsey– who were so gracious and always interesting to converse with. Although I am sure they get asked the same questions over and over again, you would think it was the first time. No pretense with them, just good down to earth people, hard- working and sharing their incredible way of life while making you feel at home. We thoroughly enjoyed the many meals we got to share with them at their table.
Every lunch and dinner you will have the opportunity to sit with different guests at different tables, including at times dining with the Kelsey’s. It is another bit of the subtle magic of your visit - coming to this wonderful location, riding these wonderful horses, meeting all kinds of people from all walks of life – and during your daily meals - bonding over your shared experience. Chances are you may never see any of the other guests again, but I guarantee you, you’ll feel like you are saying goodbye to long lost friends (at least a few of them) when you leave! But if it is privacy you are craving, well there is plenty of time for that too. As in all things - it is what you make of it.
After dinner you can unwind in the lovely lodge room by the fireplace, play games, or go sit outside on the long porch in one of several wooden rockers and enjoy the view. Or, take a walk down to the fishing pond.
There was so many staff to consider when writing this, many of them just there for the summer - many of them young, eager and willing to participate in the many ranch events acting as kind ambassadors of Nine Quarter Circle Ranch every day, all day long. They do a great job. From the servers and maids to the head wrangler Jeff who could not be more customer service oriented in a cowboy kind of way – to his gracious wife Sarah, who runs the kitchen. And of course to the wonderful skillful wranglers – we so enjoyed our many fun rides with them and getting acquainted with these brave young people who come from all over the states. They have all grown up with horses being a part of their lives and it was fun to hear of their experiences and how they came to work at Nine Quarter Circle.
Did I mention the rooms? Was I in a room? Well, not much, but when I was it was mostly sleeping or taking a shower. And when I wasn’t so doggone tired from the day’s activities – sometimes it was lovely to read on our little porch watching the sunset, looking up at the mountains and the infinite big Montana sky with puffy clouds. The rooms are clean and sufficient, appropriately decorated in a rustic western style.
I can’t forget the darling little gift shop. I always have to buy t-shirts and sweatshirts with the Nine Quarter Circle logo. Also, love their deerskin riding gloves.
The unorganized and organized fun at the ranch was just that – wholesome FUN. Just a few to mention - my husband climbed Mt. Lincoln situated right across from the ranch for the first time on this trip and made it to his destination at the top of the mountain – “the mailbox”. On the fourth of July they had face painting for kids, a softball game for all and a cook out. On Friday late afternoon, they had a ride to a cook out on horseback – everyone participates. Saturday morning there was horseback riding games/competition called gymkhana - completed with small trophies presented at that evening’s dinner. It is all good natured fun. My favorite of course is the Saturday evening square dance. Even if you are not a dancer, my advice is to jump in and let your hair down. This is the culmination of the week’s experience - the staff, visitors, wranglers, children young and old, fit, unfit, all co-mingling and dancing together. Excluding the regulars i.e. hosts and staff, there are few experts here which makes it that much more confusing and funnier, and yes, that word again, FUN.
This is summer camp for all - uncomplicated, relaxing, person to person, the human touch in all things. Go back in time –wipe your slate clean – live in the moment – do your soul a favor and visit Nine Quarter Circle Ranch. We go for the riding, but we come back for the total experience.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank sadiebuckey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
9QuarterCircle, Manager at Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, responded to this review, January 8, 2013
"Summer camp for all." What a great statement! We love that YOU love the ranch and all we do. We are so happy to have you and all of our "regulars" return - sometimes every summer, sometimes every couple of summers. It is truly our goal to make your stay not only memorable, but irresistible so that you return again and again.
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San Diego, California
Level Contributor
1 review
Reviewed December 12, 2012

My 8 year old daughter and I took a girls trip to NQCR.... we fell in love with the owners, ranch folks, guests, horses and the beauty of the area. This is not just a vacation, this is a place to be a family again, escaping the realities of busy city life. It was a joy to watch my daughter make friends with other kids and run free chasing bunnies, learning how to play checkers, and watching her gain confidence horseback riding everyday. There are more then 30 families that have returned to the ranch for 30 or more years! What does THAT say!!??? My daughter and I plan to make this our annual retreat. The ranch has also kept in touch with us making the memories even better. I can't say enough about NQCR....

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank 992roxy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
9QuarterCircle, Manager at Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, responded to this review, January 8, 2013
Thank-you so much for the great review & kind words. We love introducing everyone to our lifestyle, but especially kids. We've seen so many bloom here and it's a wonderful feeling to have them want to come back year after year. We'll see you both again this summer!
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Level Contributor
46 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
Reviewed November 20, 2012

We have visited the Nine Quarter Circle three times with our two children and simply love it. For families that find it almost impossible to unplug, both literally and figuratively, the ranch is the perfect getaway. With two daily rides, a softball game, hay ride, square dance and the never ending fun of chasing bunnies under the porch, throwing rocks into the Taylor Fork or even climbing Lincoln Mountain, our children don't think twice about TV or their video games or "iDevices." On our first trip I hadn't been near a horse in twenty-five years and was happy to experience the easy going beginner rides that still allowed breathtaking views. The advanced riders tell us there is plenty of challenge as well - the all day Kelsey Killer being the ultimate. This past year we added a day of zip lining and whitewater rafting with an outfitter outside of Big Sky. The kids had a blast and even saw (gulp) a bear. There is also great fly fishing instruction at the ranch and easy access to Yellowstone. In a previous year we took an easy day trip there and the kitchen packed us a sack lunch. There are a lot of ranches to choose from in Montana but we chose the Nine Quarter Circle for the friendly hospitality of Kim and Kelly Kelsey, the wonderful location off the main road and the time-tested testimonials of guests that have been returning for 20+ years. It seems like one of the last places on earth to simply kick back, enjoy family time, make new friends and enjoy a break from the hectic intrusions of daily life. At the ranch you can actually take the time to enjoy a sunset.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank A S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
9QuarterCircle, Owner at Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, responded to this review, November 24, 2012
Thank-you so much for taking the time to review your vacation at the ranch! We truly love sharing our beautiful country with our guests and it is such a special bonus that so many of our guests end up being friends as well. The local attractions are numerous and exciting and we are happy when our guests take the opportunity to enjoy them.
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boston
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed November 20, 2012

My husband and I brought our three children (eight, five and two) to the ranch to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We have never had such a relaxing, fun, happy family vacation. Each one of us had great times on our own, and also lots of good family time. Each night there is a new family activity, and each night before bed our kids would just beg to do that one again the next night. I rode twice a day every day, and had adventures, and saw the most amazing scenery, and had a great time talking to the other guests and the wranglers. My husband did a ton of fly fishing, but also did go on the all day ride and a few other rides over the week. Our kids rode twice a day, and fell in love with their horses. My husband and I had lots of time together on our own, and also loved getting to know all the other guests at adult only happy hours and lunch and dinner. Our kids left the ranch with great friends too, and we all are looking forward to meeting up with the same families again. The Kelseys are such an amazing family- 6th generation Montanans, and so giving of their time, and sharing their unique perspective on life, and dude ranching. We all loved that the wranglers are all so genuinely happy to share what their lives are like as well. The childcare was great! Plentiful, and the babysitters and kiddie wranglers really loved being with our kids. There was nothing like having a cup of coffee on the long porch, sitting in a rocking chair, watching all the kids playing games on the play ground below.
I loved our accommodations as well- plenty of room for everyone. The food really was much better than I expected. Healthy, but hearty- and a lot of really great vegetarian options, but also wonderful main dishes. I left each dinner wishing I could have it again. Truly, I cannot say a single thing wrong. It's God's country beautiful, great hosts, great staff, and amazing riding, and ranch experiences. We will back for years and years- who knows- maybe they'll name a cabin after us one day!!!!!! PS- I cried driving away on the last day.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank rineytraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
9QuarterCircle, Owner at Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, responded to this review, November 24, 2012
Thank-you for taking the time to write a review of your stay at the ranch! It is great fun to be able to watch the little kids enjoy themselves so much. Chasing rabbits, riding & petting horses, playing in the creek or on the playground - they stay busy every minute! And, we understand that parents need their "alone" time too, so we work hard to ensure that Kiddie Wrangler and Babysitter are excellent and attentive, to allow you time for your "Grown Up Time"!
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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
5 reviews
Reviewed November 20, 2012

Several years ago I came upon an advertisement which I could hardly believe. It mentioned a "Cowgirl Quilting Retreat" at the Nine Quarter Circle - one week spent with two world-renowned quilt instructors in the beautiful mountains north of Yellowstone with plenty of spare time to ride horses, fly fish, hike, or just sit on the porch gazing at the moon. I thought I had hit the jackpot. My two passions in life - riding & quilting - in one place at the same time? Incredible! Since the first year I attended, I have fallen completely in love with the beautiful town of Bozeman, the quilt shops, the spectacular scenery, the wonderful quilting instructors (Charlotte & Georgia), riding every day, the scrumptious food including "boot & horse pancakes" (thank you Sara!), the cabins, the comraderie, the daily Happy Hour, ALL of the staff, the many new friends I have made from all over the world - just every single bit of my week there. When we travel down through the canyon and Big Sky, then turn onto Taylor Fork Road and travel the 5 miles back to the ranch, my excitement level is ridiculous. The owners, Kim & Kelly Kelsey, along with their entire family, do everything to make your visit the best it could ever be. Wonderful Kelly greets me at the lodge by saying; "Welcome Home Marsh (Marcia)" and that is exactly how I feel. Last year I brought along three of my quilting friends from Pittsburgh, who had never ridden a horse before, and were mostly looking forward to the quilting and visiting Yellowstone. By the end of the week they were having their pictures taken on horseback. Who knew? But most of all, I love 'my' beautiful appaloosa Jacob, whom I ride every year. We have a special bond (at least I think so) and he has given me more pleasure riding in those mountains than I could have ever imagined. For one week, I am the cowgirl I always wanted to be since I was 5. Riding up incredible heights to view magnificent mountains, across creeks & streams, through dense forests (always looking out for moose, bear & other wildlife). I trust Jacob implicitly and have never been disappointed. I reward him after every ride with a "horse cookie." Jacob embodies the quality of the horses at the ranch, and the care shown to them by head wrangler Jeff & his staff is evident. We also love to visit with the new foals born in the spring. Watching them frolic and play is just a wonderful experience. On several occasions my husband has joined me at the end of my week, and we have traveled on to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons & Jackson Hole, or up to Glacier National Park for an extended vacation. The minute I get on the plane to travel home, my heart already yearns to go back. I am already planning for next August. Until then, I have to settle for looking at a gorgeous picture of Jake that hangs in my quilt studio, and dreaming of our trips into the mountains! By the way, this year was the 100th anniversary of the ranch and it was wonderful to celebrate with our gang by making a commemorative quilt. There is not enough space here to say how very much I love this ranch. If you have the chance to go, don't hesitate because you will never, ever regret it! We've traveled all over the world, but this is my personal "heaven on earth."

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank Marcia V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
9QuarterCircle, Owner at Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, responded to this review, November 24, 2012
Thank-you so much for taking the time to review our Cowgirl Quilt Retreat! It is one of our highlights of the summer also! We love being able to see friends that we've made over the years return again & again. And, to make new friends over the course of the week while we all learn new quilting techniques. And, of course, it's one of the best times of the year for riding & fishing!
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Additional Information about Nine Quarter Circle Ranch

Property: Nine Quarter Circle Ranch
Address: 5000 Taylor Fork Rd, Gallatin Gateway, Big Sky, MT 59730-9625
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Montana > Big Sky > Gallatin Gateway
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 5 Specialty Lodging in Gallatin Gateway
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Lifelong memories and familial bonds are just two of the amazing “side-effects” to an All-Inclusive Dude Ranch vacation. While the deep rest and relaxation rejuvenate you, the awesome scenery will feed your soul. The many activities and sports that you can enjoy will provide you with experiences and memories that last a lifetime! Finally, and most long-lasting, are the strengthened ties that your family will experience. Adjacent to Yellowstone Park and surrounded by millions of acres of National Forest and the Taylor-Hilgard wilderness area, our family-oriented vacations feature riding for all ages and all levels of horsemanship, blue-ribbon fly-fishing, incredible scenery and traditional hand-crafted log cabins and furnishings – all served with the West’s best hospitality! You may also enjoy hiking the area, viewing wildlife and wildflowers in abundance and you can even bring a bike to explore some awesome mountain trails! In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to engage in many other traditional activities such as campfire, hayrides, square dance and more! In addition to all of these benefits, our on-site fly-fishing guide, the children’s programs, meals, and much more are all included in your stay! These all combine to create a unique and ideal location for your vacation. Owned and operated by the Kelsey family for over 60 years, the Nine Quarter Circle is “magical”. Come and experience the place “where time stands still”. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
9 Quarter Circle Ranch
Nine Quarter Circle Ranch Hotel Gallatin Gateway
Nine Quarter Circle Hotel
Nine Quarter Circle Ranch Montana/Gallatin Gateway

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