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“Rocky Mountain Relaxation”
Review of Elkhorn Ranch

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Elkhorn Ranch
Reviewed June 30, 2014

The Elkhorn Ranch is an experience that is _not to miss_! The staff, amenities, lodging, and scenery and setting allow you to leave the world behind, but you don't need to leave the joys of eating well and having a great time. There is (blessedly and fantastically!) no cell coverage, and wifi can be had around the office (there's a place to work should you get bored with expansive western views and trail riding!). Rustic but very comfortable individual log cabins, each with a full bath, covered porch, and wood burning stove for heat, provide fantastic residences for your stay. The food is exceptional and plentiful - there's a snack room next to the dining hall where fresh baked cookies are always available. The staff are incredibly welcoming, friendly, and respectful ("yes, sir" and "yes, ma'am" are standard phrases) and get to know both your name and what you like. This is a family resort, and kids have their own experiences under the guidance of the Peanut Butter Mothers - don't feel badly when your kids will want to eat with their new friends rather than you! The trail rides and horses are all designed around your comfort level, safety, and experience. You'll likely be assigned the same horse the entire time and have your own assigned saddle. Your horse will be saddled and ready for your morning/afternoon/allday rides, but you will get to unsaddle and brush your animal after each ride. Boots and hats are available for borrowing if you don't have your own - no sneakers, etc... I'd recommend at least one all day ride (lunch will be provided on the trail) to get to see some of the more distant and isolated gems of the backcountry! Into fishing? The ranch borders Yellowstone, and licenses for fishing in the park are available in the office. World-class streams await! Birders and wildlife watchers will also enjoy the viewing offerings found in the area. Enjoy the stay, and don't dwell on the fact that you will have to return to "civilization" all too soon!

  • Stayed: June 2014, traveled with friends
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1  Thank David W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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19 - 25 of 32 reviews

Reviewed June 25, 2014

Staying a week or two at the Elkhorn Ranch is an experience like none other you will have. It's a magical place somehow suspended in time surrounded by the awesome scenery of the beauiful American wilderness. The horseback rides are guaged to your ability and you get to ride into realms unseen by most Americans and experience wildlife first hand. The meals, including a breakfast ride and a dinner ride, are fabulous. The staff are courteous and greggarious and the other guests quickly become kindred spirits and often friends. The cabins are charmingly rustic and the day begins with a wrangler quietly lighting the fire in your bedroom to take the chill out of the cold mountain air. The breakfast bell rings and...go for yourself to find out more.

Room Tip: Request a cabin closer to the Dining Hall if you have mobility issues.
  • Stayed: June 2014, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Tim C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 24, 2014

This is an amazing experience. The crew and wranglers are exceptional, the food is fantastic. The horses are safe and well cared for, the cabins are rustic while being comfy and roomy. The other guests are also quite interesting and it is nice to interact with them. There is also a great program for the kids - if you want to get your kids "un-hooked" from the internet and connected to an unbelievable part of our country - this is a great way to do it.

In addition, it is relatively close to Yellowstone, so it is easy to incorporate a trip there into your itinerary.

But I discourage anyone from thinking that they need to jam pack their trip with a million "must dos". Go, relax and get grounded, reset your priorities and take a deep breath.

Also - this was our fourth trip there and we plan to go back as often as possible.

Room Tip: The ranch assigns you to a cabin based on your family size.
  • Stayed: June 2014, traveled with friends
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Thank J C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 29, 2013

We found Elkhorn Ranch by chance, but were so lucky! A girlfriend and I brought our kids (7 of us in total) to Elkhorn this last week. We were about the only people at the ranch on our first visit. We ate and rode and played games with multiple generation families who have been going for years-- and yet everyone was friendly, and beginners were welcomed. The Peanut Butter Moms were wonderful, and the kids are asking when can they go back. The horses were alert, well behaved, the instruction/guides were wonderful. Accomodation was charming and comfortable-- the beds were firm and while I went to sleep aching from the rides, I always woke up refreshed. A fantastic trip.

Room Tip: There are differently designed cabins, and it would be useful to call and talk through your family t...
  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank WhopperJr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 3, 2013

You really can’t do better than a vacation at Elkhorn Ranch. There are many things that make it a special place; add it all up and it’s hard to beat.
First there are the people, both crew and other guests. All are friendly and genuinely helpful. Many guests have been coming for years, generations even. No airs or egos for the most part; so refreshing. Once I relaxed and opened up, I found the guests to be very interesting and very warm. It took me until Thursday to get it, so I recommend a minimum stay of a week, two weeks would be better.
The second thing that makes the Ranch so special is the views. The Ranch itself is beautiful – log cabins, green grass, mountains, the horses. The rides up into higher country open up vistas that are unmatched: snow-capped peaks, miles of green grass loaded with wildflowers and butterflies punctuated on the lucky days with bear, moose, elk and eagle sightings.
The third thing is the horses. These are not your usual second career rent-a-horses. These animals are bred and trained for their noble work of taking guests safely on no-nonsense trail rides. These horses are all business and a real pleasure to ride. Guests who have never been on a horse are expertly guided by the crew. You can forget about the anxiety and enjoy the ride.
The fourth thing is the accommodations. This ain’t no five star resort; it’s way better than that. It’s rustic log cabins with wood burning stoves and ample porches. Cabins are clean and comfortable with good reading lights, no televisions, and no phones. While wireless Internet is available near the office, the Ranch is an opportunity to unplug from all of that. It’s best to take advantage of that opportunity lest you miss what’s really happening. And the food! Don’t worry about the food. Always good and always plenty. And if you have special needs, I am sure they will be happy to take care of you.
The fifth thing is the program for children. We went without our grown children, but I was skeptical when I learned that children spend most of their time separated from their parents. When I saw how things worked I became a believer. This program really works. The children love it. The crew is wonderful and totally responsible. Don’t worry, you will still have plenty of time with the children. And it’s perfectly fine to come without children, too.
All of this happens under the management of Linda Miller, third generation at the Ranch which was started by her grandparents. Tradition matters.

Room Tip: Don't worry about it. Let them choose the right cabin for you.
  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank SantaBarbaraBill
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 19, 2012

Family of 5 had a wonderful time at the ranch located in a beautiful area between Bozeman and West Yellowstone. The staff was wonderful. The food was excellent. Our 3 children, ages 7 and 12 (twins) spent most of their day with other kids under the exceptional supervision of the “Peanut Butter Moms”. From breakfast till 8:30PM, the children ate meals together, rode on the horses together and played many fun games. My kids LOVED the never ending tins of homemade cookies.

In regards to the riding, the wranglers were terrific and the horses were a perfect match. What a delight! The trails were beautiful and we were fortunate enough to spot two Bull Moose not far from us. One morning we enjoyed breakfast on the trail and another day dinner.
We had a nice spacious 4 bedroom cabin with an awesome porch. Upon request, the Crew will light your potbelly stove before you awake.

I, the Mom, who was afraid to ride, rode each day with my hubby and new friends. Some rides too with the family (but the kids preferred to ride with their friends). My horse was perfect for me and made me comfortable from the first day!

What a perfect family vacation!!! The kids are already asking to go back.

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
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4  Thank Nancy B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 18, 2012

This was by far the best vacation our family has ever had. To do it justice, I have a lot to say, so bear with me. I am going to try to do this by categories. Here goes:

Choosing to go out west: It was time to plan our summer vacation. Typically we rented a beach house, or some years we travelled – Europe or elsewhere. This year, we decided we wanted to see the west and that we wanted an active family vacation. The answer was a dude ranch. After doing our research and talking with friends, we chose the Elkhorn Ranch – a ranch with a lot of history and tradition. I have to confess while we were excited, we were a bit nervous. This was definitely out of the box for us. I had ridden as a child, my husband had never been on a horse, and neither had our son. Let me just say, this was by far the best vacation we ever had. We all agreed – we would be going back and often. When we got to the ranch, we were greeted by Linda, the ranch manager, who is also the granddaughter of the ranch founders. She is so at ease, so comfortable, we felt like we were being wecolmed to someone’s home.

The accommodations: Every family or group has their own log cabin – they are charming – big front porch with a view out over the ranch, roomy bedrooms, and a sitting room with a wood stove. Not pseudo-ranch, Ralph Lauren fancy, but true western cozy and comfortable. The meals are served in the dining hall – a beautiful old log structure, huge fireplace and sitting area on one end. The food was varied and delicious – for all diets. My husband and son are meat eaters, I am more of a vegetarian. We were all very happy.

The riding: And now for the best part – the riding – it was truly unbelievable. We rode each day in small groups – about 6 – 8 guests with a wrangler/guide – either half day rides or all day rides. The wranglers are the real deal. They are helpful (giving you pointers and suggestions on riding,) they really know the area - the flowers, the mountains, the history, and most of all they are really fun! The all day rides are amazing – you travel far and high into the National Wilderness areas, including some days into the far northern parts of Yellowstone. It is beautiful. Big Sky. Glorious views. Open meadows. Wildflowers. Really beautiful. We saw elk, moose, bear, deer, hawks, eagles, huge owls, and we saw them in their own habitat. On one ride we encountered a herd of elk - mothers and babies who were calling to each other - it was amazing. Yes, you are tired at the end of the day, and the first few days your butt is a bit achy. But it is worth it. Hang in there – by day 3 the aches have worked their way out.

The riding and kids: While we rode with other adults, our son rode with the peanuts - kids roughly his age. Okay, so let’s talk about that. As a mom of an only child, I was anxious about not riding with our son. Yes, I am one of those parents who want to know where my kid is at all times. So I was anxious about this. The first morning is a family ride, we rode altogether, and I have to say, I spent most of that ride focused on my kid – how was he doing, was he having fun, those sorts of things. After that ride, he rode with the kids and we rode with the adults, and let’s just say – Elkhorn knows what they are doing. Our son had a sense of freedom, a sense of ownership, a sense of self that I can honestly say I had not seen before. You could see it in all the kids – they got to run around, ride, play, laugh, without their parents looking on and hanging on. They were supervised at all times (but they didn’t know it) by wranglers and peanut butter mothers (20+ year olds) who they looked up to and adored. The kids had an absolute blast! No other way to put it. When they weren’t riding and in the evenings after dinner, the kids all play volleyball, softball, frisbee, or made up games, again with the wranglers and peanut butter mothers and sometimes parents joined in. It was like camp – lots of laughter, activity and fun.

The horses: It’s important to know that Elkhorn has its own horses, they raise their own horses, they train their own horses. The focus on horse temperment and safety is evident. The horses are sure footed, of course, but more importantly there are sure tempered. Each of us fell in love with our horse, signing its praises over all others and hoping we would get the same horse when we returned for another year.

The people: The staff and crew at Elkhorn are wonderful. They are friendly, open, smiling people who really want to make sure you enjoy your stay. You’ll get to know them by name (and they will definitely know yours) and at the end of the week you will have made new friends.

The guests: What I never really thought about in planning our trip was the other guests and I should have, because they make a difference. Many of the guests at Elkhorn have been coming back for years. There is a sense of caring about the ranch and the people that the guests share along with the staff. At night, people invite each other over to their porch and share a beer (or whatever they have brought along) together. You meet people on your rides and by that evening you are sitting together on someone’s porch sharing a drink, a laugh, a good time. The closest I can compare this experience to is overnight camp (in a good way.) By the time our two weeks had come to a close, we all felt we had made new friends who we will see again. It was the best.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with family
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5  Thank nancy w
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Elkhorn Ranch

Address: 33133 Gallatin Rd, Gallatin Gateway, MT 59730-9634
Location: United States > Montana > Gallatin Gateway
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly)
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 5 Specialty Lodging in Gallatin Gateway
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A traditional Montana Dude Ranch started in the 1920's. We specialize in family vacations that include horseback riding, fly-fishing, and outdoor activities. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Elkhorn Ranch Montana/Gallatin Gateway

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