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“A True Cowboy Experience”

Rancho Cortez Day Trips
Ranked #1 of 2 Tours in Bandera
Attraction details
Austin, Texas
Level 2 Contributor
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“A True Cowboy Experience”
Reviewed March 21, 2013

My 19 year old daughter who is attending college in Oklahoma wanted to spend her birthday and spring break "doing western things" which included riding a horse. She had mentioned maybe going to Bandera since it was "The Cowboy Capital of the World". So I did a little research on the internet and found Rancho Cortez. All the Dude Ranches have a 2 night minimum stay which with 3 people was a little out of our budget. However, Rancho Cortez offered a "Spend a Day at the Ranch" package which included (2) 1 hour rides, lunch, dinner, hayride, feeding Longhorns, campfire with s'mores and storytelling. So I called and talked with Cheryl who was extremely helpful and booked a Tuesday for our adventure and kept it mostly a surprise from both my wife and daughter.

We arrived about 9:30am to check-in and get acclimated to the ranch before our day began at 10am. We were greeted by Sabrina in the office and given the layout of the ranch and what our itinerary was for the day. We were the only people for the dude ranch on this day so we had full rule of the roost. We were met by the owner Cowboy Larry Cortez and our guide Cowboy Dallas. They asked us some questions to get an idea of our experience which was none. My wife was very scared about riding a horse but Larry and Dallas immediately put her at ease. It was obvious from the beginning that both Larry and Dallas love what they do and take both Safety and the Cowboy Experience very seriously. It is not a job to them it is a way of life. They love what they do and they love their horses and have them very well trained. We went for an hour long trail ride with Dallas leading and Larry trailing to keep an eye on us. The Ranch property is beautiful and we thoroughly enjoyed the ride and the storytelling. After the ride we walked around the property until the Lunch bell at Noon. On this day they served char-grilled cheeseburgers with all the fixings with potato salad and cole slaw. The food was great. After our meal we hung out with the horses for a while until Larry called us over to one of the arenas where he showed us 3 beautiful Peruvian Horses he just purchased. Cowboy Larry asked my daughter if she wanted to ride one of them and let her ride "The Cadillac" of horses with a smooth trot. Afterwards we went on our second trail ride which was even more beautiful than the first. Dallas did an excellent job watching us and really took care of my wife making her feel very comfortable. She is no longer afraid to ride horses and is now looking forward to her next challenge. When we returned, Cowboy Larry brought his personal horse over to have our daughter take pictures doing tricks on his horse as well as ride around the arena. WOW. He is so good with people and he really goes that extra mile to make sure you are having a great time. We then got to help out with feeding and caring for the horses to reward them for a job well done. Then Cowboy Larry showed our daughter how to lasso. He is an amazing teacher and had her lassoing in just a few minutes. We looked at the time and it was 35 minutes until dinner so Cowboy Larry said it's time to feed the Longhorns. So we hopped in the truck and rode to another part of the ranch where we fed the cattle. Then he asked our daughter, "Do you want to ride the bull?" Really? So up she went on top of the Brahma bull for yet another picture opportunity. We then headed back to the main ranch area for dinner. Fajitas! The meal, once again, was fabulous. The greens were all organically grown in their own garden and all the food was prepared by their first rate chef. He fixed a Tres Leches desert that was to die for. They also run a weight loss farm on the ranch so they are very good at preparing quality meals that are good for you. What a great day! But unknowingly the best was yet to come.

We felt that owner Larry Cortez and his staff had already done way more than they promised and way more than we ever expected. So, we offered to Larry to skip the campfire and the s'mores since we were the only ones there and suggested that he go home early. He would have none of it and said he really wanted to spend the time with us and to meet him at the campfire site. So we headed up to the campfire thinking this is one of the best days ever in our history of vacations. A few minutes later Cowboy Larry joined us, lit the campfire, and asked if he could tell us a story. We agreed and Larry proceeded to paint us a picture of the American Cowboy by telling us a story as only Larry can tell. I mean we felt like we were right there in the story with the cowboys. The story had historical value as well as giving us a true sense of what is was like to be a cowboy as well as the harsh conditions that our forefathers had to deal with during these times of western expansion. He allowed us to truly experience what it was like to be a cowboy. He also told us what it means to be a cowboy in today's world. He is a very special man that has, what I believe, a God given ability to communicate to others what a true cowboy is as well as what is important in life. He made a huge impact on my daughter, my wife and myself. It is a day that we will remember and cherish for the rest of our lives and will think about often. We are now thinking about when we can go back to experience this again. I have not been to any other Dude Ranch so I can't speak about them. They all seem to offer the same physical experiences like riding horses, feeding animals, lassoing, ...etc. But I can't imagine them bringing to life the true sense of what it was like to be a cowboy more than what Cowboy Larry and Cowboy Dallas did for us. It is a vacation and an experience that has had a huge impact on our life and a one that we will cherish for as long as we live. Thank you Rancho Cortez. We hope to see you again soon.

Visited March 2013
3 Thank David0415
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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66 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Houston, Texas
1 review
“Dude Ranch Vacation at Rancho Cortez”
Reviewed March 17, 2013

Just returned from 3 nights at Rancho Cortez with 6 adults and 6 children ages 7months-10 years old. Kids had a great time, age 6 and above got to ride on the trail ride, walking pace and ride in the arena at a faster pace. Lots of fun for the kids and family, fire pits at night with smores. The wranglers did everything they could to make us happy and went out of their way to accomodate our wishes. The food was kid freindly and buffet service which made the meals go qucikly. The accomodations we fine nothing fancy but clean and comfortable with daily towel change and daily room clean up. I would reccommend and go back with family.

Visited March 2013
Thank hlcraig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
St.Catharines, Ontario
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Amazing Family Vacation”
Reviewed February 19, 2013

This is our second trip to the ranch in less than a year. Yes it was so great the first time in November 2012, we booked a surprise February 2013 trip within two weeks of getting home. Head RanglerTyler and rangler Dallas were great with our boys. So patient, watchful and willing to teach our son as much as they wanted to learn. They love what they do and take great care to ensure everyone is safe and riding a horse that is to thier level of skill. The horses at the ranch are all well trained and love to go out on rides. Our oldest son spent all his time in and around the horses our entire visit. Our younger son spent his time learning how to barrel ride, playing horse shoes, roping and just being a boy. The food is delicious and all homemade. We went into town and picked up some snacks to have in our room for between meals. Not having the typical buffet of food at some resorts combined with all the outdoor activities I actuall lost weight on vacation. The chef made our boys their own personal birthday cakes as they were both celebrating their birthdays at the ranch. That was a lovely surprise. We spent three nights and 2 1/2 days on the ranch. I wish we could have stayed longer. Highlights inlcuded: 2 horse rides in the hills a day, horse drawn wagon rides, feeding the long horn cattle, sitting on a bull, learning how to rope, riding lessons in the arena, camp fire with s'mores, camp fire stories about Texas history, amazing gym (got to work out while away). I wish I could give the ranch a rating of more than 5. For a family looking for an opportunity to live on a dude ranch and really experience it, this is a must go to vacation for you. Bring your jeans and boots and be prepared to just relax and enjoy the hill country.

Visited February 2013
Thank Mommy4040
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leamington Spa, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
57 reviews
33 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Great day riding in beautiful surroundings”
Reviewed November 26, 2012

We booked onto a full day trip to the ranch. Upon arrival we were greeted warmly and the layout of the ranch was explained as well as what our options were for the day. Included in the full day you get to go on 2 trail rides, ride some of the horses in the arena, learn to lasso, hayrides, 2 meals and a campfire with smores in the evening. All the people working there are really friendly and you can tell that they love the horses and what they do. The food prepared is delicious but there is a lack of choice so if you don't like what they have cooked you will likely go hungry for the day as it is a fair drive to anywhere to get some other food and they don't have any snacks available to buy on site. The only thing I would say wasn't too great is they give you too much freedom throughout the day and not enough information as to times of things. There is the opportunity to help feed the longhorns in the afternoon but there isn't a set time for it and as such me and my friend missed out on this as we decided to do the hike available as we though we had a free hour or 2. Other then that a great day and would definitely be something I would go and do again!

Visited November 2012
Thank amy270486
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
102 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
“Great two hour ride!”
Reviewed October 29, 2012

I am sure there are plenty of good ranches in Bandera to ride horses, but I feel the positive reviews on Trip Advisor paid off for us. After reading the positive feedback most everyone left about Rancho Cortez, my wife and I selected them for a two hour ride. The ranch offered what we were looking for, a two hour ride at a reasonable price. Even though we were called the same morning, they were very accomodating. Cheryl answered the phone that day and was more than helpful to book us and make sure we had good directions to the ranch. They made us feel very welcomed and had us ready to ride in no time. Our guide, Julio was very entertaining and pleasant to chat with along the ride. We were fortunate enough that day have just the two of us out with Julio and he customized our ride to what we wanted to see and our abilities. Julio was also very accomodating in helping us with pictures. I would definitely recommend Rancho Cortez.

Visited October 2012
Thank MrFun77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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