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“great stay at the bitterrroot”
Review of Bitterroot Ranch

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Bitterroot Ranch
Ranked #3 of 12 Specialty Lodging in Dubois
Brussels, Belgium
Level Contributor
11 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“great stay at the bitterrroot”
Reviewed December 9, 2012

I stayed at the ranch for a week in september. I can only be positive about my experience there.
First of all the people were simply amazing, whether it comes to the owners or the other guests.
I was travelling there alone and everyone made me feel welcomed, the meals we share all together are great in order to get to know people, i can say i made friends there.
Mel and Bayard are the sweetest people ever and you can definately learn a lot from them!
I was surely the less experienced or lets say less confident rider overthere after an accident some years ago in my country and i can actually say that this stay totally benefit my riding and confidence. For those saying that if you are not experience you will be set aside or disminished during the "test" THIS IS NOT TRUE !!!!! i've been given great horses all week long, everybody was very understading about my hesitations sometimes and very encouraging. On the "test" i was reluctant to try the canter and Mel and Hadley encouraged me to try it !
I also recommend taking a lesson with Hadley she is just fabulous and you can really improve using her advice.
you are NOT being treated differently depending on your skilss i was never being left out of any activities, i did all the rides and the cow sorting competition. I was always encouraged, all the horses i had the pleasure to have were very well trained horse and everything is made to insure your safety.
When it comes to the place itself it is just so peaceful and relaxing. The cabins are spacious and clean !!! yes if you leave doors open you will get bugs but hey you are in the wild what do you expect ? and yes it is possible that a mouse get inside it actually happened to me but it is just a mouse NOT rats i saw it she was more scared then i was and it ended up being quite funny. Again you are in the mountains, wood cabins i don't see how it could be otherwise.
The food was simply amazing and of very good quality !!!
i would totally recommend the place for anyone that wish for a peaceful time in an amazing place with great people respectuous of the horses and breathtaking view during your rides ! If you are a wannabe cowboy then you will be disapointed.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
3 Thank Alx567
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Irvington, New York
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed September 11, 2012

My husband and I just returned from a spectacular week at Bitterroot Ranch, which we finally visited after years of traveling worldwide on trips run by owners Mel and Bayard Fox run through their Equitours branch. The horses were extraordinarily well trained and cared for and we each had the pleasure of riding quite a number of them. In addition to quarter horses, the ranch also raises Arabians, which were new to me and which I now hope to ride again. The staff was wonderful, as was the food and facilities. Most of the other guests were repeat visitors, which is the best testament anyone can offer. Don't miss this one.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Maralyn M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Grand Rapids
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed September 10, 2012

I spent 10 days at Bitterroot Ranch in late August 2012. Bitterroot Ranch was a wonderful experience and far exceeded my expectations. I was looking for a place where I could improve my riding skills as well as experience a new environment. This was only my second ranch experience, and this time I truly hit the jackpot.
The ranch has a herd of about 200 horses, so well cared for it was a pleasure to witness. When I was there I was lucky enough to watch a chiropractor in action, treating about a dozen of the horses. Most of the horses are bred and trained on the ranch. There is a morning and afternoon ride each day, with a fresh horse provided for each ride. One of the nice things is that you get to use the same saddle for each ride, so that once your saddle is adjusted for stirrup length etc. it's done for the duration of your stay. Classes are offered on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, given by Hadley who is a great teacher. She seems to know exactly what to zero in on for each rider to improve with ease and build confidence.
The scenery is quite simply stunning. Every ride is different - you may be in a dry desert in the morning, cantering through sagebrush, eating the dust of the horse cantering ahead of you, and in the afternoon you may be in the woods or trotting across lush, open meadow. The complete and utter silence experienced in the wilderness is something to be absorbed and treasured in this day and age.
The riding groups are small and grouped according to skill level. Family members can stay together or split up according to ability. There is no pressure either way, but for families staying together the default level of the ride will always cater to the least experienced. Mel evaluates each new group of riders on the first morning to witness the skill levels first-hand, and also demonstrates how the horses should be ridden. Horses have to be ridden in two point position at the canter, and you must post the trot. I had never cantered in two point position, but after a short lesson from Hadley I got the hang of it. One thing that impressed me a lot was the support and interest taken in riders like myself who were trying to build skills and confidence, even outside of the lesson environment.
The accommodations are log cabins set a nice distance apart for privacy. They are rustic, but cozy and comfortable. My cabin had a small wood stove, which made me wish it was a bit cooler so that I would have an excuse to light it. The cabins are phone-and-TV-free, cell phone signals are erratic to say the least, and wireless internet is available in the lodge, but not completely reliable. I say all of the above as a compliment to the place - with no pressure to remain plugged in all the time, you can truly get away from it all and unwind.
The food is wonderful, fresh and natural. The beef served is ranch raised, there is a vegetable garden behind the lodge that provides some of the salad and veg served at mealtimes (there was a drought this year so the crop apparently was not as bountiful as it can be), and wine is served with dinner. Food is served buffet style with more than enough to go round.
The Fox family (Mel, Bayard, Richard and Hadley) are wonderful hosts, hands-on owners and are involved in the daily running of the ranch. It was a real pleasure to have them sit at mealtimes with the guests and share stories of their travels and adventures. The wranglers are all very skilled and knowledgeable with a surprising number being former guests who returned to work there.
Bitterroot Ranch offers a unique experience. I hesitate to call it a dude ranch. It's not a nose-to-tail, hot-tub-and-room-service-at -the-end-of-the-day-type of place. It's about the horses, the riding, the environment, the opportunity to meet and mingle with interesting people. It's about getting unplugged from your daily life and adopting a new rhythm for a while.
I traveled solo and wouldn't hesitate to go again. In fact I am already trying to figure out my calendar for next year so I can book my return visit.
A couple of hints I picked up along the way - Jackson is the best option to fly into, vs Riverton.
For solo travelers it is quite expensive to get transport to the ranch, as the charge is for the vehicle, not per person. If you are the only person in the vehicle, you absorb the full cost yourself. I was told by another guest that some good car rental deals can be found on priceline.com.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
7 Thank fellowtravlr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CT
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed August 26, 2012

Our stay at Bitterroot ranch exceeded our expectations on so many fronts. My daughter and I enjoy riding together and we were looking for a different riding experience. We also wanted a chance to ride Arabians. After a quick internet search, Bitterroot Ranch surfaced and the site proved to be an invaluable resource in helping us appreciate the ranch culture and the potential for a unique riding vacation. With ease, we were able to reserve a half week stay on relatively short notice.

The trip to the ranch offers a spectacular view of Wyoming expanse. As you travel the highway and ultimately the 14 mile dirt road to the ranch, the scenery and culture hit you immediately. Nestled in a valley (at 7500 ft) is the bustling community of ranch life and all it has to offer. A herd of cows in a lower pasture, the horses (close to 100) congregated on an upper plateau, sheep, chickens, dogs running about, and the rhythm of family, wranglers and other employees handling their daily chores. We felt part of it all and we quickly settled in.

Our cabin was spacious, comfortable and clean. Our hosts and staff were friendly, inviting and interested in taking the time to get to know us as well as wanting us to have a good time. To the extent we wanted to get to know them, they encouraged our curiosity and were invigorated by our desire to learn more. The meals were well prepared, the portions plentiful and contained enough variety to satisfy our palate. Mingling with the other guests, as little or as much as you wanted to, added another charming dimension to the trip. We didn't go there to socialize but the common interest in riding often led us to kick back, relax and enjoy the time with others over meals and daily riding activities. We found it quite enjoyable.

In the end, though, the ranch is all about riding and horses. We could not have been more pleased. After an initial assessment of skills, they did a good job figuring out how to match horse to rider. We had 3-4 different mounts each over the 3 days we rode. We don't normally ride western but it was not difficult to catch on. We were challenged to use our other riding skills (whether english, hunter jumper or dressage) and balance to make it easy for the horse to do his job. Our reward was an effortless canter/gallop across a field, a sure-footed partner traversing a difficult, hilly terrain, and everything in between. We were in awe of our Arabian partners; they knew what to do but were also attentive and responsive if you convinced them your leadership skills were up to the task. After 5-6 hours in the saddle each day, separated by a lunch break and a replacement of mount, we could almost say we had our fill of riding for the day. But that's only because we knew we were riding the next day.

A bonus for us was being able to witness the owner's passion for breeding horses. In between or after rides, we could wander down to the paddocks to see the stallions or the mares with their foals. In a separate part of the ranch we could find the herd of yearlings beginning to exercise their independence. Our hosts invited us into this world and we enjoyed every minute of it.

In considering Bitterroot Ranch, keep a couple things in mind. It is not a dude ranch. They certainly cater to riders of all skill levels (and to non-riders as well) but this is not a nose-to-tail trail riding experience. If your responsible, you'll get the rewards that come with it. Second, there may be some minor pest activity around the cabin from time to time. It comes with the territory and, in our view, no big deal. On logistics, we flew into Riverton Airport and would probably avoid it on the next trip (Jackson Hole is the other option). After our bags were delayed, we learned from those at the airport (who were doing the best they could) that it happens often. On the way home, flight delays into Riverton made us miss our connection.

All in all, the experience was outstanding and we look forward to getting back there soon.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
6 Thank CtAnonymous
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas, United States
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed August 24, 2012

This was my second trip to Bitterroot Ranch, and while i had fond memories of my first visit, time had blurred them all. Mel greeted us and laughingly told one of the first-timers in our group that we would have to leave the following Sunday as she was ful the next week. I smiled, knowing how true her statement was...no one ever wants to leave!

As others have said, the raw beauty ans variety of the landscape is extraordinary, the staff is out of this world, and the horses are the most amazing, brave, surefooted creatures i have ever had the privilege of riding. The cabins are rustic and comfortable. The lodge has wifi, but cell service is spotty. Many of the guests are return visitors, which is about the highest praise a vacation destination can get. I hope not to wait 10 years before returning again this time!

Stayed August 2012, traveled with friends
Helpful?
1 Thank Rochelle J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston
Level Contributor
13 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed August 19, 2012

Wow. Just wow! I just got back after making my 4th visit to Bitterroot Ranch and taking a group of 7 of my riding students/boarders with me. As always, we had a fabulous time riding wonderful horses over lovely terrain. Great food. Lovely cabins with great views. Peaceful and satisfying times.

One of my group emailed me today to say that they had found this site and was astonished to see some bad reviews. So, I came here to see what she had found and was just astounded to see the negatives. All I can think is that no one can please everyone and that some people just are not happy unless they are unhappy.

In the trips I have made to Bitterroot, I have seen a couple of guests who thought they were riders and were inflexible in adjusting themselves to the requirements of riding at Bitterroot. Those people ended up unhappy because of their own issues. Not the fault of the Ranch or its personnel.

At this ranch, the owners care very much for the welfare of their horses and insist that riders have basic balance skills before allowing them to canter. This protects the HORSES as well as the riders. You will NOT be permitted to pound around on the backs of the horses like a sack of potatoes. And if you cannot deal with this,then this is NOT the vacation for you.

Bottom line is that there are three types of riders: 1) those with some riding experience and skill who can adapt to the requirements of the ranch - these do very well. 2) those with just about no experience - these will do very well because they will listen and learn and have a blast. And 3) those who THINK they know it all and will not listen to anything anyone tells them - this type may well find themselves rebuked by Mel or taught a lesson by a horse that is NOT going to tolerate bad riding.

So, I must assume that the negative reviews about the horses/riding were of the third type.

My group consisted of some from each of the first two groups. We all had a fabulous time.

But fair warning: This should NOT be considered a "Dude Ranch." Don't know how that designation came to be attached to the ranch. If you are expecting a "Dude Ranch" a la hay rides and songs around the campfire and constant entertainment....... go elsewhere. If you enjoy horses and gorgeous scenery and long hard rides that leave you breathless and so tired that you crash by 8:30 pm after a fabulous dinner, Bitterroot Ranch is your kind of vacation.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
5 Thank Rebecca P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed August 19, 2012

I found a vacation destination where I can truly relax. All the modern ammenities were available, had I really wanted them. For me, it's absolute GOLD to be able to be away from modern electronics, television, endless advertisings, NOISE, and so on. I love the balance at Bitterroot between resort and ranch. I don't need personal pampering - the (AMAZINGLY!!!!) friendly, courteous, POLITE staff were just fantastic.
Bitterroot is incredibly unique in the realm of vacation sites. It seems that everywhere is trying to become a theme park. That gets very old. The area around Bitterroot is SO very unique - geologically, geographically, and terrain. Some people may gripe about "walking nose to tail" - well, the "nose to tail" walking also allows one the time to truly grasp the variety of the land, the interesting mineral deposits, the scars of the past due to the wagon trains, the amazing "natural" engineering of the irrigation system.
What new people who vacation at Bitterroot need to realize is that the HORSES are a significant part of the infrastructure of the ranch. These are not machines that can just be tweaked and adjusted and "made to fit" to each rider's whim. They are living, breathing animals, who are carting their (sometimes poorly balanced) human load safely over a wide variety of terrain. The Foxes have been doing this work for a long time, and seem to have a good handle on matching the horses to the riders - which may be detrimental to some individuals' egos.
Were there glitches and bumps in certain aspects of the visit? Of course. Did they mar my vacation time? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!!!!! This IS a working, FAMILY RUN ranch, with seasonal help. Access to the ranch is STILL very difficult. One must take those items into consideration, and be somewhat flexible.
This is not, nor will it likely ever be, all things to all people. If you want to have a full service resort, this is not for you. I enjoyed every second, up until the inevitable time that I had to leave. That was the only sad thing - leaving something behind that was so special. However, I enjoyed my time so much that I've already signed up for another visit next year!

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
4 Thank Diane S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Bitterroot Ranch

Property: Bitterroot Ranch
Address: 1480 E. Fork Rd., Dubois, WY 82513
Location: United States > Wyoming > Dubois
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 12 Specialty Lodging in Dubois
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The ranch is a 640-acre spread where the guests help with the fall cattle round-up. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Bitterroot Dude Ranch Hotel Dubois

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