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“Best week of my life”
Review of Bitterroot Ranch

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Bitterroot Ranch
Ranked #4 of 13 Specialty Lodging in Dubois
Reviewed February 7, 2011

I went to bitterroot on my own wanting to improve my riding. I have been an unconfident rider for ten years and too scared to canter.

I had a nice cabin all to myself. The people staying at the ranch were so friendly, I was never on my own. The rides and the horses were great. I still miss Zepplin. He was goregous and he became the firdt horse I ever cantered on maybe even galloped on. Mel and bryon were enteraining and fun. Handley gave fantastic lessons. Me having horse riding lessons in wyoming. Even herded some cows.

Food was great. Great time. Cant wait to go again.

  • Stayed: August 2010, traveled solo
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4  Thank pebbles055
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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73 - 79 of 102 reviews

Reviewed October 7, 2010

I'm glad I didn't read any of the negative reviews here as they'd have possibly deprived me of one of the best weeks of my life. I'm just back from the September cattle drive week and had a simply brilliant time.

Hospitality: We arrived from the UK several hours earlier than anticipated but were nonetheless able to get into our cabins straight away and were provided an unplanned lunch. The food was out of this world there was plenty of it. Never once felt hungry the entire week, despite 6-7 hours riding every day. The folk were extremely welcoming and accommodating. The family and wranglers looked after us exceptionally well, both at the coral and out on the rides.

Riding: We had an initial asssessment by Mel, our hostess, who, despite the brevity of the session, did seem to evaluate our skills and experience pretty spot on as we all felt we had horses throughout the week that were within our capabilities but offered us some challenges too which, personally, I found ideal. Mel is clearly very focused on ensuring her horses are ridden in the style to which they have been trained and are accustomed. She was also, given the fact that this was a round-up week, concerned that we rode appropriately to achieve the round-up within the necessary timescale and this sometimes gave her a rather stern approach (No self-respecting Grizzly would have argued with her!) but we were pleased to see that, as the week progressed and we demonstrated that we were reasonably competent she was able to relax more and we didn't feel quite so terrified of her! It's important to remember that this is a working ranch, these cattle have to be in by the end of the week, the horses are part of the livelihood so guests need to accept their role and responsiblity in the round-up - yes, even if they're paying good money for it! You will be riding through rough terrain, with boggy patches, some tricky woodland to negotiate and the possiblity of being surprised by local wildlife - expect some bumps, bruises and scrapes. If there's a serious injury it will be dealt with but keeping cattle together will take priority over surface damage! If you've not ridden these sorts of hours or in western saddles before, expect to be sore (especially day 3)and take appropriate pain relief with you. I loved every one of the 5 horses I rode (although Poca Hontas definitely my favourite!) even though a couple were quite challenging at times - that was good for developing my skills and experience and I feel I have returned to the UK a better rider for it. We rode every day, including the morning of the day we went home which was unexpected and much appreciated.

Accommodation: beautiful cabins, very clean, nice and warm and dry, comfy beds, great shower/ bath facilities with constant hot water, nice verandah to sit on. This is the wilderness so if the temperatures start to drop in the evenings towards the end of the season, of if you're daft enough to have loose food about (you won't need it!) then you will more than likely be paid a visit by some rather cute looking but nonetheless a bit distracting mice. You can learn to ignore them or traps are available if required.

Overall, I loved this holiday to bits and would recommend it in a heartbeat to anyone considering it.

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled with friends
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2  Thank bilbo186534
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 4, 2010

My wife and I just completed our 3rd stay at Bitterroot, and the reasons for returning are still the same; good people, good food, good riding, good times. The seclusion, scenery, and focus of the ranch is just what we want for a stress-relieving vacation.
All the crew, the wranglers, cook and wait staff, and especially The Fox's ( Bayard, Mel, Richard and Hadley) are friendly and cheerful. Their variety of origins makes for some interesting conversations, and this year guests from not only around the United States but also from France and Bermuda added to our experience.
The cabins are rustic and secluded, clean and airy; just bring a good book ( in my case also a guitar ) for those times you want to sit on the porch. No tv, no radio, no pool or tennis court.....just fresh air and lots of riding, which is exactly what we wanted.
Looking forward to next year already.


B

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank JGyrine
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 20, 2010

I knew about Bitterroot for a long time and always wanted to visit and when the opportunity presented itself for a short stay I jumped in. Boy I'm glad I did!!!!
It is a place with genuine hospitality, quality horses, great food, a lot of history and great hosts. All the trail rides I took led by competitive wranglers and we even did some cattle work which made things even more fun. There is also great fly fishing if you are into it.
If you are looking for real western ranch experience but not a fake disney world like place go visit Bitterroot you won't be disappointed. I'm going back with my wife.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled solo
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Thank Doubleplay4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 21, 2009

Firstly I am normally one of those people that read reviews of places but never actually write a review to help fellow travelers. But, a week before I was due to go to Bitterroot Ranch I found the reviews at TripAdvisor and even though the good reviews out-numbered the bad reviews considerably it was the bad reviews that stuck with me the most. If it wasn't for the fact that the trip was non-refundable, based on the bad reviews I would have cancelled if I could. I was very worried going arriving at the Ranch. My perception of the place based on these couple of bad reviews could not have been more wrong if I had tried. Hopefully this review will help alleviate any worries you may have.

I picked this dude ranch specifically because they offered english riding and had cross country jumps available. Yes, you do have to start the week (i.e. the first ride) riding western but this is to just prove to Mel (the owner) that you can ride adequately to be able to ride correctly in an english saddle. After my first ride I was asked by Mel at lunch if I wanted to ride in an English saddle so they definitely take your preferences into consideration and I rode English for the majority of the week. If you can't ride adequately then to be fair you are better off in a western saddle for both you and the horses sake (and all of your fellow riders!)

I was also given the opportunity to jump the cross country jumps and once again they have you show them in the arena first that you are capable of jumping before allowing you to go over the cross country jumps. If I was running the ranch I wouldn't do it any differently as it only seems sensible to make sure the guest is capable of jumping to both (a) limit the risk to the guest of them hurting themselves and (b) not subject the horses to having somebody landing all over their back due to lack of riding capability. Remember this is a dude ranch and even though they offer lessons twice during the week (which based on the comments from the guests that did them during my stay are extremely helpful and beneficial) this is not a training facility.

I rode 6 different horses during my week and they were all fabulous. Of course I had my favourite and therefore they were kind enough to let me ride him 3 times but I would gladly go back and ride any of them again. The quality of the horses was exceptional and there were no badly behaved or untrained horses on any of our rides. The wranglers sometimes rode young horses on the rides which meant they were not as experienced but it was fun to be able to see how they train the horses to become future guest horses so only added to the experience. I was really amazed at how fresh all the horses used during the week was definitely as it was very close to the end of the season when I was there. I would have expected the horses to be more wary and stale but given that they have such a large selection of horses and that they care about the horses and make sure you ride them in the most comfortable manner to the horse (it's always the horse that comes first and I agree with this approach). Also if you wish to groom your horse they are more than willing to allow you to do this and actively encourage it.

Nobody during our week was a beginner so I can't say what the ranch is like if you either can't ride or have very limited experience. As a horse rider I am still in awe of my experience and have raved about it to everybody. This is 100% the best place to go if you are a rider and want to have a great experience with great horses.

I can't finish the review without also commenting on the food, accommodation, people and the scenery. Food was outstanding. If you went away from the Ranch hungry then you must have skipped every mealtime. From lamb (with fresh mint sauce) to freshly caught trout to pasta with lovely garden fresh salad and vegetables it was great food after great food. The wine and appetizers at 6.30pm each day was a fantastic way to unwind and get to know the family and fellow guests in a relaxing and comfortable setting.

Accommodation was another of my worries. I'm not the best when it comes to rodents, spiders, bugs, etc. Luckily I didn't have to deal with them. There are individual log cabins for each of the guests and my cabin was very clean and very spacious. There was no evidence of any rodents at all and the worst thing that I had to deal with were a few moths each night which quickly meet their demise. Listening to the sound of the creek each night was so peaceful. Also with the fabulous comforter to snuggle under you didn't even know that the temperature dropped to the 40's at night!

I will agree with one of the other reviewers that said there are no organized activities at night. BUT I'm not sure when you would be able to fit them in and I never had the energy at night to do anything other than relax and talk to the other guests as we talked about what great days we had and discussed how we thought the next day couldn't possibly be better (but it normally was). There is a well stocked library and a pool table available if you wish to do some activities so I definitely didn't feel like I was missing anything.

The people. I'm not sure I can say enough about how great the Fox family and all of their helpers are. Mel, Bayard, Richard and Hadley run a great place and try to meet all of the requests of the guests whenever possible. You can tell that they really enjoy what they do and they definitely 1000% animal people! Their staff were also amazing from the wranglers to the wait staff to the cook. Everybody was extremely friendly and helpful.

Lastly, the scenery is amazing. Every ride offered a different experience and when you thought the scenery couldn't get any better the next ride would make you rethink. The amount of different rides that they have available through very different areas is unbelievable and they even make sure that you have time during the rides to stop and try to capture it on camera although I will admit that the photos I took (and there were many) don't do it justice to seeing it for yourself.

I am definitely going back again at some point and I would highly recommend this to anybody who wants a true ranch riding experience. If you are looking for a 5 star resort with spa facilities, square dancing and organized activities every hour of the day then this is not your place. If you want lovely people, great scenery, awesome horses, rustic but comfortable lodging and fantastic food then look no further!

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled solo
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8  Thank rocky1_33629
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 18, 2009

Why did I decide to go to Bitterroot Ranch? Because a friend of mine had been there several years ago and called it “a life changing experience”. After just returning from a trip, September 2009, I could use several words to describe it: beautiful, incredible, exhilarating, fantastic, first-class, impressive, educational, etc. Just so you know, I had ridden smooth-gaited horses for many years, but had only taken lessons on trotting/cantering horses for 4 months prior to my arrival. Here are my experiences:

1. Wonderful well trained and well behaved horses. I rode 6 different horses on 11 different rides and enjoyed them all. The horses are beautiful, content, and well treated. They are treated as individuals, as they should be.
2. Gorgeous scenery. Each ride was beautiful, and the terrain varied quite a bit.
3. Challenging, but safe, riding along with top-notch riding lessons. My riding ability improved 100% during this trip. Besides the trail rides, I had two lessons with Hadley. She is a wonderful instructor. She easily spots what needs to be corrected and explains how to implement the solution in words that are clear and make sense. I had trouble with the saddle fit at first, but they have an extensive number of saddles so selected another one that worked quite well for me. Also, the riding lesson helped me to correct my riding conformation thereby eliminating the problem I had had.
4. Qualified, interesting and caring hosts. Bayard is a hoot! What a character! He’s great fun to be around to hear his interesting stories. Mel is caring, while being a bit more reserved, and is an excellent rider, trainer, and organizer of the ranch. She really knows the horses. Both Hadley and Richard are very experienced and competent, caring trail guides and hosts.
5. Fun guests. Other guests were from around the U.S. and from around the world. I met a variety of people from different backgrounds. They were all good people that bonded together in a common interest: horses.
6. Gourmet food. Outstanding, wonderful, incredible, more than I could ever eat! Great wine. Best lamb and flan I’ve ever eaten (even in Europe). Enough said.
7. Rustic but comfortable and peaceful cabins. My cabin was in the Aspen trees by the river. It was so peaceful enjoying the sights and sounds of nature rather than the roar of automobiles or TVs. The cabins were nice, beds comfortable, and showers / baths nice and hot.
8. Excellent trout fishing. I’ve never trout fished before, but Bayard was an enthusiastic and willing teacher. We had an excellent lesson on a scenic, local lake. The cook even prepared the trout we caught for dinner for the whole gang.

I am pleased I went on the trip to Bitterroot Ranch, and hope to go back again next year.

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled solo
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1  Thank PatriceRTenn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 18, 2009

Every year in September I travel six thousand miles to cross that bridge over the creek. Every time I cannot believe my luck.

I love that remote place where we can taste the pleasure of believing what we see is as pure as a fragment of Paradise, as enchanting as an outpost of Heaven.

I love that friendly place where your hosts let you bask in the calm sunshine of their hearts.

I love that elegant place where the food is plentiful, nourishing and delicious.


And the horses… Beautiful and well mannered, they will do their utmost to please you. They will reward your good moves and forgive your awkward ones.
You are to think of them longingly when you sit alone, when you wake at night alone. You are to see that you will meet them again.

The Bitterroot ranch is a labour of love where the hand, the head and the heart go together.

Still, it is not for Russian oligarchs, not for gossip girls, not for egoistical wannabes.

And now a word about those awful and deceitful critics:
« To make judgment about great and high things, a soul of the same stature is needed; otherwise we ascribe to them the vices which are our own » MONTAIGNE

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled solo
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Thank SwissG_7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Bitterroot Ranch

Address: 1480 E. Fork Rd., Dubois, WY 82513
Location: United States > Wyoming > Dubois
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 13 Specialty Lodging in Dubois
Price Range: $3,150 - $3,500 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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