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“Great afternoon!”
Review of Mountain Meadow Trail Rides - CLOSED

Mountain Meadow Trail Rides
Calgary, Alberta
Level Contributor
23 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Great afternoon!”
Reviewed January 22, 2012

I went on a trail ride on the very last day of the season in the fall. The fall colours were absolutely amazing and our guide took us as close as we could get to the elk herds which were in full rutting season. Magical.

Thank Stargirl_universe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

14 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Edmonton, Canada
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Back-country Western Heritage at Its Best”
Reviewed October 21, 2011


This Fall I was privileged to enjoy a “bucket-list” experience thanks to my family and my bucket-list gift was delivered “in spades” by the Nelson Family of Mountain Meadows Trail Rides.

I participated in the Mountain Meadows Fall Cattle Drive. This event was incorporated into the Pole Haven Community Pasture fall round-up, a community-wide activity in which the Nelson Family plays a significant role. Pole Haven Community Pasture is a 15,000 acre crown lease upon which cattle from approximately seven ranches graze their cattle over the summer.

Set in the foothills of the Rockies at the foot of Chief Mountain, it is good pasture land, though it is extremely rugged and home to about 1500 head of cattle for the summer. It is also home to bears, wolves, deer and other wildlife normally associated with the Canadian Rockies. Bounded on the south by the US border and on the west by the boundary of Waterton National Park, these lands are really only accessible by horseback.

Throughout the summer months the Nelsons conduct backcountry rides from their “upscale rustic” base camp on the periphery of the crown land. In the fall, over a three day period, the Community Pasture Association organizes a major round-up of everyone’s cattle. The Nelson’s open this experience to 10 to 12 guests who have had some experience with cattle and horses and it gives, those of us lucky enough to participate, a real western heritage ranching experience.

The 2011 round-up was undertaken in incredibly nice weather. While there is a practical aspect to the round-up, (the cattle need to rounded up) the Nelsons philosophy of hosting and experience creation in the milieu of Heritage Ranching, makes the package one that is totally enjoyable. I rate this experience as 11 out of 10.

What did I think of the horses? The horses were thoughtfully matched to the guests’ riding experience, skill level and fitness level. The horses were fit and were not hard to take where you wanted them to go. Each rider had a degree of independence. The equipment/tack was in very good condition.

What did I think of the organization? From the first contact, including the arrival, the assignment of responsibilities and logistics management were well handled. Gear and baggage was transported to the back-country site and there was no need for concern about personal belongings. There could have been a little more thought given to back-country first-aid in terms of supplies.

What did I think of the accommodations? I have been quite involved in back-country resort development and Mountain Meadows rates among the best that I have seen. While they have no regular provision of electricity, they are able to offer hot showers, clean toilets, clean and comfortable sleeping arrangements and complete kitchen facilities.

What was the food like? The food was typical western fare such as steaks, beans, potatoes, salads all done on-site with a lot of skill. Portions were large and bagged lunches were kept cold until used and then, were excellent.

Was there anything that was special or unique? The hot tub, fired by wood stove and filled with fresh spring water, rates as my all time best hot tub experience.

What was my sense of value for price? To organize a back-country experience of this caliber is difficult and takes a significant amount of equipment and livestock. The price is very reasonable and is not dissimilar to that charged in other types of outdoor recreation such as downhill skiing or ocean kayaking.

Would I go again if I had the chance? I would love to take my family on an overnight experience with Mountain Meadows. I could not think of another operation that would rate as highly as this one in providing an authentic western heritage experience from a modern and comfortable base in a rustic setting. The Cattle Drive, itself, is a slice of the “old west” and that does not happen very often anywhere. Yes I would go again in a heartbeat!

How similar was this to an overnight trail ride? Why is this a slice of the old west? I could see that those going on a trail ride would get much the same experience as I had without chasing the cattle. They enter the same back-country, traverse the same meadows, ford the same streams and see the same spectacular views. During the summer trail rides, I expect the Nelson’s are checking their cattle, a standard ranching practice. The only way to really get into this country is via saddle horse. The Nelson’s seemed to like horses and riding so much I suspect that they would go for a ride into this area even on days when they had no guests. I think that regular trail riders should expect to get an experience that is very authentically western and not the poorer standard of “nose to tail” rides that one has come to associate with mountain park trail rides.

Many thanks to all of the Nelson’s


Visited September 2011
1 Thank Greg W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Roundup Days”
Reviewed October 13, 2011

We arrived at the historic Nelson Ranch on September 21 to take part in an event that has been ongoing for generations, the Annual Fall Round-Up in Mountain View. This event kicked off with the horses being assigned to the riders and Dan Nelson outlaying the tasks that lay ahead in carrying out the round-up. It was then off to the High Country for the rest of the day riding though some of the most beautiful country in Southern Alberta. With Chief Mountain to the south and the prairies stretching away to the east, up we went over the switchbacks and into the range land locating the 1000 head of cattle that call the range their home for the summer. After a hard days riding we returned to the camp to find Dan, Tammy and Phil hard at work preparing us a barbeque steak dinner.
It was 6 am on September 22, Dan is singing out “Breakfast is ready!” bacon, eggs, fried potatoes, and coffee. With lunch in our saddle bags, we rode out at 7:00 to the north range to commence the round-up. The morning was spent gathering cattle from the high country and pushing the cows to the sorting corral so that each rancher can take his brand home to winter pastures. With lunch break over, we were informed that the Nelson brand was ready for the drive back to the ranch. Two hundred and fifty cows and calves, seventeen riders and one dog started the long drive through the hills and by the lakes to Range Road 280. We then headed back to the bunkhouse for a barbeque chicken dinner.
Friday September 23 at 5:30AM Dan has a breakfast prepared that will keep us riding until noon lunch break. We rode out from the bunkhouse just as the sun was beginning to peak over the hills creating a magnificent sunrise. As we rode we went up and up until we thought we were on the top of the world. The day was spent gathering cattle out of the burn into one big herd of about three hundred to push to the sorting corral. Afterward back to the bunkhouse for a fabulous pork chop dinner.
Saturday September 24, we were allowed to sleep in until 7:00 AM. Dan and Tammy had geared up a large amount of fried potatoes, pancakes, sausages and coffee to keep us going until lunch break at noon. At 7:30 we saddled up and rode into the high country of the north range collecting strays that managed to escape the previous drives out to the sorting pens. With the conclusion of this activity, our round-up days were over.
As we arrived back in Calgary for our flight back to Nova Scotia, our heads were spinning with what we had just experienced over the last four days. And knowing that a little bit of the old west was still alive and kicking in Southern Alberta. We wish to thank Dan, Tammy, Terry and Phil for four days worth of memories that will last a lifetime and for taking the time to let us experience ranch life as it really is.

-Again Thank You!
Elwood, Lenny & Gary

Visited September 2011
3 Thank Johnathan M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cherry Fork, OH
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Don't go!!!!!”
Reviewed August 8, 2011

I was promised a nice trail ride and cook out for a 3 generation family trip. Like the previous reviewer, the guides were nice but young and inexperienced. I was told that we would have great guides - first thing not delivered. The horse for my 9 year old niece was a good size for her but not well trained enough for her - 2nd thing not delivered. The horse for my 64 year old step-mom was not smooth gaited nor easy going - 3rd thing not delivered. The trail followed a path along a gravel drive for the first portion and was nose to tail - again not the scenic trail promised. A new bridge was installed at a creek crossing and I was told that the horses were a 'little skittish' about it. My older nieces horse spinned on the bridge and my horse fell of the bridge with me on her. The guides did not know how to handle the situation. The other horses were not happy about crossing the bridge. On the ride back to the barn, the horses are very barn sour. The horses were trotting uncontrollably. There was a dead cow in one of the pastures that we passed. I had to work to keep my horse from running me into the barbed wire fence on the other side of the road to avoid the dead cow. I would not recommend this ranch for any inexperienced or even intermediate riders. Only go if you and everyone in your party is experienced and your don't mind nose to tail along a gravel driveway.

Visited August 2011
3 Thank Beth A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Medicine Hat, Canada
Level Contributor
26 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“A ride worth the drive”
Reviewed July 29, 2011

This is the second time we have been to Mountain Meadow Trail Rides. First time was just as good, though we did the longer ride with the steak lunch midway on the trail. This time we did the 90 minute ride. Being spring, the weather was perfect and the mountain meadow flowers were blooming, the air fresh and the scenery spectacular.. The brother-and-sister guides who took us round about the ranch were most hospitable.

Visited May 2011
Thank hawaii5times
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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