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“Very dusty room, hole in bedspread, low water pressure but good food, friendly staff”

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Drakesbad Guest Ranch
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 28 September 2013

I stayed in bungalow 2 for 3 nights in September, 2013. My room was very dusty. The heater looked like it hadn't been dusted in months. The water pressure in the bathroom was low, and there was a hole in my bedspread. The positives about Drakesbad are its location (inside Lassen National Park), the food (all good meals included in the bungalow price), and the staff (very friendly and helpful).

Room Tip: Be sure to check to see if your room has electricity and/or a shower before you book.
  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank CaliPalosVerdes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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62 - 68 of 90 reviews

Reviewed 24 September 2013

Drakesbad has had a change of management in the last couple of years. seems you have to call WELL ahead for any meals or activities now, instead of just a day or two. Also, the park service is trying to turn the meadow into a swamp, thus bringing into creation swarms of mosquitos and other bugs. The hot pool is literally covered now shortly after sunset. At least the water is still nice and hot. But the dinner portions are growing smaller while the price goes up.

Maybe one more visit to confirm our misgivings, and we'll pass till we hear things change.

  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled with family
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2  Thank GoldDiver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 September 2013

My husband and I spent 5 days at Drakesbad Guest Ranch in August 2013, and could not have had a more fantastic stay.

The place has several attributes going for it that sets it apart:

The Food - They’ve hired two chefs (David and Gaylan) who are professionally trained, and the food reflects that quality. The dishes are created with fresh, rich ingredients, options at dinner, and a wine list surprising extensive given the remoteness of the property. Not only is the food full of flavor and balance, you have a choice of a meat or vegetarian option – handy for families with picky eaters. They also have a cool kid version of their meal that comes in a fun little Bento Box which the children seemed to have fun with. The breakfast is filling, and lunch comes with as an in-dining, or sack lunch, option.

The Beds - EXTREMELY comfortable set-up, we slept like rocks. The manager, Pat, informed me the beds now have memory foam which make them oh-so comfortable. Add to that an open window with cool evening air breezing in, and a good night's sleep is guaranteed.

The Location – this guest ranch is located in Warner Valley within Lassen Volcanic National Park itself. Warner Valley has several geothermal features including Devil’s Kitchen, Terminal Geyser, and Boiling Spring Lake that are fascinating to explore.

The Pool – a property highlight. Mineral spring fed heated pool keep at 98 – 102 comfortable degrees. Despite its popularity, it was never too crowed to join, and there are no stupid ‘pool hours’ so it is yours to enjoy 24/7. Basically, if you can get yourself out there, it is yours for the enjoyment, especially at night when the water is warmer than the cool evening air. It became our reward each evening after a long day of hiking in Lassen Volcanic. Tip: while they do supply pool towels, we found the kids would wipe these out by late in the day, so bring you own beach towel – they easily dry out the following day for repeated use.

The Horseback Riding – it is obvious the horses are well cared for and loved by the wranglers, Duke and Joe. There are a variety of trail options and I strongly encourage you take advantage of this feature by exploring Warner Valley on horseback (much more fun than by foot!). I am a novice rider and this activity was quite enjoyable.

The Staff – I could tell the first evening at dinner that this place appeals to two sets of travelers: multi-general families, and Europeans on holiday – both of whom are demanding customers. Despite this, the staff remained professional at all times and never broke form, a testament to both the staff’s character and their kind-hearted nature. My husband and I became so fond of the various staff working there; we found it hard to leave the last day, like summer camp in reverse ☺

The Managers – Pat & Valerie – the effort Pat takes at meals to move from table to table greeting the families is what sets this place apart from any place else. He makes you feel like you have come home for the holiday and are family. I can see why families visit here year after year.

Room Tip: Tip: book months in advance to secure your room preference
  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank CindyandJohn90503
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 September 2013

I do wish that I could rate our visit as highly as the rest of the reviewers here. This was a first visit for my husband and myself, so we were not experiencing it through a nostalgic haze. I should also state that we have stayed in various historical properties (Curry Village, Wawona Hotel, Wolf Lodge in Yosemite; Old Fathful Inn in Yellowstone; Glacier Lodge in Glacier NP) as well as in a similarly remote accomodation with no electricity (Tassajara Hot Springs in Carmel Valley), so we were not expecting modern comfort or conveniences.
It was not evident where one was to go to check in upon arrival--no signage.
We were in Cabin #9 near the horse corral and, yes, there is definitely the odor of eau de horse in the room. The toilet seat was broken (staff informed--not fixed during our 2 night stay), the kerosene lamp had no chimney (staff informed, a frosted one was brought providing inadequate lighting, the solar lantern had a broken handle and also provided dim light. I have used kerosene lights exclusively in a one room cabin that we built, but with clear glass chimneys and a wick size that produces light that one can read a book by. There was also the sound of mice activity during the night. Disturbing our sleep as well was the outside electrical light on one of the dining room/kitchen building left burning all night (the central staff areas have electricity; the guest accomodations do not). We could have pulled the curtains, but it was hot and we needed the windows open with curtains drawn to cool the room.
We love hot springs and have experienced quite a number. The pool here is large, but the temperature of the water fluctuated greatly. The afternoon that we arrived the air temperature was near 90 degrees; the water in the pool was 107 degrees, much too warm. The next morning the air temperature was in the 60s; the pool water was below 90, too cool. The bottom of the pool was slick with green algae; not inviting.
But the most disturbing thing that we observed had to do with the horse operation. One morning we set out on a hike shortly before 10 am and noticed that two horses had been taken from the corral and tied to rails where they had just been given baths. We returned from the hike three hours later to find the two in the same place, which was in open sun with no access to water. There was no personnel about and my husband had to make several approaches to staff to find someone who said that they would take care of them.
Related to the horse situation is what we saw concerning a deer who had come near the corral and picked up one of the plastic ties from the hay bales and was ingesting it. The plastic ties had simply been placed in a heap on the ground near the hay bales outside of the corral. I don't know, but I would guess that a deer who is ingesting long strands of plastic baling is not going to survive long.
We attempted to tell Valerie (one of the managers) of these last two incidents, but it was clear from her manner that she did not wish to hear about them.
The setting is spectacular and the hikes we took were special, but we could not in good conscience recommend Drakesbad to anyone and would also not stay there again ourselves.

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled as a couple
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10  Thank Discerning67
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
hpgdiver, Guest Relations Manager at Drakesbad Guest Ranch, responded to this reviewResponded 3 December 2013

Thank you for taking the time to review your recent stay at Drakesbad Guest Ranch. One of our core values is providing excellent customer service so we were very disappointed to read your review. Let me start by addressing and apologizing for the issues that you experienced in cabin 9. The toilet seat and Kerosene lamp have both been replaced. Cabin #9 is next to the bunkhouse which is lit all night. We are working with our General Manager to bring in window treatments for 2014 as the lights must remain on for safety purposes. We do apologize for the inconvenience.

The hot spring fed swimming pool is treated/chlorinated daily and the water temperature is on a regulated system but due to the climate changes that occur at Drakesbad, it may vary the temperature slightly but the average temp range is 98-104. Finally, our wranglers are experienced equestrians who from time to time have to isolate a horse(s) for a variety of reasons such as bathing, drying, shoeing, medical care, vaccinations, etc. We have been in operation at Drakesbad Guest Ranch for nearly 40 years and we have never received a complaint regarding the way our horses are treated. They are truly treated like the family they are. And as mentioned, horseback riding is a favorite pastime of our guests and from time to time, there can be various smells and rodents at the Ranch. We are happy to resolve these issues immediately upon hearing about them. We regret that your sleeping experience was not what you expected.

We value your feedback and have taken your comments very seriously and we’ll be addressing your concerns with our staff in order to improve our services for the future. Please feel free to reach out to me directly if you have questions or comments or if there is anything we can do to remedy the situation.

Drakesbad Guest Ranch

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Reviewed 26 August 2013

We had 2 days and 1 night of pure enjoyment at Drakesbad. We would have enjoyed another night, but others planned better than we did so there was no availability. Pat was a fabulous host and genuinely treated us like royalty. Nothing was too much trouble. In addition to the quaint cabin accommodations and the fabulous food, come for the great hiking and enjoy a swim in the hot spring pool to relieve your muscles.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Debbie R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 June 2013

Don't know how to even start this review, but that we are planning our next summers stay with pat and Valerie and their staff!!! We were truly guests and treated like royalty!!!!! Everything from our room, to activities with John like archery and my daughter making a manzinita souvenir which turned out beautiful, not just your average arts and crafts!! We loved the hot springs pool, hiking in paradise, the lodge, meals ( nick is the best ), campfire with s'mores, being unplugged was just what we needed, we will definitely be back, can't wait, tod, Peggy, Ann Marie, and Hannah!!!

Stayed: June 2013, travelled with family
4  Thank Ann K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 April 2013

It was heartrending to read the reviews. We went regularly and had our own week when our sons were young. They are all in their 20's and we are afraid if we went alone it would be sad. So we are waiting for grandchildren.
Our sons truly relaxed while we were there. Pulling into Drakesbad there was a magic that descended upon us. It is a very special place.
We had a routine. We would get bag lunches and start out for the day's hike. Two would be in our baby back packs and 1 walking. After about 1/2 an hour the 2 in the backpack would have fallen asleep. We would make the hike easier for our oldest son by singing A Hunting we Will Go. Then when we reached our destination that all could explore nature.Truly memorable cherished vacation.
The food varied from year to year depending on who was the chef. The ranger would give talks by the outside fire while roasting marshmallows.
Watching the sunset over the meadow was 1 of my favorite views. Making stick boats in the stream and feeding the squirrels, playing with sticks and stones provided never ending entertainment for young boys and toddlers. Another old timer family showed us a beautiful waterfall near the entrance that provided a great jumping into the water experience.
Beautiful short hikes rewarding enough for toddlers. Just have many creative verses of A Hunting We Will Go on hand.

Room Tip: We liked the cabins as we were a family of 5. With early rising babies we had the meadow right at ou...
  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled with family
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3  Thank NewportBeach1952
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Drakesbad Guest Ranch

Address: end of Warner Valley Road, Chester, CA 96020
Region: United States > California > Plumas County > Chester
Amenities:
Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 6 Speciality Lodging in Chester
Price Range: £52 - £119 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 19
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
In 1916 Congress established Lassen Volcanic National Park as the fifteenth national park in the United States. Privately held Drakesbad bordered the park in the southeast corner. The Sifford family continued to run their beloved Guest Ranch as good neighbors of the Park Service each summer for forty-two years. To preserve the Ranch and guarantee continued quality service for generations to come, Drakesbad was sold to the US government in 1958 for inclusion in to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Since that sale there have been three park concessionaires: for the past 36 years Drakesbad has been run by California Guest Services where the emphasis is still on outstanding customer service! All rates include three meals per day and lodging! All accommodations are rustic and quaint, most without electricity. The use of kerosene lamps is a welcome respite from the modern world and adds a distinct and old time ranch feel to your stay. All rooms include a full or half bath and are gas heated. Housekeeping services are provided daily. As a member of the Green Hotels Network, we make every effort to reduce, reuse, and recycle at Drakesbad. General Information Drakesbad Guest Ranch is open (pending weather conditions) June through mid October. The Ranch is closed mid October through to May. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Drakesbad Guest Ranch Hotel Chester

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