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“Don't hesitate - go as soon as you can!”

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Covered Wagon Ranch
Certificate of Excellence
Chesterfield, Virginia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Don't hesitate - go as soon as you can!”
Reviewed 8 July 2014

I LOVED it! It's a small ranch - only max of ~24 guests - and it's such personal service. The horse I had was a dream and the wranglers are skilled and personable. You have a private cabin, it's quiet, and meals are served family style in the lodge so you really get a chance to know others. It's a great environment for singles, as the camaraderie of the group includes guests, wranglers, staff, and hands-on owners. Families will enjoy the time together, walking down to the horses, exploring the ranch, and seeing the mares and foals who have the run of the grounds and might just be grazing next to your cabin's shaded porch.

Horses are selected for you based on your experience and preference, but if it doesn't work out the first ride, then you can ask for another (they have over 70!). Same with tack - don't like the saddle? They rustle up another one for you. Everything you need to be comfortable and safe is their priority.

There are many rides to choose from, based on your experience. I would save the steep mountains for those who have riding experience, but there are plenty of vistas on all rides. There are open meadows with trails that meander down to the pristine lakes, rides along the buttes where your eagle-eyed wrangler points out mountain goats, and river crossings that are not treacherous but still thrilling and absolutely beautiful (a car on the highway actually pulled over to take our picture during a crossing at Taylor's Fork).

Ride as long as you like - half days or full days. The Chef prepares your lunch request in the morning which you pack with your choices from an array of tempting treats in a reusable lunch bag which is provided. The wrangler helps secure your lunch and reusable water bottle (provided) in the saddle bags. A slicker is also on the saddle for unexpected rain.

Here's the schedule: Wake in your charming cabin, make coffee in your room if you want, go to a breakfast feast from 7 - 8, and either be at the barn at 9 for orientation on the first day, or hop in the truck at 9 for trailering to the trailhead. Your horse is saddled and ready in the trailer (such luxury!). There are also fantastic trails that leave straight from the ranch. After your ride, your wrangler drops you off and takes care of all the post-ride horse duties, but you can brush and give a treat if you like. Lounge around or explore until appetizers at 6:30. Bring your own wine (stop in Bozeman or Big Sky) as they can't serve alcohol. Dinner is at 7, and afterward there is a bonfire by the lodge.

Want to take a break or have a non-rider along in your group? No worries, Yellowstone is 3 miles away! In fact, you can easily horseback ride in the Park if you want. It's the type of place where you can stay immersed in the oasis among the mountains, or if you have a car you can use it as a base of operations for exploring Yellowstone or nearby shopping.

There are other adventures such as fly fishing, hiking, and tubing that are arranged through the Ranch so you can design a vacation based on your adventure style or family preferences.

Be sure to allow several hundred dollars (at least 15%) in your budget for tip. Your wrangler works very hard to keep you safe and have a experience of a lifetime, as well as doing all the horse chores (including bringing the horses down the mountain at 3:30 AM so they are all ready for guests). Housekeeping services your cabin every day, and there is a Chef and kitchen/dining room staff that is cheerful and accommodating to dietary preferences.

Room Tip: Cabins 8 and 9 have a propane heater and are more secluded, other cabins have a wood stove that they...
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank IcelandicHorseRider
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (49)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Morganton, North Carolina
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 24 June 2014

A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE!! Myself and two grandaughters experienced a vacation of a lifetime at CWR. Both girls love horseback riding and wow they got a chance to ride in some of the most beautiful country in the USA. They loved every minute of this vacation. I cannot say enough good things about Kurt, Melissa and the wonderful staff at CWR. Everyone is friendly, courteous, and professional. Great food, comfortable lodging, rustic surroundings, family atmosphere, safe, QUALITY, are some of the accalades I would like to list. What my grandaughters experienced is PRICELESS! Thanks Kurt and Melissa for making this trip SPECIAL.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank KenRid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New Hampshire
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 April 2014 via mobile

8 years ago I found this little piece of heaven on earth. I had such a great time as soon as I got home I rushed to post a review on Trip advisor. I found that they wert yet on the site. So I'm proud to say that I added them and posted the very first review of Covered Wagon Ranch!!!!! 5 stars of course. I have been going to CWR for 8 years in a row now and I just booked my trip for August of 2014. There is a reason that the only reviews they have gotten are all 5 star. If your looking for a real dude ranch vacation then this place is it. The owners and staff are some of the nicest people I have ever meet. I have my own horse at home. So I can tell you that the horses at the ranch are top notch and not your typical trail horse plugs. They are well cared for and every horse I've ridden there has been outstanding.

The scenery is right out of the movies. Words cannot describe the views from the trails. It's like riding through a national geographic magazine.

When I go, I ride 5 days I'm a row 6-8 hours a day. But how much you ride is completely up to you. Every morning they ask what you want to do that day so if you just want a morning or afternoon ride then that's what you do. If you have a family and want to go out with just you family and no other guests the you can do that. Also if you've never ridden before no worries as I said the horses are great and suitable for any one. I brought my friend from Malaysia and he has never been on a horse and he did great!!

The food is out standing and all meals are included. We eat lunch out on the trail everyday but if you do just a morning ride then you can eat lunch at the lodge.

The cabins are great and very comfortable. I love having the wood burning stoves for heat, really adds to the experience.

If you go you'll find most of the guests are return guests many have been going longer than myself and this year will make it 9 years is a row!!

Oh did I mention the ranch is only 30 miles north of the west entrance to Yellowstone national park?

I suggest spending a week at the ranch and then finish by staying 2 - 3 days in Yellowstone. I do that every year!!!

But don't take my word for it just read the other reviews!!

Happy trails!!!!

Scott - New Hampshire USA

Stayed July 2013, travelled with friends
Helpful?
2 Thank HorseguyNewHampshire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Martinez, California
1 review
Reviewed 29 October 2013

For many years, a trip to a dude ranch in Montana was high on our bucket list. So to celebrate turning 60, my husband and I decided the time had come. While researching the various guest ranches in MT, we kept coming back to CWR. We liked the fact it was smaller, more rustic, and fit our riding style (which is next to none). The website indicated a charm and warmth that was confirmed with my first phone call to the ranch. After speaking with Melissa, I booked the ranch for September, 2013.

Our expectations were well exceeded. You are welcomed in a friendly manner, and the hospitality extended by the entire staff makes you feel you are the only guest there. The owners check with you each morning during breakfast to plan your day, which can be as busy or lazy as you wish. They will recommend and help you coordinate activities, such as horseback rides, flyfishing, sightseeing, etc.

Our cabin was charming and tastefully decorated with special touches (horse shaped chocolates, personal notes from housekeeping, delightful shampoos, lotions and even a magnifying mirror), as well as a gas stove, a warm comfortable bed, and a great porch with very comfortable rocking chairs, facing a beautiful view of the Gallatins.

You are spoiled with three meals a day, all spectacular, and served in the cozy lodge where you mingle with the staff and guests and share great stories. We met the nicest people, many returning guests, and you feel like family. The Friday night BBQ was entertaining and delicious.

The wranglers pair you with a horse that matches your ability, and I was able to enjoy two rides during our short time there. During one ride, we met up with the hunting group returning from their week at camp. It was a cool experience to see the mules packed, and travel back with the group and see how they maneuver the trail as a group.

One of the greatest experiences was the "running of the horses", where the horses are led from the stable, across the Taylor Fork River and led up the mountain for their time off. It is a beautiful sight to see the horses running free. I have watched the video several times and each time is as moving as the first. It is evident the horses are well trained, well taken care of and the wranglers love their jobs.

As we scratch off - Dude Ranch, MT - from our bucket list, we have now added: Return to CWR, ASAP!!

Thank you, Kurt and Melissa, and your awesome staff for an amazing vacation in your beautiful part of the country.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
Thank Kathy N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Virginia
1 review
Reviewed 5 October 2013

My husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary at CWR. Everyone made our special occasion better than I thought it could be. All the staff was friendly and helpful. The owners Kurt and Melissa made you feel like family and that they were here to make your vacation the one to remember. I can't say enough good things about the cabins, food, people and horses, you just have to experience it for yourself. The views were amazing and the horses are matched to your riding ability and personality. They know how to do it right and have so many trails and options for everyone to get the ride that they want. Thank you CWR for an awesome time.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Kim B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
West Chester, Pennsylvania
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 October 2013

The experience was more than we could have ever imagined. My wife and I chose CWR from a friends high recommendations. Having some, but not a lot of horse riding experience, we just wanted a nice special wedding Anniversary and riding horses was on our bucket list. Even before we got there, the attention to our needs and information provided via email was exceptional. From the moment we arrived at the airport to the tears that flowed when we left, we feel we made some lasting relationships in the 8 days we were there. Some Major points: The positive attitude was infectious and genuine concern for your Safety and happiness was outstanding. Every staff member we talked to - from the cooks, servers and wranglers, loved their job and loved being there. As one person said "we came as strangers and left as Family". We were met each morning with a great breakfast, great coffee, and a warm "what would you like to do today" from Kurt - the Co-owner. The horses we rode were extremely well cared for, responsive and yet gentle. Our lunches (we chose) were lunch bag style, very tasty and filling. And the Dinners: The dinners alone are worth the trip. I was amazed by the quality and quantity of the food. By day 3, I didn't know how the meals could get any better, and yet they did. It's a week later and I still think of that incredible Pork Tenderloin and that perfect London Broil, and BBQ Chicken, and Cod, and that soup, and the.... The days spent riding took us to places that you could ONLY experience on horseback. Not by car, motorcycle, airplane or hiking. I took hundreds of photos of the scenery and the people just to make sure we can recall as much of this experience as we can. We saw/photographed Grizzly, Elk, Deer, Eagles, Moose, and heard the wolves. Each day was different from the last. And by the time we left, we knew how to saddle, ride, and unsaddle and put away a horse with vigor. And the most valuable take-away we experienced, is the back to basics of no electronics, no cell phone, and no TV. (Well, I did have some internet access on my smartphone - but that was only to check the days weather.) It was all about making people and horses happy. Being friendly and sharing the days experiences and great food. And this "simple life" made us re-think about our own hectic, fast pace in-your-face life we have on the east coast. Our visit to CWR will forever be memorable and we highly recommend them.

Room Tip: The weather got to freezing almost each night and OUR cabin (not all) was heated via wood burning st...
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Jim S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chicago
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 1 October 2013

We're from Chicago and had never been to a guest ranch. We chose this one for our honeymoon on account of all the positive reviews that it's received from previous guests... flawless reviews. Well, it turns out those reviews are very well deserved. Quite possibly the most friendly group of people running an establishment that we've ever had the pleasure of spending time with. You're a guest without the pressures thereof. And along for a ride through the most incredible scenery you may ever see with your own eyes. It feels good to write a positive review because "you" feel like you're writing about friends.

Our personal cabin with a wood burning stove, claw foot tub, and front porch was very comfortable and, for our purposes, romantic. The meals held in the main lodge, prepared in the kitchen right off the dining room, were homemade, varied in sides and courses, and big. My wife is vegetarian and she was provided with a special dish every evening for dinner. The chef even sought us out one afternoon to ask specifics on her diet for that night's meal. He was a nice guy- needless to say at this point. Lunch was to-order. You fill out a sheet to build-your-own sandwich and then stuff whatever else you can fit in your lunch bag for that day's trip. They have a cupboard full of snacks available at all times of the day and more specific lunch items out in the morning for building your lunch to take out on the trail.

The horses were trained to such a degree that many of the guests inquired about purchasing the very horse they were set up with for their stay. My wife rides "hunt seat" but is now also interested in "western" after this trip.

I could go on but someone in a previous review must have covered all of this. I'll end with saying that we want to go back. We'd like to see Kurt and Mellisa again and all the other folks at the ranch making it happen. I definitely say, "give it a shot".

Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank 175mikev
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Covered Wagon Ranch

Property: Covered Wagon Ranch
Address: 34035 Gallatin Road, Gallatin Gateway, Big Sky, MT 59730
Phone Number:
Region: United States > Montana > Big Sky > Gallatin Gateway
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 5 Speciality Lodging in Gallatin Gateway
Number of rooms: 24
Also Known As:
Covered Wagon Ranch Hotel Gallatin Gateway
Covered Wagon Ranch Montana/Gallatin Gateway

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