Our trip to Nine Quarter Circle, July 1-8, 2012
This was our third time at Nine Quarter Circle. I wish I could say it was consecutive years, but time does not permit us to go every year. There are plenty of families that are fortunate enough to do just that. Once you visit you'll understand why they have such a loyal following. My husband and I first stayed at the ranch about 8 years ago. We are middle aged adults with no children. We talked three of our friends into coming with us that first visit. We visited two years later with five friends and then just this past July with our dear friends that were with us on our first visit. I think bringing that many friends speaks volumes to how much we like it.
The location of Nine Quarter Circle can’t be beat. Not that the roads are all that busy out there in Montana (two lanes, few cars) but it was great to be back five miles off of the main road nestled among the mountains with a beautiful stream running right beside. What a view - Location, Location, Location! The proximity to Yellowstone is great. Close enough to take a day trip, which we have and you should - SEE Yellowstone. Since we hate to lose any time at the ranch we added a day for travel in front of our stay at the ranch this most recent visit. Although it is an easy one hour and some drive from Bozeman Airport to the ranch, this time we flew from Pittsburgh, PA to Salt Lake City, Utah. We then drove to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and spent the night – great little town. Then the next day we drove up through the Grand Tetons (fantastic) , made several photo stops and then right into Yellowstone (Old Faithful was en route so we stopped to see it), then on to the ranch. Although Old Faithful is popular to see, I would advise spending my time checking out other areas of the park. Most notably for us was a beautiful drive we did all the way up to Cooke City and back.
My husband and our friends have our own horses in Pennsylvania. We are avid trail riders. Although we love our riding in Pennsylvania, the beauty, vastness and wilderness of Montana is breathtaking. Having been a horse rider for over 45 years and having been to other riding ranches/venues, etc., we know the riding program at Nine Quarter Circle is top notch. The horses are well trained and well suited for their jobs. The trails are beautiful and even though I can be somewhat anxious on some of the steeper trails, I felt very assured on their wonderful horses (shout out to Duster and Cutthroat).
As you have probably read elsewhere about the ranch, you are paired up with a horse for the week that suits your abilities as a rider. The rides are broken up into beginner, intermediate and advanced. It is best to be honest and not overstate your abilities as the advanced rides go on more rugged terrain and may go at a faster pace. On our last visit, there were quite a few riders who graduated themselves from a beginner rider to an advanced towards the end of the week. That is quite impressive and probably not realistic for most – but not to worry, the wranglers will put riders where they should be! It is easy to understand this self-promotion because you do learn so much by spending so much time in the saddle, and the folks at Nine Quarter Circle have a way of making you feel like an authentic cowgirl/cowboy before you leave! You will most definitely feel accomplished by the end of the week no matter what skills you started with – a feeling worth taking home and one of the reasons so many of us return.
As adults we always enjoyed the daily happy hours with small appetizers and sodas – or whatever you brought to drink. At least one family member was always present to host - sometimes all those residing on the ranch. Their son Konnor, now a mature young man, jumped in with the hosting and we thoroughly enjoyed talking with him and also their daughter Kyleen. It is good to know that the western hospitality tradition of Nine Quarter Circle will continue thru to the next generation. Upon the ring of the dinner bell, happy hour is over and it is off to the dining lodge.
It was a smaller more intimate crowd the week we visited (July 1-8, 2012), but enough to make it interesting and fun. It was a nice mix of adults and families with children. The smaller clientele gave us an opportunity to spend more time getting to know one another (if you so desired) and more time talking to the owners themselves, Kelly and Kim Kelsey– who were so gracious and always interesting to converse with. Although I am sure they get asked the same questions over and over again, you would think it was the first time. No pretense with them, just good down to earth people, hard- working and sharing their incredible way of life while making you feel at home. We thoroughly enjoyed the many meals we got to share with them at their table.
Every lunch and dinner you will have the opportunity to sit with different guests at different tables, including at times dining with the Kelsey’s. It is another bit of the subtle magic of your visit - coming to this wonderful location, riding these wonderful horses, meeting all kinds of people from all walks of life – and during your daily meals - bonding over your shared experience. Chances are you may never see any of the other guests again, but I guarantee you, you’ll feel like you are saying goodbye to long lost friends (at least a few of them) when you leave! But if it is privacy you are craving, well there is plenty of time for that too. As in all things - it is what you make of it.
After dinner you can unwind in the lovely lodge room by the fireplace, play games, or go sit outside on the long porch in one of several wooden rockers and enjoy the view. Or, take a walk down to the fishing pond.
There was so many staff to consider when writing this, many of them just there for the summer - many of them young, eager and willing to participate in the many ranch events acting as kind ambassadors of Nine Quarter Circle Ranch every day, all day long. They do a great job. From the servers and maids to the head wrangler Jeff who could not be more customer service oriented in a cowboy kind of way – to his gracious wife Sarah, who runs the kitchen. And of course to the wonderful skillful wranglers – we so enjoyed our many fun rides with them and getting acquainted with these brave young people who come from all over the states. They have all grown up with horses being a part of their lives and it was fun to hear of their experiences and how they came to work at Nine Quarter Circle.
Did I mention the rooms? Was I in a room? Well, not much, but when I was it was mostly sleeping or taking a shower. And when I wasn’t so doggone tired from the day’s activities – sometimes it was lovely to read on our little porch watching the sunset, looking up at the mountains and the infinite big Montana sky with puffy clouds. The rooms are clean and sufficient, appropriately decorated in a rustic western style.
I can’t forget the darling little gift shop. I always have to buy t-shirts and sweatshirts with the Nine Quarter Circle logo. Also, love their deerskin riding gloves.
The unorganized and organized fun at the ranch was just that – wholesome FUN. Just a few to mention - my husband climbed Mt. Lincoln situated right across from the ranch for the first time on this trip and made it to his destination at the top of the mountain – “the mailbox”. On the fourth of July they had face painting for kids, a softball game for all and a cook out. On Friday late afternoon, they had a ride to a cook out on horseback – everyone participates. Saturday morning there was horseback riding games/competition called gymkhana - completed with small trophies presented at that evening’s dinner. It is all good natured fun. My favorite of course is the Saturday evening square dance. Even if you are not a dancer, my advice is to jump in and let your hair down. This is the culmination of the week’s experience - the staff, visitors, wranglers, children young and old, fit, unfit, all co-mingling and dancing together. Excluding the regulars i.e. hosts and staff, there are few experts here which makes it that much more confusing and funnier, and yes, that word again, FUN.
This is summer camp for all - uncomplicated, relaxing, person to person, the human touch in all things. Go back in time –wipe your slate clean – live in the moment – do your soul a favor and visit Nine Quarter Circle Ranch. We go for the riding, but we come back for the total experience.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Lifelong memories and familial bonds are just two of the amazing “side-effects” to an All-Inclusive Dude Ranch vacation. While the deep rest and relaxation rejuvenate you, the awesome scenery will feed your soul. The many activities and sports that you can enjoy will provide you with experiences and memories that last a lifetime! Finally, and most long-lasting, are the strengthened ties that your family will experience. Adjacent to Yellowstone Park and surrounded by millions of acres of National Forest and the Taylor-Hilgard wilderness area, our family-oriented vacations feature riding for all ages and all levels of horsemanship, blue-ribbon fly-fishing, incredible scenery and traditional hand-crafted log cabins and furnishings – all served with the West’s best hospitality! You may also enjoy hiking the area, viewing wildlife and wildflowers in abundance and you can even bring a bike to explore some awesome mountain trails! In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to engage in many other traditional activities such as campfire, hayrides, square dance and more! In addition to all of these benefits, our on-site fly-fishing guide, the children’s programs, meals, and much more are all included in your stay! These all combine to create a unique and ideal location for your vacation. Owned and operated by the Kelsey family for over 60 years, the Nine Quarter Circle is “magical”. Come and experience the place “where time stands still”. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Nine Quarter Circle Ranch Hotel Gallatin Gateway
- 9 Quarter Circle Ranch
- Nine Quarter Circle Hotel
- Nine Quarter Circle Ranch Montana/Gallatin Gateway