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Junior's guide to exciting ranches

A horseback ride exploring Navajo culture, a raft down the Vallecito Lake...a Wild West holiday is a winning family holiday idea

Posted: 16 August 2011
by Junior

Horse riding, ranches and farm stays will ensure a steady supply of fresh air and exercise, and plenty of fun along the way. The US, home of the genuine ranch experience, offers the Cowboys & Indians Discovery holiday for all the family with American Adventures. On this activity-filled trip you explore unique landscapes in Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon National Park. In Zion, you can hire bikes and visit the ghost town where Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid was filmed, hike to the Emerald Pools or try river tubing. At Bryce Canyon, take an unforgettable journey into the heart of Navajo culture on horseback and see the daunting sandstone masterpieces. Tuck into some typical western chow before retiring to the lodge or one of the rustic log cabins.

Follow this with a Navajo-guided hike and jeep tour of Monument Valley with its sandstone masterpieces – an unforgettable journey into the heart of Navajo culture and history. The trip is topped off with a visit to one of the world’s greatest natural wonders – the Grand Canyon. The price is £1,159 per person for nine nights staying in lodges, including flights. 

Ranch Rider takes the whole family back to nature at the Colorado Trails with three children’s programmes: Buckaroos, Rough Riders and Teens. Horseback rides, nature hikes, rafting and power tubing down the Vallecito Lake are just some of the inclusive activities, and there’s even an overnight camp-out for Brave Buckaroos and older ones. Families can saddle up together on breakfast rides or enjoy the Western Town, which resembles a local outpost from days of yore. The makeshift settlement includes a soda fountain, trading store, opera house and a children-only gathering place. Nestled in the San Juan National Forest, each cabin has a private bath and a porch with breathtaking views over South West Colorado. Seven nights with Ranch Rider costs from £1,392 per person and £1,155 for children aged five to 12 years, including full board, ranch-based riding, children’s programmes and activities. Flights from £565 per person.

Closer to home, and less harsh on your purse, farm stays in the West Country will enchant your children. Helpful Holidays offers a range of Devon farm cottages. Stay near Honiton in East Devon and help out on the environmentally-friendly, 135-acre working farm, which is home to Devon cattle, chickens, horses and sheep. The former stone barn has been made into two cottages, priced from £330 for a week. Or rent a cottage (Glynn Barton Cottages, from £519 per week, are 15 miles away) near Cornwall’s Dairyland Farmworld where townies can get a better understanding of the country and farm living. There’s a milking parlour, where 120 cows are milked daily, a pat-a-pet section and pony rides.

For more exotic equestrian options, Real Holidays offers La Casella, a sprawling 200-acre, luxury country hotel estate in Umbria, Italy. It’s also an equestrian centre with a Riding School set beside a verdant hillside. Young bucks aged four to ten can enrol in a Pony Club, while all jockeys can trot off on night-time rides, departing at sunset for a candlelit dinner in the nearby forest. A week’s full board costs from £834 per person, including two paddock lessons, two half-day country rides and a night-time ride.  

Check out Junior's article A Wild West adventure in Austria in our Europe section.

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Cowboys and Indians Discovery, Colorado Trails, Devon farm, Cornwall, Dairyland Farmworld, La Casella, Umbria, Italy, children

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