Do you like westerns? Do you love adventure stories that feature the great outdoors, roaming horses, and all the campfire grub you can eat? Why read or watch these stories when you can be in one? Guest ranches across Alberta give you that old Wild West experience. Here are a few of them:
Old Entrance B ’n B Cabins
For 22 years Old Entrance has delighted guests with its stunning location, unique accommodations, and range of activities. Situated along the Athabasca River and just 30 kilometres from the east gate of Jasper National Park, this historic location served as a post office, general store, and “meals and beds” stop along the rail line.
Today the 60 acre property and adjacent crown lands offer bird watching, hiking, mountain biking, and horse trails. Wildlife abounds, and the lack of light pollution makes for excellent stargazing at night. The Athabasca river teems with fish and the beautiful landscape is a haven for nature photographers.
Accommodations include cabins, a guest suite, teepees, and campsites.
The Barn at M&M Ranch
Located 13 kilometres south of Bragg Creek, Moose Mountain Horseback Adventures (M&M Ranch) is ideal for anyone looking to enjoy trail riding on gentle, well-trained horses. With day rides, trail rides, vacation packages, ranch stays, and riding lessons, it’s the perfect destination for both experienced and novice riders. Enjoy the ranch year-round; winter trail rides and sleigh rides are available when the snow flies.
Accommodations at M&M Ranch include The Barn, which features five rooms with space for eight guests. The bedrooms share two full bathrooms. The Barn’s bright and open common area overlooks the horse pasture. Dine indoors at the custom 16-seat table, or outdoors around the fire pit.
You’ll enjoy the slower, more relaxed pace of life as The Barn has no television and limited cellphone reception (free satellite WiFi and a phone for local calls is provided).
Red Lodge Guest Ranch
The Bradshaw ranch was homesteaded in 1905 and has remained in the family ever since. The Red Lodge Guest Ranch on the property has run for more than 25 years, hosting guests from around the world. This is a working cattle and horse ranch, where guests are invited to saddle up and join in the farm work, take an equine communication course, gather for a family or corporate event, or just enjoy a quiet getaway in a beautiful country setting.
Red Lodge Guest Ranch is located in Red Deer County. A variety of cabins (17 in total) accommodate groups of three to eight guests. Cabins include heat and power. A separate washroom facility is on site, as is a restaurant and meeting hall.
Bar Diamond Guest Ranch
On a sprawling 34,000 acres in Bindloss, Alta., sits Bar Diamond Guest Ranch where “the nearest neon is a five-day ride on a good horse.” If you’ve been looking for a true rural ranch adventure, this is it!
Guests at Bar Diamond enjoy a three-day experience and a piece of history. Bar Dimond is the only twin medicine wheel site in North America and is an important Blackfoot spiritual location. Your adventure begins with settling into the lodge. Then comes a tour of the property that includes a visit to the medicine wheels and other important artifacts and sites of historical significance. Day 2 is when you get to explore the local communities, including a Hutterite colony. On your final day, relax along the river and take in the healing power of nature.
More to explore
These are just four of the many guest ranches you can enjoy across Alberta. Many operate year-round so you can have the perfect getaway in the summer, winter, spring, or fall.
Nerissa McNaughton is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Great West Newspapers. This story was funded by the Facebook Journalism Project Supporting Local News Coverage of COVID-19 Program via the Local Media Foundation.