Type of horses:
Quarter horses, Mustangs, Arabs, Percherons, Appaloosas and Welsh ponies.
Nature of horses:
Horses to suit everyone from calm and quiet to more forward going. All are sure-footed and well suited to their work.
Height of horses:
14hh - 17hh (most are around 14hh - just under 16hh but a few Percherons are larger)
Western for trail riding (unless a very experienced rider) and English for XC and lessons if desired.
This family run working ranch, set in a remote valley bordering Shoshone National Forest, offers 50 square miles of unspoilt mountainous wilderness. Near to Yellowstone Park and with snow-capped mountains always in view, the ranch provides a variety of riding opportunities including tuition with certified instructors, a cross country course, team sorting, herding cows, cattle drives, roundups, pack trips and trail rides. The Fox family have been running this operation for more than 30 years and provide a relaxed and friendly holiday atmosphere for their guests.
Although a dude ranch offering traditional cabin accommodation and real cowboy experiences, this destination is less typical than most due to its suitability for a riding holiday and the staff's passion for horses. Quality riding is the aim of the game and the hosts are especially proud of their stunning purebred Arabians, many of which are trained and raised on the ranch. These make up part of the 135 horse herd which also contains Quarter Horses, Mustangs, Appaloosas, Percherons and Welsh ponies. There certainly is a horse for everyone! As a family farm the ranch is also home to sheep, llamas, ducks, geese, chickens, peacocks, dogs and cats.
There is a wonderful family ambience on the ranch as the Fox family join their guests at meal times and lead many of the rides personally. The owner, Bayard, also enjoys joining his guests for some fly fishing, another favourite sport at the ranch. The cuisine here is of high standard and features ranch-raised beef and lamb, homegrown salads and freshly baked breads, with delicious wine to complement it. After enjoying a meal with newfound friends, guests retire to their individual log cabins which are located along the river and offer spectacular views.
Accommodation is in a series of traditional style cabins, all of which have been modernised over the 40 years that Bitterroot has been a dude ranch. All the cabins feature electric heating and showers, some also having wood burning stoves and most being equipped with bathtubs. There are a variety of sleeping arrangements available within the cabins and they are designed with authenticity in mind, keeping the rustic charm of a the bygone cowboy era. The main lodge (where guests gather for meals and to socialise in evenings) features a large stone fireplace and broad porch, the perfect setting in which to enjoy your ranch experience and to talk with new friends.
Good food is seen as an important part of life on the ranch and salads are picked fresh from the garden, bread is baked in the kitchen ovens and the beef and lamb are ranch-raised to ensure their quality. Below are some examples of meals, yum!
Breakfast: Eggs cooked to order, bacon, sausages and toast. Also on offer is fresh fruit, muffins, cereal, orange juice and traditional steel cut oats which are cooked overnight (a house favourite).
- Rainbow, Cutthroat or Brown Trout, (fresh from the line of Bayard or his guests!) baked in White Wine, Almonds and Parsley
- Sun Dried Tomato, Feta and Thyme Quiche
- Organic Home Reared Beef Bolognese, with Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
- Roast Butternut Squash Soup with Home Baked Olive Rosemary Bread
- Organic Home Grown Green Salad with Arugula, Beet Leaves and Frisee Lettuce
- Twice Baked Cheddar Soufflé
- Vanilla Ice Cream with Fresh Strawberry Sauce and Lemon Hazelnut Biscotti.
- Fresh Mango Syllabub
- Organic Home Reared Natural Beef Fillet with Rosemary and Garlic Roast Potatoes, Fresh Vegetables and a Red Wine Jus
- Stuffed Pumpkin with Wild Rice and Mushroom Risotto
- Spinach, Pear and Stilton Salad with Raspberry Walnut Dressing
- Honey Baked Ham with Cheese and Parsley Baked Potatoes and Sugar Glazed Carrots
- Organic Home Reared Natural Lamb Chops with Roast Vegetables and Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Seared Fillet of Salmon with Lemon Dill Hollandaise, Steamed Asparagus and Braised Portobello Mushrooms
- Belgian Chocolate Pots
- Fresh Raspberry and Blueberry Millefeuille
- Sticky Toffee Pudding and English Custard
The second biggest passion at the ranch (after the riding of course) is fly fishing. There are wonderful opportunities here to fly fish for trout in the ranch's private stream and stocked pond, as well as in neighbouring lakes and rivers.
The East Fork Wind River runs through the ranch lands for over a mile and is home to many Cutthroat trout between 8 and 14 inches long, some having been caught as big as 20 inches. There are also excellent gorges and two ponds which house rainbow trout of up to 5Ibs. Your host has caught trout up to 10lbs and as well as the Cutthroat and Rainbow trout, Brown and Brook trout are also living in local waters.
Hiking in the area is top notch and destinations include a former hideout of Butch Cassidy from the 1890s and visits to the cedar sheep traps made by the Sheep Eater Indians 150 years ago. Other hiking opportunities include trails to old Indian campsites, a trip to Castle Rock and even the chance to see the petrified bones of a coryphodon, a mammal which roamed the lands 45-60 million years ago.
There is a variety of wild flowers and trees on the ranch, the most notable of course being the Bitterroot after which the ranch is named. This is a nutritious root which was prized by the Indians who dried and stored them over winter. The roots were too bitter for Europeans! Guests can also see Evening Primroses, Larkspurs, Mountain Bluebells, Cushions Flox, Mountain Strawberries, Lance Leaf Stonecrop, Lupines and Indian Paintbrushes. Some of the stunning trees and shrubs which add to the ranch's beauty are Quaking Aspen, Cottonwood, Rocky Mountain Juniper, Limber Pine, Engelman Spruce, Sagebrush, Willow and Silverberry. These plants and the other fascinating wildlife of the area make Bitterroot a beautiful environment in which to enjoy some top class riding or fishing.
Health requirements: Fit & Healthy
Age limit: None for guests, riders must be 4+ (there are some lovely Welsh ponies for older children riders)
Tuition: Yes, depending on the programme.
Included: Accommodation, all meals, daily riding (except Sunday) and fishing.
Not included: Flights, travel insurance, transfers.
You should ideally fly to Riverton (Wyoming) or Jackson Hole. We can suggest transport companies to transfer you to the ranch.
Alternative Airport: Jackson
This memorable ranch stay incorporates a variety of riding activities from daily trail rides, cattle work, tuition and the chance to experience their cross country course. The ranch has a wonderful herd of horses with a mix of breeds and they raise their own sensible, friendly, purebred Arabs which are a special pleasure to ride. Guests stay in traditional cabin accommodation and are fed exquisite food, much of which is ranch grown or freshly made.
A typical week at Bitterroot begins with a short demonstration of riding techniques and then guests are evaluated for their riding style and ability. There is a broad selection of horses and the hosts will match horse and rider carefully to ensure safety and maximum enjoyment. Experienced guides lead out small groups (which are divided by ability) for 2-3 hour morning and afternoon rides.
On Tuesday and Thursday mornings there are video taped lessons available for anyone wanting to improve their riding. The cross country course is available for experienced riders who will first be assessed in a school to check that they will not interfere with their horse's jumping ability. Friday afternoons bring friendly team sorting competitions which introduce guests to cattle work. Saturday is a final all day picnic ride. During July, August and September this often involves moving cattle to different parts of the grazing in the National Forest.
|Minimum group size:||1|
|Maximum group size:||12|
|Ability description:||Beginner - Experienced (Riding groups are divided by ability)|
|Type of ride:||Based stay|
|Total riding time:||Approx 4 - 6 hours a day|
|Departure dates:||2017: 21st May - 21st October Ranch stays are Sunday to Sunday|
Prices are per person, per week (7 nights), based on double room occupancy. They include all accommodation, meals, wine with dinner and some soft drinks, daily riding (except Sundays) and fishing. We have also included the compulsory 10% service charge which covers all gratuities and taxes.
£2142 per person sharing
Children 4 - 15: 25% discount
Children under 4yrs, non-riding nanny: £257
Non rider: £1285
Single supplement: £257
Half week stay (4 nights, 3 days riding): £1285
Half week single supplement: £154
The Bitterroot cattle graze on the adjacent national forest land from July to October. Guests who ride well enough can help the cowboys with the challenging work of herding the cows into the mountains the first week of July and rounding them up again the last week of September. The cattle are spread out over fifty square miles of high mountains, forests, clearings and river valleys so that riders are often off the beaten path in country where one encounters wild game like elk, deer, moose, and grizzly bear.
During both weeks guests will return to their cabins each night and have breakfast and dinner in the main lodge. Most days lunches will be along the trail. All cabins have their own private baths and electric heat. Riders participate in the routine of a working cowboy gathering scattered herds, driving them to and from summer pasture, and sorting animals. This work is varied and unpredictable but requires long hours in the saddle. Please note that weather, unexpected movements of cattle or Forest Service instruction could change plans.
Arrive at Bitterroot Ranch in the afternoon. Meet your fellow riders. Dinner and overnight.
Start the day with orientation and an evaluation of riders before enjoying a short morning trail ride. In the afternoon guests are encouraged to participate in team sorting in the arena. This helps riders become acquainted with some of the techniques used in cattle drives.
Today's ride will cover the Castle Rock section of the allotment. Castle Rock will be towering above all day. Far across the valley riders will see the perpetually snowcapped Wind River Mountains forming the Continental Divide. Stop to enjoy a saddle bag lunch. The elevation today will be over 9,000 ft. with riding through forests and open meadows rounding up any strays.
Take a picnic lunch and go looking for cows in the East Fork Basin area of the national forest above the ranch. They could be anywhere in this area of about 15 square miles. The terrain is comprised of the wide, grass covered valley of the East Fork Basin as well as forests hiding many large and small clearings which must be checked. Riding will be at 8,500 to 10,000 ft. elevation.
Once again take a picnic lunch. Head up to the East Fork Basin and gather the main herd of about 185 mother cows with their calves and drive them back to the ranch.
The morning will be spent gathering, loading and shipping cows. In the afternoon ride to the east of the ranch.
Back ride over the Alkali section looking for any strays missed in the gather.
Departure after breakfast.
|Minimum group size:||1|
|Maximum group size:||18|
|Ability description:||Intermediate - Experienced. This programme involves mostly slow riding but the terrain is sometimes challenging and long hours are spent in the saddle.|
|Type of ride:||Cattle drive|
|Total riding time:||6 - 7 hours per day (6 riding days)|
|Departure dates:||2017: 24th September - 1st October|
£2142 per person, based on double room occupancy. This includes all accommodation, food, some drinks, riding and a compulsory service charge (which covers all gratuities and taxes).
£257 single supplement
Price does not include flights, transfers or travel insurance.