Family ride at Arizona's White Stallion Guest Ranch

With over 80 years combined experience in the saddle, the Ranch Rider team has its hoof to the ground when it comes to the best riding holidays. So, where to hit the trail in 2018? From new cultural cowgirl getaways to award winning horseback safaris, the specialist has rounded up a list of the best equine escapes for the year ahead.

Tony Daly, managing director of Ranch Rider, comments, “2018’s “mane” attraction will be the Gem state. Idaho's Western Pleasure Guest Ranch will celebrate its centenary, and last month, The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) approved the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve - America's first dark sky reserve awarded “Gold Tier”* status."

“We also have some exciting new horseback adventures on offer, our new nine night escorted photography and riding safari in South Africa, including outrides in the the iSimangaliso Wetland Park - one of the jewels of country's coastline.”

9009234273?profile=original                                                                   Stargazing in Idaho (c) Idaho Tourism

Now one of only 12 in the world, The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) approved America’s first dark sky reserve on 18 December 2017, a total of 900,000 acres in central Idaho, blessed with such pristine skies that intricate interstellar dust clouds are visible in the Milky Way. With thousands already having flocked to Idaho for a glimpse of last year’s solar eclipse, 2018 is on course to be the Gem State’s year for stargazing - and with more than 80% of the world’s population living under light-polluted skies, astro-tourism is being tipped as the next big sustainable travel trend. Combine a starry seven night self-drive through central Idaho’s dark sky reserve covering Sun Valley and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (from £595pp, two sharing including accommodation and car hire) with a six night stay at the Western Pleasure Guest Ranch. Located in the state’s scenic Panhandle region, the fourth generation ranch featured in USA Today’s list of top 10 guest ranchs in America, and in 2018 guests can expect an even more memorable holiday, as the ranch will celebrate its centenary. Activities include trail riding, cattle work (from eight years), archery and trap shooting. Six nights on the ranch from £1,549pp (no single supplement) and from £1,180pp (six to 12 years) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activities, taxes and gratuities. Excludes car hire from £330 and return flight from £889pp. Departures 28 May to 30 September.


Teen team penning at Idaho's Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

With more women opting for adventure over pampering, the new Western Women’s Week at Colorado's Latigo Deluxe Guest Ranch is expected to book up quickly. Combining culture with a list of thrilling pursuits, guests will be able to glean insight from real western women - farriers, vets and contemporary cowgirls joining them for the six-night riding holiday. The special week includes, a breakfast ride, sunset ride, horse drawn covered wagon ride, fly-fishing lesson, all-day ride, cattle work, rifle, shotgun and single action revolver shooting, line dancing and live western music, guided hikes and instruction in whip cracking and tomahawk throwing. Departing 03 June. Ideal for the more adventurous, new rock climbing classes will be on offer to guests in throughout the ranch season (departures from June through September). Six nights from £2,435pp (no single supplement) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activities (including riding), use of ranch facilities, taxes and gratuities. Excludes rock climbing classes, car hire from £330 and return flight from £859pp.


Saddle up at Colorado's Latigo Deluxe Guest Ranch, with Dee, the ranch's farrier (horseshoer) for over three decades, Lindy their large animal vet, and their neighbours, the Taussig women cattle ranchers 

An authentic cattle ranch, depending on your date of travel, the activities at Kansas’ Flying W Ranch might include pasture rotation, feeding and doctoring cattle, while scenic rides, fishing, archery, cowboy polo, hiking and shooting are available throughout the season (June to September). In 2018, guests will be able to wish upon a star, as the working ranch is introducing optional stargazing rides in the Flint Hills - a go-to place for many photographers aiming to capture the constellations on camera. New optional two to four hour guided horseback adventures in the 11,000 acre Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve (the only tallgrass prairie within the America’s National Park System) will also be available. Stargazing rides (departing September 14th, September 15th, October 12th and October 13th). Tallgrass Prairie departures to be announced. Seven nights from £1,734pp (no single supplement) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activities and taxes. Excludes transfers, £185 per group return from Wichita, gratuities, optional stargazing and Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve rides and return flight from £859pp.

9009235498?profile=original                                 Saddle up across Kansas' Tallgrass Prairie on your stay at the Flying W Working Ranch

Arizona made Lonely Planet’s top ten list of best value destinations for 2018 and with seven nights at Tucson's White Stallion priced from only £1,135pp (two sharing) and from £925pp (four to 11 years), riding holidays at the guest ranch will be a steal for families travelling over the main summer holidays. While temperatures can soar into the late 30s Fahrenheit during July and August, the ranch boasts an outdoor pool complete with spectacular mountain views and plenty of shady spots where you can escape the heat.  The Saguaro National Park was highlighted by the guidebook publisher, and families are welcome on the ranch’s guided Petroglyph Hike - guests visiting the park and learning about ancient forms of communication and the Hohokam Indians, who inhabited the area from 250 through 1450 A.D. Year-round departures. Seven night ranch stays include accommodation, meals, most ranch activities, taxes, transfers and gratuities. Excludes return flight from £879pp.


Magical rides through the flowering cacti at Arizona's White Stallion Guest Ranch

Also located in Arizona, Sasabe’s historic Rancho de la Osa is introducing a new herd of purebred Criollo cattle - cattle drives and team penning now additional pursuits at the ranch. Launching this year, the Cowgirl and Cowboy Yoga and Horseback Riding Retreat (departing 09 March, 2018), includes horse riding, meditation, and Vinyasa yoga practice. A chance for guests to explore their creative side - a “pop up” open art studio will be available over the course of the four night stay. Price on request. Seven night stays from £1,469pp (two sharing) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activities, taxes transfers and gratuities. Year round departures. Excludes return flight from £879pp.


Cowgirl and Cowboy Yoga and Horseback Riding Retreat at Arizona's Rancho de la Osa

Utah is about to become a bucket list state for set-jetters, as this spring series two of Westworld will return to our screens - the hit HBO show partly filmed in Castle Valley, near the town of Moab. Ranch Rider offers add on white water rafting holidays starting in Moab - the town already a popular destination for Wild West fans because of its proximity to Canyonlands and the Arches National Park. Make a splash on the Cataract Canyon Favourite (a popular extension for guests who book ranch stays in Colorado), the four day expedition including some sensational thrills varying from grade three to grade five rapids along the 100-mile spectacular run through Cataract Canyon National Park. From £1,039pp (two sharing) including camping accommodation, guided rafting and hiking, all meals, transfers (from Moab), scenic return flight over Canyonlands NP and shuttle to Moab. Departing 09 April to 15 October. Three night stay in Moab from £207pp (two sharing) accommodation only.



Western film territory: Devils Garden, Arches National Park, Utah

Colorado’s Zapata Cattle & Bison Ranch will launch a Bison & Wildlife Photography Workshop in July, the five-night holiday hosted by award-winning nature and wildlife photographer Jason Savage. A fantastic opportunity for amateur shutterbugs, Jason’s work has already been featured in National Geographic Traveler, Time, Outside and Outdoor Photographer. Guests will explore the San Luis Valley, the unique landscape home to a 2,500 strong herd of wild bison, elk, coyotes, deer, cattle and many resident migrating birds. Group and one-to-one instruction, early morning sessions in the field, afternoon classroom time, and evening tuition on photographing the golden light in the valley are included in the cost of the holiday. Classroom sessions will cover digital workflow, post processing, and lessons in professional editing. Ranch Rider expect Colorado to be a firm favourite with travellers, as United Airlines will launch a new non-stop route from London Heathrow to Denver in March 2018. Five nights from £2,649pp (no single supplement) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activities (including riding), photography instruction, use of ranch facilities, taxes and gratuities. Departing 22 July. Excludes transfers £65e/w per vehicle from Alamosa Airport (up to seven pax) and return flight from £945pp.


2,500-strong wild bison herd at Colorado's Zapata Cattle & Bison Ranch (c) Stephen Weaver

Ranch Rider is also expecting British Columbia to be popular with travellers. Air Canada is increasing its service from Heathrow to Vancouver with an additional non-stop daily flight for summer 2018 - many of the tour operator’s properties including, the Sundance Guest Ranch, Echo Valley Ranch & Spa and the Siwash Lake Luxury Guest Ranch only a three- to five-hour drive from the Vancouver International Airport. Further afield, the award winning Three Bars Guest Ranch will be even more accessible, with new flights from Calgary to Cranbrook available through budget carrier Westjet from March, 2018. The ranch is also adding three new cabins to the property including two king suites and a family cabin. Six nights from £1,619pp (two sharing) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activities, taxes and gratuities. Excludes car hire from £336 and return flight from £899pp.


          Book your holiday at BC's award-winning Three Bars Guest Ranch this summer & stay in their new family cabin

In September 2017, the Historic Reesor Ranch became the first ranch in Saskatchewan to be designated as a Provincial Heritage Property - the awards playing an integral role in the conservation and protection of the province’s heritage. 

Tony Daly comments, “The riding holidays here reflect the history and heritage of cattle ranching in the Cypress Hills, where five generations have lived and worked. Spanning over 100 years, many of the main buildings, erected between 1906 and 1916, display their original construction and functionality, and even today little has changed in the way of activities, cattle drives, riding fence lines and checking cattle on horseback all part of the seven night stay. A truly authentic ranch experience, even the surrounding landscape is home to living history - ancient Indian legends and noteworthy sites scattered across the terrain.”
Seven nights from £1,126pp (no single supplement) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activities and taxes. Excludes car hire from £336, gratuities and return flight from £989pp.



Herding the cattle at Saskatchewan's Historic Reesor Ranch - now a Provincial Heritage Property

All the more reason to ride in the Rainbow Nation, South Africa made Lonely Planet’s list of best countries to visit in 2018, and Horizon Horseback Adventures, the outfit offering lodge and tented stays in the malaria free Waterberg region, claimed the title of best riding safari in South Africa at the recent Safari Awards. Six nights at Horizon from £940pp (two sharing) and from £915pp (five to 16 years) including accommodation, meals, drinks, ranch activities, game drives, use of ranch facilities and taxes. Excludes return flight from £879pp.


Let your tweens and teens mingle with the herd at Horizon Horseback Adventures in South Africa

Also based in South Africa, the five star Pakamisa Luxury Lodge is introducing a new nine-night escorted photography & horse riding safari, the bush and beach adventure including a five night stay the Pakamisa in Pongola, two nights at Thanda Safari (multiple winner of World's Leading Luxury Lodge) in Hluhluwe and two nights at the Maputaland Guesthouse in St Lucia. The itinerary features outrides in the Pakamisa Private Game Reserve and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, guided Big Five game drives and a photography session with well-known wildlife photographer, Christian Sperka, at Thanda, and a scenic boat cruise on the river estuary at St Lucia. Departing 07 April and 15 September. From £1,725pp (two sharing) including accommodation, most meals, all riding and activities. Excludes all beverages, personal expenses, gratuities and return flight from £879pp. Intermediate level riding experience required.

9009238663?profile=originalSaddle up for the new nine-night escorted photography & horse riding safari at Pakamisa Luxury Lodge in South Africa

Ranch Rider (01509 618 811) ATOL PROTECTED No 4660 ABTA 96395/V9150. The tour operator’s complete collection includes handpicked riding holidays in America, Canada, Argentina, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania. To order a copy of the 2018 brochure, please email info@ranchrider.com.

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