Let's be clear, I hate when people write reviews that are way over the top. There was one here that said, "my kids were crying as we left the ranch." When I was researching ranches I was rolling my eyes at this review. As I left Tumbling River Ranch, I was apologizing to the reviewer. My review of Tumbling River Ranch is this, if you know you want to do a vacation like this, this is an amazing place to do it.
There were nine in our group, two families who are close friends. We wanted a ranch that 1)was not too difficult to access whether we drove or flew 2) one with lots of riding but a lot of other activities as well 3) one that had clean, nice accommodations 4) one that had activities at night 5) one that had good food and could accommodate a vegetarian 6) one that gave us choices on our schedule and maybe had a pool. We wanted this (and yes there was a lot more on our list!) at a price that was within our budget. We spent a few months researching and comparing ranches in different parts of the western U.S. After TTR made our final list I called the ranch. I spoke to Megan, one of the owners of the ranch, and asked her tons of picky questions. She was so nice and I knew when I hung up we were in. I wanted to hug her when we finally met face to face at the ranch. I had called and emailed so many times I felt like I was reuniting with an old friend!
Our Trip: We settled on the Fourth of July week for our trip. (Whenever you go, book early. We booked our trip in November the fall before and several cabins were already booked.) At the ranch, we spent a lot of time riding and loved our wranglers. Dave reminded us of the curmudgeon from City Slickers. We were all scared of him the first day and grew to love him very quickly. Jake took great care of my son when he was under the weather. Kelsey was so interesting and helpful. We had a great time with Will and Josiah entertained us the entire week especially on the overnight! Our horses were all good, all matched to us. We all are much better riders after this week and thoroughly enjoyed this part of the trip. With the aid of the kitchen staff (thanks ladies!) we were able to bring them carrots and apples. We also enjoyed trap shooting, archery, rock climbing, hiking and fly fishing in addition to all the riding. There was still plenty of time to enjoy the pool and even get some laundry done. The schedule is well planned with time put in to shower, nap, wander the ranch or whatever else you choose to do.
Independence Day: As I said earlier we were there over the 4th of July. In some ways this was the highlight of the week. Sure the hootnannie and the square dance were loads of fun--I wouldn't trade either of them--but the 4th of July was special. The staff at TRR did an amazing job of getting everyone involved. They built up the team spirit, the spirit of competition and the excitement. I think they were as excited about it as we were! We were divided into two teams, Blue and Red. Our families were divided down the middle which really spurred us on. At breakfast someone would talk about the day and someone else would shout "Go Blue" or "Go Red!" Many of us wore bandannas to show our team spirit all week. At the event, there are lots of "old fashioned" Fourth of July games where Red vs Blue. The staff and the Dugan family are mixed up on the teams too. Everyone wore their colors and cheered for people on their team who were strangers only days before. There was a lot of silliness and pranks that led up to the actual event. Crazy fun. Events ranged from horse shoes to gaga ball to water balloon toss and three legged race. It all ended with a Tug-o-war across a creek! There was something for everyone. Everyone cheered on their team mates on throughout the competition. In some ways I wish this had been later in the week--the build up was fun. But I guess if you go in the future that may work out for you. I'm sure other weeks are great but the 4th of July was spectacular.
Cabins: When we were booking, Megan suggested our families would like the Chalet cabin. Our family of 5 were in the Lower Chalet and our friends (family of 4) were in the Upper Chalet. Our space was totally separate, both had 2 baths, two bedrooms with plenty of space for our crews, but part of the same building. We were in the center of the ranch but never felt like things were too chaotic. There was never a smell from the stables even though we weren't too far from the corral. We had our own fireplaces and sometimes would set a quick fire to heat up our room. It was cleaned every day and only once ran short on hot water. We loved our cabin. We planned on no WiFi for the week (counted on it actually--told the kids there was none!) but were able to sporadically get emails and texts. Everyone else I talked to at the ranch seemed to feel the same way about their cabins. I don't think there is a "bad" one but the Pueblo House is a little walk. It is perfect for a bigger group wanting their own space though. There was a family celebrating their 50th anniversary with extended family the week we were there.
The Food: Don't worry about the food. It is great and TRR does a pretty good job of making each meal seem different. There are many held in other places (the pool, out on a trail, up in high camp, in a meadow called Fajita (guess what they have?) and at the Pueblo House.) Some meals are just for the kids or just for the parents. There is more beef then we usually eat, excellent desserts and fruits and vegetables. My husband loved that they served bison (maybe 2x) and my boys enjoyed the teen meals. The vegetarian meals were available but they were hit or miss. The fish was good (we did not get to eat our catch, someone else ate it!) but I also had PB&J and one meal a potato. I think sometimes they just forgot. There was a form to fill out before you go but your server might need reminding.(They were always super nice about it and brought me something ASAP!) I certainly never went hungry and everything I ate was very good. We all gained several pounds.
Teen program: I have three teenage boys, my friends have two teenage girls. We weren't sure how the ranch was going to work out for them. Thanks to Evan, Alysha, Fin, Lanie, and the teen program they are all now deeply missing the ranch. Evan was the teen counselor and he went where they went. When most of the teenagers at the ranch (about 10) went on the overnight trip, he went too. He entertained on them the long ride with silly games, riddles and challenges along the way. There was an extended card game for them at high camp. There were hikes and teen dinners throughout the week. Our teens would meet up at the pool in the evening while we were visiting with other adults. I was shocked when my 16 year old said, "The square dance was awesome! One of the highlights of the week!" I didn't think any of them would even get on the dance floor! By the end of the week, the teenagers were all sitting at a table at dinner leaving the parents to sit with other parents. We made some great friends!
In summary: My husband and I went to a ranch in 1997. That ranch is no longer a guest ranch but is in private ownership. I dreamed one day I would take my family back and show them that amazing place. When I told Megan this over the phone she mentioned the ranch and happened to know the former owners. She told me how much TRR had in common with that ranch. The staff, the scenery, the treatment of the guests, the treatment of the horses, the wide range of things to do but most importantly were the intangibles. Hard to put things like family bonding, making new friends, the feeling of accomplishment and belonging into sales brochures. The Dugan family and their wonderful staff (sorry to so many I did not mention!) make this possible. Thanks to you all; we hope to be back again soon! Go Red!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC