Today’s cowgirl getaways are worlds away from the ranch I grew up on part-time in Half Moon Bay in Northern California when I was a kid.
My great-aunt and -uncle didn’t offer horseback riding and yoga, Pilates, meditation, spas, or watercolor lessons (although we could have offered crochet and knitting, cheesemaking, and lassoing workshops). It was a working ranch in the hills above the Pacific Ocean where we milked goats, had a horse and two donkeys, chickens, and other animals. There was a nice creek that ran through the property along the road and pastures that led to forests filled with hiking trails into the mountains.
That was decades ago and worlds away from my life in San Francisco where I have lived since my early 20s. So, when my neighbor told me she was going on a weeklong vacation at a dude ranch in Montana, I was curious asking a lot of questions about why she wanted to hang out on a ranch for a week.
The answer was simple. The little girl in her hadn’t left but reemerged through her horseback riding lessons in Half Moon Bay, which is only about a 45-minute drive from the city.
She stayed on an all-women floor at the ranch, so she felt safe, she told me, and she had a lot of fun riding horses and getting dirty.
My neighbor isn’t the only one who wants to let her inner cowgirl escape from the city and find freedom on a ranch. She’s in the company of many women who head to the ranch and some ranches are responding in kind with special all-women packages to help them let their inner cowgirl out.
This spring there are there are several ranches ready to help women learn how to lasso, go on a leisurely ride, find inner peace or simply kick back and relax. Leading ranch vacations expert Gene Kilgore collected the best of this spring’s best all-cowgirl escapes, plus one added by Girls That Roam.
April 6-9 and April 9-13
Let your creativity run wild on the open planes on a two-ranch experience. Fill your days with yoga, sketching, watercolor lessons, and of course horseback riding and much more at the number-one rated historic Tombstone Monument and the White Stallion Ranch. Packages start at $3,220 per person.
The Hideout Lodge and Guest Ranch, Wyoming
Get ranch experience and yoga under the guidance of top clinician Tammy Pate at her Horsemanship and Yoga Retreat. Guests indulge in a few days of upscale riding, clinics, horsemanship and working cattle experience in the arena and on the range. Packages begin at $2,595.
Sundance Guest Ranch, British Colombia, Canada
The Spring Cowgirl Weekend caters to beginners to advanced horseback riders, square dancers, and wranglers at this all-inclusive spur girl weekend. Packages begin at $285 per person.
The Resort at Paws Up, Montana
Cowgirls will immerse themselves in ranch life during the Cowgirl Spring Roundup. Cowgirl Hall of Famers teach women the ropes in horsemanship workshops and on trail rides and cattle drives. After a hard day out on the ranch, women will get luxuriate at the ranches’ luxury Wilderness Estate. Gather up the girls, the resort can accommodate 60 cowgirls. Rates begin at $666 per night per solo guest.
The Sugar and Spice Ranch, Texas
This ranch offers two different types of women-only ranch experiences from the WOW (women-only weekend) to the two- and three-day mother-daughter ranch experiences. Both 3-day all-inclusive weekend packages are just like being back in summer camp where women or mothers and their daughters share a cabin and take two riding lessons a day, beginners to experienced riders are welcome. Spa treatments are available by request at an additional cost. The WOW weekends happen during the last weekend of the month April and May and again September through December. The mother-daughter weekends are available September through May every weekend. Packages for both weekends start at $575 per person.
C Lazy U Ranch, Colorado
Find your inner cowgirl on an awareness journey through yoga and horses at the Women’s Retreat with Cowgirl/Yogini Cathy Woods. Cathy teaches guests how to become more aware and conscious rider as well as yogic principles to be a horse trainer or riding instructor. Packages start at $395 per night per person.
Red Reflet Ranch, Wyoming
It’s all adventure for the girls at the Wild West Weekend. This all-girl weekend escape offers more than horseback riding, but there’s plenty of trail rides too. Girls will fly above the red rock canyon zip-lining, go ATVing, shoot like Annie Oakley, learn how to rope and relax with yoga, pilates, or a stream-side meditation. Packages start at $1,950.
Bar W Guest Ranch, Montana
Get your cowgirls skills on or simply relax in a hot tub surrounded by Montana’s vastness at the Cowgirl Up Week. At this ranch getaway, there’s no need to get dirty, you can simply kick back and experience a complimentary two-hour spa package and vintner’s presentation (there’s no need to get dirty if you don’t want to). Packages start at $2,084 per person (double rate).
Latigo Guest Ranch, Colorado
No horsing around at this ranch, serious cowgirls need only apply to hone your horsemanship and make new friends with genuine contemporary cowgirls of the West while riding through the Rockies at the Cowgirls and Working Women of the West getaway. Packages start at $2,900.
Bitterroot Ranch, Wyoming
Learn how to become a horse whisperer with Anna Twinney at her women-only Reach Out to Horses Clinic where guests learn how to communicate with horses using Reiki. Guests will learn how they form a communication system between rider and horse with each contact through their intentions, body language, energy and more. Packages start at $2,300.
“Ranching is a down to earth thing that helps us to reconnect with the natural rhythm of Mother Earth, not the frantic ways of modern day life,” explained best-selling author Gene said in the March 28 news release. “Ranch vacations offer one of the greatest vacation opportunities in the world today.”
Gene recently published the 11th edition of his popular guide, “Gene Kilgore Ranch Vacations 2018,” which describes more than 100 ranches offering vacations in the US and abroad, according to the release.
The guide has become the leading resource for those looking for a romantic getaway, multi-generational and family vacations, or beginner to advanced riding vacations.