BC’s Best Guest Ranches

Saddle up and ride on over to one of these top BC guest ranches for a true taste of western-style living

Craving a bit of the down-home lifestyle, where time is measured at a clip-clop pace, and campfire tales include characters with names like Buck and Rusty? Then you’ll want to hang your hat at one of these BC guest ranches

Step into the stirrups of adventure for a taste of BC's wide open spaces at one of BC's guest ranches.

If you relate more to Billy Crystal in City Slickers than Robert Redford's Butch Cassidy or The Horse Whisperer, but you dream of riding the open range on your trusty steed, penning cattle, gold panning, or making cowboy coffee, read on — you'll feel home-on-the-range hospitality at these six BC guest ranches.

Chilcotin Holidays, Gold Bridge

Saddle up on sure-footed mountain cayuse horses at Chilcotin Holidays, where you'll ride in South Chilcotin Mountains Park and Big Creek Park.

Unique activities are plentiful: grizzly viewing, "hands-on" horse logging and horse shoeing/packing, bareback lessons, target practice, gold panning, and fly fishing lessons, just to name a few.

Trips are customized with a combination of experiences: four-day guest ranch adventure followed by four-day horse pack trip; a one week wilderness guide training course followed by seven-day horse pack trip; or a four-day ranch hike followed by four-day camp hike.

Guide-to-guest ratio is among the highest in the industry. All-inclusive packages include accommodation, guides, and healthy meals; think candied salmon, barbecued ribs, and chick pea and spinach salad.

Crystal Waters Guest Ranch, Bridge Lake

Among the rolling hills of BC's Cariboo Chilcotin, in a scenic valley of lakes, meadows, wetlands and forests lies Crystal Waters Guest Ranch on the shores of Crystal Lake. This year-round working guest ranch also breeds quarter horses. Guests join in the round-ups and discover the skills it takes to be a cattle rancher.

Tuck into your cozy log cabin, wake to the sound of loons, enjoy a western breakfast buffet, and then set out for a day on the water or the trail. From paints to palominos there are over 20 horses to choose from; wranglers customize rides to accommodate abilities and length of trail time.

Explore deep canyons, volcanic cones, brooding old-growth forests and raging white-water rivers at Wells Grey Park, or participate in trophy fly fishing, horseshoes, volley ball, and more.

Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, Jesmond

Wilderness meets luxury at Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, a sanctuary of first-class accommodations (two lodges and private cabins) set among 160 acres. You'll enjoy healthy gourmet food, spa services, and outdoor recreation which includes hiking the 7,400-foot-high Mount Bowman or taking a 4×4 safari through the Fraser Canyon.

World-class spa treatments (Western-style and traditional Thai) can be uniquely combined with river rafting, fly-in fishing, and horseback riding.

Choose from 40 horses (including Tennessee Walkers), for a ride with guided, experienced wranglers catering to all riding levels. Learn how to groom and saddle a horse, take lessons in the outdoor riding arena, and enjoy trails; advanced riders may pack a lunch and ride the range all day.

Siwash Lake Guest Ranch, 70 Mile House

A cross between a genuine working ranch, luxury dude ranch, and boutique wilderness resort, Siwash Lake Guest Ranch is where informative mentoring and hands-on horsemanship are second to none.

Roam across 80,000 acres of pristine rangeland atop your hand-picked steady mount. After Synergies with Horses™ (its unique natural western horsemanship program) is introduced, explore SLR's most favoured riding routes. Rejuvenate at its frontier-style, luxury spa among sky-kissing aspens, the ideal calm and tranquil healing grounds for holistic treatments (Swedish, Japanese, hot stone, and aromatherapy) with natural products — guaranteed to soothe your saddle-weary muscles.

Ranch House Suites, Cariboo Suite, and ultra-private Canvas Cabins (luxury tent suites on the ridge) overlook Siwash Lake for a soul-pleasing blend of the rustic and the refined.

Sundance Guest Ranch, Ashcroft

Sundance Guest Ranch's over 100 happy, well-cared-for horses and thousands of acres of varied terrain are located in the warmest, sunniest spot in Canada, with sweeping, panoramic views of the Thompson River Valley.

Mount up for a two- to 2.5-hour morning, afternoon (unless the pool beckons) or sometimes evening (perfect for when the mercury soars) trail ride, accompanied by an experienced wrangler and a beginner, intermediate or advanced group.

When your appetite calls — so do they: "Come an' get it!" Black Angus burgers and charcoal-grilled New Yorks await (not to mention their famous ranch breakfasts, too). The adult lounge is the centre of the ranch and opens onto a large deck where you can cut the dust at the end of the day and swap stories with your fellow riders.

Amenities include: street hockey court, horseshoe pitch, games room, movie lounge and more. A certified massage therapist is on call.

Three Bars Cattle and Guest Ranch, Cranbrook

On 14,000 hectares in the heart of the Kootenay Rockies and arranged around a large manicured lawn is Three Bars Cattle and Guest Ranch, a world-class resort-style working BC cattle ranch, horse training facility and upscale log cabin accommodations.

Specializing in three- to six-night all-inclusive ranch packages (including meals, all ranch activities, and unlimited horseback riding), you'll be paired with one of over 110 horses to suit your individual ability and experience level, whether you're an old hand or one who needs a little hand.

There's over 75,000 acres to explore, and your time spent in the saddle is up to you; indoor riding arena, indoor heated pool, outdoor hot tub, high-end mountain bikes, fully equipped fitness facility, petting zoo, horseshoe pit and tennis courts make daily activity decisions a tough choice.

The massive log lodge is the focal point, complete with dinning room (cuisine is as varied as the terrain — BBQ steak cookouts to traditional Mexican), saloon and recreation lounge.