There is nothing quite as spectacular as the wildflowers in Montana, especially when you get the chance to ride a Montana Dude Horse and get up into the back country of our beautiful state. The view you see here was taken by J.T. while taking a ride to Upper Tepee Basin-one of our campsites that we either ride to or take horse pack trips for our guests. Montana has a rich flora which belongs to several different ecosystems. The wildflowers make up one of the largest groups of the species. The wide variety of wildflowers found here is because the state covers areas belonging to the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Northwest humid areas and Intermountain areas in between. Western Montana, where our ranch is located, is mountainous and has many lakes, streams and meadows.
There are so many varieties of wildflowers that we see on our rides and our hikes. Some of the plants you will see include Glacier Lillies, Dwarf Larkspur, Pretty Shootingstar, Moss Phlox, Fairyslippers, Arrow-leaved balsamroot, Indian Paintbrush and Sticky Purple Geranium to name a few. The list goes on forever.
Or just enjoy the flowers as you walk around the barns and the rest of the ranch.
But whatever you do, or wherever you are, at our ranch, riding our horses or hiking and fishing in our spectacular country, make sure you always take time to smell the flowers! (Many thanks to Ted L. for the photos)
I thought I would take a little time and go over some fun facts about our horses at the ranch, as well as horses in general. We all love horseback riding in Montana, and even if we don’t ride at our Montana Dude Ranch we still love the animal. I just love watching their behaviour, don’t you? So I thought I would take a few minutes and just share some insights to bring a smile to your face!
First, we all wonder if horses, and animals, can really talk. Well here’s a little clip I watched the other from Saint and Alfie “chumming it” in the pasture:
Every time I watch this, all I can think is that they’re goofing around and then decide to tell each other it’s time to go run around the pasture for a while, and then they take off!
I also love to just watch the animal run. One of my favorite times is when the wranglers run the horses down the mountain Monday mornings and move them into the corrals-ready for work!
Berkeley, Brayden and Chase Enjoying the Sunshine at the Ranch
Thanks to Mary and Berkeley we’re posting some photos of their stay at the ranch this summer. We get lots of questions from potential guests concerning what their children can do at the ranch if they come to stay. It’s hard to put into words the value of the experiences these kids will receive, and it’s more than just a structured program. Instead, we notice it’s an opportunity for families to vacation on a dude ranch and get to spend quality time together, whether it’s riding a Montana dude Horse, floating inner tubes on the Taylor’s Fork that runs through the ranch, or just having fun with the family. We boast that our ranch is “Screen Free”. No TV, no cell phones, no TV but just a good old family vacation in Montana on a Dude Ranch.
For some, it’s just having the opportunity to wear a cowboy (or cowgirl) hat!
Berkeley's Proud To Be A Cowgirl
For others it’s getting a chance to learn how to rope a calf while we’re enjoying the campfire at our Friday Night BBQ’s.
This Cowgirl Has Learned To Master the Rope During Her Stay At The Ranch
But the biggest smiles usually come when riding their horse. Berkeley loved her
A Picture Says A Thousand Words-And So Does A Smile
horse “Tugboat” and he looked after her safety during her stay.
So all in all, it’s the time together WITH the family and not AWAY from the family that makes the difference and the stuff dreams are made of and a lifetime of memories here at the Ranch..
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Thanks to Chantel and Jochen, from Belgium, we have the pleasure of capturing the wildlife in the Gallatin National Forest and Lee Metcalf Wilderness, where the Covered Wagon Ranch does most of it’s riding. Nothing to be afraid of, our horses and wranglers are trained and well aware of the wildlife out here, making it safe for you enjoy all this country has to offer.
We had the pleasure of enjoying Chantel’s and Jochen’s visit in 2008 and hope to have the pleasure again some day! Thanks for the photo’s guys!
Jochen and Chantel touring England-Wales
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In our dude ranch business, our horses are literally worth their weight in gold. They get ridden by all types of riders, including inexperienced riders wo are pulling, poking, flopping, and generally trying every way possible to get themselves hurt, mostly because they have never been to a Montana Dude Ranch before or taken a horseback ride. Yet, these honest amazing horses take excellent care of them. Eventually it becomes time to say goodbye to these great horses. This is a poem I read in the Big Timber Pioneer and applied it to Honey, whom we lost this year. But it just doesn’t apply to Honey. We all know and love Joe, Louis, Joker, Whiskey Jack to name a few and are doing just fine, and of course, Zach, whom we lost a year ago. These horses are those that guests could faint on. Literally bombproof. We call them “dude horses“, something cowboys often discredit like day-old chew, but “dude horses” are the unsung heroes of the equine world. They work hard day in and day out for a living, and they epitomize the heart and soul of goodness. This poem is a tribute to our horses out there carrying precious cargo up and down the trail every day.
“ODE TO MAX”
“It was the best two hundred dollars I ever spent, Brett said-
On the day we found out that at the trail head Max lay dead.
This two hundred dollar horse had definitely earned his keep
We all prayed to God that he passed on while in blissful sleep.
No purebred Quarter Horse, thoroughbred, nor paint was he
He was of mixed blood with no fancy papers nor pedigree.
He had never dragged a calf to a branding fire nor ran on a track.
But many a precious load he had hauled into the wild and back.
He was honest and kind and never even shied that I ever saw.
The greenest rider or the smallest child would be Max’s draw.
He hauled guests for a living up and down the wilderness trail.
He never moved a muscle when a client fainted over his tail.
He endured being bridled and cinched by well-intentioned rookies
Who offered him a reward of carrots, apples, and Oreo cookies.
Hauling overweight off balanced clients could drive a horse insane.
But even if Max could have spoken, he would never complain.
He hauled dudes and dudettes of every shape and size.
and they all fell in love with his thick mane and brown eyes.
He crossed many hills, mountains, and streams,
Helped fufill lots of hunter’s elk shooting dreams.
It’s hard to find a horse as honest as Max.
All the rider did was sit up there and relax.
So here’s to Max and the great dude horses who have gone before…
The trusty steeds who went to pasture but live in our hearts evermore.”
It’s a valid question, I suppose. After all, we are all allotted only so much vacation time in our lives, so why choose to spend some of it on a Dude Ranch Vacation?
Irresistable horse riding vacation
Those of us who spend part or all of each year working at a Guest Ranch know that there is nothing like it in the world; a bond forms among the crew; a unique relationship exists between the horses and those who work with them; a special rapport develops between the guests and staff.
Many of our guests return to our Guest Ranch year after year because they hunger for time in the wilderness – craving impossibly fresh air and dazzling skies. They need to stand thigh-deep in river waters with a fly rod in had. And they learn something about themselves and the world around them when they mount a horse day after day; I’ve heard it said that you may be able to hide from yourself, but you can’t hide the real you from a horse. I think it’s true.
A Horse Riding Vacation that leads you into Yellowstone National Park, the Lee Metcalf Wilderness, and the Gallatin and Madison Mountains leads you back in time. The pace is slower – travel takes time. It’s quieter. Your cell phone can’t find you here.
Finally, there is the land. The incredibly beautiful land.
And these women are DEFINITELY Crazy Women Riders!! We have Dawn and Linda seated in the front and Murph and Diane standing in the back row. These women were very creative and came up with the CWR nickname (I wish I had thought of that!!) and it only took me about an hour to realize that the Crazy Women Riders name was a spin off CWR. Duh. That week was so much fun and tons of riding. Jeremy and company took us out to see if we could hear the elk bugle, and on one particular day we had the thrill of a lifetime when he called in two huge bulls within 40 yards of where we were! A day that none of us will ever forget. And thanks to Janine for taking the picture of the bull via the belly of Spade as he was tied up to the tree!
How much fun is that??!! Cowgirl Week was such a huge success that we plan to have it every year during the last week of our season. This upcoming year we will have it from September 12-19, so Cowgirls, get your hats on and load up on Tim’s Fabulous Cookies! As you can see, Mary (on the right) our Honorary CWR Family Member, and Janine (on the left) the fabulous photo taker of the elk, are enjoying their snacks. ta ta folks!
So many people have asked me “what do you do with all that time off after a Montana Dude Ranch closes”?? Well, it’s pretty boring around here. JT goes off and hunts for days at a time, Jeremy and Darlene and company go back to Big Timber and look after the Montana Dude Horses, train new horses and ride, and I sit at my desk on the computer all day. Boring. Not to mention, it’s 15 degrees out there, snow on the ground and not much fun outside at the moment. So I went to the Hallmark Store to get some birthday cards for a friend-and I fell in love with these two little guys: Frick and Frack (thanks to my sister Rene’e for naming them!). Two dwarf African Frogs that live in their own little ecosystem. How cool is that?? Now they sit at my desk while I work at the computer and I get to watch them all day. Unfortunately, there is one design flaw…..they’re NOCTURNAL. Oh well. Guess I have to find something else 🙂
Lucky me! When Ken, Jackie, Kristine and Ashley came to visit us this year (all the way from Holland, I might add!!) they graciously surprised me with a pair of Dutch Shoes!! Now that the weather has turned to snow, I immediately donned the new garb to keep my feet very warm. Much appreciated guys!! To top it off, I asked Ken and Jackie to bring some pictures of Holland out to the ranch, as I would love to know what it looks like. Going overboard, they presented us with a beautiful coffee table book of Holland with tons of gorgeous pictures. Thank you so very much. I might add that Ken was the first person I chatted with on Skype. Hope to see you next year!
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The day they have been waiting for…..a trip to Raspberry Butte Ranch for a much needed vacation. Our boys and girls have worked hard this summer and deserve a much needed rest. We just about have everybody up to the ranch. Just one more trip and they are all together on good grass and wide open spaces. Check out our video on You Tube or Debi’s Facebook Change. The You Tube Video is under pets and animals and called Horses on Vacation. Let me know if you can’t find it!
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What a great group of women! The week is over and the ranch is in the process of closing down. But it went out with a bang! The last week of our Montana Guest Ranch season was filled with Crazy Women Riders (yes, Dawn, I’ve stolen your caption!!). The weather was beautiful, the rides were long, and the fun was filled with laughter all week. Our first Annual Cowgirls Only Week was a huge success. Our Montana Dude Horses will never be the same!!
And as the season ends I return to my desk for the winter, although it is supposed to be 88 degrees here in Bozeman today, with a forecast for SNOW on Wednesday. Only in Montana LOL. More later…………..debi
Isn’t history wonderful? We are so grateful to the DeVore family, and especially Jennifer DeVore, for providing us some photographs of the ranch that started back in the 30’s! The DeVore family had been coming to the ranch for generations since the 1930’s. Here is a photo Jen provided that was taken at Cameron Springs (near the draw) . It’s a picture of Charles and Emma Cameron with grandchildren (including Cameron DeVore-Jen’s father).
From Jennifer’s Notes:
“I know that my father’s grandfather and great-uncles – Charles Cameron and Perry and Zade Morgan (brothers of Charles’s wife) had a cabin at Cameron Springs. They all lived in Bozeman, families there since around 1870s or so. The cabin burned down sometime in the 40s (???) and that’s when my dad’s family started coming to what they called Benson’s. my dad still has Morgan cousins who live in Bozeman and there are DeVores in Helena but most of the family moved away from Montana but kept coming to the Gallatin to stay at the CWR pretty much every year. My own family started coming in the 70s when Vic Benson was there (I think my dad called him Benny). There was a great guy named John Haynes (? ) who used to come and sing camp songs around the fire.”
Sadly, Jennifer’s father, Cameron DeVore, passed away this year, but Jen said the family is going to try and arrange a family reunion this year at the ranch. I think they would be pleased to see how well we have taken care of this ranch. Jen is going to forward an old Cowboy songbook she found, which was put together by her uncle, Charles DeVore (who also sadly passed away several years ago). Charles put the songbook together specifically for the Covered Wagon Ranch, and sure to be used around the campfire next summer!
Here’s some more photos Jennifer provided to us. It’s the ranch in the 1940’s. Jeremy thinks one of the horses there is “JOSEPH” hahahahaha
What an awesome group of people and what incredible guests we have! Here’s what Jill, from Pennsylvania, had to say about us (in her own words!!):
“We arrived on Sunday and our first ride was on Monday with Val. During lunch, she shared her food with Josh and said the first day on the ranch you’re friends-after that you’re family. Boy, was that ever true. In five days we have fallen in love with this ranch, the horses and the staff. We have stayed at 5 Star resorts that should take a few lessons from you. You are one of a kind and a class act. Thank you for sharing your time with us. We are sad to leave tomorrow but we are already looking forward to coming back “home” to the Covered Wagon Ranch” Jill R., PA
Jill, Bill and Josh, we feel the same way about you guys!! Thanks so much,
Judith worked her magic again here at the ranch and Brett is making sure that he’s taking extra special care of the love she put into the ground for us. With all the great rain (at all the right times so our riding was never interrupted!!) the grass is so green and the wildflowers are rampant here at the ranch. Judith helped us add more color all around the ranch, and here are a few examples. Thanks Judith-we love you!!
Well, the weather is fabulous. The crew is working hard. And the wranglers are riding and clearing the trails getting ready for you. As they went out for a ride, Lee and Val spotted our first guests right on the ranch! Can you see the baby? They’re living right at ranch by the corrals!
Meanwhile, what do a couple of cowgirls wear when they work at a Montana Guest Ranch?? Well, Erin and Katie thought it was time to support the local economy and see what they could find before they ride a couple of Montana Dude Horses! We love you guys, and all your FABULOUSNESS!!
I know I haven’t been real good about adding to this blog. It is such a busy time for the ranch right now! Crew comes in this week and we’ve been working our tails off to get things rolling. It’s very exciting right now, but we’re working hard to make it the best Montana Dude Ranch Vacation ever! Jeremy and Darlene and company have officially moved on to the ranch. The Covered Wagon canvas has been cleaned and repaired and put back on the wagon. And Jerry has been busy getting the new laundry room and gift shop up and running.
Aside from all that, the boys are having fun, and love living on the ranch. They attended a Calf Roping session this past weekend, and Brayden was the first one to rope a calf, not to mention the first calf he ever roped 🙂 Way to go Brayden. Chase was in on the fun as well, and dad was definitely there to help. Looks like you’ll all get a chance to learn the real Montana way of life this summer at the ranch. More later,
Well, crew, I’m trying to determine how many followers came with me as we transfer to our new blog site. It looks like the old site is gone. I posted something last week and none of you were informed about the post. So, I’m asking each of you to respond who received this message. You know, it’s true what they say: you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I’m going to try!!
What I wanted to tell you was how crummy the weather is here. The Covered Wagon Ranch received 18 inches of NEW SNOW last week and up here in Bozeman we got half a foot. Now I ask you, is that any kind of climate for a guest ranch vacation??? I guess in Montana it is!
So here’s what the robins thought about our spring. And don’t forget to let me know if you received this post. If this works, I’ll be back in action and lots to report!
We’ve added another gelding to the herd today-his name is Chief (previously Scout, but already have Scout in our herd and don’ think it’s fair to have two of the same name!). He’s a 3 year old gelding, a Bay Appaloosa with a White Blanket, and a real beauty. This season Jeremy will be starting a few colts for our guests as part of our entertainment, so we thought we would give him a challenge! Chief is very friendly, stands 15 hands and came from a private owner in Western Montana. His owner had him since a weanling and she said he was just too tall for her when he grew up! He’s getting used to life on Love Lane right now, and flirting with all the mares. Enjoy the photo and video, and tell me what you think! debi
I know, I know, I haven’t been good about writing! It is really busy right now! We only have 1 1/2 months before crew comes in and we get ready to open on June 1st! It is way too exciting and there are so many fun things going on. However, the ranch just got a FOOT of snow today and it’s still snowing.
Meanwhile, NOT back at the ranch, Sarah (previous wrangler, current “cabin mate”, incredible fence mender, terrific friend and now traveling companion) and I, and my infamous Jack Russell TERROR called “Francois Pierre” or “Spud” as my husband loves to call him (!) are traveling around warm, sunny New Mexico for a few days. We took a road trip to help her move some things, and it’s been fantastic. We put over 1600 miles in the car in just two days. It’s a great 71 degrees down here. I’m not sure we’ll head back to Montana tomorrow with all that snow! So here’s how my little 13 year old puppy likes to travel in the car (but of course I can’t seem to figure out how to lay these pictures out properly…Sarah, where are you?????)So we head back north tomorrow and should be home by Wednesday. Do you think the snow will melt by then?
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Ha! Here are some photos of Jeremy working our fillies the other day. They are both turning three this spring. Nice weather, huh? The very exciting news is that these two gals have just learned how to ride. It only took him an hour apiece to work them and be able to ride them. Amazing what a talent can do, isn’t it? Now if I can just learn to stay on somebody’s back-that would be amazing 🙂 Hope the rest of the country is enjoying the new flowers popping up! See you soon, Debi
Since everybody asks us “what’s the weather like out there?” I thought I would pass along a quick shot of the ranch today. The temperature has been running in the 20’s during the day and down to single digits at night, and there’s quite a bit of snow! JT and Dave are working on the shop, putting in a new laundry room, a small apartment for Debi and JT, and a gift shop. More on that later. Enjoy the picture! brrrrr
Wow! I think I finally caught up with my paperwork (except, of course, filing my taxes!). I’m ready to rock and roll. But first, I promised Alan I would write a little about where the horses stay. It’s three locations: the Covered Wagon Ranch during our season, which is June through September,then on to winter pasture at Raspberry Butte Ranch, in Big Timber, and, for a select few, some stay at our home in Bozeman. Even though Satin, Oprah, Nina, Rebel, Alfie, Blue and Lido work as dude horses in the summer, we winter them at our home. They were personal horses before Jerry and I bought the ranch.
Raspberry Butte Ranch is where JT and I will eventually live, but it’s hard to give up our home in Bozeman at the moment. Besides, with real estate where it is, who would buy it anyway? In 2005 we built an indoor riding arena, which allows the horses to be worked during the winter. We usually have Jeremy work the younger horses or those that could use a little more “saddle time” as they get started. Once the season is over, Jeremy and Darlene live in the ranch house that’s on the property, and JT and I keep a small apartment in the arena, as we travel back and forth from Bozeman. Our home in Bozeman is about an hour from the CWR. Raspberry Butte Ranch in 1 and 1/2 hours from Bozeman to the north east, and is 2 and 1/2 hours from CWR.
When the horses are at the Covered Wagon Ranch, we have limited corral space. You may or may not know this, but we don’t own the land down the canyon. The Covered Wagon is on leased land from the Forest Service, and it only sits on 18 acres. For those horses that are not being worked that week, we put them up on the 2000 acre grazing permit we have with the Forest Service, which starts up the hill behind the ranch. That’s why we wrangle them up the mountain on Saturday night and bring the ones we need back down on Monday morning.
So, that’s how we keep our horses. Make sense, Alan?? 🙂
Summer Lovin’: Hey y’all!
The Covered Wagon summer season is officially underway! This month has been a whirlwind of projects, spring cleaning, meeting new crew, and getting our first guests in. We love seeing our return guests, and we are having a blast meeting all of our new additions to the Covered Wagon family! The summer season is in full swing now, an
Meet Melissa’s new right hand at the Covered Wagon!: Hello from the Covered Wagon! Spring is in full swing, and we are gearing up for another great season! My name is Samantha Lee, and I am Melissa’s new office manager and right hand woman for this summer! I wanted to introduce myself and give you all a little background on myself. I was born and raised in Suwanee, Georgia – a little bit north of