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10 things you need to know about…dude ranches in British Columbia

From rustic accommodations to spas, cowboys and cowgirls alike have plenty of horsey fare to choose from.

23 July 2014
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Suggested tweet: From saddle to spa: 10 unique dude ranches in Canada’s storied Cariboo Country http://ow.ly/wGxGt #explorecanada

The Wild West is a little wilder in British Columbia. In the storied Cariboo Chilcotin region, dude-ranch enthusiasts can find everything from rough-and-ready camps to luxe lodges offering spa treatments and massages in addition to horsey fun. Giddy-up for an inside look. 

1) Downhome adventure: Just four hours from the urban bustle of Vancouver, Sundance and its 100 horses cater to “dudes” of all skill levels. The family-friendly ranch offers rustic accommodations, hearty meals and incredible canyon and sagebrush scenery.

2) Wide-open spaces: An hour’s drive from the nearest paved road, Big Bar Ranch is for cowboys and -girls looking to get away from it all. Ride through scenic farmland and hill country or pan for gold along the Fraser River.

3) East meets Wild West: You may spend as much time in the spa as in the saddle at Echo Valley, a luxury dude ranch with an Asian twist. After a day on the trails, enjoy Thai cuisine and an authentic Thai massage inside a full-scale log temple.  

4) Rods and reins: Set on the shores of Crystal Lake, turn-of-the-century ranch Crystal Waters is ideal for horse lovers who also love to fish. Amble through wetlands and forests, then spend the afternoon fly fishing for trophy-sized trout.

5) Roughing it in style: Rustic meets refined at Siwash Lake Ranch, an exclusive hideaway set amid 80,000 acres (32,325 hectares) of BC wilderness. Ranch-grown organic fare and luxury safari tents complement a unique riding program.

6) Cabin fever: Located near the historic gold-rush town of 100 Mile House, Spring Lake Ranch offers a taste of pioneer life in authentic log cabins. Explore 10,000 acres (4,047 hectares) of rolling forests and trails, then head back to your private cabin for views of sparkling Spring Lake.

7) Real ranch living: A working horse ranch in the remote Chilcotin region, Big Creek gives guests a taste of real cowboy life. Join ranchers on round-ups or enjoy stunning vistas (and the occasional passing moose) from your creekside cabin.

8) Independent adventure: For serious cowboys (and city slickers with a sense of adventure), the Flying U Ranch on the shores of Green Lake offers unsupervised riding. Explore trails at your leisure that meander through meadows, forests and aspen groves, then head back to the ranch with its old-fashioned saloon, airy lodge and log cabins.  

9) Cozy cowboying: Personal attention and intimate adventure are the focus at Free Rein, which accommodates just 12 guests. Small-group excursions—no nose-to-tail riding here—explore thousands of acres of protected hills, meadows and virgin forest.

10) Where horses come first: Passion for horses is paramount at Terra Nostra, a small ranch on Clearwater Lake in the Chilcotin region. Bond with your steed on long rides to lakes and waterfalls, then unwind back at the cabin or around a roaring campfire.

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