There comes a point in everyone's childhood that horses become an obsession. Whether it's owning a pony or horseback riding like a cowboy, horses are a human fascination that often fades with age. Not so at Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch. Located in northern California near the Plumas National Forest, this 600-acre dude ranch welcomes families to live out their horseback riding dreams every summer. We had the pleasure of spending our annual #July4RoadTrip at the ranch with Suzi's family. Here's a taste of what we experienced.
We Dream of Horses
Here at Gemini Connect, we have a minor obsession with horses. Our very first international trip abroad was to Hanna Stables, a horseback riding ranch in Belize, which we still do online sales and website management for today. Thanks to our repeat visits to Hanna Stables and long-term business relationship with them, it was hard not to draw comparisons to Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch. Both are family-owned businesses that have built a strong base of loyal fans that come back year after year. And both are rather minimal in terms of luxuries. While there is running water, electricity, and housekeeping, there are no in-room televisions, air conditioning, or cell phone service. So it's important to level set your expectations and pack accordingly.
But in the case of both Hanna Stables and Greenhorn Creek, you're not coming out here to sit in your room and play with electronics anyway. The selling points of both establishments are to spend time outdoors, and the facilities and staff of both places make it incredibly easy to forget the ways of modern living and settle into a simpler way of life. And here is where the similarities between the two ranches end.
The Appeal of Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch
While Hanna Stables take a more leisurely, on-the-go approach to scheduling activities, Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch take a completely opposite approach. Daily activities are organized by the staff, ranging from multiple horseback rides, skeet shooting, frog catching and racing, country line dancing, karaoke, horse-drawn wagon rides, picnics, and three meals a day. As a guest, you can participate as much or as little as you please. But generally speaking, everyone who stays at the ranch is there to horseback ride. So let's talk about that.
Horseback Riding at Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch
One of the best features of the ranch is their specialized attention to the art and skill of horseback riding. If you're looking to learn or improve your skills, the wranglers are happy to offer individualized instruction and feedback to help you become less of a horse "passenger" and more of a "rider." All levels of horseback riding experience are catered to. There are roughly three levels of experience:
- Walking trail ride (beginner)
- Walk-trot trail ride (beginner-intermediate)
- Loping trail ride (experienced; must pass a test to ride)
Every day, there's a morning and afternoon guided horseback ride for every level of experience. All rides go through the scenic forest trails of the ranch property and sometimes into the nearby Plumas National Forest as well. There's also a riding corral where horseback riding lessons are conducted if you're a newbie or need individual instruction. Overall, it's a great place to go on leisurely horseback rides or gain and improve on your skill if you please.
Greenhorn Creek Highlights
Besides the obvious attraction of horseback riding, there are several other features of the ranch worth pointing out. First, Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch is one of few that allows young children on the premises. Since horseback riding is best experienced by children at least six years of age, many other ranches do not allow young children as guests. Greenhorn Creek is unique in that they have an actual children's program with babysitters that will watch young children while their parents participate in other activities.
Second, you don't have to ride horses to enjoy your stay at Greenhorn Creek. There are plenty of other leisure activities to do from walking or hiking the horse trails on foot, hanging out in the communal saloon, playing billiards or ping pong in the game room, swimming in the pool or fishing in the abundant 1.5-acre trout pond.
Third, daily meals in a variety of settings are provided as part of the all inclusive package, and the food is good. REALLY good. Expect everything from ribs, meatloaf, tacos, chicken fried steak, and hamburgers with all of the fixings. Got dietary restrictions? No problem! Just alert the kitchen staff and they will cook you up something special.
Finally, evenings at the ranch are one of the best times of the day. Most days, the horseback riding activities start as early as 8:00 am and wrap up by 5:00 pm. After all of the horses have come in from the trail rides, the team of 90-some horses is let out into the pastures as a mini stampede. It's something incredible to witness, and you can do so every day of your stay at the ranch. After the stampede is dinner, followed by an optional night-time activity. Go twilight fishing at the trout pond, hop on stage and sing karaoke, learn to line dance, or cook up some s'mores at the bonfire.
Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch Basic Info
Open season is from May 1-October 31. Total occupancy is approximately 100 guests spread out in 16 individual cabins that can sleep up to 7, plus the main lodge that can sleep up to 4 adults in each room. There are a couple of accommodations that are ADA accessible. Special events such as weddings, bachelor, and bachelorette parties are welcome. Children of all ages are welcome, and so are pet dogs. Three daily meals are served as part of the all inclusive guest package, and dietary restrictions can be accommodated. Note that there is no cellular service, but there is complimentary Wi-Fi accessible from the main lodge and office (not available throughout the entire property).
Drive Highway 70 to Greenhorn Ranch Road; drive 1.5 miles up the road and the ranch will be on your right with big signs. There is ample parking for vehicles.
What to Bring
It's no secret that we're big fans of travel packing checklists here at Gemini Connect. In the case of Greenhorn Creek ranch, you need your basic travel essentials, plus a few outdoorsy items too. Above all, it's important to prepare to get a little dusty, and remember that a little dirt won't kill you!
- allergy pills if things in nature bother you
- bandana to protect yourself from breathing in the dust while riding
- wide-brimmed sun hat to prevent sunburn while riding
- long pants to wear while horseback riding to protect your legs from chafing
- boots or covered outdoor shoes - it's a working ranch, so expect to get dirty
- swimsuit - there's an outdoor pool that is heavenly to jump into on a hot afternoon
- grooming essentials - while the ranch provides towels and basic bar soap, no shampoo or the usual hotel freebies are included.
See more photos here.