Find your inner cowboy at this Quincy dude ranch.
WRITTEN BY PATTY CLAWSON
PHOTOS BY MICHAEL CLAWSON AND GREENHORN CREEK GUEST RANCH
Perhaps it’s that feeling that takes over when you kick up dirt with your boots. Or maybe it comes when you pull your horse’s reins toward the mountainous trail ahead. Whatever the trigger, many have a strong connection to dude ranches and feel the lure to play cowboy.
Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch in Quincy, offers an all-encompassing western experience, from the 16 rustic cabins and main lodge (with 10 guest rooms) to the saloon and stable filled with about 80 beautiful quarter horses. Guests saddle up for weeklong stays at this 54-year-old ranch nestled on 600 acres among Plumas National Forest pines sitting at about 3,400 feet altitude, not far from the Nevada border. Ralph and Trish Wilburn, owners of the working ranch, believe good ol’ fashioned hospitality, simple-but-tasty cooking for family vacation guests, a relaxing “get-away-from-it-all” atmosphere, and a naturally beautiful venue are keys to their success. Those attributes have made Greenhorn a nationally and internationally recognized vacation destination.
“It’s not a luxurious resort with a spa, and there is no attendant standing in wait with a fresh towel when you come off a ride,” Trish says, swinging open the wooden corral gate for the rumbling herd. “We embrace what we are: a dude ranch that offers guests the authentic experience to spend a week or three days out in the great outdoors. It’s a chance to reconnect with the western lifestyle.”
Trail rides and more
Programs at the ranch include beginner, intermediate, and advanced trail rides and horseback riding lessons for the whole family (ages six and up). Through the progressive riding program, beginning riders build confidence on the trail with guidance from experienced wranglers. There’s even a guest rodeo, where folks can try their hands at barrel racing and pole bending. A typical day at the ranch might include lunch and a trail ride, a trail mixer in the dance hall, dinner, and a bonfire (while participating in a sing-along and marshmallow roasting).
The next day, guests might enjoy a cowboy breakfast and a trail ride, lunch, volleyball or badminton, a trail or wagon ride to the lower creek for a cookout, and evening line dancing. Other activities include frog races, lawn games, karaoke in the saloon, card night, cowboy softball, disc golf through the forest, arts and crafts, fishing, hiking, and mountain biking. There is a heated swimming pool, a petting zoo, and even lounge chairs for taking a nap, reading a book, and soaking up the sun.
Gazing up into the starry sky and singing along to guitarists plucking country favorites around an open fire are elements of the western lifestyle that many urban residents rarely experience. Although most of us have moved away from ranch life, our desire to rekindle all that is cowboy still burns inside. This may well explain why dude ranches are so popular today, attracting all types of city slickers.
Packages are available for riders and non-riders and include three family-style meals and a place to hang your hat in the rustic lodge or knotty-pine cabins. You’ll grab grub in the chuckhouse or around the barbecue pit (including hamburgers, barbecued chicken and ribs, homemade biscuits and gravy, a salad bar, and a child-friendly menu) and play cards in the well-stocked saloon. There’s even a grassy knoll in which to say “I do,” with more high-end wedding cuisine. Whether for families, couples, or corporate-retreat planners, Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch is an ideal spot at which to find and celebrate your inner cowboy.
Patty Clawson is a freelance writer who reconnects with her inner cowgirl and takes every opportunity to kick up her heels western style. Michael Clawson is a well-known iPhoneographer and photographer who loves taking pictures of the great outdoors.
Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch
Open May through October
2116 Greenhorn Ranch Road, Quincy, Calif.