I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about "The Disappear- ing Dude Ranch," by Conor Dougherty (July 7, 2006). The article said that due to rising land prices, many ranchers are selling their ranches and the new owners aren't necessarily hip to keeping them the same. Dougherty also looked into the changes that ranchers are making, like adding spas and other amenities to attract the modern traveler. I am happy to say if you are looking for an authentic dude ranch experience, I have just found a true one. The T Cross Ranch outside of Dubois, Wyoming, is it. You won't find a spa here. Just a third generation ranching family, raising their fourth generation on the ranch, plus good horses, fishing, food and scenic landscapes.
I started out riding with a group of about 10 other riders on Hank, a Quarter Horse. Mark took us around various parts of the ranch, including over to Beaver Pond, through Horse Creek and up to a spot with views of the glacier covered Wind River Mountains and the highest peak in Wyoming. I talked with some of the other riders, many of whom had been to the ranch before, which is not a surprise. Generations of guests have been coming to T Cross.
Mark explained more about the area and the variety of terrain for riding. Rides go out in the morning and afternoon. There are full day rides twice a week on one of the ranch's string of some 60 horses. With around 25 guests, you can be sure that you'll have your choice of mounts. The ranch sits at around 8,000 feet and you can climb to over 12,000 feet while riding. There are also cattle drives, gymkhana events, square dancing in town and the rodeo.
Gretchen and Mark really make guests feel at home. Each cabin is cozy and historic, as is the main lodge, where guests gather for meals. Staying a T Cross will take you back to a simpler time. As I snuggled into my bed surrounded by the cool night air, I knew that I was in for a good night's rest. I wouldn't wake up until the breakfast bell rang. Yes, there is a bell. It has probably been ringing for decades, letting hungry dudes and dudettes know that it's time to eat.
If you are planning a visit to T Cross, you'll want to plan on a week. You may also to consider a T Cross pack trip, which I didn't try, but which is another popular guest choice. Staying on the ranch for a week will leave you mighty relaxed. We didn't even stay the whole week, and I left feeling better. With no cell phone, TV or internet, you'll really have the chance to get away from it all. Happy trails!
Tune in for my next entry on fly fishing at T Cross Ranch. Will I be able to catch a wiley Brook Trout? That is the question.