It would be fair to say that when you hear the word ranch you don’t think of outdoor recreational type of activities. I would usually agree with that statement, but the people at the Blue Sky Ranch would disagree. And after spending a weekend there, I would have to agree with them.
The Blue Sky Ranch is located in Wanship, Utah, which is about 20 minutes from Park City. It is nestled in the mountains on 3500 acres. Now don’t get my first statement about outdoor recreation and ranch confused. This is a ranch with wranglers, horses and cows. They have anywhere between 75-125 cattle at any one time. And when you think of the activities that happen on a ranch, you might think of horseback riding and you would be right.
The ranch does offer horseback riding, but they truly offer almost anything you can dream up in the outdoors. They have guided services for kayaking, rafting, fly fishing, trap shooting, mountain biking and more. They are a great one stop shop for those that are looking for adventure.
The property has miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Also the diversity of the land is amazing. When you first pull in by the stables you see a bunch of scrub oak. But the more you explore you will find creeks, pines and aspens. The wildlife is also amazing. I saw more wildlife on the first day on the ranch than an entire weekend backpacking in the high Uintas.
The day I was at the ranch, they were offering their Cowboy for a Day activity. They asked if I would like to participate, so I agreed. Cowboy for a Day is a great time. Just as the title implies, you get to do some of the things that a cowboy would do.
We started by eating a great cowboy breakfast. The food was great. They had a breakfast casserole of eggs, peppers and onions. Also bacon, sausage, muffins, fruit, juice and coffee. I am guessing the juice and fruit would not be on most cowboys menus when out on a cattle drive but it was a great addition. There was plenty of food to satisfy the hungriest person.
After eating they gave the group a simple run through of what was going to be happening that day and a short safety orientation. Then we were all assigned a horse and the fun began.
We started by grooming the horse and picking its hooves. The best part of this whole adventure was the wranglers. They provided instructions and demonstrated everything first to give you an idea of what you were supposed to be doing. Then, they were there making sure you were doing alright and made you feel comfortable but more importantly, confident that you would be able to do it.
After a few minutes of grooming, we saddled the horses and took them to the outdoor arena. Here we bridled them and then got to work learning how to first walk the horse and then ride it. After some practice on the horse they spent some time teaching us how to cut a cow out of the herd.
Each person in the group had a chance to try this in front of the group. You might have seen cowboy doing this on TV and think that doesn’t look all that hard. Well, everything on the TV looks easier than it really is. Cutting the cow out of the herd was not too hard, but keeping it from being able to return to the herd was another story.
Next up the wranglers broke us up into teams of 3 for a friendly competition. We had to cut a specific cow out of the herd and then take it out one gate around the arena and then back into another gate. The team that was able to do this the quickest would win. Luckily I had a great team and we were twice as fast as the next team. It is always nice to win.
We then went for a ride up to their Salon. This is an old cabin that was original to the property. It is set back into the trees in a beautiful meadow. There we had lunch and let the horses eat some grass and rest. Lunch was catered by High West Distillery. It was great food and definitely worth stopping at their restaurant in Park City if you have a chance.
From there we went for a ride on the property. These trails were perfect. Any outdoor enthusiast would love to hike or bike these trails. We were riding through aspens, pines and crossing streams. It was definitely worth the trip for some of this beautiful scenery. As we were riding we came to a log that fell across the trail. Most of the horses just stepped over it, but mine decided that it would be more fun to jump it. And it was.
Before we started the ride, one of the wranglers said that that have seen moose on the trail many times. I was a little skeptical when she said this because at the time all I could see were scrub oak. As we continued on I could see how a moose might just love to live here. And about halfway through the ride we saw a moose. That was an experience on the horse. Somehow we spooked the big bull moose, which in turn spooked a bunch of our horses. But as always the wranglers stepped up and made sure everyone was okay and put any tension to ease.
When we got back to the stables there were appetizers and drinks waiting for us. Here we could relax or try our hand at some roping. It was about 5:00 pm and it was a great day.
The Blue Sky Ranch definitely knows how to show someone a good time. On the Cowboy for a Day activity there was a family of four, two others and me. Throughout the day as I was talking with different individuals in the group, everyone kept saying how much fun they were having and how beautiful the ride was. And after a full day of riding, I can see why cowboys walk bull-legged and I was surprised at how saddle sore I was the next day. I guess riding a bike is different than a horse and saddle. If you have ever wanted to get a glimpse of what a cowboy does each day, I would definitely recommend this experience.
To learn more about Blue Sky Ranch and Adventure check out their website at: http://www.bluesky-adventures.com/ You can also find a list of all the adventures that they provide as well as when the next Cowboy for a Day will be hosted.