Are you looking for a family vacation that involves quality time instead of screen time and somewhere to reconnect without any distractions? A dude ranch in BC, Three Bars Guest Ranch is an all-inclusive vacation experience you will never forget!
Three Bars Ranch is one of the best dude ranch vacations in Canada for families for a reason. It is located in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, has a world-class horse program, and offers the very best in hospitality.
What is a Dude Ranch?
In the 19th century, “dude” generally referred to wealthy men from the Eastern US who would come West looking for a taste of cowboy life.
Back then, dude ranches involved mostly horseback riding and wrangling, showcasing the cowboy lifestyle to the “dudes” or “city slickers” that came from urban cities. Because of the cowboy lifestyle, they were also known as cowboy guest ranches.
The term “dude ranch” is generally used in the US and “guest ranch” is a more commonly used term in Canada. Whichever you prefer to call it, Three Bars Ranch provides an authentic experience for you and your family.
What Should I expect on a Dude Ranch in BC?
The best dude ranch vacations in Canada offer all kinds of activities in addition to horseback riding like whitewater rafting, fishing, mountain biking and so much more.
The most important activity on a dude ranch is horseback riding. First-time riders, beginners and those who have ridden all their life will fit right in. Three Bars Ranch offers horseback riding to all levels of riders and with over 35,000 acres, you won’t ever have to ride the same trail twice.
It is important to note that Three Bars Ranch allows riders from ages 6+ to participate in the riding program. It is very difficult to find a Canadian dude ranch that allows children as young as six to ride and they do an excellent job with their kids riding program.
A Dude Ranch Vacation in Canada
Why Should Families Choose Three Bars Ranch?
Three Bars Ranch, located in Cranbrook, BC has it all. A world-class horse program, luxury accommodations, delicious dining options, endless activities, a stunning landscape with views of the Rocky Mountains and a list of amenities to make you feel right at home.
Your family will spend all week together, reconnecting without the distraction of screen time or electronics. There is so much to do on the ranch and you will want to do it all. The Beckley Family, who owns and runs the ranch, are the warmest, most inviting family and they just want your family to experience the best that ranch life has to offer.
You can read more about Three Bars Ranch here.
An All-Inclusive Canadian Dude Ranch
The all-inclusive nature of this ranch vacation is a major selling point. Your meals are all taken care of and the food is hearty and delicious. The hardest decision you will have to make during your stay is what activities you wish to do. Everything else is taken care of.
At this dude ranch in BC, you will be served breakfast, lunch and dinner and receive a bag of cookies after lunch to tide you over should you become hungry.
The Main Lodge
The 7,500-square-foot main lodge is the focal point of Three Bars Ranch and the hub of activity at the ranch. It is a beautiful log structure that houses the reception, main dining room and saloon. In addition, you will also find the ranch store, fitness center, laundry facilities and business center.
The saloon is where all guests and wranglers come to mingle and relax after an adventurous day on the ranch. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are served before dinner, while guests can lounge inside or outside on the wrap-around patios.
Meals are served in the main dining room or on the patio, which overlooks the valley below. There are two acres of grass courtyard surrounding the main lodge and cabins where you will often see one of the ranch dogs milling about, looking for attention.
The Horses at this Dude Ranch in BC
At the heart of a guest ranch is the horses. They are the stars of the show and the main event for your vacation experience. You will be paired up with your very own horse, which is suited for your ability and experience level for the duration of your stay. After spending all week with your horse, believe me, you will come to adore him.
There are over 80 guest horses who have all been chosen for their temperament. The Beckley Family, who owns and runs Three Bars Ranch, developed and directly oversaw the horseback riding program. It is very evident from observing the horses in the ranch environment just how thorough the training and the program are.
If you have ever ridden horses at other ranches, some key things you will notice at Three Bars is that they always walk the horses back to the ranch. They do not want their horses running back to the ranch when they start to get close to home, as it can startle guests and just makes for a much safer ride.
Another key thing you will immediately notice is how well-trained these horses are. The love and care, and time that the Beckley Family puts into each, and every horse on the ranch is reflected on the trail rides. There are many reasons why Three Bars are one of the best dude ranch vacations in Canada, and this is one of them.
The Horseback Rides
Horseback rides are offered each morning, right after breakfast and again after lunch. On your first morning at the ranch, the wranglers will go through a short lesson to introduce you to your horse and some basics that you are required to follow.
It is not mandatory to ride both in the morning and in the afternoon, but I guarantee you will be surprised at how often you end up wanting to ride. With over 35,000 acres, you will never have to ride the same trail.
The surrounding landscape provides diverse terrain, so you will see stunning views of the Rocky Mountains, the Purcell mountain range, gorgeous hoodoos, and endless wilderness. The ranch is located between St Mary’s River and Perry Creek, which allows you to take your horse along the river during a trail ride.
Three Bars Ranch also offers a full-day ride which is not to be missed. It is definitely a highlight of your week. There is also an early morning breakfast ride where you will have the opportunity to have your hot breakfast out on the trail.
The Guest Cabins
The log cabins for guests are incredibly spacious, come equipped with everything you will need during your stay, and are perfectly comfortable after a full day on the ranch.
The front porches of the guest cabins are a favorite to relax on after the kids go to bed, and you can sit and listen to the sounds of the ranch after dusk. The guest cabins are located around the perimeter of the courtyard, and while they are close enough for easy access, they allow for plenty of personal space.
The family cabins are well laid out, with an adjoining door and two bathrooms. The log construction allows the temperature inside to remain nice and cool during the day and cozy during the night.
Check out the new Black Series cabins, which come equipped with a private deck, hot tub and floor-to-ceiling windows giving you extraordinary views of the Canadian Rockies.
Activities & Amenities at this Dude Ranch in BC
There is no shortage of activities available at Three Bars Ranch. A favorite is definitely white water rafting on St Mary’s River, complete with a water gun fight with the other raft. The water is refreshingly cool during the mid-summer heat.
Other activities include a Trap Shooting Range, Fly Fishing, Mountain Biking, Hiking, ATV rides, and Tubing in the river. Evening activities include Archery, Axe Throwing, and a Three Bars signature event, Fire Engine Games.
Amenities on the ranch include an indoor pool and outdoor hot tub, a fully equipped fitness center, tennis and volleyball courts, ping pong, pool table, and laundry facilities.
The Owners & Staff
Perhaps the number one reason that this is one of the best dude ranches in BC is because of the Beckley family and their staff. Owners Tyler and Jenna share their love of ranch life with their guests.
You will find them at the main lodge welcoming guests at the saloon for drinks before dinner, at the dining room or outdoor patio during meal times, and on the ranch throughout the day. They are always available to help with any questions or assist with any needs during your stay.
Three Bars Ranch is well known for having an incredible group of wranglers work with them each year. The wranglers all come from strong agricultural backgrounds all over the world and use their experience with horses to ensure guests have a fun and safe environment during their stay.
Guest will spend the majority of their time with the wranglers, and you will no doubt leave the ranch with fond memories to last a lifetime.
How to Get to Three Bars Dude Ranch BC
Getting to Three Bars Ranch, located just 15 minutes from the Cranbrook Airport in British Columbia, is part of the draw. How you come to arrive at the ranch depends on how quickly you prefer to get there.
You can fly into Cranbrook Airport (YXC) and Three Bars Ranch will pick you up and shuttle you directly to the ranch. There is no need to have a car during your stay.
The drive from Vancouver (10 hours), Calgary (4.5 hours), Spokane (4 hours), or Kalispell (2.5 hours) are all truly spectacular routes and provide many opportunities to stop along the way. If you are not pressed for time, allow an extra day or two to explore on the drive to and from the ranch.
Bonus Tip: While the ranch does not have a Tesla or EV charger, if you bring a converter for your electric vehicle, you can plug-in right in the parking lot. We charged our Tesla upon arrival and had a full charge upon our departure from the ranch.
Final Thoughts on a Dude Ranch BC Vacation
Three Bars Ranch is an all-inclusive vacation experience you will never forget and is consistently rated one of the best dude ranches in BC for families. If you are looking for the perfect place to connect without any distractions, this is the place to be.
This story can also be viewed on Google web stories as Experience a Dude Ranch.
Casandra is the founder of Karpiak Caravan Adventure Family Travel and a mother to two adventurous, young boys. She is a family-focused, adventure travel advocate who grew up in Toronto with Danish roots. Casandra has visited over 20 countries on three continents often with her two boys in tow!