At Ciao Bambino, we’re big fans of family ranch vacations for all ages and we’re experienced at matching families with the perfect dude ranch. Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Idaho is a wonderful choice for those with small children — a combination of kid- and family-focused programs, along with an exceptional staff, bring the full dude ranch experience to even the youngest guests.
A dude ranch vacation is not one-size-fits-all. Many of my fellow guests had spreadsheets and notes on the various ranches they researched before choosing Red Horse Mountain Ranch. From the management’s point of view, Red Horse Mountain Ranch is the perfect “starter ranch” for families with young children or guests who want a variety of things to do. There is no structured childcare, but kids can participate in children’s activities beginning at age 3.
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During our week, the guests included mother/daughter pairs, multigenerational families with toddlers, and families with school-age kids, tweens and teens. The daily schedule includes both family and all-ages activities, which gives everyone an opportunity to be independent as well as spend time together.
Traveling with kids, especially at the toddler and preschool ages, requires flexibility no matter how organized activities are or how many foods are offered at mealtimes. The staff at Red Horse Mountain Ranch accommodate special requests when possible and structure activities so that all ages feel included. There is a genuineness to the staff that endears them to the kids, which is evident in the little tears from young guests when it’s time to say goodbye at the end of the week.
Every ranch guest who plans to ride during the week is assigned their own horse, cowboy boots and riding hat. A notable feature of the riding program is that each child age 3 to 6 is accompanied on the kids’ trail ride by a wrangler who leads their horse for the duration of the ride. This is significant for families because it means parents have the option for more advanced riding and can also venture out as a family during organized rides.
Another feature of Red Horse Mountain Ranch that works very well with young kids is the onsite leisure activities that don’t require signup. The basketball hoops are always out and the badminton net is set up on the lawn. The pool is popular and the fishing lake, set near the horse pastures, has a shed with fishing poles ready to go. Because there is no cell reception and WIFI is very spotty, the kids gravitate toward physical outdoor activities.
Dining with kids is easy at Red Horse Mountain Ranch. Meals are served buffet-style at set times in a casual dining room, and families can sit where they choose. Meals are a highlight of the week and the baked goods earn the pastry chef a cult following from kids and adults. There is no shortage of tasty, high-quality food and the kitchen will make adjustments for dietary reasons and special requests. The happy hour that precedes dinner each night is a time for everyone to gather on the wraparound porch and enjoy the pasture views. Guests can dine here as well.
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Red Horse Mountain Ranch is located about 90 minutes from Spokane, Washington. The scenic drive combines highways and smaller roads that wind around lakes, sometimes yielding views of moose by the water’s edge. The ranch feels remote, but the nearest small town, Harrison, is only 15 minutes away.
Editor’s Note: Ciao Bambino received a media package to review Red Horse Mountain Ranch for families. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Kristi Marcelle except where noted.
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