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6 Day Open Range Cattle Drive Ranch Vacation in Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming

Cow Camp, Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming, USA

USA Ranch Vacation and Horse Riding Holiday

​​​​At Double Rafter, it's the real deal. Compared to them, City Slickers is a pony ride! Double Rafter promises you the trip of a lifetime on an open range cattle drive vacation in Wyoming, USA. Out on the range, they will give you the real deal! They don't schedule phony stampedes, cloudbursts, blizzards, rodeos, wagon wrecks, or brush fires - they happen all on their own!

Key information

  • Tack Type: Western
  • Horse Breed: Quarter Horses or Quarter Horse cross

Meet the instructors

Chris
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Highlights

  • Cattle drive and horseback riding sessions
  • Spend your final night at Bear Lodge Resort
  • Complimentary photography and horsemanship clinic
  • Use of saddle, tack, and horse lease, and guide service
  • Ground transportation to and from Sheridan
  • Hearty food and soft drinks will be served
  • There will be 0-2 camp moves
  • 5 nights' accommodation

Skill level

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Styles


4 days with instruction
Airport transfer available:
Billings Logan International Airport (US$235 per person)
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Accommodation

Accommodation during the trip is in teepee tents on double or single occupancy. If you choose double occupancy, Double Rafter will match you with another guest around the same age and gender. The accommodation the night before is in a motel on double occupancy. They do not include single occupancy in the motel, but in case it is requested, it can be given at a discounted price.

You will need a plastic ground sheet to keep you dry during the night. If you are having bad weather, the plastic sheet will keep your stuff dry while you are out riding. For your personal hygiene, you will find a creek to jump into and wash your hair. For bathroom needs away from the camp, a travel pack of Kleenex works well. A few empty Ziploc baggies to carry trash back in is helpful. Add a Wet Ones wipe in a bag and you can wash after.

Program

On the open range cattle drives, you'll gather the cattle and move them to the next pasture in the rotation. Sounds pretty simple, but it is anything but that. With over 60,000 acres inside the boundary of the mountain allotment and only seven pastures, it should tell you immediately that getting the cattle found in any one pasture is a major undertaking by itself.

These trips take place entirely on the mountain in some of the most beautiful remote country you have ever seen. The advantage of these trips is that the weather is generally the most stable and since it has no humidity, the temperatures in all likelihood will be in the 80s. Since this has the cooler temperatures, you don’t have to have breakfast at 3 a.m. like they do on their July cattle drive.

This actually makes for a more restful trip. You can have breakfast in the neighborhood of 6:30 a.m. and plan on being out of camp around 8 a.m. Like all trips, the day ends when you get the cattle to where you need to get them for the day. The riding on the open range trips is as challenging as any trip they do and the hours in the saddle will equal any trips they do.

They promise when you ride “Screamer Hill” or the “Oh sh*t Trail", you will not feel unchallenged! On one of the open range trips a couple years ago, they took a GPS reading in the pasture where they started gathering the herd. They then took a reading when they got to the destination at the end of the week.

As the crow flies, it was only four miles, but the route they had to take, because of the canyons that they can’t get across, they trailed the herd 25.5 miles. You could walk the four miles by foot but you couldn’t lead a horse across it. It is that rough. The 25.5 miles trailed, had them trailing through all kinds of terrain from heavy pine timber stands, to high alpine meadows and swampy areas that could bog your horse down.

And like all trips, it is ago each day unless they were to have white out blizzard conditions! That has only happened twice in 25 years and both times it was in the fall. With all of the scattered timber, high Alpine meadows, rocks, canyons, and rough country, it’s not as easy as it sounds. There is nothing nose-to-tail about this trip. With 600 heads of cattle, they can promise you lots of time in the saddle.

There is an abundance of wildlife, wildflowers, cows and plenty of fresh air to make this one of the most fulfilling weeks of your life. The trip will cover elevations between 6,200 feet and 9,300 feet. With the cook’s phenomenal Dutch oven cooking, incredible horses to ride, and the camaraderie around the campfire, you will make new friends forever.

With many horses to choose from, they can accommodate any level of rider. Give Double Rafter the opportunity to share with you what you have been missing in your life. So don’t hesitate to book one of these trips because it’s not just opening the gate, and kicking cattle through! They get more REPEAT bookings off of their open range cattle drives than any other trips they offer.

Last year, Double Rafter took 40 people combined on the two trips and had 17 of them rebook for another trip next year or the following year. The trips are filling up earlier each year, due in large part to the open range cattle drives! Many of these repeat bookings, book another trip the next year to get the extra day that the open range trips don’t provide.

Double Rafter has looked at their trips and asked the question, is there any way to add another trip to the summer? The clientele is there to support another trip, but the horse flesh can’t handle another trip. They just physically can’t do it. Each of Double Rafter's trips is like a marathon for these horses and in all likelihood, you will ride around 100 miles during the week on any of the trips. So take a chance, on satisfying your wild side!

Horsemanship clinic

A number of years ago, Double Rafter made it mandatory that everyone attending a cattle drives would have to attend their horsemanship clinic. This allows them to try to have everyone mounted on a horse that will allow them to enjoy their week as a cowboy to the fullest. Double Rafter can promise you there are no manicured trails anywhere that you go. This clinic will help you to navigate this varying terrain with skill and confidence. The horsemanship clinic is run by Chris Ellsworth.

The range of the horse's height

How you perform during the cattle handling seminar and the horsemanship clinic will determine if you stay on that horse or get moved to another one. Double Rafter wants you on a horse that fits your skill level.

Cattle drives up and down the canyon

While the herd is in the canyon, Double Rafter has very strict size requirements for the amount of personal gear you can handle in the pack string. Everything you take must go on pack mules when you take the herd through the canyon. You and a partner will be given one bag (Navy sea bag which will be provided) in which you must stuff your sleeping bag, clothes, and personal gear for two days. Your coat, slicker, camera, gloves and lunch can be tied onto your saddle.

Saddle

You can certainly bring your own saddle. You will be more comfortable in your own versus a strange one. However, it is your responsibility to make sure your saddle is in proper working condition and has all the proper equipment.

Instructors

Chris Ellsworth

Location

This trip takes place entirely on the mountain in some of the most beautiful remote countries you have ever seen. The location has many different wild animals that you may see on the trip including deer, moose, elk, black bears, and rattlesnakes. As far as Double Rafter knows, they do not have any grizzly bears.

Food

Food and soft drinks are included in the price. You can bring snacks, but Double Rafter feeds you so well that you might not eat yours. They supply snack foods in the lunch supplies as well.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Soda

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • Cattle drive sessions
  • Horseback riding sessions
  • Use of saddle, tack, and horse lease
  • Guide service
  • Ground transportation to and from Sheridan
  • All food and soft drinks
  • 5 nights' accommodation

What's not included

  • Single occupancy at the motel the night of the banquet
  • The night before the trip is not included, you should all stay at the same hotel and you can start the trip all together early next morning. The Double Rafter have special prices arranged per night for their guests. Please contact the Double Rafter for more information.

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Billings Logan International Airport (BIL). Transfer from and to this airport is available upon request for 235 USD per person. The ranch is about two hours south of Billings.

Airport: Billings Logan International Airport Airport transfer available: Billings Logan International Airport (US$235 per person) Additional charges may apply. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 25% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.
6 days / 5 nights
from --
Pricing information

The price for the Open Range Cattle Drive will change depending on how many people will book at a time:

  • 1-5 People – 3,545 USD per person
  • 6+ People – 2,920 USD per person

There will be a 300 USD per person round-trip delivery charge from Billings to Sheridan. This service is available one day before and one day after the trip.

Double Rafter offers double occupancy in a wall tent for an additional 600 USD and also offers single tee-pee occupancy during the week for 300 USD. This does not include single occupancy at a motel the night of the banquet. The last night’s lodging is included in the trip price.

The recommended gratuity is 125 USD per guest.

For more information, please send an inquiry.

Trip information
  • August 7th arrival into Sheridan, August 8th 8 a.m. pickup and transport to cow camp, August 12th p.m. return to civilization, August 13th 9 a.m. return to the airport
  • August 21st arrival into Sheridan, August 22nd 8 a.m. pickup and transport to cow camp August 26th p.m. return to civilization, August 27th 9 a.m. return to the airport
Friday August 13, 2021
(6 days / 5 nights)

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