Disclaimer: This is going to sound like a paid advertisement, but it's not. It's just the testimony of a family that had an incredible vacation.
We had the most amazing time in Wyoming at Medicine Bow Lodge. The entire experience exceeded our expectations. If you are considering a unique and unforgettable vacation, I cannot recommend Medicine Bow Lodge enough. Here's why:
1. Horses: We rode both morning and afternoon for upwards of two hours at at time. The horses are well maintained and each ride was an exploration of it's own- rushing mountain streams, aspen forests, pine forests, rocky byways and gorgeous scenes. We each had the same horse throughout the week and were well instructed on how to handle it. We also enjoyed a sunset ride and a day long pack trip.
2. Hospitality: We stayed in a cabin with adjoining rooms which provided us with both space and privacy. Each room had its own bathroom with a shower. The lodge, which is the perfect combination of rustic and cozy, is open to guests 24 hours a day along with access to hot and cold drinks. It didn't take long before we were on a first name basis with everyone and felt right at home. It even came with a dog, Katie, to pet.
3. Staff: The Bishop family owns and lives at the ranch along with their staff. These young people went out of their way to know our children's names and engage our family. I really can't say enough about their willingness to serve, work hard and make our vacation extra special. I think my kids learned a lot from watching these young adults working well together and having fun at the same time.
4. Food: I wish that I would have taken more pictures, but honestly I couldn't help but start eating each meal before I would remember to snap a shot. Each meal at the ranch is included in the price. The day always started with hot cinnamon rolls on the table to enjoy while breakfast was being cooked. Breakfast was made to order: pancakes, toast, eggs, omelets, hashbrowns, fruit, cereal.... Whatever we could dream up, they could make. Lunch and Dinner were always well prepared and well balanced meals. Coming straight from the kitchen and made from scratch, it really seemed like home (except I didn't have to make it and clean it up:) Two of our girls are gluten free, but this did not stop them from enjoying the food. The kitchen staff went out of their way to ensure that they could eat what they wanted. They even went as far as cleaning and cooking the fish that we caught.
5. Activities: There's more than just horses to Medicine Bow Lodge. We enjoyed the rope swing, playing pool, fishing, country dancing, a concert by the fireplace and pottery. These activities were just like icing on the cake.
6. Family: Unlike other dude ranches where riders are separated by experience or age groups, Medicine Bow Lodge allows for families to stay together. Their Lodge is based not on programs or schedules, but people, which is truly what sets them apart.
7. Faith: It is clear that the Bishops love the Lord and are devoted to serving Him. It was such an encouragement to see various family and staff members with their Bibles open over breakfast. Chapel services are offered on Sunday mornings as well. There is a genuine atmosphere of respect and peace that clearly stems from their faith.
8. Beauty: Traveling up the mountain pass to the lodge will no doubt take your breath away. But once at the ranch there is an incredible amount of beauty to explore and discover. The Lodge sits in the middle of Medicine Bow National Forest which covers miles of protected land. I personally enjoyed the rushing mountain stream behind the lodge and the very comfortable hammock.
9. Price: Okay, this is probably going to be the kicker for most people. We were blessed beyond measure to have received this vacation through the Kids Talk About God International Art Contest. However, considering that this vacation is all-inclusive the price bears itself out. Consider this: a week at Disney costs and average of $1000/person, an all inclusive family resort averages about $1200/person. Other ranches in Wyoming offer similar accommodations, but at a much higher rate. Medicine Bow Lodge is well worth the investment for an experience of a lifetime.
10. A true vacation experience: I can testify firsthand that vacation isn't always the most relaxing experience, especially for mom. Oftentimes a lot of energy is spent on planning, managing the budget, waiting in long lines and trying to get everything in during a week of vacation only to come home a bit haggard. This vacation experience was completely the opposite. It gave us an opportunity to experience the beauty of God's creation, a time to bond as a family while trying new things, and a chance to leave responsibility behind for a while. We left Medicine Bow Lodge truly refreshed and rejuvenated.