With guest ranch experiences that run the gamut — from rustic to revolutionary — home on the range in Canada’s westernmost province is anything but ordinary. Saddle up.
Open skies, grasslands and seemingly endless lakes and forest all ensure British Columbia’s Cariboo country was made for in-the-saddle adventure, a reality celebrated at Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, south of Williams Lake. Here, guided horseback, hiking and fly-fishing excursions share the spotlight with the ranch’s Royal Baan Thai spa, a soothing respite where western treatments meld with authentic Asian therapies. (For the latter, guests would be wise to choose a traditional Thai massage, an ancient total-body treatment that includes a series of assisted yoga-like stretches.) At Echo Valley, evenings are capped with home cooking that elevates old west favourites, all before cowpokes tuck in for the night at the main house or in one of the ranch’s cabins. evranch.com
The hills are alive further north at The Hills Health Ranch, a down-home retreat known for its riding holidays and health retreats in summer. Here, guests can choose to dip their paddles on a calm lake or revel in hiking and biking trails that take in everything from expansive meadows to soaring mountaintops. Indoors pursuits offer no less with a host of fitness activities sure to elevate the heart rate (a multitude of classes are offered daily), while an indoor pool, gym, hot tubs, sauna, two restaurants and a family lounge provide the ideal après atmosphere. The perfect end? A stay at Hills Health Ranch wouldn’t be complete without time spent in the spa, where signature treatments, including seaweed body wraps, will soothe any stay. spabc.com
Connecting with Mother Nature is the name of the game — or at least the aim — at Chilcotin Holidays, near Lillooet. Here, the outdoor adventure crew relishes the restorative power of the great outdoors, prompting guests to open their minds to adventures that include Guest Ranch Packages (gold panning and bareback riding), Ranch-Based Wildlife Viewing (grizzlies, moose, mountain goats and more call this slice of heaven home) and Mountain Fishing Getaways (a wealth of rivers and streams draw anglers deep into the Chilcotin Mountains). With more than 27 years in the field, this seasoned crew takes its stewardship role seriously, providing hard-earned insight alongside peace of mind. chilcotinholidays.com
BC’s Wilderness Way Adventure Resort, west of Kamloops, is not your typical guest ranch. Sure, wranglers here make city folk feel like they were born for the country, but this adventure retreat, in BC’s Thompson Okanagan, offers much more, by way of heart-thumping outdoor play. Here’s a taste: six ziplines backdropped by the Cascade Mountains, ATV tours that wind along wilderness trails, archery range target shooting and heli-tours that promise a sky-high view of the Thompson River and the surrounding valley. Only one question remains: which adventure to tackle first? thewildernesswayresort.com
Further east in the province’s Kootenay Rockies region, Three Bars Ranch promises a 14,163-hectare (35,000-acre) expanse ideally suited for life in the saddle. Here, multi-sport adventures reign, with a variety of personalized activities geared for every age group and interest: guests can focus on the finer points with twice-daily horseback rides customized for all levels of riders, while guided hikes, mountain biking, rafting trips, fly-fishing, ATV tours, gold panning and archery are sure to prove equally intriguing. And once the sun sets, hearty family-style dining in the main house and campfires, complete with roasted marshmallows, prove the best settings for newly-minted cowboys to unwind at their home-away-from-home on the range. threebarsranch.com