By Jan Chitsey
Bandera, Texas. Cowboy Capital of the World. And home to eight of the top 10 dude ranches in Texas, according to Google. After perusing each website, we made our choice, packed our bags, and drove across the monotonous dry plains of west Texas until we finally entered the lush green beauty of the Texas Hill Country.
Just outside of Bandera, tucked into the rolling hills on nearly 300 acres, the Silver Spur’s iron gate opens onto a gravel road that winds through pastures of grazing longhorns and leads you to a beautiful three-story ranch house. Off to the right, 26 horses await to take the next aspiring cowgirl or cowboy over one of the numerous trails that crisscross the panoramic hillsides. The Texas sun reflects off the water of a 250,000-gallon pool on the left — an oasis from the 90-plus temperatures outside.
Boots thud across the wooden porch, past the traditional triangle chuck wagon dinner bell that they use to call everyone in for meals. And from the moment you cross the threshold… you are family.
Experience western life, meet new friends, and make memories to last a lifetime. The ranch is staffed full time by a knowledgeable crew eager to share their love of their lifestyle with you. Picnic-style tables in the dining room encourage guests and wranglers to mingle together at meal times. The cook makes fresh homemade cookies daily and sets them out next to large containers of lemonade and water for guests to help themselves to. Leftover waffles from breakfast are stacked in a glass jar for the kids to feed to the two miniature donkeys — Jack and Ginny. Both donkeys are very friendly and will eat them right out of your hand. We gave Ginny a few extra since she was pregnant and expecting a baby in May.
Each night that you stay you can enjoy two one-hour rides. With miles of trails to choose from no two rides are the same. The first rides go out an hour before breakfast. The afternoon rides can be hot so the wranglers might take you through narrow trails that wind through tall trees. Ask them to take you on the “cowboy roller coaster” for a fun up and down section of the trail that gets the horses moving at a quick trot.
In between rides you can hike down to the fossil pit and dig for fossils, swim in the pool, relax under the large wooden cabana, play tetherball, washers, or horseshoes, feed the donkeys, or pet the many goats wandering around the ranch yard. Or you can try your hand at roping. There are plenty of “dummy” calves and ropes lying in the yard for guests to pick up and throw. The ranch manager, Jay, is a great teacher, patiently correcting the grip and throw of eager young — or old — cowhands.
Inside, enjoy the large gathering area with a big stone fireplace, pool table, antique upright piano, and an abundance of board games and puzzles.
In the evenings, there is a hayride down to feed the longhorns — up close and personal — and everyone gathers around a big campfire to eat s’mores.
No matter what age you are you are sure to have a great experience at the Silver Spur Guest Ranch!
The Silver Spur Guest Ranch, located just nine miles outside of Bandera, Texas, operates year-round. Call to book your reservation at (830) 796-3037 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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