If you feel you might have been born 100 years too late, take heart. There are plenty of places in Oklahoma to get your cowboy on.
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Guest ranches vary in the experiences they offer but they all share an opportunity for guests to sample a taste of the Old West. Whether it’s mounting up for a trail ride, taking a roping lesson, participating in a cattle drive or heating up a branding iron, Oklahoma’s guest ranches offer a chance to earn your spurs. Or you can just sit back, take a break and enjoy the atmosphere. Here are seven worth checking out:
The sprawling Lazy S Ranch in Frederick has more than 3,000 acres of land, and some of it has been in Kirk Schreiner’s family for generations. The rest he bought or leased in sections, building a ranch he uses to raise cattle, hay and alfalfa. The last piece of the puzzle was a ranch house on two acres surrounded by Schriener’s property. That once-private residence now is available for guests who come to hunt, taste ranch life or simply get some distance from the metropolitan hubbub. Since lodging isn’t the main business, Schreiner is pretty flexible when it comes to accommodating guests. A family from Virginia wanted to watch a hay harvest; they did, and each of the young boys got a ride in the combine. Want to feed the cattle? Just ask.
This is a working cattle ranch with two modern, comfortable guest cabins. The Hoot Owl Ranch property is in a canyon near Black Mesa in the southwest tip of the panhandle. The main residence and barn were built of hewn native stone in the 1880s, about 20 years after “Captain” William Coe’s gang inhabited Robber’s Roost on a nearby mesa. Owners George and Terry Collins invite guests to see the scenery on the ranch’s horses or their own – they offer quarters for them too, but without the kitchenette. Expect to see wild turkeys in the fall.
The Hitching Post is a vast ranch, better measured in sections than acres. That allows Bobby and Jane Apple to offer almost any Western experience a guest might crave, including cattle drives and overnight trail rides, without leaving their property. Originally part of the famous 101 Ranch, the land has been in the family since 1886, when an ancestor of Jane Apple’s was a bronc buster for the 101. Accommodations are in the trailer home, which sleeps five, or a modern log cabin nearby that’s great for families – it features a queen bed in one room and bunk beds in the other. The Apples also operate guest quarters in the nearby town of Kenton, so they can host groups as well. Guests can sample as much genuine cowboy life as they like, from roping lessons to a ride on the Hitching Post stagecoach. If you can imagine it, the Apples probably can make it happen.
Just west of Tulsa in Sand Springs this ranch offers all-inclusive dude ranch vacations with food, lodging and Western-themed activities included. Stay in one of Meadowlake Ranch’s teepees, a lakeside log cabin or a bluff-top cabin overlooking five private lakes and the Tulsa skyline. With whirlpools or hot tubs for two at each heated, air-conditioned cabin, roughing it isn’t the issue. And how much fun would it be to go home and tell friends you took tomahawk throwing lessons? Guests can learn how to rope, practice rifle and pistol skills, and shoot a bow and arrow. They also can play horseshoes, fish, swim, canoe and finish the day with a campfire. The ranch has 350 acres of its own and leases 700 adjoining acres with hunting available.
For a less dude-like experience, the 1,000-acre Tatanka Ranch offers ten designer guest cabins, two larger houses, a lodge, pavilion, rock-scaped pool with spa and a rec room. Popular pastimes include kayaking, paddle boating, canoeing and fishing. Guests can also go on a scenic horseback ride, climb up the Elvis tower or hike on 600 acres. There's also plenty of outdoor games like volleyball, croquet, horseshoes and bocci ball available.
Double J Guest Ranch in Shawnee offers a working ranch experience plus horseback riding to nearby Robbers Cave State Park, fishing, roping and other outdoor activities. Accommodations at the Double J are a pair of two-bedroom cabins.
Open April-September, the 5,000-acre Island Guest Ranch is indeed on an island in the Cimarron River. You might even recognize it from ads for Levis, Lee jeans, Wranglers or Justin boots. In addition to daily horseback riding, team penning and roping, the ranch offers powwows, trail rides, square dancing and rodeos in which guests can participate.