by Amanda Norcross
Marble Mountain Ranch offers families the ultimate dude ranch vacation in northern California. The all-inclusive, family-owned resort offers unplugged activities include horseback riding, river rafting, kayaking, clay shooting, and fly fishing. Paintball, ATV rides and special events (think barrel racing) are also part of the fun. Families stay in private cottages with kitchenettes or full kitchens.
Marble Mountain Ranch is ideal for family reunions and multigenerational getaways.
Our Editor Loves
- All-inclusive rates
- Unplugged adventures
- Private cottages for families
- Horse Back Riding
- Water Sports
- Dude Ranch
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Onsite Dining
These were the exact words our kids used to describe our time on the ranch. One one level this is upsetting because we've taken them to some pretty nice beaches, but it really does sum up how great a holiday we had with Doug & Heidi at MMR.
Coming over from the UK to a Dude ranch was a real step into the unknown for us. But from the moment we arrived we enjoyed a warm welcome and settled in almost right away. The accommodation is simple, cosy and clean, but frankly, we spent so little time in our cabin to really notice.
This holiday was a true adventure. You're kept pretty busy with all the activities, starting with the breakfast bell at 8am. Those Breakfasts were well worth getting up for with Huevos Rancheros a particular highlight one day. 3hrs of Arena riding, trail riding and shooting fill the time before lunch. As a Brit I've rarely handled a gun, but I found these sessions the most fun I've had in a long time, with rifle, shotgun and musket shooting building up to shooting some clays later in the week. Doug & Roots were excellent coaches with some very dry repartie, and they kept us safe without taking away any of the fun. The trail riding was really restful through the forest and riverbank near the ranch. In the arena you can really sharpen up your horse handling skills,and even get a bit competitive around the obstacle courses if you want. The ranch is able to cater for pretty much all levels of riding ability, and will make sure you get the most out of your stay.
After lunch its normally rafting, with just one day off midweek. Again, I've never rafted, and whether it was simply admiring the scenery and the wildlife from the boat when gliding along, jumping in the river for a swim between rapids or shooting through the rapid sections, this was the highlight for my eldest child. She chose to kayak the river and the sense of achievement and independence she got from it was enormous, a real growth experience for her.
Food in the evenings is predominantly low n slow BBQ fare. Honestly, I couldnt pick a favourite meal because each evening seemed to surpass the last. Heidi is a wizard with a smoker, and washed down with a bottle of beer or a glass of wine, each meal was superb. If pushed I might vote for the mexican feast on the final evening, but the spare ribs and the tri tip beef pushed it pretty close.
After dinner guests generally congregate around the campfire. This is where a holiday like this comes into its own. You're in the wilderness with little opportunity to get online. The phone in your hand is useless and this means you spend a lot of time with the other guests and have an opportunity to really come out of yourself and get to know your friendly neighbours. Our group got on very well, with the children finding friends from the other families easily, and disappearing off to explore the ranch, leaving the parents to relax and swap stories, with a little extra story telling thrown in by the hosts.
By the end of the week we came away thoroughly relaxed, but also having discovered an entirely different way of living, in a place where the stars are so bright at night and the scenery so varied and beautiful. So many thanks to Doug, Heidi and all the staff. They do a great job with lots of humour and patience. Or family would go back in a heartbeat.
by John P
What a magical week we had, my 15-year-old grandson and Granny, 80. We enjoyed a full schedule every day of horseback riding, white water rafting, fishing, shooting 4 types of guns ( including black powder), archery and skeet shooting. We lived in a rustic-looking but fully furnished cabin nestled in thick woods with horses all around and chowed down on fresh, homemade delicious meals. I was impressed by the care that Doug and Heidi took to make sure every adventure was not only wonderful fun but also totally safe. Great chance to bond with grandkids!