by Lissa Poirot
Families looking for an adventurous vacation in which everyone disconnects and spends time together will really enjoy a vacation to Three Bars Ranch. The property, located in British Columbia, Canada, is also an all-inclusive resort.
Owned and operated by the Beckley Family, Three Bars Ranch has three generations of family members living and working on the ranch, with guests turning to Tyler Beckley for the majority of their needs and daily schedule. While Tyler may be the main face, his children, wife, parents, and brother are always around and greeting guests, as well.
Three Bars Ranch is more than a dude ranch; it’s actually a working ranch with over a thousand acres of land. The family grew up on ranches and owned other properties in Canada and the U.S. before putting all of their efforts into Three Bars Ranch.
Guests will spend every day on a horse, meeting their horse on the first day and bonding with them for the whole week — a tradition at most dude ranches. This ranch has 80 horses and pairs guests with a horse based on size, experience, and riding style. Guests choose how they would like to ride: slow walking rides, trotting rides, cantors, family rides, adult rides and kids’ rides. In the afternoons, guests can ride again or participate in other outdoor activities, such as a guided hikes to a waterfall, river rafting and ATV rides.
Between the events, everyone comes together for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and guests of all ages soon become friends in this camp-like environment. It’s a unique vacation experience, and one the whole family will cherish. The Beckleys treat every guest like friends and family, and it’s no surprise that 30 percent of their guests return again and again.
Our Editor Loves
- All-inclusive dude ranch
- Daily horseback riding
- Family cabins
- All Inclusive Rates
- Horse Back Riding
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Family Cabins are two units in one building with a connecting set of doors that can remain open; there's also a shared porch. These cabins have a king suite on one side and a two-queen suite on the other, with one cabin offering a queen and two doubles. The Family Cabins also have two full bathrooms.
A Ranch House is the largest of the offerings at 1,600 square feet. This special cabin has two levels, along with a kitchenette with an oven, stove and a refrigerator. On the main floor, a living and dining area is beside the kitchen with a separate king suite. On the lower, basement level (with small windows) are two additional bedrooms, each with a queen and a twin bed to sleep eight family members.
The riding trails are gorgeous and even the walking rides explore photo-worthy overlooks and vistas along creeks. Being a prior horse owner myself, it mattered to me that they had enough stock so that their horses ended the season enjoying their work rather than getting sour. I was there for the closing week in September. My horse was a generous, gentlemanly guy who had worked his share during the season. But he came to me with two weeks off and was a willing and enthusiastic companion for my six days.
For those who are rusty like myself, I advise getting into the saddle a few times before coming for your week. The trails have some challenging inclines and the rides are a couple of hours each half day.
After the first day, which is all walking rides so that everyone can get acclimated, rides sort out into paces based on the rider's ability and interest. Each half day they send out walking, walk/trot, and walk/trot/lope rides. Three Bars also accommodated some folks who wanted flatter, shorter rides. They had a great time.
Lessons are available, using the horse you have become familiar with during the week. Non-riders can go hiking, rafting when water is higher, fly fishing, shooting and take out ATV's.
The food was plentiful and fresh. I was active every day and I still came back a few pounds heavier.
My only change next time would be to leave off the rental car in Cranbrook. It never moved for my week at the ranch.
Outstanding experience! The entire week exceeded every single expectation we had prior to arrival! The ambiance of the Ranch combined with the incredible vistas of the BC countryside easily made this one of our top getaways! The Beckley Family and their dedicated team provided us with an authentic and exciting week of "ranching". The kitchen staff provided us with meal after meal of first class food and service and we found the entire staff to be competent, caring and committed. If you are looking for a vacation getaway that is "off the beaten path" so to speak, Three Bars Guest Ranch is a must do!
The activities are the highlight of a vacation here. Guests arrive on Sunday evening and stay through Saturday morning, with a daily schedule only wavering with a change in the weather.
Daily rides include morning rides, which most people attend, as it is the only activity offered in the morning, and afternoon rides. The first ride on Monday is an introduction and slow ride divided into small groups. On this ride, guests are introduced to the horses they will have all week. Following the introductory ride, families can split into children's rides (where kids stop and catch frogs), walking rides, trotting rides, and more. The rides are approximately two hours in length. On Fridays, an all-day ride is offered with a stop for a picnic lunch.
On Monday afternoon, weather-permitting, guests may elect to participate in a two-hour hike to Perry Creek Falls. The hike is less than a mile in length and guests can enjoy a swim in the waterfall pools. Note: The water is frigid, so it's not for the faint of heart!
White water rafting trips are offered two days a week, with the ranch divided into the two different dates. Late summer rafting is more like a slow float, as the water levels drop and the rapids decrease. The adventures are typically offered on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.
The entire ranch comes together after dinner each night for games and activities on the lawn in front of the lodge. Wranglers vs. Ranchers volleyball, "fire engine" games, campfires and more provide a chance to relax and get to know the guests and staff.
Not included in the all-inclusive price, but still available are ATV rides. The two-hour tours are offered on select afternoons.
All ages are invited on Thursday afternoons to learn how to skeet shoot.
Trail maps and bicycles are available to guests who may, at any time, elect to hike or mountain bike on the ranch's 1,200 acres.
An indoor heated swimming pool and outdoor hot tub are available for guest use at any time of day or evening.
The Lodge offers a reading library, pool table, Ping Pong table and Foos Ball table for guests to enjoy on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The kids will often spend time in the petting zoo, where a donkey, small pony, goat, chickens, kittens and other animals live. The ranch is family owned, and guests will encounter their family dogs roaming the property freely, including Cupcake, a bulldog who sleeps so soundly you may think he's no longer alive. Be careful! Marley loves cookies and will follow you in hopes of getting one!
As a working ranch, the only downfall of a visit to Three Bars Ranch is a traditional meal schedule of meat and potatoes. We expected as much for a ranch meal, but many of our fellow ranch-goers were disappointed, admitting everything about the ranch was wonderful except the food.
Offerings included a salad course, a vegetable, a potato, biscuits and a meat dish. The taco day lunch and the Asian-BBQ pork ribs dinner were some of our favorites, as was the breakfast ride day, where we had a picnic breakfast with blueberry pancakes. The all-day ride on Friday features a picnic lunch by the St. Mary's River, and is the second meal featured off of the main lodge.
Breakfast is served daily from 8 to 8:45 a.m. Lunch is served at noon. Dinner is served at 6:30 p.m., with Sunday arrival day starting later to accommodate guests traveling in from their destinations.
A Saloon is open nightly at 5:30 p.m. Although it says children are not allowed, sometimes kids are welcome (especially when all of the guests are families). Strawberry and lemon slushes are available.
Planning & Tips
Coin-operated laundry facilities are located on the premises.
A fitness center is available, albeit small and not heavily equipped. However, it's really not needed when you spend your time on horseback, hikes, and other outdoor activities.
Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the ranch, although the mountain location may cause disruptions in speed.
Safety is a top concern at the ranch. Children 12 and younger must wear helmets when riding (the ranch provides them), and all guests will wear helmets and life jackets when rafting. Helmets are also available for mountain biking and ATV rides. Riders are required to wear cowboy boots when riding the horses. The ranch operates a store with boot rentals (free of charge) for those who do not have boots.
Tipping the staff and wranglers is customary at the end of a stay at the ranch, similar to tipping at the end of a cruise. Your family has spent a week with wranglers guiding your rides and leading your events and it's a nice gesture and customary to thank them before you leave.
The Art of Smart Timing
The ranch is only open from May through the end of October, closing from November through April. In the summer months, the majority of visitors are families who stay for the full weeklong program. In the shoulder season, more guests may elect to do three-day visits, though the wranglers hear from everyone who booked short stays that they regretted it. The shoulder season is also filled with corporate travelers who do company excursions. For the best family experience, choose the summer months, so the kids can befriend other children during the same visit.
It often takes a full day for visitors to get to the ranch. The nearest international airports are in Calgary, Alberta, Kalispell, Montana, or Spokane, Washington. From the airports, the drives range from 3 to 5 hours. There is a small airport in Cransbrook, about 30 minutes from the ranch, and the ranch will provide pickup and drop-off service to guests flying into this airport.
Once you're on the ranch, you won't need to travel. Transportation is provided for any excursions off of the ranch. Guests who drive in from airports can park on the ranch at no additional charge.
For Mom and Dad
The ranch does provide spa treatments, although it only has one treatment room for massages, and limited appointments are available. The treatments are an additional cost. A nearby golf course is also available to guests, and the ranch will provide transportation to anyone interested in golfing.