A few words from our guests…
Genuine Traditions Enjoyed
If you’ve ever been to a large cathedral and tried to capture its beauty with photographs, you know it can’t be done. That’s my experience at the Barron Ranch. You see the beauty of the landscapes, accomplish the ranch work with equine, bovine, sheep, and goats, feel the caring of a non-pretentious Montana working ranch family that cares as much for each other as it does its guests and its animals, stay in a wonderfully comfortable resort type log home on a babbling river full of trout and a fireplace made of stone from the river, and last but not least plant your feet under Wanda’s kitchen table to enjoy 5 star meals with her family (and whoever else passes through) to share lively conversations full of knowledge of the area you can’t find anywhere else. We visited Yellowstone over the Beartooth Pass (which is a life altering experience in itself), museums full of local history and issues that have developed our country, and unique eateries chock full of local character. This vacation was the real deal.
Our family of four (2 adults, 2 boys) spent a week at Barron Ranch this May in what turned out to be an experience of a lifetime!
We stayed at The Cabin at the Barron Ranch – a delightfully quaint cottage right on the bank of the Stillwater River. The cabin had 3 bedrooms / 2 bathrooms, a beautifully appointed living room with a wood-burining fireplace, fully equipped kitchen, a lovely patio overlooking the river, and everything else you would need to have a comfortable stay – including wifi! Despite a warm and cosy cottage, we spent most of our time outdoors enjoying the various activities that the ranch had to offer.
Arriving in mid May we were witness to a range of weather – snow, rain and beautiful sunny days on which one could truly understand why they called it “Big Sky Country”! Regardless of the weather, everyday was an absolute thrill. Our mornings began early (by my standards, at least!) at ~ 7.30a, with a scrumptious breakfast in Wanda’s kitchen. Wanda’s kitchen really functions as the vortex of the ranch, there is always a hot pot of coffee brewing, an endless supply of good / wholesome and delicious food, and people dropping in and out throughout the day.
Although no day had a specific agenda, while at the Wanda’s kitchen one always came to know where the “action” at the ranch was happening at that particular moment. We delighted in feeding the bum lambs (lambs who aren’t being nursed by their mothers), chasing cats across the barn, harassed chickens while picking up the eggs they had laid, playing with dogs, feeding the sheep and cows, and of course…THE HORSE-BACK RIDING!
Wanda and Tini treat their horses (and in fact all their animals) like their own children. They know each one by name, their temperament and adore them as much as any parent does a child. We were all easily paired up horses to suit our varied riding expertise, and partook in the grooming and saddling of the horses. Being at a working ranch we had an opportunity to ride our horses to partake in actual work. We herded sheep down to a pasture to graze, and then back. We participated in a cattle drive, rounding up cattle for a “branding”.
The “branding” had to be the most unique experience we have ever encountered. We got into the cowboy spirit, and watched in awe as the dextrous wranglers separated the calves from their mothers, roped, wrestled, branded, inoculated, and in the case of the males, castrated them too. We participated as best we could in the wrestling and inoculation, and were even taught how to throw a rope (lasso). The evening following the branding was a party for Wanda and Tini’s grandsons – it was a great opportunity to meet many of Wanda and Tini’s family and friends, while our children ran about with the other kids playing soft-ball, swinging on a tire, petting bunny rabbits, throwing a rope and making new friends. The beer was chilled, the wine free flowing, the hot-dogs delicious, the potato salad even better…and after several failed attempts, I finally managed to roast a marshmallows to a perfect golden-brown color. Wow!
Wanda is a 5th generation ranch-gal managing their family ranch, and veteran of the area. She and Tini took us on a fun-filled excursions to Yellowstone National Park and to the Absaroka Wilderness. Armed with their knowledge of the park we got to see bears, a moose and buffalo (bison) all at one spot!
I’ve rambled on enough…though still feel that there is so much more that we did that I haven’t written about. In a nut-shell, if you want to experience the authentic cowboy country, look no further than the Barron Ranch. As Wanda put’s it, this is “the real deal”!
As we left, I cannot help by reflect upon a poem I read on Wanda’s kitchen wall:
May your horse never stumble,
Your cinch never break,
Your stomach never grumble,
Your heart never ache.
My heart aches to go back already…
“While collecting donations for the upcoming Beartooth Hospital Ball, I had the good fortune to meet Wanda Wilcox from Paintbrush Adventures. An amazing and generous woman! She donated a full day trail ride for 4, including lunch. While visiting her ranch, I was introduced to many of her family & staff, plus 4 & 2 legged friends…sheep, goats, horses, chickens, ducks, dogs & cats. She offered me a Red Merle cattledog pup (I resisted! The other option was a goat…) But would not let me leave without taking 2 dozen farm fresh eggs! If you are looking for an AUTHENTIC Montana outdoor horse or ranch experience this is the place!”
I am SO HAPPY to have had the opportunity to come to the ranch for full ranch vacation. I had some of the best time of my riding life and was welcomed by the most generous family I have ever met. Thanks guys for this great time and experience. Hope we’ll meet again !!
Emily • London, England:
From hour trail rides to full ranch vacations, Barron Ranch offers an authentic experience of ranch life in the most beautiful settings. They offer memorable experiences for families and individuals of all ages, and all horse riding abilities. For me it was a perfect excuse to escape the realities of real life and loose myself in the most incredible landscape and culture. More importantly, I had the chance to become part of the most inspirational, intelligent and genuine family. I can’t recommend Barron Ranch more highly than to say it changed my life. It will also change yours.
GRY & MARIANNE • NORWAY:
We were one week in Sept. 2011 at Barron Ranch – and that became a MEMORIE for LIFE for us. Wanda & Tini included us into their family and everything that they were doing at the farm. We saw a lot of animals that we don’t have in Norway, very exciting. And we took long horseback-riding at the prairie – that was great! A stay at Barron Ranch was for us a lot more than we had hoped for – Many, many THANKS!
Bhavi Patel • Atlanta, GA:
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Wanda, Tini, and the whole family; they created a warm and friendly environment with lots of ranch fun. The ranch has lots to do from riding to feeding baby calves, roping lessons, and much more. I will definitely be going back!
Nick Baird • Columbus, OH:
I have had the pleasure of riding, packing and fishing with Wanda for the past 22 years. She is an exraordinary woman, an incredibly talented horsewoman, but most importantly a wonderful, big hearted, and very close friend. Seize the opportunity to explore the Beartooths with she and Tini. You will forever look at the world differently!
John Williams • Thornville, OH:
My firends and I have been going on pack trips with Wanda since the late eighties. Great scenery, accomodations, food, fishing, and friendship. We’ve had adventures that most people can only dream of. I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.
Dave Rummel • Columbus, OH:
You are absolutely the BEST outfitters in Montana, providing the most scenic and fun rides every year. We love our time with you and will most definately keep returning every year. Thanks for the amazing memories.
Robin Holderman • Columbus, OH:
I have know Wanda for 22 years. In that time, I have packed with her into the specacular Beartooth Mountains 15 times. Each trip was a great adventure with beautiful sceneray, aboundant wildlife, terrific fishing and fabulous meals. Wanda and Tini have a rich Montana heritage and are eager to share it with all.
Margaret Rooney • Orwell Cove, PEI Canada:
Wanda Wilcox and her family at Paintbrush Adventures are absolutely wonderful. My family and I recently spent 9 days on Wanda’s ranch and they treated us like part of their family. The house we stayed in was a beautiful, luxuriously laid out home right on the Stilwater River. The sound of the river sang us to sleep each night. I have 5 young children and they were welcomed on the ranch as much or more so than the adults were! That is a rare quality to find now. We enjoyed beautiful rides in the bluffs, on the ranch, and in the mountains. My kids are still talking about the horses they rode and how much they enjoyed them and the scenery. They also thoroughly enjoyed the white water rafting that was another activity the ranch offered us. Our stay concluded with a rodeo that not only showcased professional calf roping demonstrations by Wanda’s sons but it also included us in a variety of fun gymkhana events. We had an unbelievably good time. We were awestruck by the Montana scenery and the wonderful hospitality that Paintbrush Adventures offered us. It was a trip of a lifetime for us. Our kids are already trying to figure out a way that we can go back. Anyone that spends time on Wanda’s ranch will be Blessed.
The trip was fantastic. A true working ranch, getting our hands dirty and enjoying every minute; great vacation. Wanda and her family were passionate and generous folks. Thanks again
First experience with Ranch Vacation. The place is fantastic, about accomodation : a beautiful house with the river is sight. The most i liked was spending few days with Wanda and her family. They are wonderful folks. Can’t wait until next year. Thanks Wanda.
Matt & Allie Forbes • Mifflinburg, PA:
Matt and I spent our honeymoon on Barron Ranch in July. We truely had a blast! We went to the Cody Rodeo, rode horses, herded cattle, and helped brand. It was a fun experience! Yellowstone was beautiful. Thank you Ken and Diane for taking us to see it! We miss you all so very much and hope to see you guys again! God bless! please tell Calvin we say hello! Keep work’n on your rop’n skills! We’ll come out and practice with you again!
I recently stayed with Wanda and her family at Barron Ranch and had one of the most amazing experiences of my whole life! I loved it so much that my week long stay soon became a whole month! The ranch is situated in some of the most beautiful country, right by the river with the mountains so close you feel like you could reach out and touch them! The horses were great and the riding was awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed gathering up and moving the cattle as well as taking rides up along the Stillwater river. My trip to the mountains with Wanda’s son Ty and his friends is definitely one of the highlights – packing in on horseback on a clear, sunny day and then watching as more than 2 feet of snow fell over the next couple of days – Brilliant! I definitely recommend Barron Ranch and Paintbrush Adventures to anyone wanting to experience real Montana life on a traditional ranch. Thank you Wanda and family for making my stay so wonderful and for making me feel like 1 of the family.
Miranda Margetts, Australia:
Thank you, Wanda and Tini, for such a wonderful stay on your ranch. I was very impressed from the start as I woke up to the sounds of the running Stillwater River and spotted deer just outside the cabin’s bedroom window. I enjoyed the opportunity to participate in such a wide variety of ranch activities and felt warmly welcomed by your friends and family while doing so. The highlights were the fall cattle drive and shipping, Yellowstone tour and visiting nearby Sioux Charlie (where we were lucky to spot bears by the water’s edge), East Rosebud and Mystic Lakes. I also enjoyed trying the local elk steak and smoked trout! You certainly live in a beautiful part of the world and I do hope to visit again one day.
Duc and Carrie from Philadelphia:
I hope this email finds you well. We miss Montana and your family! I just wanted to send you a reviews of the pack trip and the ranch days. I plan on putting these reviews on TripAdvisor. We had a great time with Wanda and her group for our vacation at the beginning of August! The pack trip was amazing – a must do! They have different campsites in the Beartooth Mountains and your horseback ride depends on which campsite they choose. So be prepared to ride a horse for at least 3 hours. It was neat going into the mountains on a pack of 7 horses and 10 pack mules. The horses were tame and it was an easy ride for someone with 10 short rides over 30 years. I am very inexperienced with horses while my girlfriend was the opposite and very experienced. It was really beautiful ride, every picture was a postcard. They set up your tent and cots and it was super cozy. Wanda was a restaurant cook for 15 years so she could accommodate any diet. I am a vegetarian and my girlfriend is an omnivore and we both loved all of our meals. I had tofu scramble one day, and vegetable stir fry the next day. Every meal was different. Just make sure she knows before hand if you have any dietary restrictions so she can get specific food when she goes to the grocery store. Make sure you get a fishing license and rent some fishing equipment from Wanda, because it is quite an experience to learn (we are both very novice fishermen). Ty (Wanda’s son) showed us how to Fly Fish which was meditative and calming. It was beautiful scenery everywhere you look. There was no itinerary and it was basically whatever we wanted to do, which was pretty much horseback riding, hiking, and fishing. We took day trips to the most beautiful places and one day checked around an old abandoned gold mine. Bring the Bug Spray, insect bite sticks because they are out there. Every night there is a short rainstorm and then all the bugs disappear. The night sky is beautiful with all the stars and shooting stars! Every night we would sit by the campfire and tell stories but I loved to hear all the stories from Wanda, who is a true pioneer woman who seems like she can do anything. Let’s see we saw Moose, Elk, Antelope, and a Bear wandered through the camp at night (the dogs who normally sleep outside the tents were in the tents barking). Don’t worry they have Bear Spray so we felt safe and comfortable. Now this is not the Four Seasons, so no luxury, but it was very comfortable and quite an adventure! I would do it again in a heartbeat. On the way down the mountains, we rode in a rainstorm (which was fun) so bring rain gear. Bring chapstick, the altitude and wind saps the moisture.
Thank you, Wanda, Ty, Emily, Rodney, and Petey for a great time!
We booked with Paintbrush adventures for a week of ranch days. City Slickers IV – Curse of the East coasters. We could not stay on the Ranch or in their Ranch house (which I heard is beautiful) along the Stillwater river (Fishermen usually book this far in advance) because it was booked. We stayed at another ranch 8 miles away but we were there from 8AM to 10PM. If you have insomnia, this will cure it. Every night we hit the bed hard! Some nights we did not even shower before bed, that’s how tired we were. It’s not hard work but for a couple of people who sit at a desk all day (who goes to the gym a few times a week), all day walking around and doing stuff wears you out quickly. Tini (Wanda’s husband showed us the farm and the cattle and sheep. Tini showed us how he horseshoes them and help us learn to saddle our own horses. He was the quintessential working ranchman/cowboy who would leave after breakfast and come back before dinner with his hands all black from the work that he did all day. These people work hard! For our ranch days we fed the sheep and lambs and chickens and we took daily horseback trips to check on the cattle, long horned steer across 1500 acres! We saw the old homestead houses and old abandoned school houses and rode across the rolling hills as if we were in a dream. We corralled a Bull (who had gotten out of the fence onto a neighbor’s land) for maybe a mile or two on horseback and got him back into the horse trailer – That was quite an adventure! I watched Emily (a ranch hand from England) galloping and grabbing her hat to catch up to the Bull it was so graceful.
At one point we were on the horses and we went into a Lope (which is faster than a trot but slower than a gallop) which was so much fun and scary at the same time. One day Troy (Wanda’s son) let us watch him break a 3 year old horse. I was amazed at how really non physical it was and how it was almost all psychological. He really has an amazing rapport with horses and Mules. I was transfixed for 2-3 hours. On the last day, we had a rodeo day, where we got to do barrel runs and games that use all the horse riding skills that you learn all week and it was amazing at what I had learned! From basically a non rider to a person who was confident and proficient on a horse. My girlfriend noticed that we had not seen a gym in a while and it made sense that when you lead this type of life, you really don’t need to go workout because your entire day is physical. I thought my investment in a cowboy hat and cowboy boots were a great investment because I got a lot of use from them. The ranch days were such an adventure and so much fun!
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