Posted Nov 26, 2019
Located just 90 minutes north of New York City, Pine Ridge Dude Ranch provides an authentic ranch getaway experience in a sprawling wooded setting in the Catskill mountains. Their all-inclusive getaways include accommodations featuring western-themed furnishings; three country-inspired, all-you-can-eat meals every day; and a full menu of daily activities, including horseback riding, indoor archery, rock climbing, jumping pillow, snow tubing, indoor/outdoor pools with water slides, ice skating, mini-golf, nightly live entertainment and campfires, and more!
CertifiKID team member, Jennifer Stile, visited Pine Ridge Dude Ranch with her family. Read on below for an honest review of their experience.
Jennifer: We are a family of five and thoroughly enjoyed our two-night stay at Pine Ridge Dude Ranch on a cold weekend in November. The staff, all dressed in cowboy hats and plaid shirts, was so welcoming and friendly and was readily available to assist in any way.
Pine Ridge is a large property with tons of indoor and outdoor activities and a stable with 60+ well-cared for horses. We picked up the daily schedule print-out with fun and unique activities, like a hay bail throwing contest, corn hole competition, line dancing and spaghetti and marshmallow STEM craft activity and we were open to trying new things and looked forward to having a good time!
On the first night, we had a tasty dinner in the dining room. After dinner, my kids signed up for an outdoor laser tag game, complete with giant round hay bails to hide behind. They had a blast!
We enjoyed a great camp fire with marshmallows followed by some family game time in the grand lobby, where we signed up for our trail ride time for the following day. The front desk has a HUGE selection of board and card games to borrow.
The grand lobby was cozy, welcoming and has lots of character with a large four-sided fireplace, leather sofas and plenty of tables for lots of conversation and gathering.
On Saturday, we checked out the activity schedule and were excited to participate in lots of fun. There were so many options. As the family "social director," I really appreciated that I did not have to come up with ideas for us to do. We started with a tractor ride around the lake and then tested our luck at the Hay Bail Toss and won a couple of t-shirts for throwing the furthest bails of hay (fun new skill!). We then moved into the indoor Archery Range for the Archery Balloon Pop, which was a chance to warm up a little bit.
Our 12 p.m. scheduled trail ride was next; we are all beginners and the wranglers were patient with us and talked us through everything we needed to know. We enjoyed a 45-minute walking trail ride through the forest and enjoyed talking with Cowboy Mike and a few wranglers, learning about the gentle ranch horses and their care. Pine Ridge is proud of their ranch. These horses are very loved and get plenty of room to roam and rest/days off.
After lunch, we bounced and laughed on the giant bounce pillow (SO FUN!) and the kids climbed the rock wall. We also joined in the Corn Hole Competition and had a drink in the Saloon while the kids popped a few quarters in the arcade. I was impressed that every single activity had a staff attendant and was safe and clean. It was FULL day of fun.
After dinner, we spent some time at the camp fire and then went to a Magic Show in the Bullroom.
Our rooms were comfortable and clean. We had adjoining rooms with a King Bed in one room and bunk beds with additional double beds in the other. My kids thought it was great to each get their own bed. We really didn't spend any extra time in the room, other than sleeping. When we had extra time, we chose to spend it the grand lobby, with all the action. Our experience at Pine Ridge Dude Ranch was great. It is very family friendly, with lots of young families.
Getting There and Getting In
Pine Ridge Dude Ranch was easy to get to. We traveled from metropolitan Baltimore and it took about 4.5 hours, an easy drive up the New Jersey turnpike and into New York. The Ranch is in a lovely area of the Catskill Mountains.
The nearest airport is Stewart International Airport (SWF) in New Windsor, NY (About 35 miles, 1 hour driving time) or Albany International Airport (ALB) in Albany (About 87 miles, 1.5 hours driving time).
Parking is free and plentiful at the ranch and check-in was easy.
What Did You Enjoy Most?
We really enjoyed the trail ride, daily scheduled activities, the plentiful and easy to access additional activities (like shuffleboard, bouncing pillow, rock wall, pool) and the all-inclusive meals. It was a treat to not have to really "think" about anything, like where to eat or what to do. We parked the car on Friday when we arrived and didn't need to use it until we left on Sunday.
Recommended Age Range
My kids are ages 15, 15 and 12, and all had a great time. Pine Ridge Dude Ranch really offers something for every age.
There are many horse-centered activities, such as "Barn Buddies" (horse care and grooming), various level (beginner, intermediate, etc) horseback riding trail rides, pony rides for kids under age 8 and "Horse for a Day" program, etc.. There are also plenty of other activities to do for all, from toddlers and pre-schoolers - an extensive playground, indoor and outdoor swimming pools with waterslides, "Critter Pen" petting zoo, tractor rides and bounce pillow, to older tweens/teens with a the outdoor laser tag "court" with hay bails, paintball, archery, arcade room and corn hole, as well as plenty of spaces for adults to relax...around the camp fire, grand lobby seating area or playing a game of authentic horseshoes.
With that being said, my kids did feel like they were a bit on the older end, and felt like Pine Ridge Dude Ranch looked like elementary school aged children would enjoy all the activities the most.
Time Recommended to Enjoy Experience
We spent two nights and felt like we had plenty of time to enjoy most of Pine Ridge Dude Ranch. Different seasons offer different activities and varying times to spend at those activities. We went on a cold weekend in November and found plenty to do both indoors and outdoors. We only went on one trail ride but wished we had another opportunity to ride.
Food and Drinks
The Dude Ranch is all-inclusive of meals and includes a hot breakfast buffet, hot lunch buffet (we had tacos one day), afternoon appetizers in the grand lobby, and dinner and dessert with several tasty entree choices from the menu...plus marshmallows at the evening camp fire. In addition, there are several other cafes/snack bars to purchase additional snacks like soft pretzels, nachos, burgers or hot chocolate and coffee. There are also several areas to purchase reasonably-priced wine, beer and cocktails. Pine Ridge is very accommodating with food intolerances. Two people in my family are gluten-free and we talked to the chef and he understood our needs.
Tips for Families
We arrived on a Friday evening and it was much less crowded than Saturday. Trail ride sign up is the night before the trail ride and we had a big advantage on Friday with no lines.
Pine Ridge plans lots of "theme" weekends (such as Breakfast with Santa, Horsemanship Weekend, Wellness Weekend). Look at the events calendar in advance when planning your getaway. I think this would be a great getaway with family or a group of friends - plenty of room to spread out and stay together. There are many rooms and "wings" of the lodge. If noise bothers you, ask for a quiet room away from the Grand Lobby.
The winter looks like a great time to go - ride the horses through the snow, skate on the pond, snow tube next to the horse pasture and cozy up with hot chocolate at one of the great fire pits!
Consider opting into more than one trail ride. It's great to do another ride after feeling comfortable.
There are several orchards and farms in the area and the mega outlet shopping complex, Woodbury Commons, is less than an hour away.
Would Your Family Visit Again?
We would visit again. We had a great time and it was so fun to be silly, try new things and not have to plan out any activities or meals for my family! Next time, we will do more than one trail ride per person.
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