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This travel review is a bit different than most of my others, and that is because it will be comprised of a compilation of two different visits to Rocking Horse Ranch. Located in Highland, NY, this all-inclusive resort has now been a Spring weekend getaway two years in a row for us. Both times we traveled with a very large group of people from the farm where Lily rides. The main attraction for all of us to Rocking Horse Ranch is the fact that they offer trail rides on horseback for all guests ages 7 and older.
The location: RHR is located in the Catskills in New York and is approx a 2.5-3 hour drive from our house in the Philadelphia suburbs. The ranch is not far from the Walkway Over the Hudson River. Sprawling across 500 acres, the mountainous woods are filled with many trails for hiking and trail riding.
The cost: We found RHR’s rates to be on the high side, but pretty comparable to similar family resorts. Along with the pricetag, here are a few things to keep in mind. First, your food is included. Alcohol is not included but all of your meals are. Second, I would imagine (I don’t know for a fact) that the horseback riding aspect results in a high insurance premium to cover. I’m guessing this is included in the rate. Does Rocking Horse Ranch ever offer discounts? Actually, YES! In fact, we enjoyed some big savings during our stay thanks to a couple of discounts. We traveled in early May which was off-peak season. We got a group discount (last year our group had over 50 people, this year we had more than 100!). We also traveled mid-week AND took advantage of a Kids Stay Free Promo. All of that saved us hundreds of dollars. 2 nights still ran us around $850.
The rooms: RHR offers several different room types in the main building (where we stayed) and the Oklahoma Building (right next to main building). Both years we had a bunk bed room. We found the rooms to be incredibly spacious. We had a bathroom with an extra sink right outside of it. There was a foyer-type area just inside the door that featured a long clothing rack and a deep shelf on top. This was very convenient for hanging clothes and storing food/snacks and riding gear.
Inside the room were 2 double beds, a small sitting area, bunk beds, a tv and a small refrigerator. (The kids LOVED the bunk beds. We requested a bunk bed and there was a small upcharge – $10?/night for a bunk bed room.)
The food: We found the food at Rocking Horse Ranch to be very tasty! Remember all meals (starting with DINNER on the day you check in and ending with LUNCH the day you check out) are INCLUDED in your stay. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style. There was a nice variety of food and there is a waitstaff to fill egg orders and pour coffee in the morning at breakfast.
Dinner is a sit-down, order-from-menu meal. There are several dishes to choose from and the menu changes daily. A member of the waitstaff will take your table’s order and another server will come around for bar drink orders (not included in your stay and you will receive a receipt to sign after your meal to charge the drinks to your room). We thought the dinners were good and the staff was very attentive and genuinely seemed to care that we were happy with our food.
The indoor activities: Since we were at RHR in early May, the outdoor pool had not yet opened for the season. Last year our stay had picture perfect weather and warm temps. The same exact weekend this year was chillier and RAINED (sometimes poured) during the majority of our stay.
No matter that it rained, because there are so many things to do indoors – we were NEVER bored. First of all, there is a daily schedule every day. Similar to other resorts or cruise ships you might have experienced, activities like Bingo, Karaoke, Scavenger Hunts, Game Shows and more happen all day long. Our group participated in many of these activities and had a lot of fun. There was even a WINE AND CHEESE PARTY during one afternoon. THAT was a lot of fun and the wine served at that time is complimentary. (Though I will warn you, the bar staff was a tad inflexible regarding the end of the free wine. Our morning trail ride was canceled due to thunderstorms so we got bumped to the afternoon ride which overlapped times with the wine party. We got down to the Saloon immediately after our ride and the party was halfway over. We got one glass of wine and sat with friends enjoying the good conversation. At exactly 4:03 pm we glanced at the time and realized the event ended officially at 4 pm so we figured we’d get a second (and final) glass. NOPE. Bartender would not budge. Party ended at 4, free wine bottles closed up at 4. (And look, I get it, rules are necessary. But from a customer service standpoint, we were payng a lot of money to stay there, had only had 1 glass prior, and missed half the party due to a trail ride time change that was beyond our control.)
Another huge draw, especially for the kids, was the indoor water park. A big pool, a water slide and a splash area for toddlers kept our kids happy for HOURS.
Another indoor (but you have to walk outside to get there) option is the Fun Barn. The Fun Barn was yet another place that occupied our kiddos for aWHILE. There was a huge bounce house, NERF-like air guns inside a large climbing structure, badminton, ping pong tables and more.
The arcade has a lot of games and also bowling.
The outdoor activities: Now keep in mind, we were visiting in early Spring. Activities change seasonally at the ranch so some of the things we enjoyed may or may not be available during your stay. For example, the mountain tubing had just opened a week or so before our stay and the zipline had just ended.
The mountain tubing was so fun! Open for a few hours each day, you grab a tube, ride to the top of the hill via magic carpet, and away you go!
Since Landon wasn’t old enough to participate in the trail rides, he was able to go on a wrangler-led horse ride during the posted hours.
Mini golf, bungee jumping, fishing, canoe and paddle boats are all included in your stay. It was SO nice to be able to hop from one activity to the next without pulling out a wallet.
The kids loved the big playground! There were teepees scattered around to explore, random animals to visit and more.
The weather cooperated with us both years to get in a great campfire. Set against the backdrop of the beautiful lake at sunset, we toasted marshmallows and listed to live music. It was perfect!
The horseback riding: Ah, the riding! Chances are probably pretty good that if you’re heading to Rocking Horse Ranch, some or all of your family plans to get at least one trail ride under their belt. RHR is a wonderful place for a ride! The scenery is beautiful and their barn is full of even-tempered trail horses are are suitable for all riding ability types.
Here’s how the riding piece works: when you check in, you must sign a waiver releasing the ranch from any responsibility should you get hurt while riding. You MUST sign this waiver to be permitted to ride. The ranch posts times each day when you can sign up for your ride time. You need to fill out a form for every rider in your party and assign each person a riding level – BEGINNER (walk only), INTERMEDIATE (walk/trot), ADVANCED (walk/trot/canter). If you choose the Advanced ride, you will be required to demonstrate that you can initiate and sit a canter on your horse. If you fail to make your horse canter or grab the saddle horn, etc during that test, you will be bounced to the Intermediate ride.
Your stay guarantees you to ONE ride every day (not including your arrival day). Show up with your ride card (given to you at sign up) during your time slot and get in the ride line you wish to take.
Every ride time (there are several every day) also offers a standby line. If you want to ride more than once a day, head to the standby line. We had great luck getting on as a standby rider the few times we tried.
It was so much fun to ride horses together as a family!! Last year was the first time I had ever ridden a horse with Lily and this year was the first time that Bob, Lily and I were ever on horses together.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Rocking Horse Ranch and would recommend it in a heartbeat!
Check out the videos below that I put together with clips from this year’s trip: