Great Family Dude Ranch in California – Guest Ranching at Rankin Ranch

A family vacation to Rankin Ranch quickly becomes a family tradition. This guest “dude” ranch is very family-centered with a supervised children’s program, horseback riding, and activities like hayrides, nature hikes, square dancing, and meadow barbecues.  Set within the California’s Tehachapi Mountains and edge of Sequoia National Forest, this guest ranch has offered people an authentic ranch experience for the past 50 years.

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Guest Ranching at Rankin Ranchin California

My family has had a fabulous time at Rankin Ranch in Caliente, California these past several days.  We’ve unplugged as there is no internet access or cell service, allowing us to have quality family time and truly experience ranch life. We’ve enjoyed horseback riding on many trails through mountain and meadow cattle country. More on horseback riding and the active cattle ranching in the next post.

As we drove a couple hours southwest of Death Valley, the landscape changed dramatically to gorgeous maintains, rolling hillsides, fields, and pastures. As we started winding up Tehachapi Mountains, we spotted giant Sequoia trees to our delight! We love bringing home the giant pine cones as a souvenirs. Rankin Ranch is far from the hustle and bustle of life. The moment we arrived at the ranch, life got a little slower and a lot more relaxed.

My husband and I were  welcomed by an adult reception before dinner while our kids went to a children’s activity. This was the first time during our family vacation that my husband and I had alone time, it was nice to chat with the other adults. Our kids appreciated time with other kids – and away from us for a little while as well!

The entire staff at Rankin Ranch is amazingly friendly and accommodating. I had the pleasure of meeting Amanda and several other Rankin family members. This active cattle ranch is over 150 years old and operated by 6th generation Rankins.  Their love and passion for ranch life and sharing it with guests is genuine and shines through with every aspect of our visit.

Lodging at Rankin Ranch is set in comfortable mountain cabins with amazing views of rolling hills and nature. The cabins are set apart from each other, offering privacy. Many of the cabins are adjoined to another cabin with separate entrances but adjoined with a hallway which is great for larger families and multi-family travel.

Take a quick tour of our cabin in this video below.

As you can see, the decor is western comfort. The rooms are spacious, comfortable, and clean. Our room has a queen bed, full size bed, and sofa couch with trundle bed. Our family of 4 is sleeping very comfortably here with plenty of room for our own space. Hotel rooms can get quite crowded after days of vacationing, so this spacious retreat is a big welcome.

Rankin Ranch offers plenty of activities for the entire family making it a great dude ranch for families in California. The pool has been a lot of fun for our kids to swim in on hot afternoons and even after dark in the evenings.

One thing I’ve noticed most is that people are resting here, they are relaxing on lounge chairs around the pool or in the lawn with a book. The children’s program keeps kids ages 4-11 entertained with hikes, treasure hunts, crafts, games, and art while parents can relax and recharge.

After dinner each time, the kids get to feed the animals including goats, a donkey, pony, chicken, and more. They were able to bottle feed a baby cow!

My son has been asking us for a chicken coop at home for the past several years. He loved hanging out with a variety of chickens in the chicken coop!

My kids made friends with the other kids there. This is one of Calvin’s new friends, also 12 years old. They hung out together with the animals and spent countless hours fishing in the pound for rainbow trout. This is how growing up should be – kids playing and having fun in nature!

While my son was hanging out with his new friend, my daughter participated in all of the children’s activities. There is a full day planned with several attentive staff leaders for the children’s program – your child can opt in and out of any of the events.

The program is for kids ages 4-11, but they allowed my son to join in, as he wished. The water games afternoon was a big hit this afternoon for all the kids! The ranch can accommodate up to 40 guests, so it is never crowded but with a nice mix for families to enjoy meeting one another, as they wish.

The evening activity is for all guests, even if they don’t have children. They have events like hay wagon rides, square dancing, Western line dancing, bingo, pool tournaments, and more.

On our fist night, we had horseraces. We were each given Rankin dollars to use to “bet” on our favorite horses with the winner receiving a Rankin Ranch gift store prize. They rolled giant dice to determine which horse proceeded to the next square. Believe it or not, my daughter and her horse, Rocky won all three races and my son was in 3rd place! It was a fun night at the racehorses!

Rankin Ranch serves three home cooked meals daily for their guests. The food is delicious with top quality meats, homemade bread, and plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. If you catch a fish at the lake, the chef will prepare it for you for the next meal. Nothing beat fresh rainbow trout that was caught just minutes before!

The dining room was always set up in a lovely manner with new linens and table settings for each meal. Breakfast is set up for individual families. Lunch is normally served on the patio, in the meadow, or at a destination by horseback. Dinner is set up for the children to all sit together while the adults and kids ages 12+ sit together. This gives everyone a chance to dine with their families while also having the opportunity to make new friends at the ranch.

During the children’s activities, kids get the chance to earn Rankin coins to be spent at the gift shop. They loved buying candy and toys! They also offer fun Western souvenirs and Rankin Ranch apparel.

During our stay, we’ve met some great families. Each of them have stayed at the ranch before and have made Rankin Ranch a family tradition. One family has been going as a family for over 20 years! It is easy to see how one visit to Rankin Ranch quickly turns into a family tradition because it is an amazing family vacation destination. You’ll bond with your kids and spouse in an authentic way as you experience life at a slower pace in a beautiful setting.

Not having access to the internet or cell phones at the ranch has been a blessing. I wasn’t able to blog and share our experiences live as I have been for the rest of this #Kidifornia feature, but it has been amazing to just be in the moment and enjoy everything “live” without recording it. We’ve talked to other guests about this and they feel the same. Not checking in with the office, returning calls or following up on emails allows you to really relax and get the unplugged time we all need.

We’ll be leaving the ranch in the morning after another hearty breakfast and horseback ride. My kids are already asking when we can come back. Rankin Ranch offers stays with a minimum of 3 nights, I suggest staying at least 5 days to really unwind and experience ranch life. We can’t wait to return to experience their friendly Western hospitality again soon. Rankin Ranch truly is a great family dude ranch in California.

Book your Rankin Ranch family vacation today.

Rankin Ranch
23500 Walker Basin Rd
Caliente, CA 93518
(661) 867-2511

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Rankin Ranch is a member of the Dude Rancher’s Association.

This is part of our Kidifornia Family Adventure Series. Follow us live June 17-28th on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and this Blog! We started our adventure in Nevada because of the new direct flights from Akron Canton Airport to Las Vegas on Spirit Airlines!

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