When Alan and I visited Hidden Meadow Ranch, we discovered an off-the-beaten-path winter wonderland. The best part? The Rancher’s Package came wrapped in a luxury log cabin that included fine dining plus all the winter activities our baby boomer bodies could handle.
The adventure began when we traveled down a 6-mile forest road after one of Arizona’s largest snowstorms had dumped 8′ of the white stuff on this area of the White Mountains. Although the snow had melted down to only 3 or 4′, and the road had been plowed, we were happy to be driving a 4-wheel-drive vehicle.
Arriving at the ranch gate, Alan punched the call button on the intercom. Evan, our concierge for the weekend, directed us to meet him at the Welcome Cabin, then the gate swung open to three days of winter adventure.
Our accommodations included a one-bedroom cabin, with loft. In the living room, a fire had already been laid out in the wood-burning fireplace. Near the dining area, a mini-refrigerator was stocked with soft drinks and water. On the counter-top, jars of trail mix and chocolate malt balls provided snacking choices. By the way, those chocolate malt balls were the best I’ve ever tasted.
We ate our meals at the elegantly rustic Ranch House, a short walk down the road. The sofas that flanked the fireplace proved to be the perfect place for relaxing with a mug of hot chocolate after a morning trail ride or for talking over the day’s events with a glass of wine before dinner. The lodge’s 35′ ceiling soared overhead as we dined on multi-course dinners that rivaled any in the big city.
While we appreciated the luxury lodging and fine dining, Alan and I were at Hidden Meadow Ranch for the winter activities. Horseback riding came first as I fulfilled my dream of riding in the snow. We started with an orientation in the riding arena. Once our instructor, Rachel, was satisfied that we were comfortable with Apache and Pecos, she led us on a ride through the property. Normally horseback rides traverse the many trails of the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest that surrounds the ranch. Unfortunately, the deep snow made off-site rides too dangerous during our visit.
One morning, Allen, a ranch naturalist, led us on a snowshoe hike. We followed him through the snowy woods as he set the pace. Walk—stop to rest—listen to Allen’s wildlife tales—walk some more—take photos—stop to examine animal tracks. Before we knew it, the almost two-hour hike had ended.
What other winter activities are available at Hidden Meadow Ranch? Go sledding, ride in a horse-drawn sleigh, practice target shooting with a BB gun or stay warm inside while learning leather crafting or woodworking. Skiers and snowboarders can purchase Sunrise Ski Resort lift tickets at the Welcome Cabin. The ranch provides transportation to and from the slopes plus a packed lunch.
Of course, I’ve only told you about the winter adventure at Hidden Meadow Ranch. Once the snow melts, try hiking, fly fishing, canoeing, archery or mountain biking.
Have you visited Hidden Meadow Ranch? Post a comment to share your experience. The next time Alan and I need a little winter adventure, you’ll know where to find us.
Hidden Meadow Ranch provided this travel experience.