It’s November. Where did the time go? Most of our dude ranches are closed for the season, yet they are already preparing for the 2020 season. Some ranches are still in operation and welcoming guests throughout the year.
This month includes a day for the special purpose of our country celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. The origins of the traditional Thanksgiving of pilgrims and Native Americans meeting for a meal in Plymouth Colony can be traced back to the fall of 1621, but an exact date is difficult to pinpoint for the first Thanksgiving celebration.
The holiday itself wasn’t really celebrated until the 19th century, when the fall gathering for a large dinner of seasonal dishes gained popularity. In response to popular public request, President Abraham Lincoln declared the first national Thanksgiving in November of 1863.
Thanksgiving is celebrated in contemporary America so dramatically different from the way it was celebrated during and prior to the nation’s early history. We now celebrate with family and friends and give thanks for a number of blessings while enjoying the typical fare of a Thanksgiving feast. If you are celebrating the holiday on a ranch, it may also include a horseback ride through the magnificent scenery of Montana.
From the dude rancher’s perspective, there are a number of things for which to give thanks:
1. Sharing our way of life and traditions with visitors from around the world.
2. For the family, friends, and staff that work at the ranch – cooks, housekeeping, wranglers, fishing and hiking guides, etc.
3. Healthy livestock and knowledgeable wranglers who care for them as well as the tack that is needed for riding.
4. Providing memorable experiences for our guests, including horseback riding, fishing, rafting, hiking, square dancing, wildlife watching, cattle gathering and other ranch/cattle work, mountain biking, archery, shooting sports, swimming in a lake or stream, hay/wagon rides, and visits to nearby national and state parks.
5. Teaching guests new skills, building their confidence, and expanding their knowledge of the western way of life.
6. The ability to nourish guests with meals and snacks that often include a variety of locally sourced ingredients.
7. The bond of friendship that will last a lifetime.
8. The opportunity to share history of the ranch and the surrounding area as well as giving guests a glimpse into Montana’s history.
9. The nature that surrounds us and the accessibility to the mountains, prairies, creeks, lakes, rivers, national forests, wilderness areas, national and state parks. And the wildflowers that dot the land in the spring and summer.
10. The sunrises and sunsets that will take your breath away.
11. Dark skies that allow our guests to view the Milky Way and an infinite number of stars.
12. Songs around the campfire and roasting marshmallows for the perennial favorite – s’mores.
13. The wonder and excitement that guests experience when viewing wildlife in Montana – deer, elk, antelope, bears, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, bison, moose, bobcat, fox, cougar, and so many more.
And above all else, we are thankful to call Montana home.
Wishing you, your family, and friends a wonderful Thanksgiving from the Montana Dude Rancher’s Association. We are thankful for your interest in our industry, ranch vacations, and our western way of life!