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Tuesday, July 15
Check out a day of fishing at North Fork Ranch on the South Platte River.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Trailblazing in Wyoming at 7D Ranch

Since I arrived a little later on a Friday evening at the 7D Ranch, I really did not know what to expect. However, once I saw the roaring campfire and all the other guests casually assembled and sharing a jovial sense of camaraderie, I felt right at home and could not wait to begin my riding adventure first thing in the morning.

You have all seen the postcards and movie settings of the beautiful “wild” West and have thought it was all put together with photographic magic. Well, it is magical but it is all real. Resting in the Sunlight basin near Yellowstone National Park and the western town of Cody, Wyoming, the 7D Ranch has been owned and operated by the Dominick family for over 50 years. The Dominick’s know how to combine the love of riding with the love of the land and natural surroundings.
Just as in a not so distant past, guests are called to breakfast at 8:00am with the clanging of the dinner bell on the front porch. Twenty to thirty people of all ages sit family style around tables and enjoy a meal that deserves to be called the most important of the day! Just as there are variant age differences, there are differences in riding abilities.
During breakfast, all guests met with two wranglers who explained all of our choices for the day’s activities. There was something interesting for every age category and equestrian experience. I could select from a half-day or full-day ride, fishing, hiking and local excursions. Those on more extended stays who did not want to plan anything at all were able to explore the ranch grounds and visit all the farm animals, or relax in the main lodge by the crackling fireplace curled up with a good book.
Naturally, I chose the full day’s ride. My mount was beautiful and responsive to me. Armed with our picnic basket brimming with mouth-watering morsels for mid-day, my group set out in search of all the breathtaking scenery we have been accustom to seeing on film. And we were not disappointed in the least.  There are just not enough words to describe just how beautiful and peaceful this part of the country is. The original Dominick founders of the 7D Ranch were visionaries in knowing that the landscape and rich habitat would be soothing to all who came.
Although the 7D Ranch’s 227 acres and surrounding countryside areas are widely known as a natural home for elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats and grizzly bears, I am pleased to say that we did not encounter any undesired attention from four legged creatures – except our beautiful horses! Although, I have to admit there was a part of me that really wanted to see a grizzly bear since I felt safe in the presence of our well-equipped wranglers.
The 7D Ranch is truly a family-friendly vacation spot. While those of us wanting the full riding experience enjoyed ourselves, there are plenty of planned activities for children as well as adults. There are two special wranglers whose only job is to ensure that the little pioneers have fun horseback riding, hiking, learning to rope, and discovering all about nature with special projects. Children can also take part in an exclusive 7D Ranch activity called Wicki Up, which is a safe rendition of the Native American sweat lodge. During the Wicki Up, participants of all ages learn about the Native American traditions and take part in singing songs and sharing stories. This is a great time for parents to have some time for themselves while their children are having well-supervised fun.
The 7D Ranch gave me the opportunity to live a dream of riding in the wide-open spaces, unfettered by fences, roads and man-made barriers. This is an equestrian vacation spot that can be visited over and over without becoming boring or commonplace.
I want to thank Ted Harvey of the Dude Ranch Vacation Travel Agency for introducing me to the 7D Ranch. Ted is truly an expert in his field which is verified by his highly desirable selections. By Meghan Brady

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