One of the highlights of our recent road trip was the three days we spent at the Vee Bar Ranch in Wyoming. We’ve stayed at guest ranches in the past and just about all of them were memorable and fun, but the Vee Bar is something quite special. Think of words like “rejuvenate,” “gorgeous,” and “peaceful” mixed with phrases like “God’s country,” “back to basics,” and “made to feel like family,” and you start to get the idea of what this place is like.
To begin with, the location is nothing short of spectacular. Located just 20 miles outside of Laramie, the ranch is at the foot of the Snowy Range Mountains with the Little Laramie River running right through the center of it. As a matter of fact, the river ran right in front of our cabin. The ranch is so perfect looking and beautiful it almost doesn’t seem real. Cabins have just the right balance of western flavor with clean, modern amenities. Comfortable and cozy inside with full bath and gas-fired potbellied stoves. Outside large Adirondack chairs allow you to relax on the porch facing the river. Talk about unwinding.
The historic ranch is over one hundred years old and the original ranch lodge is still being used to this day. The ranch has served as a cattle and horse operation as well as a stage coach stop, post office, and freight line to local mines. It was even a bison ranch for a time. The family still runs cattle on it today and summer guests can even try their hand at herding with the wranglers.
Ranch actives range from fly fishing, to water rafting to hiking, but the horseback riding is what I came for and it’s really what the Vee Bar is noted for. Each morning the horses are brought back down to the barn and corral area from the open meadows where they spent the night. Watching these beautiful animals running in a herd is a sight like no other. Jane and I quickly finished our breakfast and made it down to the side of the road just so we could see them run past.
Summer season was over by the time we arrived at the ranch and it was way too early for the winter season so for the first two days of our stay we practically had the place to ourselves. Our wrangler, Dan, was the perfect cowboy for us. He knew horses, he knew the ranch, and he had an easy comfortable way about him, unusual for a young man in his early twenties. He really became our friend, as a matter of fact Jane got a bit teary when we were saying our good-byes.
Our rides were fantastic. The first day Jane went along with me as Dan led us through some beautiful country and tree-shaded trails. We saw a family of bald eagles, an antelope, a large cotton-tailed rabbit, and a crazy woodpecker all on that first ride. The next day Dan took me up to the top of a high ridge that looked like a mesa and I had a view that was unbelievable. I also had the chance to lope across the pastures a bit, something I hadn’t done in years. It was wonderful.
Thanks to ranch cook, Dale Jensen, food was delicious and plentiful. We’re still talking about his French toast, which was like no other French toast we have ever had. The ranch had a Vee Bar Ranch Recipes Cookbook for sale that Dale wrote with Jana Wilson. You can be sure Jane didn’t leave without buying a copy.
Like Dan, Dale was solicitous and watched over us during our time at the ranch. At the John Wayne Saloon one evening, Jane and I were alone in there having a drink and shooting a little eight ball when Dan came in to say hello and ask if everything was okay. He stayed a little while, we talked, laughed, and then he left. Then, sometime later, Dale came in and asked if there was anything that we needed. We said no, we were just fine, but he went behind the bar and poured out a bowl of trail mix for us to enjoy with our drinks. He set the bowl down and quietly left us. Those guys didn’t have to go out of their way like that to see that we were comfortable, but they did. And that, along with the beautiful country, was what made the ranch so special.
We would have liked to have stayed longer, but we had to be on our way. After three weeks on the road we were anxious to get back home and we still had a long way to drive. Maybe one day we’ll get back. Until then, we have memories of a beautiful place and good people that we will never forget.