What is a Cowboy Cattle Drive?
And what happens on a Cowboy Cattle Drive?
So you think you wanna be cowboy? Then perhaps it’s time to take a step back in time, about 140 years to be exact, try on some boots and live the cowboy life for just a short while! We’ll take you on the adventure of your life, and live just like they did on horseback in the Big Horn Mountains, sleeping in a tent, and eating out of an 1800’s chuck wagon with traditional foods! If you’re ready for the Old West Adventure and you’ve got the True Grit to live it the way they lived, then you may have arrived to the right place, the Cowboy Cattle Drive. We pride ourselves in keeping the cowboy traditions alive and taught to anyone willing to learn. Our Cowboy Cattle Drive is 100% the real deal. It’s not to be confused with a hotel resort vacation where you get some horseback rides in between the lunch and dinner table, hell we don’t even have tables! You will step into the boots of a real cowboy for a week and earn your food, just the way they do each day. This isn’t your bread & breakfast vacation and it’s not for the faint of heart. You’ll be doing all the real work and learning all the real skills while in the real wilderness. Riding, roping, fishing, archery, campfire stories, nighttime card games, 3 squares a day and did I mention lots of horse riding? Yes, this is an adventure week. While we don’t require it, a good pair of cowboy boots and hat would be a good idea to have already when you arrive.
The Big Horn Mountains are located in the northern central part of Wyoming, just west of Sheridan Wyoming and are to this day some of the most beautiful open country in the United States that you can enjoy. This land approximately 120,000 acres is still home to many cattle ranchers who still grow and heard their cattle in the traditional and all natural organic way; herding them up to the grazing mountain meadows in the spring where they can graze all summer long and bringing them home to the ranch in the fall. This process is over 140 years old and you will partake in a real working cowboy ranch who’s cowboys eat and sleep in the mountains all summer.
The season starts every year depending on the spring conditions. However, we generally trail the herd to the top of the Big Horn Mountains during the first week of June and will stay at elevationuntil around September when we start to bring them home. We offer you a tremendously unique experience in that for a 7 day / 6 night adventure, we bring you into our world. Your trip begins with us by landing at the Sheridan, Wyoming airport where we pick you up and deliver you to our Cowboy Camp located just 30 minutes south of Sheridan in the rolling green foothills of Murphy’s Gulch Creek. At Cowboy Camp we introduce you to your basic horsemanship skills, introduce you to the equipment and get you started working with a horse. We’ll go over the schedule for the week and get you setup with any extra equipment you might need. You’ll spend your first night down in Cowboy camp and the next morning we’ll all head up to the mountain top to Cow Camp. And yes, theirs a difference between Cowboy Camp and Cow Camp. Cow Camp is where we spend the summer with the Cows up at elevation, around 7,000 feet.
There are limited spaces for OPENING and CLOSING week. These weeks are the toughest weeks to book your vacation because every night of the trip we are moving the herd up or down the mountains and building and breaking camping daily with Chuck Wagon in-tow. However, these weeks are definitely a couple of the most rewarding and if you’ve been on a trip with us previously and felt real comfortable, you might want to book an OPENING or CLOSING week trip, they book up in a hurry and theirs limited space. We also like you to have horse experience for these week trips.
We spend our first leg of the trip on horseback and will take about 4 days to cover 50 miles rising us to 7,000 foot elevation. During this trip, we trail the mother cows and their calves high to their summer range. In addition to the ranches cowboy crew of 8-10, we generally have 15 to 20 guests on this drive. In keeping with our true cowboy tradition our trail lodging is in a large shared 1800s style canvas wall tent, and for a small upgrade you can stay in your own private cowboy tepee tent alone or cuddled with your loved one.
When it comes to food, we’ve got you covered! Our meals are prepared using cast iron skillets, Dutch ovens and pit barbeques off our very own 1880’s Chuck Wagon, a truly unique nonconventional experience. Our traditional Ranch Cooks “Cookies” work out of our period correct chuck wagon. Our Cookies will have you fed well and rolling with jokes. While their cobblers are incredible they’re mouths are not politically correct, you’ve been fair warned.
By the fourth day, we’ll be pushing the herd up the rugged Red Grade trail, while in the shadows of the Blacktooth Mountain Pass. The Chuck Wagon blazes the trail for our next destination with the gear so we can enjoy the ride. This ain’t no city slicker trip, you’ll live the life of a cowboy on the trail just the way it was lived 140 years ago. But bring your camera, the massive natural beauty in this area will overwhelm your senses on horseback. You will be looking at the very places in nature that Ernest Hemingway wrote several of his novels; it is magnificent!
Depending on range conditions and grazing plans established by the USDA Forest Service, the herd may be dropped at any one of the pastures in front of you or trailed higher up to the 9,000 foot elevation. Keep in mind that our permits cover well over 21,000 acres so it is difficult to predict exactly where our endpoint will be.
The Big Horn Mountains are one of the most incredible places you can get lost in nature. Our Little Goose Cow Camp is right in the heart of the Big Horn Mountain Range and the second you see the beauty coming down the ridge into Little Goose Cow Camp you’ll hear the rushing creek. Creek Fishing with the cool water at your feet and sun shining on your face make for a perfect day in the Big Horns. At this point you realized just how detached from civilization you are. Without running water, phone service, cars, sirens, people (except those in our group) you’ve arrived here in the raw nature at it’s best!
It’s time to explore the mountains, move the cattle and live the life. You’ll wake up early with the group and get ready for a cowboys day.Chuck Wagon has the smell of breakfast in the air while the coffee brews on an open fire. The chatter and excitement from our guests electrify the air with anticipation of what’s to come for the day. After our morning cattle push, activities are plentiful up in the Big Horn from fishing, horseshoe pitching, campfire stories, hiking, archery, survival training, cabin building, horsemanship, cutting cattle and our world famous cowboy card games.
The last morning will be a 10 mile trek back out of the valley’s of the mountain. You will be saying goodbye to your horse at the top of Red Grade, from here we go back down to Sheridan, Wyoming for a good hot shower, old west dinner and night on the town before re-entering your civilized lives. After six days in the saddle, you’ll be ready for a few comforts!
The last night we end up at the historic Mill Inn. This historic property was once the Sheridan Flouring Mills, Inc., a company that owned 13 grain elevators from Hardin, Montana to Gillette, Wyoming, and provided collection, storage and milling of locally-produced wheat and other grains into flour and other milled products. The original mill was established in the early 1890’s and operated near downtown Sheridan. Today the Mill has been converted to a hotel where you’ll find your fresh hot shower and warm bed for the night. But the trip is not over!