One of the wonderful things about Calgary is that it is an absolutely hip urban city, but just a short drive outside of town and you’re in the Rocky Mountains, where you can experience some of the most incredible natural beauty in Canada. One easy trip out of town is to visit the Rafter Six Ranch, where you can take trail rides through the mountains and live out your cowboy and cowgirl fantasies, while under the close supervision of an experienced rider.
As someone who hadn’t been on a horse since she was six, I was a little nervous, but once on my proud steed I had a fantastic time trekking along through woodlands and the banks of the sparkling Kananaskis River. I didn’t fall off, and felt pretty much the whole two hours of our ride, except for when my horse reared at some strong winds and then I screamed, which only added to my horse’s anxiety (not the cleverest reaction). After the ride I was saddle-sore, but it had been a fantastic experience anyway. If you’re a more experienced rider, the guides will take you on a more challenging ride through the river and deeper into the mountains – so you can have as tame or wild an adventure as you feel like you can handle.
The ranch is beautiful, and has been the backdrop for many movies. It was used in so many Disney features that Walt Disney himself had a cabin built there, and it still stands to this day. Scenes from Brokeback Mountain were filmed in the surrounding countryside, and Grizzly Adams was just one of many TV shows that were also filmed on site. Walking around the property there is plenty to see, and because the ranch has been there for so long it feels very authentic. Walk around the back and you’ll see a rare white buffalo in a pen, but don’t pet him like I did, as he can be very aggressive!
There’s also a restaurant out at the Rafter Six, and you can stay overnight in the guesthouse or a cabin if a short visit isn’t enough. However long you end up staying there, the visit will be a real treat, and is definitely one of my favourite things to do outside of the city.
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