Activity: Wilson Ranches Retreat & John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (OR)

It isn’t very often that we get out of town on the weekends anymore, especially if we are not camping. My husband travels a lot for work and when the weekend rolls around, it is our family catch up time (catch up with laundry, catch up with chores, catch up with each other, ketchup on hot dogs – just making sure you are paying attention!). When the opportunity popped up for us to get out of town on Mother’s Day, I couldn’t turn it down.

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The Wilson Ranches Retreat B&B is a really special place. We made our way 3-hours east of Portland for Mother’s Day weekend in 2014, which I have told anyone who has been within ear-shot, was the best Mother’s Day I have ever had! That is in large part to the Wilson Ranches Retreat and the family! It is an authentic, family owned, working ranch in Eastern Oregon. The ranch lies within the beautiful Butte Creek Canyon just 3 miles from Fossil, Oregon which is an amazingly beautiful part of our wonderful state.

IMG_6246This B&B is not your standard B&B. We have never really considered staying in one as a family since most are usually set up as romantic get-aways for couples. This B&B has 6 rooms that can accommodate anywhere from 1-6 people. The prices are based on a double occupancy and include breakfast. Rooms are tidy and sweet and each offers a little something different than all of the rest.

If you don’t have a reservation when you arrive, pick an available room in the book and make yourself comfortable. Weekends get very busy, so reservations are recommended.

DSC_6040Breakfast in the morning is served at 8:00am. You will wake up to the sweet smell of fresh coffee and bacon being fried up. Well, I got to, because the boys were up and out a little earlier and I got to sleep a few extra minutes. Nancy and Phil cook for the guests and everyone sits down family style to share farm fresh eggs, bacon, oatmeal, peaches, biscuits, gravy, juice and all of the toppings which make for full, happy bellies to sustain you throughout your ride, any activities you decide to take on, and much of your day. It was great!
IMG_20140511_131159Wilson Ranches Retreat offers horseback riding for people 4 and older. We have a little city-slicker with a big cowboy heart and couldn’t pass it up. Ride times can vary, so just talk to your wonderful hosts and they will help you organize everything. The horses are calm and gentle and I had no worries about my 6 year old riding on his own. If you do not have boots or hats, they have them for you to borrow for your ride. Rides for younger kids are scenic, although you might get a chance to ride among some of the cows. Families with older kids can enjoy cattle drives, checking fence lines or for strays, and taking part in pasture moves and branding.

DSC_5997There are so many other things to do off the ranch as well. You can dig for fossils of ancient flora on the hill behind Fossil High School. Cost is DSC_5990$5/person, or $15/family of 4. Payment is done on the honor system and you just drop the money in the orange lock box and scramble up the hill. They have tools there for you to use and as you can dig as long as you like. It was a great way to spend the morning.

DSC_5951 We also had a look at the Painted Hills which is 1 of the 3 parts that make up the John Day Fossil Bed National Monument. The hour drive each way from the Ranch is absolutely worth it. We had a little hike while we were there and it left us wanting more (it was getting too late for anything longer). The intense colors and textures had our heads spinning, and I was able to tick something off my list that I had been wanting to do for a long time. We are going to have to back out to tour the other 2 parts of the Monument. The Lad proclaimed, “Mama, this is way more beautifuler than Portland. I love it here!” I think I have my traveling partner all sorted too!

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DSC_5924On our drive out to the ranch, we stopped in the small town of Moro, Oregon. Moro is home to the Sherman County Historical Museum. They have an amazing collection that spans time from the Oregon Trail and DSC_5934the days of the pioneers all the way up to present time. You learn about their farming practices and about some of Eastern Oregon’s greatest exports. You can even try your hand at grinding your own wheat, which was a favorite for the lad. The museum is really well laid out and we enjoyed the exhibits a great deal. After you wander through the museum, be sure to head to the Moro Cafe and Bakery just up Main Street. Food is delicious, and we took a cinnamon roll to go. We heard they were amazing, and our sources were right!

If you would like to see my full review of the Wilson Ranches Retreat and more pictures on the Trekaroo site, please click here. We want to thank Wilson Ranches Retreat for hosting our stay. As always, the opinions expressed here are our own and we were under no obligation to leave a positive review. They earned it, big time!

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