Go West!

Pull on your cowboy boots, and enjoy all things Western in Bandera, Texas, in the heart of Texas Hill Country. For top trail riding, here’s the inside scoop on four area destinations.

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So, you’re looking for a guest-ranch vacation in the heart of Texas Hill Country. Maybe visit more than one ranch without driving very far between ranches. And, have this vacation in a region steeped in Western history and lore.

Look no further than Bandera, 50 miles northwest of San Antonio, the self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of the World. Here, you’ll enjoy live music, gunfight reenactments, rodeos, ranch tours, and strolling cowboy musicians.

If the boot fits, then scope out these guest ranches and a gorgeous state natural area to which you can trailer your horse for riding and camping. (For complete write-ups, and more Bandera trail-riding destinations, see the April 2015 issue of The Trail Rider. To subscribe, click here. )

2E Twin Elm Guest Ranch.Twin Elm is one of the oldest operating guest ranches in the Bandera area. You may camp by the river, stay in the resort’s lodging, or pull your living-quarters trailer into the recreational-vehicle park. Trail riding takes you out into diverse terrain of scenic hills, flatlands, woods, and rivers. You’ll be matched to a trusty ranch horse based on your age and ability. Rides are led by a wrangler and are charged by the hour.

Dixie Guest Ranch.This ranch is the real deal. More than 100 years old and a guest ranch for nearly 80 years, the ranch is still a working ranch, with longhorn cattle, horses, and goats. Dixie Guest Ranch offers top trail riding. Scenic trails wind all over the ranch’s rugged, unspoiled hills. You can also go on an overnight ride after a gorgeous day’s ride through Texas Hill Country. After supper, you’ll sit around a campfire under a star-filled night and enjoy being serenaded by a cowboy singer.

West 1077 Guest Ranch.This peaceful ranch was established as an old cattle ranch, and still retains the charm and simple way of life of the Old West. West 1077 is small by design. The ranch, recently renovated, features a lodge, cabins, swimming pool, and stables. Rides, booked according to your own schedule, go right out into Texas Hill Country. You can also bring your own horse and board at the stables. Your horse will be provided with excellent accommodations, including an inside stall or outside corral. 

Hill Country State Natural Area.Would you rather go out on your own? Head to Hill Country State Natural Area, located just outside of Bandera. This park offers more than 5,300 acres for riding and camping. There are two horse campgrounds. Chapa’s Camp, a 10-acre group camp, can hold a large number of horses, people, and trailers. The Trailhead Campground has six equestrian sites. Each one has a pen, picnic table, fire ring, and 40-foot pull-through parking for your rig. There are more than 40 miles of designated trails. Terrain ranges from flat, broad, dry-creek bottoms to steep, rocky canyons and mountains up to 2,000 feet in elevation.

Kent and Charlene Krone combine their interest in photojournalism with a passion for horses. They’ve sold photographs to magazines, books, calendars, postcards, and video producers for more than 20 years. (For a sampling, visit www.superstock.com, and type “supplier:1314” in the search box.) They enjoy sharing their horseback adventures in the United States and Western Canada. Reach them at [email protected]