McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch is located in Northwest Montana’s picturesque town of Libby. This authentic working cattle ranch is set in a wide-open meadow at elevations of more than 3,000 feet surrounded by forested mountain terrain.
Originally homesteaded in the 1890s, the ranch today still contains certain elements of the past. Cattle first appeared in this valley in the 1920s, although the ranch as it stands today wasn’t established until 1998.
The main focus of the McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch has always been on riding, with a strong emphasis on Buck Brannaman horsemanship. This can be put to the test either in the ranch’s onsite arena, along the trails, or working the cattle.
Every aspect of horsemanship is taught here, and as the owners are long-standing members of the Dude Rancher’s Association, it’s no surprise that most guests leave here as better and more skillful riders. On top of that, visitors get fine accommodation and fantastic home-cooked cuisine during a stay at the ranch.
McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch: A Guide
The Main Features of McGinnis Meadows Ranch
The McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch is somewhat unique in that it offers horsemanship-focused vacations which can include as much as 6 hours of riding per day.
The ranch has a huge, state-of-the-art arena, with gentle and experienced horses of exceptional quality used by all kinds of riders. The instruction and coaching from owner Shayne and the wranglers are also reported as top-notch.
The Buck Brannaman Horsemanship and Cattle Program are offered to riders of all levels from beginner to more experienced riders. The owner Shane has traveled and ridden with Buck extensively over 2 decades or more, and he now incorporates this experience and knowledge into the operations and activities at the ranch.
Potential visitors will be pleased to hear that the guest-to-wrangler ratio is low, which means a more individually-tailored experience each day. The ranch believes this style of learning facilitates more attention from the instructors than would be likely at any other ranch.
The Buck Brannaman Horsemanship Clinic is run daily along with working the cattle for a couple of days a week. Guests can even bring their own horse if they have one, but the majority of visitors will opt for one of the ranch’s own horses which come with custom-made saddles and tack.
The 10-Day Ranch Experience
The 10-day programs have been hugely popular and the guests who participate really benefit from a few extra days in the saddle.
For many, a program like this will take any existing level of skill to new heights, and instill solid basics in rank novices. The riding is undertaken both indoors and outdoors and covers the entire monthly opening of the ranch to visitors.
The programs commonly run from April through October with one 10-day working ranch experience being held every month/program per month. Guests primarily come out to the ranch for the purpose of advancing their horsemanship in a multi-faceted, authentic working ranch environment.
The program is geared towards riding skills both in and out of the arena, and it is adjusted according to the seasons and the work in hand.
Wintertime means indoor riding only, but come the warmer months there are trails to ride, cattle to drive, and lots of refined horsemanship training.
The horses at the ranch are trained as ‘all-rounders’ that can adapt to various scenarios such as working cattle, riding solo or in groups, covering any and all types of terrain, as well as having a decent set of skills for the arena.
The 10-day program aims to imbue riders with similar qualities and a more complete sense of adaptability to various scenarios on horseback.
All the wranglers and the interns at the ranch are highly-knowledgeable and the horsemanship instruction is exceptional throughout the stay. You may well come away with more skills and confidence in terms of your own riding.
Lodging at the Ranch
The ranch features four cabins all complete with a queen bed and an extra convertible futon. The rates are geared towards double occupancy, and the cabins even feature free Wi-Fi in case guests need to do a spot of remote work throughout their stay.
Bunkhouse & Cristel Cabins
Two larger cabins are also available featuring a queen bed downstairs, and two twin beds upstairs. The higher level is like a loft conversion and these options cabins can easily and comfortably accommodate 4 people.
All the accommodation at the ranch is clean, attractive, and comfortable, and the cuisine is delicious and hearty. Check out the rates and details for both the lodgings and the programs HERE.
Access and Check-In at the Ranch
The McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch is located about 70 miles west of Kalispell, from where you can take Highway 2 towards Libby if you are driving.
If you pay attention to the mile markers you should see a left turn onto McGinnis Meadows Road just past mile marker 64. Follow this road for just over 6 miles, taking the first right after the 6-mile marker until you see the entrance to McGinnis Meadows about 100 yards further down.
If you are heading towards the ranch by road from the direction of Spokane, WA, you can do so by heading northeast to Sandpoint in Idaho. After that, take Highway 200 into Montana in an eastern direction. Once past the Montana border, it’s Highway 56 due north which leads to Highway 2 and a right turn.
This should take you through Libby in the direction of Kalispell until just past the 63-mile marker when you will see the right onto McGinnis Meadows Road, whereby the same instructions will apply for those coming in from Kalispell.
Typically guests will be advised to check in at 3:00 pm before undergoing a short orientation an hour or so later. Then after that, it’s hors d’oeuvres at 5:00 pm and dinner at 6:00 pm.
The Bottom Line
Overall, McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch is a fantastic, all-inclusive option for anyone interested in taking their level of horsemanship to new heights.
The horses at the ranch are some of the best you are likely to find anywhere and will ensure that guests have an amazing time in the saddle. On top of that, the accommodation is homely and comfortable, and the home-cooked food is reportedly outstanding.
Guests get to enjoy stunning views throughout their stay at the ranch, and the cabins, the quality indoor arena, the wonderful cuisine, and the staff, all help to make McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch a dream Montana riding destination.