Healthy Getaways: Rock Springs Guest & Dude Ranch

You can almost hear echoes of Yippee-ti-yi-yo as you absorb the rhythmic cadence of horses' hooves wafting placidly through majestic Ponderosa pines. Under a crystal blue sky, forest-scented breezes gently ruffle manes and forelocks, and as the saddle creaks, it's easy to imagine what it must have been like 100 years ago when working ranches populated the Western territory. Cowboys spent their entire lives on horseback, riding, roping and herding cattle.

Rock Springs Guest & Dude Ranch just outside Bend provides travelers a chance to experience their own week-long fantasy of life on a ranch. Besides the breathtaking scenery of the Cascade Mountains, the appeal of Rock Springs Ranch is the peaceful tranquility of really being away from it all. It is a rare opportunity to be at peace with yourself and in tune with nature.

Visitors can choose restful inactivity or fill their days with everything from ping pong to white-water rafting.

Some vacation getaways lure their guests with delicious spa treatments, world-class golf courses, scenic hiking trails and gourmet cuisine. Rock Springs Ranch offers all that and more. Non-riding guests have many other options for enjoying their stay, including massage, an afternoon by the pool, swimming, yoga, improving their fly-casting technique or watching equine-related demonstrations. No bored kids on this vacation; Rock Springs takes special pride in providing a variety of youth-oriented programs and activities.

Rock Springs Ranch considers exceptional grub one of its most important features. Far from the plain but filling victuals served to wranglers of long ago, the ranch provides delicious and naturally nutritious meals. Award-winning chef Steven Hazell's philosophy is that "food is fundamental to life, nourishes us in body and soul, and strengthens our connection to nature."

For the serious connoisseur, Central Oregon offers a paradise of organic meat and produce, award-winning wineries, micro-breweries and gourmet cheeses.

Private cabins are available during the summer season, which runs from late June through August. In the offseason, the ranch offers a Thanksgiving feast, functions as a conference center, or may be rented as a retreat for families or groups.

One of the most popular events of the year is the annual Wild Horse Drive, a tradition since the mid-1970s. This drive, which takes place in September, allows photographers from all over the world to capture fabulous shots of authentic ranch life: horses on the move, cowboys and cowgirls, and the beauty of nature.

"This event started nearly 30 years ago by renowned photographer Wilma Roberts," explains Tricia Maxon, guest services manager.

"It's an amazing program, and we have photographers who have come for several years in a row to capture those magical images. We also offer classes for those that want to learn more about specialized areas of photography," says Maxon.

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