Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys…
Just got back from a weekend getaway to Greenhorn Ranch and I low-key want to live there. Nestled in the heart of Plumas County, this guest ranch resort is one of the only dude ranches in California and makes for a super special vacation.
Type: Luxury Resort
IG Rating: 5/5 aesthetics
Good For: Couples, families, groups, romance, adventure
You spend your days riding horses, your afternoons fishing, playing cards or shooting archery. Evenings are spent around a campfire or line dancing or live music or games or… the list goes on! Come for a weekend or a whole week, either way, you’ll get off your phone and into nature.
Greenhorn Ranch is a one-of-a-kind California vacation. Days are spent riding horses and evenings spent singing cowboy songs. Where else can you find that experience?
We drove up from San Franciso and hung a left at Truckee. Instead of going to the lake, we went North into the unknown (well not really, just new to us!) Miles and miles of stunning National forest land and mountain views – without the crowds you find in other parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountains!
Greenhorn Ranch is outside Quincy and located in Plumas County. I discovered this dude ranch vacation after looking into Plumas County as a place to catch some stunning fall foliage in the Sierras. (Quincy is known for their leaf-peeping!) In case you aren’t familiar, Plumas County is above Lake Tahoe and below Lassen National Park.
Distance to Greenhorn Ranch
From San Francisco: 5 hours and 23 minutes
From Lake Tahoe: 1 hour and 45 minutes
From Yosemite National Park: 5 hours and 45 minutes
From Sacramento: 3 hours
Greenhorn Ranch is tucked in between trees, mountains and fresh air. This luxury dude ranch in California is easy to fall in love with.
We rolled up to the ranch and my cell service went out in the drive. Grinning, I knew I already liked this place. A quick check-in process later, we settled into our room and were ready to start getting our cowboy on!
Life At A Dude Ranch In California
When we checked in, we were happily surprised to learn that the ranch offers two horseback trail rides daily – one at 10am and another at 2pm. While you’re at a dude ranch (or maybe just this California dude ranch) your daytime hours are spent around horses.
I’m pretty dang sure that every woman at some point in her life loved horseys, even just a little (just me?) So, getting to spend a lot of time around horses totally pleased my inner child. Trail riding was my favorite part. Plus, the property is basically a mountain ranch, with the lodging n the valley but trail rides taking you up on the mountains with stunning views from the top.
Horses are the heart of Greenhorn Ranch.
This is a dude ranch in California, so you’ll be riding western style – which is really, really easy and something we both quickly felt comfortable in. Am I afraid of heights? YES TOTALLY I fell off the monkey bars in kindergarten, this gal does not like being in high places without glass or a fence between me and the drop.
I was a little worried that I’d fall off a horse during one of our trail rides, but happy to say I never even came close. They do such a good job at getting you comfortable!
We even got to lope (the gait right below a gallop, or so I’m told.) It sure felt like what I always thought galloping was and your girl managed to do it after just a day of riding horses at Greenhorn Ranch. That’s how good the guides are!
Greenhorn Ranch is the only dude ranch in California that allows guests to go above a walk. Other places, like Rankin Ranch, Alisal Guest Ranches and Marble Mountain Ranch, aren’t permitted to let guests lope. If you want to be able to trot or even lope on a horse on your dude ranch vacations, make sure to come here! (Trust me, you’ll want to be able to at least trot!)
In case you’re wondering: did you herd cattle? California dude ranches don’t usually do that – they’re just about horses and other activities!
Robin and I have a running list of our favorite hotels ever. It’s on my list to make a blog post listing these properties (coming soon!) but, I’ll give ya a spoiler by telling you Greenhorn Ranch quickly made our list. About 5 minutes into our first trail ride, I knew this dude ranch in California was special.
What Makes Greenhorn Ranch Stand Out
- Daily horseback rides
- Luxury accommodations (cabins or rooms!)
- Fly Fishing onsite
- Daily meals (and the food is really good!)
- Extremely friendly staff
- No cell service (detox, yo!)
- Unique nightly activities like dancing or bonfires
- Wranglers are happy to help you take photos
Green Horn Amenities
- 26 guestrooms
- Restaurant and bar/lounge
- Outdoor pool
- Daily housekeeping
- Arcade/game room
- Lodge fireplace
- Free WiFi in lobby and free parking
- Supervised childcare/activities (surcharge)
- Private bathroom
- Free toiletries
- Daily housekeeping
- Arcade/game room
Book best deal online HERE
What to pack for a dude ranch
So, obviously, you have to adjust your clothing to be seasonal. That being said, you’ll need to pack certain things for a visit to any dude ranch.
- Boots: To ride, you’ll need close-toed shoes and boots are the best way to go. I recommend these street style boots or these cowboy boots.
- Jeans: Jeans are a way of life on a ranch. You’ll want to wear them on your trail rides but also around the ranch for other activities like fishing or hikes.
- Button up shirt: To pair with your jeans and cowboy hat, duh
- Cowboy hat: To play the part, yes, but also because it’ll keep the sun off your face on trail rides.
- Sweater: This California dude ranch is in the Sierra Nevada mountains. You’ll want a sweater for the chilly mornings and evenings!
- Sunscreen: You’re up high in the mountains – layer up that SPF!
Whether you are looking for lots of horseback riding or a chance to get away from it all and relax in the outdoors, Greenhorn Ranch is going to blow you away with it’s magic! This dude ranch in California offers so many gems.
While spring, summer and fall is by far the most popular time to visit, the ranch will be open during the winter for cozy holiday snowy vibes. If you don’t ski, or are looking to do something other than visit Lake Tahoe, this dude ranch is a fantastic alternative for a winter getaway.
If you’re looking for the perfect California vacation, Greenhorn is so so unique. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget and one of the best horse ranches in California (if not the best!)
Got any questions about Greenhorn that I can help answer? Leave a comment below or DM me on Instagram @thewhimsysoul and I’ll be happy to help!
Great write up, and beautiful pictures!!!!
You are right- what a gem of a find! We just left greenhorn a few hours ago. Good food, amazing grounds, wonderful staff-learned to canter first ride-guides give you great tips – well def be back!
hello! i was looking up calistoga and appreciated your blog. now thanks to you im like knee deep in DUDE RANCHES omg how have i not known about this amazing vacation possibility?! 😀