Rocking Horse Ranch Resort in Highland, New York, previously a winner of FTF’s Top 10 Getaways for Tiny Travelers Award, gets a fresh look in 2015.
On 500 manicured acres of prime upstate New York hill country lies a lively, tidy little ranch known as Rocking Horse Ranch. Back in 1958, owning a dude ranch was the dream of The Turks, “cowboy” kids who had watched horses pulling ice wagons around New York City’s Lower East Side. They invested in a run-down hotel, renovated the property, and today, son Steve Turk manages the much-loved ranch, whose warm, fuzzy name should indicate how these friendly folk feel about kids. They love ’em.
As dudes have become grand-dudes and great-grand-dudes, Rocking Horse has kept pace. Very smartly, this once rustic venue for pony rides and petting zoos has evolved into a something-for-everyone four seasons family resort. In winter, the 1,030-foot ski hill is for beginners who take advantage of free equipment and lessons, or snow tubing, ice skating and sleigh riding sessions. In summer, two pools boast colorful waterslides, a 250-foot-long doozie and a sweet little one at the Fort Geyser Aqua Station kiddie area, both manned by lifeguards.
Horses are still a key part of the mix, with over 100 good-natured beasts happy to tote little ones around a corral on the daily “pony” rides, and other family members from age 7 up on wrangler-guided trail rides. For those who aren’t interested in being on horseback, there are horse-drawn carriage rides, barn tours and horse shoeing demonstrations.
The resort also features The Big Splash Indoor Water Park that houses the 250 ft indoor waterslide, geysers, twin racers and water walk challenges, as well as a moderately priced massage and facial center, a shooting gallery, and a Wii room for teenagers.
In an atmosphere where parents join in for shuffleboard, miniature golf, Disney Trivia, waterskiing or banana boating, climbing the rockwall, and evening campfires, there is also a well supervised activities program for newborns-12 years. A wide array of activities and adventures as well as napping cots await the under 5-year-old set at Fort Tiny Children’s Nursery with a ration of 1 caregiver for every 3 campers. When not out riding, 6 to-12-year-olds attend Wild Buckaroo Day Camp with a ration of 1 caregiver for every 6 campers. Activities include scavenger hunts, pool play, sledding in winter, minigolf and volleyball. Camp is included in the all-inclusive package, but there is a fee of $10/HR for babies under age 3.
The largely high school and college-age counselors are hired for their past experience in working with children. The long-time activities director who expects energy, limitless patience and excellent references from her staff, trains them in handling issues such as separation anxiety and discipline. Several of the counselors also have First Aid or CPR degrees, and a registered EMT is on duty at the resort. Facilities provided for each age group are spotlessly maintained, bright, and adjacent to a large outdoor playground with climbing structures and a big Native American tipi.
Throughout the year, Rockinghorse showcases a wide variety of family-friendly shows that feature jugglers, clowns, comedians and more! For a complete schedule visit the Rockinghorse Ranch online.
The Rocking Horse’s comfortable decor has Western flair. The 119 motel-style rooms, rated three diamonds by AAA, are pretty similar with lots of Formica shelving, a phone, TV and an extra sink outside the bathroom to accommodate your posse of teeth-brushers; coffeemaker and minifridge are available for a fee.
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