Ask a Texan to choose between a dude ranch and a fine dining, wellness spa, and Hill Country resort, and this is what you get for a great family vacation.
In the lexicon of guest ranches there are “dude” ranches and then there are “resort” ranches. Texas’ Wildcatter Ranch bills itself as a resort ranch, though I would call it a just little bit of heaven in the West Texas hills. This ranch is just outside of the charming little town of Graham, about 90 miles northwest of Fort Worth.
Wildcatter was built in 2004 by a local family whose direct ancestor was Colonel E.S. Graham, founder and namesake of the town. It owes its name and funding to family oil and gas activities first begun by the Colonel.
The main complex of buildings — guest suites and hotel/conference center — sit astride a high ridge looking west over the 1500 scenic acres of rolling hills and verdant valley that stretch down to the wide and languid Brazos River.
Wildcatter’s Luxe Sleeps & Fine Grub
Each of the 16 upscale suites is spacious enough to sleep four and opens onto a wide covered porch where guests can watch the sunset from big, comfy rocking chairs. Each suite’s dÃ©cor is individually themed to an aspect of local history and appointed with exceedingly comfortable beds with fine linens. Rooms in the hotel building are smaller, sleeping only two, but still comfortable and still offering those scrumptious views west. Rates are reasonable and breakfast and internet service are included.
The food offerings at the Wildcatter Steak House can only be described as outstanding. Carnivores will be swooning, but the whole menu delights all tastes and ages. The wine list is big, sophisticated and well-priced. Local folks come from far and wide to join guests in a very special dining experience.
It’s so good that you’ll want to be up early the next morning to hike or bike the 12 miles of trails and roads that run through the property. Horseback riding is a daily offering and can be enjoyed in a group at a leisurely pace or, depending on a guest’s ability, on a privately guided ride. The rides start at the modern equestrian center in the valley and wind their way up to the ridge and back down through the wooded slopes. Back at the barn, there are two metallic bull- riding practice tools, where kids or adults can experience a taste of the experience under the tutelage of the head wrangler.
Lots of Wild West Fun for all Ages
There is an archery range, along with our favorite, skeet shooting. You don’t have to be a big game hunter to excel at either sport. The ranch’s capable staff supervises both shooting activities and will help develop and refine your skills.
In the aquatic vein, there is an inviting infinity pool and hot tub built on the edge of the ridge, providing a special place to watch the sunset. Down on the river, canoes are available. Possum Kingdom Lake, where boats can be rented for fishing or touring, is one of Texas’ most scenic lakes and is just a short drive away,.
On the day after your horseback ride, you might want to take it easy and take your sore backside out to explore the surrounding territory. A walking tour of the Graham town square, Texas’ largest scale courthouse square, offers several antique shops and a couple of restaurants.
The old Deco-style movie theater is a beauty and still showing first-run movies, and on summer evening, the nearby local drive-in theater, one of the last of a dying breed, still operates. Show it to your kids while it lasts. The family would enjoy a visit to Fort Belknap, a frontier fort established in 1851 to protect settlers from hostile Indian tribes. Welsh’s Western Wear has a full array of cowboy boots and western-cut shirts and hats.
All in all, Wildcatter Ranch is a worthy destination for a family wanting a taste of the Texas ranch experience.
Resort Report Card
|6062 Highway 16 South
|$ – $$$
|Choice of Activities:
|Quality of Amenities:
|Stunning West Texas hill country views from every room.
|Western style, Southern hospitality, good food and horses make happy kids.
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