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“Secluded, Quiet, Beautiful, But Bring Your Own Cleaning Supplies”
Review of Bison Creek Ranch

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Bison Creek Ranch
Reviewed 12 June 2017

Our family of 10 stayed three nights at Bison Creek Ranch in May 2017. The owner/manager "Bronse" was quick to reply to my emails/texts/calls and courteous. The fee is low compared to other houses in the area at $300 a night. However, I would have rather paid $400 a night for the same facilities and had them be clean. I would give the property a 5 star rating for everything except cleanliness, which I would give it a 2 or 3 on. It appeared like Bronse invested in beautiful little log cabins, furnished them in quaint western décor and then left some bachelor cowboy responsible for the house cleaning detail (about like Slim Chance's bachelor trailer in the Hank the Cow dog series, if your kids like to read or listen to those books). We spent our first afternoon in the house cleaning and dearly wished we had brought our own cleaning supplies from home. I had read many reviews for "The Ranch", as Bronse calls it online, before booking and read that a small percentage of the reviewers had said it was dirty, so I was expecting some dust or "roughing it" (the yard is desert like landscape so is extremely dusty). However, there is a big difference between a house that is dusty and a house that is dirty. The kitchen had grim that looked like many months of heavy use accumulated, the fridge was disgusting (and had leftover food in it), the bathroom smelled like a public bathroom (don't know if the guys from the office come and use that bathroom since the house we stayed in was the one right up by the front office). BTW, bring your own toilet plunger as the toilet plugged a couple times a day when we were there and plunger sitting by the toilet doesn't work very well. I wished we had brought our own vacuum, too, as the one sitting in the house just made puffs of dust billow in the air when we tried to use it. There were lots of cobwebs on the walls and curtains, the poor bison over the fireplace looked almost silver.

The house has two bedrooms in it (one private with a wood door to close, the other behind glass French doors) with queen size beds in them. Also, there were two queen beds in the loft which is where the washing machine and dryer are located. The beds in the bedrooms downstairs seemed clean, but the bed sheets in the loft appeared dirty, like someone had run around outside barefooted and then crawled into bed without washing their feet off (like pine needles in the sheets?). That wasn't a big deal for us as we just stripped those beds and used our own sleeping bags as we had gone camping for the rest of our vacation. There is a hot tub outside, but it didn't appear clean enough to use.

If you plan to drive to Yosemite from the ranch, it will take you almost an hour and a half to drive completely into Yosemite Valley. There are three houses on the ranch and we stayed in the one that sleeps 10 (if two people sleep on the couches in the living room) at the front of the ranch as we didn't have the 4 wheel drive vehicle that would be needed to get to the cabins that are further back on the ranch. There is no way you will be able to get down the road to the two back cabins without 4 wheel drive, the road is very rough, rocky, washed out and steep in places. The kids thought it was fun to look for gold in the stream and also went into the tunnel by the front gate that used to be a gold mine (but is muddy after the first 20 feet so didn't go back the 150 feet to the end). We saw a half dozen head of cattle, not any bison, a few chickens, some rabbits in the house labeled "chickens" and a couple burros in the corral by the second house. I would think of it as more of a little old McDonald farm than a working ranch as there was no sign of the equipment/feed that a large number of cattle would need. There's a tiny green house behind the shop with some herbs, kale and strawberries growing in it. No sign of eggs, so bring your own for breakfast:) We manager was friendly and helpful as he showed us our house when we checked in on Saturday, and we didn't see anything more of them until we went to check out on Tuesday morning and went to the office to tell them we were leaving (just saw their trucks sitting at the shop/office during the days).

Our favorite thing about the ranch:
Beautiful scenery: 1 mile wide by 7 miles long with permission to roam the entire property. So quiet and beautiful and serene. If you are from the city, you'll be in awe of the quiet and solitude! Our family walked a couple mile back on the property to just past the second house to see the burros/donkeys in the corral. It all looks like the set of an old western movie, very picturesque. Lots of flowers were blooming along the road. Feels very secluded and private (although the front house is right by the office and their shop so is in view of the ranch workers). We enjoyed burning wood in the fire place each night as it was cold outside. We were provided with plenty of wood to burn a fire overnight all three nights. Our house had a porch that wrapped around the entire house with rocking chairs on it. We saw some wild turkeys out the back porch in the morning.

Suggestions if you stay here:
Bring your own cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towel, vacuum, toilet plunger, kitchen rags and towels (they provide some but would have to be washed before I used them). I'd suggest washing any towels that you find hanging on the bathroom doors as the one that was there when we arrived was damp like it had been used. But the ones on the rack in the bathroom seemed clean. The cabin has very dim lighting which fits the ambiance of the cabin well. However, if you want to see anything very clear, bring your own brighter light bulbs.

If this were my cabin, I would hire a maid service to thoroughly clean out the cabin, get a new vacuum cleaner and sweep more than the middles of the rooms. Get rid of the dirty kitchen appliances on the top of the kitchen cabinets (waffle iron, crock pot type of stuff that all desperately needed a good scrubbing), make sure the kitchen table is wiped off before anyone arrives (no crumbs or food dried on the cloth throw on the table or the table itself, empty and wipe out the fridge, Empty the bathroom shelves out of miscellaneous personal stuff (vitamins, old soap, etc.), install a new toilet the flushes well........ Then enjoy the beautiful cabins with their quaint western décor and solitude!

Room Tip: Beautiful Scenery, Secluded Log Cabins, But Bring your Own Cleaning Supplies
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  • Stayed: May 2017, travelled with family
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank ericaj75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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2 - 8 of 26 reviews

Reviewed 27 January 2017

When I arrived at the ranch I rode horses Then I found herd Of Buffalo There was also a friendly deer that came around That was dog gentle!! Then I went Down to the Beautiful creek and pan for gold!! I am Looking Forward to coming back again

  • Stayed: April 2016, travelled with family
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank 515stephen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 October 2016

A true ranch experience with privacy, nature, million dollar views, animal friends, fresh vegetables, fresh eggs, gold mines, river, beach, waterfall, honda 4 seater atv to ride, bbq, campfires, got unplugged and away, kids slept like babies, wild turkeys, pigs, horses, mules, donkeys, deer, skeet shooting, archery range, horse shoe pit, hot tub, no neigbors, no sirens, no street noise, hand crafted log cabins, private skinny dipping hole, miles of hiking trails, accessible and cell phone service just in case i cant say anymore than wow!

  • Stayed: October 2016, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Becky154
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 May 2016

Our group of 10 booked a 4 night stay at the big cabin by the front entrance of the ranch. However, when we get there Jerry nonchalantly mentions that he had given our cabin to another group that just happen to check in before us. No apology or anything. So we were redirected to a much smaller cabin in the back of the ranch that only sleeps 6. On top of having 4 people in our group sleep on the filthy dusty floor, we had to pay the same rate as for the bigger cabin. Though we didn't mind sleeping on the floor, Jerry's deceptive practices and negativity made our stay very unpleasant (see list below). So we asked to check out after the second night. Jerry gave us his word he would mail us a refund of $600 as he suddenly got food poisoning while we were checking out, rendering him unable to write a check. We never saw a refund after multiple attempts to reach Jerry.

A few other reviewers that left positive feedback may have gotten lucky and got to stay at the big cabin on the front of the ranch. Our issue wasn't the roughing out part. We are experienced backcountry backpackers and used to roughing it out. But is is unacceptable to pay $300/night under the explicit promise of multiple amenities which we got none of. Given the false advertising and our experience with being defrauded, I could not recommend to anyone to take a risk of staying at Bison Creek.

Other things to note for the smaller cabin in the back of the ranch:
1) The back cabin is a minimum half hour drive from the back entrance through a road Jerry build himself. It's two miles of potholes and sharp rocks all the way. You'd be lucky if you don't get a flat tire unless you have off road tires. Getting in and out is hard so you should have enough supplies for your whole stay.
2) Fridge is old school gas powered. Though it does work, it takes two days to cool down and it will not be turned on until you check in.
3) Jerry promises fresh vegetables from his garden and fresh eggs daily. Do not count on preparing your meals with produce from the ranch. The garden is nonexistent and the fresh eggs were 1-2 a day.
4) We booked a 4 night stay and we were only given enough gas for 2 meals. When we asked for more Jerry acted surprised that we didn't bring our own, when it was never mentioned we would have to bring our own gas.
5) Same thing for the power generator. Only enough fuel for 1 day of lighting and hot water. Bring your own.
6) Jerry also promises use of his two ATV's. Apparently those are exclusive to the big cabin on the front of the ranch.
7) Another empty promise: Horseback riding. You are welcome to ride as long as you can lasso the horses in and mount the saddle. However, you have to bring your own saddles. First of all, we were never told we would need to bring our own saddles. And second, does Jerry really expect that people have half a dozen saddles just sitting around at home?
8) The back cabin does have a hot tub. It's full of bugs and dust because it's never covered. Reason being is that Jerry's idea of heating up the tub is leaving it open during the day so the sun will heat up the water. So if you do wanna use the tub, bring your own generator to heat it up.
9) Do not attempt the hiking trails. The fishing lake trail leads to a 6 inch cesspool. We spend over an hour looking for the lake only to realize that Jerry's map was really indicating the cesspool. Also the river trail leads to a dried up, full of trash/snakes, river bed.

  • Stayed: June 2015, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
4  Thank Andreas K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 December 2015 via mobile

Excellent place to get away and learn about nature. Lost of Deer, Bison and many more species of animals and birds. Very family orientated atmosphere. Great place to ride the quads or horses. We stayed their for 5 night and took 10 of our grandchildren with us and they didn't want to leave and can't wait until we go back next year.

Stayed: July 2015, travelled with family
Thank robertrL6940IE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 September 2015

For Mom’s76th Birthday this year, we tried something a little different. The Bison Creek Ranch is a place in the Sierras just outside Mariposa near Yosemite National Park. It promised a true American experience where you could get back to a simpler time and enjoy the land unencumbered by the trappings of modern craziness. A form of rustic yet comfortable agri-tourism. It sure did deliver.

From the moment we pulled up to the gate and were greeted by Bronse, we seemed to be transported to a different time. A time somewhere in between ‘Dances with Wolves’, ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and the Gold Rush of '49.

We met nice people who were eager to share this amazing place along with all it’s diverse inhabitants. Of which the two little wolf pups who had just opened their eyes the day before were probably the cutest and the 200 pound proud father the most stately and awesome. The bobcat kittens gave the little wolves stiff competition for cuteness and the mighty bison grazing in our front yard were almost as impressive as the wolf parents. Friendly horses, mules and donkeys always stopping by the cabin to inquire about carrots were our closest neighbors. Our dog Juno got along especially well with the Donkeys.

The ride on the Razor and ATV down steep trails to the Merced at the property edge 5 miles away was a trip to the edge of our comfort zone (some steep grades), but so fun and rewarding. The Merced was like an oasis after the hot dusty trail.

You should be aware of what you are in for so that you are not leaving a 1 star review by comparing this place with a 5 star hotel. Prepare to get dusty and understand that what is being offered here is not a posh resort. This is a very comfortable way to 'rough it'.

We stayed in the main cabin at the top of the property, which is the only one that is 'on the grid'. The jacuzzi worked fine and was clean until you opened it and the dust started to make its way in. The BBQ was a big enough to cook a feast on, which we did. The cabin was clean and well appointed. The kitchen was functional with a big modern refrigerator. The beds were very comfortable. We had fun playing horseshoes and flinging dried bison pies with the skeet launcher.

Some recommendations: The lighting is a little dimmer than many people are used to so maybe bring some extra LED lanterns for indoors along with flashlights for get around outdoors. Also, if you come with a big group, it would be good to have a camping shower. The bathroom with the claw-foot tub and shower is great, but there is just the one. If you came with a large group and brought a camping trailer with a bathroom, you would be more comfortable. For a small group, the accommodations are fine as is. We were 7.

Bronse gave us free use of the ATV and gave us a great deal on the Razor vehicle. He says he is upgrading to these Razors and will be discontinuing the loan of the ATV's. I can definitely understand why as some of the trails that go to the river, waterfall, goldmines and other sites of interest are steep and uneven. The ATV's are not as easy to maneuver on these trails for inexperienced riders. The Razors are amazing vehicles that have no trouble on these trails. They are easy to drive and a lot of fun! My sister had never ridden an ATV before and was a little unsure on the Razor at first, but ended up loving it!

The location is about 20 minutes from Mariposa on paved easy roads until the ranch entrance and then well graded dirt to the main cabin. Visiting Yosemite from here would work, but I don't recommend to stay at Bison Creek if your main goal is Yosemite Park. Bison Creek is a destination, not a jump-off point. Bronse, Aaron and the other people on the ranch that we met in passing were very friendly and accommodating. You can tell they feel lucky to be a part of this place.

At the end of our stay we were trying to decide whether we would stay at the same cabin when we return or if we wanted to try one of the two more remote cabins (off the grid). We were about 50/50. We were 100 percent on returning though.

Bronse, congratulations for what you have created and many thanks for sharing it with us!

  • Stayed: September 2015, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank Daniel C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 August 2015

Bison Creek Ranch is like no other vacation rental I’ve ever experienced. It is not for everyone – not for the elderly or mobility impaired, not for small children or those with allergies, not for those who are fussy or dirt-adverse – but for those people who are up for an adventure, for a visit “back in time” it’s pretty dang amazing. The feeling of expansiveness and freedom pervades everything. Free ranging bison, donkeys, and horses, breathtaking vistas, trails to explore, and the kindest and most obliging of hosts (Bronse, Aaron, Armando) are among the treasures here. The accommodations are adequate, though nothing fancy. We had a big group staying in the first cabin on the property, and most of us slept outside on the glorious wrap-around porch. People have mentioned the dim light (we had lanterns that helped a lot) and the rough roads (best to have 4-wheel drive). Others have mentioned the hot tub (unusable). Also, the video/website makes it look like there’s water to swim in... not unless you travel far onto the 7000-acre property with a sturdy vehicle. We swam in the Merced, a short drive away. But there were many other joys in store.
Our party ranged in age from a few months old to 83 years – those who loved it most were the teens (if you have some of your own, you know what a rare thing this is! Bareback riding, archery, slingshots, fire-building, Quads, etc.) and the middle aged group, who sat drinking in the atmosphere and views (along with plentiful margaritas) after the day's exploration. Thank you, Bronse, for opening your place to visitors. It was an unforgettable experience.

  • Stayed: August 2015, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank Salamanda707
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Bison Creek Ranch

Address: 6071 Cya Rd, Mariposa, CA 95338-9478
Region: United States > California > Mariposa
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 8 Speciality Lodging in Mariposa
Number of rooms: 18

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