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Reviewed July 30, 2016

We had a wonderful family experience at The French Broad River Outpost Ranch. The staff is what makes the experience so special. Sean, Myan, Addison and the rest of the wranglers and staff work so hard, around the clock, to ensure everyone has an enjoyable time. The days are packed with various activities that you can enjoy with your kids. The food was hearty and plentiful. Z plans fun and filling menus that are sure to entice even the pickiest of eaters. Our 8 year old daughter felt like she was one of the wranglers, by the end of the week. It wasn't easy for her to say goodbye to her horse, Destiny, or her fave wrangler, Addison. If you are looking for a different family vacation, where you will truly connect and enjoy your children - you really should book a stay at the FBROR!

  • Stayed: July 2016, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank StephEick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed July 12, 2016

not worth the money. Nothing to do around there. No activities planned and children based nose to tail trail rides.
We had to watch movies at 11 am because there was nothing else to do; we were just left alone.
The food was very poor and a lot of carbs and greasy!
The scenery and rooms were nice, though!
The owner was acting weird. On the first day we had to endure a very boring 'lesson' in horse riding, or was it 'fysics of balancing'?? and how the horse industry was all wrong and other kind of sketchy stories.

Staff had to work all the time and they were not allowed to talk to 'the guests'. When you spoke to them, they looked afraid talking to you, as the owner would punish them then...

So, this was the most boring week during our 4 week road trip in the south of the USA. If you are an experienced or mid-experienced rider, you don't get much action over here!
Don't spent your money here!

Stayed: May 2016
13  Thank Jerry P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
ShawnGannon, Owner at French Broad Outpost Ranch, responded to this reviewResponded July 14, 2016

We have 2 seasons, one is called High Season or the summer when there is something going on constantly. The other season is called Low Season because it offers less things to do at night because we aren't as busy and is considered a more adult time period. In order to produce things like a square dance or bring in a band you have to have certain numbers of guests for this to occur. Jerry and his wife thought by reading the brochure, which promotes the high season and says that, that everything was going to be happening. Unfortunately that is normally possible except during Thanksgiving and Spring break when kids are out of school. As far our food goes, it's all a matter of opinion but 95% of our guests love the food. You can't please everyone no matter what type of business you operate. In the summer we do offer an advance ride to folks that have achieved balance, but we don't offer that in the low season for the reasons already mentioned. Just because you have ridden a lot doesn't mean you're really in balance nor does it mean you are an expert rider. Riding a horse can be somewhat like singing. Just because you sing a lot in the shower doesn't mean you are an advanced rider because you've ridden 100 time or more. We teach everyone how to be a better horseback rider by being in balance. Sometimes people that have invested lots of time in this craft and still need help before they get here, often refuse and scoff at our help because they believe they have reached an expert level. Some ranches don't care and will actually let you go faster by holding on and bracing yourself against the horse or saddle, but our policy is before you can be offered that type of ride you have to be in balance. As far as our staff goes, they are encouraged to talk to the guests as much as possible. There might be certain subjects that they might decline because of our policies to avoid some subjects, and maybe that is what Jerry is speaking about. IF that is the case, our staff might have said we aren't allowed to talk about that. All in all we offer a very enjoyable vacation to our guests and do our best to make that happen.

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Reviewed July 7, 2016

We had a great time at the Broad Outpost Ranch. I have been to a Colorado ranch and the French Broad ranch compares favorably with the more traditional week-long ranch experience. Folks who want to experience a dude ranch but don't want to commit to the time and expense of flying to a far-flung location will be pleased with this ranch. The setting is remote and beautiful, lodging is spectacular, rides and horses were as expected and food was great.

Safety was taken seriously at the ranch. Trail rides, kitchen and food cleanliness, and off-site activities were well presented and supervised. I was pleasantly surprised by the rafting experience that was included. It was exciting, relaxing, fun and beautiful.

I didn't have any cell service at the ranch but I expected that from previous reviews. Some folks did have limited service. Kids (and adults) will need to be prepared to be unplugged from their electronics.

  • Stayed: July 2016, travelled with friends
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank knightwatcher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed June 26, 2016

The French Broad Outpost Ranch was an excellent experience for our family, all first time riders. Rustic, peaceful atmosphere with very comfortable rooms and public spaces to hang out and read or watch the birds and horses.

We arrived last Sunday for a 3 night, 4 day stay and and had a tasty dinner and met the other families, wranglers, and the ranch cook and housekeeping people, after which Shawn gave a very helpful lecture about the physics of horseback riding and a saddling demonstration. The talk was a little long and was geared towards people who had been taught to ride in a way that Shawn disagrees with, although the latter point was kind of lost on our group, all of whom had little or no riding experience. But Shawn's passion and enthusiasm for teaching was obvious and infectious, and made all of us excited about the next day's activity.

Activities: After a hearty breakfast (served promptly at 8 am), we started on pretty flat trail rides where the horses walked, and the second day did a more mountainous trail, as well as a mini cattle drive and cow "penning," both of which were fun and showed that we still had no idea what we were doing. They also had a fun "pioneer games" activity where the guests (about 20 total) were divided into teams with the wranglers and did relay races in the corral, then the adults got to try shooting a pistol at balloons (with blanks) while the kids painted a horse with colored shampoo. It was a great bonding experience for everyone. We also went "whitewater" rafting our first afternoon - unfortunately there has been a drought, so the whitewater was pretty non-existent, although that didn't prevent some of our group from falling out on the only Class 3 rapid of the day! But it was fun and a nice way to cool off after the dusty morning trail ride.

Other than the meals, that was it for the organized activities. For the adults and kids who like to read, having that down time was great. For the teenagers in our group, there were board games, foozball, air hockey, and pool, as well as a swimming pool. They enjoyed those things, although it would have been nice if there had been some kids' movies (no TV or cell/wifi for streaming) to watch in the evenings, or if they had a football or two for the kids to throw around (we went out and bought one at the Dollar Store). Also, our family was a little bereft without their phones and wifi access, but it was a nice change of pace to get away from it all. There's a town about 15 miles away where the truly desperate can go to get cell service.

Staff: The wranglers and staff--except for Shawn and his dad, Bob, all kids in their 20s or even younger--were all unfailingly friendly and helpful; they were especially great with the smaller kids. The wranglers and other staff help serve the meals, which is nice; you get the feeling everyone is helping each other. Having meals with the wranglers was sometimes a bit awkward, as they are all young people who will answer questions but don't really make conversation. We were lucky to be paired with two nice families and everyone got along great.

Food & Accommodations: the food was plentiful, tasty, hearty, simple country cooking: ham, great cornbread and homemade rolls, biscuits, cakes & pies, black-eyed peas, green peas, mashed and boiled potatoes, eggs, bacon, oatmeal, pancakes, etc. At every meal there was coffee, tea (sweetened and un), lemonade, etc. They have a bar but only serve beer, although they allow you to bring your own wine or liquor if you want (we didn't). We enjoyed the food very much. My only suggestion would have been for them to at least have salad as an option for those of us that wanted some green vegetables (other than peas) during our stay.

Rooms: they gave our family of four two very nice rooms with private baths. The decor is rustic western, with split-timber walls, quilts, etc. Each room had an air conditioner and there was a comfy little parlor on our floor with leather couches and rugs for reading or just taking a nap. The only improvement for the rooms would be to stock them with shampoo, conditioner, and tissues -- they only came with a little bar of soap, a bottle of liquid hand soap, and toilet paper. When you're paying almost $1,000 a day to stay, it seems like shampoo would be included.

All in all, a very nice place where we had a great family experience. I would definitely recommend it to someone who doesn't mind getting away from it all, and who is open to new experiences.

Room Tip: We stayed in the "Hotel," which was lovely.
  • Stayed: June 2016, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
1  Thank Cyclingknitter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed June 12, 2016 via mobile

If you're looking for a well run ranch that caters to and takes pride in their animals and their ranch this is the place for you. If you're looking for a place to cater to you this is not the place for you. You also must be somewhat physically fit. You must walk on uneven terrain with some incline in whatever kind of weather your week brings to obtain and return your horse for each ride. People with a normal activity level will be fine but the unfit will not fair well.

Every member of the ranch team is dedicated to giving excellent care to the animals on the property!!! The wranglers are meticulous. They talk gently, caress and massage , monitor any changes in their physical health, apply cream to any areas of concern as a precautionary measure as well as a treatment and do anything possible to maintain a healthy and safe environment for the animals. There are approximately 90 animals and they know every one by name.

The decor is fantastic!!! The entire facility is tastefully decorated in old west memorabilia. The entire complex is constructed of rough cut wood. There is nothing like the sound of boots walking on the wooden decks!!! I was amazed that everything is absolutely spotless. I was covered in dust and grime every day but there is nothing dirty inside the buildings.

The staff keeps your schedule on a need to know basis.... It runs like this .. at the end of each meal a cow bell rings and you're told where to go next and what time. There is normally free time after each activity before the next meal. The dinner bell will ring before each meal.

We enjoyed the food. You get 3 squares/day. All but 2 lunches were hot freshly cooked meals with an entrée, a starch ,a vegetable ,bread and dessert. In the dining room all day there is help yourself tea, coffee , oranges and apples. There is also carrots and peppermint candy to feed your animal friends. There is a wide variety of different meals and all were very tasty!! The asparagus on the mountain top for the supper ride was especially exciting.

Verizon worked adequately for text messages and phone calls only. Rarely was I able to send or receive pictures or access the internet.

All the activities are very organized. For some things such as rafting and tubing they drive you in a van which is always timely.

Tips- bring a float for the pool, bring old clothes, the white trail is steep, bring first aid supplies (this is an outdoor adventure) , bring snacks and beverages for the evening if you want anything other than tea or beer and most of all sit on the porch in the rockers and enjoy the amazing view with a glass of sweet tea every chance you get!!!

Stayed: June 2016, travelled with family
5  Thank SunTn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
ShawnGannon, Owner at French Broad Outpost Ranch, responded to this reviewResponded June 25, 2016

Thanks so much for your compliments. I do want to help folks understand a few things though. We are in the mountains as almost all Dude Ranches are and there are inclines in our area. But we have had guests into their 80's do the activities offered including the cool down walk. Three of these previous guests stand out: One was a retired 4 Star General from Alabama that had cancer and rode once a day. We were on his bucket list and he had a great time at 83 years old. The second was one of 2 brothers that brought their grandsons. The older brother who was in his mid 70's had just had quadruple bypass heart surgery a month before he arrived and wasn't sure he could do anything at all. We convinced him to try and he rode everyday. The first cool down walk he walked so slowly with his horse we were worried about him, but by Saturday on the cool down walk me and his grandson could no keep up with his pace. I am pretty sure he helped himself while he was here. The most heroic guest though arrived with his 3 sons for a week stay. He was a retired Marine who had lost one leg after his service in a motorcycle accident. I told him I didn't know how it would go since we had not had this situation before. We assigned him to Miss Love who had also had some bad luck and had lost one of her eyes. He made it, took every ride and he did every single cool down walk as required. It was the most amazing and blessed thing to watch Miss Love and him make it around together everyday. He said he just leaned on her and she leaned on him, so they became real buddies.
So even though effort is required, if these 3 guys can do it then I believe it is possible for almost everyone to enjoy the vacation we offer at any age and condition even though you do have to push yourself sometimes. The rewards though are astronomical!

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