Cross Zee Ranch, Canmore, Alberta
The Canadian Rockies are packed full of activities to keep even the most restless satisfied. Whether it be hiking, skiing or just chilling in the Hot Springs, the choices are endless. However, one of the best ways to experience the extraordinary surroundings in a slightly different way must be horse riding. Cross Zee Ranch, based in Canmore is the company to book with to make sure your horse ride is a great experience.
Back in 1898, a bunch of horsemen with a huge herd crossed over into the Canadian Rockies in search of prairie grass. They eventually found a nice spot in what is now southern Alberta and called it the Cross Zee Ranch after the brand of livestock they bore.
A young cowboy called John Boychuk liked the place so much when he visited that when he set up his own guiding and outfitting business in Yoho Park, he named it after the Cross Zee Ranch. In 1950, he moved his string to Canmore to better suit his busy business and so it remained in Canmore.
The young cowboy only retired at the ripe old age of 90 in 1995, at which stage the new owners took over the reigns (excuse the pun) and remain there still today. The trails are the same, the scenery just as stunning but there are a few new additions to make the journey even better.
Pine scented montane forests with stunning mountain views, flowers, birds, wildlife and all on the back of a friendly horse. Cross Zee Ranch has a great selection of trails to choose from though the ancient trails of the Nakoda. Depending on your riding ability, or lack thereof, and also on the trail conditions, your guide has a wide selection of trails to choose from. Gentle and surefooted horses will be paired with suitable riders.
Children are completely welcome at Cross Zee Ranch and pony rides can be arranged for children aged 5 and under. No body should miss out on this experience. The only exception is that there is a weight restriction of 250lbs (113 kilos) for trail riders.
One of the modern additions made to the ranch is The Donut. Similar to the snack, this is a little delight to look forward to on your trip. It is made like a traditional Native tepee, albeit a giant one at 3500 sq. ft. It is a circle with a fire pit in the middle and can comfortably hold 180 revellers.
In summer, the walls come down so you can enjoy the views from within the Donut. If the weather is not so good, it becomes enclosed, the heat comes on and it is hard to imagine a place more comfortable. Just as beautiful in winter. Delicious BBQ’s are cooked outside and served into the hungry rider. There is a choice of menu for all occasions.
The barn can remarkably hold 300 people and is equipped with washrooms, stage, dance floor and a bar. Everything you need for a good old fashioned barn dance. There is also a commercial kitchen so it can cater to any event from work function to wedding. These facilities are open all year round and are completely handicap accessible.
“All facilities are completely handicap accessible and it is possible with organisation and foresight to have handicapped or disabled riders out on the trails too.” – Brenda, Cross Zee Ranch.
All special events are catered for at Cross Zee Ranch whether it be a wedding, birthday, anniversary, corporate function of fundraiser. Bands or DJ’s can play or you can use your own imagination to make a special day.
What Cross Zee Have To Say
“We usually go out in groups of no more than 8 and there are four main trails to choose from. I think it’s the small groups that makes Cross Zee appealing to people and its lack of commerciality. The trails are so scenic and the horses are just awesome. When you have so few, they really develop personalities and people like that” – Brenda, Cross Zee Ranch.