On a recent fall day our family and some close friends celebrated Tall Kid’s birthday at Pisgah View Ranch, a dude ranch located in the mountains of North Carolina. I had been looking for a dude ranch experience for Tall Kid because he enjoys experiences like riding horses and catching fish and because frankly, we could all stand a little more time enjoying the great outdoors. Pisgah View came up as the winning ranch location after looking at several possibilities within reasonable driving time.
To be clear: We are not camping people and this experience is about a close as Tall Family will come to camping. So when we received an offer from friends to stay with them in a family mountain home in Asheville on Friday night of the birthday weekend, we quickly said, “Why yes, and thank you.” We enjoyed their spacious mountain mini mansion and it provided quite a contrast for how we would spend the remaining time for the weekend.
On Saturday morning we rose early and had breakfast before moving on to Pisgah View Ranch in Candler. Upon arrival we went to the main office at the white multi-story home on the property. A nice added perk was the lemonade/cookies table available near the office throughout the day. The house, in particular, was decorated for fall and it was a beautiful country scene. We were allowed an early check in for our cabin, which was a duplex. Fortunately we had no next door neighbors for Saturday night, and though other cabins were quite near, it was a quiet evening.
At the mid-century-like cabin, we found a basic room with two double beds and a basic bathroom and closet. Think rustic. I had a flashback to circa 1979 church camp. Rooms do not have amenities such as televisions. Wifi is available at the main house. And yet, Tall Dad and I lived through this.
The plan for the day was to be sure that by nightfall all involved would be thoroughly exhausted and would thus fall asleep without noticing that we were, indeed, darn near camping. So though I chose not to participate in the first activity of the day, after meeting the horses at the barn, a small group rode off along a trail for an hour or so. Several friendly dogs are on the property and one traveled along with the horse ride. Tall Dad, who now has some experience with horses, described the horses as perfect for beginning riders. While lots of activities are included with the nightly rate, horse riding does require an extra fee.
Post-riding there was a brief break and then the group moved on to lunch in the ranch restaurant. More on this in a moment. The day was unseasonably warm but beautiful. We had brought fishing gear and after lunch several folks engaged in fishing at the ranch pond. The mountains served as a stunning backdrop. Later we took in other available activities. Billiards and ping pong were played in the small game room. Shuffleboard was accomplished over near the parking area. Using gear provided by the ranch, a serious tennis competition occurred. We visited the gift shop but it was scant for anything I would be interested in taking home with me.
After dinner a nature walk was offered but our group, feeling tired, passed on this opportunity. Tall Kid and his sidekick enjoyed a bonfire by the pond but Tall Dad and I took turns dragging exhausted, sweaty bodies into the shower and then collapsed into our bed. The day had been full, and the goal of giving Tall Kid a genuine ranch experience had been accomplished complete with birthday cake after dinner.
While at the ranch we encountered a variety of people including a home school family who brought their children each year. Other folks made it clear that a week-long stay was an annual event for them, and they enjoyed being “at one with nature”. We had a fun experience but after our one night stay thought we had enjoyed what the ranch had to offer.
All in all, Pisgah View Ranch was pleasant and positive and took Tall Family out of their collective comfort zone. Unfortunately I can’t report the same for the meals in the main house. Meals are served family-style and families are intermingled at tables which is great for getting to know other folks. Unfortunately the food quality was quite poor and not at all the country cooking that we were all expecting. Thus, I was glad we were there for meals for just a day (a lunch and dinner) as I could see the “hangry” level rising in Tall Dad’s attitude over the course of the day. We like our meals, y’all. The exception to the food criticism would be the desserts that must have been prepared by someone other than the cook in the kitchen. Desserts were by far the best part of the meal offerings. Note that meals were paid in addition to the nightly rate (not all-inclusive). This was really a lost opportunity for Pisgah View as a reputation for a solid “home cooking” meal would draw in a large crowd in this particular mountain area.
All in all, I would recommend Pisgah View Ranch for some time in the great outdoors. Just remember to bring your snacks, and if your stay will be longer in duration, get out and explore some of the farm-to-table restaurants in neighboring communities.