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Continued: Dude ranch makes for a blue-ribbon family roundup

  • Article by: TONY JONES , Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 26, 2013 - 4:07 PM

Amid the historic accommodations and host of activity options, horseback riding is the star of the show. Midweek, we took an overnight ride — totaling more than six hours in the saddle — to reach an abandoned mining town above the timberline, where the kids explored what looked like a moonscape. We spent the night under the stars in lean-tos — and were especially thankful for the hot tub upon our return the next morning.

The climax of the week came on Saturday afternoon: a rodeo.

With more than a little sibling rivalry in the air, my brothers and I mounted our horses for the keyhole race, the flag race and the barrel race — all timed races meant to test our ability to control our horses and ride quickly. The kids had their own versions of the same races, and the event culminated with a relay race among the wranglers, reminding us that we are just rank amateurs.

That night, the last of our stay, the staff gathered again, just as they had on our first night. This time, they serenaded us with songs both funny and sweet. More than one of our children cried at the thought of parting with their horses and their favorite ­wrangler.

Then it was time to reward the rodeo winners. When they announced me as the winner of the barrel race and handed me my blue ribbon, I acted like it was no big deal. But to this 45-year-old city slicker, it was a bit more awesome than I was willing to admit.


Tony Jones is a theologian and writer. He lives in Edina. You can find him at


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