If you’ve ever thought about horseback riding on an open range with the wind at your back, the mountains at your feet and your eyes wide open, this equine ranch resort may help make it a reality. Alaska is affectionately known as “the last frontier,” and rightfully so, but that title could be easily taken away by this stretch of land located one and a half hours north of Mexico City, Mexico.
Welcome to Rancho Las Cascadas – a picturesque, all-inclusive dude ranch in the Mexican highlands where dreams of an Old West adventure might come to fruition for anyone who enjoys rugged luxury. It’s an enchanted and peaceful oasis where the air is fresh, and the stars twinkle brightly at night.
The ranch is fueled by its gracious hospitality, luscious surroundings and beautiful horses who each have their own personality. Some are gentler for beginner riders, while others are feisty and fiery for the advanced. All of the horses are truly loved and well taken care of by the staff and the wranglers known here as charros — Mexican cowboys who wear some form of traditional, elaborately decorated clothing while riding.
The History of Rancho Las Cascadas
Owner Ursula Wiprachtiger Schreyer was born and raised in Switzerland and became a Mexican citizen after falling in love with the country years ago. She bought the land, built the ranch, and decided to expand the resort and open it up to riders from around the world, creating a truly international guest experience.
Jenny Schroeder, the guest experience manager, has worked at the ranch for 12 years and is where she met her wrangler husband, Max. They both work hard to ensure that guests are happy and enjoy their stay. Schroeder expresses her love for hospitality. “Max and I start the day by finding out what the clients want to do and how we can make it possible. We are here for the clients and our day depends on them.”
Riding on the Open Range
All the horses are geldings or castrated male horses and are either Criollo, Quarter Horse or Azteca, a breed of horse originally purely bred for charros. You’ll have a chance to ride on Tango or Dakota. Then there’s an Appaloosa named Capricho, a chestnut-colored stallion named Gigolo and many more to choose from. The Charros will help you find your horse “spirit”— the perfect one for your skill level and personality.
The horses are very well-trained and respond to commands without much prompting. Riding takes place in small groups according to guests’ riding ability. Horseback riding can be a relaxing and meditative activity, as well as exhilarating if you choose to canter and gallop.
There are two rides each day: a longer one in the morning and a slightly shorter one in the afternoon after lunch. But rides can be tailored to whatever you’re up to doing that day.
Do you want a more leisurely ride meandering through the streets of a local town with a short stop for a cool drink? Check. Are you feeling more zealous and want to experience the exuberance of a full gallop? Check. You can also ride through cactus plants blooming with prickly pear fruit and farm fields blanketed with remnants of corn and low streams while stopping to admire the stunning scenery surrounding you.
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Slow Down and Savor the Amenities
Though the heart of Rancho Las Cascadas is an equine retreat, it offers a variety of other pleasures, such as hiking, biking and yoga. Enjoy a hike to the three nearby waterfalls, a mountain bike ride with or without a guide, or join a session of horse yoga with Schroeder. She will teach you breathing techniques and guide you through yoga poses on or off the gentlest horse on the property. It’s definitely a unique opportunity that few will ever experience. How many people can say they have done a standing warrior pose on top of a horse in Mexico?
You can ride as much or as little as you want or fill in the time with a relaxing massage, soak in the jacuzzi or sip on a margarita by the infinity pool, which has a beautiful backdrop of the mountains.
There’s a pool table, board games and books too. If you want to take an entire day off of the saddle, there are optional cultural excursions that you can arrange with the ranch. Discover local colonial villages and colorful markets or take in the beauty of San Miguel de Allende or the ancient archeological site of Los Atlantes de Tula.
Breakfast is served buffet-style in the sunroom and includes hot and cold items. Lunch is served outside under a giant shaded tree on the property and is often traditional Mexican cuisine. Mild and hot chili salsas, guacamole and chips are almost always on the table to start.
A 4-course, sit-down dinner is something to look forward to at the ranch. A delicious homemade soup always begins the meal, followed by an appetizer, entrée and dessert. Homemade tortillas or bread and red and white wine are also always on the table.
For those who wish to imbibe after a day of riding — or anytime for that matter — there is an open bar stocked with a generous selection of liquor, wine and beer. There are also non-alcoholic beverages as well. Tea, coffee and cake are available all day for your pleasure.
Vibrant Frida Kahlo murals adorn the walls of the main house and there are many cozy spaces to curl up and read a book. The rooms at the ranch are comfortable and spacious and are located in the main building and in an area closer to the horses, just a short walk away. You’ll find everything you need, including a pitcher of fresh filtered water, which is replenished every day.
You won’t find any televisions in the rooms or on the property, so you can unplug from the world, but there is free Wi-Fi if you feel the need to watch a movie on your device or call home to check in on loved ones.
Planning: When to Go/What to Bring/Getting There
The ranch is pleasant year-round, with an average daily temperature of 75F/ 22°C, but there is one particular time Schroeder prefers. “My favorite time of the year is September when it is the wildflower season. But honestly, because of our location, any time of the year is amazing. The weather here in our region is absolutely perfect for relaxing and riding. Every season has something of interest and beauty to offer with ever-changing colors and vegetation.”
You can borrow a cowboy hat and boots if you need to, but why not bring your own style to the ranch? Make sure that your hat has an adjustable tie on it so it won’t fly off, and your boots should have a short heel. Wear comfortable jeans on your rides and a light shirt with sleeves if possible, as the sun can get intense. Sunscreen is also recommended.
Dress for dinner and throughout the day is casual. Flights into Mexico City are abundant, and the ranch can arrange transportation to and from the airport for your convenience.
A Short City Break
You may want to schedule a few days in Mexico City after your ranch respite to take in the sites and restaurants in this bustling city. Visit the floating flower gardens in Xochimilco, the Blue House – Frida Kahlo Museum, Zocalo Square and the Teotihuacán pyramids.
Enjoy a fun night out at an authentic Lucha Libre wrestling match. Treat yourself to some street tacos, which are abundant and delicious. And don’t forget to get a plateful of cinnamon sugar churros with hot chocolate at the famous El Moro churrerías dotted throughout the city.