Clear Creek Ranch offers all the hands-on horsieness of a typical dude ranch but at laid back, and budget friendly rates.



Painting Big Bertha at Clear Creek

Clear Creek Ranch, NC
$$ – Budget

Dude ranch vacations aren’t for the faint of heart—early morning rides and cattle herding is fun, but also a heck of a lot of work. For those looking for a horseback riding vacation experience that’s more at a trot than a gallop, there’s Clear Creek Ranch.

Located in the Pisgah National Forest in the northwest corner of North Carolina, the small, well-run ranch is serious about horses. They’re also serious about fun: Marshmallow roasts are a part of the official cuisine. Weekly all-family rodeos are a highlight of the summer program. And giving the horses their own custom paint jobs is an official (and favorite) Clear Creek activity. There’s also a real teepee for kids to play in, line dancing, fishing, hiking and biking…the list of extra-horsericular activities really does go on and on.

Two stable residents

Two stable residents

Clear Creek's teepee surrounded by fall's splendor

Clear Creek’s teepee surrounded by fall’s splendor

That said, it’s really the horses that take center stage. Clear Creek is home to 40+ “happy horses” and its clear that visitors and staff alike love and respect each and every one of the four-legged residents. That love is seen in the custom-tailoring of horse to guest. The right horse, the right temperament, the right trails and training—that’s what brings horse lovers back again and again. And no matter if you’re a newbie who’s only saddling up for a few hours a day or an experienced rider heading out for challenging, multi-hour rides, everyone experiences the beauty of the Smoky Mountains from horseback, a pretty spectacular vantage point.

Accommodations are simple and spacious with just enough southern hospitality to make you feel right at home. Let’s saddle up ya’ll.


photo credit:

photo credit:
Simple, spacious and with just the right amount of southern charm

Simple, spacious and with just the right amount of southern charm

Read the rest of our Horsing Around series: