New Haven Working Cattle & Guest Ranch is a family owned and operated working cattle ranch situated on the edge of the Black Hills of Wyoming – near Devils Tower National Monument. Hulett, the closest town, is 18 miles away on gravel road. Where one habitat melts into another, New Haven Ranchers work livestock in timbered canyon and rim rock country as well as in open sagebrush prairie. In 2003 they decided to share this unique Western lifestyle with a few guests during the summer months.
Having just 8 guests at a time allows New Haven Ranch to offer everyone a very individual experience. Guests can become part of the operation and participate in the various ranch activities as much or as little as they like. New Haven Ranch enjoys getting to know their guests beyond their names, with many of them coming back year after year.
New Haven Ranch's goal is to operate the ranch sustainably, so they mimic the grazing behavior of large migrating buffalo herds which historically roamed the prairies. This entails frequent cattle moves and thus a lot of hours in the saddle. They work cattle on their own ranch as well as on their neighbors' properties. There is no head-to-tail riding. When not moving livestock or check reservoirs and fences, you may be learning how to rope, practice team penning or just go on a trail ride enjoying the scenic views and the abundant wildlife. Guests coming for the first time are always awed by the wide open spaces of the Western wilderness. It's like getting to live in a different world - and maybe even a different time on this Wyoming ranch vacation.
The Horses and Riding Activities
With close to 40 horses, each guest is matched with two horses as working partners for the week for their Wyoming ranch vacation. They are the protagonists on the ranch: confident and surefooted Quarter Horses, Paints and mixes that carry guests safely over rough and smooth terrain.
New Haven Ranch practices Natural Horsemanship and loves to involve their guests in the training for their own safety and the horses’. Since the work and the terrain can be quite demanding at times, the minimum age for riders is 16. Beginners should be physically fit, not too timid, and willing to learn. Riding lessons prior to visiting the ranch are highly recommended. Experienced riders will enjoy the varied challenges of riding on New Haven, be it climbing up a steep canyon wall on their sure footed horse, crossing creek bottoms, or going after a stray at a full canter. Not to mention trying their luck at cutting in the arena or roping livestock.
Riding activities include cattle work and moving cattle from pasture to pasture, doctoring cattle, brandings, searching for strays, round-ups, loading and shipping, checking on fences and reservoirs, Natural Horsemanship, roping, and team penning.
Other activities include pistol and rifle shooting, trap shooting, swimming/boating/fishing in and on New Haven's own lake, hiking and wildlife watching, and if available, visiting rodeos and horse sales.
The New Haven Ranch lodge has five comfortable rustic bed rooms, each with its own bath room (with hair dryer, soap and shower gel). A furnace and a wood stove provide warmth on cooler days. On hot days, the central air conditioning can be turned on. Bedding and towels are provided. There is the possibility to use a washer and dryer as well. After a long day in the saddle guests can relax in the outdoor hot tub, play a round of pool, sit on the balcony with view of the Missouri Buttes or just take a walk under starry Western skies. Adventurous souls can ride their horses down to the lake and stay in the tipi for a night or two.
The New Haven Ranch has an open kitchen that is attached to the dining and living area. The home cooked meals are served buffet style and include a full breakfast, a lighter lunch (either eaten at the ranch or on the trail) and a hearty supper including dessert. Snacks and drinks are available for everyone at all times. Please, bring your own sodas and alcoholic beverages. Once a week (if the weather allows) there will be a BBQ at the lake.
The New Haven Ranch is part of an old ghost town. About 150 years ago the first settlers, called "homesteaders", came to the area. The small farmers were up against the rough climate, down-and-dirty cattle barons, hostile Indian tribes and the depression of the early 20th century. Many gave up and left. Today the old buildings and machinery found all over the ranch bear witness of times that one only know from novels and movies.
Devils Tower, the US' first National Monument, is just half an hour away. The ancient volcanic vent which was exposed by millions of years of erosion is the setting of many movies and a holy place for the Lakota Indians. The old gold digger town of Deadwood, the Harley Davidson “mekka” Sturgis and the famous presidential heads of Mount Rushmore as well as Custer State Park can be reached within two hours or less.
Within a day guests can reach Yellowstone National Park via Sheridan, the Big Horn Mountains and Cody. The South Dakota Badlands and Montana’s Battlefield on the Little Big Horn, the location of Custer’s last stand, are also less than a day away.