Rancho Cortez --
Texas Dude Ranch

© copyright 2004
by Lin Stone

The Rancho Cortez is the ideal spot to explore all of the pristine beauty of  Bandera County and the Texas Hill Country region. It has a vacation package geared to giving you a very unique Texas experience.  It provides access to over 40 miles of trail to ride -- with the birds and the brush pretty much like it was 150 years ago.   You will definitely want to bring your camera and camcorder along for your stay here.   

The best way to get there from here

  Rancho Cortez is a working cattle ranch located adjacent to a state natural area.  Prices start at $130/day or just $780/week.  This low price includes three home-cooked Texas-size meals per day and two hours of horseback riding each day.  The guest quarters are very luxurious and there is a pool and spa on site.  The larger rooms are actually suites and can sleep six adults comfortably.  A bunk house is available for large groups.  There is even a group meeting complex that could handle as many as 125 people. 

RV Parking is Now Available 
with Full Hookup Service. 

Riders of every ability will find horses to match their skills, and riding lessons are available so you can learn everything from basic western to barrel racing.  Several guests have taken their first barrel racing lessons during the week and then participated in the Friday night rodeo. 

Other activities right on the ranch include hayrides, campfires, barbecues, and overnight trail rides where you can lay down and count the stars.  The elevation here ranges from 1,200 to 2,300 feet above sea level.  

Larry and Mary Cortez are the new owners of the ranch.  Although it has been in existence for many years the ranch has undergone a name change and a face lift.  Returning guests are more than satisfied with the results.

Guests are impressed by the beauty of the ranch, the quality of the horses and the accommodations, not to mention the individual attention they receive. Mary and her husband live and work right on the ranch with their 2 young children so you never feel really alone.  Besides working family members the ranch employs three cowboys to help wrangle the 23 horses.  

The weather is quite mild here in south Texas, and Rancho Cortez is able to stay open year round.  August and September can be very hot and humid though.

The Texas Dude Ranch is located just ten miles northwest of Bandera and 60 miles northwest of San Antonio.  In San Antonio you will find both the Alamo and the Riverwalk. 

In the state Natural Area,  which is located next to the ranch, there are dozens of mountain biking and hiking trails. Wildlife is abundant, and guests often see deer, wild pigs, wild turkey, skunks, and plenty of birds. Tubing and fishing are offered in the nearby river.   Golfing is very popular here. There is also a gun club just down the road which offers a chance to do skeet shooting. 

An authentic Western town -- surrounded both by working and guest ranches. Bandera, Texas, bills itself as the "Cowboy Capital of the World."  

Rodeos are held at least twice weekly from Memorial Day through Labor Day. 

The Hill Country State Natural Area is a 5,369-acre park found right in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. Primitive camping is permitted in a 20-acre designated site. It is located on F.M. 1077 

This area is quite hilly and water depth varies greatly.  You'll see a lot of limestone cliffs, cedar, post oak, Spanish oak, live oak, pecan, and cypress trees. Deer and turkey are plentiful, and there are no large predators.  

Bandera, Texas was founded 1852 as a cypress shingle camp, and was the site of a Mormon colony established 1854.  It is also one of the oldest Polish communities in the U.S. 

The vegetation in this region consists primarily of grasses such as bluestems, grama, buffalo grass, winter grass, and wild ryes. 

Only 11 to 20 percent of the land in the county is considered prime farmland. Crops include corn, oats, hay, pecans, and some grain sorghums.

Hospitals are only about 45 minutes away and are very good. 

Mary is proud of the meals you will see set before you.  "Most of our meals are prepared from scratch, and we are always keeping an eye on the ingredients. We want our guests and family to be happy and healthy! Our guests and family are happy because the food tastes great! And healthy because we use fresh fruits and vegetables and natural ingredients, and heart-healthy fats.  Seconds or even thirds are there if you want them."

Over 200 birding species have been identified in this region.  There are a variety of rattle snakes crawling around loose and other snakes in the area too.  Scorpions, frogs, toads, armadillos, round out the most visible denizens.  The best nature observing opportunities are found while riding horses, naturally.  

A Typical Day at Rancho Cortez

7AM- Help feed and water the horses
8AM- Breakfast bell
9:30AM- Morning trail ride
11AM- Private lesson or swim
NOON- Lunch bell
1PM- Relax, hike, bike or shop
3PM- Afternoon trail ride
4:30PM- Private lesson or swim
6PM- Dinner bell
7PM- Cowboy entertainment/hayride
9PM- Campfire singalong, 
roast marshmallows 
and make s'mores, 
gaze at the stars
10PM- Off to bed

The most panoramic drive you will want to take goes through the majestic vistas ranging in elevation from 1,400 to 2,150 feet above sea level.  

Take Hwy. 16 northwest out of Bandera for approximately 3 miles, turn left on RR 470. Stay on RR 470 for almost 30 miles until it intersects with RR 187. Go right on RR 187 to the intersection of RR 337. By this route itís approximately 35 miles to Medina and then another 15 miles back to Bandera. The loop allows you to cross both the Medina and the Sabinal Rivers many times. This picture reveals the way some Texas Travelers take their share of the road out of the middle

"The majestic Big Tooth Maple is preserved in the 2,208 acre Lost Maples State Natural Area in northwestern Bandera County. Each autumn, the park bursts into a myriad of shimmering colors. Radiant reds, luscious lemons and glorious golds delight hikers, picnickers and photographers." 

the end

Check out some other terrific dude ranches too.  About the author:  Lin Stone maintains a National Directory of the best health insurance companies on the web and a National Directory of the best car insurance companies on the web. Hundreds of his other articles are available for free reading on the Internet. Just Click HERE to see an index to his works.


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