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Cowgirl Camp: Gila, New Mexico, U.S.A.

Cowgirl Camp: Gila, New Mexico, U.S.A.

The Wild Women’s West

Ridin’, ropin’, and round-ups are time-honored traditions of cowboy culture, but women have often been excluded from these aspects of life in the American West. Now’s your chance to settle that old score, ladies. In the spectacular mountains of New Mexico, surrounded by ancient cliff dwellings and sun-dappled woodlands, the Double E Ranch offers tenderfoot cowgirls and old hands alike an invigorating authentic western experience on a working cattle ranch.

Cowgirl Camp lasts a week and includes meals, accommodations, and plenty of chances to work on your horsemanship (horsewomanship?) skills. Women who expect to be pampered in a luxurious, spa-type environment are advised to saddle up and move on out; the women at the Double E are there to participate in daily ranch activities, including cutting cattle, rounding up strays—there’s even a mini-rodeo with barrel-racing and other events. Women with no horseback experience are welcome, and with a guest capacity of just 18, you’ll have more one-on-one attention than at some other guest ranches. There’s also a Level II camp for ladies with a bit more riding experience. The price for the camp is reasonable, running about $1,500 a week in 2009.

It’s not all hard work, however. In addition to plush comforters, air-conditioning, coffee service, and thick towels in guest quarters, meals feature hearty ranch fare and fresh-baked desserts. And there are plenty of chances for hiking, nature rides, bird-watching, exploring the ancient Native American culture of the region, or just curling up with a good book.

Cowgirl Camp is just one of the activities scheduled at the Double E. At various times throughout the year, the ranch also hosts mounted shooting clinics, horsemanship clinics, rides to Native American ruins—even college-credit courses.

The Double E ranch is adjacent to the Gila Wilderness and Gila National Forest (www.fs.usda.gov/gila)—some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in North America. Other area attractions include the historic silver-rush town of Silver City (www.silvercity.org), the hot springs of Truth or Consequences (www.truthorconsequencesnm.net), the surreal geology of City of Rocks State Park (www.emnrd.state.nm.us/PRD/cityrocks.htm), and the ghost town of Chloride, N.M.

Double E Ranch ( 866/242-3500; www.doubleeranch.com).
When to Go: Cowgirl Camps are offered throughout the year; check website for schedule.
Silver City, N.M. (28 miles/45km).

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