Wild Times at Rancho Oso
If you are anything like us, you yearn for real experiences! Sure reenactments, living villages and themed towns are great for kitschy kicks but like everything else in life, the real thing is always better. So when we headed to a campground that claimed to be an authentic ranch experience, we were skeptical.
Driving inland from Santa Barbara, you stray far from the land of beaches, boardwalks and Ferris wheels to mile after mile of farm land. Maybe it was the twisty and narrow roads leading up to our campground that had us excited, all I know is when we pulled up to Rancho Oso it was obvious this wasn’t just another campground. We were greeted with cock-a-doodle-dos, rolling hills, horses, ranch dogs and farmhouses.
Rancho Oso really is a living, working farm! There’s a Ferrier shoeing horses with his apprenticing son, hens bawk away with the distinct decibel increase while they’re laying eggs and there’s quite possibly the friendliest bull on earth! If you were willing to cuddle with a bull, this cutie would curl right up and maybe even tell you a story!
Now of course, not all the bulls were retired and just hangin’ out all day. The young promising chapps are all in training to become snaring, bucking, spinning champions. Each week, the campground manager/rancher Bill and his dogs, round up the bulls for a buck off! It’s not exactly a wild rodeo but it is the process that happens before the wild rodeo days. They saddle up each bull with a top notch professional teddy bear, yep you read correctly a furry, one hand hanging, cowboy hat wearin’ teddy bear. The bulls naturally spin, buck and kick in efforts to get that very annoying teddy off their back. Meanwhile the ranchers are keeping their eyes peeled for unique moves that could prove to be a rodeo worthy champ. Once they feel the bull has had his run, the teddy is launched from his saddle and the bull can go back to munching in the fields. It’s really a very interesting process, and Bill promises there’s no harm to these junior bulls.
Aside from the bulls the main attraction is the horseback riding. The campground is surrounded by national forest lands with oodles of trails and rivers to explore. If you own horses, there are stables and horse camping so you can have your own adventures. Apparently, this is a rare find for horse campers.
You can wonder around the ranch freely, stopping by to pet the pigs, goats, chickens (if you can catch them) and of course the oversized lap bull. Kids wonder around with chicken feed instead of cell phones, designer shorts were replaced with dirty knees, and the golf cars and ATV’s were replaced by horses and bicycles.
We spent a week here and could have easily spent two! It’s one of our favorite campgrounds on the west and if you are a Thousand Trails member and haven’t made your way to this gem yet, it’s time.
Your turn! Have you been to Rancho Oso? What was your experience? Tell us all about it in the comments below.
Disclaimer: While we were compensated to film the campground (thanks Thousand Trails!)…all of our experiences and opinions are NOT purchased and are still our own.
Matthew and Diana Hawk
Hi Guys..My wife and I are so bummed we missed you when you were at Rancho Oso in Santa Ynez. We Live in Santa Barbara and are planning on RV’ing fulltime in the next 5 years. Wish we could have met up at Cold Springs Tavern to trade ideas. We noticed you’re in Bakersfield right now. We just camped last week about an hour from where you are at Mt. Pinos. It’s off the HWY 5 called Frazier Mountain Park Rd. Let us know if you’re staying anywhere close in the future. Would love to meet and share some beers around a fire..
Thanks for taking the time to say hi, we will be in Bakersfield over the weekend then heading to the CA RV Show in Pomona in Oct. After that…who knows!
P. S. Nikki – I love your dress in the video – stylin’ !! You look great in it!
Oh my goodness – I so want to go there! I’ll put that campground on my bucket list! Keep up the good work and thanks for letting me dream and decide where the best places to go are for when I get a chance! 🙂
So glad you liked seeing Rancho Oso through our eyes. I hope you get to make it there one day soon and who knows, maybe we will be there too. 🙂
Since we live in South Florida, it wasn’t hard to find two excellent resources for GMC engines and repair. I think we met the two experts in existence; their passion for these vehicles was extremely apparent. They went out of their way to give helpful advice and a hard look at the challenges of owning a retro vehicle.
I will definitely look into gigs on the road. Many years ago I was a touring musician but stayed primarily in hotels. My husband is a software developer so he wouldn’t have any issues with working on the road.
Thanks for the reply. I will be a loyal follower of your page for as long as you have it. The Wynns ROCK!!
My husband and I are interested in purchasing a motorhome.We have become addicted to learning about the RV life and I was so excited to find your site. He has talked me into a GMC for it’s retro feel. We are both minimalists so the size would be fine. HE is a lot more organized than I am, so I will have to really put in an effort.
One question. I am a musician and was hoping that we may be able to get gigs at some of these RV sights to help with expenses. Is that a crazy thought?
Your videos have made me so excited about the idea of traveling around. Please keep them coming.
Gin and Larry
YES! You can easily make money and travel, especially with an artistic talent. Watch some of our campground videos from Arizona, and the one from Bar Harbor Maine, many of the private parks have live entertainment on weekends during the busy season. You should sign up for our newsletter because we will be launching a Make Money and Travel https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/category/make-money-travel post on a friend of ours who is a musician that travels to RV resorts; should be right up your alley 🙂
oh yea, the nostalgic GMC RV has a huge following as I’m sure you know. We love the look of those silver bullets but we would not even begin to know how to repair it on the road!