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.