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Many of our travellers on Route 66 detour to the Grand Canyon – this ‘cowboy sleep out’ option is enjoyed from Grand Canyon Ranch at the west rim:
On the Cowboy Sleep Out, the best point is that this is run by a real cowboy. Not the entertainer who tells stories over supper in the Ranch and (very impressively) sings song requests around the Ranch camp fire. But the one who looks after livestock on the 100,000 acres. Typical of these guys, a bit taciturn to begin with, but when he starts talking is full of stories on life as a cowboy and surviving in the open. He’s never left Arizona in the last 15 years.
On our trip, there were just the three of us (and the cowboy). The horse ride is not too long (perhaps an hour) and we passed bison, cows and various other wildlife that he pointed out. Horses are pretty docile, and there is some basic protection (hard hats supplied and required). The camp is up in the hills, some basic tents around a campfire and barbecue. Food was barbecued and we enjoyed ourselves downing a few beers. We also learnt to make s’mores over the fire. The other great bit was the night sky – completely dark and clear. As Jago said, it could have been 200 years ago. Tents ranged from 2- 4 person, but sleeping bags were raised off the ground and all perfectly comfortable (but not ‘glamping’ standards). The cowboy slept with the horses (in best cowboy style), which was lucky as we were woken up in the middle of the night by loud bellowing. I gather Conan hastily texted his girlfriend back in the UK to find out whether there were still ‘bears that killed’ in Arizona. After a short internet search, she encouragingly replied that there were! In the morning, we found out that this was a wild bull that had come into the camp, apparently going for the horses hay. Our cowboy protected the horses and saw him off (as all good cowboys should). We then rode back to the Ranch and had a shower and hearty breakfast in the Ranch.
So nothing too strenuous, but a good experience with a frisson of danger!
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