Ranch Activities

THE QUARTER CIRCLE U RANKIN RANCH IS WELL KNOWN FOR…HISTORY, HORSES AND WESTERN HOSPITALITY. There are a variety of great ranch activities to enjoy during your stay.  Be as busy or relaxed as you wish and everything is included in the all-inclusive rates.  

You start relaxing the minute you step out of the car…George Westin

Guests enjoy riding on horseback through mountain and meadow cattle country.  They get a glimpse of a way of life that continues the warm hospitality and exciting traditions of early California. The Quarter Circle U RANKIN RANCH was founded in 1863 by Walker Rankin Sr. It is one of the oldest and largest family owned ranches in the West. Six generations of Rankins have cherished this family ranch.

Other ranch activities include swimming, hiking, fishing for Rainbow Trout in the ranch pond, a variety of games in the recreation room, a large outdoor lawn area with sports equipment available in the office, and more.

Horseback Riding

Ranch Activities - Horseback RidingHorseback Riding is a favorite activity at the ranch (approximately one hour trail rides, twice each day, except Sundays…when we ride in the morning only). This activity is available to guest age six and older (maximum weight 250 pounds). Many of our guests have never ridden before and some who own their own horses are experienced riders; however, all levels of riders enjoy the beautiful scenery and serenity one can experience while on the back of a horse. The daily trail rides vary from flat land to mountainous trails and from walking to the occasional lope (the children are limited to trotting). We try to accommodate all levels of riders, however safety is our first priority. Our friendly Wranglers are happy to assist guests with any questions or concerns about riding and will choose the “perfect” horse to suit the rider. We think you will agree with other Rankin Ranch guests; “the horses are great, and the scenery is gorgeous!” No horns or city noises here…the chirping birds may get a little carried away on occasion.

“A few years ago we took our first trip to Rankin Ranch, excited to experience the beauty and tranquility of the country…When we arrived in the valley, we were so impressed with the absolute beauty and peacefulness of the surroundings. The green rolling hills, open green fields, oaks and pine trees were gorgeous….Of course the horseback riding was so much fun and such a great experience. We loved the fact that we could ride twice a day; once in the morning and again in the afternoon. It was a beautiful way to see the landscape, and there were so many trails to show us the surroundings and back country around the ranch. We had such a great time at Rankin Ranch that we knew we would hope to make it our yearly family tradition.”
The Brackin Family

Children's Program

Ranch Activities - Kids Activities

During “Regular Rate Periods” we offer a wonderful supervised children’s program…ADVENTURE WEST…KIDSTUFF…says A full-operation cattle ranch, Rankin offers a fun-filled, down-home kind of vacation, complete with tradition, history and diversions for both young and old. Children are never bored at Rankin Ranch..
Parents and grandparents especially appreciate the seasonal children’s program, and enjoy watching their children explore nature while visiting the ranch. Our counselors are on duty from 9:30 am to 3:30pm and again from 5:30pm to 8:00 pm, and have planned activities for ages 4 through 11. Older children may join in the fun if they wish, while younger children can come along with parent supervision (reserve a babysitter for an additional fee upon availability). Their days are filled with arts and crafts, nature hikes, scavenger hunts, treasure hunts, talent shows, swim meets, and much, much more. Weekly boat races are a ranch favorite…children love building creative toy boats to be raced at the creek or spillway the following day.

After a fun filled day of these activities, and horseback riding (riding for ages 6 and older), children return to be Kids Program 2with counselors at 5:30pm (during the Regular Season) for activities in the recreation room so parents can attend the adult “Patio Party” in Lightner Square before dinner. Families come back together to enjoy a delicious dinner together and reminisce on the happenings of the day.  After dinner the children head up to SARAH’S FARM with the counselors. They love to help bottle feed the baby animals, throw hay to the lambs and goats, and hold the chickens. The pig is always a hit as they “recycle” the left over fruits and vegetables from the kitchen. Following the excitement at the farm, children meet up with their parents for the family style evening activities.

Good Morning!
9:30am : Meet in Lightner’s Square for a cool treat.
9:45am : Let’s head over to the craft table and make our boats for tomorrow’s races at the creek! You will be given all the supplies…. wood, special decorations and paint… all you have to do is use your creativity to make the winning water craft!
11:00am : It’s time for a Rankin Ranch Treasure Hunt. Let’s split into teams and find that treasure!
12:30pm : Enjoy lunch on the terrace. We’ll see you at 1:30.
1:30pm : Meet us at the pool for an afternoon swim!
*If the weather doesn’t permit (some cool days during “Spring Break”) we will have games and crafts set up in the lounge.
3:30pm : It’s time to head down for your horseback ride. We’ll see you at 5:30.
5:30pm : Meet us in the lounge for the Create-A-Barnyard contest
6:30pm : Dinner Time.  We will meet back up after dinner for more fun.
7:30pm : It’s time to go feed the animals! The calves, lambs, pigs and chickens are counting on you to bring them their dinner!
8:00pm : BINGO in the lounge! Don’t miss out on all the fun and prizes!

Children Under age 4*Children under 4 are welcome to join in on these activities as long as they are accompanied by a parent.
*Babysitting can be arranged for children under 4 for an hourly fee. Arrangements for this service must be made prior to arrival to ensure availability.

Evening Activites

PLANNED EVENING ACTIVITIES…Nights are filled with fun evening activities at Rankin Ranch…square dancing, bingo, pool and fooseball tournaments with prizes, and our exciting indoor “Horse Races” complete with stick horses and Rankin Ranch “Fun Money”. Another favorite is our weekly evening hay wagon ride and barbecue to the meadow complete with a horseshoe tournament. During our regular season we have an activity every evening; during the off season we have evening activities every other night. All of our evening activities are enjoyable for both adults and children.

The Horist family was a bit nervous about about bringing their three teenagers to the ranch, but the reaction they received within just a few hours of their arrival made there newly found vacation a keeper. Our first trip to the Rankin Ranch, 4 years ago, was a let’s check it out for a few days idea after hearing about it so much from our friends the Derloshons. Having 3 teenagers, we weren’t so sure what they would think about good down home type entertainment—volleyball, ping pong, horseshoes, meadow bbq’s and bingo; not to mention absolutely no electronics availability. All of our concerns were 100% dismissed when our first night there, we saw our daughter (13) and both sons (16 & 19) in the rec room – laughing, clapping along, and loving a never tried before activity – square dancing!!! We now term our Rankin Ranch trips as the All American Family Values Vacation.

RELAXING EVENINGS AT THE RANCH…Evenings in Walker’s Basin are spectacular. If you are looking for a quiet evening to yourself after your busy day of ranch activities, star gazing, an evening stroll along our country road, fishing at Julia’s Lake or playing games on the terrace are wonderful ways to unwind after a busy ranch day. A favorite leisurely walk after dinner (just enough time before the evening activity begins) is a stroll to our family cemetery. There is a certain comfort in knowing that generation after generation of Rankins have watched over and cared for this beautiful valley. Another favorite early evening activity is a visit to Sarah’s Farm where children delight in bottle feeding a little calf and watching the chickens search and peck the ground for each kernel of corn as it’s tossed out by children and adults. The evening sounds of crickets and croaking frogs make you realize you’re really in the country. Our huge sky is clear and filled with millions of stars, and when there is a full moon shinning over the meadow the view is breathtaking.

Eddie, a ranch guest, recalls the night that he and his son stepped outside their cabin to be greeted by an unforgettable scene up above…In Los Angeles, the night sky is empty, with maybe the moon and a couple stars if you’re lucky. That night at Rankin Ranch, every inch of the sky was filled and my boy was utterly astonished. It was the kind of sky that made you feel small and insignificant in the scheme of things. In truth, we were both mesmerized. For him it was the first time seeing stars like that, but for me it was the overwhelming sense of purpose that washed over me as I held my son in my arms. I rocked him gently as we both silently scanned the Milky Way and quietly counted the shooting stars.

Ron Fomalont and his family have been guest at our ranch for many years. Here is a letter he shared with us about one of his favorite ranch memories…

For many of the past 13 years my family has been coming to Rankin Ranch, and every night that we are not too tired from the day’s activities we have tried to take a long walk down the road, using the moon and stars to guide us. We keep flashlights at the ready, but try to use them as little as possible, letting our eyes adjust to the darkness. This way we can best appreciate the night sky, the sounds of the horses and cows, and the smell of the pine trees and sage. The night sky was black, filled with thousand of bright, shimmering stars, as my wife, two children and I walked down the road toward the old family cemetery. We tried to stay in the road’s center, listening for the occasional car, but mostly just heard the lowing of the close-by cattle. Every once in a while a pair of white headlights could be seen far down Walker Basin, coming slowly toward us. Usually the driver would stop and ask if we needed help. We would say thank you but no, we were just enjoying one of our nightly rituals while at Rankin Ranch.
Ron Fomalont

The Great Outdoors

WALKING…HIKING…AND ENJOYING NATURE… We have acres and acres for exploring…you can hike in our oak and pine covered mountains, lush green meadows, or along Walker’s Basin Creek. A favorite hike for many guests is to the “Gossip Rock” down Walker Basin Creek. The Piute Indians ground their acorns and wild rye here over 100 years ago. The climax to this outing is often wading in the creek to cool down for the return journey. We are happy to provide a sack lunch for your picnic…just swing by the office the previous evening and let us know what time you will be heading out. You’ll see many beautiful plants, flowers, birds and animals. Our cattle roam freely through these mountains. The wily coyote keeps his distance, but he is curious; rabbits and squirrels go on about their work; if you are very quiet, you may even catch a glimpse of a deer wandering by. You can sit for hours watching and enjoying nature in our remote little mountain valley. If you are a morning person and are up for a sunrise walk, you’ll note a special stillness in the air. The morning dew on the golden fields of grain and natural grasses creates a magical sparkle as the sun beams down. It is this same warm sunshine that energizes the animals. A covey Ranch Activities - Hiking in the Great Outdoorsof quail may flutter away quickly as they hear you approaching. The sight and sound of these birds flying to safety is exciting. The cottontail bunny in the distance sits up and listens carefully. He seems to alert all animal life when he scurries away as you draw nearer. The smell of the freshly cut hay fills the air; and the distant clattering sound of the hay baler makes you realize the rancher’s day started long before your walk. Guests are never ready to return to the city after a visit to the ranch, but they cherish these peaceful memories forever. They’ve also told us that the memories from Rankin Ranch actually helps them cope with the stress of city life.

Anya started visiting the ranch with her mother when she was a young girl. In a letter from her several years ago, she said she kept a photo of our meadow on her desk. When life in the city got hectic, she looked at it and closed her eyes…the thought of Walker’s Basin and it’s serene beauty gives me a peaceful feeling inside. Each morning, during her visits at the ranch, we would find Anya up and about at day break; out in the meadow for a walk, long before most thought about rising. Anya loved watching the horses being brought in from the far meadow, and seeing the sun rise up over the mountaintop. These are simple pleasures, but unforgettable ones. Rankin Ranch is one of my favorite spots on earth, says Anya. She returned to the ranch in 2013 with her entire family to celebrate her parent’s 50th Anniversary. It warms our hearts to know that their Rankin Ranch tradition has touched 3 generations of their family. We enjoy the updates throughout the year from their family and look forward to their return.

The Stumpf family enjoyed meeting at the ranch for a family reunions for over 12 years. Barbara sent us this favorite memory about their early morning hikes that will last her a lifetime. My father loved everything about the place, and he would awaken early every day so as to not miss a moment. We started a tradition of taking a sunrise walk together. The air was brisk and the awesome beauty of the ranch overwhelmed all of my senses. We walked along the path behind the cabins, following its winding way over several little hills and down into small valleys. It seemed that in each moment the rising sun magically changed the look of the chaparral. I felt so alive and so connected to everything there, and even felt closer to my father although we didn’t talk much. We didn’t need to. We were just there, experiencing the overwhelming splendor together. That simple connection with another person without technology—no phones, TVs, computers—is the real secret to your wonderful Ranch. Whenever I am there, I relax and connect with people at a level I rarely achieve back home. My father is gone now, but the fond memories of the time we were there together are rekindled upon my return to the Ranch each year. How fortunate I am to have had that time with him.
Barbara Jenks


Bring your bikes; we provide quiet country roads for hours of enjoyment. Many families enjoy riding to the Rankin Cemetery approximately one mile down a flat country road from the ranch headquarters. The seven mile circle around our little valley is a perfect ride for the bicycle enthusiast. Those guest who prefer mountain biking find our horse trails to be great routes to enjoy breathtaking views. There are many local residents that use our mountain roads to train…they are quite a challenge. For the avid bicyclist there are three routes that one can take…the road to Caliente (The Lion’s Trail), Lake Isabella, and Twin Oaks. All these routes are challenging in both length and elevation. Wes, one of our past guest, enjoyed starting his vacation each visit by cycling up the Lion’s Trail. His wife would drop him off in Caliente, ten miles from the ranch. She and their daughter would drive on to the ranch and get settled in. Wes would join them for dinner and tell them about his adventure up the hill. Short rides or long ones…you’ll love our clean mountain air and beautiful scenery.

Swimming Pool

PoolSwimming and sunning in our pool is relaxing and fun. It is heated from May to September…and occasionally earlier in the spring, weather permitting. Guest enjoy taking in the beautiful view of the valley while they rest in between activities in our comfortable pool chairs and lounge. The large black locust trees that surround the pool provide shade for guests and a home to many birds. During the spring months, the air is filled with beautiful chirping while the birds busily take care of their young. Morning hours at the pool area lend itself to a game of cards, catching up with friends or enjoying a good book.

Summer months, with day time temperatures ranging from 80 to 95 degrees, are perfect for water activities. During our regular season, the children’s program plans a daily afternoon swim time. The shallow end (3 foot deep) is ideal for the younger group, while the older children and teens enjoy the deeper end (8 foot deep) to play water games. The weekly swim meets are a favorite activity for all ages. Children love to participate in the biggest splash, beautiful handstands, and racing competitions, while the adults cheer them on. Later that evening the children love receiving their awards at dinner.


Another activity enjoyed by all is fishing at little Lake Julia. Our “stocked” pond is ready and waiting for fishermenFishing 1 of all ages. Parents love taking their children down to the lake to enjoy family time together. The lake is surrounded by plenty of room to run and explore Walker Basin Creek. Bring your poles and bait (or ask for American cheese from the kitchen…it works great) and head to the pond and try your luck. Most everybody is successful at catching a rainbow trout. Clean your catch…then give it to our kitchen staff and they’ll cook it for you at any meal during your stay. Catch and release is acceptable , so long as the fish is unharmed. We ask that you only catch what you plan to eat during your stay (one fish per person per day limit). There’s nothing quite like a freshly caught trout baked with lemon and served at the meal of your choice.

A long time guest, Greg Garcia, was one of our most avid fishermen. Over the years, we always wondered why he disappeared after dinner. Soon we found out that this was his quiet time at the pond. The cool evening temperatures and setting sun was a perfect atmosphere for his daily retreat. In this story Greg recalls his biggest catch.

_…As you know I usually go fishing at night after dinner. Well to my surprise I caught the biggest trout I have ever caught during one of our visits (at the ranch). I was in the boat tied up to the reeds by the spill way where I normally fish. I had been there about a half hour and had caught a few fish when I hooked up to something big. When I brought the fish to the boat I saw how big it was…so I used my needle nose pliers and…lifted it in…Needless to say I was excited and decided to cut my fishing time short. I gathered up my gear and went back to the lodge…It happened to be square dance night and when I arrived at the lodge, Bill stopped the dancing and had me bring the fish in to show everyone…The fish measured 21 ¾ inches.


Recreation Room

Ranch Activities - Recreation RoomOur wood paneled recreation room is a great place for you to gather throughout the day. There’s a pool table for the pool sharks (ages 12 and older), fooseball table, board games, puzzles and cards. You’ll enjoy comfortable sofas and chairs for reading and just relaxing in our air conditioned recreation room during the summer months. In the spring and fall, you’ll love sitting by the large rock fireplace to warm up. The building is surrounded by lawns, large locust trees, and a terrace with picnic tables providing a peaceful area to spend your afternoons visiting with friends. Our recreation room is within walking distance of the cabins, corrals, and dining area.

Lawn Sports

Ranch Activities - Ping Pong

Just outside the recreation room you can enjoy shuffleboard, ping pong, and a large lawn area with a volleyball, and swing sets. The office has sports equipment available for archery, volleyball, soccer, football, corn hole, badminton and more. The shaded lawn chairs are a favorite location for an afternoon nap after a day full of activities.

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