Whether you want to cowboy up or just kick back, Wildcatter Ranch in Graham, Texas, is the perfect spot to do either – or both.
Town founder Col. E.S. Graham bought the land on which the ranch is situated in 1870. Today, his great-grandchildren, Anne and Glenn Street, own the 1,500-acre property, home to a great getaway with fascinating history. Rugged hills and the scenic Brazos River make a beautiful backdrop for activities ranging from riding and roping to shooting or soaking in the hot tub – guests can opt for action or relaxation. Additional offerings include tomahawk throwing, archery, target or clay shooting and fishing. If you go down when the longhorns are being fed, you might even get a juicy kiss from one of the friendly bovines.
The steakhouse on the ranch offers a hearty breakfast buffet, with everything made from scratch from the salsa to the biscuits. Lunch is casual, boxed and easy to take for an al fresco repast by the pool or a snack on a hike along the ranch’s 7.5 miles of trails. Dinner is manna for meat-eaters: The steakhouse specializes in hand-cut, mesquite-grilled steaks. Prepare for Texas-sized portions.
Accommodations range from the elegant Estate – perfect for weddings or family groups – to hotel rooms, private cabins or cabin suites, where I stayed. Each one is unique, decorated with artifacts, antique pictures and a connection to the area. One of the suites is dedicated to the story of the Marlow brothers, the basis for classic Western film The Sons of Katie Elder. Their tale is convoluted and sad – and the decision of whether they were low-down horse thieves or innocent entrepreneurs caught up in a net of greed and mob mentality is still debated.
Although the frontier history of the Graham area is dramatic, today it’s a charming, quiet, little town and thoroughly worth a visit. But the best reason to go is Wildcatter Ranch.