Doublerafter Cattle Drives Working Ranch Vacations
“We are a one-of-a-kind cattle drive. We don't have guest cabins or other dude luxuries. We move our camp with the herd, sleep in tents, cook over the hot coals, and we do not ride nose to tail”–– Doublerafter Cattle Drives
by Jocelyn Pierce
Doublerafter Cattle Drives near Sheridan, Wyoming, is owned and operated by Dana and Alice Kerns. They have over 600 cow-calf pairs and offer five cattle drives a year in the Bighorn Mountains. You will truly be far away from it all as you camp out every night, moving with the herd and eating meals cooked over an open fire.
Doublerafter Cattle Drives has been keeping their cows on public lands for over 120 years. They can herd their cows from the valley up to mountains no sooner than July 1st every year, a date designated by the U.S. Forest Service.
The Kerns family homesteaded the land in 1887 when they came from Missouri on a covered wagon. The barn they built in 1888 still stands today. After three years of grazing cattle, the National Forest Service took over the grassland management, and the area became known as Bighorn National Forest in 1897. Doublerafter cows are kept on National Forest Service land and therefore the Kerns must adhere to the policies and timeline set by the Forest Service on where and when to move their cows.
Doublerafter began inviting guests to join them in the cowboy experience 21 years ago in order to help support their ranch. To make a living in the cattle business is difficult and it has been Dana Kerns’s passion ever since he could remember. His grandfather and father were ranchers and he has proudly followed in their footsteps. His three sons are involved with the ranch, and it will continue to be a family operation.
Guests will ride as much as 25 miles a day, camp out, and eat over an open fire, taking guests back to life as a cowboy in the late 1800s.
Guests should expect grueling and physically demanding work and to ride in all kinds of weather. In 21 years, the trip has only been halted twice due to weather, and it was because of whiteout blizzards.
Their summer drives when the Doublerafter team must move the cows to different pastures is a major undertaking. They have an 180,000-acre mountain allotment that includes countryside of timber, rocks, and canyons, which means finding all the cattle in this type of country is very difficult.
Guests can anticipate riding 20-25 miles a day. Although physically tough, Doublerafter is a unique, one of a kind trip where guests truly step back 130 years in time. Most guests that come to Doublerafter are high adventure seekers that find commonality with each other.
Doublerafter began inviting guests to join them in the cowboy experience 21 years ago in order to help support their ranch. To make a living in the cattle business is difficult and it has been Dana Kerns’s passion ever since he could remember.
“They work hard, are challenged, and learn a lot about being cowboys,” said Kerns.
Doublerafter has a mandatory horsemanship clinic run by a certified clinician in order to be sure everyone, whether a beginner or experienced rider, is matched with an appropriate horse before setting out into the mountains. There are no manicured trails, which makes for difficult, yet fun horseback riding experiences.
“The key to success is to learn to relax with your horse,” said Kerns, “we make sure to match a horse with your skill level so you are comfortable, relaxed, and get the most out of the week.”
Doublerafter does not have guest cabins. You will be camping and sleeping in tents or teepees on the trail. Delicious meals will be served over a fire in cast iron Dutch ovens. Kerns raves about his cooks, as they are able to come up creative dishes, even pineapple upside down cake made in a Dutch oven. The mountain is accessible only by foot or horseback, so all supplies will be on pack mules.
Read about what to expect on your working ranch vacation. Learn more about Double Rafter Cattle Drives Vacations. Check out their page in the Equitrekking Vacation Guide and search for authentic working ranches in Equitrekking’s Vacation Guide, an online guide featuring great dude ranches, guest ranches, working ranches and cattle drives.
About the Author: Jocelyn Pierce is an avid equestrian and lover of travel and photography. Her passion for adventure has led her on numerous excursions throughout North America and Europe. When she’s not riding and competing her homebred mare, she enjoys hiking, camping, and snapping photographs.