Down On The Ranch

Locally based Happy Acres Ranch could be the answer to your dude ranch dreams.  

Want a dude ranch experience, but can’t make it out West? No problem. Say howdy to Dunnellon-based Happy Acres Ranch.

Originally bought by Jim and Ailene Moore as a weekend retreat in 2005, the 30-acre ranch slowly transitioned into a dude ranch two years later.

“We’d have friends and family visit us and they’d love being on the ranch,” says Jim, a longtime horseman and home builder. “Everyone kept telling us we should turn it into a dude ranch. We finally gave it a try and are still hosting folks 10 years later.”

Guests have a variety of lodging options. The two Groom’s Quarters were originally 12-feet-by-12-feet barn stalls cleverly transformed into bedrooms; a barn bathroom is right across the center aisle. Red River, Whistle Stop and Stage Coach are RV camper cottages with plenty of room for multiple adults and kids. Happy Trails is a fully appointed barn apartment that sleeps six. Except for the Groom’s Quarters, the lodgings have all the amenities, including outside barbeque pits.

“We’re very flexible with stay time, from one night to a weekend to several months. In the winter, we get folks primarily from the Northeast who want to get away from the cold and snow,” says Jim. “We had a woman from Canada this year who stayed with us for three months. And, of course, we do get people from the local area. Some people bring their horses with them to ride the trails and others use our horses.”

The Happy Acres string currently consists of 10 horses that Jim describes as “beginner friendly.” Trail rides for ages 6 and up go out six days a week, from 8:30am-3:30pm. Sunday and late afternoon trail rides for ranch guests can be arranged. There are 50 miles of trails adjacent to the ranch, and the Cross Florida Greenway trailheads are only a short trailer drive away. Trail rides vary from an hour ($40) to 2.5 hours ($100). Happy Acres also offers riding lessons. Both trail rides and riding lessons are available to the general public, not just to ranch guests.

“People come to be out in the country, be around horses and ride,” says Jim. “And some people use the ranch as a base to visit other attractions in the area. We’re close to Rainbow Springs and the historic area of Dunnellon. And there are many nice restaurants in Dunnellon and Ocala if guests don’t want to cook. We try to make it the best dude ranch experience possible.”

Learn more › Happy Acres Ranch › 10051 SW 125th Terrace, Dunnellon › (352) 489-8550 › ocalahappyacres.com

 

 

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