Morgan Christopher Fall 2016
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As you turn on to Seventh Street in Milford that leads to Foster Hill Road, a two mile stretch leading to the entrance of the Malibu Dude Ranch, you can physically feel the pressure of the electronically pulsating world ebb away from you. This section of road in Pike County, Pennsylvania is lined with single family homes, farms and a forest. Bursting in autumn with the golds and rusts of the famed Pocono foliage, the trees create a covered canopy of leaves. As you reach the gate of the Malibu Dude Ranch, you immediately sense that you are about to enter a world where life is simpler, slower, and more authentic.
Originally opened in 1928 on an 800 acre parcel of land, the Malibu Dude Ranch is a boutique ranch that offers guests an authentic cowboy experience. Owner Allan “Doc” Detweiler and his wife Phyllis purchased the ranch when the previous owner opted for retirement. A self-proclaimed “spirited kid,” Doc’s parents rewarded him for good behavior in school with a trip to the ranch in 1974 “to ride a horse.” Years later as an adult and a practicing family physician living on Long Island, Doc’s love of horses and for the ranch itself still burned bright in the heart of the kid who dreamed of one day being a cowboy. With the purchase of the ranch in 2011, the Detweilers and their staff carry on the tradition of the Malibu Dude Ranch as destination where visitors can experience the cowboy lifestyle.
Best described as “luxury rustic,” the main lodge of the Malibu Dude Ranch as well as the dining room and guest areas are furnished in classic American Western style. Named for the original owner’s roots in California, the Malibu Dude Ranch prides itself on being the only authentic dude ranch east of the Mississippi River. The main building which houses the front desk, dining room, saloon, game room and indoor pool areas was rebuilt in 1974 following a fire. Today the ranch’s original 1928 two-story fireplace graces the lobby as the centerpiece of the main lodge. Comfortable guest rooms and cabins await visitors and groups both large and small at this destination resort, which is just outside Milford and close to attractions on the Delaware River.
In addition to being a getaway for horse enthusiasts, the Malibu Dude Ranch is a great destination for anyone who ever wanted to try horseback riding but might be intimidated by the prospect. Every child at one time or another has imagined being a cowboy or cowgirl; at the Malibu Dude Ranch those childhood fantasies can be rekindled and reawakened. Experiencing the property’s relaxed atmosphere, meeting the beautiful animals who make their home at the ranch and surrounded by the warm hospitality of the staff, visitors will discover a relaxed setting to learn the skill of horseback riding. After learning the basics, guests will enjoy trail rides on the ranch which are led by the ranch’s trained staff.
Spending time at the Malibu Dude Ranch is like taking a step back in time. There are no televisions in the guest rooms and Wi-Fi service is limited on the property to the main lodge. As most modern travelers have become accustomed to fast paced connectivity, the lifestyle of the ranch setting requires settling into a more deliberate and thoughtful way of doing things. Connecting with nature, animals and fellow travelers is the great allure of spending time at the ranch. The Malibu Dude Ranch is a destination that allows visitors to savor each experience.
With the many activities that are offered as part of the Malibu Dude Ranch’s daily schedule, there is not much time to miss the electronic connectivity of modern life. In addition to horseback riding, the ranch offers a wide range of activities including a rifle range and skeet shooting, rowboats and paddle boats, fishing, hiking, archery, a game room and mini-golf as well as a heated indoor pool for swimming throughout the year. In the evenings, campfires offer guests a chance to gather under the stars.
Being open year round and holidays, the ranch offers guests seasonal activities. In winter, snowmobiling on the Malibu Dude Ranch’s trails is a popular draw for outdoor enthusiasts. Ice fishing is popular for anglers looking for a unique spot in the Pocono Mountains.
One of the ranch’s biggest draws is offered Saturday nights in summer through Labor Day. The “Poconos Original Championship Rodeo” is a weekly event featuring bull riding, bareback riding, roping, rodeo clowns and steer wrestling rough riders who perform in the property’s 2,000 seat professional riding arena. A patriotic tribute to the members of the armed services is a highlight of the weekly rodeo, where each military division’s flag is proudly carried into the arena by horseback riders.
Commitment to service personnel plays an important role to the mission of the Malibu Dude Ranch. This year the ranch and the Detweiler family were honored with the 2016 Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau Community Service Award. In addition to their work with Vetstock, a nonprofit which helps veterans acclimate to civilian life, the ranch has also taken a prominent role in support for other organizations like Cancer Care (which offers free treatments to patients) as well the Pennsylvania High School Rodeo Association. Groups like Wounded Warriors and other support groups have discovered the atmosphere of supportive healing that awaits them at the ranch.
Wedding parties, family reunions and meeting groups have also discovered the hospitable setting awaiting them at this destination resort. At the Malibu Dude Ranch, both individuals and groups can embrace the gentle nature of the horses and livestock, savor the peaceful setting of the mountain scenery and experience the warm hospitality of the gracious staff. Time spent at the Malibu Dude Ranch is an opportunity to slow down, reconnect and recharge.
*Photos courtesy of the Malibu Dude Ranch