Montana Cattle Drives- FAQs
I FLY IN EARLY OR LEAVE LATE FOR MY CATTLE DRIVE HOLIDAY, WHERE SHOULD I STAY IN BILLINGS?
We have two hotels where you will receive a 10% discount if you tell them that you are staying with the Dryhead Ranch. Both hotels have airport shuttles and will pick you up or take you back to the airport.
2511 1st Avenue North, Billings, MT 59101
Dude Rancher Lodge ★★★☆☆
415 North 29th Street, Billings, MT 59101
WHERE WILL YOU PICK ME UP FOR MY CATTLE DRIVE HOLIDAY?
We ONLY pick up our guests on SUNDAY at 4:00p.m. at both of these above listed hotels or at the Billings International Airport. Please send us your traveling information two weeks ahead of your arrival date so we know where we will meet you. Jennifer’s cell phone number is 307-272-0523 if there are any changes (plane delays, weather driving problems, lost luggage, staying at a different place, you are waiting and I’am not there yet) in your arrival plans, please call and let me know.
WHAT SHOULD I BRING?
There is a drop down section for “THINGS TO BRING” on the website headings. Look there for a more detailed list of things to bring.
WHAT PAYMENT METHODS ARE ACCEPTED?
We accept Visa, Mastercard, Cash, Square, or Personal checks. All of this should be arranged with Kristen when you make your final payment arrangements before you come to the ranch for your Cattle Drive Holiday.
WILL MY CELL PHONE WORK AT THE RANCH?
NO. Dryhead Ranch has satellite internet service. This service also allows WIFI calling. If WIFI calling is already downloaded to your phone, you can access it easily through our satellite service at the ranch. There is NO cell service at the ranch headquarters. However, at times while we are out on our cattle drive in Montana there will be times when you can catch a cell service location.
WHY IS THE RANCH IN MONTANA AND THE ADDRESS FOR THE RANCH IN WYOMING?
The Bassett family partnership each has farm land in Wyoming, that we raise hay and corn to feed our cows during the winter months. When we cattle drive from the ranch in the late fall, we are coming to farm pastures in Wyoming. The calves are born in Wyoming. The Dryhead office where you will talk with Kristen about making reservations for the working cattle ranch/guest ranch is in Wyoming. The Dryhead Ranch is located in Montana and we cattle drive our cows/calf pairs to the ranch in the spring for summer and fall grazing.
HOW MANY HORSES WILL WE RIDE DURING OUR STAY AT THE DRYHEAD RANCH?
Each guest will ride two or three horses during the week that you will stay with us at the Dryhead Ranch. It is normal to ride 6-8 hours a day at the ranch and it is good to give your horse a rest in between days. And it is a good challenge to ride more than one horse in a week.
HOW MANY HORSES ARE ON THE RANCH?
We raise horses at the Dryhead ranch so we have a herd of breeding stock. We have three studs and 35 mares that raise around 28 colts per year. Some of these colts are broke and trained to add to the guest cavvy of horses. Some of the colts are sold to cowboys in the area who are looking for horses that will work cows.
HOW LONG WILL WE RIDE EACH DAY?
Working cattle ranches have seasons where certain yearly work has to be done. In the spring calves are born and must be tagged to determine (a pair) mother and calf. Then as the cow/calf pair arrives at the ranch we ride with our guests to gather and sort out pairs so we can brand them. Branding shows and proves ownership so the cow or calf cannot be sold without identification. Riding to move cows to fresh pastures and look for sick animals happens all summer. Fall brings 500 pound calves that need to be weaned and taken to the feedlot in Wyoming to feed until they reach 800 pounds and are ready to sell. These days of gathering at the ranch are daylight to dark kind of days. Late fall brings the cows home to Wyoming for the winter. Our guests come to our working ranch for the challenge of riding long hours and working cattle in an authentic and real setting. The hours vary but taking care of 33,000 acres and a big herd of cows takes all day every day.
WILL WE CAMP ON OUR CATTLE DRIVE VACATION?
NO. We return to the ranch headquarters each night and enjoy a hot shower and a good meal and drive back to the point in the trail where we are with the cows each day. The experience is still amazing and real. The scenery changes each day and the challenge of work and accomplishment is ever so thrilling. Moving 250 head of cows and calves to our destination, the Dryhead Ranch, is what you come for.
CAN I BRING MY OWN HORSES?
NO. Dryhead Ranch sits between the eastern slope of the Pryor Mountains and the western slope of the Big Horn Mountains. It is a rocky, rough country. Most places we ride is up out of the canyon or down mountain slopes moving cows. Our horses are raised in this kind of country and learn early where to place their feet to be sure footed and assure our guests that they will be well taken care of. Most horses owned by our guests are ridden in arenas or designated trails and would find it hard to navigate our terrain. We also use several horses a week to keep them rested and working like our guests like to experience. Then there is the issue of health. Dryhead Ranch’s herd of horses are quite isolated and any disease or sickness would cause us a big problem.
HOW LONG OF A DRIVE FROM BILLINGS AIRPORT TO THE DRYHEAD RANCH?
3 Hours. Sounds bad but let me explain. From Billings to Lovell is 1 ½ hours. We leave the freeway and drive through some beautiful open land headed straight south to Lovell, Wyoming. This ride gives us a chance to get acquainted and talk about our week at the ranch. We stop in Lovell at the Conoco gas station for a stretch and snacks and to meet other guests who have chosen to drive to the ranch. We pick up any “can’t live without item” because the ranch is 50 miles north and does not have any quick stop/shop options. We also assess the vehicles that people are driving. Our dirt road is tuff and vehicles can be left at the farm and guests can ride in with us at this point. Then we head to the ranch and supper. It is an hour drive with stories and a stop at the Big Horn Canyon overlook to get a view of just where you will ride on our cattle drives or where the ranch sits back in remote, quiet, mountains on both sides of the Old Sioux trail that is our byway to the Dryhead ranch.
HOW MANY COWS ARE ON THE RANCH?
There are four of us in the Bassett family that are partners in the Dryhead Ranch. Each of us owns a different number of cows. That number changes each year depending on cows that need to be replaced and heifers that we reserve to replace those cows. Calves that are born each year and live to be sold also changes the number of cattle on the ranch. So, Matt always answers that question with the simple answer of “one bunch.”
CAN I BRING ALCOHOL?
NO. Dryhead Ranch is located on the Crow Indian Reservation and we are not allowed to have alcohol on the reservation. Please do not bring it. Our ranch can be fined heavily if it is found here. We also cannot hunt or fish on the reservation. We are subject to Indian Reservation laws, they are a nation within a nation with their own laws and regulations.
DO WE HAVE GUESTS STAY MORE THAN ONE WEEK?
YES. Often guests stay more than one week because of travel expenses and they would like more time at the ranch. Staying between weeks is handled several ways. Sometimes guests want to take in area sites like Yellowstone National Park or the Cody Night rodeo in Cody, Wyoming. They can leave on Saturday morning and return again on Sunday evening to begin the next week with our new guests. They would need their own transportation to be able to travel over the weekend. Then there are guests who want to stay at the ranch and hike, read, relax and wait for the next week to begin. Both options are fine with us. Our staff often leaves over the weekend so guests are welcome to raid the refrigerator for meals and enjoy the quiet of the ranch for a day.
One of my favorite images from MT last summer at the Dryhead Ranch was chosen as the Opening Shot in this month’s February 2020 issue of Western Horseman magazine! Watching James ride Yeller and rope his calf was truly one of the highlights of my trip. The determination and seriousness on his face is priceless! Lol Good thing two grown cowboys were nearby to help out. -Pam Gabriel Photography
The future belongs to the few that are still willing to get their hands dirty. Thanks to all the farmers and ranchers for keeping us well fed. -PhyllisBurchettPhoto
So excited to open the May edition of Western Horseman magazine April 2020. It be honest, during all of the craziness that is currently happening, it’s been very hard for me to stay positive about my small business. The opening shot couldn’t have come at a better time for me! Stay healthy and happy, my friends! I hope to photograph you all in the coming months. -Hilary Bishop