Although the old west conjures up cowboy images like Martha mentioned in her post on where to find cowboys in Canada, Ohio has a ranch that looks like it could be where cowboys and buffalo roam. Although Smoke Rise Ranch is in the Hocking Hills, one of my favorite areas in the state, there are cowboys who sport chaps and rope cattle, bonafied rodeos on certain weekends, and various activities that generally happen west of the Mississippi River.
I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon at Smoke Rise Ranch Resort with Mark Semingson and his father Walt, the Semingson patriarch. In his 80s, Walt will still climb up on a horse to show off his horsemanship and afterwards talk about the path that brought him to Ohio from North Dakota where he was born. He grew up on a ranch there and eventually transplanted his ranching know how and his family to Ohio. Part of the story has to do with a land deal in Arizona not working out as expected. Knowing horses saved the Semingson’s from losing their shirts and this pristine spot in Ohio held possibilities for a ranching hotspot. This wonderful photo of Walt was taken by Fojo1 and posted on Flickr.
Today Walt’s sons mostly run Smoke Rise. The business is a mix of a working cattle ranch, a place to horseback ride and a vacation destination. Lodging ranges from campsites to cabins. You can come for just a couple hours or several days.
Although, Justin mentioned in one of his posts the cities best for singles, you might want to head to Smoke Rise from July 20 to 22 for the Singles Weekend. There are other events throughout the year. One, “Six Days in the Saddle” would be great for families. It’s a chance to experience cowboy life first hand.
For my own version of cowboy life, Mark took my daughter and me for a horseback ride and pointed out the ranch’s details along the way. His version of a horseback ride is much better than the “nose to butt” rides common with other horseback riding establishments that I’ve been to. We wandered along trails and took in parts of Ohio, even though I felt like I had been transported to some point out West.