Bar SZ Ranch
A Dude Ranch Experience Close to the City
Whether you bring your horse or use one of ours, one thing is certain - you will have fun in the saddle. The Bar SZ has a long and rich history, from the nearby stagecoach station in San Benito to the home of Hall of Fame American Quarter Horse Doc Bar. You will ride through the same land horses and cattle have grazed for over 200 years.
skeet & target shooting
Discover the thrill of open-air shooting at the Bar SZ Ranch. No Western adventure is complete without the sharp crack of gunfire. You will enjoy a tractor driven hayride into the back-country nestled in an old canyon once occupied by the bandit and outlaws of the 1880's preparing to rob the Wells Fargo stagecoach. Whether you are an expert skeet shooter or have never handled a firearm, our experienced instructors will give you an afternoon to remember!
It was Mark Twain who wrote, “ Riding aloft on a mountain of fragrant hay. This is the earliest form of the human pleasure excursion, and for utter joy and perfect contentment it stands alone… ”. Climb aboard with your sweetheart or the entire family and we’ll take you on a tour of the ranch. Stop for a picnic in the Willows by the San Benito riverbed or just wander around the ranch, our driver is at your disposal.
There is a warm, fuzzy feeling you get when grooming a horse that is hard to explain. Running a brush over a thousand pound animal for the enjoyment of sharing a special moment, building a bond, and learning about trust is incomparable. Children seem to derive the most enjoyment from this activity, but adults find it lowers blood pressure and relieves tension, too. Take part, if only because the horses love it.
Whether you are bringing kids to experience life on a ranch or if you're young at heart, everyone is welcome to participate with the morning and evening feeds. We need to measure out and pour the food, clean the water buckets, scoop poop, collect eggs, throw food scraps to the pigs, milk a goat (when available), as well as anything else that may need to be done. The animals love to eat!
We have lots of animals onsite which may be the perfect fit for both you and your kids - large enough to play with but not SO large that you find yourself running in the opposite direction. Friends and families may interact with our barn animals in a casual petting zoo environment.
We have ducks, pigs small and large, sheep, ponies, a few varieties of chickens, cats, one gigantic but sweet dog, goats, rabbits, and a guinea pig.
Roping a steer is an essential task on the ranch. It takes a bit of practice and a little skill. With expert help from our cattle wranglers, we will start you on the roping dummy. If you have the skills and past the test, let’s ride out and toss a loop on a cow. It’s time for a roundup!
You may practice your aim and learn how to shoot like our ancestors did, with a bow and arrow. We put targets on hay bales and allow adults and kids alike to either brush up on old skills or learn something new.
seasonal creek walking
The creeks of the Bar SZ have flowed for hundreds and hundreds of years. Rocks at nearby Pinnacles National Forest were formed by a volcano millions of years ago. Wander along the creek bed and you may find treasures, arrowheads, or...you know we aren't that far from Gold Country!
The Bar SZ Ranch property extends to the top of many ridges that line the valley. Hike through relatively flat areas or go for the fantastic views at the top of the western ridge. Bring a water bottle and a comfortable pair of shoes. The east entrance to Pinnacles National Park is just a few miles away, their hiking, bird watching, and bat caves are worth a day trip.
Have you ever heard the sizzle of your favorite cut being broiled over aged oak? We gather it right on the ranch. Let us set you up with the chef’s apron and barbecue tongs. You won’t believe the incredible flavor!
Bring your favorite food, drinks, and tableware down to the common area on Saturday nights, we supply the wood and get the fire going.
The campfire is the ranch version of television without jarring noise and the annoying commercials. It’s a gathering place for family and friends, to tell stories, recount memories, play music, or roast a few marshmallows. Let us build you a campfire your friends and family will remember for years to come.
You’ll need something that can handle dirt as the Bar SZ has miles of trails. Rides can be through easy rolling pastures on hard packed roads or up some steep hills for awesome views of the ranch below.
Bring your own bikes and helmets and let the adventures begin.
Feed Chickens, collect farm fresh eggs
You may pet the chickens, gently pick them up, hold them, feed them, sneak their eggs away, whatever you want to do. Kids and adults alike enjoy spending time in the coup.
Each house rental includes one dozen eggs (when available), you may collect your own or send someone in from our team. Only offered when our chickens are laying eggs as their mood changes with the seasons.
Pool Hall, Poker table, and more
If there aren't enough activities on this list to keep you busy we also have pool, ping pong, poker, corn hole, horseshoes, darts, shuffle board, basketball, country bocce ball, croquet, and frisbee.
Although we have a small collection in each house we encourage guests to bring board games, cards, and puzzles. There is plenty of table space around the bar and campfire for evening games.
The climate at the Bar SZ has been called warm summer Mediterranean. Almost as if to signal the end of the day, a breeze floats gently down the foothills and across the ranch in the afternoons. If you enjoy identifying plants and trees, you will have many from which to choose. Can you find the Mule something something, digger pines, something thistle? If you look closely and the time is just right you might just see the very rare San Benito evening primrose with its yellow flowers (endangered species).
Looking for the change of seasons? While many people travel to the East Coast, we just go out our own back door. Fall at the Bar SZ is brighter than fireworks on the Fourth of July. The ranch is at about 1500 feet and with the Diablo Mountains as a backdrop the indigenous willows, big leaf maples, white alder, and the California Sycamore put on quite a show. And, Fall is a great time for a hayride to see all the amazing colors nature has to offer.
It may sound strange, but I enjoy facing east during the sunsets at the Bar SZ. You are right, that’s backward. But, as the sun sets behind me, the rocks on the Diablo Mountains change from black to gray to orange, then pink, and sometimes red. Sitting on the deck of the Cabin or Art Studio enjoying a cool drink in the summer or a warm one in the fall, is the absolutely best way to end your day!
Birding and wildlife
If you are up early or wandering around the ranch at dusk, you may catch a glimpse of the doe coming to feed on the old alfalfa field. You are sure to see plenty of jack rabbits, squirrels, and maybe an occasional snake, but you will have to keep your eyes open. Birdwatchers will delight near the riverbed in an area we call the Willows. Scrub Jays, Robins, and many other birds have been spotted here. Recently, a bald eagle was seen on the drive to the ranch. Bring your binoculars!
epic star gazing
The best stargazing is only done far away from city lights and polluted air. The Bar SZ is the perfect combination of everything you need to search for your favorite constellation. The Perseids and Leonids meteor showers in late summer and fall are truly spectacular as falling stars light up the night sky.
International Space Station
If you catch the timing just right you can watch the international space station cross our dark skies. It only lasts a few minutes so be ready. The following website will tell you when it will appear, disappear, it's point of entry, angle, and maximum height. Use the city of Hollister as your location.
noun, va·ca·tion (veɪˈkeɪ ʃәn, vә)
1. a period of suspension of regular work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel.
2. freedom or release from duty, business, or activity.
3. a vacation at the Bar SZ Ranch.