If you’ve ever visited the high desert city of Bend, Oregon or golfed at Bandon Crossings on the Oregon coast, you might like my latest discovery. The eco resort Silvies Valley Ranch in eastern Oregon appeals to golfers, birders, equestrians and goat herders. Yes, you read that right; goat herders.
This 140,000 acre boutique retreat in Seneca, Oregon reminds me of my visits to central Oregon’s Sunriver Resort back in the 1970’s. While Sunriver didn’t have large herds of goats roaming the property, the juniper and sage brush evoke memories of clean mountain air and resort living.
I was intrigued with this high desert destination resort situated half way between Bend, Oregon and Boise, Idaho. My husband, an avid golfer and hunter, had heard about The Retreat, Links & Spa at Silvies Valley Ranch and wanted to check it out. As the ranch offered horseback riding and log cabin living, I was happy to oblige.
We stayed in a gorgeous log cabin with a water view of the expansive property in Harney County, Oregon. Our elk cabin suite was designed with two bedrooms with a clever option to lock off the second bedroom if not needed. We were not traveling with our children so the elk suite, with a view looking out to the water, was perfect for our two night stay. There are 8 lakeside log cabins, in addition to 18 ranch house hotel rooms.
Both cabins and ranch house rooms are described as rustic luxury with Western decor. All rooms have rain shower bath fixtures, rich, dark leather furniture, large flat-screen tv’s (that you will not need to turn on) and stocked mini-bars. Penelton Woolen Mill fans will note the pillows, blankets and curtains throughout the guest rooms and lodge.
What set our luxury cabin apart is the private hot tub on the deck and our proximity to the lodge, where meals are served. The ranch is open year round so I can image what this place is like covered in snow with deer bedded down in front of the cabin. This would be a great place to celebrate the holidays with family.
Silvies Valley Ranch is all about celebrating the outdoors. There are activities galore at the ranch with rangers to guide you on your experiences; some are complimentary, others have an additional charge. Unless you opt for the all-inclusive package. I had the chance to experience horseback riding, shooting on the pistol range, taking a complimentary horse-drawn carriage ride and be a goat herder for the afternoon.
The animals play a staring role at Silvies Valley Ranch, from the domestic cows, goats and horses, to wild antelope, beavers, elk, birds, bats and numerous others. As Silvies is a working cattle and goat ranch, the animals earn their keep. From the goats as golf caddies (yes, really!) to Great Pyrenees and border collies guarding and herding the goats, you’ll be surrounded in love; if you have food. If you’re not into herding goats you can simply visit a couple of the goat ambassadors and feed them some snacks. They are always happy to see you.
Touring the property on horseback is an option or you may opt for a Polaris Razor tour with a ranger explaining the ecology of the eco resort. You’ll notice the bird and bat houses hanging from trees on the resort. A portion of the 140,000 acre property is devoted to golf courses. There is an 18-hole reversible golf course; Hankins and Craddock, in addition to Mc’Veigh’s Gauntlet 7-holes adventure course and Chief Egan’s 9-hole par 3 course. No charge for the driving range or you can order food and drinks at Egan’s Hideout and enjoy killer views. There’s also options for twilight golf after 3:00 p.m.
Speaking of food and drinks. The resort features a restaurant in a single story lodge, looking out to the pond. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served here. You’ll order off the menu for breakfast and lunch with a multi-course dinner in the evening. As the ranch runs cattle and goats, expect to see beef and Chevon (French for goat) on the menu, in addition to vegetarian options. There’s also a kid’s menu for little buckaroos.
After dinner, save room for s’mores out on the back patio by the fire pit. Return to your cabin or ranch room after a bit of star gazing. The resort is completely off the grid, powered by solar, so the stars are not hard to find.
Be sure to book a spa appointment in the afternoon after a full day of activities. The native American Rocking Heart Spa features multiple treatment rooms, a 1/2 size Olympic lap pool, and indoor climbing wall, in addition to saunas and hot tubs. If you select the all-inclusive package, you’ll not only have unlimited golf, you’ll receive a daily spa treatment – heaven on earth in eastern Oregon.
Rates at The Retreat, Links & Spa start at $299 per night. Check the website for special packages and seasonal pricing or go to Trip Advisor. The pet-friendly resort offers a small conference center and would be a great place for family reunions, weddings or small groups. If you have access to a small plane, there is also a private airstrip on property. Otherwise, you’ll fly into Burns, Oregon or Boise, Idaho. It’s about a 5.5 hour drive from Portland, Oregon or 3.5 hours from Boise, Idaho.
Silvies Valley Ranch review and all photos by travel expert Nancy D. Brown. Nancy was a guest of The Retreat, Links & Spa for review purposes. However, all opinions are her own.