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Westgate River Ranch Resort and Rodeo

A family weekend brought me to the Westgate River Ranch Resort and Rodeo outside of Lake Wales, Florida. Their website states, “As the largest dude ranch East of the Mississippi, Westgate River Ranch Resort and Rodeo in Florida is packed full of outdoor activities that will have you reliving the old-fashioned days of the old West with fun modern upgrades.”

I think there is much less “dude” in this “resort” … if you can call it a resort.

When driving to the River Ranch, you’ll be on Highway 60 and the idea of being in the “middle of nowhere” will certainly pop into your head … but, it has its own unique beauty. When we arrived at the entrance gate, we were met with “nice” … and when we went to the Check-in, we were met with “nicer” … and when we were escorted to our rental, we were met with … wait for it … a Timeshare pitch. We didn’t even get to sit down before we were asked to schedule a timesharing meeting so we could get a bunch of freebees … what a letdown.

Why would anyone want any freebees? Because EVERYTHING costs … they should change their name to River Ranch Resort Ala Carte. For the price of lodging, you would think they could throw in a few resort amenities along with it … but they don’t.

In search of something fun to do, I went to the archery range. For a cost, you get a kid’s like bow and arrow set in which you can take aim at a target about 15 yards away. Maybe this is fun for the kids, but, it isn’t for adults. And, there was no one keeping an eye on things and it is just a bad accident waiting to happen.

I then checked out the clay shooting range and almost fell asleep watching the slowest time-between-shots ever witnessed. The group of five people I observed, literally had to wait and shoot one at a time at a clay target that the range supervisor clicks to go up in the air.

Checking out the pool, the water was heated, and it felt great. Fortunately, it wasn’t full of people when I arrived; but, again, there wasn’t any supervision and rules were being ignored – like glass beer bottles uncontested in the pool area – how dangerous is that?

The mini-golf course itself was okay; but, the playing equipment provided was less than adequate. Again, no on-site supervision and it just felt like a free-for-all.

I didn’t do the zip line or the rock climbing wall; but, it looked like people enjoyed the experience. Tennis courts were vacant but roadways were filled with golf carts with a sprinkling of bikes.

The free line-dancing class was very good and the drink-costs in the saloon were reasonable. But, the best thing, to me, was the Saturday night rodeo. It was so cool to see an activity that was about promoting God and Country … I think the audience appreciated the experience a lot. The bull riders weren’t very good … or the bulls were just that good. There would be no way I would get on any of those bulls – the riders were knocked off the bulls before they were barely out of the gates. Although it cost $25 to attend the rodeo, which is pricey for a family, I would recommend it if it is something you and your family haven’t experienced before.

The lodging all seemed comfortable as I checked out a few different types of places. Where we stayed, there just wasn’t enough parking … especially when golf carts took car spots which happened a lot.

Would I recommend the Westgate River Resort and Rodeo? I think the place is overrated and way too costly. If money isn’t an issue, then go for it and have a good time; but, if you’re looking for a reasonably costed mini-vacation, whether as a couple or as a family, this isn’t the place for you. You can have fun at this resort, but, be ready to bring out your wallet over and over again.

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