Cowgirl’s Secret

An upscale horse camping retreat catering to the adventure seeking woman. Located in Pine Valley, Utah.

By Celia Rencher Snow

Riding Pleasant Creek in Capital Reef National Park. Photo by © Joann Dost

“I’ve never met a woman that I didn’t have something in common with,” Iris Martin, 1885, a cowgirl from a bygone era. This statement still resonates true in regards to women and their relationship with horses and mules. I founded The Cowgirl’s Secret knowing the common bond of equine love would bring ladies together to celebrate that special connection. At its inception, I wanted to provide an upscale horse camping retreat which incorporated “glamping.” No sleeping on the ground or on funky cots with cheap pads for the ladies I wanted to attract. Sure, we’ve all done that type of primitive camping, and it has its place. But, some of us are over it, and want to be pampered, particularly women over 50! These retreats offer luxury accommodations in authentic sheep camp wagons, or glamped canvas tents, organic fresh meals, hors d’oeuvres, cocktail hour, top notch wranglers and chef, comfortable beds, down pillows, hot on demand showers, fresh flowers, high desert red rock landscapes, pristine dark sky star gazing, and riding into the canyons of Capital Reef National Park in south central Utah. Let’s face it, women love niceties, and these retreats offer just that! Since women also like to shop, we have a small boutique which offers branded mugs, visors, wild rags and other fun cowgirl items.

Photo by © Joann Dost

The Cowgirls Secret was a name that I came up with when the book and DVD, “The Secret,” by Rhonda Bryne, had gained a large following. The central theme being, we all have the power to manifest our dreams into reality.

My “cowgirl” version was to tap into the incredible spirit of the first cowgirls. Those women of the 1800’s that believed in their own power and strength.

Photo by © Joann Dost

They were acutely aware that they were just as capable as their male counterparts.
Those cowgirls wanted more out of life than four walls, a cookstove, and a passel of kids. They believed in themselves. They were trailblazers, breaking the mold of what traditional women’s roles were. They manifested their dreams into reality. The cowgirls allowed themselves the freedom of wide open spaces. They experienced the peace and power of the wild outdoors, and the feel of a horse beneath them. There would be no turning back! No longer would societies image of the traditional woman’s domesticity define these tough and gritty women. The cowgirl life experiences were broadened far beyond the lives of traditional western women. They were strong, resilient, free spirited, untamed, empowered, adventure seekers. Their secret? Cowgirls “got it.” They followed their hearts and nourished their spirits. “A gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do,” Minnie Cody 1901.

Photo by © Joann Dost

The Cowgirl’s Secret Retreats cater to women that are adventure seekers. They happen across the Facebook or Instagram pages, message me, and make the decision to sign up, often times gathering girlfriends along the way. These women are trailblazers in their own rite. Our retreats are in a remote location. The nearest airport is 3 hours away in Colorado. Our camp is 16 miles down a back country road, the last mile in is dirt. We are secluded from view, tourists, and towns. No cell service there! Therefore, just getting to our retreats requires gumption, grit, and a determination that echos that old time cowgirl spirit.

My vision was to create a “once in a lifetime” experience. I wanted to inspire my guests to tap into their own inner strength, and discover their personal cowgirl spirit in this wild part of the west. Each retreat validates that vision, when at least one guest will say that it was “a life changing” experience for them. This always brings tears to my eyes. The simple, yet profound idea that myself and my crew, have enabled that to happen for someone, fulfills my dream.

© Joann Dost Photography

Photo by © Joann Dost

Our clientele have included artists, writers, a world renown photographer, a magazine owner, highly successful business owners, world travelers, a horse trainer, competitive cutters, a judge, as well as free spirited cowgirls. There’s something special about the dynamics of an all female group of strong women that is magical. They tend to let their hair down, are freer, more open and confident among other women. So much laughter ensues! Therefore, The Girlfriends Getaways are my personal favorite. They tend to be the most popular and in demand. We had two Couples Retreats last spring and they, too, were a hit. However, these cowgirls make it happen!

The Cowgirls Secret is blessed to have a developed a loving friendship with Mary Kaye, a beautiful soul and cowgirl singer/songwriter. Mary Kaye tries to attend at least two retreats each season. She graces us with her presence on the trail and shares her amazing talents around the campfire. Mary Kaye spent three days with us on the riding, camping, and serenading us each evening. She created a promotional #girlmeetswest video that can be viewed on The Cowgirl’s Secret Facebook page and her Facebook page, or www.mary-kaye.com. She will be back during our first two retreats this fall.

Our retreats cater to small intimate groups of 6-8. Guests stay four nights and we ride for 3 days. Due to the high desert weather, I only offer three retreats in the fall and three in the spring. Spring of ’19 I’m having a Plein Air & Photography Retreat along with two more following. Please follow The Cowgirls Secret on fb and Instagram for future dates. Fall retreats are open for reservations.


In the cover photo: the Cowgirls Secret crew left to right; Heather Welch, Head Wrangler, Karen Nalder Christensen, Gourmet Chef, Zoee Ahlstrom, Wrangler, Celia Rencher Snow, Boss Lady and Trail Guide.

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