Out at the Flying W Ranch in the Flint Hills, they offer such experiences as horseback riding, cattle drives and horse-drawn wagon rides. They also offer a different experience in regards to horseback and wagon rides called Moonlight Rides. These rides take place in the early evening and extend into late evening. They are only offered certain times of the month when the moon is full as it lightens up the sky and makes it bright enough to ride in the country during the evening. Figuring it would be a unique and fun experience, we signed up for the Moonlight Ride via horseback.
Over the weekend, my friend and I drove out to Clements, KS which was a couple of miles away from the Flying W Ranch.
The Flying W Ranch also has many lodging options for those that want to stay the night. They have cabins, bunkhouses, lodges and other accommodations for those people wanting to get the full experience. Once you arrive, you’ll walk towards the tack room where all the horses are awaiting a fun little evening.
We were greeted by many members of the Hoy family who own and operate the property. Gwen Hoy, who we set the appointment up through, gave us some waivers to sign and each family member introduced themselves to every person who was there. They had that nice personal touch to show their appreciation.
After everybody arrived, we were treated to supper which consisted of corn, salad and lasagna followed by ice cream and sheet cake for dessert. The meat used in the lasagna was all from cattle at the Flying W Ranch so the beef there was all free from hormones, additives and all that bad stuff. Here’s an interesting side note that I didn’t know until much later in the evening. Dinner was prepared by Josh Hoy, who attended culinary school years ago. What’s crazy is Josh was on the Gordon Ramsay show, Master Chef, back when the reality show first started. We briefly discussed our interactions about both meeting Gordon Ramsay. What are the odds that two people from Kansas who have been asked to be on a Gordon Ramsay show randomly meet each other in Clements, KS? It’s truly a small world.
As for dinner, the lasagna was excellent. I wanted a second plate but didn’t want to be the first person to stand up and look like a pig even though seconds were offered. Not a single person stood up to get more food so I unhappily sat there craving more food.
After dinner, Jim Hoy, who used to be the Professor of Folklore at Emporia State University told everyone about the land, the history and stories of the surrounding area while the rest of the family got the horses prepped.
After story time, it was time to saddle up!
Everybody was assigned a horse, I’m guessing based on their horse riding experience. I was shocked they assigned me a living breathing horse. I was expecting a wooden one with wheels they would drag me along by.
For the evening, I was assigned Flint to ride while my friend was assigned Billy. I could be totally making this up but they probably gave me a white horse in case Flint ran off and he would be easier to see in the evening. Chances of that were really high given my lack of riding experience. The only other time I rode a horse was Pepe the mechanical horse at K-Mart decades ago for two quarters my mom just happened to have on her.
After everybody got on their horses, Josh and his daughter Josie, go through how to ride a horse and all the safety explanation one needed. Then we were off to roam the Flint Hills with our horses. Josie and Josh guided us through the land. The pictures don’t do it justice at all. It was incredibly beautiful being out there.
Every so often, we stopped to take pictures and just relax. For many horses, it was their chance to pee. I’ve never seen pee come out with so much force. As for my horse, Flint, stopped at least five times to poop. He must have had the McRib for dinner.
The ride then takes you deeper into the Flint Hills as the sun is setting.
Once the sun went down, we began to head back. But the moon lit up the sky perfectly to guide us back….aka we relied on Josh and Josie to make sure we were going the right direction. I really wish I had a better camera with me as it was so cool to see how bright out it still was thus the term “Moonlight Ride”.
The ride lasted a little under two hours from the moment I hopped on to Flint to the time we arrived back for the campfire. Admittedly, I was extremely sore when it was over but totally fine the next day. After the ride was over, everybody gathered around the campfire and listened to Jim sing songs and tell stories. The only thing missing was s’mores.
Before we left, I purchased some beef jerky and beef sticks made with beef from their cattle. They are $5 pack and absolutely worth it. I went through my beef sticks before I went to bed.
Overall it was an incredibly unique experience that we both loved and enjoyed thoroughly. It was so peaceful being out in the plains taking in the outdoors. I had no idea what to expect going in having no knowledge of riding horses outside of Pepe at K-Mart. I left my comfort zone of the city, thanks to the encouragement of my friend, and had a wonderful time. Josh and Josie did a great job of helping us with the horses, showing us what to do and guiding us through the Flint Hills.
If you dislike bugs, just be aware there are lots of bugs. I am a magnet for bugs and that evening was no different. I could feel big bugs hitchhiking on my back for most of the ride. The wasps and mosquitoes were the size of a bald eagle and yes….that’s a huge exaggeration but they were big nonetheless. After a while, I gave in and let them hop on for the free ride.
Of course not every experience is perfect and there was a minor complaint. Regarding the total time, we found it to be a little lengthy. The whole ride is advertised as running from 6pm – 11pm. There is a some downtime outside of the ride. The ride and dinner took up a little under three hours. The rest was signing waivers, standing around and story time. Stories are told before dinner and after the ride. That portion ran a little long for our taste and lost our attention halfway through but others seemed to enjoy it. It’s a matter of personal prefererence whether you want to stay for story time. We ended up leaving shortly after our ride was over but not before thanking the members of the Hoy family.
So how much does something like this cost? The Moonlight Ride cost $165 a person which is obviously more than Pepe at K-Mart but worth it to us for a one time experience. You can do the wagon ride for $80 a person but I would have lost my attention being stuck in a wagon for that long. Other rides include a two hour guided horse ride for $115 a person. You can check out all those rates here.
If you are looking for something different and unique to do, I can’t recommend the Flying W Ranch enough. The entire Hoy family will get you taken care of. Check out our YouTube video for some more on this.