As Shannon and I were enjoying our scenic drive through the back woods of Traverse City, we couldn’t help but to be anxious about where we were going to end up. We knew we were going to Ranch Rudolf and we sure hoped our best friend on the trip “TomTom” would drop us off in the correct location. “Think there are reindeer?” I asked Shannon. Really not knowing what to expect we finally arrived. We pulled onto a dirt road and entered what looked like a very small town. With a house to our left, lodge to our right, and general store and stables straight ahead, we couldn’t wait to go in!
We followed the signs to the lodge and knocked on the door. We were greeted by Melody the owner of the ranch and the fabulous smell of a wood-burning stove. We walked in to a quaint sitting area and reception desk. We made our way through the door to our right and our jaws dropped as we entered the dining area. The whole room was completely made out of wood and it looked like the ceilings would never end. Turns out it was the fifth largest all wood constructed building in the United States when it was built in 1966. Deer, elk, and other various animal heads adorned the walls. There was a large stage, bar, and dining area. As we kept walking we came across one of the biggest fire places I had ever seen surrounded by couches and chairs (one of the couches was 14’ long!). Even though there were only three of us in the room, I pictured it filled with families visiting for the week, eating and conversing with other visitors.
Melody began telling us the story of the ranch and the reason for the name. As it turns out the ranch was originally built for the Chicago Mafia members as a ‘getaway’ home. There were originally two homes on the property and various members would frequent them when they needed to get out of the city. Rudolf was the housekeeper. He would do the cooking, cleaning and handy work. In the late 1920’s the mafia burned down both of the houses assuming Rudolf was still inside. Being the quick little man he was, he jumped out one of the windows into the river and saved his own life. He came back to the ranch and re-built one of the houses. This is where he stayed for years to come.
In 1930 an artist from Chicago bought the land- Rudolf included. He renamed the property “Ranch Rudolf” because of the lavish meals he cooked and elaborate stories Rudolf told to the visitors. The ranch was sold again in 1963 to the Montgomery family.
The Montgomery’s had two children. Their youngest was a girl named Nora. Nora had always wanted horses growing up, but they lived in the heart of Traverse City so they had no where to put them. Finally her dad gave in and bought her a horse. Pretty soon the whole family grew fond of horses, and before they knew it they owned five of them! They needed a place to house all of the horses, so in 1963 they bought the Ranch Rudolf land and put up stables and a barn. They came to love the land so much that they decided to build their own house on it. While their house was being built, Mr. Montgomery had a vision of turning it into a resort. He realized they had enough land for cross country skiing, horseback riding, and snowmobiling for guests. They planned on changing the name, but Rudolf spoke up and said “Ranch Rudolf is the name and it will remain”. Since he was a man of few words, so when he spoke it meant something. Because of this, the name remained. Rudolf died in 1968 and the Montgomery’s sold the property in the early 70’s.
The property was sold again in 1982 to the current owners Sid and Melody Hamill. They have kept the ranch absolutely beautiful and have made it their home.
Shannon and I were floored to hear all the great activities the ranch offers. Today the Ranch has a motel, campground, and the bunkhouse is a rental for larger groups. There is a restaurant, horseback riding stable, canoe & kayak livery, and inner tubing. The ranch has fishing both in stocked ponds and also in the Boardman River. There is also hiking, hayrides and sleigh rides and many children’s horse camps. They host private gatherings such as family reunions, weddings & receptions, corporate outings, holiday parties and birthday parties of all ages. The ranch is nusteled right in the hub of the Traverse City snowmobile trail system which makes for the perfect snowmobiling getaway. There are 16 motel rooms, a bunkhouse, and 26 campsites for guests to stay. So take your pick and make your reservation today! The ranch is located at 6841 Brown Bridge Road in Traverse City, MI. You will love the scenic drive in and the peace and quiet the ranch offers.
Shannon and I were thrilled we stopped by. Who knew West Michigan had such a timeless treasure?
Don’t think we forgot about the giveaway!
This week we will be giving away a one nights stay up to a family of 4. Can be used Sunday, Monday or Tuesday nights only. Expires August 30, 2011.
Just tell us what about your most cherished vacation memory and you will be entered to win! Winner will be picked this Friday 12/10