O’Keefe Ranch- A Fun and Fascinating Escape to The Past


Our visit to O’ Keefe Ranch was a first-time ranch experience for me and my girlfriend, Chelsea. Leaving the sounds of the highway behind, just north of Vernon, B.C., and stepping onto the soft dirt pathways of the working historic ranch was such a refreshing experience.

A day of fun activities was planned for us, which we happily took on with newbie gusto! We learned so much along the way, from how to drive a stagecoach, to blacksmithing, to everything there is to know about the O’Keefe family who established the ranch in 1867 and celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. 

Tourism Vernon wants you to Activate Life this summer. Start here.

Okeefe Ranch
Photo: Mark Matthews

Pieces of history from the ranch are scattered all over the property.

Expert horseman, Clyde, welcomed us and shared his expertise and love for horses. Harnessed to the stagecoach they responded to his every action. It reminded me of how professional mountain bikers are with technical details. Perhaps back in the day I would have raced horses!

Okeefe Ranch
Photo: Mark Matthews

Clyde even gave me the opportunity to practice driving the stagecoach solo.

These horses are not just a form of transportation, the ripping fast ride is a thrilling and cool way to explore the landscape, much like on a mountain bike. The stagecoach experience is just one of the ways to step back in time - in real time - at O'Keefe Ranch.

Another favourite part of the visit was the introduction to the art of blacksmithing. Patrick, of The Dancing Scot Forge, is the metal wizard working at ranch. We came in during the middle of a class and was patient enough to teach me some skills. I could see his passion for forging steel, not to mention that his creations are inspiring. Learning the basics on how to forge a taper was a fun challenge which made me appreciate this craft even more.

Okeefe Ranch
Photo: Mark Matthews

Even the beginner skill set of blacksmithing is still challenging.

For Chelsea, the best part of our visit was the chance to see the ranch animals. “I fell in love with every horse I met. You could tell they're all friends by the way they neigh at each other as they pass. Same with the ducks. They’d quack in response to a greeting and the peacocks have no issue showing off their feathers. I felt like I had been transported to a magical fairyland and I never wanted to leave!”

Strolling through the old homestead under big shady trees and past heirloom plants and flowers was so relaxing. We had a gorgeous, hot June day to learn about the ranch and it couldn't have been more perfect.

Every person working at the ranch was so pleasant; it was plain to see they love working here. You could see their passion not only for the ranch, but for its fascinating history.

Okeefe Ranch
Photo: Mark Matthews

Touring via stage coach was a fun way to explore the property.

Though this is a working ranch, everyone seems so happy and the whole atmosphere is peaceful. We'll definitely be returning on our next trip to Vernon. It's a special piece of paradise in the Okanagan with inspiring history.

Watch Historic O'Keefe Ranch on YouTube.

The season is far from over at the ranch. There are still plenty of upcoming events. Here's a sampling of a few through September and October.

  • Catch the last Cowboy Dinner Show of the summer on Sept. 1, a chance to hear the history of homesteading this region 150 years ago.
  • The corn maze runs until Sept. 16 and then a brand new corn maze open and runs all through October.
  • From Oct. 13 to 28, scare yourself silly in the Field of Screams: Dante's Inferno. 

For more information about the Historic O’Keefe Ranch visit the official web page .

The ranch is open to the public from early May until late September.

Hours: May and June 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; July and Aug., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sept.10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Pets on a leash are welcome, but are restricted from entering any of the heritage buildings

Adults (19 – 59): $13.50

Seniors (60+): $12

Youth (13 – 18): $10

Children (6 – 12): $8.50

Toddlers (5 and under): FREE

Family Day Pass: 2 Adults and 3 School-aged Children up to the age of 18: $33.00

Tourism Vernon wants you to Activate Life this summer and explore, start here.

Learn more about exploring the Vernon area and book a stay in one of the 26 hotels and motels in Vernon.

Old school vs new school horsepower. Make the most of your time to #ExploreVernon. Once done learning about the “old school horsepower” housed at the O’keefe Ranch, hit the new school horse and saddle up with @SilverStarBike for a spin. Check out Mark’s SilverStar biking adventure here.

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