This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

BROWNSBURG, Ind. – As cold weather begins to set in, families are often looking for creative, seasonal activities that don’t involve a phone or television screen.

Fortunately, at Natural Valley Ranch, located off County Road 350 N in rural Hendricks County, that’s exactly what they will find.

Owner Marie Damler and her husband, Chuck, started Natural Valley Ranch– located at 6310 CR 350 N–  nearly 15 years ago.

“We’ve built everything you see in the last 15 years. Started from the ground up,” she said.

In all, the ranch encompasses about 80 acres along White Lick Creek, with 50 of those acres as horseback riding trails. Guests can book one of their 30, 60 or 90 minute guided trail rides or even bring their own horse to ride.

(Photo Credit: Natural Valley Ranch)

If you’re new to horseback riding or have a child not quite old enough for trail riding, they also offer pony rides, mini horses and an animal interaction area.

“We have goats. We have sheep and ducks and rabbits and they can just come and hang out and get the farm animal feel,” said Damler.

(Photo Credit: Natural Valley Ranch Facebook page)

Since natural valley ranch is run entirely by volunteers, if you just want to come out and experience the interactive areas or grounds. All they ask for is a donation.

“It helps us buy the food to take care of [the ranch],” she said.

So what keeps Damler and her volunteers going?

“Just knowing that we can provide this for the community and people can come out and enjoy it and make memories that are not electronic,” she explained.

Four Things You Need to Know About Natural Valley Ranch:

  •  Natural Valley Ranch is located on 80 acres in rural Hendricks County with 50 of those acres dedicated to horseback riding trails. Guests can book 30, 60, or 90 minute trail rides. Children who are not yet old enough for trail rides can enjoy pony rides or pet some of the animals in their animal interaction area.
  • The ranch is entirely volunteer-driven. It’s a true labor of love for owner Marie Damler and her volunteers. However, they are sometimes short staffed on volunteers so when it comes to booking a trail ride, she says it’s important to check the website’s reservation page to see what’s available.
  • They also have a heated event building, perfect for groups of up to 500 people. The ranch can host birthdays, family reunions and other events year-round.
  • You can also book one of their 2 vacation rental homes: “The Cottage” and “The Cabin.” The Cottage is a 4 bedroom, 4.5 bathroom 3,200 square foot home. The Cabin is a 5,500 square foot cabin made from southern Indiana white pine and trees sourced from the grounds of Natural Valley Ranch.

During the summer, they offer a horse camp where kids learn how to saddle and groom a horse, ride in the arena and all the other ins and outs of caring for a horse.

Warm weather months are also a time when Natural Valley Farms hosts many field trips.

“It’s so funny and interesting to hear the kids when they come off the bus and they are ‘city kids,” said Damler. “They’ll walk out and [say] ‘Oh my gosh, it smells so bad!’ and the teachers are like ‘This is nature. This is what nature smells like!”

The ranch is also an empowering place for children with special needs. Damler said they do a lot of horse therapy and the ranch even has its own Special Olympics equestrian team. In fact, Natural Valley Ranch has had the largest delegation at the Special Olympics state equestrian championships for the past three years.

They even host children from local organizations like Kids Count (a pediatric therapy and behavioral services program) in Brownsburg.

“They bring their kids out just to get used to touching animals or smelling or being near them just to promote confidence,” Damler said. “A lot of kids don’t have confidence.”

They also offer special events throughout the year, including some very popular Christmas events which are a must visit for families.

Holiday events at the ranch (Photo Credit: Natural Valley Ranch)

“We have cookies and cocoa with Santa…I think this is our fifth year for that. And then we have a candy cane hunt which is really fun and then we have gingerbread house building event that we started last year,” Damler explained.

Upcoming Holiday Events at Natural Valley Ranch:

  • Dec. 1, 2018            Cookies and Cocoa with Santa
  • Dec. 8, 2018            Candy Cane Hunt
  • Dec. 15, 2018         Build a Gingerbread House

The ranch is very popular for children’s birthday parties, which offer a lot of fun at a reasonable price for parents.

“[The kids] get to ride a horse; they have animal interaction. They can have a bonfire if they want, a hayride if they want and they get a T-shirt,” Damler explained. “We even provide the cake… I use cakes from Brenda’s Cakes here in town.”

If you’d like to stay a little longer, you can book one of their two rental properties including a 3,200 square foot cottage and a stunning 5,500 square foot log cabin overlooking a 3-acre lake.

Interior of the Cabin (Photo Credit: Natural Valley Ranch)

Much like the rest of Natural Valley Ranch, Damler and her husband also built the cabin from the ground up using southern Indiana white pine.

“We cut down trees on our property and made it into a staircase and support beams for different areas, so we try and use everything that we have,” she said. “Everything we have has a story to it.”

For more information about Natural Valley Ranch, check out their website by clicking here. To see more photos and reviews by local Yelpers, check out their Yelp profile. You can also connect with them via Facebook.

While in Hendricks County, check out some of their other popular local businesses: