Like the time a few months back when I checked into Mackay Bar Ranch’s Trip Advisor Account and found a review that just made me smile all over.
Not only was this a comprehensive review posted by September 2016 guests, but thought and penmanship oozed of quality writing. I love it and offers such a helpful glimpse (and more) about what you will find at Mackay Bar Ranch when you schedule a vacation, wedding, backcountry hunt, corporate goodwill trip or family gathering to enjoy this unique and beautifully wild venue on the shores of the Salmon River in Idaho’s pristine Frank Church “River of No Return” wilderness.
As the digital marketing pro helping to shape Mackay Bar Ranch’s digital brand, reflecting owners Joni and Bucks exquisite style, I find myself often feeling so lucky to know and support the needs of exceptional entrepreneurs like Joni and Buck. Not only do I care deeply about their success, and admire their business savvy and work ethics, but I also consider Joni and Buck as the dearest friends.
So based on my high level of fondness for the people of Mackay Bar Ranch in general, it was not without a sparkle in my heart that I read KTElliott1’s review from January 2, 2017, and wanted to share it with you. Its lovely for travelers and engaged couples to discover reviews like this one, where our valued guests took precious time from their own busy schedules to share such detail with the world. These are the real nuggets of info travelers want and need, to find special places to explore on their own vacations, or as the story goes, to find someplace different and unique to celebrate their bonds of marriage.
And folks, you have to admit, a 5.0 Review Overall TripAdvisor.com Rating is probably rare. But it speaks volumes about this backcountry ranch – especially if you value “ABOVE AND BEYOND” QUALITY & HOSPITALITY.
Many Thanks to ktelliott1 of Santa Rosa CA.
Posted Review January 2, 2017 about September 2016 Wedding at Mackay Bar Ranch
When we first got engaged we quickly started looking into wedding venues.
Being from California, we’d been to many winery weddings. Although fun and beautiful, we felt like we wanted to do something different and decided it would be fun to get hitched at a backcountry lodge.
We are really into rivers and had done a few trips in Idaho’s Frank Church Wilderness. We’d always loved the remoteness, beauty, and serenity of the Salmon River and had passed by a few ranches that looked like they’d be fun to visit with a big group. It wasn’t long before we connected with Joni at Mackay Bar, put down a deposit, and lined up a perfect date in September.
There are many reasons to do a wedding at Mackay Bar, but here are our top 10:
10. Turn Key Services: Planning a wedding is a lot of work – especially for a couple working full time. One of the benefits of a wedding at Mackay Bar is that Joni and team will take care of many of the details you (or your wedding planner) would be stuck with in a traditional wedding. It is not to say that there is no planning involved in a Mackay Bar wedding – you’ll need to deal with invitations, transportation logistics, ceremony, alcohol, band/DJ/photographer, and possibly some extra decorations. But, the Mackay Bar team takes care of the rest – all the onsite details that make the day so special.
9. The Food: The food at Mackay Bar is great. It is perfectly fitting for the remote wilderness setting – hearty, healthy, simple, and tasty. Joni and team will work with you on a menu a couple months before the event. They have many options available and can cater to special diets. One tip: rather than a wedding cake or cake balls, look into pies from a local bakery. We had several fresh fruit pies and they were absolutely amazing.
8. Jet Boat Ride: The jet boat ride up to Mackay Bar was super fun for everyone on the trip. Even our parents (aged 63-73) loved the exhilarating ride. Beyond the rush of powering through rapids upstream, the ride offers a great opportunity for viewing wildlife and scenery. It is a great way to start your Mackay Bar adventure.
7. Activities At The Ranch: There is so much to do at Mackay Bar – swimming, hiking, horseback riding, jet boat tours, hunting, fishing, etc. There is something for everyone. Simply relaxing by the beach with a cold beer should not be overlooked! Whatever you want to do, Joni, Buck, and the staff will make it happen.
6. Joni and Buck: Mackay Bar would not be what it is without Joni and Buck. They make you feel like family and a so helpful and accommodating in planning our wedding. When we got to Mackay Bar, they were constantly checking in to make sure everything was to our satisfaction. Their energy and commitment is exactly what you want when doing a remote destination wedding like Mackay Bar. You absolutely get your “money’s worth” with this operation. They want everything to be perfect for you and go above and beyond. They are a really kind and welcoming family!
5. Mackay Bar Staff: They are all super helpful, courteous, and friendly. They welcome you in a warm and genuine way – not just the minimum “I’m doing my job”, but the creative, above and beyond attention to detail. Whenever we needed help, they were instantly on it. One fun story: We wanted to get married under a huppah (traditional Jewish wedding canopy) and had planned on spending the morning of our wedding building it. We viewed the task as more a chore than any sort of ceremonial labor…when we told the Mackay Bar staff that we wanted to build a huppah, they immediately stepped up and started helping. We figured it would take a couple hours to gather materials and construct the canopy – they grabbed some lodge poles and had it built up in less than 20 minutes and it was certainly one of the coolest huppahs we or our guests had ever seen (even beat the expensive ones we had seen on pinterest!).
4. The Ranch: The Mackay Bar Ranch is a great facility. The main lodge rooms and cabins have been restored and are appointed with high quality nice linens (my wife really liked these) to balance the rustic character. Each room includes a bathroom and the staff cleans the cabins, rooms, and bathrooms daily. The grounds are very well kept and are perfect for outdoor dining. There is a nice beach for hanging out and playing whiffle ball, bocce ball, and other games. If you have the chance, stay in a wall tent! Joni and team set up a beautiful wall tent for us that was fit for Sunset Magazine!
3. The Salmon River: The Salmon River is what originally led us to Mackay Bar. There are great fishing opportunities and it is great for swimming on those hot summer days. It provided a perfect backdrop for the wedding as well as our pre-wedding photos.
2. The Benefits Of A Small Wedding: Although it is difficult to cull down a typical wedding invite list to a number that can be accommodated by Mackay Bar, the ultimate benefits of a small wilderness wedding were totally worth it for us. You will end up spending a lot more time with your guests. Think of it as going to summer camp with your best friends and family. We also found that a small wedding enabled our guests to connect with one another in a much more meaningful way than a typical large wedding. One thing that worked well for us, was to have a local party for the full 100+ person guest list. It was very casual, relatively easy to plan, and allowed us to celebrate with the full crowd who could not make it to Mackay Bar.
1. The Scenery: Having passed through the Main Salmon on previous river trips, the scenery of the Frank Church Wilderness is what initially drove us to consider Mackay Bar and definitely did not disappoint. It is such a peaceful place and is absolutely perfect for a backcountry wedding. Although there are many impressive photos of the river valley at Mackay Bar, to truly appreciate the grandeur of the ranch, you have got to visit! It is absolutely worth the trek and will not disappoint.
Stayed September 2016, traveled with family