From the littlest to the biggest kid, everyone will get a chance to play. The Dude Ranchers’ Association has only the best of ranch experiences offering phenomenal kids programs, healthy food, horseback riding and more outdoor adventures than you can imagine. Here are 10 of North America’s best family ranch vacations on dude and guest ranches. Each has its own unique style and offerings allowing you to pick the right ranch for your family vacation. All are family friendly ranches and have a full schedule of activities for your family.
The Red Rock Ranch, Kelly, Wyoming
Dates Open: June through September
The Red Rock Ranch is a family-owned authentic western dude ranch with polished amenities. Children will love the freedom of just being kids in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming. There is no TV or video games, but they will be busy with horseback riding, caring for their own specially chosen horses, volleyball, pickleball, horseshoes and the kid’s recreation room. There is something special about swimming in a heated pool surrounded by the beautiful red cliffs, playing tag with new friends or simply enjoying a game of foosball or ping pong.
Vee Bar Guest Ranch, Laramie, Wyoming
Dates Open: Year-round
At just 2 ½ hours from Denver, Colorado the Vee Bar Ranch is very easily accessible, but still a remote dude ranch family destination. Children of all ages are welcomed with open arms. While the outdoors provides a great deal of education and entertainment, there are other activities in which kids can partake. On campout night, everybody is welcome to participate in campfire games, listen to live music, roast s’mores, and enjoy the Vee Bar’s version of a branding—don’t forget your boots, belts, wallets, and hats! Your kids will never forget their experience on this kid-friendly dude ranch!
7D Ranch, Cody, Wyoming
Dates Open: mid-June through mid-September
Offering weekly trips into Yellowstone National Park, the 7D Ranch has a kids program geared for kids 3 – 12 years old, but kids of all ages enjoy participating in the activities. Their children’s program allows young people to experience ranch life and come to understand the connections to the natural world. Ecological relationships are taught by example on daily hikes and rides. Children are introduced to the world of livestock and horses by patient wranglers who take great care to build kids’ confidence.
Imagine your teenager connecting with her own personal horse for the week. Photo Credit: Vee Bar Guest Ranch
Circle Z Ranch, Patagonia, Arizona
Dates Open: Mid October through April
How often do we long for the days of giving our children the gift of nature, in a safe and healthy environment, where the electronics are shelved and our kids are happy and laughing, making new friends? The Circle Z cherishes the adventures that families will experience, either together or separately. Here, the kids are allowed the freedom to be kids without pressures and given adventures that will expand their confidence and fill their hearts. A dude ranch vacation will not just entertain your children, it will change their lives.
Elkhorn Ranch, Tucson, Arizona
Dates Open: Mid November through April
Just 50 miles southwest of Tucson the Elkhorn Ranch is a sunny winter destination for your family. Children of all ages are welcome. Guest ranch life provides an ideal setting for family vacations and reunions. Families ride together or separately as rides are set up daily to suit individual interests. Children enjoy the freedom to play outdoors and an ample supply of board games and puzzles available in the dining room. Ping-pong, shuffleboard, tennis and basketball and a heated swimming pool add to the fun.
From the littlest to the biggest kid, everyone will get a chance to play. Photo: Elkhorn Ranch Arizona
Sundance Trail Guest Ranch, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado
Dates Open: Year-round
At Sundance Trail Guest Ranch families are encouraged to play together and to make memories together. At different times during the week, kids may opt to participate in Colorado dude ranch activities with their families or join in with counselor-wranglers for their own special activities: “kids only” horseback riding in the arena or small group trail rides, gathering eggs from the hen house, playing with the ever-present kittens and goats, group hikes & rock climbing, fishing, picnics & campfire sing-alongs, outdoor games, & treasure hunts, movies & crafts.
Black Mountain Ranch, McCoy, Colorado
Dates Open: June through mid-September
You won’t forget a family ranch vacation at the Black Mountain Ranch. Unlimited horseback riding, overnight pack trips, a Longhorn cattle drive, white water rafting, fishing, kids’ program, rifle and trap shooting, archery and trip to the local rodeo is just the start. Whether you are looking for some easy trails to ride with your kids or advanced riding for the entire family, there are great options for everyone in the family.
Tumbling River Ranch, Grant, Colorado
Dates Open: Mid May through mid-November
At Tumbling River Ranch, the summer kids program is a major focus. They not only focus on the interests of the children but relish the opportunity to introduce them to the Western lifestyle and Western ideas–offering the rare opportunity to “unplug” and spend some quality time. The kids will have a flexible program, built both to allow families ample time together and kids to have plenty of their own adventures.
Cherokee Park Ranch, Livermore, Colorado
Dates Open: June through August
The Cherokee Park Ranch is a family-owned dude ranch nestled in the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains. They cater to families with kids of all ages, horseback riding, river rafting, rodeos, fishing, music, dancing, cow wrangling, swimming, ropes/challenge course, skeet shooting and mountain biking. Your kids will have a full day’s worth of counseled activities should parents desire “time off!” For young ones under two, this family ranch offers a unique opportunity: bring your own full-time baby-sitter, free of charge.
Ride out into the mountains with the whole family. Photo Credit: Tumbling River Ranch
JJJ Wilderness Ranch, Augusta, Montana
Dates Open: Mid June through September
The Triple J Ranch offers an extensive Children and Teen Program. Each child will have their own horse for the week to learn horsemanship skills with dedicated kids wranglers. Children are not required to engage in any activity, but activities are available should parents desire a little freedom to participate in more scenic and challenging rides. This family ranch can keep even the most restless little cowboy or cowgirl busy. They’ll have loads of fun and they’ll talk about it … seemingly forever!
The ranch wranglers will even teach your kids rodeo events! Photo Credit: JJJ Wilderness Ranch