If you’re planning a getaway or full-fledged vacation during the heart of the winter, consider heading South. There is wide range of options available from the member ranches of The Dude Ranchers’ Association. Winter provides an ideal opportunity in the warmer climates of the Southwest for a traditional dude ranch vacation. Across Arizona, for instance, ranches operate either year-round or seasonally from fall through spring. Horseback rides through inspiring stretches of the desert or on stunning mountain trails are just the beginning. Hiking, mountain biking, swimming, scrumptious meals, and plenty of time to kick back and relax amidst the region’s natural splendors makes for a great ending.Circle Z Icon

Want to stay in a traditional setting?  Circle Z Ranch this winter will be an enchanting vacation. This ranch has seven historic Spanish- style adobe guest cottages that dot the plateau on which the ranch lies. Accommodations vary from individual rooms to suites with living rooms or entirely private cottages, each reflecting Southwestern charm. The Casa Rosa (arch way pictured above) is an adobe building in the Spanish Revival style embracing a fountain courtyard. There are eight double rooms, each with a private bath and courtyard entrance. This is a favorite of many returning guests. Several of the rooms have connecting doors for families.

Western style horseback riding at Elkhorn Ranch provides adventure and a great way to see the incredible scenery of the Baboquivari Mountains. The ranch’s ten thousand acres provide plenty of remote canyons and mountain country to explore, a true wilderness experience. Experience gentle or loping rides through the desert and more vigorous trips up into the mountains – including all day ventures with sandwiches or a mule-packed hot lunch. You won't forget this winter vacation. Flying E Celebrate a cowboy Christmas at the ranch. Take a step back into old west days and celebrate the season. Make ornaments to decorate a real Christmas tree, eat cookies by the fire, and sing carols while waiting for Santa to arrive on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning breakfast ride offers a western breakfast at Yucca Flats. Hotcakes on the campfire griddle, ham, sausage, cowboy potatoes, eggs and the best dutch oven biscuits you have ever tasted. The best gift is the gift of family time. Additional Arizona Ranches: Rancho de los Caballeros White Stallion Tanque Verde