There’s no denying that a Disney vacation is at the top of most children’s list of travel wishes. Unfortunately for parents, a Disney vacation often means long lines, overcrowded parks and high expenses, all without much time for genuine family bonding. While amusement and theme parks are an easy, go-to solution for family vacations, there are other magical travel options that can offer exposure to new activities, interaction with nature, and discovery of culture and history outside of most families’ normal comfort zones. As the original all-inclusive destination for families, a dude or guest ranch vacation guarantees plenty of time to bond and spend time as a family, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Dude ranches give families the opportunity to challenge and revive their bodies, minds and spirits in some of the most breathtaking areas in the U.S., with a myriad of outdoor adventures such as rock climbing, cattle roping, horseback riding, zip lines, ATV riding and whitewater rafting. Here are 5 reasons a dude ranch vacation is better than Disney:
Explore, play and more – Located along the banks of the North Platte River in the heart of southern Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Mountains, A Bar A Guest Ranch is one of the oldest and largest dude ranches in the country, with nearly 100,000 acres for guests to explore. The ranch is a paradise for children, with activities including horseback riding, fishing, soccer, arts and crafts, music and drama, swimming, tennis, and educational games, such as cork boat and sack races. Teenagers can enjoy inner tubing down the river and golf before settling down with their family to enjoy dinner cooked outside over an open fire.
Reconnect with nature on horseback – If your family is in need of reconnecting, then you’ve found the right place. Rustic yet replete with all the modern amenities you’ll ever need, Rainbow Trout Ranch caters to children of all ages. Located near several historic Spanish land grants in Antonito, Colo., Rainbow Trout is surrounded by the spectacular San Juan Mountains. Ride horses, catch some trout, hike to an overlook with your kids, relax and more. Kids ages six and older – fondly known on the ranch as “Cowpokes” – are given their own horse for the week, and “Buckaroos” – children age’s three to five – are led on short rides by ranch counselors.
Learn to work as a team – Drowsy Water Ranch, situated 90 miles west of Denver, Colo., has programs for children of all ages, from infants to teenagers, along with plenty of activities for parents and grandparents. Capture the fun and your children’s hearts when you help them lasso a steer-head. Ditch technology for outside activities like obstacle courses, zip lining, swimming, hiking, archery and rafting. Afterward, head to the main lodge to enjoy playing cards, browsing the library or just visiting with new friends while drinking lemonade.
Relax, rejuvenate and reconnect in style – Mountain Sky Guest Ranch sits on over 10,000 operational acres of unspoiled wilderness in the heart of Yellowstone Country in Emigrant, Mont. The ranch combines outdoor adventure for the entire family and the comforts of an upscale resort in the region’s most spectacular location. There’s no doubt your family will enjoy the breathtaking views, fine dining and luxury environment. From a crisp morning hike, to rafting down the Yellowstone River, to horseback rides through acres of meadows, there’s something for every member of the family. End the day with a mealtime horseback ride, where you’ll be treated to tasty barbecue, learn to dance with the wranglers and sing your favorite western songs around the campfire.
One-of-a-kind fishing adventures – 4UR Ranch provides an all-inclusive family vacation adventure in Mineral County, Colo. Try your hand at fly fishing with access to some of the finest waters around, including one of the only entirely private tail-water trout streams in the American West, trophy ponds, and both sides of the legendary Rio Grande River. Grab one of the ranch’s guides for a personal introduction to the area’s waters and trout. Whether you’re a family of anglers or not, no one will be bored on this vacation. Here, kids and adults can enjoy their own level of adventure. The ranch’s staff sees to the kids’ needs while the parents are off hiking, horseback riding or fishing. From nature explorations, to soaking in the hot springs, to a round of golf at the nearby Rio Grande Club – there’s plenty of adventure to suit everyone’s tastes.