There’s a new term popping up for the action-packed modern family vacation. It’s known as the “multi-sport adventure,” and it calls for multi planning as well. Long before anyone lifts a paddle or laces-up hiking boots they must first create an itinerary calling for frequent stops, hiring a local outfitter, and arranging for suitable food and shelter along the adventure. Linking together the components of the multi-sports adventure can get complicated. But it doesn’t have to be. There’s one vacation category where sports loving families can simply park the car, unpack their bags and settle in for a week of jam-packed action. It’s the Western dude ranch, a place where folks don’t have to think about what comes next. All the details are in place to let the good times roll! Sure, horses and riding are paramount to any Western dude ranch experience, but in addition to riding (or sometimes in place of) they ride the rapids, paddle a canoe, play golf or tennis, hike in the wilderness, cycle the back roads and mountain trails, go caving, hot air ballooning or rock climbing. Many ranches have recently added ropes courses, zip lines, climbing walls and 3 dimensional archery.
“Another beauty of multi-sporting at a dude ranch is when parents want to take time for themselves, Dad can play a round of golf and Mom can relax with spa treatments.” That’s an apt description for Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge, a 2,000 acre, family operated Montana dude ranch, nestled on a bay on the east shore of Flathead Lake just south of Glacier National Park. Here, guests are just steps away from the largest freshwater lake West of the Mississippi. A waterfront staff leads activities at the main dock daily, including sailing, water skiing, and wake boarding. Instruction for beginners and private lessons are available. The ranch volleyball, tennis, and basketball courts see a lot of action each day as do the horses. Riding can get competitive here as well. There are team penning and barrel racing events all week ending with a family rodeo. And yes, there’s a top-rated Jack Nicklaus Jr. golf-course just minutes away as well as an on-site professional masseuses skilled in therapeutic massages from hot stone to rejuvenating deep tissue.
Arkansas’s Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is another paradise for families on multi-sport adventures. Tucked into the Buffalo River Wilderness of Northern Arkansas, sporting adventures include “Frisbee” golf, skeet shooting, the state’s longest zip line course, and of course, rock climbing. One of the finest climbing courses in the state was developed on ranch property. The zip-line carries many a thrill seeker moving at breakneck speed above a deep gulch. For some, paddling the Buffalo River, trout fishing, or exploring old Indian caves provides enough action.
“Glamorous Camping” has come of age at the Bar W Ranch. You get the best of both worlds – being and feeling a part of nature while staying in an elegant setting at the same time. The Bar W offers two luxurious canvas tents decorated Bar W style – simple elegance blended with western informality. Each tent is decked out with a queen size bed, full sized futon, private porch, kitchenette and chic Western décor. Both tents have a private bath located just a couple of feet away. Your glamping experience is nestled in a pasture with wild flowers, a string of horses and all sorts of wildlife right outside. You’ll never think of camping the same way again. As you can see there really is something for everyone at a Multi-Sport Dude Ranch, so what are you waiting for??