The Best of Late Autumn and Early Winter Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

Come late autumn, most the Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches (Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming) close for the season come September’s end and the last of the fall foliage. However, there are a select few ranches in each state that allow for shorter stays during some of the most magical and quieter times of the year. If you’ve ever been on the fence about a dude ranch stay, make the off-season the in-season for a dude ranch experience, and get on that horse!

Colorado has the most abundant offerings for curious folk to explore Western lure in the late season. 

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

C Lazy U Ranch, easily accessible in Granby, can even be combined with a train trip from Denver’s Union Station via the airport; guests don’t even need a car! The 8,500-acre luxury ranch celebrated their centennial this past summer and the party continues late into the year. The year-round ranch offers horseback riding, snow sports, incredible meals and cabins and suites along with a hot tub, workout facility, stunning barn and main lodge with much more.

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

Located within minutes of downtown Loveland is the family-owned-and-operated Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch. Come late October and into the holiday season, there are nearby bike trails with fall foliage packages and more festivities for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years' with short stays, themed weekends and incredible outdoor sports.

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch in Red Feather Lakes can accommodate 24 guests, and it is this boutique nature that makes the off-season even more enjoyable. The ranch is run more like a B&B and add-on activities include a horseback ride to a lake (in warm seasons, horses even swim in the water), murder mystery weekends and other clever twists on classic dude ranch style. A hot tub, gathering area, and good home-cooked food and limitless cookies await visitors.

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

Lost Valley Ranch, one of the easiest ranches to access from the metro Denver area, is open through December 1st each year and offers a great value for anyone looking to fall in love with the dude ranch culture. There is a Thanksgiving celebration week that is always a big draw, and smaller horsemanship clinics throughout the fall that allow the novices to expert riders the opportunity to build skills and confidence. 

There are so many more in Colorado! It’s truly the optimal time to test the experience. Wind River Christian Ranch near Estes Park and luxury properties like The Home Ranch and Vista Verde Ranch near Steamboat Springs typically operate into the second and third weeks in October, weather dependent; however, snag an incredible rate for next autumn now, if tempted. And, one of Colorado’s most high-end ranches, The Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley, a branch of Broadmoor Hotel, runs a season into early November, again, weather dependent. 

 

Montana has one of the largest collections of massive, stunning and rare properties in the ranch portfolio. However, due to elevation and weather conditions, their season limits late autumn and winter seasons to four of their ranches.

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

Bar W Guest Ranch in Whitefish, runs a year-round dude ranch season. The 3,200-foot elevation makes it a bit milder then high mountain terrain and the guest capacity at 35 keeps it intimate and eventful. Winter comes early and the ranch is ready! There are B&B stays November through April in six main lodge rooms and two cabin suites. Activities might include horse-drawn sleigh rides, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, ice fishing and more including an onsite hot tub.

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

Rocking Z Guest Ranch in Wolf Creek might have a smaller guest count of 20, but it’s almighty in terms of autumn and winter activity. If there’s a Montana sport, the ranch certainly tries to offer guests an opportunity to experience it throughout guided instruction. From horsemanship to archery, shooting, hiking, fishing, soaking in the hot tub, and abundant winter options, the ranch is always a choice spot come quieter times in November. The large, comfortable guest rooms are equipped with cozy individual fireplaces and the onsite saloon is always roaring with spirits and festive activity. 

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

For those who are curious about hunting and the true Montana wilderness, Upper Canyon Outfitters and Guest Ranch in Alder has the smallest guest count on this list of 18, but their June through December season runs into late autumn and early winter for those truly in the know of intimate and unparalleled places in the United States! There are both youth and family hunts that are a true rarity, the fishing program runs daily, and horsemanship clinics and trail rides paired with luxury accommodations in private cabins keep the experience high end. The food will keep your belly warm and happy and the antelope, moose, deer and elk hunts and viewings, simply spectacular. 

 

Note; Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Emigrant typically runs into the second week of October for early planners in 2020. Rich's Montana Guest Ranch in Seeley Lake opens for the winter season directly after Christmas for early winter scouts as well! 

 

Wild Wyoming goes winter white quite quickly! Only two ranches keep their barn doors open to the herds come the later months each year. This is an opportune time to witness true working ranches, horsemanship and iconic Western moments. 

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

In the sleepy town of Ten Sleep, is the 26-guest dude ranch, Red Reflet Guest Ranch. The exquisite, high-end, all-inclusive operation has an enormous amount to offer come late October through December, and they also host a hunting season for tagged and licensed hunters for a variety of mammals. Horseback riding, cattle activities, ATV tours (weather permitting), fishing, a fitness center, pool, open kitchen policy accompanied with gourmet cuisine and yoga in a floor-to-ceiling windowed studio make this ranch a standout year-round. For some of the best wildlife viewing and tranquility, late October through Thanksgiving proves to be the best value and experience for those who like secret, sneak-a-way deals! 

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch. The name alone is alluring and the late autumn and early winter experience will demonstrate the reason it’s called The Hideout, you won’t want to leave. There is a tight window for this opportunity; the ranch’s season typically ends the first week in November, weather dependent. Guests might have sun and blue sky, or snow and snuggle time. There is trail riding for all levels, riding initiations and lessons, cattle work and drives, stockmanship orientation, guided fly-fishing, trap shooting, and archery, hiking, mountain biking and more! Accommodations vary including cabins, casitas, and homes. Fine dining is offered for three meals and plenty of snacks to satisfy the late-season activity. 

 

If you’re a bit more flexible with the season, there are a few more ranches to consider. Spotted Horse Ranch in popular and easily-accessible Jackson, typically operates until the second week of October. Triangle X Ranch in Moose closes the first week in October for their main season but re-opens directly after Christmas until the second week of March for a winter season.

 

All of these dude ranches and many more are members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association and can be found at www.duderanch.org. Contact Bryce or Josie at 307-587-2339 or info@duderanch.org for help on finding and picking the perfect ranch. 

Off-Season Secrets to the

Dude Ranches Offer the Best Destination for an All-Inclusive Vacation

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take a vacation where no detailed planning was involved? What about a vacation where all the activities and meals are scheduled ahead of time? How about a vacation where you choose your itinerary and there is something for everyone in your group to enjoy? If this type of vacation sounds like a dream come true, you will definitely want to consider an all-inclusive vacation destination. Vacations with complete packages can make deciding on a setting that everyone is happy with less challenging and more fun. 

A very unique type of all-inclusive vacation can be found at one of the 100+ dude ranches that the Dude Ranchers’ Association represents.  Meals, lodging and most activities are all included in one price and make scheduling a vacation for any type of traveler a breeze. The hardest part of booking a dude ranch all-inclusive vacation is deciding which ranch to go to! Don’t worry, if you are having a hard time choosing between all of the great options, contact the ranch experts at the Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) to make the process of choosing a destination much easier. To help you understand the deals dude ranches have to offer, continue reading to learn about some of the best detinations out there. 

What would it be like to take a vacation where no detailed planning was involved? Find out on a unique, all-inclusive vacation at a DRA dude ranch!

Photo provided by: Rainbow Trout Ranch, CO

What does all-inclusive vacation mean while on a dude ranch? 

The dude ranch industry has been around for over 100 years, and even starting 100 years ago the founders of these ranches thought it would be a great idea for the experiences they offered to be simple to plan and the best package deal available. Dude ranches that are members of the DRA still operate on an all-inclusive type structure. Meals, lodging and most activities are included in one price for each person attending the ranch.

Where and what will we eat? 

The meals are planned and prepared each day by top notch chefs who create dishes that are perfect for any taste pallet or picky eater. Several ranches operate farm-to-table food programs and offer the freshest ingredients around, like the Red Reflet Ranch in Wyoming. With a large farm greenhouse, ranch raised beef and poultry and a top-of-the-line kitchen, you will not be disappointed by the food here.  The designated dining areas are not always in a dining room. An abundance of ranches offer meals in an outdoor area like a campfire location or a chuckwagon type setting at least once a week. If you have never had a meal cooked over an open fire, you don’t know what you are missing!  

all-inclusive vacation

Red Reflet Ranch, WY

Where will we sleep? 

Lodging accommodations differ at each ranch but they all have the same comfy and homey feeling when you walk in the door. Some ranches have a more rustic and western chic decor and some have an adobe design and structure. DRA dude ranches offer lodge rooms or private cabins for their guests, a few ranches even offer glamping tents and wagons. The Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in Idaho definitely has a great Western and rustic charm to their lodging accommodations. Relax and rejuvenate with comfortable beds, beautiful bathrooms and great views. This ranch offers both lodge rooms and private cabins for different sized families or group travelers. At Rancho de la Osa in Arizona you will find private cozy rooms with an adobe design and structure. You will feel right at home in the comfort of this ranch and get a good night’s sleep after a day full of adventures!

all-inclusive vacation

all-inclusive vacation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, ID

 

 

 

 



Rancho de la Osa, AZ

What is there to do at a ranch? 

The amount of activities at a dude ranch are endless. Dude ranches are centered around outdoor activities and encourage their guests to unplug from their everyday life and reconnect with nature, the outdoors and the people around them. Contrary to popular belief, to participate in horseback riding at a dude ranch you do not have to have previous experience. Dude and guest ranches are designed in a way that they can accommodate riding for absolute beginners, experienced riders and all levels in between. You will have the chance to see some incredible landscapes and scenery while riding and you will get to enjoy being outdoors with some fantastic people. Horseback riding is obviously the main activity on a dude ranch, but it is far from the only activity! Each ranch has their own unique set of activities available and there is something for everyone to do. 

Here's a list of activities you might find at a dude ranch:

• Fly Fishing                                                                   • ATV/UTV Riding

• Kid’s Programs                                                             • Rock Climbing

• River Rafting                                                                • Cattle Work

• Hiking / Nature Walks                                                   • Golf 

• Zip Lining                                                                    • Mountain Biking

Some ranches only have a few of these activities and others have all of these and more! When you decide what activities, you want to participate in, you are one step closer to choosing the right all-inclusive holiday package for your group. The Greenhorn Ranch in California has a great list of adventures for all ages to embark on. A wonderful fishing pond, mountain biking trails, bull frog catching and races and karaoke await you at this ranch! The bull frog catching and races are definitely a sight to see no doubt!

The Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas has incredible natural rocking climbing walls, swimming and canoeing opportunities and a zip lining course that you will not find anywhere else.

Averill’s Flathead Lake Ranch in Montana specializes in water-oriented activities. Located right on the banks of Flathead Lake, paddle boarding, sailing and jet skiing are just a few sports they have for guests to enjoy, the list is quite long! No matter what activities you decide to participate in, you and everyone in your group will create memories that will last a lifetime. 

all-inclusive vacation

all-inclusive vacation

 

 

 

 

 

Greenhorn Ranch, CA                                                            Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, AR

all-inclusive vacation

Averill's Flathead Lake Ranch, MT

There are some amenities at ranches that do cost extra and travel expenses are not included in the all-inclusive getaway prices. Dude ranches do their best to make it very clear as to what is included in the price and what is not, but if you have any questions you can always contact the ranches to ask!

Still not convinced on an all-inclusive package deal for your next vacation? Take into account that if you were to choose a destination vacation that is not all-inclusive you have quite a long list of planning to do. You would need to budget and plan for at least three meals a day, lodging accommodations for each night, activities that are diverse enough to please everyone in your group and the list goes on. Save yourself the headache and time and honestly consider an all-inclusive dude ranch vacation, it may be the best vacation you ever take! 

Find a full list of all-inclusive DRA Ranches here!

 

 

 

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