Small, Intimate Dude Ranches Make a Special Vacation Destination

Quiet, relaxing and rejuvenating vacations are highly sought after, especially with the crazy, busy world that surrounds us. Vacations, in reality, can be a bit overwhelming though, the planning and amount of people at the vacation destinations can be a lot to handle! You shouldn’t have to “handle” anything when you go on vacation, that is why small, intimate dude ranches are the perfect destinations for a quiet, relaxing and rejuvenating vacation.

Small, intimate dude ranches offer an ideal setting for guests to truly relax and escape from the real world for a bit. The Dude Ranchers’ Association represents over 100 fantastic ranches and several of them have a small capacity and create a family-like environment that you will fall in love with. A handful of these small ranches let you disconnect to the level of not having cell phone service or internet, it may sound a little crazy but once you experience being totally disconnected, you will appreciate the vacation and ranch even more! Continue reading to learn about a few small, intimate DRA ranches that would make the ideal destination for your next vacation.

Small, Intimate Dude Ranches

 

Allen’s Diamond 4 Ranch – Lander, Wyoming

At the end of the road and at the base of the Wind River Mountain Range is where you will find the Allen’s Diamond 4 Ranch. The Allen family has been around the Lander area for six generations and they know the true meaning of Western hospitality. With only five guest cabins on the ranch, all built by hand by the Allen’s, you truly become part of the family and experience the intimacy the ranch offers. Allen’s Diamond 4 Ranch is the highest and most remote dude ranch in Wyoming, here you will be able to escape reality and get back to your roots with no cell phone or internet service. Beautiful horseback rides through the Wind River Mountains and incredible fly-fishing opportunities await you. If you are looking for a ranch that is “off the grid”, Allen’s Diamond 4 is the place for you!

small, intimate dude ranches

McGarry Ranches – Rexburg, Idaho

At McGarry Ranches in Idaho, you will find the real cowboys of the West! This working cattle ranch will offer you the experience of working alongside the cowboys in all of the day-to-day work and chores that take place on a working ranch. This ranch is located about 90 miles west of Jackson Hole, WY, far enough away from the hustle and bustle, but close enough to enjoy the famous tourist town either on your way to the ranch or after your stay. When you are at the ranch, you will feel like you are in a different world! With a capacity of only 10 people, this is the epidemy of a small, intimate dude ranch. The ranch crew is made up almost entirely of McGarry family members so you will definitely feel like part of the family here. Quaint cabins, delicious food, hard working horses and a lot of cattle await you at McGarry Ranches.

small, intimate dude ranches

Campbell Hills Guest Ranch – Kamloops, British Columbia

Take a trip to Canada and explore the beauty of the Campbell Hills Guest Ranch and British Columbia! This ranch is a great location for a quiet and relaxing getaway with well-trained horses, delicious food and wonderful hosts added in! Located among open meadows and timbered mountains are the ranch’s beautiful cabins that provide a wonderful sense of serenity when sitting on the porch. Horses and Natural Horsemanship practices are the center of this ranch but activities such as hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, archery and more are available. Campbell Hills can only accommodate 20 guests, so again you will feel like family here. The owners do their best to ensure that everyone makes themselves feel at home so they have no worries or stress while on vacation. This ranch provides an intimate atmosphere that everyone will enjoy.

small, intimate dude ranches

Badger Creek Ranch – Canon City, Colorado

Badger Creek Ranch in Colorado is a true working cattle ranch, working alongside the cowboys of this operation will give you a whole new outlook on the Western way of life. Even though this is a working ranch, they completely understand and take pride in remembering that you are on vacation! You can choose to ride with the cowboys every day checking fence, moving cattle or doctoring and sorting cattle or you can decide to take a day off from the saddle and experience the incredible nearby fly fishing opportunities, go mountain biking or just relax with a good book and the sounds of Colorado’s Badger Creek Basin. Throughout your day you will enjoy home cooked meals and fantastic company. This ranch can only host eight guests at a time, so whether you are on vacation with a group of friends and family or if you decide to go by yourself, you will leave with lasting memories and friendships!

small, intimate dude ranches

Medicine Bow Lodge and Adventure Guest Ranch – Saratoga, Wyoming

In 1917 Medicine Bow Lodge opened as a guest ranch and ever since it has been providing memorable vacations for all its’ guests! The history runs deep in this ranch and the owners, Tim and Debbie Bishop, do a fantastic job of keeping this history alive. With the ability to host just 15 guests, the ranch is the definition of small and intimate. The horseback riding, hospitality and accommodations are family oriented, and this ranch ensures an environment that will help you disconnect from the world and reconnect with the people and amazing things that surround you. The scenery is incredible, wildlife is abundant and activities such as horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking and more are offered for guests. Medicine Bow Lodge and Adventure Guest Ranch will leave you feeling refreshed and with memories that will last a lifetime!

small, intimate dude ranches

Rawah Guest Ranch – Glendevey, Colorado

Rawah Ranch was started in 1948 to provide their guests with an original Western experience that was tailored to fulfill their guests dreams of coming West. Over 70 years later, they are still fulfilling those dreams for their guests! Rawah is an ideal vacation destination for families, couples or even solo travelers to disconnect from their busy everyday lives and reconnect with their roots and the world around them. Beautiful and well-trained horses, award-winning fly-fishing and top-notch food are just a few of the incredible things you will experience at this ranch. They can host up to 30 guests and they always do their best to meet their guests’ needs and make a personal connection. If you are looking for an incredible intimate ranch in the breathtaking Rocky Mountains, don’t overlook Rawah Ranch!

small, intimate dude ranches

For more information on small, intimate dude ranches or to learn about other types of ranches, visit www.duderanch.org or contact a ranch vacation expert at the Dude Ranchers’ Association.

307.587.2339, info2@duderanch.org.

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Quiet, relaxing vacations are highly sought after that is why small, intimate dude ranches are the perfect destination for a rejuvenating vacation!

Exceptional Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Horse enthusiasts and equestrians who know how to ride are in love with dude ranch vacations. They have come to find that the best way to explore the beauty of the American West is via horseback. For your next vacation consider a trip to a dude ranch located in some of the most beautiful areas of the country. This is sure to be an experience that you won’t soon forget. For intermediate to advanced riders, there is a great opportunity to ride out and traverse through the mountains. Most would agree that this will bring about a sense of freedom like no other.

There are many dude ranch vacations that specifically cater to people who have advanced riding ability, and even those with a lifetime of experience with horses. There are many horses on each ranch that will be individually matched to your personality and riding style. The ranches below have been hand selected for their expertise in trail riding over a variety of terrain and giving guests the adventure of their dreams. They welcome guests who know their way around a horse. If you are looking for just the right place for your group of horsemen and women then take a look at these ranches and schedule your vacation.

Drowsy Water Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Drowsy Water Ranch

Drowsy Water Ranch

Are you looking for a spot that will allow you to ride from leisurely walks to smooth lopes and gallops? Drowsy Water Ranch might be the place for you. Experienced riders love this ranch and their 100+ horses for their vacation. The bond that guests can create with their horses will go beyond the week-long stay. Your vacation at the Drowsy Water Ranch also includes a magical breakfast horseback ride to the top of the mountain. From here you’ll enjoy a spectacular view overlooking the Rocky Mountains. Bring your camera, because you’ll want to remember these views time and time again. 

Badger Creek Ranch Dude Ranches the Experienced Rider

Badger Creek Ranch

Badger Creek Ranch 

For horsemanship and participation in the lives of working cattle ranchers, the Badger Creek Ranch in Canon City, Colorado is a great place for people serious about horses while on their vacation. Guests at this ranch are invited to ride horses trained in Natural Horsemanship and participate in that training as well. Once you are saddled up and ready to ride, each day will present a new opportunity with the herd of cattle at the ranch. Would you like to ride out and check a down fence, move cows from pasture to pasture or ride out on their semiannual cattle drive? You’ll be able to this and more at the Badger Creek Ranch.

For experienced riders, there is a great opportunity to ride out and traverse through the mountains on one of these advanced dude ranch vacations.

Cherokee Park Ranch 

With only three or four guests and a wrangler on each ride, Cherokee Park Ranch in Livermore, Colorado has a tailored horseback riding program. The small group of riders that go out on each ride is grouped according to skill level can be adapted to what the riders want to do on each excursion. At Cherokee Park Ranch there is a lot more to do than just trail riding. The ranch offers team pinning with cattle, private horseback riding lessons, practicing rodeo events, horsemanship classes and fly-fishing lunch rides. The more adventurous riders can discover what they might want to do. For example, guests may want to jump some tree logs or bushwhack/blaze a new trail. Whatever you’re looking to do you’ll be able to find it at this ranch. And with the scenery, great food and western accommodations everyone in your group will have a great time.

Cherokee Park Ranch Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Cherokee Park Ranch

The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch  

The Hideout Lodge and Guest Ranch in Shell, Wyoming is a great destination for those that are looking to spend miles and miles on the trail at a spectacular destination. The number of acres and varying terrain at this ranch is unlike any other that you can find. Experienced riders can enjoy an upscale destination that caters to adults all year round. The Hideout puts a genuine emphasis on excellent trail riding across a varied landscape. The ranch also has a relationship with a working cattle ranch close by and offers guests the opportunity to ride out and work cattle for a couple of days during their week stay.

The Hideout Lodge Guest Ranch Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch

Paradise Guest Ranch

Paradise Guest Ranch in Buffalo, Wyoming is a great family destination that can cater to families with kids and or parents with a lot of riding experience. With a considerable number of horses and extensive trails, each person in the group will be able to have as much or as little advanced riding as they desire. The riding program is very flexible and features a number of choices. Team penning, barrel racing, all day rides and fly-fishing rides are offered at the ranch as a part of their well-developed week-long itinerary. You’ll have to ask them about the roller coaster ride if you are interested in having a super fun time!

Paradise Guest Ranch Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Paradise Guest Ranch

Bonanza Creek Ranch

Every day is a new adventure at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Martinsdale, Montana. Because an intermediate level of riding ability is required at the ranch due to the rugged nature of the terrain, equestrians find this destination a place of discovery and exploration. Here, riding is most certainly the main activity with morning and afternoon rides as well as all day rides. Guests have the opportunity to climb high ridges, meander through the woods along a creek, canter across the open country, gather up a herd of cow/calf pairs and ride to an old homestead that the modern world hasn’t touched. This weeklong experience allows guest to soak up all the beauty and tradition of Montana from the best seat in the world – on horseback! Bonanza Creek also offers cowgirl retreats for that group of ladies in your life that love trail riding.

Bonanza Creek Ranch Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Bonanza Creek Ranch

Book a Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Whatever you’re riding style and personality, you will be able to express your love for horses and adventure on one of these dude ranch vacations. While at one of these ranches, you’ll be among other equestrians that will be able to match your skill set and enjoy the level of experienced riding that you are accustomed to. Find the ranch that matches your personality and desire and book your next great adventure.

Cherokee Park Ranch Dude Ranches for the Experienced Riders

Cherokee Park Ranch

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Advanced Horseback Riding Programs

Bring Your Own Horse to these Dramatic Dude Ranch Destinations

 

Badger Creek Ranch View Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Badger Creek Ranch

 

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Unplug and Reconnect with Family, Friends and Nature at these dude ranches!

This year’s buzzwords of mindfulness, disconnect and nature / forest therapy are helping raise awareness of the dependence on screen time and social media. However, does that mean anyone is doing anything about it, especially on a vacation? Dude ranch stays have been implementing these beliefs since their inception—obviously ahead of the trend and technology. How do they do it? Easily. With no cell phone reception on trails, or in many ranch buildings, connecting with the outside world can be easily sidetracked when simply not available. Forget cable television or trying to stream a movie off a ranch generator, some places turn that option off at 9 pm. Time to look at the stars (not Hollywood) or possibly, a ranch book. Fear not, there is never a safety risk by being disconnected from phone and iPad. There is always a landline for use and radios throughout all dude ranches, but you won’t need them, only to order up supper or to have the hot tub turned up. Disconnecting without the anxiety of outcome eases the strain of taking technology out of travel. Why do you need this form of nature therapy?  Simply put, it is good for the soul!

Dude Ranchers' Association Dude Ranches

 

Badger Creek Ranch, Colorado 

This is one of the most remote ranches in Colorado. A rental car from Denver or Colorado Springs Airport is the easiest transportation. Located in the Badger Creek Basin with barely a tree on the property is a working cattle ranch that has the DRA’s lowest guest count capacity. Maxing out at eight guests, preferably seven, the ranch provides a slice of the Wild West that is authentic and isolated, yet community-oriented. 

Guests can receive cell service in the main ranch house where meals are served and song commences in the evening. Once you leave the quarters, it’s signal silence. At 9,000 feet, you won’t need your cell phone, just the trusty guidance and leads of the two couples that co-own this rarity. 

After an epic cattle drive in the Colorado sun, sneak off to the secret river a stone’s throw from the ranch, loaded with trout, waterfalls (in average to good run-off years) and incredible stream activity. There is also a buffalo jump where Native Americans chased the herds over the edge to trap, consume and utilize their precious materials. They certainly made it work with no cell phones, so you will have no challenge. 

At night, enjoy the stars, song, hot tub and home cooking. You will be so exhausted you won’t even be able to keep your light on to read a magazine or finish a cookie. Disconnected and exhausted makes for a true night’s sleep.

dude ranches

Badger Creek Ranch - Canyon City, CO.

Rancho de la Osa, Arizona

This place is remote; it’s barely in America. Rancho de la Osa is a 20-minute horseback ride to the border of Arizona and Mexico, the country. Even with all of the talk about “the wall” most people don’t realize that you can’t really talk by the wall, meaning, no cell phone reception. Take a ride out to the border and test it for yourself, you can take great selfies and landscape shots, but don’t bet on any connection to send those photos until you return home.

Upon returning to the ranch after a ride to remoteness you will be comforted in original adobe/southwest buildings, including the main house that in 1916 Pancho Villa raided and attempted to overtake, a cannon ball from the attack is embedded in the adobe wall of the Hacienda, which is on display today. The walls to these buildings are thick, don’t expect noise, or cell phone bands to get through the barricades. 

Well, one exception to this rule. In the office of the main adobe there is continuous WiFi for guests and a landline to use. However, you’ll be too busy exploring the obscurity and rarity of this nearly 600-acre ranch bordering 120,000 acres of the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge that you won’t have much time but to grab a picture and move along. Surely you can rest your feet by the heated outdoor pool, but you’ll be preoccupied on a horse, on guided off-road tours to ruins and other Southwest natural landmarks, cruising through the desert on a fat electric bike, sport shooting, hiking, bird spotting and more. 

Elk Mountain Ranch, Colorado

Located at the highest elevation of any dude ranch in the state is Elk Mountain Ranch in Buena Vista. At 9,600 feet, any sort of play will be more strenuous and tiring, making texting and typing a bit more challenging. Come evening as the generators for the ranch are switched to off, don’t expect anything but stars, silence and sound sleeping as no electricity or cellar range is coming anywhere near your cabin or lodge room.

Elk Mountain Ranch has alternative plans for keeping you occupied. They’ve got the daily horse program and children’s program, but come time to get out of the saddle, there is also a rec room with a pool table, foosball, air hockey, board games, a library and there’s an outdoor volleyball and basketball court. Not enough activities to wear you out, there’s more. Campfires, s’mores, hayrides, hiking, white water rafting, hot springs visits, rodeos and more.

“We have adults that started coming for the September season a decade ago and now come back each year with folks they met during the adults-only week where they unplugged. It gives people the communality of shared experiences and conversing when the day is done that drives the friendships,” explains Tom Murphy, co-owner of the ranch.

dude ranches

Elk Mountain Ranch - Buena Vista, CO.

Allen’s Diamond 4 Ranch, Wyoming 

Most people have never heard of Lander, Wyoming it’s fathomable because it’s located in the least populated state in the nation and the town of Lander has a population of less than 8,000 residents. However, the town has food, entertainment and cell phone coverage. Allen’s Diamond 4 Ranch on the other hand, is far from society and offers different amenities for the traveler. It’s the highest altitude ranch in Wyoming at 9,300 feet and truly the most remote. 

The maximum guest capacity remains at eight, and for good reason, this place is still a bit secretive after many decades, and it’s not from lack of beloved guests. It’s the extra journey to get to the disconnect. The ranch is nestled into Dickinson Park. Riders and visitors have range of 100,000 acres to roam, and so do cell phones. They roam once they leave ranch property. 

Specialty weeks such as Wyoming hunting, youth camp adventure and guided pack trips will take you even further into the rugged Popo Agie Wilderness area that borders the ranch where guests are unplugged from technology and completely in awe of the mountain lakes formed from glacier and pristine forests that follow visitors to their log cabin porches nightly. 

The ranch only has four guest cabins, well-kept and stocked for a Wild West adventure. This is a family owned and operated ranch, meals are served family style, so no cell phone coverage bodes well with this format as it would be rude to text under the table. The Allen family is not disconnected from traveler needs, rather trendsetting for sublime solitude.  

It’s this uniqueness and unplugged nature that has guests from England, Texas, California and more returning to the respite and reprieve of modern technology. Forget television, you’ve got catching up to do with old friends. 

Creek Ranch, New Mexico

There’s something about a boutique ranch that truly invites disconnection. Creek Ranch in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, has a maximum guest capacity of 12, and feels and operates much more like a working ranch than a Club Med on horseback. The 8,200 acres of desert arroyos, canyons, tumbleweeds, flora and fauna are stunning, but it’s the authentic location and purpose of the operation that put you out of touch with instant satisfaction of technology and enjoyment of journey and teamwork. 

The most popular activity is obviously horseback, not spa, theatre or video games. Actually, there is no television! You can watch items on your own devices in the main house if need be where you can receive WiFi, but forget accessing anything else once you leave the main gathering spot, that includes your email, text message and other modern-era communication methods; it’s all about the disconnect.

Instead, you’ll be roping steers, cattle sorting and traversing desert terrain on your trusty steed. When not riding you can, fish the nearby Pecos River or relax at the ranch located on the Carrizo Creek bed. The hot tub is always warm and the New Mexico stars come nightfall are some of the most impressive in the nation, you won’t need to check in on the Hollywood ones. 

Accommodations are authentic southwestern with comfy beds, remodeled bathrooms, serious attention to detail in each guest room and air conditioning, critical in the desert. All food is provided, you won’t go hungry wandering through the desert, but you will go unplugged. 

dude ranches

Creek Ranch - Santa Rosa, NM.

Cherokee Park Ranch, Colorado

Cherokee Park Ranch is located in Livermore, Colorado, not too far from major towns such as Fort Collins or even Denver. Don’t worry, it gets visitors off the grid quickly with loss of cell phone reception once you drive the dirt road to a late 1880’s stagecoach stop between Fort Collins, Colorado, and Laramie, Wyoming. Now, it’s one of the most family-friendly and awarded ranches in Colorado. However, don’t plan on using your cell phone. There is no reception within two miles of the ranch, unless you mount up on horseback and go for a ride with vista spots that also provide cell phone access. But, no need. Be mindful if you need to make a phone call. There’s an old-fashioned hand-held telephone to be used by anyone on the ranch. Selfies from modern day phones seem to capture this moment quite often! 

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You may feel like you need to be connected to your electronic devices, but you don't! See why dude ranches are the perfect

The 25 Most Popular Destinations for a Colorado Vacation at a Ranch

An outdoor enthusiast’s wonderland, Colorado is jam packed with breathtaking landscapes, and more than 300 sunny days a year for travelers to come and explore its diverse areas. From the spine of North America, the famous Rocky Mountains, to lush valleys and the easily accessible Denver Airport, Colorado is an obvious choice for all types of travelers - families, couples, solo travelers and business associates - who are looking for adventure. With an unlimited variety of outdoor attractions, scenic destinations and diverse wildlife, Colorado is urging you to explore. From cross country skiing, hiking a National Park or horseback riding through the country, Colorado has a long list of things to do all year. Read on to discover the best places to take a Colorado vacation. 

Take a Colorado Vacation

All of the 25 best ranches in Colorado will give you a wonderful vacation - each unique in its own way. 

Colorado Vacation

Cherokee Park Ranch - Livermore, CO 

Colorado Trails Ranch

Near Durango, Colorado the Colorado Trails Ranch is an all-inclusive family vacation adventure in the San Juan Mountains. This is definitely a great place to go if you are looking for excitement and relaxation on your vacation. The delicious home cooked meals, delightful cabins and activities for all ages makes this an incredible dude ranch experience. 

Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch

Get packed and saddle up for a week at the Bar Lazy J Ranch. Just Southeast of Rocky Mountain National Park, this ranch is famous for recreation and relaxation. There are tons of outdoor activities, including a 1,500-foot zipline - and countless ways to sit back and unwind. 

Laramie River Ranch

Laramie River Ranch is known for horseback riding, but has so many well-developed programs and activities. Expert fly fishing, natural horsemanship demonstrations, team penning, naturalist programs for birdwatching, star gazing and wild flower identification makes the Laramie River Ranch a destination for those interested in an educational and fun outdoor adventure. 

Colorado Vacation

Laramie River Ranch - Jelm, CO 

Badger Creek Ranch

Ride out with the cowboy crew at the Badger Creek Ranch. You’ll get to do all the important tasks that makes a cattle operation run. Ready to fix a fence? Sort cattle? Go on an iconic cattle drive? Then Badger Creek is a great place for you. 

Black Mountain Ranch

Ready for a  Saturday afternoon cattle drive for the Black Mountain Ranch’s herd of long horn cattle? You’ll not be bored during the week while you wait, doing some of the most exhilarating outdoor adventures - loping rides, fly fishing, paddle boarding, skeet shooting, white water rafting and even a cookout in the Colorado sunset. 

The High Lonesome Ranch

If you are looking for your inner cowboy you can find it at the High Lonesome Ranch. Known for the nostalgic combination of the views of the Rocky Mountains, equestrian activities and culinary adventures this ranch has an assortment of things for everyone to enjoy.  

Colorado Vacation

The High Lonesome Ranch - DeBeque, CO

Zapata Ranch

As a working cattle and bison ranch the Zapata Ranch and Nature Conservancy offers guests the chance to experience what it takes to run a ranch. Have you ever seen a bison up close and personal? Here’s your chance! With a capacity of only 15 you’ll get a tailored vacation. You might even select one of their themed weeks to get more in depth on Western painting, photography workshops and some cattle working special events. 

4UR Ranch

The 4UR Ranch boasts 3,000 acres of adventure and 6 miles of private trout stream on the Rio Grand River. Not only this, but the ranch also has miles and miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding, a natural hot springs and top-notch accommodations. A well-rounded ranch no doubt. 

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch

Everyone is welcome at the Sundance Trail Guest Ranch, from Grandma and Grandpa and the kids to your pet dog and best trail riding horse. There are a variety of different horseback rides from beginner to advanced as well as plenty of activities to do while not riding. You can even play a round of frisbee golf!

Colorado Vacation

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch - Red Feather Lakes, CO 

Drowsy Water Ranch

From infants to teenagers the Drowsy Water Ranch has a program and counselors in place with plenty of activities to teach your kids about the western cowboy lifestyle in Colorado. And there’s plenty to do here for adults as well!

Tumbling River Ranch

Shine up your cowboy boots for the evening entertainment at the Tumbling River Ranch. With live music and square dancing after a day in the saddle you’re sure to love this western ranch experience. 

Vista Verde Ranch

The vastness of the views at the Vista Verde Ranch makes you feel like your vacation experience is in high definition. You’ll have an unforgettable luxury experience that will bring you back year after year. 

Colorado Vacation

Vista Verde Ranch - Steamboat Springs, CO 

Cherokee Park Ranch

Have you always wanted to learn how to rope? Cherokee Park Ranch offers roping lessons for all age groups to learn one of the longest art forms of the cowboy. With hay rides, tubing the river and even art classes everyone will have something they really want to do when they aren’t horseback riding. 

The Majestic Dude Ranch 

The Majestic Dude Ranch is known as the ultimate adventure ranch. Along with spectacular horseback riding, the ranch offers paintball and laser tag, mountain biking, white water rafting, baseball, hiking and more. 

Wind River Christian Dude Ranch

You’ll never forget the Wind River Christian Dude Ranch. With a ministry component to the ranch you’ll fill your soul while in some of the most beautiful places in Colorado. 

Colorado Vacation

Wind River Christian Dude Ranch - Estes Park, CO

Elk Mountain Ranch

Elk Mountain Ranch offers an intimate Colorado dude ranch setting for your family. When you arrive, your hosts will tailor the experience to meet each guest’s needs for their vacation. And then you’ll get to settle in to cozy and comfortable cabins. 

Smith Fork Ranch

Fine dining at the private luxury destination of the Smith Fork Ranch is definitely worth writing home about. Farm to table cuisine, an incredible wine list and a view like non-other sets this ranch apart from all the rest. 

Lost Valley Ranch

Reconnect with the spirit of the old west at the Lost Valley Ranch. Set against 26,000 acres of public land in the Pike National Forest fresh mountain air has never been more pristine. And with a history that begins in the late 1800’s the Lost Valley Ranch invites guests to become a part of the story of the ranch. 

Colorado Vacation

Lost Valley Ranch - Sedalia, CO 

C Lazy U Ranch 

Located in Granby, Colorado, the C Lazy U Ranch is a top-notch resort ranch with the finest offerings for accommodations, food and of course outdoor adventure activities. With a capacity of 95 this location can host large groups of multi-generational families and offer tons of things to do for solo travelers and couples. 

The Home Ranch

Ready for a summer or winter adventure? The Home Ranch offers a fine dude ranch stay through out the summer and from December through March. You can ride out into green mountains or cross-country ski across snow covered hills. 

Latigo Ranch

Majestic scenery reaching all the way to the Continental Divide, the Latigo Ranch has an experience for you like no other ranch. Gourmet contemporary cuisine will delight the senses in the evenings and phenomenal horseback riding and fishing will engage your family during the day. 

Colorado Vacation

Latigo Ranch - Kremmling, CO 

Rainbow Trout Ranch

The Rainbow Trout Ranch is all about the family adventure. Your kids and teens will rave about the whole new world of fun and activities they can do on a ranch. You’ll find old fashioned hospitality and the Colorado backcountry a very charming vacation. 

The Broadmoor's Ranch at Emerald Valley

The Ranch at Emerald Valley is just a short ride up the mountain from the famous Broadmoor Hotel. You’ll be set for an incomparable luxury vacation here in one of 10 beautifully appointed cabins with modern amenities and all set to ride horses in some really incredible country. 

Rawah Ranch

Ready for a romantic escape with someone special? The Rawah Ranch knows how important it is to cultivate your relationships and fosters a wonderful experience with champagne and roses upon arrival, your own private trail ride and private massages. 

Colorado Vacation

Rawah Ranch - Glendevey, CO

Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch

Take time to play on your next business trip to the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch. You’ll get a variety of outdoor activities and team building opportunities and even a challenge course. A wagon ride followed by a campfire in the evening will complete your western experience for a company meeting, training or retreat. 

Save this pin for later! 

An outdoor enthusiast’s wonderland, Colorado is jam packed with breathtaking landscapes, and more than 300 sunny days a year for travelers to come and explore its diverse areas. Colorado is urging you to explore. From cross country skiing, hiking a National Park or horseback riding through the country, Colorado has a long list of things to do all year. Read on to discover the best places to take a Colorado vacation.

Horseback Riding Vacations

The Dude Ranchers’ Association recommends the best horseback riding vacations in North America. At one of these carefully selected dude and guest ranches groups will experience equestrian activities and all sorts of outdoor adventures on a short stay of three or four nights, or a full week immersed in a Western trail riding destination. Guests have everything provided for them on all-inclusive stays including lodging, dining and activities. With lodges and cabins preserved and restored from when they were built many decades ago, guests experience riding horses in a uniquely Western environment. It’s no wonder dude ranch vacations have been popular since the early 1900’s! 

At these ranches guests have a horse personally selected for each person’s riding ability and personality. Because horseback riding is a daily or twice daily activity there is an opportunity to get to know the horse on hundreds, if not thousands of acres of trails in the mountains and plains of the slimly populated West. And after guests climb out of the saddle there’s always plenty of options like relaxing by the pool, fly fishing on private lakes and streams, hiking to scenic vistas or rocking their cares away on the porch in a classic rocking chair. 

Here are some of the best riding ranches for your next vacation. 

 

Crossed Sabres Ranch, Cody, Wyoming

All Day Rides on 2.2 Million Acres

For guests looking to cover some ground, the charming Crossed Sabres Ranch is one of the oldest dude ranches in the country located outside of Cody, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. This is a family run operation that specializes in custom horseback riding for individuals or groups of up to 30 people. Knowledgeable wranglers take guests out on well trained and trustworthy horses whether they have no experience or years of experience on horses. Each horse is paired specifically for each guest to match not only personality, but also riding ability. The ranch offers lessons for those looking to get individual instruction on riding in a comfortable arena environment. There are short morning and afternoon rides or all-day rides into the Shoshone National Forest’s 2.2 million acres for guests to enjoy truly spectacular scenery. 

Horseback Riding

 

Medicine Bow Lodge, Saratoga, Wyoming

Overnight pack trip in the Medicine Bow National Forest

High up in the Snowy Range of the Rocky Mountains the Medicine Bow Lodge Adventure Guest Ranch offers just what their name implies - adventure. With a very diverse riding program each guest can determine what kind of adventure they would like to have. First time riders will become more and more confident on each ride at their own pace with a personal wrangler. With this instruction and getting to know their trusty steed, the horses will earn the trust of newbie riders throughout the week. Guests who have experience can ride out on fast rides, loping and trotting their way through the mountains of Wyoming. The ranch offers all day rides and even an overnight pack trip in the hills. Kids of all ages have something to do at the ranch as well. Kids 5 and under will be led around the ranch and taught about horse care and ages 6 and up can head out on the trail. Here families can literally ride off into the sunset on the appropriately named Sunset Ride

Horseback Riding

 

Focus Ranch, Slater, Wyoming

Move 1,300 head of yearling cattle 

On the border of Wyoming and Colorado the Focus Ranch is a working cattle ranch, inviting guests to embrace the authenticity of ranch life on their vacation. At this ranch, “cowboy” is both a noun and a verb. Riding here entails managing the health and grazing patterns of the heart and soul of the ranch - cattle. The ranch can adjust the length and speed of rides to accommodate a wide variety of riders, and the work that needs to be done varies throughout the summer. One of their most exciting endeavors for guests is to move the entire herd of 1,300 yearling cattle from one pasture to the next within three days! This happens several times throughout the season. Sometimes, guests enjoy it so much they might hire on to work at the Focus Ranch! 

Horseback Riding

 

Badger Creek Ranch, Canon City, Colorado

Natural Horsemanship is a photographer’s dream

Badger Creek Ranch is located in an area rich in natural beauty and history. This area has been well traversed by the Ute Indians, Spanish Conquistadors, pioneers, miners and cowboys of the old West, but is now occupied by a relatively small number of people. Photographers enjoy secluded trails in the mountains and meadows of Colorado. As a working cattle ranch the guests are also offered a chance to ride out with the cowboy crew to check fence, doctor and sort cattle. Before heading out, guests start their relationship with their horse with ground work following the feel of natural horsemanship and continue in the saddle in a location that can only be described as a photographer’s dream. 

Horseback Riding

 

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, Gallatin Gateway, Montana

Ranch bred, raised and trained Appaloosas

The Nine Quarter Circle Ranch is not only a premier family destination with luxury log cabins, activities for all ages and very delicious meals, but also an unforgettable horseback riding destination. The ranch boasts a herd of 120 Appaloosa horses that were born and will live their whole lives on the ranch. This is an uncommon feature of a dude ranch to know all the history of every one of their horses. Their select breeding program is a reflection of the Appaloosa breed, chosen for their stamina, sweet temperament and suitability to mountain riding. Every spring a new crop of foals are born on the ranch, and guests enjoy watching the brand-new foals jump and play around the ranch. These horses will eventually be trained and added to their remuda of trail riding horses. 

Horseback Riding

 

Want to know more about a particular type of dude ranch? Take a look at the Dude Ranchers’ Association’s Working Cattle Ranches, Luxury Resort Ranches and Family Style Ranches here

 

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The Dude Ranchers’ Association recommends the best horseback riding vacations in North America. At one of these carefully selected dude and guest ranches groups will experience equestrian activities and all sorts of outdoor adventures on a short stay of three or four nights, or a full week immersed in a Western trail riding destination. Guests have everything provided for them on all-inclusive stays including lodging, dining and activities.

Dude Ranch Short Stays - 3 Night Ranch Vacations

Dude Ranch Vacations are famous for the traditional week long experiences for trail riding and western lifestyle activities, but with travelers having less time to stay many ranches offer dude ranch short stays of 3 nights. On these short stays you’ll get to experience all the highlighted activities, view the spectacular scenery and refresh your mind in the wide open spaces. While some ranches offer these short stays during the off-season, other ranches offer flexible packages every week they are open.

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Find some great dude ranch short stays listed below. For the complete list of ranches select “3 nights” on the Search by Activity and Amenity page.  You can also read about spectacular discounts during the shoulder season.

 


Colorado Dude Ranch Short Stays


Badger Creek Ranch, Colorado - 3 night minimum short stay, open June through October

Laramie River Ranch, Colorado - 3 night short stay available from Sunday to Wednesday, open mid-June through mid-September


Montana Dude Ranch Short Stays

 

Broken Arrow Lodge, Montana - 3 night minimum stay, 2 days of horseback riding, arrival Sunday or Wednesday, May 1 - September 1

Covered Wagon Ranch, Montana - 3 night minimum short stay, open June through mid-September

Hidden Hollow Hideaway Cattle and Guest Ranch, Montana - 3 days minimum, open June 1 - September 1

Rich Ranch, Montana - 3 day minimum, open May 1 through September 30

Rocking Z Guest Ranch, Montana - 3 night minimum stay with custom length stays available, open year-round


New Mexico Dude Ranch Short Stays

 

Creek Ranch, New Mexico - 3 night minimum short stay (otherwise on request), open April 1 through October 31

Burnt Well Guest Ranch, New Mexico - 3 day minimum short stay, free airport transfer, open year-round

Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch, New Mexico - 3 night minimum short stay, open March 1 - Mid-November


Washington Dude Ranch Short Stays


K Diamond K Ranch, Washington - 3 night minimum short stay from July 1 - September 1, Bed and Breakfast options available year-round

 

Pin this for Later! Dude Ranch Short Stays

Dude Ranch Vacations are famous for the traditional week long experiences for trail riding and western lifestyle activities, but with travelers having less time to stay many ranches offer dude ranch short stays of 3 nights. On these short stays you’ll get to experience all the highlighted activities, view the spectacular scenery and refresh your mind in the wide open spaces. While some ranches offer these short stays during the off-season, other ranches offer flexible packages every week.

Dude Ranchers’ Association Welcomes Four New Accredited Ranches

Newest members all receive seal of approval for upholding the highest standards in the Dude Ranch industry. We added four new ranches to our impressive list of accredited ranches: The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort in California, Creek Ranch in New Mexico, Badger Creek Cattle and Guest Ranch in Colorado, and Rancho De La Osa in Arizona. All four ranches went through a rigorous inspection and approval process and were found to meet the highest standards in the dude ranch industry. We represent a broad spectrum of guest ranches across North America, ranging from luxury ranches with five-star cuisine and spas to no-frills working ranches and are proud to have the below ranches as part of our membership.  These ranches combine the highest hospitality standards with the charm and unparalleled spirit of the Wild West.

 

Newest Dude Ranchers' Association Members

 

Alisal Guest Ranch newest Dude Ranchers' Association Member

The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort  – Santa Barbara, Calif. The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort is a secluded property located in California’s famed wine country, Santa Ynez Valley, just 30 minutes north of Santa Barbara. Alisal features 50 miles of riding trails, a 100-acre spring-fed lake, two 18-hole championship golf courses, tennis courts, a pool, a spa and much more. The Western-themed accommodations and activities ensure guests will enjoy a true dude ranch experience, but Alisal prides itself on being “far more” than your traditional ranch. With its year-round temperate climate, Santa Ynez Valley is the perfect place to visit all year. 

Creek

 

Creek Ranch – Creek Ranch, N.M. Creek Ranch, located 30 minutes from Santa Rosa, N.M., is a bare-boned Wild West experience. At this carefree and relaxed ranch, guests can horseback ride as much as they desire and end each day sitting around a campfire telling stories. Creek Ranch boasts 8,200 acres of unspoiled land with stunning sunsets as the backdrop. Consider these spectacular views all the frills you’ll need in order to experience the ultimate dude ranch vacation. This ranch only accommodates up to eight people at a time, keeping it as personal and customized as possible for each and every guest. With roping and shooting lessons on the agenda in addition to riding, Creek Ranch is perfect for those who have dreamed about a true Wild West experience.

 

Badger Creek Ranch

Badger Creek Cattle and Guest Ranch – Badger Creek Basin, Colo. Whether you’re looking for a lighthearted riding experience or a serious lesson in cattle sorting, your Western vacation at Badger Creek Cattle and Guest Ranch is sure to be unforgettable. Your horse for the week will be your new “best friend,” making the riding experience even more fulfilling. Located on the border of the San Isabel National Forest and Pike National Forest, this ranch is a photographer’s dream, with breathtaking views of the Collegiate Peaks and Sangre De Cristo Mountains. Outside of horseback riding and taking in the incredible views, guests can experience spectacular fly fishing near the ranch, as well as hiking and mountain biking. Of course, relaxation is an option, too. The front porch beckons guests to sit, relax and gaze at the endless stars in the Colorado Rocky Mountain skies.

 

Rancho de la Osa Accredited Ranch

Rancho De La Osa – Sasabe, Ariz. Rancho De La Osa is one of the most historically significant ranch properties in the West. The trails here were once frequented by U.S. presidents and legends like Pancho Villa. Guests can even relax in the room where the Marshall Plan was drafted and Margaret Mitchell wrote the American classic “Gone With the Wind.” Aside from being a historical treasure, Rancho De La Osa is a sportsman’s paradise, situated on 509 acres and surrounded by 120,000 acres of National Wildlife Refuge. The food and wine are exceptional, the hospitality top-notch, and the views mystifying. This is the ultimate dude ranch for riding, biking and hiking all while soaking in some of the most important moments in Southwestern history. Save Save

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