National Media Outlets Turn Spotlight to Dude Ranches

Dude Ranches are winning awards! From Forbes Magazine to Real Simple and accolades in nearly every accredited journalism outlet, the allure and experience of Dude Ranch Vacations is dominating vacation stories and bookings in 2018, but why? Is it the heat of the summer that literally drove folks to the mountains for escape into cool nights accented with breezy pine aromas and horses hooves mashing hay in the background? Or is it a generational shift to become more attached and aware of landscapes and the people that work them?

2018 Dude Ranches Winning Accolades

 

The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort, California

Wine Country Wins

Operating one of the largest dude ranches in the nation, Alisal certainly delivers entertainment for varying ages and curiosities. This year, Men’s Journal named the ranch one of the ‘Best Luxury Dude Ranches’ in the nation for many a good reason. The 10,500-acre ranch in California’s Santa Ynez Valley is a family-owned working ranch about 30 miles northeast of Santa Barbara. The property has 73 cottages, all with working, wood burning fireplaces, and without phones or televisions.

Onsite vacationers can access 50-plus miles of riding trails, a 100-acre, spring-fed lake, two 18-hole championship golf courses, tennis courts, pool, spa, in addition to fine dining. Don’t forget it’s wine country and just minutes away are more than 75 renowned vineyards and wineries. “Or, stay rustic, and take the hay truck out to the lake for kayaking, boating and fishing,” explains Shelly Rivoli, founder, Travelswithbaby.com and Familytravel411.com. 

However, it’s the multi-generational offerings that make this an award-winning ranch. Rivoli visited Alisal this past summer with her kids and mother-in-law in tow to ride, learn and shoot archery, and, of course, photograph her sister-in-law, Jill Rivoli, the ranch’s first female head wrangler. “The activities at the ranch made it easy for our three generations to stay entertained and happy, and to seamlessly move between time together as a big group and and time spent apart or in pairs,” explains Rivoli. 

For Rivoli’s family, it’s the game room, horseshoe pit, personalized corn hole games created in front of each cottage, and swimming pool that are most popular for the kids. “For me, it’s the breakfast ride to the old adobe, with hot cakes, beverages, fresh fruit, all while sitting under the old Oak Trees and Sycamores.”  

Dude Ranches

The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort - Solvang, CA 

Rainbow Trout Ranch, Colorado

Remote Paradise, Iconic Architecture and Western Wear

Preparation can be half the excitement of a vacation. From roping in new clothing for the journey to educating oneself on altitude acclimation, new landscapes provide the quintessential ‘true adventure’ many millennials are yearning for in a vacation. 

When Real Simple journalist Cari Wira Dineen needed some serious apparel and packing advice for her Western Dude Ranch adventure and editorial piece, she called Courtney Frazier, an expert in terms of raising mindful children on a ranch while impeccably and appropriately dressed, working tirelessly for the Colorado Dude Ranch Association and Colorado Tourism Office, and more importantly, championing for conservation and thoughtful preservation through hands-on ranch education and experience. 

Needless to say, Frazier needs a little R&R when possible to take off her own cowgirl hat and rhinestone jeans come dusk. Frazier describes to Real Simple the epitome of Western Dude Ranch culture and dress in the article while exploring the possibility of ranch activity for a guest. 

“My family and I stayed at the Rainbow Trout Ranch for a week and it was hospitality-forward from the get-go. Personalized and customized riding and activity for our entire family, diverse sport in terms of hiking, riding, fishing, cool and breezy evenings at 9,000 feet and splash time for the kids while we ate grilled fajitas poolside." 

Rainbow Trout Ranch continually draws families from around the world to their remote paradise. Roaring evening and morning fires are welcomed by enormous wrap-around porches, views of pines for acres, and aromas from the biscuit-shooter and roller for those airy dough-goods, it’s hook, set and catch! 

Rainbow Trout’s bean master, or cook, serves family-style, home cookin’, perfectly accentuated with evening entertainment once the corral has settled down for the evening. From classic Western line dancing to legendry cowboy guitar tunes by the fire, once the stars arrive, ranches such as Rainbow Trout understand the need and importance for multi-generational activity and enjoyment not centered around a bar, cantina or alcohol.  Many returning guests even seek out Western wear throughout the year to bring to the evening activity.

PS. Rainbow Trout Ranch has the second largest wood lodge east of the Mississippi; for architecture and history buffs, it doesn’t get any better, photography for days! 

Dude Ranches

Rainbow Trout Ranch - Antonito, CO

White Stallion Ranch, Arizona

Wild, Wild, Luxury and Entertainment

White Stallion Ranch, a longtime member of the DRA, was named one of ‘America's Best Family Resorts’ by a USA Today Readers Choice poll. The award was based on readers' votes for the resort determined by kids' amenities and family programming. A panel of experts including USA Today editors, 10Best.com editors, expert contributors and media had nominated the ranch. 

"We are so very proud to have this honor bestowed on the White Stallion Ranch," said Russell True, co-owner of True Ranch Hospitality. "This ranch has been in my family for more than five decades. We pride ourselves in offering the best hospitality and exceptional service at a fair value for all our guests, including families. For example, kids under five stay at the ranch for free," True added.

Ali Isroff, Chicago native, joined in on a family reunion at the ranch, including her three boys less than seven years of age. “White Stallion Ranch was awesome, it was a really great vacation for our family, super kid friendly and accommodating. My sister-in-law did a ton a research and felt that the ranch would offer something we all could enjoy—from 76 years old to 1 years old—and it didn’t disappoint!”

White Stallion Ranch is also one of the largest capacity dude ranches in the nation. Therefore, they are able to offer wild, wild, west entertainment once the stars come out and all the dishes have been cleared. 

Dude Ranches

White Stallion Ranch - Tucson, AZ 

Eatons' Ranch, Wyoming

Longevity Proves Attractive

Eatons' Ranch is one of the most famous dude ranches in the nation, and for deserved reason, it’s been operating for over 135 years and is the true essence of the Old West. The five-generation working cattle ranch is nestled on the pine covered eastern slopes of the Bighorn Mountains. The 7,000-acre ranch offers massive expanses of Wyoming rolling hills and over a hundred activities within this terrain to keep anyone out cowpoking or meandering through valleys for days.

Nearby Sheridan provides the easiest access for most visitors with numerous daily flights and only an 18-mile transport to the ranch. It’s not only attractive for families, weddings and reunions, but also corporate groups. “My company hosts their annual conference at Eatons' Ranch every fall,” notes Lani Oneil, director of national accounts, Frontier Asset Management. “We bring in clients from all over the US and the event is always a new and memorable experience for the, It definitely beats spending long days in hotel conference rooms followed by the usual steakhouse dinner.” 

Dude Ranches

Eatons' Ranch - Wolf, WY

Colorado Lovin’

Colorado doesn’t have the largest number of dude ranches of the States, but it certainly achieves the most palaver (discussion) for its consistent and numerous accolades. 

C Lazy U

C Lazy U, 90 minutes from Denver and easily accessible via the Amtrak Train from hipster downtown Union Station has won three awards from Travel + Leisure in 2018 for Top Hotel in the World (#74), Top 15 Continental US Resort Hotels (#6) and Top 10 Resort Hotel in the American West  (#3) And, for the second year in a row, C Lazy U was ranked #2 Destination Resort in USA TODAY’s 2018 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards for Best Destination Resort. Paging through Sunset Magazine, you might notice that C Lazy U was the runner up “Hotels That Impress” in the Sunset 2018 Travel Awards. 

Dude Ranches

C Lazy U Ranch - Granby, CO

Cherokee Park Ranch

And, to get a diverse round up (pun intended) of the ‘Best American Dude Ranch’ voted by readers of USA Today’s 10Best, the list has Cherokee Park Ranch with another #1 win. All but one of the ranches featured have been a longtime member of the DRA! (10best.com/awards/travel/best-dude-ranch

Cherokee Park Ranch, one of Colorado's first guest ranches, was a stagecoach stop between Fort Collins, Colorado, and Laramie, Wyoming. Accommodations include suites in their 120-year-old lodge and six outlying cabins, each outfitted with porch swings to take in the sites and splendor of the remote location miles from any city. 

Again, it’s the multigenerational activities, stunning new barn and kids activity space, and good old-fashioned dancing that keeps the families both returning and new ones seeking out this isolated vacation spot. For our family, it’s always the infamous line and country dancing nights. 

Dude Ranches

Cherokee Park Ranch - Livermore, CO 

Vista Verde Ranch

Located in Steamboat Springs, is one of the only four-season dude ranches in the State. When it comes to awards, and assortment of sport for all seasons, and weather conditions, Vista Verde Ranch is noted annually in dozens of publications. Think biking on snow in December, fall fly-fishing for off-season spawns or cooking classes or wine tastings al fresco or by roaring fire, the ranch’s luxurious offerings and certainly an anomaly for the Old West, but certainly welcomed.

Vista Verde Ranch has a AAA Four Diamond Award and the ranch’s Chef Chol has been building the cellar wine list to rival that of some of the country’s greatest restaurants. Fodor’s announced that Vista Verde had been selected as a Fodor’s Choice recipient yet again. And, from Shape Magazine to the Gene Kilgore World’s Best Ranches Award to mentions in everything from National Geographic ADVENTURE Magazine to Los Angeles Times and oodles more, this ranch lassos attention from all genres of vacationer. 

Dude Ranches

Vista Verde Ranch - Steamboat Springs, CO 

Save this Pin for Later! 

From Forbes Magazine to Real Simple and accolades in nearly every accredited journalism outlet, the allure and experience of Dude Ranch Vacations is dominating vacation stories and bookings in 2018, but why?

Destination - California Ranch

With 163,696 square miles and 8,436 miles of coast California is home to more than just Hollywood and Silicon Valley. It is home to far more acres of recreation and history than you can imagine. Take yourself and your family into a secret corner for a vacation experience on a ranch. The Dude Ranchers' Association recommends four guest ranches of the highest quality spread out along the state of California.

California

Starting from the Northwestern corner of the state in the Klamath National Forest there is the Marble Mountain Ranch. This ranch specializes in what they call the 'Saddle and Paddle Program' where you can have equal parts horseback riding through the mountains and extensive white water rafting down the Klamath River. Oh, and you can get your NRA Basic Pistol Certification while you're there.

Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch lies in the Northeast of Sacramento away from all the crowds. Greenhorn is sandwiched in the middle of Plumas National Forest for plenty of extra curricular activities within your dude ranch stay. Did you know racing frogs was a thing? Because you can take your children to the Greenhorn ranch to do just that. Experience some wild competition with the other families at the ranch to see who's giant frog will cross the finish line first. No worries, touching frogs is optional. Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular destinations for recreation in California.

At the Hunewill Guest Ranch they will take you on a trip there and give you the native scoop on all the most fascinating details of the park. The fun won't stop there because the ranch is also home to 1,200 head of cattle, 190 horses and an assortment of llamas, goats and sheep. You will definitely be out numbered by the livestock as the ranch can only host 45 guests at a time. The ranch was founded in 1861 by Napoleon Bonapart Hunewill and his wife Esther. The meals are still served in their original Victorian ranch house. Add all those years up and it's more than antique, it's living history.

Rankin Ranch is new to the Dude Ranchers' Association. We welcomed them with open arms this year after they successfully completed the application process for membership. They may be new kids on the block with the Association, but they have been in operation for over 150 years. It is one of the oldest and largest family owned ranches in California. Here you can immerse yourself in the sincere Western hospitality of home cooked meals, fresh vegetables and ranch raised beef. As a famous location in Caliente, California (super close to Los Angeles) you can escape with your friends and family to their mountain valley in the heart of California's Tehachapi Mountains and the Southern end of the Sequoia National Forest. In other words, next time you head to California, consider staying somewhere unique. Somewhere your family can get to know the locals who have been around for many generations. Have a ton of fun while living the ranch experience. For more information on each ranch's unique personality give the Dude Ranchers' Association a call for some clarification. Our number is 307.587.2339

Marble Mountain Ranch Saddle and Paddle in California

Marble Mountain's Saddle and Paddle Program

Hunewill Ranch California Herd of Horses

Hunewill Ranch Herd of Horses

Greenhorn Creek Ranch in California

Greenhorn Creek Ranch in California

Riding at Rankin Ranch California

Riding at Rankin Ranch California

Hunewill Ranch California Victorian Home

Hunewill Ranch Original Victorian Home


Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save

Save

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Review our privacy policy for more information.