13 Best Dude Ranches for Families

The ultimate family vacation has grown exponentially in terms of options and accommodations — and dude ranch vacations are no exception. In fact, there are very few resorts that emulate the offerings of the dude ranch community. “Activity options have skyrocketed. From ropes courses and ziplines to rock climbing, cooking classes, and more, some dude ranches now have more than 100 activities,” says Colleen Hudson, Executive Director of The Dude Ranchers’ Association.

The diversity and abundance of activities for families, along with stunning resort locations near national parks and public lands, solidify the Western dude ranch as one of the best family vacation experiences on the planet. These are the best of the best.

13 Best Dude Ranches for Families 

 

1. The Home Ranch – Clark, CO

Best For: Cuisine and Cooking

The Home Ranch does many things exceptionally well, including innovative cuisine and cocktails, luxury accommodations and extraordinary programming. Nestled in Clark, Colorado, a 30-minute drive from Steamboat Springs, the ranch is one of the few Rocky Mountain dude ranches that offers four-season activities and family options for children ages 6 and over. Bonus: All meals, lodging, local transportation, fishing gear, guide services, and on-ranch activities and adventures are included in the price of your stay.

dude ranches

2. Rainbow Trout Ranch – Antonito, CO

Best For: Authentic High Mountain Experience

We love the focus on disconnecting from technology at the Rainbow Trout Ranch. None of the 16 log cabins onsite offer TVs, and the Wi-Fi isn’t strong — and that’s on purpose. They do offer cozy fireplaces, though, and some of the cabins can sleep up to eight guests. The ranch is nestled on 600 acres at 9,000 feet and surrounded by national forest lands, providing abundant terrain for riding and spectacular views. Fly-fishers enjoy the ranch’s private 1.5-mile stretch of the Conejos River, ripe with supreme-size rainbow trout. Aside from delicious meals, accommodations, and onsite activities galore, a weekly whitewater rafting trip is included in the cost of your stay.

dude ranches

3. White Stallion Ranch – Tucson, AZ

Best For: Evening Entertainment

White Stallion is one of the two largest dude ranches in the nation; yet it remains family-owned and family-focused. The True family actually has a trifecta of ranches under their Arizona chaps (White Stallion, Tombstone Monument and Ranch de la Osa). But it’s their home base and incredible Tucson property that is one of the best family dude ranches in the world! The horse program is stellar, with various riding options, educational opportunities, family-specific rides, a weekly ranch rodeo and more. The resort also does a great job with nightly entertainment, with options such as astronomy classes with telescopes, country and western line dancing and lessons, and water color lessons with the resident artist, Ute Vaughn. And if you like shopping, you’ll be glad to know this dude ranch has one of the largest onsite gift shops of any dude ranch in the nation.

dude ranches

4. Circle Z Ranch – Patagonia, AZ

Best For: Old West Experience

If your family wants an authentic Western experience, complete with Hollywood-esque desert moonscapes, rolling hills of cacti with Southwest accommodations, fabulous cuisine, and an even better atmosphere, Circle Z Ranch is for you. Open late-October through early-May each year, Circle Z is the oldest continually operating guest ranch in the state of Arizona.

Originally a sheep ranch, Circle Z was transformed into a dude ranch in the 1920s.  Numerous generations of families have connected here ever since. Movie buffs — study up on “Broken Lance” with Spencer Tracy, “Monte Walsh” with Lee Marvin, “El Dorado” with John Wayne, and the final episode of “Gunsmoke” — all were filmed on this property.

dude ranches

5. Bonanza Creek Country Guest Ranch – Martinsdale, MT

Best For: Riding in the Wide Open Country  

This dude ranch is not for the wee ones; the focus is riding and cattle work. Bonanza Creek has a maximum allowance of 12 guests at a time, but usually averages around eight people — making this one of the most intimate guest dude ranches in the nation. There are 40 guest horses on the ranch, who welcome families into their lifestyle and incredible landscape.

Guests are matched with their horses for the half-week to week-long stay. Each stay includes lodging, three meals a day, horseback riding, herding cattle, team penning, hiking, private lake fishing, wildlife watching, a breakfast ride and cookout, campfires, and wagon rides with a team of horses.

dude ranches

6. Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort – Solvang, CA

Best For: Wine Country and Activities

Easily accessible from Santa Barbara, California, Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort is a family-owned working dude ranch. The 10,500-acre ranch is consistently awarded as best luxury dude ranch for numerous reasons.

The upscale ranch offers 73 cottages, all with working, wood burning fireplaces, and all without phones or televisions. Horseback riders can access 50-plus miles of riding trails; a 100-acre, spring-fed lake; two 18-hole championship golf courses; tennis courts; a pool; and spa.

dude ranches

7. Western Pleasure Guest Ranch – Sandpoint, ID

Best For: Off-Season Vacations

Many dude ranches in colder climates close for the season come late autumn. And while Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in northern Idaho certainly welcomes visitors year-round, it’s their off-season that’s a standout. Families will be charmed by the four hand-hewn log cabins at the ranch, each one authentically decorated and super cozy. Or, guests can choose Grandma or Grandpa’s room on the main level of the lodge, or a suite on the second level.

The ranch is located on 1,100 acres in the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountain ranges. The spectacular and changing scenery of the seasons varies the activities — enjoy horseback rides in the fall (ages 8 and up), fat bike rides in the winter, and skiing and snowmobiling in the spring! What’s also unique is the cabins can be booked without meals — a rarity at dude ranches.

dude ranches

8. Paradise Guest Ranch – Buffalo, WY

Best for: Water Activities

Come summer, it’s the child in all of us who yearns to be by water. At Paradise Guest Ranch, families can participate in an extensive fly-fishing program – either on French Creek or one of the stocked, nearby trout ponds. There’s also an onsite swimming pool.

dude ranches

9. Bar W Guest Ranch – Whitefish, MT

Best For: On-Trend Vacations

The Bar W Guest Ranch, outside of Glacier National Park, recognizes the needs of millennial families. Their traditional summer offerings have exploded in recent years, with new activities and adventures for all ages. Trail rides, wagon rides and a cultural kids’ program keep families busy on the ranch. The resort is also popular for its glamping in canvas tents with wood floors and luxurious bedding. And the resort’s location in Whitefish means you’re close to cute shops and kid-friendly restaurants and breweries.

dude ranches

10. Medicine Bow Lodge Adventure Guest Ranch – Saratoga, WY

Best For: Best-Kept Riding Secret  

The Medicine Bow Lodge Adventure Guest Ranch is nestled into the Snowy Range, about 20 miles from Saratoga, Wyoming, and two hours from Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Operating since 1917, the resort was most recently purchased by new owners in 2002, who truly enhanced the horsemanship of the ranch and riding possibilities. The maximum guest count is 15.

Families will especially love the summer program, with all-day rides, breakfast rides, overnight pack trips, sunset trip rides, fish and ride scenic trips (one of the only ones in the nation!) and other options. Guests can also participate in horse grooming and feeding, or just watch or photograph.

dude ranches

11. Triangle C Dude Ranch, Dubois, WY

Best For: Getting a True Sense of Working Cattle

Featuring an 8,000-square-foot, rustic log remodeled to include a full-service spa, home theatre, library, pool and fine dining, Triangle C Dude Ranch provides a home-away-from-home while enjoying the ranch. But, forget the luxury and enjoy the ranch’s Pack Trips that provide a true sense of the working cattle in the Rockies. Following wranglers on trails on horseback, days end at campsites where you’ll gather around the fire for dinner. Back at the resort, kids may prefer the programs geared for ages 2 to 12, including nature-based crafts, sleeping in a tepee and learning the ropes in a junior wrangler program.

dude ranches

12. Three Bars Guest Ranch – British Columbia, Canada

Best For: Private Cabins and Communal Meals

Three Bars Guest Ranch, a family-owned and operated dude ranch, is located in British Columbia, just a stone’s throw from Montana and Banff National Park. Families will enjoy private cabins and daily meals in a communal setting, where guests enjoy week-long visits together and fast become friends before the trip comes to an end. Daily horseback rides for all levels are available, as well as guided and non-guided hikes, mountain biking, river rafting and more. Each night, guests gather for drinks and dinner with the staff and enjoy games and entertainment as the stars come out and bonfires glow.

dude ranches

13. Drowsy Water Ranch – Granby, CO

Best For: Young Children

Less than two hours outside of Denver, Drowsy Water Ranch has been in business since the 1920’s. About 100 head of horses, primarily quarter horses and paints, make their home at the Drowsy Water. Nine individual cabins snuggled beside the creek offer lodging for families.

The 700-acre Drowsy Water Ranch welcomes children of all ages, even infants. The children’s program is unstructured, but comprehensive. Children ages 5 and under in the Buckaroos program are led on smaller horses in a pen. For children ages 6 to 13 in the Range Riders program, rides are held twice a day. The kids are allowed to walk, lope and trot according to trail conditions and their comfort level on the horses.

dude ranches

 

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The ultimate family vacation has grown exponentially in terms of options and accommodations  — and dude ranch vacations are no exception; families love dude ranches!

 

Read the full article by Julie Bielenberg here

Why Arizona Winters are Great for Ranch Vacations

Arizona is a wonderful place to vacation, especially to beat the winter blues. With a consistently warm and predictable climate, it’s no wonder people flock to Arizona during the winter months to enjoy the outdoors. On a ranch vacation you’ll enjoy horseback riding, fine western dining, perfectly appointed accommodations and many other western lifestyle activities. Here are four reasons Arizona winters are great for ranch vacations. 

1. Beautiful Weather 

Obviously, the weather is one of the most popular reasons you might want to go to Arizona during the winter. The sun shines most every day (300+ days a year) and temperatures average about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Even though you can find snow-covered mountains, the central to southern parts of the state often enjoy mild weather in shorts or t-shirts. At the Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch, you’ll get to enjoy spectacular sunsets late into the evening comfortably around a camp fire. 

Arizona Winters

Sunset at the Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch in Yucca, Arizona. 

 

2. Culture of the Southwest 

With a combination of historical native American and Hispanic cultures, the atmosphere in Arizona is unique to the rest of the country. These cultures blend in with the history of the cowboy at some of the most famous locations. At Tombstone Monument Ranch you can relive what it was like to live in an old Southwestern Town like famous western characters did. Rancho de la Osa is off the beaten path near the border of Mexico and immerses guests into a different world. Want to learn about the local flora and fauna? Then you will want to be at the Circle Z Ranch, where local Naturalist, Ethnobotanist, and Survival Expert Vincent Pinto leads their guests on a 1-hour Nature walk. His expertise is inspiring, as he discusses birds, a variety of rich habitats, edible plants, and Arizona’s famed Sky Islands.  Arizona Winters

Southwestern town of the Tombstone Monument Ranch in Tombstone, Arizona. 

 

3. Outdoor Activities

With the beauty of the outdoors you’ll want to spend as much time outside as you can. Hiking, biking, horseback riding, bird watching and cattle drives are some activities you can do to enjoy the mountains or deserts in Arizona. The Flying E Ranch offers all of these adventures and more in an area that’s just minutes from Wickenburg, Arizona on 20,000 acres to ride and roam. Tee up your western vacation at Rancho de los Caballeros. The golf course located on the ranch was designed by Greg Nash and Jeff Hardin, the Los Caballeros course is a Golf Digest top-five rated course and a top 100 course nationally. Featuring rolling terrain, two beautiful lakes, bunkers and five sets of tees, this challenging course can be set up for a variety of playing styles and levels. What about rock climbing, have you ever tried it?  If you’ve never tried climbing before, here’s your chance to experience it in an incredible setting. If you’re an experienced climber, you will be wowed by the climbs at White Stallion Ranch.  Their AMGA, PCGI Certified Climbing Instructor will guide you climbing boulders and faces on the East end of the ranch. He has designed beginner, intermediate and advanced climbs.

Arizona Winters

Guests participating in team penning at the Flying E Ranch in Wickenburg, Arizona. 

 

4. Family Time

You’ll want to take the whole family with you on vacation. From babies to grandma and grandpa everybody will enjoy a wonderful winter getaway. You’ll be looking for a nice swimming pool, an ample supply of board games, tennis, basketball and kid’s counselors for the youngest ones. Elkhorn Ranch provides everything you need for a successful and unforgettable multi-generational vacation. Another great option with an excellent kid’s program is the Tanque Verde Ranch their activities will engage, educate, and entertain, in addition to teach kids the importance of working together. Their caring and knowledgeable team will ensure a safe and fun experience for your child.

Arizona Winters

Kids learning how to care for horses at the Elkhorn Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. 

 

 

Take a look at the other great ranches in Arizona below and read more from our blog about Arizona dude ranches.

Arizona Winters

Kids develop lifelong friends at Tanque Verde Guest Ranch in Tucson, Arizona

 

Arizona Winters

The unique cabins, or casitas of the Rancho de la Osa in Sasabe, Arizona. 

 

Arizona Winters

Ride or hike through beautiful desert plants at the Circle Z Ranch in Patagonia, Arizona. 

 

Arizona Winters

Play 18 holes at Rancho de los Caballeros in Wickenburg, Arizona

 

Arizona Winters

Experirnce rock climbing at the White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona.

 

 

Pin this for later!

Arizona is a wonderful place to vacation, especially to beat the winter blues. With a consistently warm and predictable climate, it’s no wonder people flock to Arizona during the winter months to enjoy the outdoors. On a ranch vacation you’ll enjoy horseback riding, fine western dining, perfectly appointed accommodations and many other western lifestyle activities. Here are four reasons Arizona winters are great for ranch vacations.

Dude Ranch Vacations for Vegetarians and Dietary Restrictions

Venturing to a new place and experiencing the culture of its food is one of the great pleasures of traveling. But if you’re a vegan, vegetarian or have any dietary limitations, you know it can also be a challenge if you don't select the right location. At these Dude Ranchers’ Association member dude ranches the chefs delight in providing ranch cuisine for your whole family - regardless of any special dietary needs. With enough notice the ranches creatively and effectively cater for meatless diets, gluten free, dairy free and most food allergies. Foodies will even enjoy the culinary adventures on dude ranches where family style meals can be not only enjoyed by the whole family but also savored until the last bite. And what’s even more special than this? Some ranches are able to offer farm to table cuisine straight from ranch gardens. 

Here are some great dude ranch vacations for vegetarians and vegans.

 

Triangle C Dude Ranch for Vegetarians

Hors d'oeuvres at the Triangle C Ranch 

Black Mountain Ranch

McCoy, Colorado

Located just a few hours West of Denver, Colorado the Black Mountain Ranch is a family operated and a family oriented dude ranch. With a week long program you and your family will get to venture into the western lifestyle of horseback riding and outdoor adventures. And at meal times? The meals vary from gourmet dining in the lodge to cookouts in the wilderness (watch out for their killer Margaritas at Pack Camp). The chef will tempt you with hearty breakfasts featuring fresh home cooking and made from scratch baked goods. Dinner fare varies nightly, with several entree choices each night. Vegetarian, vegan or gluten free? Not a problem! And the Black Mountain Ranch always serves complimentary wine with dinner.

 

Circle Z Ranch

Patagonia, Arizona

At just an hour South of Tucson, Arizona the Circle Z Ranch offers a unique ranch vacation for guests of all ages and horseback riding abilities. You’ll get to ride on thousands of acres of the most scenic horseback riding trails in Arizona. One of the grand traditions at the Circle Z Ranch is the commitment to the highest standards for their food, and the ranch is positive you will be satisfied. In the ranch gardens, many of the vegetables served at mealtime are grown, and Circle Z honey bees are always busy making the sweetest honeys for the ranch use. Creative alternatives are available for those guests on strict gluten-free, vegetarian, lactose-free and vegan diets.  Open the end of October through the beginning of May.

 

Paradise Guest Ranch

Buffalo, Wyoming

Tucked away into the beautiful Big Horn Mountains - just 20 minutes from Buffalo, Wyoming the Paradise Guest Ranch offers luxury log cabins with personal fireplaces, outdoor decks and spacious livings rooms. And that’s just the accommodations! The ranch offers a long list of activities in their week long program including horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking, kids program and more. Can the kitchen accommodate special dietary requirements? Absolutely. Ranch staff will send you a questionnaire before you arrive at the ranch on which you can describe any special dietary needs that you might have. The ranch can accommodate vegetarian, vegan and most all food allergies for their hearty meals with a gourmet flair. 

 

Laramie River Ranch

Jelm, Colorado

In Colorado’s Rocky Mountains near the border of Wyoming and Colorado the Laramie River Ranch offers genuine western hospitality far from the tension of city life. And with their small size (capacity of 25) you’ll get the attention you deserve on your vacation. On top of all the expected dude ranch activities you can enjoy the summer rodeo season or bring out the cowboy or cowgirl in you on their annual cattle drive. These outdoor activities and fresh mountain air encourage healthy appetites. Whether it's on the trail or at the ranch, meals are an event! In keeping with informal, western tradition, meals are served family style with delicious entrees, fresh salads, ranch baked breads, fruits and vegetables, and desserts which keep you coming back for more. They are happy to accommodate special diets with advance notice and vegetarian alternatives are available at every meal.

 

Triangle C Ranch

Dubois, Wyoming

Nestled between Jackson Hole and Dubois, Wyoming the Triangle C Ranch prides themselves as a true Wyoming Ranch - where a handshake is their bond and the coffee pot is always on! The ranch offers adventure packed programs for families, adults and singles throughout the summer months. Folks up here spend all day working up mountain-sized appetites! Sooner or later it leads them back to the Wind River Dining Room, where the chefs serve up fresh & healthy ranch delicacies. They have been cooking homemade goodness for years – presented in true cowboy style. Let the staff know in advance if there are any special dietary needs and they'll do their very best to make sure you have a wonderful dining experience. 

 

Continue reading about Dude Ranch Food! 

 

Pin this for later - Dude Ranches for Vegetarians

If you’re a vegan, vegetarian or have any dietary limitations the chefs at these dude ranches delight in providing ranch cuisine for your family. With notice the ranches creatively and effectively cater for meatless diets, gluten free, dairy free and most food allergies. Foodies will even enjoy culinary adventures where family style meals can be enjoyed by all. And what’s even more special? Some dude ranches are able to offer farm to table cuisine straight from ranch gardens.

10 Great Dude Ranch Vacations for Families

From the littlest to the biggest kid, everyone will get a chance to play. The Dude Ranchers’ Association has only the best of ranch experiences offering phenomenal kids programs, healthy food, horseback riding and more outdoor adventures than you can imagine. Here are 10 of North America’s best family ranch vacations on dude and guest ranches. Each has its own unique style and offerings allowing you to pick the right ranch for your family vacation. All are family friendly ranches and have a full schedule of activities for your family.

 


Wyoming Family Ranch Vacations


The Red Rock Ranch, Kelly, Wyoming

Dates Open: June through September

The Red Rock Ranch is a family owned authentic western dude ranch with polished amenities. Children will love the freedom of just being kids in the wide open spaces of Wyoming. There is no TV or video games, but they will be busy with horseback riding, caring for their own specially chosen horses, volleyball, pickleball, horseshoes and the kid’s recreation room. There is something special about swimming in a heated pool surrounded by the beautiful red cliffs, playing tag with new friends or simply enjoying a game of foosball or ping pong.

Vee Bar Guest Ranch, Laramie, Wyoming

Dates Open: Year-round

At just 2 ½ hours from Denver, Colorado the Vee Bar Ranch is very easily accessible, but still a remote dude ranch family destination. Children of all ages are welcomed with open arms.  While the outdoors provides a great deal of education and entertainment, there are other activities in which kids can partake.  On campout night, everybody is welcome to participate in campfire games, listen to live music, roast s’mores, and enjoy the Vee Bar’s version of a branding—don’t forget your boots, belts, wallets, and hats! Your kids will never forget their experience on this kid friendly dude ranch!

7D Ranch, Cody, Wyoming

Dates Open: mid June through mid September

Offering weekly trips into Yellowstone National Park, the 7D Ranch has a kids program geared for kids 3 - 12 years old, but kids of all ages enjoy participating in the activities. Their children’s program allows young people to experience ranch life and come to understand the connections to the natural world. Ecological relationships are taught by example on daily hikes and rides. Children are introduced to the world of livestock and horses by patient wranglers who take great care to build kids’ confidence.

Vee Bar Wyoming Family Ranch Vacations

Imagine your teenager connecting with her own personal horse for the week. Photo Credit: Vee Bar Guest Ranch


Arizona Family Ranch Vacations


Circle Z Ranch, Patagonia, Arizona

Dates Open: Mid October through April

How often do we long for the days of giving our children the gift of nature, in a safe and healthy environment, where the electronics are shelved and our kids are happy and laughing, making new friends? The Circle Z cherishes the adventures that families will experience, either together or separately. Here, the kids are allowed the freedom to be kids without pressures, and given adventures that will expand their confidence and fill their hearts. A dude ranch vacation will not just entertain your children, it will change their lives.


Elkhorn Ranch, Tucson, Arizona

Dates Open: Mid November through April

Just 50 miles southwest of Tucson the Elkhorn Ranch is a sunny winter destination for your family. Children of all ages are welcome. Guest ranch life provides an ideal setting for family vacations and reunions. Families ride together or separately as rides are set up daily to suit individual interests. Children enjoy the freedom to play outdoors and an ample supply of board games and puzzles available in the dining room. Ping-pong, shuffleboard, tennis and basketball and a heated swimming pool add to the fun.

 

Elkhorn Ranch Family Ranch Vacations

From the littlest to the biggest kid, everyone will get a chance to play. Photo: Elkhorn Ranch Arizona


Colorado Family Ranch Vacations


Sundance Trail Guest Ranch, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

Dates Open: Year-round

At Sundance Trail Guest Ranch families are encouraged to play together and to make memories together. At different times during the week, kids may opt to participate in Colorado dude ranch activities with their families or join in with counselor-wranglers for their own special activities: “kids only” horseback riding in the arena or small group trail rides, gathering eggs from the hen house, playing with the ever-present kittens and goats, group hikes & rock climbing, fishing, picnics & campfire sing-alongs, outdoor games, & treasure hunts, movies & crafts.


Black Mountain Ranch, McCoy, Colorado

Dates Open: June through mid September

You won’t forget a family ranch vacation at the Black Mountain Ranch. Unlimited horseback riding, over night pack trips, a Longhorn cattle drive, white water rafting, fishing, kids' program, rifle and trap shooting, archery and trip to the local rodeo is just the start. Whether you are looking for some easy trails to ride with your kids or advanced riding for the entire family, there are great options for everyone in the family.


Tumbling River Ranch, Grant, Colorado

Dates Open: Mid May through mid November

At Tumbling River Ranch, the summer kids program is a major focus.  They not only focus on the interests of the children, but relish the opportunity to introduce them to the Western lifestyle and Western ideas–offering the rare opportunity to “unplug” and spend some quality time. The kids will have a flexible program, built both to allow families ample time together and kids to have plenty of their own adventures.


Cherokee Park Ranch, Livermore, Colorado

Dates Open: June through August

The Cherokee Park Ranch is a family owned dude ranch nestled in the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains. They cater to families with kids of all ages, horseback riding, river rafting, rodeos, fishing, music, dancing, cow wrangling, swimming, ropes/challenge course, skeet shooting and mountain biking. Your kids will have a full day’s worth of counseled activities should parents desire “time off!” For young ones under two, this family ranch offers a unique opportunity: bring your own full-time baby-sitter, free of charge.

 

Tumbling River Creek Crossing Family Ranch Vacations

Ride out into the mountains with the whole family. Photo Credit: Tumbling River Ranch


Montana Family Ranch Vacations


JJJ Wilderness Ranch, Augusta, Montana

Dates Open: Mid June through September


The Triple J Ranch offers an extensive Children and Teen Program. Each child will have their own horse for the week to learn horsemanship skills with dedicated kids wranglers. Children are not required to engage in any activity, but activities are available should parents desire a little freedom to participate in more scenic and challenging rides. This family ranch can keep even the most restless little cowboy or cowgirl busy. They’ll have loads of fun and they’ll talk about it ... seemingly forever!


 JJJ Wilderness Family Ranch Vacations

 The ranch wranglers will even teach your kids rodeo events! Photo Credit: JJJ Wilderness Ranch

Other great vacations for toddlers

 

Are you planning your next family ranch vacation? Offering phenomenal kids programs, healthy food and outdoor adventures including horseback riding here are 10 of North America’s best family ranch vacations on dude and guest ranches

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Low Altitude Spring Break Vacation in the South West

For many travelers staying at a low altitude destination is a must, especially if you only have a week to get acclimated to your destination. Fortunately, there are many dude ranches located below 5,000′ that would be a great South Western haven for spring break. Each ranch is a unique destination ranging from the type of activities offered to the particular family and ranch history. Don't just visit one, visit them all!  

Burnt Well Guest Ranch is a low altitude working cattle and sheep ranch in Roswell, New Mexico

Burnt Well Guest Ranch

Profile        Website Lodge Altitude: 4,200' Nearest Airport: Roswell Nightly Price Range: $239 - $301 About: Burnt Well Ranch is a working cattle/sheep ranch. They take a few guests to supplement their ranching income and are open year round. Whether you are an avid rider wanting to participate in actual ranch work, a beginner wanting to work on your riding or anything in-between this ranch can accommodate.  

Circle Z Ranch is a low altitude dude ranch in Patagonia, Arizona

Circle Z Ranch

Profile        Website Lodge Altitude: 4,000' Nearest Airport: Tucson Nightly Price Ranch: $195 - $265 About: The Circle Z Ranch offers all inclusive vacations; 3 delicious meals/day, horseback riding, heated pool, hiking, bird watching, nature walks and guided star gazing. Relax in one of our seven adobe cottages, meticulously detailed for your stay.  

 

 

Flying E Ranch for the Holiday

Flying E Ranch

Profile      Website Lodge Altitude: 2,400' Nearest Airport: Phoenix Nightly Price Ranch: $192 - $252 About: With 20,000 acres to ride and roam the Flying E Ranch is the ideal place to take a step back in time at a working cattle ranch.  Your stay here will fill your heart with memories.  

Elkhorn Ranch is a low altitude ranch in Tucson, Arizona

Elkhorn Ranch

Profile        Website Lodge Altitude: 3,700' Nearest Airport: Tucson Nightly Price Ranch: $264 - $415 About: Elkhorn Ranch is a sunny winter season Sonoran Desert guest ranch in scenic Baboquivari Mountains southwest of Tucson, Arizona. Family owned and operated since 1946. Comfortable living and excellent horseback riding for singles, couples and families of all ages and abilities. Adventure, relaxation and friendship await you at Elkhorn Ranch.  

 

Rancho de los Caballeros is a low altitude dude ranch in Wickenburg, Arizona

Rancho de los Caballeros

Profile       Website Lodge Altitude: 2,500' Nearest Airport: Phoenix Nightly Price Ranch: $202 - $232 About: Saddle up and make a perfect getaway to the warm heart of the Old Southwest! Rancho de los Caballeros is the resort with the soul of a bed and breakfast offering full resort amenities and privacy, yet with the charm and intimacy of yesteryear. It's the kind of place where everyone knows your name.  

 

Tombstone Monument Ranch

Profile         Website Lodge Altitude: 4,541' Nearest Airport: Tucson Nightly Price Ranch: $332 - $470 About: Tombstone Monument Ranch is surrounded by miles of rugged, open country, with views of the Dragoon Mountains. This was Apache territory and is rich in history. We are just 3 miles from downtown Tombstone, the Town Too Tough To Die. Walk the streets that Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday and outlaw Curly Bill Brocius once walked. It has been said that our guests don’t just feel like they got away, they feel like they traveled back in time.


At the Dude Ranchers’ Association we are always here (during MST business hours) to help with your vacation plans. Please give us a call with reference this blog low altitude post. The number is 307.587.2339.   Save Save Save Save

Dude Ranch Gardens ~ From Farm to Table

This year's growing season has nearly drawn to a close for many locations for many while others are just getting started. As we at the National Dude Ranchers' Association reminisce about the warmer, growing days of summer we would like to share a few ranches who spend their long, summer days planting and harvesting. The importance and fulfillment gained by growing your own produce is understood. At these accredited dude ranches they garden not only for themselves, but also to share what they reap with you.  So, after a day of enjoying horseback riding, hiking, fishing and every other adventure imaginable, you can sit down and enjoy a family dinner, straight from farm to table. We hope before the winter blues sets in you will book a promising vacation to get your hands dirty in one of these dude ranch gardens.

 

Farm to Table Culinary Experiences

 

Honey Bee's and Sweet Garden Produce

Diana Nash, Circle Z Ranch, Patagonia, Arizona

Circle Z Bee Hive Farm to Table

One of the stand-out traditions here at the Circle Z Ranch is our commitment to the highest standards for the food we serve our guests, and we guarantee you will be satisfied. Using only the freshest of ingredients, all of our mouthwatering buffets are created in our kitchens from scratch. In our gardens, we grow many of the vegetables served at mealtime, and our honey bees are always busy making the sweetest honeys for our use. We select the finest cuts of meats, and freshest fillets of fish we can find. Fresh baked breads, mouth-watering pastries, and a variety of cookies, all made from scratch, will greet you each day of your stay. Creative alternatives are available for those guests on strict gluten-free, vegetarian, lactose-free and vegan diets.  Open October 26th - May 3rd.

 

 

Heirloom Seeds and Organic Composting

Marley & Linda Hodgson, Smith Fork Ranch, Crawford, Colorado

Smith Fork Gardening Farm to Table

 

At Smith Fork Ranch we never lose the thrill and exhilaration that comes with each new season here in our beautiful valley in the Rocky Mountains. Several years ago, we started an organic farmstead garden, nestled in the meadow below the old Dance Barn. This garden is a living breathing reflection of our continued passion for the land and it’s seasons. As we harvest each season’s crops, we feel a stronger bond to this special place. The SFR organic garden focuses on the preservation and production of heirloom varietals that have been planted for generations in Holland, France and elsewhere in America. However, it all starts with the soil. And the soil’s need for being fed provides the perfect use for the organic waste from around our guest ranch; kitchen scraps, grass and leaf trimmings, a bit of hay from the horse barns, and of course manure rich in nitrogen. We are able to cultivate dozens of varieties of vegetables and flowers without the use of synthetic fertilizers or chemicals, even in the Rocky Mountain soil of our luxury guest ranch! Open May 22nd - November 1st.

 

Fresh Eggs Farm Raised Meats & Orchards

Scott Stewart, The High Lonesome Ranch, DeBeque, Colorado

The High Lonesome Ranch Farm to Table Garden

Living the life of a cowboy all day can work up a powerful hunger for your family. Back at headquarters, our Chef and his crew are cooking up fresh family-style delights with a lot of culinary flare added in for a fine rustic dining experience.  Your meals include high quality local meat and produce. In many instances the meat is raised on the ranch. Our eggs are fresh from our chickens and The High Lonesome’s signature Black Angus beef graces our menu when the timing and aging process is complete. Lambs and hogs are raised and delivered by neighboring 4H and FFA kids. The High Lonesome Ranch’s gardens and orchards enjoy ideal conditions for growing apricots, apples, peaches, pears and plums. We also grow an abundance of vegetables like corn, peppers, lettuces, cucumbers, squash, beans, peas, carrots, radishes, pumpkins and onions.  Open year round.  

 


  As you can see the above dude ranches take meal time very seriously during your stay, so if your foodie there is no better place to get back to freshly grown organic food than a dude ranch. Click here to request more information


   

Perfect Winter Holiday ~ Arizona & New Mexico Dude Ranches

Arizona is home to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and the Painted Desert. There are high ponderosa pine forest, rolling grasslands, and stark desert landscapes. In New Mexico there is the wondrous Carlsbad Caverns, the Black Range Mountains and the brilliant gypsum of the White Sands National Monument. Between the Cottonwoods, the Oak trees and the many various grasses, sage and vines the brilliant colors of autumn will take your breath away.

Flying E Trail Arizona Dude Ranch

Flying E Ranch

The Dude and Guest ranches of Arizona and New Mexico take advantage of their spectacular surroundings; horseback riding outings explore the canyons and forested ridges. What a great cure for the winter blues this year, so for the perfect winter holiday grab your family and friends and head to one of these truly amazing family friendly dude and guest ranches.

Geronimo Trail New Mexico Dude Ranch

Geronimo Trail Ranch

Geronimo Trail Ranch is all about Real "Old West" adventure! A Small family ranch with a relaxed and personal atmosphere, located in the breathtaking untouched Gila National Forest of SW New Mexico. Geronimo Trail Ranch features Pithouses, Cliff Dwellings and rock art of the early Mimbres.

Get your real Cowboy on at Burnt Well Guest Ranch, located in warm, sunny, southeastern New Mexico. Guests have said "This is John Wayne country!" "I can't believe how far you can see sometimes 50-60 miles!!"

Immerse yourself in the welcoming atmosphere of the Southwest at White Stallion Ranch. You will experience the aura of a real Western ranch combined with present-day comforts and conveniences.

Or step back in time at the Circle Z Ranch were guests have ridden their ranch-bred horses on 165 miles of trails through the foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains and along the ever flowing Sonoita Creek for over 83 years. They are recognized worldwide for birding.

Fifty-one miles southwest of Tucson, in its own valley where mountains and desert meet, lies the Elkhorn Ranch. Since 1945, three generations of the Miller family have owned and operated this ranch, offering exceptional riding and comfortable living for thirty-two guests. Riding is the main interest with gentle or loping rides through the desert and more vigorous trips along the many mountain trails. Saddle up and make a perfect getaway to the warm heart of the Old Southwest!

Rancho de los Caballeros is the resort with the soul of a bed and breakfast offering full resort amenities and privacy, yet with the charm and intimacy of yesteryear. It's the kind of place where everyone knows your name. With 20,000 acres to ride and roam there is seldom a day without sunshine.

The Flying E Dude Ranch is a working cattle ranch and the ideal place to take a step back in time.

Located just east of Tucson, Tanque Verde Ranch Resort is one of the premier, all-inclusive dude ranch resorts in the country. You will find the perfect blend of western adventure, solitude and luxury amenities to make your next getaway unforgettable.

Rancho de los Caballeros Arizona Dude Ranch

Rancho de los Caballeros


 

The Gift of Memories - Holidays at the Ranch

Seven Devils Snow SnowmobilingThe best holiday gifts don’t sport a designer logo. Nor do they come from a big box store. The best gifts are meaningful, lasting long after the credit card bills are due. This season enjoy the gift of family time on a Western dude ranch vacation. Gather your loved ones and retreat to the tranquil surroundings of a Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) member ranch. A DRA ranch promises families an exceptional retreat far from the madness of holiday commercialism. There are more than 100 DRA ranches, found in the deserts and mountains of the American West and Canada.  Your family can spend the holidays at the ranch best suited to your interests and lifestyle. Ranches come with all-inclusive rates and many offer special holiday rates and packages. Our ranches in Arizona offer trail rides under a warm desert sun, as well as hiking, mountain biking, tennis and swimming. Northern ranches from Colorado to Canada entertain families with guided snowmobile tours, access to downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice-skating and horse-drawn sleigh rides. Can you hear those sleigh bells jingling? But best of all, dude ranches offer families something that can’t find in a shopping mall; cherished quality time spent together making lasting memories. See the ranches below that provide an exceptional experience during the holiday season.


CIRCLE Z RANCH Circle Z Ranch is open from late October through early May. Located in the heart of Southern Arizona’s Sky Islands, this desert oasis treats guests to vistas dotted with grasslands, canyons and mountain ranges. There are more than 100 miles of trails spanning landscapes of Sonoran prickly pear and ocotillo, to oak and pine forest. In addition to horseback riding, activities include nature education programs, hiking and bird watching, as well as lots of photo opps and fine dining. Circle Z offers several packages tailored for winter travelers.   

SEVEN DEVILS GUEST RANCH & GUIDE SERVICE Located in central Idaho, just south of the Seven Devils mountain range, the Seven Devils Lodge lies in a unique area, neighboring jutting canyons, high desert and soaring mountains. Winter brings some of the best back country snowmobiling to life at Seven Devils Lodge, with many guests returning year after year for the experience. Riders from all over seek out the guest ranch because of its unparalleled access to trackless back country snowmobiling. Riding begins right out the front door, and offers trails for the novice to the highly skilled.

ELKHORN RANCH Fifty miles southwest of Tucson, Ariz., Elkhorn Ranch is nestled in secluded Sabino Canyon. At an altitude of 3700 feet, the ranch is surrounded by the picturesque Baboquivari Mountains and the open Sonoran desert country of the Altar Valley. From November through April, guests can enjoy a traditional winter season guest or dude ranch vacation experience, made complete with horseback riding suitable for riders of all ages and experience levels. Whether you travel solo, as a couple or with your family, you will find friendship, rest and adventure amidst miles of mountain and desert trails.

WESTERN PLEASURE RANCH The first hint of snow means it’s time for sleigh rides, skiing and snowmobiles at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in Northern Idaho. Spend time with loved ones while enjoying a dinner and sleigh ride. Explore the ranch via snowshoes or cross-country skis. Or enjoy a Bed and Breakfast stay. Western Pleasure is located on 1,100 acres and adjacent to thousands of acres of land with breathtaking views of the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains. Winter specials include several ski packages, a snowmobile package and spa package.  

LATIGO RANCH Located approximately 130 miles west of Denver, Colorado, Latigo Ranch is situated in one of the most beautiful places on earth and offers a panoramic view of the Continental Divide. Guests can drink in the views, inhale the crisp mountain air, and gaze in awe at some of Colorado’s most spectacular scenery from the front porch of the ranch’s historic log lodge. Guests will experience warm hospitality and winter activities, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and tubing that keep Latigo Ranch guests coming back year after year. The outdoor activities are as invigorating as the inside comforts are cozy. Winter rates and packages start just before Christmas and run through late March.

LONE MOUNTAIN RANCH For the ultimate Rocky Mountain winter adventure, visit Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, Mont. The ranch is perfectly situated just six miles from some of the best skiing in the country and was voted as the No. 1 Nordic Ski Resort in North America by Cross Country Skier magazine. Winter activities include skiing (Nordic, downhill and backcountry), snowshoeing and sleigh ride dinners. Guests can even take a short shuttle ride to explore Yellowstone National Park or the Gallatin National Forest by skis or snowshoes. Winter packages are currently available.


     

5 Reasons to Visit in the Fall

With the kids back in school, Labor Day behind us and the days getting shorter, it can only mean one thing; fall is quickly approaching and will give you 5 good reasons to visit a dude ranch. Whether you’re looking for fall break travel ideas, a long weekend away without the kids or an extended vacation, a dude ranch is an ideal destination to enjoy the fall.

Circle Z Ranch Visit in the Fall

5 Reasons to Visit a Dude Ranch in the Fall

Steals and Deals: As with many vacation destinations, summer is peak season for dude ranches. However, as the air cools down travelers can take advantage of less crowds and discounted rates. Budget-friendly offers range from a percentage off standard rates to special packages. Colorado Trails Ranch  has a 25 percent discount during the fall. During Circle Z Ranch’s Lone Star Long Weekend guests receive a discount on a four-day/three-night stay.

Adult-Only Weeks: Many dude ranches offer special adult-only weeks in the fall. This gives couples, groups and solo travelers the chance to make memories that will last a lifetime. Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, for example, offers an Adult Horsemanship Week. This is a hands-on approach where guests experience the true pleasure of caring for and learning about these noble animals. Or, guests can enjoy a little pampering here, a little adventure there, and a lot of girl talk (and maybe some wine!) with a girlfriend’s getaway to Red Horse Mountain Ranch.

Cattle Drives: For working ranches, fall means cattle drives. Guests are often invited to join in these adventurous and interactive experiences. Hunewill Ranch will embark on its 105th cattle drive this fall. Guests are welcome to take part in the ultimate Old West experience by riding with the Hunewill family for five days. This trek covers 60 miles from Bridgeport, California to Smith Valley, Nevada. Participants herd 600 cows as they are driven to their winter range.

Fall Foliage: Imagine horseback riding under a canopy of Technicolor fall foliage in glorious reds, bright yellows and vivid oranges. Some of the nation’s most spectacular leaf peeping can only be found when you head off the beaten path. Choose from guest ranches in Arizona or Colorado where fall changes the Aspen leaves. Book a getaway to a dude ranch located near a National Park such as Triangle X Ranch in Grand Teton National Park or Horseshoe Canyon Ranch which borders Buffalo River National Park.

Escape the Cold: People who live up north will be pulling out their jackets in no time.  For those looking to bask in the sun one last time, a long weekend getaway in the Southwest will do the trick. With six ranches to choose from in Arizona and two in New Mexico, travelers are sure to find the right ranch for them to ride off into the (still warm) sunset.

 

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Fall is quickly approaching and will give you 5 good reasons to visit a dude ranch. Whether you’re looking for fall break travel ideas, a long weekend away without the kids or an extended vacation, a dude ranch is an ideal destination to enjoy the fall.

 

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