10 Luxury Dude Ranches for Your Next Vacation

Luxury Dude Ranches

Are you looking for a fun and entertaining vacation, but also want a relaxing and luxurious getaway at the same time? Luxury dude ranches are the vacation you have been searching for! These ranches offer a great atmosphere of adventure and relaxation all at the same time. Want to bring the kids along? Most luxury dude ranches have a great kid’s programs where the children can interact with other children their age and make memories to last a lifetime while the adults can also have their alone time to relax. If you’re on the other end of the spectrum and prefer an adult-only getaway, it’s best to book in the shoulder seasons or during a specialty week. Whatever experience you’re looking for; these DRA approved luxury dude ranches will fit the bill of a fantastic vacation for the whole family. 


Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort - Solvang, California

Located in the heart of Santa Barbara wine country is a 10,000-acre, working cattle ranch and full-service resort: The Alisal Guest Ranch. The rows of sycamores along the ranch driveway welcome you into your warm and inviting cabin. After a satisfying breakfast, go for a trail ride through the stunning rolling hills where you’ll pass cows grazing in the fields or play a round of golf on one of the two 18-hole courses on the property. The spa and pool will be waiting for you once you return to the ranch in the afternoon. Finish your day off by enjoying a glass of wine or cocktail in the bar and one of the best dinners you will ever have!

Luxury Dude Ranches


C Lazy U Ranch - Granby, Colorado

C Lazy Guest Ranch prides itself on its personalized 5-star service, professional horsemanship programs, first-class amenities, enriching children's programs, gourmet dining, and luxury accommodations (as they should!). Nestled in the heart of Colorado’s notorious Rocky Mountains, they offer the picturesque luxury ranch experience that people dream of.  As a year-round ranch, they are the perfect destination for both summer and winter getaways offering limitless activities from cross-country skiing to Orvis endorsed fly-fishing. Whether you’re looking for a family adventure or a romantic getaway, C Lazy U will be sure to impress!

Luxury Dude Ranches


Red Reflet Guest Ranch - Ten Sleep, Wyoming

Red Reflet Guest Ranch is the definition of luxury. Guest’s chalets include a full kitchen, hot tub, and steam showers. Spend your day working cattle, fishing on private streams, and exploring the 25,000-acre property on an ATV. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you will be one of the few people to experience Red Reflet’s gourmet dining -- many of the kitchen’s ingredients come straight from the ranch’s butcher shop, organic greenhouse and gardens! Don’t miss out on the exclusive cooking classes offered by the ranch’s 5-star chef so you can recreate these delectable meals at home!

Luxury Dude Ranches


Hubbard's Six Quarter Circle Ranch - Emigrant, Montana

Do you want a working ranch experience with world-class luxuries? Hubbard’s Six Quarter Circle Ranch in Montana may be the place for you. Guests actively participate in ranch work, whether it's pushing cattle to higher greener pastures, throwing salt, or fixing fence. But don’t worry, it’s not all work; many people brag about Hubbard’s famed massages that you won’t want to miss out on! And after a long day of work, every cowboy and cowgirl deserves a good beer in the bar while a juicy filet mignon steak with all the trimmings is prepared in the kitchen.

Luxury Dude Ranches


Rancho de los Caballeros - Wickenburg, Arizona

Want to escape somewhere warm and sunny this year? Let Rancho de los Caballeros spoil you with their upscale amenities and endless activities on your next Arizona getaway. This ranch is the ideal Southwest retreat with 20,000-acres of open range to explore by horseback and a full spa and salon to enjoy after a long morning in the sun. Adventure through the desert by ATV, tee off on the 18-hole championship golf course (while the “mini ranchers” play at the Kids Club), or spend a much-needed day doing nothing by the heated pool, preferably with a margarita in hand! 

Luxury Dude Ranches


The Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley - Colorado Springs, Colorado

You may not get much more luxurious than The Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley. Just a short ride up the mountain from the ever-famous Broadmoor sits the beautiful Ranch at Emerald Valley, a distinct western experience. This ranch is certainly in the high-end rustic retreat category. So, if you are in search of an extremely highly-rated luxury dude ranch for a romantic getaway or family vacation, don’t miss this ranch. Here, you can experience a variety of high-class activities along with a full-service spa. Your vacation here will be the perfect mix of western charm and a top-quality resort. An abundance of activities and great memories await you and your chosen travel partners at The Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley.

Luxury Dude Ranches


Lost Creek Ranch - Moose, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole are known for their extravagance. Placed between these two locations and equally as magnificent is Lost Creek Ranch. Offering open-air massages with views of the Tetons, the spa at Lost Creek is one that will surely put your city’s spa to shame. Float the infamous Snake River, hike and horseback ride in the Tetons, or take a tour of Yellowstone -- all once-in-a-lifetime experiences you won’t want to miss out on! At the end of the day, settle down in your own cozy, log cabin where you will drift to sleep in the comforts of home listening to the cool mountain breeze or crackling fireplace.

Luxury Dude Ranches


Lone Mountain Ranch - Big Sky, Montana

Lone Mountain Ranch sits at the base of the mountains in Big Sky, Montana just north of Yellowstone. The ranch welcomes families of all ages to join in on their western way of life. The Lone Mountain dining options will surely impress you with their high-quality Rocky Mountain cuisine including Kobe beef, elk, and vegetarian selections. Experience a long refreshing hike into the surrounding Gallatin Mountains, a horseback ride up to the mountain tops and gaze over the stunning canyons, or take advantage of their guided canoe trips. Whatever your definition of relaxation and rejuvenation may be, the luxury of Lone Mountain Ranch will help you escape reality and help you to truly enjoy your vacation and time away.

Luxury Dude Ranches


4UR Ranch - Creede, Colorado

Can you imagine a place more luxurious than a vacation with a natural hot spring right on site? The 4UR Ranch in Colorado is home to two historical natural hot springs that supply the warm water for their hot tub and other pools. The ranch was constructed around these natural wonders to make sure no damage was made and to preserve history. The healing waters provide serene relaxation and many people believe the waters are a natural healer. The ranch has much more to offer than just their top-notch spa; they have horseback rides, incredible cuisine for all ages, great fly-fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and more! Take a wonderful family vacation this year and have luxury meet you at the door at the 4UR Ranch. 

Luxury Dude Ranches


Mountain Sky Guest Ranch - Emigrant, Montana

Located 30 miles from Yellowstone National Park, is Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, a prime luxury dude ranch destination for both families and couples. There is something for everyone to do here. Whether you are an avid horseback rider, enjoy fly-fishing or archery, want to play a round of golf at the on-site golf course, or spend an incredible day in Yellowstone, you will not run out of activities on this vacation! Their truly impressive kids’ program will ensure that kids of all ages also enjoy the vacation of a lifetime. You won’t worry about a thing while at Mountain Sky; book the trip, pack your bags, and prepare yourself for a vacation filled with excitement, relaxation, and memories no one will soon forget! 

Luxury Dude Ranches

 

Do you know which one you want to visit yet? If not, let us know! Our ranch vacation specialists will help you pick the best ranch to fit your next vacation. 307-587-2339 info@duderanch.org 

Interested in including the Dude Ranchers’ Association in an article? Contact us today! 307-587-2339 info2@duderanch.org

Luxury Dude RanchesLuxury Dude RanchesLuxury Dude Ranches

The Best Dude Ranch Spas

    Best Dude Ranch Spas

     Vacations are supposed to be relaxing. However, research shows that it takes a few days for a person to TRULY begin to relax on a vacation. But a day at the spa on a dude ranch definitely can’t hurt in speeding up the process of de-stressing! Here are some lush dude ranch spas that will leave you feeling recharged and renewed during your vacation:

Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort | Solvang, CA

Best Dude Ranch Spa

     Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort has a top-notch spa center. Offering nine different massages that will cater to everyone from the mommies-to-be to the cowboy and cowgirls before and after their rides. Along with their broad range of massages, Alisal also offers three different facial treatments: an antiaging facial, vitamin-C infused and a customized rejuvenating facial. Whether you schedule a whole spa day or slip in after a long day of riding, Alisal’s spa center will SURELY relax you during your dude ranch vacation!

C Lazy U Ranch | Granby, CO

Best Dude Ranch Spa

     C Lazy U Ranch’s massages and facials are to-die-for! In addition to these, they offer a detoxifying and toning body wrap. This peaceful treatment begins with an exfoliation followed by a cocoon-like body wrap that will immerse your body in nutrients to detoxify and brighten your skin. C Lazy U also offers a decadent body scrub treatment that is the perfect solution after a dusty trail ride. This scrub will leave your skin looking supple, refreshed and deeply moisturized! And last, but certainly not least, C Lazy U offers copper tub soaks that every cowboy and cowgirl will enjoy. Soak away any stress while enjoying views of the Continental Divide. (Pro tip: Order a bottle of wine or champagne in advance for ultimate relaxation!)

Lost Creek Ranch | Moose, WY

Best Dude Ranch Spa

     Want to relax in the beauty and solitude of the Grand Tetons? Lost Creek Ranch is the place to do it! Nothing beats a rejuvenating mineral bath and facial after your first day in the saddle. After your cozy, peaceful bath, melt away your worries and tired muscles with an open-air massage (you didn’t come this far to be inside!). Once you’ve concluded your spa treatment, grab a light snack and some fruit and enjoy the mountain views by the pool. Lost Creek is any weary traveler’s dream come true!

Rancho de los Caballeros | Wickenburg, AZ

Best Dude Ranch Spa

     Rancho de los Caballeros offers a seemingly endless menu of spa options: bath soaks, body scrubs, wraps, massages, manicures, pedicures, and even hair and makeup services! This ranch has one of the most diverse facial menus with services designed specifically for the needs of dry, sun-damaged skin (you are in Arizona after all). A must-have treatment with immediate results you will be able to see and feel is the oxygenating facial. This revolutionary treatment improves circulation and eliminates toxins leaving the skin absolutely illuminated. Rancho de los Caballeros hasn’t forgotten about the cowboys that need to be pampered! Their spa also offers a grooming facial that includes a customized treatment along with grooming of the eyebrows, ears and nose. This will be a perfect Arizona retreat!

Tanque Verde Guest Ranch | Tucson, AZ

Best Dude Ranch Spa

     Relieve your mind, relax your muscles and reduce your stress at Tanque Verde Guest Ranch. Their massages include a therapeutic “Ranchers Dream Aroma Touch Therapy” massage which uses eight therapeutic grade essential oils to reduce and eliminate your daily stresses. This treatment also enhances your immune system, reduces inflammation and will create balance in your body. Follow this with one of their lavish body wraps and facials that will replenish your skin and leave you revitalized and hydrated. Tanque Verde Guest Ranch’s spa will surely help you wind down after an adventurous day in the desert.

The Broadmoor's Ranch at Emerald Valley | Colorado Springs, CO

Best Dude Ranch Spa

     The Spa at the Broadmoor boasts an infinite list of spa treatments and services: hydrotherapies, facials, massages, body treatments, waxing services, and hair and makeup services. We’ve narrowed it down to their three decadent packages: The “Queen Bee” package beings with a divine honey-based wrap with an agave nectar massage. This package is followed by a manicure and pedicure. Your second option is the “Wine Down” package. This begins with a 30-minute sugar scrub, succeeded by a 50-minute Swedish massage with olavie wine therapy oil, and ends with a signature manicure and pedicure. The third package is the “B.F.F.” This well-rounded package opens with a 50-minute massage, followed by a 50-minute custom facial, and concludes with a pedicure. No matter which package you select, you will certainly be left rejuvenated and restored. 

     The services offered in dude ranch spas are good for the body, mind, and soul. Massages can not only help ease altitude discomfort but also help in boosting your immune system after traveling. Facials and body treatments will nourish your skin after riding in the sun all day and are a great treat for yourself to help you destress. No matter which dude ranch spa you visit, it will truly be a pampering experience you never knew you needed! For more information on dude ranches with spas contact a dude ranch specialist at the Dude Ranchers’ Association today! Email us at info@duderanch.org or give us a call 307-587-2339! We represent over 95 dude and guest ranches in the Western United States and Canada, we will help you find the ranch of your dreams!

Best Dude Ranch Spas  Best Dude Ranch Spas  Best Dude Ranch Spas

8 Unexpected Travel Destinations

8 Unexpected Travel Destinations

More and more people are breaking out of the traditional vacation mold and venturing off to more unknown and unexpected travel destinations. Disney World, cruises, and beach vacations are slowly losing their appeal due to stressful crowds and long lines. Vacationers are longing for a vacation that will stand out from their neighbors and friends. Because of this new craving for new, less touristy adventures, dude ranches are thriving! A dude ranch vacation can provide so much peace, adventure and an experience that will leave your friends envious! 

8 Unexpected Travel Destinations

Campbell Hills Guest Ranch: Kamloops, British Columbia

Located halfway between Vancouver and Banff, Campbell Hills Guest Ranch is easily accessible, yet still remote enough to provide rest, relaxation and solitude for guests. When you arrive at the ranch, you’ll feel your worries drift away as you settle into perfect harmony with the rhythms of nature. Ride a horse on the alpine meadows, observe unique birds in their natural habitat and discover the many hidden fishing spots in British Columbia. We guarantee it’ll be an experience unlike any other!

8 Unexpected Travel Destinations

Bull Hill Guest Ranch: Kettle Falls, Washington

Bull Hill Guest Ranch sits at the Canadian border in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Travelers looking for a more laid-back horseback riding experience can saddle up for a scenic, guided trail ride. The trail rides combine breathtaking views and a variety of terrain, including open meadows and forests. Riders can even hit the trail to visit the nearby winery to sample selections in the tasting room or enjoy a cold brew in the Crown Creek Saloon. After dinner is time to socialize and enjoy the evening sunset. Why not head up to the trap shooting range and fire off a few rounds and show your shooting prowess? The cowboys will bring up the gear and the clays; all you need to do is have fun!

8 Unexpected Travel Destinations

Diamond D Ranch: Stanley, Idaho

The Diamond D Ranch is nestled in the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states, the Frank Church Wilderness, and is surrounded by the beautiful Salmon River mountains. There is an endless amount of country and wildlife to see, streams to fish and mountains in which to hike or horseback ride. To experience true untouristed areas, ask about their pack trips and backpacking trips! Some of their other activities include gold panning, volleyball, archery, target and skeet shooting, barbecues, campfires, swimming in their pool, or relaxing in their hot tub, wildlife viewing, scenic trips, fly fishing, and recently added wilderness photography tours!

8 Unexpected Travel Destinations

Medicine Bow Lodge Adventure Guest Ranch: Saratoga, Wyoming 

The Medicine Bow Lodge Adventure Guest Ranch sits at approximately 8,500 feet in the Snowy Range of the Rocky Mountains and is the perfect place for the adventurous traveler to escape and explore. Guests can participate in pottery, enjoy the peaceful surroundings in the pristine mountain air while fly fishing, or visit the nearby town of Saratoga and soak in the natural springs and famous hot pool. Above all, we encourage you to explore the beautiful mountains on the horseback ride of a lifetime at this ranch. 

8 Unexpected Travel Destinations

Focus Ranch: Slater, Wyoming

The Focus Ranch is situated right on the Wyoming/Colorado border so it’s perfect for the traveler trying to check off states on their bucket list! It is a traditional working cattle ranch that invites guests to live out the GENUINE cowboy and cowgirl lifestyle by participating in the real day-to-day operation of the ranch. But don’t worry, you don’t have to spend your entire vacation working cattle if you don’t want to! Spend some time relaxing by fly-fishing in the Little Snake River, hiking, or taking advantage of the Insta-worthy photography opportunities! 

8 Unexpected Travel Destinations

JJJ Wilderness Ranch: Augusta, Montana

Escape to the JJJ Wilderness Ranch: the place to discover landscapes so big and open and rugged that it stretches your soul. Tucked just inside Montana's majestic Rocky Mountain Front between Yellowstone and Glacier National Park, the ranch offers an adventure for every traveler: horseback riding, fishing, campfires, dancing and so much more! We can’t forget to mention the casual sightings of elk, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and black bear! A lot has changed in the world, but not here.

8 Unexpected Travel Destinations

Rankin Ranch: Caliente, California

Break out of the hustle and bustle of city life and discover the tranquility that Rankin Ranch has to offer. Horseback riding is a clear favorite at the ranch, but visitors also enjoy bicycling, fishing, hiking, and swimming (in the pool and in the creek!). Nights are filled with fun evening activities…square dancing, pool and foosball tournaments, talent shows, and their exciting “Horse Races” complete with stick horses. Another guest favorite is the weekly evening hayride and barbecue to the meadow complete with a horseshoe tournament. Another favorite activity is a visit to Sarah’s Farm where you can bottle feed calves and toss corn out for the chickens.

8 Unexpected Travel Destinations

Sprucedale Guest Ranch: Eager, Arizona

Nestled high in the pine country of Northeastern Arizona – 7,400 ft. above the sea and miles from civilization - is a little-known secret called, Sprucedale Guest Ranch. This family-owned, working ranch provides all the ingredients for good old-fashioned time. Pull on your boots and mount a horse for a thrilling ride through pine-covered mountains flowing with trout-filled streams. Horseback riding takes center stage at Sprucedale and is a sheer pleasure for beginner and experienced riders alike! Sprucedale Guest Ranch is truly a glimpse of heaven on earth!

Now, there are only 8 ranches on this list, but we have a total of 97 in the Dude Ranchers’ Association! Connect with one of our vacation specialists today to find the perfect unexpected travel destination for you or use our Activities & Amenities page to help narrow down your search. It will be the adventure vacation your family and friends will NEVER forget!

8 Unexpected Travel Destinations 8 Unexpected Travel Destinations 8 Unexpected Travel Destinations

Family Summer Camp — 5 Reasons Why You Need A Dude Ranch Vacation

Would you like to escape your mundane, urban life and experience the Great Outdoors? The best way to experience America’s beautiful countryside is on a dude ranch vacation. 

Staying on a working ranch is a wonderful experience for anyone who feels stuck in the rat race at home. At a dude ranch, you and your whole family can enjoy horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing, white-water rafting, kayaking, swimming, camping, hiking, and any other popular outdoor activity you can imagine. 

Whatever you enjoy doing in the wilderness, you’ll find a dude ranch that caters to your needs.

Dude Ranch Vacation

#1. Horseback riding

If you like horses, you’ll love the feeling of freedom you experience horseback riding along a trail. Horseback riding is the core activity at the DRA dude ranches. Whether you’ve never sat upon a horse before or you’ve competed in the Kentucky Derby, you’ll find a guest ranch that’s perfect for you and your interests.

Check out all the guest ranches affiliated with the Dude Ranchers Association. Many ranches provide special programs to educate kids (and interested adults) in horse care and horse-riding skills. You’ll find patient instructors for beginners and professional coaches for more experienced equestrians. Just select what you’re looking for on the association website. 

Take Tanque Verde Ranch in Arizona as an example. Tanque Verde is a multiple award-winning resort that has operated as a dude ranch for over 150 years. It is located adjacent to Coronado National Forest and Saguaro National Park. 

At Tanque Verde, you can experience riding across breathtaking desert landscapes in the shade of the Rincon Mountains. As well as providing horse riding instruction and trail riding, Tanque Verde also makes a great base for hiking, mountain biking, and fishing.  

Dude Ranch Vacation

#2. Campfire sing-a-longs

No childhood is complete without a campfire sing-a-long. A guest ranch is a wonderful place to take your kids so they can get closer to nature and enjoy wonderful cultural experiences like this. 

And if your childhood didn’t include one, it’s time to catch up now. A campfire out in the wilderness near a dude ranch is a great way to experience the quiet of the great outdoors but with the security of knowing civilization isn’t too far away.

Without the light pollution of the big city, the skies are clear, and the stars are bright. With the eeriness of the city a thousand miles away, you can wander off into the night and walk under the open skies.

If you’re an amateur astronomer, don’t forget to take along your telescope. A guest ranch is the perfect location for stargazing. Especially when the ranch is up high on a mountain range, and the stars are a few thousand feet nearer. 

Dude Ranch Vacation

#3. Mountain biking

Mountain biking is a great way to get fit. Biking gives you a great cardio workout and doesn’t put too much strain on your joints. And biking in the countryside provides you with a wonderful change of scenery. 

Many dude ranches are located in mountainous regions and near state or national parks, so they make a fantastic base for mountain biking adventures. The best thing is that the biking trails near many guest ranches aren’t located near cities and crowded. You’ll be out in the wilderness, enjoying amazing scenery, and breathing the fresh mountain air. 

You can hire a mountain bike at some dude ranches, but you’ll probably feel more comfortable using your own. To transport your bike safely to the ranch, consider purchasing a bike travel bag

4UR Ranch is a historic guest ranch located in a stunning valley in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. They have provided accommodation and trail riding to guests for over 120 years. And with the Rocky Mountains on the doorstep, you can enjoy fantastic mountain biking experiences.

Dude Ranch Vacation

#4. Fishing

Not everyone escapes to the countryside to go on long trail rides. Some people want to pursue a more relaxing activity that still gets them out into nature. Fly fishing is a perfect way to spend time beside the water on lakes or rivers. And many dude ranches offer private ponds, lakes, or riverbanks for eager anglers.

For example, Allen’s Diamond 4 Ranch in Wyoming is located right next to the Wind River and within easy reach of hundreds of alpine lakes stocked with wild trout. The fly fishing there is world-class, and with so many fishing spots to choose from and so few people out there in Dickinson Park and Shoshone National Forest, you’re spoiled for choice. 

Dude Ranch Vacation

#5. White water rafting and kayaking

Adrenaline junkies can find lots of activities to enjoy on a dude ranch. With so many guest ranches located near mountains and fast-flowing rivers, lots of guest ranches offer white water rafting or kayaking experiences. 

Some of these Class III and Class IV rapids are undiscovered by the majority of water sports enthusiasts. If you search through the list of dude ranches in America, you’ll find many that make wonderful bases for a thrilling water-borne adventure.

And you’ll often find other unique water-based experiences at dude ranches. Many offer gold panning, and swimming in private ponds is fairly common. Whatever you love to do on the water, you can do it at a guest ranch.

Marble Mountain Ranch in California specializes in rafting and riding vacations. They offer excellent equestrian instruction programs, trail riding, and white-water rafting. These adventures all occur in California’s Klamath National Forest, where the views of granite ridges and deep river valleys are stunning.

Embrace life and live a little!

As you can see, there are many great activities you can enjoy at a dude ranch. It’s a way you can safely enjoy a Wild West experience. On a guest ranch, you’ll definitely have a vacation you never forget. For more information or assistance in selecting the right dude ranch for you, contact the Dude Ranchers’ Association at info@duderanch.org! With almost 100 years of experience and over 95 ranches to choose from, we will help find the right ranch for you! 

This article was written in partnership with Outsidepursuits.com.

Dude Ranch Vacation

The Newest Millennial Travel Trend

The Newest Millennial Travel Trend

The Newest Millennial Travel Trend

The hospitality world literally idolizes millennial travelers and their trends. They have changed the standards of accommodations and amenities. This generation expects different activity, cuisine, and service. However, dude ranches have always offered many of the confusing or even cryptic components of millennial travel. Let's dig deeper into the good-time of an Instagramable dude ranch...

Experience 

Millennials crave authentic, experiential travel over packaged or conventional travel. Nothing is more authentic than Western Dude Ranches and the nearly 100 different options of ranches in the DRA portfolio that offer everything from working ranches to luxury-based stays across the country and Canada.

Newest Millennial Travel Trend

Brand names are still important; however, access to unique, obscure, or even, first-ever sports and adventures are more on par with millennial travel trends than a more traditional three-night hotel stay. A bonus, many ranches such as White Stallion in Tucson, Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, Eaton’s in Wyoming and Lost Valley Ranch near Denver, have an onsite concierge to not only assist with ranch activity, but nearby reservations and bookings, something that is still desirable in off-the-grid areas, or those not listed on the internet. 

Productivity 

Millennials are not about wasting their vacation time and like to go full speed, and the DRA certainly offers up all these longings. Truthfully, it’s hard not to be productive on a ranch, even if that means relaxing. Dude ranches provide guests with a dozen or more activities daily, making for multiple adventure-days. This embodies a millennial attitude; why do one activity when you can have the option to do three? And, what if the three activities change daily? Think of all the adventures to be accomplished in a week! 

Newest Millennial Travel Trend

Horseback ride in the morning, hike in the afternoon, and snag a trout come sunset, that’s a typical day at many Rocky Mountain ranches. Come winter in Idaho and Montana, imagine a fresh snowfall horseback ride after a gourmet breakfast, followed by ski journing, then lunch by the fire before afternoon sledding, ice skating, cross-country skiing or sleigh rides, and the sun hasn’t even set! 

Cuisine

Dude ranches have an adventure in every imaginable form, but many still have a reputation of pork and beans when it comes to food. Get out the silverware and set the table, because over two dozen of the ranches have won food and beverage awards. 

Rawah Ranch, close to the border of Colorado and Wyoming, hosted one of the top millennial “athleisure” brands in the world for their version of The Last Supper. In planning their schedule, the Chicago-based organizer inquired if they could ask attendees about what their dream last meal would be. Then, the ranch’s chef would prepare each meal to specification, served with an intricate explanation. “That’s the thing at Rawah, there are no limitations on requests from fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to seasoned Cornish hen for BBQ night. 

Newest Millennial Travel Trend

Latigo Ranch, another Colorado Ranch outside of Kremmling, has a family legacy of dessert. Spencer, the owner's son, works his craft in the kitchen. “His desserts—they’ve become the stuff of legend in the last decade. Coffee crème caramel with a shortbread cookie, Vanilla-bourbon crème brûlée, served in a martini-chiller over shards of caramelized sugar, with a fresh, warm, house-made, yeast doughnut drizzled in Spencer’s own salted caramel sauce, and milk chocolate mousse in a sugar sphere. World-traveled guests have raved over its perfection.” Hannah, his wife adds, “Latigo is service. Our food is artistry. And the taste is out of this world.”

White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, offers a patio utopia with and outdoor pizza oven and Tandoor—a cylindrical clay oven where heat is made by charcoal or wood to create a radiant cooking method—incredibly on-trend with the desire to know and see how your food is being prepared and cooked. Dinner is often served alfresco throughout the week featuring foods such as classic BBQ, brisket, pork tenderloin, steak, ribs, chuck roast, and locally-sourced vegetables. Steamship leg of pork, corn on the grill, produce skewers, wild rice, this is just a sampling of the gorgeously presented ranch food underneath the Tucson stars.

Online Impact with Authenticity 

The Newest Millennial Travel Trend

You don’t exist unless you have a website, well, that was 2014. Now, you need to have a social media presence and following to really attract the millennial traveler. With multi-generational ownership, millennials, of who have been raised on the ranches, are taking to social media and the authentic content has followings long after guests leave the ranch.

Cherokee Park Ranch (@cherokeeparkranch) has true rugged, seasonal images from the multiple generations that own and maintain the Colorado ranch. The millennial behind the campaign, Caree Prince (@careeoke), has her own following nearly 17K strong and loaded with Western wear, life, and landscape, authentic to her home daily activity, and it’s ragingly popular and constantly loaded with comments.

Triangle X Ranch, a historic ranch, in pristine Jackson Hole, runs five generations deep, and that’s their strategy. The engagement numbers on their Instagram (@trianglexranch) are some of the highest of all the dude ranches in the world! Nighttime skies, sunsets, and horses rack up hundreds of likes for each post. 

The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch (@thehideoutshellwy), east of Cody, Wyoming, also does a millennial-worthy job on their Instagram with sincere landscape from winter rides through feet of snow to cowboy sunrises and sunsets with the herd. Their remote location is the star of the photos with backdrops of dreams. 

The DRA member ranches will provide working, traditional, and luxury dude ranch vacations for all types of travelers and guests. Different activity, cuisine, and service will set the new standard for millennial adventure travel. For more information or assistance in selecting the right dude ranch for you, contact the Dude Ranchers’ Association! With almost 100 years of experience and over 95 ranches to choose from, we will help find the right ranch for you! 

The Newest Millennial Travel Trend

info@duderanch.org ~ 307-587-2339

The Newest Millennial Travel Trend   The Newest Millennial Travel Trend

Employment Opportunities on a Dude or Guest Ranch

Dude Ranch Employment

Has your dream job always been of working with a fun, tight-knit team that makes the whole operation run smoothly? Maybe you have wanted to be a part of a “family” that all have a common goal, providing an unforgettable vacation to guests - all while living out your own adventure. Would you like the opportunity to be around new people, experiences, scenery, and landscape? At a dude or guest ranch, you can find the answers to these questions, find a great work environment and make these dreams come true! Go somewhere you have never been and experience the true meaning of rewarding work. 

Dude and guest ranches offer many exciting benefits, some even life-changing. Working at a ranch can bring you into contact with amazing people that might just have the offer of a lifetime for you. You will get the chance to truly enjoy and work in the great outdoors and create memories that you will not forget. You can develop relationships with people from all over the world and find surprising opportunities where you may have never thought possible. 

This all sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Working with a great group of people, experiencing a new place, riding horses and having a seasonal job that you will always remember are just a few things you will appreciate while working on a dude or guest ranch. There is one thing to remember though, no matter what job you have on a dude ranch, hard work will be a requirement. Another good thing to remember is that on a dude or guest ranch, there is no such thing as “that is not my job.” As a team, everyone is expected to put on their boots and help out in all different departments when help is needed. There is always fun to be had even while working, but to make sure the job is done correctly and efficiently, it takes precision and a strong work ethic. If you want to do all of the wonderful things mentioned above and you are a hard worker, a dude or guest ranch job may be the job for you this season! 

Dude Ranch Employment

Not only are dude ranches open in the summer, but several are open in the wintertime too! No matter what time of year, there are always seasonal jobs available for a variety of positions. Horse experience is not necessary for many jobs at a dude ranch. Some positions that you might find at a dude or guest ranch would be:

• Maintenance

• Housekeeping

• Waitstaff

• Chef/Cook

• Prep Cook 

• Dishwasher

• Wrangler

• Kids’ Coordinator

• Fly Fishing Guide

• Office/Marketing Personnel

• Irrigator/Farmer

Now you may be thinking, working on a dude ranch sounds like a great idea, but how and where do I find the information to research jobs and apply? The Dude Ranchers’ Association member ranches have the ability to post job openings at their ranch on the DRA website at www.duderanch.org/employment. Here you will find current job openings, details on the positions available and the necessary contact information. You will also have the ability to look at the ranch’s profile to learn about the property and see what they have to offer for their guests and determine if it would be a good fit for you. 

The DRA also has a bi-monthly newsletter that goes out to all of the member ranches and offers individuals searching for employment an opportunity to run a short employment ad for only $10. This is a great way to show ranches that you are serious about finding a great job at a ranch!  

What are you waiting for? Find your dream job today!

Dude Ranch Employment

Top 10 Ranches for "Foodies"

Ranch visitors all have different “non-negotiables” when it comes to finding the perfect dude ranch for them. More and more often we see “amazing food” on this list. So, we decided to put together a list of the DRA ranches that offer mouth-watering gourmet food! Here are our Top 10 Ranches for "Foodies":

 

Red Reflet Guest Ranch | Ten Sleep, WY

Ranches for Foodies

Next to their ATV adventures, mealtime is always memorable at the Red Reflet Ranch. A great deal of effort is taken to make every meal tasty, healthful and unique. Ranch meals include produce from their greenhouse, garden, and orchard. Their beef is ranch-raised, the lamb is locally raised and both are processed in their butcher shop and aged to be savory and tender. Worried about missing the ranch food once you get home? Don’t fret! They offer cooking classes with their excellent Chef Toby Bauer!

 

Latigo Ranch | Kremmling, CO

Ranches for Foodies

The Latigo Ranch kitchen uses the finest ingredients, sustainably and locally sourced whenever possible, their chefs strive to make dishes that are creative, satisfying, wholesome, and elegant. The day begins with an array of breakfast opportunities; everything from fresh fruit, yogurt, and homemade granola, to pancakes, waffles, eggs any style, and their house-smoked bacon (which has been known to receive applause). You’ll then be off to fill your day with archery and shooting sports or maybe some rock climbing! Evening meals may consist of Bison flank steak roulade, a brace of quail with a fine sherry glaze, or ask about their AMAZING vegetarian options. And knowing that kids' tastes are often different, they work to see that they are happy as well.

 

Rancho de los Caballeros | Wickenburg, AZ

Ranches for Foodies

The chef and culinary team at Rancho de los Caballeros create three delicious meals daily. Breakfast is a full buffet with everything from homemade biscuits to made-to-order omelets. After a round of golf help yourself to the lunch buffet with poolside dining available. The gourmet dinner menu, which changes every evening, includes a choice of two soups or salads, five delectable entrees, including, but most definitely not limited to: grilled swordfish, 12-ounce ribeye, and pork chops. Then, after a beautiful desert sunset, swing by their bonfire cookout to grill, sing, and be merry!

 

Flat Creek Ranch | Jackson, WY

Ranches for Foodies

From traditional to decadent, Flat Creek Ranch’s kitchen is supplied by local, organic meat and produce whenever possible, including fresh greens from our garden. The daily menus reflect seasonal bounty at the hand of an experienced and imaginative chef. The day starts with coffee delivered to your cabin followed by a gourmet breakfast with seasonal fruit, homemade granola and yogurt, fresh-squeezed orange juice and something special and piping hot from the kitchen. You’ll be all fueled up and ready for a day of fly-fishing! After you get back to the ranch, duck confit, osso bucco with local beef, and stuffed pork chop are a few of the entrees you may enjoy with your 4-course dinner awaiting you. Beer and wine are always included!

 

High Lonesome Ranch | DeBeque, CO

Ranches for Foodies

The culinary structure at The High Lonesome Ranch is very unique. Their dining program is based on the needs and desires of the guests staying with them at the time. Menus can range from classical preparations to family-style. When you've concluded your daily horseback riding, cattle work, or fly-fishing you'll be very pleased to meet their Executive Chef, and in the morning their Breakfast Chef will become one of your favorite people. Local farm-to-table cuisine, ranch-grown produce, and their own HLR Angus beef raised and aged on the ranch will delight you at every meal.

 

Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort | Solvang, CA

Ranches for Foodies

Alisal Guest Ranch’s menu changes daily because they use the freshest ingredients from local farms and ranches. Their meals are prepared for a hearty appetite. Their breakfasts are cooked just how you like it and gourmet dinners are prepared with farm-fresh ingredients. Join them at the Chuckwagon Grill for some delicious entrees including quinoa and arugula salad, a half-pound fresh Angus burger, and Chuck Wagon Nachos. They specialize in their famous BBQ's held three times a week during the summer. 

 

4UR Ranch | Creede, Co

Ranches for Foodies

We’ll start off by saying, 4UR Ranch knows how to start their guests’ mornings off right: 6:30 am coffee delivered to your porch! After this, most meals at the 4UR take place in the lodge dining room at liberally scheduled times, so you’ll have plenty of time to soak in the hot springs! Dining at the 4UR is an event, not just another meal. They use local organic vegetables and produce. Dinner specials include Colorado Rack of Lamb, Ahi Tuna, Elk Tenderloin, Seared Salmon, Alaskan Halibut, Beef Tenderloin, Buffalo Ribs, and many other wonderful dishes. Important note: They have a bottomless cookie jar in the lodge and at the pool!

 

Hubbard's Six Quarter Circle Ranch | Emigrant, MT

Ranches for Foodies

There is never a shortage of food at Hubbard’s Lodge. Join them for hearty breakfasts with house-made baked goods, fresh fruit, and made to order omelets, eggs, pancakes, waffles, and more. After a long day hiking on the trail (and a nice hot bath), wander on down to the lodge where dinner is prepared and includes dishes such as roasted pork tenderloin or walleye with a lemon caper sauce, and accompaniments such as butternut squash, chipotle pepper soup, or southwestern Caesar salad. Mouthwatering desserts are prepared daily by their pastry chef. You'll always receive personal, friendly service from a great staff.

 

A Bar A Ranch | Encampment, WY

Ranches for Foodies

A day of yoga, fishing, and horseback riding in the mountain air promotes a healthy appetite. Dining at the A Bar A is one of the things that guests say is a favorite part of their ranch experience. Their chef's creative menus are prepared with high-quality ingredients, including organic produce and natural meats. The ranch's wine cellar holds a large selection of fine wines.

 

Tanque Verde Ranch | Tucson, AZ

Ranches for Foodies

By the end of your long day of mountain biking adventures at Tanque Verde Ranch, you’ll be anxiously awaiting over the dinner cuisine which may include seafood cioppino served with three types of fresh, pan-seared seafood or a 6 oz house-cut beef tenderloin. Besides the three gourmet meals served each day in the dining room, several indoor and outdoor specialty dining events are held each week. Consume the mouth-watering cuisine while also taking in the authentic dude ranch atmosphere of Tanque Verde Ranch! Nothing hits the spot better than a savory meal and refreshing drink after an invigorating day on the ranch. 

 

Whether you consider yourself a “foodie” or someone who just likes to enjoy GOOD food (myself) these dude ranches are a must-visit! If you’d like more information on dude ranches or need help selecting the best ranch-fit for you please contact us at info@duderanch.org or at 307-587-2339.

Top 10 Ranches for

A Day on a Dude Ranch

Dude ranch vacations are becoming ever popular for every type of traveler, multigenerational family reunions, couples, solo adventurists and even corporate groups. Dude ranches are a great destination to be as active or relaxing as one pleases; the ability to choose your own schedule and enjoy a way of life you may not be familiar with is relaxing in itself. Depending on the ranch, the list of activities could be quite simple or endless, but what does a day on a dude ranch entail? The folks at the Dude Ranchers’ Association can help you out in answering that question, continue reading to learn more! 

A Day on a Dude Ranch

Trail Ride at a dude ranch

Lone Mountain Ranch - Montana

Your stay at a dude ranch will start off with your arrival, being greeted by friendly faces and checking in. A tour around the ranch and help with your luggage is usually first on the list. After you have some time to settle in, you will probably hear a dinner bell ringing indicating it is time to start vacation off on the right foot, with great food! You will join other guests in the dining room where introductions will be made and the fun begins. Most ranches do not have riding available on the day guests arrive, but there are some that do, so when you are planning your trip, just be sure to ask. 

The next day will be a full day of activities! Most guests will probably choose to head on down to the corral to see the horses and get fitted for stirrups so you are comfortable in the saddle. You will then get the opportunity to hear an orientation speech about safety precautions around the corral and some basic riding instruction for the beginners in the group. Even if you have riding experience, it is necessary and important to listen to the horse safety orientation speech because each horse is different and so is each ranch. These orientations cover much more than basic instruction of riding, each ranch has specific guidelines for riders and they want to ensure every one is as safe as possible and can enjoy their vacation! Once you have heard the speech, you will be on your way, riding through the beautiful landscapes and fresh mountain air these dude ranches lie in. You may be thinking, "what about the kids?" Don’t you worry, many ranches have fantastic kids’ programs and counselors to keep them busy while the adults are away. Obviously, if they are old enough to ride, that is probably where they will spend much of their time, but for the younger kiddos or maybe the ones not so interested in riding, there will be something to keep them busy and making memories! 

kids high fiving at a dude ranch

CM Ranch - Wyoming

After your morning ride, you will head into lunch where, again, there will be great food awaiting you! After a satisfying lunch, you may be ready for a nap, to go lay by the pool, try your hand at fishing or head back out on the trails. This is where the autonomy of a dude ranch shines through, the choice is completely up to you on how you spend your vacation! Each ranch has its own list of activities for guests to participate in, so when you are starting your search for a ranch, be sure the activities you want to enjoy are available. If you do not know where to start on making a list of activities you want to try, contact the Dude Ranchers’ Association and they will be able to help! 

outdoor picnic at a dude ranch

Black Mountain Ranch - Colorado

By afternoon, everyone is off on their next adventure of the day! Horseback riding, fly-fishing, hiking, swimming, kids’ club or reading a good book might be the adventure. Once that adventure comes to an end for the day, it will be time for, you guessed it, another fantastic meal! Some ranches do host cocktail hours before dinner so guests can mingle and share stories of the day. This is a great time for the kids to get together and play while the adults have some time to decompress. Other ranches do not have the ability to host these cocktail hours, but guests are welcome to bring beverages of their choice and enjoy them before and during dinner. 

wine at a dude ranch

Triangle C Ranch - Wyoming

After dinner, many ranches have events scheduled for guests to enjoy. These events may include dancing, campfire sing-a-longs and s’ mores, a rodeo, hay rides, games and more! These events make the best of memories, especially if you have never participated before. Usually, the staff members of the ranch get involved too and make it even more fun! If you choose to visit a dude ranch for five to seven days, you may find that there is a scheduled event most nights; if this is something that interests you, be sure to ask before booking your stay. 

square dancing at a dude ranch

Wind River Ranch - Colorado

Evening festivities will wrap up and you will be ready to head to your comfortable lodge room, cabin or maybe even a glamping tent. A good night’s sleep will be no problem after all of the excitement from the day. Before you know it, you will wake up and it will start all over again with meals, activities, great company and memories to last a lifetime. 

cabin at a dude ranch

Marble Mountain Ranch - California

The Dude Ranchers’ Association currently has almost 100 member ranches spread throughout the Western United States and Canada that ensure you will receive a genuine Western experience combined with the lodging industry’s highest standards of hospitality.  Finding a ranch where you can check all of the activities off of your bucket list can be very easy. Contact the folks at the DRA and they will help you find the perfect ranch for your destination vacation! 

307-587-2339 ~ info@duderanch.org

 

Save this Pin for Later!

ude ranch vacations are becoming ever popular for every type of traveler, multigenerational family reunions, couples, solo adventurists and even corporate groups. Dude ranches are a great destination to be as active or relaxing as one pleases; the ability to choose your own schedule and enjoy a way of life you may not be familiar with is relaxing in itself. Depending on the ranch, the list of activities could be quite simple or endless, but what does a day on a dude ranch entail?

Winter Vacations – Take a Magical Sleigh Ride at a Dude Ranch

Winter is quickly approaching in the Western U.S. and we are trying to stay positive about the snow and cold that we know is coming very quickly! We have been thinking about some of our favorite parts of wintertime, like snuggling up and watching Christmas movies! We have all seen the Hallmark Christmas movies where the people take the magical horse-drawn sleigh ride through the beautiful white snow with cozy blankets, hot chocolate, and breath-taking scenery all around. Every romantic has dreamt of this scenario happening to them at one time or another, who wouldn’t want to go dashing through the snow with the one they love!? This scenario may be just a dream for many hopeless romantics because of one big obstacle, where do you go to take a sleigh ride like you see in the movies? We have the answer! A sleigh ride at a Dude Ranchers’ Association dude ranch in the mountains of the Western U.S. can provide you with that magical movie scene you have always dreamed of and can double as a great romantic getaway destination! 

The Dude Ranchers’ Association has some fantastic ranches that offer sleigh rides in the wintertime for their guests, and this activity pairs nicely with the other activities and amenities these ranches have to offer. These ranches are great destinations for a romantic getaway, but they are also wonderful for families in the wintertime as well! If you and your kids have never been sledding, you definitely need to go…it truly is an experience like no other! Take a look at a few of the DRA’s dude ranches below that offer sleigh rides in the wintertime to their guests and get ready embark on that magical sleigh ride! 

Bar W Guest Ranch – Whitefish, MT

Winter Sleigh Ride

Head to the mountains of Montana for a fantastic winter (or summer) getaway at the Bar W Guest Ranch. Every season provides magical opportunities for guests, like sleigh rides in the wintertime or wonderful trail rides in the summertime. If you choose the winter getaway, on these sleigh rides you will glide across Montana’s snow-blanketed landscape while cozied up under a plush blanket enjoying the company of other guests. Each sleigh ride winds through open fields and woodlands giving you the chance to take in the beauty of Montana in the wintertime. The sleigh rides last approximately 45 minutes and after your ride, you can warm up by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate and homemade cookies! Alcoholic beverages are not provided, but you are welcome to bring your own if you choose! Don’t forget to make your reservations, these popular sleigh rides fill up fast and you don’t want to miss out! At the Bar W in the wintertime, you will experience snow, horses, divine hospitality, delicious food, and cozy cabins or lodge rooms if you choose to stay a few days! Come back in the summertime for a longer stay and enjoy all of the summer activities the ranch has to offer! 

C Lazy U Ranch – Granby, CO

Winter Sleigh Ride

Experience one of Colorado’s most luxurious dude ranches this winter and take a sleigh ride while you are there! The C Lazy U Ranch is the perfect getaway for any couple or family looking for some winter and snowy fun! Their sleigh rides offer the opportunity to ride through the ranch’s 200 horses and see them up close. You might even see Petey, they miniature donkey who is mighty handsome! The sleighs can only hold up to 12 guests, so it is the perfect group of people to go dashing through the snow. Sleigh rides are not the only snow-related activities offered at C Lazy U, take the opportunity to go horseback riding through the snow, go ice skating or play ice hockey, go snowmobiling or even snow tubing/sledding. There are several other snow activities as well! If you would rather stay inside and stay warm, you can head on over to the ranch’s hot tub or take advantage of their award-winning spa. This is also a great option after your snow activities too because even though the snow is beautiful, it can be a little chilly. Along with all of these activities, you will experience beautiful lodging accommodations and gourmet meals prepared by the ranch’s chefs. Escape to Colorado for a romantic couple’s getaway or a family vacation that will create memories to last a lifetime! 

Lone Mountain Ranch – Big Sky, MT

Winter Sleigh Ride

The Lone Mountain Ranch in the famous ski town of Big Sky, Montana is calling your name! Experience their winter Discovery Package and all it has to offer. This ranch nestled in the mountains right above Big Sky is the perfect destination for your next winter getaway! The Discovery Package offers some great options, including a sleigh ride to the legendary North Fork Cabin where dinner will be waiting for you. You will also get the chance to do some cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, yoga, and listen to live Western music while at Lone Mountain Ranch. This package includes three gourmet meals a day, luxurious Western-chic lodging accommodations, all of the previously mentioned activities, airport transfers to and from Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport and more. Grab your significant other, family or group and head to Montana for a fantastic winter adventure vacation. The memories and experiences will be unforgettable! 

Vista Verde Ranch – Steamboat Springs, CO

Winter Sleigh Ride

Enjoy the scenes of a winter wonderland and so much more at the luxurious Vista Verde Ranch located in Steamboat Springs. The Rocky Mountains provide the perfect blanket of snow for winter activities at Vista Verde, one of those activities being sleigh rides. There is an option for the sleigh rides at this ranch to be a little more unique if you choose. Of course, you still get the joys of gliding through the snow on a horse-drawn sleigh, taking in the beautiful snow-covered landscape and scenery if would like. Or, you can take a more adventurous sleigh ride with some of the crew by helping them feed the ranch’s herd of horses on a horse-drawn sleigh! Each day the ranch hitches up their draft horse team to haul a very large load of hay out to the horse pasture to feed the horses. Guests are invited to jump on the sleigh and toss out hay or just enjoy the ride; it is quite the experience! Before tractors and machines, this is how ranchers used to feel their livestock in the old days, so this is a true Western tradition. Enjoy the sleigh rides, snow, other winter activities, fantastic food and beautiful accommodations at this ranch. It is a great romantic getaway or a vacation destination for the whole family. No matter what type of winter vacation you are looking for, Vista Verde Ranch might just be what you are looking for. 

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch – Sandpoint, ID 

Winter Sleigh Ride

The options for a magical, snowy sleigh ride at the Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in Idaho are abundant. For a group sleigh ride, one of the ranch’s five teams of draft horses will gracefully take you and your loved ones dashing through the snow…literally! If you are looking for a more romantic, snow-filled adventure you can choose to take the sleigh pulled by one horse and enjoy the beauty of North Idaho with your significant other. This will make your Hallmark movie dream moment come true! After the sleigh ride, you can head over to the ranch’s lodge to warm up by the fire and enjoy warm beverages and freshly popped popcorn! If you are wanting more than just snacks, the ranch offers a sleigh ride and dinner package as well! The ranch also has a special offer that includes getting a Christmas tree while out on your sleigh ride. There is an additional cost for this, but what better way to go get a Christmas tree than on a horse-drawn sleigh, now that sounds like a winter dream! Western Pleasure Guest Ranch has lodging and meal accommodations available for guests who choose to live out the winter dream at the ranch for a few days. There are other activities available and it is a great getaway, especially for couples! No matter which sleigh ride adventure you choose to take, the folks at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch will be sure to take care of you and help you create memories to last a lifetime! 

Now that you have learned a little more about magical winter vacations that could include horse-drawn sleigh rides, skiing adventures, snow tubing/sledding and more, you can start planning your getaway! If you think a winter dude ranch vacation may be a bit too cold for your liking, look into a summer dude ranch vacation! If you need help in finding information about dude ranch vacations or need help on where to start planning this type of vacation, contact the Dude Ranchers’ Association, info@duderanch.org or 307-587-2339. 

Winter Sleigh Ride

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

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

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

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

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

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

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

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

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

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

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

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

 

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

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

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

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

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

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

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

 

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

 

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

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

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

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

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

 

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

 

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

Off-Season Secrets to the

Reviving your Mind, Body and Spirit at a Dude Ranch

While the term dude ranch usually brings to mind images of cowboys and cattle drives, dude ranches are actually all this and much more – especially when it comes to wellness experiences. In keeping with the belief that wellness starts from within, many DRA-accredited ranches offer a variety of rejuvenating activities and services in a lush oasis environment to give you “whole body” relief from the stress of modern life. Imagine enjoying a spa escape or time in the great outdoors with a small group, giving you the opportunity to decompress and to actually contemplate all the things that you just do not have time to on a day to day basis. How freeing will it be to breathe the fresh mountain air, hike to the top of a bluff to view a morning sunset, to actually have time to read a book or to just sit a listen to Mother Nature?  We at the Dude Ranchers’ Association think spending time alone with your thoughts is just as important as any exercise program. Below you will see that there are some real opportunities to revive your mind, body, and spirit while experiencing some of the most spectacular areas in the country, from valleys complete with untouched Rocky Mountain backdrops to desert sunsets across the Southwest.

As the original all-inclusive vacation, dude ranches offer value and numerous advantages over other all-inclusive vacation options including no planning once you arrive, flexibility to customize your itinerary, and no additional costs once you arrive at your destination. There are more than 95 DRA-accredited dude ranches in North America (two in Canada), all of which uphold the highest quality of services within the industry. No matter what type of getaway you’re in search of, there is the perfect dude ranch out there for you. Please see below for a sampling of DRA-accredited ranches that feature unique wellness experiences.

Greenhorn Ranch

Greenhorn Ranch in California believes lost is the time when we gathered for a shared purpose when we communed under the stars and truly connected. Interruptions are far too easy in a normal setting. Escape to a place beneath the stars where cell phone service is shoddy, WiFi works when you need it, and the campfire is always warm and crackling under the starlit sky. Relax, enjoy the stay and relish the much-anticipated time together.  Their 3-day wellness retreat starts September 26th – 29th. There will be seminars on relieving stress through your camera with David Herman, learn how to cook delicious meals in just 90 minutes with Pamela Salzman. Learn to manage your stress with healthy food and herbs. Tina Quinn reminds you that “The most important things in life are the ones you can’t see”.  

You will also get the opportunity to learn why Winston Churchill often said: “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man”. 

dude ranch

A Bar A Ranch

Sometimes all a person needs to revive your mind, body, and spirit is to get outside in the woods.  At A Bar A Ranch in Wyoming, they offer what they call an “Expedition” which are custom Western adventures. Up to six guests stay in luxurious cabins or tents, taking full advantage of their 100,000-acre property. Days are spent riding, fishing, hiking, and exploring.  The A Bar A Ranch sits along the banks of the North Platte River in the heart of the beautiful Medicine Bow Mountains. 

The A Bar A Classic Expedition is perfect for families or friends seeking a private experience on a classic guest and cattle ranch. Ride to your luxurious cabin on horseback taking in the amazing Wyoming scenery. Your Expedition Guide will take care of everything for you, they will also be your gourmet cooks. A Bar A expeditions give you the chance to design the vacation that is just perfect for you. 

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Rancho de los Caballeros

If you are looking for a more traditional wellness experience look no further than the Spa at Los Caballeros at Rancho de los Caballeros Ranch in Arizona. The resort spa offers classic services and signature treatments you won’t find anywhere else, such as their desert baths, scrubs, and wraps. Whether you’re looking to enrich your skin or touch up your pedicure, Spa Caballeros has a wonderful treatment for you. End an action-filled day by unwinding with an enriching facial, hot stone massage, or aromatic bath in our claw-foot tubs. Parents can share a spa day with their daughters by booking nail treatments together. 

The ranch is surrounded by the Sonoran Desert’s hiking trails and beautiful blooming cacti, their 20,000-acre ranch resort does not waste any space. You will not only get to enjoy the amazing horseback riding but can also experience their acclaimed 18-hole golf course, tennis courts and heated pool.

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Majestic Dude Ranch

Majestic Dude Ranch in Colorado sets aside a week in May and the month of September specifically for adults. They realize that the non-stop programming their summer session offers isn’t for everyone. Learn to relax, take a deep breath and heal from the inside out.  Enjoy cooking classes, wine and cheese tastings or just sitting on your porch taking in the peace and quiet the ranch has to offer. There is nothing better for the soul and mind than a little quiet time alone.

The amenities at this ranch are pretty nice. They offer Tempur-Pedic mattresses in every room so you’ll rest easy after a long day of activities. Diffusers stocked with soothing oils in each room make coming back to your cabin an even more relaxing experience. No one ever goes hungry at Majestic – that’s their commitment. Their mission is to provide hearty, yet healthy meals for all guests. Their chefs cater to all dietary restrictions, allergies, and tastes. If you still feel the need to work out they offer, for their especially active guests, unlimited gym access. With a treadmill, free weights, an assisted pull-up bar, and several machines, there’s plenty to keep you fit and on your gym schedule.

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We know it can be hard in this stress-filled busy world we live in to take time for yourself, but we feel it is one of the most important things you can do for a healthy mind, body, and spirit!

www.duderanch.org ~ info2@duderanch.org ~ 307-587-2339 

While the term dude ranch usually brings to mind images of cowboys and cattle drives, dude ranches are actually all this and much more!

Unique Fitness Adventures on a Dude Ranch Anytime of Year

When planning a dude ranch vacation, you might think about horseback riding through picturesque mountain panoramas, testing out fly fishing on mirror like rivers or relaxing by a crackling campfire; it usually does not cross your mind about staying on track with your workout routine. You don’t want to lose a whole week of workouts, but what are you going to do to stay in shape at a dude ranch? There is an array of unique dude ranch fitness adventures to participate in during your vacation. 

Horseback riding offers physical activity, but you may be eager for more challenging tasks. You may need to actually “feel the burn” while participating in an activity to get a sense of a good workout. No matter what type of weather conditions, there are outside adventures to keep you active any time of year. Here are 9 unique dude ranch adventures to keep you in shape during your vacation. 

Unique Dude Ranch Fitness Adventures

 

Mountain Biking – Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch, Arizona

With all of the activities available on a dude ranch it is hard to pick just a few to participate in. Plus, you want to get the most out of your week-long vacation, but it is tough to do all the activities you want in such a short amount of time. If you are looking to explore the desert terrain of Arizona in a different way there are options! For a more fitness tailored adventure you could try mountain biking. Stagecoach Trails has fat tire mountain bikes available for you to use for a quieter exploration of the cactus filled trails. Ride through the desert and get a good workout by peddling through sandy trails, you might even get to see some wildlife, like a roadrunner being chased by a coyote! 

fitness adventures

Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch - Yucca, AZ 

Snowshoeing – Campbell Hills Guest Ranch, British Columbia 

If you have never walked through deep, wet snow you may not know how much of a workout it can really be. Sometimes vacations have snowy days, and you will still want to get outside to enjoy some fresh air and exercise. At Campbell Hills Guest Ranch there are many winter activities available, but snowshoeing may be the best physical workout of them all. You can snowshoe many different trails at the ranch and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings. It is very peaceful to get outside, enjoy the cool fresh air and take in all of the stunning landscapes and mountains around you. 

fitness adventures

Campbell Hills Guest Ranch - Kamloops, BC

Paddle Boarding – Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge, Montana 

Trying to balance on a board, paddle and enjoy everything around you can sometimes be a true challenge. Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge in Montana has many water activities to offer that are fun and refreshing. The ranch is located directly on the shores of Flathead Lake which is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. This lake is also one of the cleanest freshwater lakes in the world and stretches almost 30 miles in length! Paddle boarding on Flathead Lake is one of the tougher physical activities for your body. It requires many muscles to all be used at the same time which can be difficult, if your body is not up for that challenge, no worries you can just go for a swim! It is a great fitness activity for those vacation-goers who are looking for a fun adventure on the water all while getting a good workout, and maybe even a tan! 

fitness adventures

Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge - Bigfork, MT

Hiking – Rancho de la Osa, Arizona

Hiking is one of the best fitness activities one can do to stay in shape while on vacation. Many of the Dude Ranchers’ Association’s member ranches have miles of trails for you to hike either with a guide or on your own. Rancho de la Osa in Arizona is a perfect place for hikers, by walking a few yards from your room you will find some of the same trails forged by legendary figures like Pancho Villa. You can walk on red clay trails towards the famous Baboquivari Mountain or you can tour the Buenos Aires wildlife refuge. While out on these hikes you may experience giant jackrabbits or hike along old western ghost towns that still feature intact buildings. No matter where your hiking adventure takes you, a good workout and a great time is sure to be had!   

fitness adventures

Rancho de la Osa - Sasabe, AZ 

Cross Country Skiing – Triangle X Ranch, Wyoming

Whatever your outdoor challenge or your outdoor dream, you will find it at the Triangle X Ranch in Wyoming. This ranch has many fitness activities to offer year-round, but in the winter time one of the best workouts is cross country skiing. A challenging tour through the flats of the Snake River Valley is like no other winter wonderland. The chances of running into wildlife are very high, and seeing the Grand Teton Mountains the with snow on the peaks is a memory you will never forget. Triangle X also extends other winter and snow activities that allow for a great workout for any level. 

fitness adventures

Triangle X Ranch - Moose, WY

Rock Climbing – Sundance Trail Guest Ranch, Colorado 

It is always exciting to try new things, and new workouts are wonderful. Rock climbing at the Sundance Trail Guest Ranch in Colorado is a great way to mix things up while on vacation. Like many other non-typical adventures, rock climbing may not seem like much of a workout when participating, it is usually the day after the adventure that you feel all those muscles you used become sore. The rock climbing program at Sundance Trail is described as an introduction to climbing. Through this program you will learn how to tie knots, conduct proper belay and movement techniques, communicate, understand the terminology used during rock climbing, participate in a bouldering introduction as well as learn about outdoor safety. The ranch provides special shoes, ropes, helmets and all other technical gear. If you want to try a new fitness adventure rock climbing might just be your niche! 

fitness adventures

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch - Red Feather Lakes, CO 

Kayaking – Wind River Christian Guest Ranch, Colorado 

Located just 10 minutes from the Wind River Christian Guest Ranch in Colorado lies Lake Estes, a body of water that provides some of the best views of Rocky Mountain National Park. What better way to take in the beauty of the mountains and all the surrounding scenery than by a kayak? Not only will the adventure be beautiful, but you can also make it either an easy or hard fitness activity while on your vacation. The kayaking adventure is included in the weekly rate stay at the ranch so there is no extra cost to participate, a great activity for the whole family. The staff from the ranch will provide transportation down to the marina where you will prepare for the adventure by picking out which type of kayak they prefer, one person or two, grabbing life jackets and going through a brief training session so you can have the best time possible on the lake. Kayaking is a great fitness activity that will have your arms and core limp by the time you get back to shore, good news is there is a nice hot tub waiting for you back at the ranch! 

fitness adventures

Wind River Christian Guest Ranch - Estes Park, CO 

Yoga – 7D Ranch, Wyoming

If you are looking to relax your mind and body while on a dude ranch vacation, finding a ranch with a yoga class is a great idea. The 7D Ranch in Wyoming offers yoga classes multiple times a week and by request. The classes are for any level and are a great way to stretch out those muscles after a long day in the saddle. Yoga presents many benefits for the body and mind; one class may just help bring that sense of relaxation you have been looking for. You do not even have to worry about bringing your own equipment, the ranch has mats and other necessary equipment available. The classes can be tailored to many different levels as well; so, whether you are an avid yogi with much experience or just a beginner who has never set foot on a yoga mat, there is a class for you. 

fitness adventures

7D Ranch - Cody, WY

Snowmobiling – Seven Devils Lodge Guest Ranch, Idaho

Riding a big snowmobile through the powdery snow and trees does not seem all that hard right? Why would snowmobiling be considered a fitness activity you may ask? Until you try snowmobiling for the first time you will never quite understand how many muscles and how much effort it takes to maneuver a machine like that through the snow. Snowmobiling is another fitness activity that offers great adventure and each person can go at their own level. At Seven Devils Lodge and Guest Ranch in Idaho guided snowmobiling tours are offered for any level rider. D.R. Bledsoe is a great instructor/coach and will teach riders how to safely ride the machines all while having a great time. Snowmobiling is much like riding a horse in the dude ranch world, the folks at the ranch will ask you your experience level and how comfortable you are with the machine and then adjust the program accordingly. They walk though the process of riding the machine and will ride with you until you feel comfortable on your own. If you are looking for a fun adventure and an out of the ordinary fitness activity, look no further than the Seven Devils Ranch. 

fitness adventures

Seven Devils Lodge and Guest Ranch - Council, ID

 

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No matter the weather conditions, there are outside adventures to keep you active. Here are 9 dude ranch fitness adventures to consider during vacation.

The Dude Ranchers’ Association’s Best Outdoor Meals

From Arbuckle and bear sign (cattle-range lingo for coffee and doughnuts) over an open flame to pizza ovens and prickly pear margaritas on patios under the stars, these are the top dude ranches with the best outdoor meals and dining experiences for late summer and early autumn. Nature’s bounty is at its finest this time of year. Breakfast rides with fresh confections, four-course lunch atop a mesa and evening cuisine fireside, the DRA has some of the most intimate and exquisite land in the West with access to local food and secret dishes. Fork’s up! 

Home Ranch, Clark, Colorado

Gardens and Greenhouses Galore

Nestled in the Elk River Valley is Home Ranch, definitively one of the most idyllic settings for an outdoor brick oven rolling out over a dozen varieties of stone-fired pizzas. The Home Ranch, a Relais & Chateaux property, 30 minutes from Steamboat Springs, focuses on cuisine year-round; however, their weekly offering in summer and fall of crispy pizzas loaded from the ranch’s gardens and greenhouse is as fresh and farm to fork as one can get. The sound of horses dining on their hay in the background and views of Home Ranch’s stunning barn and cabins are worthy of a Travel + Leisure cover.

The afterclaps (unexpected event after the event is supposed to be over) are the wranglers driving the herd out for the day as you finish your cocktail and dessert. The ranch’s massive greenhouse is also open for tours throughout the evening with resident gardeners and the head Master Gardener.

best outdoor meals

Endulge in flatbread pizza cooked in a brick oven with homegrown ingredients at The Home Ranch in Colorado.

Latigo Ranch, Kremmling, Colorado

Breakfast Bliss

This ranch takes food as serious as their scenery. Surrounded by 50,000 acres of the Medicine Bow—Routt National Forest, the George family has the lay of the land to devise splendid surprises come mealtime. It’s a family business for the George’s with the owner’s son and wife running the kitchen. A crowd pleaser begins when guests are escorted to the main lodge in Latigo’s covered wagon to sally forth into a picturesque aspen glade where the kitchen crew has grilled steaks, fish, and veggies to go along with a full buffet of classic dude ranch side dishes—corn on the cob, baked beans (acclaimed by some guests to be the best in the world), sweet potato biscuits, and more. Dessert, as always, is greatly anticipated. There’s a choice between rhubarb pie and peanut butter pie, consumed while eagerly awaiting the announcement of prizes from the team penning earlier that afternoon.

There’s still the weekend! On Saturday breakfast is served at a point overlooking an impossibly expansive view of the mountains. When guests arrive via horseback, they’ll find pancakes grilled by the ranch’s owner, Randy, along with eggs, bacon, sausage, all freshly cooked and served by Hannah George along with fruit, juices, coffee, tea, and homemade banana bread. Perched on the rocks with a 360˚ view of absolute wild beauty, it’s the perfect end to a spectacular week and one of the best breakfast rides in the West. 

best outdoor meals

Ribeye steak, one of many delicious meals to enjoy at Latigo Ranch in Colorado.

White Stallion Ranch, Tucson, Arizona

Patio Utopia with Prickly Pear Margs  

With the baking hot summer that has swept through the country in 2018, autumn will bring much relief and the opportune time to try Russell True’s latest baby, White Stallion Ranch’s outdoor pizza oven and Tandoor—a cylindrical clay oven where heat is made by charcoal or wood to create radiant cooking methods.  

Dinner is served alfresco throughout the week featuring foods such as classic BBQ, brisket, pork tenderloin, steak, ribs, chuck roast and locally-sourced vegetables. 

Steamship leg of pork, corn on the grill, produce skewers, wild rice, this is just a sampling of the gorgeously presented ranch food underneath the Tucson stars.

Guests enjoy some of the best dude ranch evening entertainment in the world while finishing their wine, local craft brew or one of the ranch’s legendary margaritas, the prickly pear. Crème Brule, blueberry pie, and pineapple upside down cake have become the ranch’s legacy desserts. Each outside evening, there is a local cowboy strumming the guitar. To keep things going past dusk, lights are strung throughout the outdoor eating area and entertainment space with lighted cactus as an extra quirk. 

best outdoor meals

A warm and welcoming outdoor dining area at the White Stallion Ranch in Arizona. 

Covered Wagon Ranch, Gateway, Montana

Chef’s Special

Located a stone’s throw from Yellowstone National Park, Covered Wagon Ranch takes advantage of its location and access to quieter parts of the Park. The ranch encourages guests to take a lunch ride almost daily! Sure, lunch is always available in the main lodge, but riders know best—take the chef’s special and giddy up. With nearly a dozen trails the ranch rides weaving in and out of Yellowstone, there’s a really good chance you can wind up having the chef’s special, with a moose (it happened to us!). Each night the chef surveys his crowd and crafts a special sandwich that is available for pick-up before the daily ride. Guests always have the choice of nearly 20 items, but there’s a reason for the chef’s special.

After a gently ascending two-hour ride into the Yellowstone, our family found a quiet meadow to let the horses rest and for us to enjoy the special sandwich. Not five minutes after dismount did a giant bull moose stand up from his resting spot in the meadow and curiously circle around the meadow to get a good view of us as we kept a safe distance. Our kids knew what was up, the moose wanted the chef’s special! Three generations eating the best sandwiches while enjoying secret spots in Yellowstone with a moose overseeing the feast. Apparently, your chance of spotting a moose drastically increases if you order up the special. 

best outdoor meals

Trail rides lead to beautiful destinations at the Covered Wagon Ranch in Montana. 

Sidebar: Snacking, Sweets and Soaking

Tombstone Monument Ranch in its historic namesake town of Arizona offers a slow ride labeled  “Beer and Cheetos” for obvious reasons. This is the ultimate afternoon snack. Take a flat, scenic ride to the ranch’s Beer and Cheetos site where there is shade and bathrooms. Enjoy a cold, refreshing beer delightfully accompanied by some empty calorie, salty and delicious snack foods. Followed by a slow, scenic ride back to the ranch in time for social hour. Note, this is an adult-only ride.

Wait, what about tequila connoisseurs? No problem, the “Tequila and Cheese” ride takes guests along the same route, but instead offers up a little more sophistication with a unique selection of wines and assorted cheeses, crackers and bread. Again, this is an adult-only ride. 

best outdoor meals

A great selection of food is always avaliable at Tombstone Monument Ranch in Arizona. 

Friday is the outdoor meal extravaganza with Long Hollow Ranch in central Oregon. Early autumn offers the essential time for a morning ride to be followed by a picnic lunch along the way. It gets a little more enticing; the ranch then puts on a fun demonstration with cattle before dinner. After-dinner dessert is then served at the hot tub or fire pit, depending on weather conditions. Desserts and cocktails vary, but the scenery is always guaranteed. best outdoor meals

Snow capped mountains make for some gorgeous scenery at Long Hollow Ranch in Oregon.

If you want to keep with the hot springs theme, Bar Lazy J in Grand County, Colorado offers a half-day hot springs ride on Fridays. Guests eat lunch at one of the ranch’s favorite scenic spots—the top of Byers Canyon—before working the group into the town of Hot Sulphur Springs. There, a trailer and your previously packed bag will be waiting along with a free pass into the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort to soak in the 22 naturally heated pools. Once frequented by the Ute Indians, the skin-benefiting minerals present in the water are intense and awesome. The ranch takes the horses home while guests soak and send a van for pick up later.

best outdoor meals

Ride through some beautiful scenery to the hotsprings at Bar Lazy J Ranch in Colorado. 

 

Read more about dude ranches with fabulous food here!

 

 

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From Arbuckle and bear sign over an open flame to pizza ovens and prickly pear margaritas on patios under the stars, these are the top dude ranches with the best outdoor meals and dining experiences for late summer and early autumn. Nature’s bounty is at its finest this time of year. Breakfast rides with fresh confections, four-course lunch atop a mesa and evening cuisine fireside, the DRA has some of the most intimate and exquisite land in the West with access to local food and secret dishes.

10 Best Things about a Ranch Vacation

There are many great things about a ranch vacation, so Sue Murphy of the Elk Mountain Ranch has compiled a list of the top 10 best things about a ranch vacation:

1. Enjoying the beauty of your surroundings You have the opportunity to spend time outdoors, enjoying the beauty of Colorado, with breathtaking views of the Collegiate Peaks, whether on a trail ride or hiking in the San Isabel National Forest.

2. Slowing down and relaxing Time moves differently here. You can take the time for some R&R, read a good book, enjoy the hot tub, play a board game or spend the day at the hot springs. There are simple pleasures in activities that we may have forgotten about in our busy day to day lives. Take a moment for yourself, breathe and take it all in.

3. Disconnecting and having great conversations The remote nature of a ranch vacation gives you an excuse to disconnect from the world, leaving email and the internet behind (there is connectivity but it is limited). This gives you an opportunity to focus on those around you and engage in great conversations at dinner, around the campfire, or out on the trail. Elk Mountain Ranch writes the 10 Best things about a Ranch Vacation

4. Creating new bonds There is something special that happens over a week – many different bonds are created. You find a connection with your horse, learning their personality and how you can work together. The intimate nature of the ranch allows you to get to know your fellow guests and you learn more about the staff. It is like one big family that extends beyond the ranch.

5. Reconnecting with others The atmosphere at the ranch allows you to reconnect with your family members and friends. It also gives you time to have moments to yourself and take in your surroundings. Conversations can start during happy hour and continue all the way through a campfire after dessert. Seeing your family in a new setting also shakes things up a bit and gives you new ways to connect.

6. Adventures! If trail rides are not adventurous enough, you also have the opportunity to go whitewater rafting. It is great fun as you make your way through Browns Canyon – be sure to keep an eye out for local wildlife as you paddle by!

7. Trying something new Maybe you have always wanted to ride a horse, or try your hand at shooting a .22 or take aim at clay pigeons? Are you an adventurous eater and want to try some Rocky Mountain Oysters? This is your opportunity to try something new, or even check off an item on your bucket list. You are in the Wild West – challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone.

8. Great food You will never go hungry – I promise. Between the hearty breakfasts, on the trail lunches, happy hour appetizers and filling dinners, there is something for everyone’s palate. We take food as seriously as we do our horses, and make accommodations for those with special dietary needs. We also want to help you celebrate any major occasion, whether a milestone birthday, anniversary or a big family reunion. Our surroundings may be more rustic, but the menu is nothing but top notch – and always save room for dessert!

9. Amazing horses The passion that the ranch owners have for their horses and for the ranch is clear from the first moment you interact with them. Each rider is matched with the right horse based on their personality, experience, comfort level and the type of riding they would like to do during the week. Also, each horse has a great story, so take a moment to talk with one of the wranglers to learn more about your horse’s biography.

10. Making memories All of these factors help make for an amazing week and give you your next great adventure. It could be quiet time spent with your spouse while your kids are busy panning for gold or hunting for arrow heads. It could be the wonder of watching a herd of antelope go by while you are on horseback. Maybe you’ll have a laugh while square dancing, or are touched by the western music. By the end of the week, you will have new memories that will last long after the dirt is off of your cowboy boots.

This blog was originally posted on Elk Mountain’s website here. For more great ranches in Colorado take a look at the Cherokee Park Ranch, Elk River Ranch and the Majestic Ranch.

10 Best Things about a Ranch Vacation

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Love Letters to the Ranch

Drowsy Water Love Letters When did you last write a love letter?  Was it to a cute boy in second grade?  That one girl across the street in fifth grade?  Maybe is was to your husband or to your wife.  Here at Drowsy Water, we get a lot of love letters.  They float into the mailbox occasionally and we save them for ages, keeping them in a special envelope and bringing them out to read when we're feeling sentimental. Sure, Ken is a great singer when you put him next to a fire under the stars, but the letters aren't to him.  Randy Sue can sure tell her flowers while simultaneously hiking up a mountainside and cooking a turkey, but the letters aren't to her for her super-powers either.  Nope, Justin and Ryan, sorry to break it to you, but you aren't that cute and Peyton and Chase, thankfully, you're still too young. At Drowsy Water, most of our love letters come addressed to those of us with four legs, two eyes, and a mane and a tail.  Our horses are, without fail, the primary recipient of these professions of love.  Something about them indisputably captures the hearts of our visitors. Drowsy Water Love Letter Our herd seems to manage maintaining multiple long distance relationships.  The magical bond that a rider; young, old, or somewhere in-between; and a horse make during the week is a true and strong love.  Our horses take their riders on grand adventures, they keep them safe, and they respond to feelings and emotions.  It's really no surprise they are the popular ones around here.   Drowsy Water Love Letter Horse We treasure each and every letter, and strive to help each guest feel they love their horse enough to write one.  More often than not, it's the kids that write them, but we get letters to horses from teens and adults as well.  Not very often in life to you experience the trust and companionship a horse can offer. Just like you might always remember the name of your first love,  many of our guests can remember the name of their horse years after they were last at the ranch.  The relationship is not one that is easy to forget. We hope you enjoyed a few love letters to the herd.  And, as you start thinking of writing that next love letter, don't forget your horse!


For over 90 years the 700 acre Drowsy Water Ranch in Granby, Colo. nestled in its own private mountain valley has been providing folks from around the world with authentic Western vacations. Under the same owner/management for 36 years, the ranch promises nothing less than real down home hospitality amidst unforgettable mountain scenery. Most of all you'll enjoy a sense of total relaxation and freedom from stress. The staff has been hand picked for their friendliness, personality, talent and sincere desire to please. They participate in all activities and create much of the entertainment. Vacation packages offer a schedule of enjoyable activities for all ages with an emphasis on service and quality. This blog was originally posted on here on Drowsy Water's Blog by Gretta Fosha


Drowsy Water is not the only dude ranch who receives love letters addressed to their horses. You can find many ranches who have great horses that your kids will fall in love with. Visit them here. And, as always, call the office if you have any questions. :) 307.587.2339. Drowsy Water Horse Love Letter to Patches   Save Save Save Save

Romance & Horses, Your Dude Ranch Vacation


'A feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.' - definition of romance Riding horses with your partner is, surely, full of excitement and mystery. Consider a ranch stay to put some extra special romance into your relationship. It is as easy as picking out your geographic setting(mountain range of choice) and paring your personalities with a ranch. Then, hop on a plane and arrive at your secluded cabin for an 'all-inclusive' destination experience. Don't worry, there are plenty of activities to inspire other than saddling up and riding into the sunset at a dude ranch; morning fishing trips, spa afternoons, hot tub evenings and nights full of fine dining pared with excellent wine. Valentine's day is a great motivator to book you and your partner a vacation full of romance and connection - away from the monotonous crowd of chocolates and teddy bears. Experiences turn into memories, and those memories turn into a lifetime of togetherness.

Ranches for Romance

The ranches below are just a few options for your choosing. If you don't find one that you connect with, give the Dude Ranchers' Association a call. We can help. 307.587.2339.  


The Heart of the Rockies, Colorado

Elk Mountain Couple Hill Side Romance

Elk Mountain Ranch Fall is for adults only - Enjoy the mountains during the peak of the fall colors in the Colorado Rockies. The already spectacular scenery at the Ranch unveils more glory in the Autumn. Aspens crown the mountainside in golden grandeur. Fall is exclusively for adults at this Colorado dude ranch. The tranquility and stillness are uninterrupted, whether you’re riding through the aspen forests…or curling up with a favorite book by an crackling fireplace.


The Ruby River, Montana

Upper Canyon Fishing Couple Romance

Upper Canyon Outfitters One of the best uncrowned waters in Montana - "My wife and I ventured to Upper Canyon this summer to enjoy the ranch, fishing, horseback riding and hiking and preview where I had booked an elk and mule deer hunt this fall. After returning from the fall hunt all that I can do is reinforce the previous comments complimenting the complete operation of Upper Canyon Outfitters, from the facilities to the staff. It seems like they are all extended family." - Roland


7,000 Acres in the Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming

Eatons Gather Sunset Romance

Eaton's Ranch Freedom to ride into the sunset - Eatons’ offers our guests the unique opportunity to ride one of our 220 horses unescorted with the permission of the Ranch. This allows guests the remarkable freedom to fully explore this beautiful 7,000 acres of country. Guests can ride out from this Wyoming Dude Ranch twice a day Monday through Friday, choosing among morning, afternoon and evening rides. Also, there all-day rides into the Bighorn National Forest as well as breakfast and dinner rides.


Yellowstone Country, Montana

Mountain Sky Romance

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch A rare treat - After a day filled with ranch activities, dinner is always a highly anticipated event. Kick things off with hors d'oeuvres and drinks in the saloon, where friends share stories of the day's adventure next to a crackling fire. What follows is an unforgettable three- to five-course dinner featuring carefully crafted and regionally-inspired dishes prepared by Chef Brian Bielen and his talented team. Complement your dinner with a bottle of wine from a fine selection, and do try to leave room for that slice of chocolate decadence or Basque cake.


     

Lucky

By Samantha Cook To spend a summer in the pristine mountain wilderness of Southern Colorado is a beautiful gift denied to most. I, however, was given that privilege. There are no words that will be able to adequately describe the adventures I had, the landscapes I saw, or the relationships I formed—but what are words for if not to make a feeble attempt at such a thing?

Rainbow Trout Ranch Lucky Blog 2

About 30 of us showed up at Rainbow Trout Ranch in the middle of May, ready for a brag-worthy summer job. I was one of two that was lucky enough to receive college credit for my time, though for  me that meant stumbling my way through an office position that my brain was unfit for (despite being a fresh college grad with a business degree). Friendships were formed instantly, through pre-season raking, hilarious games of Apples to Apples, and full-staff nighttime outings.

It wasn’t long before we were weeks into the season, meeting dozens of new guests every week and doing our best to make each day special. Despite early mornings and working close to 50 hours a week, the summer was nothing short of unforgettable. Granted, I spent more time waiting for e-mails to load and copies to print than I did enjoying my affinity for the outdoors, but my job taught me a lot and my days off made for the most incredible adventures. Over the course of eighteen weeks, I did everything I wanted to do and more. I climbed waterfalls. I jumped in the river during a rainstorm. I danced, a lot. I took a 36 hour road trip to Utah, in which I car-camped, visited two national parks in 105 degree heat, and had the time of my life in a beautiful hidden swimming hole in Moab. I rode dozens of horses up and down mountains and through vast meadows and rivers. I was caught in a torrential storm with lightning strikes that were far too close for comfort. I learned to fly-fish, and took nearly every opportunity to do so—most notably packing out a number of miles on horseback to fish Elk Creek all afternoon in complete serenity. I climbed (though, failed to summit) Mount Blanca, Colorado’s fourth tallest mountain. I learned the sport of team roping under the instruction of some incredibly talented people and horses. I took hammock naps beneath cool mountain pines. I caught my first four trout and was giddy with the excitement of a kid at Christmas. I shot assault rifles. I attended rodeos. I made the most unlikely of friends and shared endless hours of laughter with them. I traveled through the state of Colorado with good company, savoring summer with the windows down and accepting wherever the road took us. 

When you have one day off a week, you don’t waste it by sleeping in. Amidst the excursions, I enjoyed the company daily of the fine folks that traveled from around the world to spend their vacation with us. This was without a doubt the most fascinating aspect of my job, because mealtimes meant hearing the life stories of men and women whose lives were vastly different from my own. Families came from England, Italy, New Zealand, and Japan. I met pastors, gym teachers, stay-at-home moms, and car mechanics. I also met film directors, finance executives, brain surgeons, and a member of the LAPD. At the ranch, however, work uniforms and three piece suits are exchanged for wranglers and cowboy hats, and suddenly that big-wig lawyer that makes more money than I can even comprehend just becomes a dad and a husband that may be a little apprehensive about loping his horse for the first time. The “real world” is simply left behind, and worries and stresses from home are temporarily forgotten while the west takes over.

Rainbow Trout Dude Ranch

While I wish I could go into detail on everything, there is one day from my summer that stands out among the others. It was a Thursday that I had off, and I chose to do the back-country ride with about six other guests. The back-country is an advanced all-day ride that traverses out of the valley and up to what feels like the top of the world. My boss, Jane, put me on a horse named Chugwater, named for Chugwater, Wyoming. I hadn’t ridden him before, but I fell in love immediately. He wasn’t the prettiest thing—small, with funny conformation and a Mohawk for a mane—but he was fun to ride and one heck of a mountain horse. Trying to describe the scenery is futile. We could see for miles over expansive meadows and forests, with mountain ranges serving as the perfect backdrop. Rolling golden hills stretched out before us as if the entire world was ours for the taking. Soon we came to a turn in the meadow where Jane just let us go. “If you want to ride slow, ride slow. I’ll be back here. But if you want to run…run.” These are the words I’d been itching to hear all summer. I had competed in some speed events in high school—barrel racing, pole bending, keyhole. But an arena is limited; there is a definitive end. Not the case here. Chugwater was chomping at the bit. All I had to do was move my hands forward and drive my heels down and he took off, racing by all the other horses as we galloped through that beautiful country. To say that I felt like I was flying may be a little cliche, but few other terms can describe the phenomenon of 1,000 pounds of muscle surging underneath you at such fast speeds. Time stopped for a minute and all I could hear was my horse’s breathing and the thunder of his hooves until he came to an exhausted halt. We had a blast together, and it wasn’t even lunchtime yet. Isn’t this the dream for every horse lover?

Rainbow Trout Dude Ranch

The rest of the ride was similarly stunning. We loped along a canyon’s edge, and I knew I had seen identical scenes in some of my favorite horse movies from my childhood (“Flicka,” anyone?). We walked spread out, talking and laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Dark grey clouds gathered and it started to rain at one point, but nothing could dampen my spirits. A while later we split into two groups for another lope, and soon I found myself racing alongside Cameron, the only other summer staff member on the ride that day. Our horses ran through the hills and we laughed at the rain as we got soaked through to our skin. We stopped at the top of a meadow and turned our horses around to watch the rest of the riders hoot and holler as they loped up after us. The ground was shaking and the skies were opened. Cameron simply turned to me in that moment and said, as more of statement than a question, “How lucky do you feel right now?” In the hours after that, we maneuvered our horses through rain and hail to see views of endless aspen forests and foggy cliff faces, each panoramic being more breathtaking than the last. We all shared jokes and stories from our far-away lives in big cities, and when it finally came time to ride back down into the valley, we sat exhausted in our saddles, allowing our horses to do all the work of picking their way through the rocky mountains. My clothes may have been drenched and my knees sore, but my heart was full. That was, without a doubt, the best ride of my life. I still feel so lucky. This past summer was one that I’ll share about for the rest of my life, though my dude ranch adventures are far from being over. Today, I move to Wyoming to begin a new season on another ranch, and I know if the friends, stories, and memories I create there are even just half of what I experienced in Colorado, I’ll be happy. I am living the life that I dreamed of as a little girl, one with horses, mountains, and wide open spaces. “Lucky” doesn’t even begin to cover it.


   

3 ways Dude Ranches Offer Best Value for Travel Dollar

Due to the cost of travel a vacation to any destination may seem like a “pipe dream.” But don’t rule out a summer getaway completely until you’ve considered a stay at a Dude Ranchers’ Association member dude ranch. These quintessential Western getaways have always offered tremendous value for the money. Below are 3 ways Dude Ranches offer best bang for your buck.

Your Dollar Buys More at Home - To keep cost down many travelers are looking for vacation destinations within the USA. For the same reason, so are many European and other foreign travelers. The dude ranch has always been popular overseas for its quintessential American flavor. So, even if you forgo a British Isles trip this season, your kids may very well get the opportunity to mingle with kids from another country at a Western DRA member dude ranch. When you are ready, head out to the Cowboy State - Wyoming and visit the Rimrock Ranch  and Medicine Bow Lodge & Guest Ranch. Visit with the Rocking Z family operated ranch in the big sky country of Montana.    

All-inclusive - DRA ranches are typically all-inclusive operating under the American plan. At Marble Mountain Ranch you can enjoy their saddle and paddle program - riding horses and white water rafting all for one price. Most activities don’t come with extra charges, including extra costs for dining out. Ranches are notorious for hearty wholesome meals – many catering to guests request and special dietary needs. At the Red Reflet Ranch you are provided with farm raised produce and beef excellently prepared by the executive chef.       Red-Horse-All-Inclusive

There’s A DRA Ranch to Fit Each Lifestyle, Each Budget - While each DRA ranch guarantees an authentic Western experience, each offers different amenities and activities. A carefully selected ranch can satisfy the entertainment needs for each member of the family. Ranches come with hot tubs, rifle ranges, swimming pools, spas, fishing guides, tennis and basketball courts, whitewater rafting and more. Red Horse Mountain Ranch is one with a very extensive list of family fun adventures.  While each DRA ranch is a quality destination, rates do vary. For the budget minded there are ranches offering stays of shorter duration. At Three Bars Guest Ranch you can stay for three nights or indefinitely.  And, don’t forget it’s possible to pay off-season, reduced rates for periods just before and following the “high season” of Mid June through late August and September. Today, there are more than 100 DRA member ranches in the Western US and Canada, and at least one of them has all the elements making it an ideal and affordable getaway for your 2015 summer vacation.


Ecotourism and Sustainable Practices Happen Year Round at Dude Ranches

 

Did you know that the UN World Tourism Organization predicts that there will be a whopping 1.6 billion eco-inspired trips taken by 2020? While ecotourism is an up-and-coming trend, DRA-accredited guest ranches have been the pioneers of green living and sustainable vacations for decades. From growing organic food and using energy-efficient appliances to making their own biodegradable fuel, dude ranches offer guests the ability to enjoy travel while reducing their “footprint.”

 Besides offering green living, a dude ranch vacation provides you with the ability to reconnect with nature in some of the most tranquil and pristine areas of the country. You’ll learn to “live off the land” with fishing trips, bird watching, hikes, wildlife viewing and much more.

 Below please find a sample of some of the DRA’s accredited ranches that are particularly well suited for those in search of a more sustainable vacation.

Smith Fork Ranch - Crawford, ColoradoSmithfork-Gardening

Celebrating farm-to-table cuisine is an important part of Smith Fork Ranch. Their own farmstead garden cultivates over 80 varieties of herbs, fruits and vegetables without the use of synthetic fertilizers or chemicals.  Additionally, with the ranch’s access to 1.3 million acres of the Gunnison National Forest and West Elk Wilderness, the ranch has a nearly unlimited and untouched outdoor kingdom.

Wilderness Trails Ranch – Durango, Colorado

This Colorado guest ranch collects bottles, cans, plastic and paper from approximately 45 guests and 35 staff members that stay at the ranch each week and loads a larger trailer to take into town 30 miles away. While staying at the ranch, guests can enjoy an exceptional horseback riding program, unsurpassed wilderness and lake access, phenomenal fishing, an award-winning Never Bored Kids Program, mountain biking opportunities, overland tours, indulgent spa treatments, taste-bud tantalizing cuisine, specialty events and more.

Rocking Z Ranch – Wolf Creek, Montana

Utilizing recycled vegetable oil, this guest ranch first started powering a stationary diesel motor to pump water for irrigation. It worked so well, the ranch now uses vegetable oil to make biodiesel after taking out the fatty acids. They use this to run the tractors, loaders, an excavator, dozer and diesel pickup during the summer months.

Diamond D Ranch - Stanley, Idaho

Situated in the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states and family owned, Diamond D Ranch is completely cut off from the power grid as electricity is provided by the ranch’s very own hydro-electric generator. At the ranch, there is an endless amount of country and wildlife to see, streams to fish and mountains in which to hike or horseback ride.

Eaton’s Ranch – Wolf, Wyoming

This Wyoming dude ranch and working cattle ranch is located on the magnificent, pine covered eastern slopes of the Bighorn Mountains. Just eighteen miles west of Sheridan, the ranch consists of 7,000 acres of beautiful open country with rolling hills, grassy meadows and hidden valleys.  A historic Wyoming dude ranch for 135 years, it offers guests a true western experience and way of life. Many new ranches have embraced and implemented modern elements into their ranches. Conversely, Eaton’s Ranch has managed to preserve its authenticity, with cozy cabins, many of which date back to the early 1900s.

Black Tail Ranch – Wolf Creek, Montana

Come discover the beauty and partake in new adventures on a historic guest ranch near the continental divide. Explore majestic mountain trails on horseback or by hiking accompanied by our experienced guides. Try your hand at fly fishing on one of Montana's premiere rivers, enjoy bird watching, cave exploring, incredible wildlife viewing, go for a swim in the creek or spend the afternoon in the shade of the big Cottonwood trees. This well-appointed working guest ranch on 8000 acres of spectacular Big Sky country is perfect for individuals, family vacations and gatherings of all kinds.

 

 

Vacation of a Lifetime at a Dude Ranch

A Dude Ranch Vacation is all about YOU, the guest. All member ranches of The Dude Ranchers’ Association are committed to making sure you have the vacation of a life time.  With our warm Western Hospitality, outstanding horses, great food,  inviting accommodations and our spectacular locations, we guarantee a vacation you and your loved ones will not soon forget. Dude ranches are ideal places for kids, families and couples to re-discover each other, without the typical distractions of this fast paced world we live in. Families spend time together enjoying horseback riding, hiking, fishing, river rafting, working cattle, children’s programs, evening programs and much more.              Immerse yourself in the welcoming atmosphere of the Southwest while horseback riding at White Stallion Ranch or golfing at the world class golf course at Rancho de los Caballeros.                Whether you are a seasoned angler or simply want to give it a try,  stake out some private shoreline for amazing fly-fishing in Wyoming at Red Rock Ranch or Paradise Ranch.                In Montana, Glamping or “Glamorous Camping” has come of age at the Bar W Ranch and there isn’t a more fitting place to explore the wilderness of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem than at Lone Mountain Ranch.                Looking for a little more adventure while learning how the “real cowboys” made a living?  Check out The Hideout Ranch and the Red Reflet Ranch during their cattle weeks.                For some spectacular views of Teton National Park, you can’t beat Moose Head Ranch located at the base of the Tetons. Ride the high meadows of Goosewing Ranch and The Gros Ventre River Ranch while gazing at the spectacular views of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.                At Eatons’ Ranch in Wyoming and the Latigo Ranch in Colorado, they honor their heritage by providing a traditional dude ranch experience. Both ranches are family owned and operated offering great food, amazing horseback riding and, of course, true Western Hospitality. So what are you waiting for, come experience the Original all-inclusive Western Vacation at its Best!!

This year, give the gift of shared adventure to your other half

The season of love is fast approaching and couples will begin to ask themselves two questions: Is it time to get engaged? And what am I going to get my other half for the holidays or Valentine’s Day? While the traditional gift ideas of jewelry, roses and candy may make for a touching token of love, we challenge you to think outside the box and consider some stats.

According to The Knot, 39 percent of couples get engaged during the “season of love,” the time between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. Regardless of whether you’re ready to propose – or to be proposed to – statistics like this put pressure on men and women to find the perfect gift to stand out from the crowd. According to a survey by the U.S. Travel Association, the gift of travel may be the perfect solution as 63 percent of couples think a getaway is more likely to spark romance than gifts of any size, and 7 percent think simply traveling inspires romance.

 This year, give the gift of shared adventure to your other half. Imagine a rustic romantic getaway, complete with horseback riding, outdoor adventure and bonding – the perfect backdrop for an epic proposal. Or a passionate weekend for foodies filled with delectable gourmet dishes and carefully selected wine pairings that the two of you can indulge to your heart's content. When it comes to love, a vacation at a dude ranch resort has all the ingredients necessary to make your love swoon with delight.

 Vista-Verde-Drive-Cattle

Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado - Winter Romance- Whisk away your sweetheart to celebrate Valentine’s Day in a romantic winter wonderland.  Ask for the Valentine’s Day romance package, and we’ll start your Valentine’s Day off with breakfast in bed, followed by a day of as much outside activity as you desire.  In the afternoon, we’ll treat you to a private sleigh ride complete with hot toddies to keep you toasty warm.  Following that, the chefs will delight your taste buds with their Valentine’s Day aphrodisiac dinner.   The rest is up to you to enjoy the serene setting, the cozy cabin and the bubbling hot tub with views of snow covered meadows and mountains.

Red Reflet Ranch, Wyoming - Back by popular demand - Valentine’s Dining at the Red Reflet Ranch, Ten Sleep, Wyoming.  Dine in the Main Lodge and relax by the crackling fire while you enjoy spectacular views overlooking the Chugwater Formation of the Canyon.  Extraordinary dining experience and six-course meal prepared by Executive Chef Matthew Cariveau.  Overnight accommodations available in our luxuriously appointed chalets.  Offering Valentine’s Dining on two nights: Friday, February 14 and Saturday, February 15.  Now taking reservations.  $40 per person.  Make plans early – this will sell out!  Click here for online reservations.

Vee Bar Ranch, Wyoming - Winter Getaway Package - This package could be called the Deluxe Escape Package.  The package is designed for winter enthusiasts!  This is the perfect package for guests who want to experience everything.  The Vee Bar staff will make sure that you get the most out of your vacation while exploring the Vee Bar, the Snowy Range Mountains, and local attractions.  Guests will need their own transportation to and from the activities off property.  A three-night minimum stay is required to purchase this package.  See our Winter Getaway Package Sample Schedule for activity and meal details.

 

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Hunger Games Adventures at Dude Ranches

 Countless fans will flock to movie theaters across the country starting tomorrow to cheer on Katniss and her admirable and enviable archery skills as biggest movie of the fall, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,  opens nationwide. And while some fans might not know of the outcome of the epic Quarter Quell yet, one thing is certain: the second installment is sure to leave fans across the country wanting more.

 Experience a bit of the “Hunger Games” yourself (minus the gut-wrenching battles) by visiting a dude ranch to try your hand at archery, along with many other Hunger Game-inspired skills such as fishing, zip lining, skeet shooting and navigating the wilderness.

 With 95 ranches in North America (two in Canada), we are positive that there is a ranch that will fit all your needs.  Below is a sampling of ranches perfect for those in search of a Hunger Games-inspired experience.

 Red Horse Mountain Ranch, Idaho, Adventure for the Whole Family!Red Horse Lake Activities Kayak

Whether it’s riding horseback to breathtaking vistas, conquering the climbing wall, practicing your aim at the shooting range, or simply relaxing in the tranquility of a Rocky Mountain dude ranch, you decide how to spend your week at Red Horse Mountain Ranch. Red Horse Mountain Ranch offers a Western dude ranch vacation experience with a wide variety of seasonal activities…View ranch website.

 

Black Mountain Ranch, Colorado

Rather than a rigid itinerary we strive to offer our activities in the most flexible way possible.  Click here if you want to see exactly what Colorado Dude Ranch Vacations are like.  We want you to choose what you want to do, when you want to do it, and whom you want to do it with.  We encourage families to ride together but also offer kid's programs and activities.  Teens will never be bored here and singles will find this is a great place to hang out and make new friends.  View ranch website.

Wilderness Trails Ranch, Colorado We pride ourselves in creating perfect Colorado dude ranch vacations and AdvenTours (adventure tours) for our guests. Whether you are seeking adventure or R&R, we can customize a vacation for you, and we have something for everyone - from our exceptional horseback riding program, unsurpassed wilderness and lake access, phenomenal fishing, award-winning Never Bored Kids Program, incredible mountain biking opportunities, overland tours, indulgent spa treatments, taste-bud tantalizing cuisine, specialty events and more! View ranch website.

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Arkansas

In addition to our scheduled activities other things to try include campfires, hiking, cave trips, elk viewing, cookouts, skeet shooting and .22 target shooting, a petting zoo, fishing pond, archery, disc golf, wagon rides, games in the lodge and barn and more. There’s no need to leave the ranch if you need a quick dip. Cool off in the pool in the summer, or relax those muscles in the hot tub and let your cares melt away. Spend some time alone: Several cool springs, cascading streams, and quiet pools await you on hikes and nature walks. The rock outcroppings and caves along the bluffs are there to be explored and arrowheads are waiting to be found. View ranch website.   Save

Western Dude Ranches Appeal to Worldwide Travelers

There are some folks that drive across their home state or province to visit a dude ranch.  Others make a trans-Atlantic journey and don’t speak the same language as their hosts. Colleen Hodson, Executive Director of the Dude Ranchers’ Association says Western dude ranches (found throughout the plains, deserts and mountains of the US and Canada,) have mass appeal. 

DRA Brown Tag -1In fact, it seems they cross cultural barriers.  “I would say about 10 to 20 percent of our dude ranch guests are European, with folks from The UK and Germany representing the largest share,” notes Hodson. What is the tremendous lure of the Western dude ranch?  For starters, there’s the call to adventure, exhilarating freedom instilled by the wilderness, definite experience of place, sociability and camaraderie. 

 For more than a century, these are a few of the elements that have enticed visitors from around the globe and keep them coming back year after year. The opening of dude ranches in the American and Canadian West to paying guests has a long and illustrious history.  Media reports on the Western adventures of Teddy Roosevelt followed by the “Western” movie and prime time television shows like “Gunsmoke” and “Bonanza” fueled the public’s fascination in the US and abroad with ranching and cowboys. 

In 1926 the Dude Ranchers’ Association was formed to represent the interests of the rapidly growing industry. Today the organization remains strong.  More than 100 ranches in the Western US and Canada are members of the DRA, as it’s often called. Each DRA member ranch has its own distinct character and charm. Before selecting a ranch visitors are encouraged to contact the DRA for suggestions of ranches matched best with their own style and preferences.  

There are several factors to consider including the classification of the ranch into one of three broad and sometimes overlapping categories.

Types of Western Ranches

First is the traditional Dude Ranch, centered on the horse and horse related activities.  Guests can ride to their hearts content and try their hand at wrangling, barrel-racing and may even perform in the weekly ranch rodeo. People who prefer this category of ranch tend to love horses and other rugged outdoor activities. 

 

The Resort Dude ranch includes riding as an activity along with many other pursuits and a variety of onsite facilities in addition to the stables.  These ranches are generally larger, able to accommodate more guests at one time and often appeal to the traveler who opts for a vacation with more luxuries. 

Finally, there’s the Working Dude Ranch.  These ranches are working cattle or sheep operations, with the riding adventure dictated by the work schedule surrounding the livestock.  Visitors of these ranches are immersed in the life of a working cowboy. The decision upon which ranch to visit is a personal one.  But it’s highly recommended the ranch selected is a DRA member.  This guarantees visitors from near and far that it  meets the highest industry standards in quality, safety, and authenticity.  (Not all ranches that apply for DRA membership qualify.  In fact 30% do not meet the strict standards!)   

Ranches accepted for membership are on probation for two years.  Every DRA ranch is inspected on a regular basis to ensure high DRA standards are maintained. No matter how far folks travel to reach their DRA ranch vacation destination and no matter what language they speak they can be reassured knowing a quality vacation experience awaits them.

 

 

Culinary Chic at Dude and Guest Ranches

With food tourism being one of the fastest growing sectors in travel and one of the biggest travel trends of 2013, I want to talk about a vacation many foodies may not consider, but would be pleasantly surprised with a dude or guest ranch vacation.   You are probably thinking “culinary chic at a dude ranch?”  And I am here to tell you yes, as a stay at a DRA guest ranch is sure to take your taste buds on a culinary adventure. Below is a list of  the “Top 5 Culinary Facts You Wouldn’t Expect at a Dude Ranch,” as well as a few highlighted ranches where you are sure to experience flavorful, savory cuisine crafted using fresh, high-quality ingredients morning, noon and night.   

1). Renowned Chefs When some people think of a dude ranch vacation they picture a guy named Cookie whipping up bacon and beans in the sagebrush. In reality, guest ranches are home to many award winning and experienced chef’s such as Chef Mike Rosenberg at Zapata Ranch who has been a  personal chef to the Carnegie family, catered JFK Jr.'s wedding, owned his own restaurant and brings over 40 years of experience to the table.  

2). Farm to table Many DRA dude ranches grow, raise and serve their own produce and meats and items that cannot be reaped from their own land are sourced locally. Take High Lonesome Ranch which in many instances raises the meat right on the ranch. Their eggs are fresh from their chickens and ranch’s signature Black Angus beef graces the menu when the timing and aging process is complete. As for produce, the ranch’s gardens and orchards enjoy ideal conditions for growing apricots, apples, peaches, pears and plums as well as an abundance of vegetables like corn, peppers, lettuces, cucumbers, squash, beans, peas, carrots, radishes, pumpkins and onions.

3). Recognized Globally Besides having a wide breadth of talented and innovated chefs, the creations they serve have been praised globally such as The Home Ranch which is a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux and has been recognized by Bon Apetit, Gourmet, Food and Wine, among others.    

4). Exceptional Wine Lists A culinary exploration wouldn’t be complete without wine pairings and dude ranches have you covered there too. Smith Fork Ranch has won the Wine Spectator’s Award for Excellence two years in a row and has assembled an eclectic wine mix. Ranging from wines from their private cellar, specific vintages from wineries they admire and wines from the premiere growing regions of France, Italy, Australia and America's West Coast.    

5). Cooking Classes/Workshops Besides enjoying delicious food, many dude ranches encourage you to learn about the food as well. At Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, one of the best seats in the house is at the kitchen counter where their Master Chef provides ranch resort guests with cooking demonstrations, tips and techniques.  There is also the opportunity to explore the concepts of Eating Right for Your Blood Type - a healthful way of eating that promotes overall good health including good digestion, cholesterol counts, weight loss and more.  

 

Lone Mountain Culinary Food Steak

Vacationing at an Eco-Friendly Dude Ranch

 

As more people are becoming aware of environmental issues, vacationing green is a growing travel trend. Families are seeking vacation options that offer activities that respect the earth, and experiences that create cherished memories and a renewed connection to nature.

Dude Ranches are the original Eco-friendly Tourism destinations and a great way to bring your family closer on your next vacation. People come to enjoy the outdoors, have an adventure and relax in nature. After they leave, they often have a renewed appreciation for the environment.

Successful ranching depends on a positive relationship with the earth, therefore all ranchers know that they need to treat it with care. This relationship influences a visitor’s experience at a dude ranch and often brings them a deeper appreciation for the environment in which they live.

For example, Rocking Z Ranch in Montana uses a stationary diesel motor that is powered by recycled vegetable oil to pump water for irrigation. This worked so well, the ranch took the idea one step further by using the vegetable oil to make biodiesel after taking out the fatty acids. They use this to run the tractors, loaders, an excavator, dozer and diesel pickup during the summer months.Rocking-Z-Bareback-Jumping

Another great example is the White Stallion Ranch which went solar. On January 3, 2011 construction began and on Tuesday March 22, 2001 the first solar panels began to operate. We have three separate sites where the electricity comes from solar panels into the meters for the ranch; the well, staff area and our main lodge buildings plus west side rooms. This is the largest amount of solar power that we are allowed to install and use based on the program that we entered. When last checked, one of the meters (the one for the main lodge)  had delivered 5,360 KWH, bought 104 KWH and sold back 7 KWH. The system is designed to power 35% to 40% of the electricity for the ranch, a very exciting prospect indeed.

Recycling is another aspect that dude ranches are embracing. Keep in mind, with some ranches being far from major cities where a recycling program might exist, it’s a bit harder than simply putting items in a bin and putting it at the end of the driveway every week. Wilderness Trails Ranch in Colorado collects bottles, cans, plastic and paper from the approximately 45 guests and 35 staff that stay at the ranch each week and loads a large trailer to take into town 30 miles away.

A ranch offers activities for the whole family. Maybe your daughter loves horses and has always dreamed of lopping across a grassy meadow, or your son wants to learn how to rope a steer. While your wife enjoys sometime in the spa, why not try some fly fishing? Then you better rest up so you can all go whitewater rafting the next day.

So if you are looking for a vacation that will leave your family with memories to last a lifetime and a closer relationship with Mother Nature then a vacation at a Dude Ranch might be just the ticket for you and your family.  For more information about vacations where your family can embrace the great outdoors visit www.duderanch.org.  

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Experience the Beauty of Fall at a Dude Ranch

Don’t just walk through the leaves, ride through the leaves as dude ranches are the original all-inclusive destination for fall travel, and it’s never too early to start planning your getaway. Imagine horseback riding under a canopy of technicolor fall foliage ranging from glorious reds, bright yellows, and vivid oranges.  Some of the nation’s best leaves can only be seen when you get off the major highways and head out to the winding country roads. Choose from guest ranches in Arizona or Colorado where fall changes the Aspen leaves or book a getaway to a dude ranch located near or within a National Park such as Triangle X Ranch located in Grand Teton National Park or Horseshoe Canyon Ranch which borders Buffalo River National Park in the Ozark region of Arkansas.

As the air cools down and the days get shorter on a dude ranch, fall fishing, hiking, and of course, horseback riding  are popular outdoor activities among guests to enjoy and take in the beautiful colors of fall. Many ranches also offer fall photography workshops to help guests capture the natural beauty of the autumn season. For those dude ranches that are actual working ranches, fall means cattle drives, and guests are often invited to join these memorable and one-of-a-kind drives.

Triangle X Ranch Sunset Creek fall

 While many people tout the benefits of “all-inclusive vacations,” few realize the variety of choices out there and that not all are created equal. Guest ranch getaways offer numerous advantages such as no planning once you arrive, flexibility to customize your itinerary and no hidden fees. In addition, dude ranches are the ideal all-inclusive destination for families of all types and sizes, especially multi-generational families with a wide variety of interests and abilities.

 The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) can help travelers and travel agents choose the perfect guest ranch for their fall getaway from its more than 100 DRA-accredited guest ranches in North American (two in Canada). Ranging from luxury resort-style ranches to working ranches, all of these dude ranches uphold the highest quality of services within the industry.

 

Fall is a Great Time for Couples to Visit a Dude Ranch

Flat-Creek-Fall-Tetons

 

When the kids get back on the bus it’s time for parents to get back in the saddle for a classic Western getaway.  From the latter part of August through October, dude ranches are a couples’ best bet to rekindle romance and replenish spirit.  And the price is right too!  

The height of summer finds most ranches filled to capacity with families.  In fall couples have their pick of dude ranches with September traditionally a time for adults only.  No need to break the bank for airfare, car rentals or a dozen tanks of gas, since for many American’s and Canadians, a ranch is found within less than a day’s drive.  And with rates including meals, riding, other activities, and accommodations, it becomes an even more attractive getaway.

To narrow the search and ensure high quality standards, consider only ranches belonging to The Dude Ranchers’ Association.  There are more than 100 DRA, as it’s known, ranches in the Western US and Canada.  Since 1926, the DRA has kept the bar raised high for the industry.   Travelers can be assured of an authentic Western experience and high standards of quality at any DRA ranch.

Spectacular dude ranch scenery is at an all time high in autumn when aspens sport yellow cloaks and icy mountain streams swirl with fat trout.  These are the conditions found at Northern California’s Hunewill Ranch.  Just East of Yosemite National Park, couples have their pick of packages this fall.  There’s the “Escape to the Ranch” weekend package in early September, or in the latter part of the month an “Autumn Getaway.”  For those with a little more time the “Fall Color Ride,” September 27 - October 1 is a dramatic adventure. 

 The only traffic passing Waunita Hot Springs Ranch  is an elk or two.  Perched high in the Colorado Rockies, surrounded by Gunnison National Forest land, time is measured only by shadows cast by the sun.  Add to the remote location an immense swimming pool, bathhouse and hot tub fed by natural hot springs and any cares or worries melt away.  The remote retreat caters to adults only August 25 - September 28. 

“An outpost of unpretentious comfort” is how folks describe the Spotted Horse Ranch in NW Wyoming.    An Orvis affiliate, and host to a trout fishing school, The Spotted Horse draws riders and angler from all over the world.  Sixteen miles from the Western resort town of Jackson Hole, it’s far enough away from the action that guests can enjoy solitude, but get a taste of city amenities like art galleries, fine shopping and sizzling nightlife.  In September and October this Wyoming paradise is reserved for adults only.  

The Dude Ranchers' Association was formed in 1926 to preserve this special way of life and the wonderful environment in which dude ranching takes place. When you vacation at a Dude Ranchers' Association Dude Ranch, you can be sure of a quality vacation. Membership in the Association is a rigorous two year inspection and approval process, to assure that guests are treated to genuine western hospitality combined with the lodging industry’s highest standards. Our Dude Ranches offer all-inclusive vacations that are perfect for everyone, from the littlest rancher to Grandpa and Grandma.  Horseback riding, hiking, petting zoos, swimming holes, rodeos, fishing, games, skeet shooting, archery, art classes, cooking classes and more await your discovery on your next Dude Ranch Vacation.  Horses, Hats, History and Hospitality - they're the foundation of every ranch. There is a little cowboy in all of us... come find yours...

Live a Movie Moment through Real-Life Working Cattle Drives

For a truly memorable vacation, nothing beats a Western cattle drive. Straight from the big screen, these working cattle drives, offered through various members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association, transform a movie moment into a real-life vacation experience unlike any other.

The cattle drive experience varies from ranch to ranch, with some ranches providing only two drives (one in the spring and one in the fall) while others offer cattle drives almost every day. The purpose of the drives, however, is universal—move cattle from one location to another without losing any animals along the way. Guided by expert wranglers, cattle drive participants shoulder important responsibilities as they keep the herd together, chase down stragglers, and stay on the move.

For just a taste of the cowpoke life, dude ranch visitors can participate in cattle drives that last only a few hours. When cattle need fresh water, new grass, or simply a change of pace, a cattle drive is the answer, and on working dude ranches, guests saddle up with the hired hands to make things happen.

Days-long cattle drives fill the urge for the morFocus Ranch-Riders on the Mesae adventurous to taste the true Western experience. These drives often include river crossings, mountain riding, and range roaming as the herd travels miles from one location to another. Of course, long days of riding are rewarded with evenings of fly fishing, card playing, and other rest and relaxation—just like in the cays of the real cowboy.

Cattle drives appeal to riders of all levels, although some riding experience is obviously beneficial. However, there’s no better way to improve riding skills and abilities than to spend a day in the saddle riding with a purpose. The exhilaration of combining real work with real pleasure is impossible to ignore, and nothing beats riding herd in the board expanse of the Wild West.

 Of course, no cattle drive is complete without plenty of good grub, and every DRA member provides outstanding cowboy cooking. After a day on the range, ranch guests love the hearty meals, down home entertainment, and cozy lodging that are the hallmarks of every dude ranch experience. 

Since 1926 The Dude Ranchers' Association has been helping folks find quality ranch vacations by establishing and enforcing high standards for its members. The association’s original membership of 35 ranches from the Yellowstone area has now grown to 100-plus member ranches in 12 western states and 2 Canadian provinces. In spite of this growth, the Association today remains dedicated to preserving the beauty, natural resources, and the original western ranch experiences that attracted the first visitors.

For more information about a real working cattle drive or any of the other unique features of a dude ranch vacation, or to request a brochure, call 1-307-587-2339 or visit www.duderanch.org.

Hunewill Circle H Guest Ranch

Bridgeport, California Phone: +1 760-932-7710 Hunewill Ranch is a family owned and operated cattle and guest ranch located near Yosemite National Park in the beautiful Bridgeport Valley. Horseback riding and cattle work are our featured attractions for a vacation experience suited to families, singles, or couples.    

McGarry Ranches Rexburg, Idaho Phone: +1 866-593-4455 A working ranch with a herd of approx 2,000 head, managed on approx 55,000 acres in the Big Hole Range of the Rocky Mountains. If you wish to experience the lifestyle of the working cowboy while riding daily in scenic mountains we invite you to cowboy up with the ranch crew. Major Credits Accepted    

Klondike Ranch Buffalo, Wyoming Phone: +1 800-362-2982 Klondike Ranch is a working cattle ranch with accommodations for 6 to 10 adult guest 14 years and older. We trail the cows and calves to the mountains the end of June and back home the end of September. Throughout the summer we move them from pasture to pasture. Our guests are welcome to join.    

Rowses 1+1 Ranch Burwell, Nebraska Phone: +1 308-346-5530 The 1+1 Ranch invites you to experience the old west & life as a Cowboy on a Real Working Ranch. Guests can participate in all ranch activities & can expect up to 6 hours a day in the saddle. New log cabins, delicious meals, great horses & tack await you. Dont Just Dream the Cowboy Dream... Live It!    

G Bar M Ranch Clyde Park, Montana Phone: +1 406-686-4423 An Authentic Ranch Experience -AGRITOURISM G Bar M is a Working Ranch, which means we are an operating horse and cattle ranch that encourages guests to share in our lifestyle.    

Focus Ranch Slater, Wyoming Phone: (970)583-2410 A traditional ranch, guests contribute to the successful yearling cattle operation. Ride for a purpose in beautiful landscapes. Fly fish in the Little Snake. All ages enjoy participating and experiencing the cultural heritage. Since 1938, generations have embraced the authenticity of Focus Ranch.

Cowgirl Getaway Weeks!

 Whether it’s mother-daughter time, a sisters’ get-together, or just friends catching up, Cowgirl Getaway Weeks are one of the best ways to escape while grabbing that much needed "girlfriend" time.  Kick your boots off and let your daily worries and stress fade away in the comfort of good company, generous hospitality, great horseback riding and much, much more. Listed below are just a few of the great ranches that offer weeks where you can focus on "girl time".   Mountain Sky Guest Ranch Emigrant, Montana Phone: +1 800-548-3392 Just 30 miles from Yellowstone National Park, we have spent over 80 years perfecting our rustic elegance on nearly 9,000 acres of beautiful rugged countryside in the heart of Montana's Paradise Valley. We invite you to explore the vacation of a lifetime here at Mountain Sky Guest Ranch.   Bar W Guest Ranch Whitefish, Montana Phone: +1 866-828-2900 The Bar W is open year round and treats you with true Western hospitality - from the moment you arrive until long after you have left. Beautiful vistas and rolling ridges adorn the Montana countryside of this cozy dude ranch. Located on Spencer Lake between two pine covered ridges, families, adults, singles and groups alike, have 3,000 acres to explore and 3.5 miles down the road from this serene wilderness is the vibrant resort town of Whitefish, offering up the finest in shopping, dining, theater, and nightlife. Friendly staff, scrumptious food, great riding and wonderful accommodations await you at the Bar W   Red Horse Mountain Ranch Harrison, Idaho Phone: +1 888-689-9680 Located on 300,000 acres, the ranch is 1.5 hour drive from the Spokane International Airport, near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Full service, all-inclusive vacation is available from June through October. Booking now for 2013 Summer. 15% off All rates until January 1st, 2013!     White Stallion Ranch Tucson, Arizona Phone: +1 888-977-2624 Immerse yourself in the welcoming atmosphere of the Southwest. You will experience the aura of a real Western ranch combined with present-day comforts and conveniences. Varied riding program, guided hikes, full bar & excellent food. 41 rooms, heated pool, fitness center, gift shop & meeting room.     Smith Fork Ranch Crawford, Colorado Phone: +1 855-539-1492 Smith Fork Ranch is a private luxury destination nestled in the Colorado Rocky Mountains amidst thousands of acres of the West Elk Wilderness and the Gunnison National Forest. SFR offers unique western adventures, gracious hospitality, superb farm to table cuisine and an award winning wine list.     Wilderness Trails Ranch Durango, Colorado Phone: +1 800-527-2624 Reconnect, Relax, Recharge! Experience the Best of the West with an exclusive vacation with Wilderness Trails, the Durango-Silverton Train, & famous Strater Hotel in Durango, Colorado -a "Top 10 Town of the West"! World-class riding, hiking, fishing, dining, kids programs, adults-only weeks, & more

Dude Ranches and National Parks

Moosehead-Kids-Lake-Swimming_edited-1In honor of National Parks Week, I wanted to share with you a great summer vacation idea located nearby some of most visited national parks in America, according to a recent study released by the National Park Service: a dude ranch vacation. As ecotourism is becoming more popular than ever, the Dude Ranchers’ Association’s dude and guest ranches have been the pioneers of green living and green vacations for decades. At a guest ranch you can reconnect with nature in some of the most tranquil, pristine areas of the country and learn to “live off the land” with fishing trips, bird watching, hikes, wildlife viewing and more. Below, please find a sample of DRA-accredited ranches located right in the heart of or near some of the country’s top national parks.

  • Glacier National Park in Montana is one of the 20 largest national parks in the United States. There are two DRA ranches located within an easy drive of the park, which is known for its abundance of wildlife and more than 700 miles of hiking trails. A day trip to Glacier National Park from Averill’s Flathead Lake Ranch and Bar W Guest Ranch is highly recommended.
  • Several DRA-accredited guest ranches are either located in or bordered by national parks. Both Moose Head Ranch and Triangle X Ranch are located completely within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park, a location that attracts nearly four million visitors per year to northwestern Wyoming. White Stallion Ranch borders Arizona’s Saguaro National Park, while Tanque Verde Ranch – the largest DRA-accredited ranch in terms of acreage – is less than a 10-mile drive. The Buffalo National River – America’s First National River – runs through Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, which borders Buffalo River National Park in the Ozark region of Arkansas.
  • Many dude and guest ranches are located within an easy day trip from national parks. Located in the north-central region of Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park is a short, scenic drive away from not one but four DRA-accredited ranches: Drowsy Water Ranch, Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch and C Lazy U Ranch. Pikes Peak – a mountain in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains – is within an hour drive of Tarryall River Ranch. Dude ranch guests can drive to the top, take the Pikes Peak Cog Rail (the world’s highest cog railroad), or enjoy a panoramic view of Pikes Peak from one of Tarryall’s trail rides.

Many Dude and Guest Ranches are Offering Spectacular Savings During their Shoulder Guest Seasons

Shoulder seasons are the weeks before and after the main season begins and ends.  A ranch will sometimes offer added values like a massage, private riding lessons or a fine bottle of wine upon check-in etc. They may offer a repeat guest discount, a group of more than 20 people discount or an early bird booking discount.  Some ranches will  offer special packages during these times as well like fishing packages, riding only packages, horse clinic packages, shorter stay packages,  pack trips packages,  overnight camping and much more. We know finding the perfect ranch match for your family can sometimes be hard so The Dude Ranchers Association wants to help, give us a call at 866-399-2339 or shoot us an e-mail and we will do all we can to help you find that perfect ranch for your family. Any time is a great time to make memories with your family so what are you waiting for let us help you make memories that will last a lifetime!!!

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch Red Feather Lakes, Colorado Phone: +1 (800) 357-4930 Family dude ranch vacation in the Colorado Mountains; Smallest smallest of the CO member ranches. Western Horseback Riding; NOT nose-to-tail; we love teaching beginners! A relaxed, stress-free, hassle free, easy going atmosphere that only a very small family dude ranch can enjoy. Sundance-Trail-Arena-Rodeo

Smith Fork Ranch Crawford, Colorado Phone: +1 855-539-1492 Smith Fork Ranch is a private luxury destination nestled in the Colorado Rocky Mountains amidst thousands of acres of the West Elk Wilderness and the Gunnison National Forest. SFR offers unique western adventures, gracious hospitality, superb farm to table cuisine and an award winning wine list.

Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch Quincy, California Phone: +1 (800) 334-6939 A truly all inclusive guest dude ranch vacation, we provide the perfect location for family vacations, reunions, weddings, corporate and business retreats, meetings, special events, equine guided education and so much more. Still serving up the best hospitality in the west!

Goosewing Ranch Jackson, Wyoming Phone: +1 888-733-5251 Here at Goosewing Ranch, we combine the lifestyle of ranching in the Wyoming wilderness with many of the modern refinements that make your visit with us especially enjoyable. Remote with spectacular scenery overlooking and close proximity to Jackson Hole and Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Excellent horseback riding, fly fishing, newly remodeled outdoor heated pool and hot tub, and kids activities.

Paradise Guest Ranch Buffalo, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-684-7876 Celebrating 100 years of FUN in 2007. Tucked away in the scenic Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Luxury log cabins with fireplaces, outdoor decks & spacious living rooms.

Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch McLeod, Montana Phone: +1 877-496-7848 Enjoy a Montana ranch vacation in a remote pristine wilderness north of Yellowstone. Small guest capacity and unique activities. Horseback riding; Fly fishing on private frontage along the Boulder River; Jeep ride to ghost town and historic gold mines; Hiking; Scenic raft float; Campfires/cookouts.  

THREE BARS CATTLE & GUEST RANCH Cranbrook, British Columbia Phone: +1 877-426-5230 Three Bars GuestRanch, The Adventure Ranch of the Canadian Rockies, invites you to experience the ultimate horseback riding vacation. Located just south of Banff National Park, Three Bars Ranch offers the most diverse activities program available anywhere. Voted Canada's #1 Dude Ranch 2011.

Echo Valley Ranch & Spa Jesmond Clinton, British Columbia Phone: 1.800.253.8831 Echo Valley Ranch & Spa is located in the pristine Cariboo region of British Columbia. Surrounded by wide open spaces and tranquil wilderness, Echo Valley offers horseback riding, hiking, fly-fishing, gold panning, bird watching, rafting, golf and a world class spa.

Go White Water Rafting at this Colorado Dude Ranch

Rafting or white water rafting is the challenging recreational outdoor activity of using an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other bodies of water. This is usually done on white water or different degrees of rough water, in order to thrill and excite the raft passengers. The development of this activity as a leisure sport has become popular since the mid-1970s

For the first time, Rainbow Trout Ranch, a dude ranch located deep in the southern Colorado Rockies, is offering whitewater rafting included in their rates.

The Rainbow Trout Ranch has been in operation for over eighty years, the last twenty under the ownership of the Van Berkum family. Summer guests are mainly families looking for a western vacation in the spectacular scenery of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The ranch rates are based on a per person/per week scale and have always included all meals, accommodations and ranch activities such as riding, fishing, kids and teen programs, trapshooting and evening entertainment. In the past, guests paid extra for the whitewater rafting trip on the Rio Grande River near Taos, NM. (read more)

High Lonesome Ranch Review - A Colorado Dude Ranch that is the West at its Best

Splash Magazine published a great review of The High Lonesome Ranch so I wanted to share it with you.  Hope you enjoy it! By Andrea Gross; photos by Irv Green With well over thirty dude ranches in Colorado, you wouldn’t think that there was a need for another one. But in May of 2012, High Lonesome Ranch, a luxury getaway for fly fishermen and big game hunters, began welcoming wannabe cowboys as well. The property, which is situated on the west slope of the Rockies, consists of 300 square miles of leased and permitted land. As such it is bigger than 25 of the nations 58 national parks. Paul Vahidiek Jr., a Houston attorney who began buying some of the property in 1994, is determined that this land—a mix of high mesas covered with sparse vegetation and deep valleys filled with greenery—be preserved and protected from rampant development. Opening the ranch to guests year round helps fund the conservation and restoration projects that take place on the ranch, but even more important, it imbues young children with an appreciation for all that nature has to offer. “We want children to experience and appreciate the great outdoors,” says Scott Stewart, general manager of the dude ranch. “They are the policy makers of tomorrow, and we want them to understand the importance of land conservation and preservation.” The new ranch aims to differentiate itself by offering guests an almost totally customizable experience. Yes, the main focus is on equestrian experiences, but there are also plenty of activities for the non-horsey set. My family and I are among the first guests, and we bring new meaning to the phrase “beginning riders.” All of us—grandparents, parents and two kids—are admittedly, if sadly, city folks through and through, more at home with four-lane highways than with four-legged creatures. We eye the other guests warily. Will we be the only novices in a group of experts? The answer becomes clear the next morning when we go down to the stables for our first horseback ride. Everyone else is wearing a cowboy hat or riding helmet. We, on the other hand, are decked out in baseball caps and bonnets. Oh dear! (read more)HighLonesome_s92x3i

Fall Cowgirl Roundup at Sylvan Dale Ranch

August 13, 2012 Loveland, Colorado

This fall, cowgirls will reunite at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch to enjoy a weekend of horseback riding adventure, good food and fun. “Cowgirl Round-up” is a unique “ladies only” package, providing a weekend of horseback adventure and pampering, to refresh, renew and rejuvenate the body and spirit.  It’s perfect for moms and daughters, sisters, college roommates, single travelers and best friends seeking a respite from their busy lives. Riding Adventures Whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced Cowgirl, the handsome ranch-raised and trained quarter horses are friendly and reliable, and always eager to please. Horseback riding activities include scenic trail rides, cattle work, team penning and gymkhana games on horseback. Pampering The weekend of outdoor activities, crisp mountain air and brilliant sunshine serve to re-energize the mind, body and spirit.   Guests can partake in a variety of activities, including Yoga Classes, Campfires & S’mores and a classic Cowboy Serenade. Treat your body right! Massages are performed indoors or out, subject to the weather.  All natural oils soothe the skin and open pores…  Citrus Blend, Peppermint and Eucalyptus are current favorites. A deep tissue, therapeutic massage relieves sore muscles and rejuvenates the body.  Another option is the Relaxation Massage, offering a lighter touch to relax the overall body and mind…it’s so relaxing that many guests fall asleep! Sylvan Dale’s hot tub is a favorite of guests seeking a hot soak at the end of the day.  It’s a great place to share laughs and stories with new found friends. Wine and cheese tasting  Enjoy a tasty selection of wines, accompanied by platters of artisanal cheeses, chocolate dipped strawberries, and special treats that take advantage of local farm-grown crops. Cowgirl Round-up takes place September 27 – October 1st, 2012, and the 4-night package starts at $995 per person.   For additional information, contact Karen Burbank at 970-667-3915 or KarenB@sylvandale.com.  Additional information can be found at www.sylvandale.com. Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch is an authentic working horse and cattle ranch on 3200 acres in the Rocky Mountain foothills.   Over 70% of Sylvan Dale Ranch land is under perpetual conservation easements, protecting the surrounding view and wildlife from development. Sylvan Dale is in Loveland, Colorado,  one hour north of Denver International Airport, and a half hour from Ft. Collins.

Luxury Dude Ranch Vacations

Interested in "roughing it" in style? Don't want to sacrifice comfort while communing with nature? Here's what to expect on a luxury dude ranch vacation.

by Darley Newman of www.equitrekking.com If camping out under the stars isn't your thing, but you like to ride horses or want a very comfortable ranch vacation, a luxury dude ranch vacation might be a good fit for you. After researching upscale ranch holidays across the United States and Canada, I came up with answers to some common questions travelers may have about what type of vacation they'll experience at one of these luxury ranches and some fun photos from ranches that you might want to choose.

Home Ranch, Colorado One of the biggest modern luxuries for riders who visit Home Ranch in Colorado is the million acres of Rocky Mountain Wilderness.

What are the accommodations like at a luxury dude ranch? As in with any upscale vacation, accommodations vary, but many luxury dude ranches offer beautiful Western decor. You may recline on handmade log furniture. You may be staying in your own cabin, an elegantly furnished log structure or entire ranch style home with grand stone fireplaces, a hot tub and fully stocked bar.

Siwash Lake RanchAt BC's Siwash Lake Ranch, suites and luxury tents have plush linens, private baths, balconies and beautiful lake and wilderness views.

Other ranches help you feel closer to nature in plush tents–– tents that you won't be pitching yourself. Many are constructed on wooden floors and have en suite bathrooms, art decorating the walls, and even electricity.

Home Ranch accommodations Adobe-style log beams, Native American rugs, and king beds with down comforters decorate rooms at Home Ranch

How much does a luxury ranch vacation cost? Riding vacations in general can be economical, which surprises many people when they think about how expensive it is to keep a horse! Ranch vacations average from around $1000 or $2000 per person for an all-inclusive week to around $3500. Considering that this includes all riding, meals, accommodations and sometimes transportation, this can be a good deal. Another advantage of many ranch and riding vacations is that you can know your budget well ahead of time. Luxury ranch vacations that I came across ranged from $250 a night per person double occupancy to $7,500 and more. The sky is the limit, as are the perks! What are some fun perks those prices include on luxury dude ranch holidays? Your vacation package may include private guides for hiking, fly-fishing or horse riding, golf, gourmet meals, dinner shows, fitness centers, indoor riding arenas, hot tubs, personal chefs, spa time and private cabins with fully stocked bars.

Rancho de los Caballeros Rancho de los Caballeros in Arizona offers Home Sweet Home Milk Baths, brown sugar scrubs and peppermint essential oil body wraps. 

For instance at Home Ranch in Colorado, food is a major focus. Dinner may consist of pan-seared quail stuffed with dates and prosciutto topped with a demi-glace and Maytag bleu cheese crumbles over soft polenta with manchego cheese and asparagus or crispy seared Alaskan halibut with braised spinach, wild rice pilaf and glazed baby carrots. Is your mouth watering yet? At Vista Verde Ranch, a Colorado luxury ranch resort, an Executive Chef hosts a hands-on cooking classes and wine tastings. House wines, beer and a variety of sodas are included in your stay.

Vista Verde Ranch Vista Verde Ranch hosts formal multi-course dinners to delight ranch "foodies."

For more information on Dude Ranch vacations please visit www.duderanch.org or call The Dude Ranchers' Association at 866-399-2339.

The Horse We Shared at the Colorado Dude Ranch

Posted on May 7, 2012 via rainbowtroutranch.com

A TRIBUTE TO CD,

The Horse We Shared

By Andrea Hansell

     Our family first came to Rainbow Trout Ranch in July of 1997.   Before we arrived, I spent a good deal of time discussing horse choices with Jane on the phone.  I had enough riding experience to want a horse with some spunk, but being afraid of heights, I also wanted a horse that I could absolutely rely on to be cautious and sure-footed on steep trails.   Jane decided that the best horse for me was CD, short for Coupe DeVille.   On my first ride out, I immediately fell in love with this handsome dark brown horse with the white socks and forehead  blaze.
wagon-ride-at-Rainbow-Trout-2-300-600x394

Andrea with CD in 1997

When I was feeling comfortable in the flat meadows and on the logging road, CD let me be totally in charge, and responded to my slightest nudge of the reins.  But when I got nervous on a trail high above the Conejos, CD would look back at me as if to say, “Do you think I’d let us both fall off that cliff?  Trust me, lady, I’ve got this!”  and he would carefully pick his way among the rocks, keeping well away from the steep drop.  

Andrea on CD, 1997

By the end of our first week at RTR, I was so enthralled with CD that my husband Jim joked that he had never imagined having a horse as a rival for his wife’s affection.  When we returned home to Michigan, he bought me my own little stuffed CD, which has sat on a table in my office for the last fifteen years.  

Mini-CD, a gift from Jim to Andrea

When we returned for our second summer at RTR, I eagerly requested to ride CD again.  But to my disappointment (I remember I almost cried!) a long-time guest had requested CD, and he was the one who got to ride him that week.  Jane chose Roman for me that summer, and he was a wonderful horse, but when I brought an apple down to the barn for Roman, I always brought another one for CD. During our first two summers at the ranch, Jim, recovering from shoulder surgery, had mostly hiked and fished while the children and I rode.  On our third trip, however, he decided that he wanted to master horseback riding and go on the overnight ride.  He wanted a really dependable horse for the week.  When Jane asked me if I’d rather ride Roman or CD, I realized that CD would actually be a perfect horse for Jim, so I chose Roman and offered Jim the gift of CD.   Since Jim and I always rode together, I got to spend a wonderful week with my husband and both of my favorite equine buddies.  From then on, when we returned to the ranch, I would ride Roman and Jim would ride CD.

Jim and CD in the rodeo, 2003

It was with sadness that Jim and I read in the recent RTR News of CD’s passing.  We both loved that sweet horse, and hope that somewhere in Horse Heaven he is happily loping across a grassy meadow with his buddies (including Roman) who have also passed.  He has most definitely become part of our family’s history.

The Hansell Family in 2001, Jim on CD

For more information about Rainbow Trout Ranch please visit www.rainbowtroutranch.com or call 800-633-3397

Dude Ranches CAN Make a Difference!

We recently received a letter, here at The Dude Ranchers' Association office, from a family expressing thanks for the wonderful trip they had received as a gift from Colorado Trails Ranch and The Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation.  The Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation is a national resource providing WOW! Experiences for children and families who have a Mom or Dad with late stage, limited life expectancy cancer. The Foundation was inspired by Jill and Jon Albert’s real life story. With years of executive experience in the corporate world, Jon found himself, his wife, Jill, and their two young children, Jake and Jamie, facing Jill’s Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. Jill and Jon realized early on in Jill’s fight the disease was not just attacking her body, but it was affecting their entire family. Jon took his marketing and operations expertise and combined it with their drive to formulate something positive and meaningful out of the unfair and cruel. The Alberts knew that for their kids, strong memories of special times together would be their greatest inheritance. From this notion and inspiration, the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation was born. This is where Dude Ranches such as Colorado Trails Ranch come in.  Dude Ranchers understand family and back to basics fun better than anyone and in many cases are run and/or are owned by families that have been in the industry for generations.  Family means everything and so it just seems logical that we would partner with an organization such as the Jack and Jill Foundation.  Colorado Trails Arena Kid

The following excerpts from a family who visited Colorado Trails Ranch in August of this year says it all: "Thank you and all those involved for the most amazing family vacations, We just returned from an incredible time out west. We all are still smiling just thinking about our time together. We spent our final week this summer away from hospitals, doctors, bills, pharmacy runs and medical research looking for the miracle cure. Instead, we were tucked away in the cool rocky mountains enjoying sights we had never seen before. Jeannie and Mike rolled out the “red plaid” carpet for us at the ranch. Chef Brian was OUTSTANDING making sure to keep me well nourished and supplied with all the  veggies I needed to help battle my illness. I know it wasn’t easy for him and he is a saint in my eyes for taking a special effort to cook special nutrient packed vegetarian meals for me. You could tell Jeannie set the bar pretty high for all her staff. Every single person there went out of their way to make sure we were having a great time and getting to do what we wanted to do even if it meant adjusting their schedules, and they did it graciously. From riding horses, learning to fly fish, hiking & picnicking around the beautiful Spud Lake, mountain climbing, touring the Mesa Verde national park, square dancing to just relaxing and enjoying each other’s company, the week will forever be sealed in our hearts as a time of respite in an otherwise turmoiltuous summer; 2 craniotomies, 8 weeks on IV antibiotics to fight off a brain infection and meningitis, repairing a cerebral spinal fluid leak and plastic surgery for scalp reconstruction on top of the cancer battle. This was supposed to be my quiet summer at home with all the kids and instead a few bad scans changed that and all I did was go to the hospital or doctor with the exception of our week at The Colorado Trails Ranch. Thank you for that special time." "We found out 18 months ago I had brain cancer, grade IV glioblastoma and given 12-15 months. Our life since that day is indescribable; one minute you are so hopeful and the next minute after a bad scan or test you feel yourself being sucked down that black hole. As the patient, you look around and sometimes all you see is the collateral damage you and your illness are causing those you love. With the medical bills piling up and no end in sight, we never would have been able to take a trip like this without the help of Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation. With heartfelt thanks, we are forever grateful to all those that make trips like ours possible. Life is truly full of angels here on earth and we are thankful for those angels that were led togive to Jack & Jill so that families like ours can make memories, laughing, smiling and hugging each otherwhen at times we find it hard just to breathe and process the reality of our situation."

The Dude Ranchers' Association wants to express our gratitude to The Jack & Jill Foundation for allowing us to participate and also to thank all of our amazing ranches who participate in such a worth while cause.  We applaud you! If you or anyone you know would like to donate or find out more about The Jack & Jill Foundation Late Stage Cancer Foundation, please go to their web site at www.jafa.org.

How To Have the Best Horseback Riding Vacations

I thought this was a great post from Colorado Trails Ranch...so I am posting it for all of you to read.  Enjoy! 08.18.2011 Colorado Trails Digest Did you know that you and your horse are supposed to work as a team? That’s the secret to a truly enjoyable experience on any type of horseback riding vacations. Here at Colorado Trails guest ranch, we understand that spending a week in the saddle having a great time begins by matching each guest to the right mount. A mismatched team is always a problem. This is true of married couples, poorly chosen sports teaColorado-Trails-Kid-Moment-Arena-2ms, business partners and the list of bad matches goes on and on. The same is true of horse and rider. Having spent many decades in the dude ranch business, we long ago discovered that our horses know what type of personality is on their back and will act accordingly. You see, horses have personalities that are as unique as those we find in people. There is really no such thing as a dumb horse, though they may put on a show of ignorance, there is something else going on. They are very social, intelligent and sensitive to any situation animals. Some of the most disagreeable horses are actually acting out as a result of suffering abusive handling, though you won’t find any of this lot on our dude ranch. Everyone of our huge herd of riding horses is handpicked for health, conformation and attitude, as well as their training. People of all types and walks of life come to spend their time away on Colorado Trails horseback riding vacations. Being able to give each and every one of them a week to remember, means having a wide assortment of horse personalities and levels of docility on hand. It also means that we need excellent wranglers on staff that understand horses and people very well. We don’t hire just anyone to fill the role of wrangler here on the guest ranch. The more you learn about horses, the more interesting they become. There’s a lot more depth to each animal’s character and mannerisms than a less experienced rider might suspect. Our guests who grew up with horses already understand this unique quality. For them we have more challenging mounts that easily match their skill set and personality type. Through our years of hosting fun and exciting horseback riding vacations, we’ve learned that putting a novice rider on a Type A personality horse isn’t going to allow either of them to have fun. Some people think that a small horse is better for a child to ride over a large one. This isn’t always the case though. We have several huge 16-hand tall horses that are as docile as a lamb. Additionally, a horse can sense that there is a child on its back over an adult, and display a behavior set accordingly. When you come to our dude ranch for horseback riding vacations, we’ll teach you a lot about these fascinating and beautiful animals. Even if you’ve never considered yourself the ‘horsey type’ – when you leave here, we can just about guarantee that you’ll love horses and be wondering when you can come back again.

'Veg Out' on Vacation on a Working Farm or Ranch in Colorado

Sylvan Dale ReunionsDENVER, May 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A lifestyle that incorporates locally grown and produced food is sweeping the nation. People today want to know where their food comes from and that it is sustainable. This summer, Colorado combines its fresh agricultural offerings with an experiential vacation to create opportunities for travelers to get their hands dirty and enjoy the fruits of their labor on farm and ranch stays. Across Colorado, sustainable working farms and ranches have incorporated a tourism element to the overall experience. Travelers can take part in organic cooking and butchery classes; cultivate crops; herd cattle or bison; and actually take part in the development of a farm or ranch. These authentic experiences speak to today's travelers and offer a window into the world of Colorado's 'agritourism' or 'agritainment' offerings.  Below is a sampling of the varied ways travelers to Colorado can enrich and immerse themselves into an experiential vacation.  (read more...) Ranch Life Firsthand:

  • Smith Fork Ranch is a private luxury ranch nestled in Colorado's North Fork Valley offering fly fishing, horseback riding, hiking and a unique farm-to-table experience. Smith Fork has a garden farmstead that provides the majority of the vegetables and herbs for the ranch meals. They also raise free-range chickens that provide farm fresh eggs. What is not grown on the ranch is brought in from local farms including meat, cheese and produce. The ranch also offers guided and unguided local farm and winery tours. www.SmithForkRanch.com
  • Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch is a historic working cattle ranch in the Rocky Mountain foothills near Estes Park. Activities include cattle drives, overnight pack trips, western riding instruction, scenic trail rides, fishing, hay rides and more. Many of the entrees served at Sylvan Dale include Heart-J Natural Beef, from their own herd of free-range steers. Visitors can also buy beef to take home. www.SylvanDale.com
  • Zapata Ranch is a 103,000-acre authentic working cattle and bison guest ranch located on the eastern wall of the San Luis Valley bordering the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Owned by the Nature Preserve, vacations at the Zapata Ranch revolve around learning through experience, about real ranch life and the great outdoors. Zapata prepares meals with their grass-fed bison and beef and locally grown produce. www.ZRanch.org
  • Black Mountain Ranch is a full-service working guest ranch, dude ranch and cattle ranch located between Vail and Steamboat Springs. Stays include horseback riding, overnight pack trips, longhorn cattle drives, whitewater rafting, fly and spin fishing, rifle and trap shooting, archery, and a local rodeo. The cattle drives include moving the ranch's herd of longhorns through the Colorado high country, roping practice and instruction and doctoring and branding the cattle. www.BlackMtnRanch.com

Horseback Riding Vacations For Couples On Their Honeymoon

Heart-6-Wedding-HorsebackBy Penny Riley of the  UK News Reporter.co.uk  For families and for couples on their honeymoon, horseback riding vacations offer a unique opportunity to appreciate outdoor scenery. You might not think this kind of vacation is family-friendly, but it actually is very much so, as well as being perfect for romantic getaways. Before signing up for an extended horseback vacation however, you may want to experience a shorter version. It will help you enormously to break in your rear end slowly, as being saddle sore is one side effect of spending long days in a saddle. It’s also a good idea to learn to ride on gentle horses first — leave the stallions for those more experienced. As soon as you feel confident in your riding skills and you’ve hardened your muscles a bit, it will be time to sign up for that long riding vacation. Going to a dude ranch for your vacation is a great option for families. There are many family-friendly guest ranches all over the United States, but you need to be sure every member of your family is going to be comfortable there. Some people might not find it so great, which would spoil the vacation for everyone. If all members are willing, then your next step is to gather your gear for the fun time ahead. Shopping for your dude ranch clothing is part of the fun with this kind of vacation. Be sure to trick yourself out in the latest cowboy styles but pay attention to comfort as well. Jeans and western-style shirts are on the fashion menu, and you will need to have a good pair of boots for your trip as well. Don’t forget a cowboy hat to shade your eyes and protect your face from the sun, and wearing sunblock would be well-advised as well. With just a little bit of planning, you and your family can have a wonderful horseback riding vacation. Giddy up partner, the fillies are ready for the trail. For over 90 years the C Lazy U Ranch in Granby, Colorado has been providing couples, families and groups with fantastic horseback riding vacations that include not only lots of trail riding time but other activities and amenities like fly fishing, mountain biking, trap shooting, swimming, rodeos, the luxurious Lazy You spa and upscale lodging. Save

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