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

   There are many great things about a ranch vacation. Here is the list of the top 10 best things you will enjoy about a ranch vacation.Save Save

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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.

 

 

Dude ranch makes for a blue-ribbon family roundup

The

Minneapolis Star Tribune recently wrote a wonderful article about Tumbling River Ranch.  I have included a short piece of the article along with the link. Be sure to click through to read the complete story!

Article by: Tony Jones , Star Tribune

Updated: October 26, 2013 - 4:07 PM

You probably wouldn’t take me for a barrel racer, and surely not for a blue ribbon-winning, rodeo barrel racer. But I am, and no one can take that away from me. Many years ago, my parents took my brothers and me to a dude ranch in Montana. It was almost universally commended as our best-ever family vacation. As my mother’s 70th birthday approached, she hoped to re-create that magic as a present to herself. But 30 years later, this trip would include spouses and a new generation, her grandchildren. All told, 17 of us from three generations converged on the Tumbling River Ranch, just up a dirt road from the tiny burg of Grant, Colo. That’s two grandparents, three sons, three spouses and nine grandchildren, ranging in age from 4 to 72. We arrived for our weeklong stay on Sunday afternoon and were met by Megan Dugan, who owns the ranch with her husband, Scott. As Megan showed us around, she told us that she’d grown up on the ranch, which her parents purchased in 1975. In their teens, Scott and Megan were both on summer staff. They re-met, married and eventually bought the ranch when her parents retired. Now they’re raising their own three kids there. The Dugan family, and their home at the center of the ranch, brought a family feel to the whole experience, as did something we heard at orientation that night. The ranch was full to capacity on our week, with six families totaling 49 guests. Of those six families, three were making return visits to Tumbling River, two of them on their fourth visit. Clearly, Tumbling River engenders some serious loyalty. At orientation, the entire staff of wranglers, cooks, servers, kids’ counselors and housekeepers sat up front, dressed in their cowboy duds, explaining the ins and outs of the week. Turned out that the stellar staff — most of them college kids on a summer job — became one of the most memorable elements of Tumbling River; our kids are still talking about them. (Read More)

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.

 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.

All- Inclusive Dude and Guest Ranch Vacations are the Perfect Locations for Solo Travelers

While traveling alone may sound like a scary proposition, I’d like to share with you an all-inclusive destination perfect for solo travel: dude ranches. Dude ranches are the ideal vacation for those looking for much needed time alone, a new and exciting adventure, or even for those in search of making new friends. Guest ranches offer numerous advantages over other vacation options for those going solo, including:

 Intimate and Friendly Environment

When at a dude ranch, you instantly feel like a part of the family as there is great camaraderie amongst guests and staff. It instantly becomes your home away from home. Many guest ranches only accommodate up to 40 or 50 guests per week, which not only allows the staff to know your name but also results in you getting to know most of the other guests. Meals are often served family style so there are always guests to chat with throughout the day, making sure you never feel like you are on the “outskirts” if traveling alone.

 Group Activities

There is never a dull moment at a dude ranch. There are activities to keep you busy from sunup to sundown such as horseback riding, fly fishing, white water rafting, rock climbing, cattle roping, ATV-riding and much more. Plus, these activities are usually done in groups so you won’t encounter any “couples only” activities or events if you don’t want to.

 Adult-Only Weeks

Many guest ranches report fewer “couples” visiting now than in the past. As a result, many of these ranches host adult-only weeks in September. Activities during these weeks range from wine and cheese tastings, guided hikes, cooking classes, country dance instruction, cookouts, themed cocktail receptions and much more.

 Connect with Yourself

Dude ranches are a great place to spend time alone to revive your body, spirit and mind in some of the most spectacular areas in the country, from valleys complete with untouched Rocky Mountain backdrops to desert sunsets across the Southwest. Whether it’s a rejuvenating day at the spa, an adventurous hike or a relaxing day reading a book under the sun, you are sure have plenty of quality alone time.

 Dude Ranchers’ Association

The Dude Ranchers' Association (DRA) is like your own personal travel agent, minus the fees, and can help you plan the perfect solo vacation. Whether you are looking for an authentic cowboy experience or a luxury resort, the DRA can customize the trip of your dreams. There are more than 100 DRA-accredited guest ranches in North America (two in Canada), all of which uphold the highest quality of services within the industry.

Triangle C Ranch

Dubois, Wyoming Phone: +1 800-661-4928 The Triangle C Dude Ranch is located on the Wind River, nestled between Jackson Hole and Dubois, Wyoming. We pride ourselves in being a true Wyoming Ranch - where our handshake is our bond and the coffee pot is always on!    

Colorado Cattle Company & Guest Ranch New Raymer, Colorado Phone: 1-970-437-5345 Colorado Cattle Co. and Guest Ranch is located on 10,000 acres of grassland for cattle, rolling hills, canyons, streams and bluffs in Northeastern CO. This is not your typical Dude Ranch. This is a real working cattle ranch where the guests actually work cattle just as a real cowboy would.    

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch Sandpoint, Idaho Phone: +1 888-863-9066 With ranch adventures for families, couples or singles, Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, rich in history and family heritage, is Idaho's most northern ranch. Activities include horseback riding, skeet shooting, cattle sorting, mountain biking, hiking, children's programs, adult only weeks and more.     

Upper Canyon Outfitters & Guest Ranch Alder, Montana Phone: +1 800-735-3973 Upper Canyon Outfitters is nestled on the banks of the Ruby River, between three mountain ranges. Our family has been exploring these beautiful and wildlife-rich mountains since 1910. We are proud to offer a truly unforgettable Western Montana experience.    

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.    

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.  

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.
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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

A Week at a Guest Ranch

Found this great article on ExploreThere.com and thought I would share it with you!  In a time where we spend our days in a rush to work and hardly spending any time for ourselves or our families in our bustling cities and suburbs, there still lies some places that try to mainatin the older more simple way of life. Vacations to the beach and other cities around the world tend to be the defacto destinations, but other options do exist and likely more relaxing and exciting than you may give them credit for at first judgement. How does spending a week on a ranch sound to you? How about a ranch in rural Colorado, high in the mountains? Even if you don’t, you’ll likely to be surprised at just how amazing a week escaping from your real world into the real world of our older generations can be. This lifestyle still exists in America, and elsewhere around the world, but most of us are too busy with our modern luxuries to notice. Having spent a decent bit of time on a particular working guest ranch, or dude ranch if that tickles your fancy, I can say that I was overly surprised at just how nice of a change it was from a life I had back at home. Black Mountain Ranch is located in McCoy, Colorado on 11,000 acres of land at an elevation around 8500ft. During the summer months when the ranch is open for guests you will find the weather to be very temperate and pleasing, with some of the most beautiful sunny clear skies. Just what is a day on the ranch like? It can be whatever you want to make it at Black Mountain Ranch. The majority of guest ranches have specific itenerary for your stays, but at this particular ranch they leave the activities up to you and the other guests preferences. Want to fish today? No problem. You can fish in one of the several small watering holes on the property. Want to go rafting? No problem. Gather a boat full and go white water rafting down the Colorado River. Are horses your thing? You can do that too. Feeling a little thirsty? The Ranch Saloon is sure to whet your whistle. To sum it up, you do what you like to do here when you’d like to do it. Ever shot a shotgun before? Step right up and try and shoot the clays. One evening during the week the guests that would like to experience high altitude camping load up on their horses and trail ride about 8 miles to the top of Black Mountain and back down to a semi permanent campsite. No tent building experience needed as the entire camp stays set up for the entire season and all the equipment and food that you will need is included. All you need to do is bring a great attitude for being outdoors and maybe a camera and you’ll surely enjoy this luxury camping experience provided for you. Black Mountain Ranch At Pack Camp you’ll have no trouble staying entertained. At this point you will have made friends with the other guests and will get an even better, more intimate setting to make great friends. If you want a good workout try your hand at chopping wood to keep fueling the fire. Its certainly not required, but its fun. This area also offers some of the best star gazing you can imagine. You escape even the light from the ranch up at this high perch on the mountain. Some people don’t realize you can see the milky way galaxy with your bare eyes, and the look on their faces when they see it just shows you how awe inspiring it really is. All of this while drinking margaritas and eating delicious, dutch oven, fire cooked meals just takes it up a notch or ten. Saturdays are reserved for the weekly cattle drive in which the wranglers guide you through running a real life longhorn cattle drive. This isn’t a test run. The ranch actually does need to wrangle the cattle up from its thousands and thousands of acres every week in order to inventory the herd and check for medical issues. You and the other guests are in charge of making sure that the 40+ pair make it to the arena where you will get the opportunity to rope the calfs after a short lesson on how to rope. Black Mountain Ranch What’s more fun than catching a 200 pound calf and being drug around the arena? Catching a 200 pound calf and being drug around the arena while your friends and family take hilarious photos of you eating dirt. After the group gets done roping, you all get back on your horses and push the cattle back out into a new area of the property. Its a full day and you are sure to be exhausted, but if you’re lucky and you have the energy for it, you’ll be invited up to the owners home for horderves before the final dinner. Last, but not least it’s one thing for a ranch to have a lot for its guests to do, but none of it is worth it if you dont have great hosts, and this family run business has a fun, caring staff that are willing to just go out of their way to make sure that your time here is an amazing experience. This ranch has a beautiful landscape, beautiful cabins, and a multitude of activities, but what really makes this place great is the people you are interacting with on a daily basis. For more great Dude Ranches visit www.duderanch.org. Running Them Out [Photos by Michael Cummings]

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

Family Dude Ranches in Colorado

Colorado dude ranches offer many different styles of family vacations ranging from rustic to luxurious. While the classic dude ranch vacation has always revolved around cattle drives and bunkhouse accommodations, many modern dude ranches also offer family-oriented activities, gourmet meals and lavish accommodations. Most dude ranches are only open during summer, though a handful of Colorado's dude ranch proprietors offer big-game hunting expeditions during winter for more-adventurous families.

Wind-River-Kids-Frisbee-001

Northern Colorado

The Wind River Christian Dude Ranch (windriverranch.com) welcomes families to embrace their spiritual heritage while experiencing Colorado's frontier lifestyle. This large, 80-year-old resort is close to Rocky Mountain National Park and offers an abundance of outdoor activities to explore the breathtaking countryside. Wind River offers all-inclusive resort pricing for six-day stays complete with all meals and activities that range from golf to fishing. Core programs at the ranch revolve around morning activities catering to the needs of children, pre-teens and teenagers.
 

Western Colorado

The San Juan Mountains are one of Colorado's most rugged and remote areas. This mountain range is home to three wilderness areas with abundant recreation opportunities, historic mining ghost towns and several of the state's "fourteeners," mountains over 14,000 feet tall. (read more)
 

South-Central Colorado

Tarryall River Ranch offers seven-day all-inclusive packages that cater to families who want an active and social vacation. Located within two hours of Denver in rural Park County, Tarryall River Ranch is a small family-owned operation featuring cabin rentals for up to 30 guests, horseback riding, fly-fishing, river-rafting and kid-friendly amenities, including a petting zoo, a jungle gym and special riding programs for teens. During the cooler fall months, Tarryall offers adults-only weeks, bed-and-breakfast accommodations and guided hunting trips.
 

Eastern Colorado

Eastern Colorado is vastly different from the rugged, mountainous Western Slope region. This windswept area is shaped by rolling prairies, open plains and far-reaching views of the Rocky Mountains. The Colorado Cattle Company and Guest Ranch (coloradocattlecompany.com) is a working guest ranch geared toward adults and older teens who want to perfect the fine art of roping a steer from horseback, as well as participate in arena games like pole-bending and barrel-racing. Shooting games, fishing and wildlife-watching are other popular activities. This rustic ranch has accommodations that can house up to 20 guests at a time and meals are included in the price.   (read more)
 

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Wilderness Pack Trip!

North Fork Ranch is offering something new and exciting this year. A real wilderness pack trip! It's more than just an overnight trip like in the past. You will find yourself enjoying nature first hand for many nights in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Views you have never seen before or imagined! Here are the details:
"Looking for the adventure of a lifetime? Something unlike what you have ever done before? A Colorado Wilderness Pack Trip is waiting for you! A five day, four night, back country, horseback, wilderness camping trip at 10,000 ft.  Fill your leisure days with
fishing in alpine streams, hiking nearby peaks and horseback riding. Explore Craig Park in the Lost Creek Wilderness Area as only a few have been able to do. Enjoy the open space, fresh air, ultimate peace & serenity of getting away from it all! A guide and camp host will care for your every need and safety. This exciting adventure is for one family or possibly two couples and only offered three different weeks: July 2nd, July 9th and July 16th, 2011. Contact us for more exciting details."
Toll Free: 800-843-7895 www.northforkranch.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

5 Reasons to Consider a Family Dude Ranch Vacation this Summer

Hey...this was just posted on TravelSavvyMom.com.  Just thought I would share this with you...enjoy! Last summer I finally lived out my dream of taking a dude ranch vacation.  At 8 and 10, my kids were finally old enough to pull on boots and saddle up for seven consecutive days.  I launched an exhaustive search for the perfect place and finally decided on Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Both the ranch and the experience exceeded my expectations in every way.   If you and your kids love horses, beautiful scenery, and the outdoors, a luxury guest ranch makes an unforgettable family vacation.  Here are five reasons to consider one for your next trip:  Read more for the 5 Reasons...

Dude Ranch Vacations for Singles

Although a dude ranch is not typically associated with singles activities, a healthy, invigorating outing somewhere in the big-sky country of the American west can bring people together just like any other shared interest. Dude ranches also foster social activity with amenities such as trail rides, a hot tub, sauna or community-style meals. Although most dude ranches cater to families, there are a number that reserve special weeks for adults only or singles.

Heart Six in Wyoming

Heart Six Ranch, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, features adults-only weeks in June and August that attract singles, according to reservations specialist Joy Miller. A typical group includes 12 to 15 singles, says Miller. Heart Six offers views of the spectacular Grand Tetons. Its reputation has been built on “comfortable lodging, hearty meals and plenty of western hospitality,” its website says. Activities include horseback riding, guided tours of Yellowstone National Park, white-water rafting and fishing. Amenities include a hot tub, sauna and massage.

Tumbling River in Colorado

Although its offers no singles week, Tumbling River Ranch, 62 miles southwest of Denver in Grant, Colorado, features an adults-only week that attract singles, according to co-owner Megan Dugan. Adults-only week is either the last week in August or one of the first two weeks of September. Opened in 1940 and owned by the Dugan family since 1975, Tumbling River features accommodations with fireplaces, private bathrooms and outdoor balconies. Activities include horseback riding, pack trips and white-water rafting. Amenities include a hot tub and sauna.

The Dude Ranchers’ Association

The Dude Ranchers’ Association provides free services to anyone looking for a ranch that matches their tastes and preferences. “Quite a few dude ranches do singles weeks, but it varies from year to year,” says Dude Ranchers’ Association spokesperson Katie Krasselt. “By our estimate, there are about 80 ranches that host adults-only weeks, which attract a lot of singles. My guess is that there are about 18 to 20 that are currently doing real singles weeks.” If you’re interested in their help, contact them via their website.

Read more: Dude Ranch Vacations for Singles Dude Ranch Vacations for Singles eHow.com  


 

Colorado Dude Ranches Let Guests Experience The Old West

Thought I would share this great article with you that was on the http://www.examiner.com/ written by Melanie Pahl.  This is the first in a series on the guest ranches of Colorado. Ever wanted to try your hand at cattle herding or feel what it’s like to ride the open range as the cowboys used to do in early Western movies? There are guest ranches all over Colorado that are still functioning as they have for decades and the owners are willing to share this western way of life.  READ MORE...

Drowsy Water Ranch Honored As Best All Inclusive Resort in the World

Drowsy-Water-Ranch-Kids-Trail

Granby, Colorado – January 20, 2010 – Drowsy Water Ranch was chosen as the #1 All Inclusive Resort in the World by TripAdvisor® in its 2010 Travelers’ Choice® awards.
Now in its eighth year, the annual TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice awards honor the world’s best hotels, earning their distinction from those who know them best – real travelers. Unlike any other hotel awards programs in the world, TripAdvisor® Travelers' Choice® winners are based on the millions of real and unbiased reviews and opinions about hotels on tripadvisor.com™ and content from across the web. “Inspired by the millions of trusted traveler reviews and opinions on TripAdvisor.com, the Travelers’ Choice awards have once again highlighted the finest hotels in the world,” said Christine Petersen, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor. “From remarkable bargains to the trendiest hotels, travelers worldwide are recognizing more than 700 hotels for their outstanding service, value and quality.”

For reviews on the Drowsy Water Ranch go to
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g33449-d125326-Reviews-
Drowsy_Water_Ranch-Granby_Colorado.html

For the complete 2010 Travelers’ Choice list, go to www.tripadvisor.com

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