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

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

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

Bar W Guest Ranch – Whitefish, MT

Winter Sleigh Ride

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

C Lazy U Ranch – Granby, CO

Winter Sleigh Ride

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

Lone Mountain Ranch – Big Sky, MT

Winter Sleigh Ride

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

Vista Verde Ranch – Steamboat Springs, CO

Winter Sleigh Ride

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

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch – Sandpoint, ID 

Winter Sleigh Ride

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

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

Winter Sleigh Ride

How Important Are Family Vacations?

How important are family vacations?

How Important Are Family Vacations?

In today’s world, the simple idea of family can seem to get lost in all of the hustle and bustle. I know that it might sound a little crazy, but think about it. Between work, school, extracurricular activities and whatever else comes around, quality family time seems to get less and less with every passing year. Traveling to a soccer tournament or on a business trip where the family can tag along isn’t true family time. Someone is always occupied doing something else and the sole focus isn’t on strengthening the family roots and dynamics. 

If the kids feel like they are second to their parent’s work, that can take a toll on their childhood. And if the parents don’t feel like they are getting enough time with their kids, a significant amount of stress can overcome them. So, why is taking a family vacation important? The answer is simple really, to take the quality time for you and your family to rekindle relationships and strengthen bonds between everyone. Families need to go on a true vacation where you can all disconnect from technology and the outside world and reconnect with people, nature and the important people who surround you. You will feel a sense of peace and accomplishment when you look back on the trip and realize all of the good that happened! Take the kids and parents on a family trip that they will remember forever to a Dude Ranchers’ Association member dude or guest ranch. 

By taking a family vacation to a dude or guest ranch, you are giving everyone the chance at endless opportunities to explore. Experience something you have never done before like horseback riding or fly fishing. Take the time to truly relax and unwind, put the real world away for a couple of days and live in the moment. Enjoy some time at the spa or sitting on your cabin porch reading that book you have been meaning to get to. Go watch or even participate with your kids making precious memories that can’t be made anywhere else. Take a look at a few DRA member ranches below that are perfect for families looking to reconnect on family vacations! 

Black Mountain Ranch – Colorado 

How Important Are Family Vacations

At Black Mountain Ranch in Colorado, you will find activities for everyone in the family and a destination that is perfect for families to reconnect. Your entire family will remember your vacation at this ranch and will talk about the stories of horseback riding, driving Longhorn cattle (yes, like you see in the movies!), trap shooting, fly-fishing, white water rafting, going to the rodeo and so much more! No matter what your riding levels the options at Black Mountain Ranch will fit everyone. Come mealtime your family will get the chance to sit around the table and share stories of the day and enjoy food that everyone will indulge in, even the picky eaters of the bunch! The accommodations at the ranch are comfortable and are great for families as well. A family vacation here will be one to remember forever. 

Averill’s Flathead Lake Ranch – Montana

How Important Are Family Vacations

The Averill family knows how to create the perfect family vacation for you and your group at their Flathead Lake Ranch in Montana. There are more activities than you can imagine at this ranch, horseback riding, mouse racing, barn dancing, sail boating, jet skiing and so much more. This ranch sits directly on the banks of Flathead Lake and has become the summer tradition for many families for generations. These families want to share the same experiences and memories with their children that they did when they were their age. The kids’ program at Averill’s is phenomenal, talented kids’ counselors and wranglers will make sure the kids are enjoying their time in the great outdoors and gaining confidence on the back of a horse. Being in the beautiful mountains of Montana and on the banks of the lake will give you time to relax and reconnect with your family. The memories you create here will be the talk of family dinners for weeks, months and probably years to come. 

Crossed Sabres Ranch – Wyoming

How Important Are Family Vacations

Grab your family and venture on out to the wonderful, wild state of Wyoming to the Crossed Sabres Ranch located just outside of Yellowstone National Park and the famous tourist town of Cody, Wyoming. Here, your family will reconnect under a golden, Wyoming sunset in the mountains of the wild west. Enjoy horseback riding, skeet shooting, a day trip to Yellowstone, fly-fishing and so much more while you are here. The fun adventures will be endless and so will the memories! Crossed Sabres Ranch is located in the Shoshone National Forest, there is no cell phone reception on the ranch and no Wi-Fi connection in the cabins. Everyone will be too busy to be concerned with screens anyway, but the ranch understands that sometimes you can’t completely disconnect, therefore there is Wi-Fi available in the lodge for business purposes and a landline in case of emergencies. There is no better place to disconnect from the real world than at a dude or guest ranch! 

Diamond D Ranch – Idaho

How Important Are Family Vacations

Diamond D Ranch, nestled beneath the beautiful Salmon River Mountains in the Frank Church Wilderness, is where you will find the perfect destination to disconnect and reconnect with your family. Comfortable cabins, delicious food and activities for everyone in the group await you here! Horseback rides, overnight pack trips, gold panning, target shooting, photography hunts, campfires, swimming and more keep the kiddos and the parents entertained all day long here. The best part is, you can do all of these activities together as a family. Explore the mountains of Idaho where only a few people have been and enjoy the incredible beauty that surrounds this ranch. This ranch does sit off the beaten path and is cut off from the power grid and most communication; this is a place you want to visit if you are looking to completely disconnect for a period of time. It may seem scary to think about at first, but trust us when we say you will find the most freedom you have felt in a long time at this ranch. 

Colorado Trails Ranch – Colorado

How important are family vacations

Head over to the beautiful valley next to the San Juan National Forest to find the hidden gem of Colorado Trails Ranch outside of Durango, Colorado. Here your family will have the chance to participate in activities that are great for all ages and make everlasting memories. Take the opportunity to go horseback riding, whitewater rafting, fly-fishing, hiking, swimming in the heated pool or soak in the hot tub. If you are looking for some relaxation and rejuvenation though, you can opt-out of activities and enjoy a peaceful day on the porch of your cabin. The most wonderful thing about dude and guest ranches is that this is your vacation and it is entirely up to you how busy or laid back you want your schedule to be! Colorado Trails Ranch is all about family and bringing families together. Most of the guests that come to this ranch are families, sometimes multigenerational, which gives your group the chance to enjoy this magical place with other families. The kids will make fast friends and the parents will have the chance to make acquaintances too! 

Now that you have learned a little bit about why family vacations are so important, what are you waiting for? Grab the kids and start planning the vacation of a lifetime! Everyone in the family will appreciate the time and dedication to strengthening family bonds. Unplug and reconnect with your family, you will not be sorry you did! 

For more information on dude ranch vacations and for help finding the right ranch for you and your family, contact the Dude Ranchers’ Association at 307-587-2339 or info@duderanch.org

Click here to see a list of more DRA member ranches that are great for any type of traveler! 

How Important Are Family Vacations

10 Best Things about a Ranch Vacation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 Best Things about a Ranch Vacation

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