13 Best Dude Ranches for Families

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

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

13 Best Dude Ranches for Families 

 

1. The Home Ranch – Clark, CO

Best For: Cuisine and Cooking

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

dude ranches

2. Rainbow Trout Ranch – Antonito, CO

Best For: Authentic High Mountain Experience

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

dude ranches

3. White Stallion Ranch – Tucson, AZ

Best For: Evening Entertainment

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

dude ranches

4. Circle Z Ranch – Patagonia, AZ

Best For: Old West Experience

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

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

dude ranches

5. Bonanza Creek Country Guest Ranch – Martinsdale, MT

Best For: Riding in the Wide Open Country  

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

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

dude ranches

6. Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort – Solvang, CA

Best For: Wine Country and Activities

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

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

dude ranches

7. Western Pleasure Guest Ranch – Sandpoint, ID

Best For: Off-Season Vacations

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

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

dude ranches

8. Paradise Guest Ranch – Buffalo, WY

Best for: Water Activities

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

dude ranches

9. Bar W Guest Ranch – Whitefish, MT

Best For: On-Trend Vacations

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

dude ranches

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

Best For: Best-Kept Riding Secret  

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

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

dude ranches

11. Triangle C Dude Ranch, Dubois, WY

Best For: Getting a True Sense of Working Cattle

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

dude ranches

12. Three Bars Guest Ranch – British Columbia, Canada

Best For: Private Cabins and Communal Meals

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

dude ranches

13. Drowsy Water Ranch – Granby, CO

Best For: Young Children

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

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

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

 

Read the full article by Julie Bielenberg here

The 25 Most Popular Destinations for a Colorado Vacation at a Ranch

An outdoor enthusiast’s wonderland, Colorado is jam packed with breathtaking landscapes, and more than 300 sunny days a year for travelers to come and explore its diverse areas. From the spine of North America, the famous Rocky Mountains, to lush valleys and the easily accessible Denver Airport, Colorado is an obvious choice for all types of travelers - families, couples, solo travelers and business associates - who are looking for adventure. With an unlimited variety of outdoor attractions, scenic destinations and diverse wildlife, Colorado is urging you to explore. From cross country skiing, hiking a National Park or horseback riding through the country, Colorado has a long list of things to do all year. Read on to discover the best places to take a Colorado vacation. 

Take a Colorado Vacation

All of the 25 best ranches in Colorado will give you a wonderful vacation - each unique in its own way. 

Colorado Vacation

Cherokee Park Ranch - Livermore, CO 

Colorado Trails Ranch

Near Durango, Colorado the Colorado Trails Ranch is an all-inclusive family vacation adventure in the San Juan Mountains. This is definitely a great place to go if you are looking for excitement and relaxation on your vacation. The delicious home cooked meals, delightful cabins and activities for all ages makes this an incredible dude ranch experience. 

Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch

Get packed and saddle up for a week at the Bar Lazy J Ranch. Just Southeast of Rocky Mountain National Park, this ranch is famous for recreation and relaxation. There are tons of outdoor activities, including a 1,500-foot zipline - and countless ways to sit back and unwind. 

Laramie River Ranch

Laramie River Ranch is known for horseback riding, but has so many well-developed programs and activities. Expert fly fishing, natural horsemanship demonstrations, team penning, naturalist programs for birdwatching, star gazing and wild flower identification makes the Laramie River Ranch a destination for those interested in an educational and fun outdoor adventure. 

Colorado Vacation

Laramie River Ranch - Jelm, CO 

Badger Creek Ranch

Ride out with the cowboy crew at the Badger Creek Ranch. You’ll get to do all the important tasks that makes a cattle operation run. Ready to fix a fence? Sort cattle? Go on an iconic cattle drive? Then Badger Creek is a great place for you. 

Black Mountain Ranch

Ready for a  Saturday afternoon cattle drive for the Black Mountain Ranch’s herd of long horn cattle? You’ll not be bored during the week while you wait, doing some of the most exhilarating outdoor adventures - loping rides, fly fishing, paddle boarding, skeet shooting, white water rafting and even a cookout in the Colorado sunset. 

The High Lonesome Ranch

If you are looking for your inner cowboy you can find it at the High Lonesome Ranch. Known for the nostalgic combination of the views of the Rocky Mountains, equestrian activities and culinary adventures this ranch has an assortment of things for everyone to enjoy.  

Colorado Vacation

The High Lonesome Ranch - DeBeque, CO

Zapata Ranch

As a working cattle and bison ranch the Zapata Ranch and Nature Conservancy offers guests the chance to experience what it takes to run a ranch. Have you ever seen a bison up close and personal? Here’s your chance! With a capacity of only 15 you’ll get a tailored vacation. You might even select one of their themed weeks to get more in depth on Western painting, photography workshops and some cattle working special events. 

4UR Ranch

The 4UR Ranch boasts 3,000 acres of adventure and 6 miles of private trout stream on the Rio Grand River. Not only this, but the ranch also has miles and miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding, a natural hot springs and top-notch accommodations. A well-rounded ranch no doubt. 

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch

Everyone is welcome at the Sundance Trail Guest Ranch, from Grandma and Grandpa and the kids to your pet dog and best trail riding horse. There are a variety of different horseback rides from beginner to advanced as well as plenty of activities to do while not riding. You can even play a round of frisbee golf!

Colorado Vacation

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch - Red Feather Lakes, CO 

Drowsy Water Ranch

From infants to teenagers the Drowsy Water Ranch has a program and counselors in place with plenty of activities to teach your kids about the western cowboy lifestyle in Colorado. And there’s plenty to do here for adults as well!

Tumbling River Ranch

Shine up your cowboy boots for the evening entertainment at the Tumbling River Ranch. With live music and square dancing after a day in the saddle you’re sure to love this western ranch experience. 

Vista Verde Ranch

The vastness of the views at the Vista Verde Ranch makes you feel like your vacation experience is in high definition. You’ll have an unforgettable luxury experience that will bring you back year after year. 

Colorado Vacation

Vista Verde Ranch - Steamboat Springs, CO 

Cherokee Park Ranch

Have you always wanted to learn how to rope? Cherokee Park Ranch offers roping lessons for all age groups to learn one of the longest art forms of the cowboy. With hay rides, tubing the river and even art classes everyone will have something they really want to do when they aren’t horseback riding. 

The Majestic Dude Ranch 

The Majestic Dude Ranch is known as the ultimate adventure ranch. Along with spectacular horseback riding, the ranch offers paintball and laser tag, mountain biking, white water rafting, baseball, hiking and more. 

Wind River Christian Dude Ranch

You’ll never forget the Wind River Christian Dude Ranch. With a ministry component to the ranch you’ll fill your soul while in some of the most beautiful places in Colorado. 

Colorado Vacation

Wind River Christian Dude Ranch - Estes Park, CO

Elk Mountain Ranch

Elk Mountain Ranch offers an intimate Colorado dude ranch setting for your family. When you arrive, your hosts will tailor the experience to meet each guest’s needs for their vacation. And then you’ll get to settle in to cozy and comfortable cabins. 

Smith Fork Ranch

Fine dining at the private luxury destination of the Smith Fork Ranch is definitely worth writing home about. Farm to table cuisine, an incredible wine list and a view like non-other sets this ranch apart from all the rest. 

Lost Valley Ranch

Reconnect with the spirit of the old west at the Lost Valley Ranch. Set against 26,000 acres of public land in the Pike National Forest fresh mountain air has never been more pristine. And with a history that begins in the late 1800’s the Lost Valley Ranch invites guests to become a part of the story of the ranch. 

Colorado Vacation

Lost Valley Ranch - Sedalia, CO 

C Lazy U Ranch 

Located in Granby, Colorado, the C Lazy U Ranch is a top-notch resort ranch with the finest offerings for accommodations, food and of course outdoor adventure activities. With a capacity of 95 this location can host large groups of multi-generational families and offer tons of things to do for solo travelers and couples. 

The Home Ranch

Ready for a summer or winter adventure? The Home Ranch offers a fine dude ranch stay through out the summer and from December through March. You can ride out into green mountains or cross-country ski across snow covered hills. 

Latigo Ranch

Majestic scenery reaching all the way to the Continental Divide, the Latigo Ranch has an experience for you like no other ranch. Gourmet contemporary cuisine will delight the senses in the evenings and phenomenal horseback riding and fishing will engage your family during the day. 

Colorado Vacation

Latigo Ranch - Kremmling, CO 

Rainbow Trout Ranch

The Rainbow Trout Ranch is all about the family adventure. Your kids and teens will rave about the whole new world of fun and activities they can do on a ranch. You’ll find old fashioned hospitality and the Colorado backcountry a very charming vacation. 

The Broadmoor's Ranch at Emerald Valley

The Ranch at Emerald Valley is just a short ride up the mountain from the famous Broadmoor Hotel. You’ll be set for an incomparable luxury vacation here in one of 10 beautifully appointed cabins with modern amenities and all set to ride horses in some really incredible country. 

Rawah Ranch

Ready for a romantic escape with someone special? The Rawah Ranch knows how important it is to cultivate your relationships and fosters a wonderful experience with champagne and roses upon arrival, your own private trail ride and private massages. 

Colorado Vacation

Rawah Ranch - Glendevey, CO

Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch

Take time to play on your next business trip to the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch. You’ll get a variety of outdoor activities and team building opportunities and even a challenge course. A wagon ride followed by a campfire in the evening will complete your western experience for a company meeting, training or retreat. 

Save this pin for later! 

An outdoor enthusiast’s wonderland, Colorado is jam packed with breathtaking landscapes, and more than 300 sunny days a year for travelers to come and explore its diverse areas. Colorado is urging you to explore. From cross country skiing, hiking a National Park or horseback riding through the country, Colorado has a long list of things to do all year. Read on to discover the best places to take a Colorado vacation.

A Dude Ranch Family Vacation - Fun for All Ages

A dude ranch is one of the best options for your next family vacation. With programs centered around horseback riding and western lifestyle activities, you’ll have more fun with your family than you ever thought possible! Parents and children will get to relax and enjoy their vacation in a way that, even though your day is full of activities and outdoor adventures, the mental exhaustion of traveling is not there. Best of all, parents are free from planning entertaining activities for the kids, the only decision making you’ll have to do will be whether to lounge by the pool, go for a horseback ride or hike up to a scenic vista for the afternoon. All the details are taken care of by your ranch hosts, such as meals, activities and housekeeping. With ranches offering family centered activities or an all-day supervised kids program, you’ll be able to find the ranch that is tailored to fit exactly what you are looking for in your family vacation. 

Dude Ranches for a Family Vacation

 

7D Ranch - Cody,WY

The 7D Ranch has been known as a premier Wyoming family guest ranch since 1958. Their kids program is designed to introduce kids to the world of livestock and horses by patient wranglers who take great care to build the children’s confidence. The program is geared for ages 3 – 12, but children of all ages enjoy participating in the activities. All scheduled activities are optional and kids can pick and choose to be with parents or with the group. 

 

Drowsy Water Ranch - Granby,CO

For 90+ years the Drowsy Water Ranch in Colorado has been known for real down-home hospitality and making fond memories on your family vacation. For kids 6 – 13 the ranch has an instruction-based horseback riding program where they practice skills before setting out on the trail. The activities progress to higher levels as the kids advance. For ages 5 and under kid’s counselors take care of the individual needs of your little ones, while you get to enjoy the adult oriented activities at the ranch. 

 

Vee Bar Ranch - Laramie,WY

The Vee Bar Ranch is a family-friendly ranch, and most definitely, a kid friendly dude ranch. With a variety of activities from horseback riding to river tubing, everyone in the family is sure to have fun. Children 6 years and up are able to ride with their family on the trail. Younger children are invited to be at the barn for a nice lead around ride in the barn area before and after the big trail rides. While baby sitting is offered at the ranch, most families choose to enjoy the activities as a family unit. 

 

CM Ranch a great dude ranch for a family vacation!

Kids enjoying arena activities at the CM Ranch in Wyoming. 

Elkhorn Ranch - Gallatin Gateway,MT

Children thrive at the Elkhorn Ranch in Montana, enjoying their independence while under the watchful eye of a kid’s counselor. With a combination of family and individual activities, your family vacation at this ranch will ultimately be one of shared experiences and wonderful memories. For ages 6 – 12 there is a kid’s program from breakfast until 8:30 at night, where the kids usually choose to ride, eat and play together.  

 

Sweet Grass Ranch - Big Timber,MT

Watching children have the freedom to run and play under Montana’s Big Sky, is one of the best parts of a Sweet Grass Ranch family vacation. This ranch truly understands and facilitates the magic that happens between kids and horses. While the ranch doesn’t offer a formal program for kids, the young ones are welcome to participate in all aspects of ranch life at this family-owned and operated working cattle ranch. 

 

CM Ranch - Dubois,WY

As an ideal location for family reunions, the CM Ranch has been providing western vacations for 100+ years. The ranch loves to host children and family vacations of all ages. For kids 5 and older there is a supervised riding program to learn western horsemanship skills and experience ranch traditions. The staff at the ranch works hard to provide activities for children and teenagers for the most enjoyable ranch experience possible. 

 

Rankin Ranch - Caliente,CA

Children are never bored at the Rankin Ranch in Southern California. With planned activities during the day for ages 4 – 11, parents and grandparents appreciate watching their children explore nature in the traditional ranch setting. After dinner the children head down to Sarah’s Farm to help bottle feed the baby animals, throw hay to the lambs and goats and hold the chickens. Following the excitement at the farm, children meet up with their parents for the family style evening activities.

 

Looking for more great dude ranches and advice for a family vacation? Check out these blogs – 

10 Great Dude Ranches Vacations for Families

The Best Multi-Generational Dude Ranches

How to Choose the Right Dude Ranch for your Family

 

 

Pin this for later to remember your favorite dude ranch family vacation!

A dude ranch is one of the best options for your next family vacation. With programs centered around horseback riding and western lifestyle activities, you’ll have more fun with your family than you ever thought possible! All the details are taken care of by your ranch hosts, such as meals, activities and housekeeping. With ranches offering family centered activities or an all-day supervised kids program, you’ll be able to find the ranch that is tailored to fit exactly what you are looking for.

Stop Working and Start Vacationing at a Dude Ranch

Stop working and start vacationing.

Under many state laws vacation pay accrues as it is earned, and cannot be forfeited.  Why would you want to forfeit your vacation time anyway, or even just let it pile up in your work account. Get out there and use that time and money for memories and experiences. You'll come back to work with stories to tell and refreshed from time away.

We, at the Dude Ranchers' Association, think a ranch vacation in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado are some pretty great states to get going on using your vacation time.

Some options are to fly into Bozeman, MT, Jackson Hole, WY or Steamboat Springs, CO or take some extra vacation time and make a road trip out of it.

Take a look at the ranches below and the information about traveling to them from your airport. Want more information? We have it here in the office at 307.587.2339, info@duderanch.org or message us on social media using #ranchvacationexpert.

 

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN)

 

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch ~ Gallatin Gateway, MontanaNine Quarter Circle Ranch Baby Foal

Distance from Bozeman Airport: 1 hour 17 minutes

Highlights:

  • 100+ years of ranching experience
  • Pack trips into Yellowstone National Park
  • Wide variety of specialty weeks.

 

Horses N Courage ~ Martinsdale, Montana

Distance from Bozeman Airport: 1 hour 45 minutes

Highlights:

  • Working Cattle Ranch with 4 day, 3 night luxury camping tent accommodations
  • 2,000 acres of private riding to work cattle with the Hereim family
  • Specialty Healing Retreats for Women

 

 Jackson Hole Airport (JAC)

 

Spotted Horse Ranch ~ Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Distance from Jackson Hole Airport: 39 minutes

Highlights:

  • Guided fly fishing on the Snake River with an Orvis endorsed equipment
  • White water rafting, scenic rafting and local hot springs soak
  • The main lodge includes a dining room overlooking the Hoback River

 

Moose Head Ranch ~ Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Distance from Jackson Hole Airport: 21 minutes

Highlights:

  • Completely surrounded by Grand Teton National Park
  • Family vacations to ride, eat and play together with your children
  • Riding is mostly just your family and a wrangler

 

Denver International Airport (DEN)

 

Drowsy Water Ranch ~ Granby, Colorado

Distance from Denver Airport: 2 hours 21 minutes

Highlights:

  • Programs for children from infants to teenagers with plenty of activities for parents and grandparents
  • Zip-line course, mountain biking, fishing, rafting, dancing and gymkhana rodeos
  • Horseback riding instruction along with variety of terrain for fast rides and slow rides

 

Wind River Ranch ~ Estes, Colorado

Distance from Denver Airport: 1 hour 30 minutes

Highlights:

  • A Christian Family Guest Ranch Resort
  • Minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Family vacation weeks with specialty speakers

 

Stop Working and Start Vacationing Use your Vacation Time for a Ranch Vacation

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5 Reasons a Ranch Vacation Is Better Than Disney

There’s no denying that a Disney vacation is at the top of most children’s list of travel wishes. Unfortunately for parents, a Disney vacation often means long lines, overcrowded parks and high expenses, all without much time for genuine family bonding. While amusement and theme parks are an easy, go-to solution for family vacations, there are other magical travel options that can offer exposure to new activities, interaction with nature, and discovery of culture and history outside of most families’ normal comfort zones. As the original all-inclusive destination for families, a dude or guest ranch vacation guarantees plenty of time to bond and spend time as a family, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Dude ranches give families the opportunity to challenge and revive their bodies, minds and spirits in some of the most breathtaking areas in the U.S., with a myriad of outdoor adventures such as rock climbing, cattle roping, horseback riding, zip lines, ATV riding and whitewater rafting. Here are 5 reasons a dude ranch vacation is better than Disney:

Explore, play and more – Located along the banks of the North Platte River in the heart of southern Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Mountains, A Bar A Guest Ranch is one of the oldest and largest dude ranches in the country, with nearly 100,000 acres for guests to explore. The ranch is a paradise for children, with activities including horseback riding, fishing, soccer, arts and crafts, music and drama, swimming, tennis, and educational games, such as cork boat and sack races. Teenagers can enjoy inner tubing down the river and golf before settling down with their family to enjoy dinner cooked outside over an open fire.

Reconnect with nature on horseback – If your family is in need of reconnecting, then you’ve found the right place. Rustic yet replete with all the modern amenities you’ll ever need, Rainbow Trout Ranch caters to children of all ages. Located near several historic Spanish land grants in Antonito, Colo., Rainbow Trout is surrounded by the spectacular San Juan Mountains. Ride horses, catch some trout, hike to an overlook with your kids, relax and more. Kids ages six and older – fondly known on the ranch as “Cowpokes” – are given their own horse for the week, and “Buckaroos” – children age’s three to five – are led on short rides by ranch counselors.

Drowsy Water Ranch Vacation Better than Disney

Learn to work as a teamDrowsy Water Ranch, situated 90 miles west of Denver, Colo., has programs for children of all ages, from infants to teenagers, along with plenty of activities for parents and grandparents. Capture the fun and your children’s hearts when you help them lasso a steer-head. Ditch technology for outside activities like obstacle courses, zip lining, swimming, hiking, archery and rafting. Afterward, head to the main lodge to enjoy playing cards, browsing the library or just visiting with new friends while drinking lemonade.

Relax, rejuvenate and reconnect in styleMountain Sky Guest Ranch sits on over 10,000 operational acres of unspoiled wilderness in the heart of Yellowstone Country in Emigrant, Mont. The ranch combines outdoor adventure for the entire family and the comforts of an upscale resort in the region’s most spectacular location. There’s no doubt your family will enjoy the breathtaking views, fine dining and luxury environment. From a crisp morning hike, to rafting down the Yellowstone River, to horseback rides through acres of meadows, there’s something for every member of the family. End the day with a mealtime horseback ride, where you’ll be treated to tasty barbecue, learn to dance with the wranglers and sing your favorite western songs around the campfire.

One-of-a-kind fishing adventures4UR Ranch provides an all-inclusive family vacation adventure in Mineral County, Colo. Try your hand at fly fishing with access to some of the finest waters around, including one of the only entirely private tail-water trout streams in the American West, trophy ponds, and both sides of the legendary Rio Grande River. Grab one of the ranch’s guides for a personal introduction to the area’s waters and trout. Whether you’re a family of anglers or not, no one will be bored on this vacation. Here, kids and adults can enjoy their own level of adventure. The ranch’s staff sees to the kids’ needs while the parents are off hiking, horseback riding or fishing. From nature explorations, to soaking in the hot springs, to a round of golf at the nearby Rio Grande Club – there’s plenty of adventure to suit everyone’s tastes.

5 Reasons Ranch Vacations are Better Than Disney

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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

Family Bonding – Dude Ranch Style

There is much to be said about children getting too much screen time in today’s tech-saturated world. But look around most playgrounds and you will see that parents are just as guilty. Too often, we’re reaching for our phones rather than focusing on what’s truly important – strengthening family bonds and making memories that will carry us well into the future.

As the original all-inclusive destination for families, a ranch vacation guarantees plenty of time to bond and spend time as a family sans technology, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Try a warm family getaway that breaks the spring break cliché of crowds and beaches or, a special trip designed to include the extended family. Dude ranches can accommodate and entertain family members of all ages. This vacation promising a one-of-a-kind vacation with opportunities for the young and young at heart, and everyone in between. Families can challenge and revive their bodies, minds and spirits in the most breathtaking areas in the US. You'll experience outdoor adventures such as; rock climbing, cattle roping, horseback riding, zip lines, ATV riding and whitewater rafting.

Take a gander at just some of these dude ranch options from the Dude Ranchers’ Association. They’re sure to leave the kids clamoring to tell you all they’ve done for the day over dinner, served family-style, of course.

 

Family Wagon Ride at Rainbow Trout Ranch Colorado

Imagine horseback riding with your family through meadows dotted with wildflowers, while the Rocky Mountains tower around you. If you and your family are in need of reconnecting, to each other and to the land, then you’ve found the right place. Rainbow Trout Ranch is rustic with all the modern amenities you’ll ever need. It caters to children of all ages. Located near several historic Spanish land grants in Antonito, Colo., Rainbow Trout is surrounded by the spectacular San Juan Mountains. Ride horses, catch some trout, hike to an overlook with your kids, and relax. Let the land and each other remind you of the important things in life. Kids ages six and older – “Cowpokes” – are given their own horse for the week. “Buckaroos” – children ages three to five – are led on short rides by ranch counselors.

A Bar A Kids Ride at a Family Dude Ranch in Wyoming

On horseback, on foot, or in vehicles – expedition guests at A Bar A Guest Ranch experience a privately guided, customized, small-group adventure. Located along the banks of the North Platte River in the heart of southern Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Mountains, A Bar A Guest Ranch is one of the oldest and largest ranches in the country.  Located on nearly 100,000 acres surrounded by National Forest and Wilderness Area for guests to explore. The ranch is a paradise for children, with riding, fishing, soccer, arts and crafts, music and drama, swimming, tennis, and educational games such as cork boat and sack races. Teenagers enjoy inner tubing down the river before joining their parents for dinner cooked outside over an open fire.

Drowsy Water Family Dude Ranch

Drowsy Water Ranch, situated 90 miles west of Denver, Colo., has programs for children, from infants to teenagers, with plenty of activities for parents and grandparents alike. Capture the fun and your children’s hearts when you help them lasso a steerhead. Ditch your tablets for outdoor group activities, such as; obstacle courses, zip lining, swimming, hiking, archery and rafting. Afterward, head to the main lodge to enjoy playing cards, browsing in the library or just visiting with new friends while drinking lemonade.  

Colorado Trails Family Dude Ranch Vacation

Who needs a video game when you can focus on capturing the real thing in person! Colorado Trails Ranch provides an all-inclusive family vacation adventure in the San Juan Mountains. Families will enjoy a one-of-a-kind fishing vacation with access to some of the finest trout fishing around. You’ll find more choice spots than you can fish in a week, with specialists trained at introducing beginners to the sport. Whether you’re a fishing fan or not, no one in your family will be bored on this vacation. Here, kids and adults can enjoy their own level of adventure. Counselors see to the kids’ needs. The parents can go off exploring by foot or horseback. From whitewater rafting to swimming in the heated pool – there’s enough tech-free adventure to suite everyone’s tastes.

The Dude Ranchers' Association - Search for family bonding

With more than 100 accredited ranches, the Dude Ranchers’ Association can help you find the perfect ranch for your family bonding vacation. Several accredited ranches offer customized packages tailored to families in search of a hassle-free family getaway. No matter which ranch you choose, a dude ranch vacation guarantees plenty of time to kick-back, spend time with friends and family and create memories that will last a lifetime.

 

As the original all-inclusive destination for families, a ranch vacation guarantees plenty of time to bond and spend time as a family sans technology, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Try a warm family getaway that breaks the spring break cliché of crowds and beaches or, a special trip designed to include the extended family. Dude ranches can accommodate and entertain family members of all ages.

All Aboard! Amtrak Train Rides to Dude Ranches

Train travel and dude ranches go way back in their relationship. In fact, the historical Northern Pacific Railway influenced early western expansion and the beginnings of leisure travel to Western States. Early dude ranchers, as in Larry Larom and his peers, founded the Dude Ranchers' Association in 1926. From the start the organization promoted leisure travel to dude ranches via train and established industry standards. Traveling to a dude ranch today is still possible. Amtrak is now the modern train travel company. They offer trips from the East coast of the United States to the West Coast and many places in between. Are you ready to take your next adventure via train?

Northern_Pacific_Railway_North_Coast_Limited_Diner

Immerse yourself in the spirit of the West and travel via train to your next dude ranch. Parasols, lace gloves, suits and heavy trunks are not necessary. Simply purchase your ticket and head out West. Below are some tools to plan your trip using the contemporary Amtrak trains. The stations are listed by state and the dude ranches close by are linked below the city. If you would like more information please call the Dude Ranchers' Association at 307.587.2339 or email us at info@duderanch.org. The Amtrak National Route Map (PDF) and the duderanch.org Interactive Map may be helpful as well.

Amtrak Train Stations by State

Norther Pacific Railroad Train Poster

Idaho

Sandpoint, Idaho Station

Western Pleasure Ranch, Sandpoint, Idaho

Washington

Spokane, Washington Station

Red Horse Mountain, Harrison, Idaho

Colorado

Granby, Colorado Station

C Lazy U Ranch, Granby, Colorado

Drowsy Water Ranch, Granby, Colorado

Bar Lazy J Ranch, Parshall, Colorado

Montana

Whitefish, Montana Station

Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge, Bigfork, Montana

Bar W Guest Ranch, Whitefish, Montana

Arizona

Kingman, Arizona Station

Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch, Yucca, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona Station

White Stallion Ranch, Tucson, Arizona

Tanque Verde Guest Ranch, Tucson, Arizona

Benson, Arizona Station

Tombstone Monument Guest Ranch, Tombstone, Arizona


 Train Travel Stamp

5 Ranch Activities to Connect with Your Family

Drowsy Water Zipline

There is much to be said about children getting too much screen time in today’s tech-saturated world. But, look around most playgrounds and you will see that parents are guilty too. Too often, we’re reaching for our phones rather than connect with what’s truly important – strengthening family bonds and making memories that will carry well into the future. In fact, making time for your family to connect does more than provide a fleeting moment of happiness: it can make you healthier. Studies have indicated frequent family dinners lead to higher levels of emotional well-being and satisfaction. The only requirement? Keep your phones turned off. As the original all-inclusive destination for families, a dude ranch vacation guarantees plenty of time to connect as a family. Families can challenge and revive their bodies, minds and spirits in the most breathtaking areas in the U.S. Listed below are the top 5 ranch activities to connect with your family. They are sure to leave the kids clamoring to tell you all they’ve done over a family style dinner.

Colorado Trails

1. Ride out of town – Imagine horseback riding with your family through meadows dotted with wildflowers, while the Rocky Mountains tower around you. You and your family are in search of that reconnection, to each other and to the land, and you’ve come to the right place: Rainbow Trout Ranch. Rustic with all the modern amenities you’ll ever need, Rainbow Trout Ranch caters to children of all ages. Located near several historic Spanish land grants in Antonito, Colo., Rainbow Trout is surrounded by the spectacular San Juan Mountains. Ride horses, catch some trout, hike to an overlook with your kids, relax, and let the land and each other connect you of the important things in life.

2. Take an expedition – On horseback, on foot, or in vehicles – expedition guests at A Bar A Guest Ranch experience a privately-guided, customized, small-group adventure. Located along the banks of the North Platte River, in the heart of southern Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Mountains, A Bar A Guest Ranch is one of the oldest and largest in the country, with nearly 100,000 acres for guests to explore, surrounded by National Forest and Wilderness Area. The ranch is a paradise for children, with riding, fishing, soccer, arts and crafts, music and drama, swimming, tennis, and educational games, such as cork boat and sack races. Teenagers enjoy inner tubing down the river and golf before connecting with their parents to a dinner cooked over an open fire.

3. Work as a teamDrowsy Water Ranch, 90 miles west of Denver, Colo., has programs for children, from infants to teenagers, with plenty of activities for parents and grandparents alike. Capture the fun and your children’s hearts when you help them lasso a steer - head. Ditch your tablets for team building group activities outside, such as obstacle courses, zip lining, swimming, hiking, archery and rafting. Afterward, head to the main lodge to enjoy playing cards, browsing in the library or just connect with new friends while drinking lemonade.

Lost Creek

4. Fish in trout heaven – Who needs a video game when you can focus on capturing the real thing in person! Colorado Trails Ranch provides an all-inclusive family vacation adventure in the San Juan Mountains. Enjoy an awesome fishing vacation with access to some of the finest trout fishing around. You’ll find more choice spots than you can fish in a week, with specialists trained at introducing beginners to the sport. Whether you’re a fishing fan or not, no one in your family will be bored on this vacation. Here, kids and adults can enjoy their own level of adventure. Counselors connect with the kids’ needs while the parents are off hiking, horseback riding or fishing. From whitewater rafting, to swimming in the heated pool – there’s enough tech-free adventure to suite everyone’s tastes.

5. Relax in styleLost Creek Ranch Lodge & Spa is nestled between Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The ranch combines outdoor adventure for the entire family and the comforts of a world-class resort in the region’s most spectacular location. Yours may be the first footstep in a pine forest that day. Or you may be the first person of the day to say hello to a wandering deer. Every aspect of the buildings, log cabins, corrals, spa and other facilities ensures you connect to the beauty and solitude of the Grand Tetons.


 

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