6 Misconceptions about Dude Ranch Vacations

Thought you knew everything there was to know about dude ranch vacations? Maybe you were right, maybe you were wrong—go ahead, see what you know!

1. We are going to eat pork and beans…from a can...over the campfire.

Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about a dude ranch vacation is the food! I suppose this stems from watching old western flicks and observing what cowboys eat. Many ranches actually source local ingredients (some have on-site greenhouses) and create culinary masterpieces. Some ranches feature wood-fired pizzas and craft cocktails such as prickly pear margaritas, while others offer wine tastings and fine dining experiences. You can select a ranch solely based on your appetite!

Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, allergies? No problem, with enough notice, ranch chefs are delighted to cater to special dietary needs.

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Lost Valley Ranch - Sedalia, CO                                          Elk Mountain Ranch - Buena Vista, CO

2. We only ride horses.

Horses are a major part of the dude ranch experience as they relate to the tradition of dude ranches. Beyond horseback riding, there are several other experiences to enjoy. Nature lovers will relish in hiking, bird-watching and nature walks. Adrenaline junkies will love the mountain biking and whitewater rafting. Other activities for folks seeking something in-between include fly fishing, archery, and even cooking classes. Most all-inclusive stays at a dude ranch include any and all activities. See the complete list of activities here!

dude ranch vacations

Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch - Winston, NM

3. We’re going to sleep on hay, right?

While some ranches may be considered more luxurious than others, all sleeping quarters are quiet, cozy and comfortable. Rustic and historic accents fill the rooms, from old poster beds to antique quilts.

dude ranch vacations

Smith Fork Ranch - Crawford, CO

4. Dude ranch vacations are only available in the summertime.

Some dude ranches close for the winter, but many are still open! When snow blankets the Rocky Mountains, the dude ranches simply shift their focus. Activities during your stay might feature snowmobiling, skiing and snowshoeing, with a long soak in the hot tub at the end of your day. If you still fancy a traditional dude ranch experience, escape the cold and fly south to a ranch in Arizona! Ride through saguaro cactus country, and soak up the neon sunsets in the evening.

dude ranch vacations

dude ranch vacations

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kay El Bar Guest Ranch - Wickenburg, AZ                                        Bar W Ranch - Whitefish, MT

 

5. It’s just so expensive.

For the most part, you’ll find that the all-inclusive rate at the dude ranches covers a full day of activities, food, and lodging. When you compare the rate for a stay at a dude ranch versus another family vacation, you will likely find that it’s actually cheaper! Plus, you won’t have to obsess over different places to stay, where to eat, what to do, and getting around. At a dude ranch you pay one rate, show up and simply enjoy time together with your family.

dude ranch vacations

Goosewing Ranch - Jackson, WY

6. There are too many kids.

Dude ranches make for an excellent family vacation—no doubt! There’s something there for everyone to enjoy. For some though, having a vacation means leaving the kids at home. Many of the ranches offer kid-free weeks, perfect for romantic getaways, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and maybe even corporate retreats. With or without children, you will find peace and tranquility during your dude ranch vacation.

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CM Ranch - Dubois, WY

This article was created in partnership with Visit USA Parks.

 

6 Misconceptions about Dude Ranch Vacations

 

Thought you knew everything there was to know about dude ranch vacations? Maybe you were right, maybe you were wrong—go ahead, see what you know!

 

 

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Unplug and Reconnect with Family, Friends and Nature at these dude ranches!

This year’s buzzwords of mindfulness, disconnect and nature / forest therapy are helping raise awareness of the dependence on screen time and social media. However, does that mean anyone is doing anything about it, especially on a vacation? Dude ranch stays have been implementing these beliefs since their inception—obviously ahead of the trend and technology. How do they do it? Easily. With no cell phone reception on trails, or in many ranch buildings, connecting with the outside world can be easily sidetracked when simply not available. Forget cable television or trying to stream a movie off a ranch generator, some places turn that option off at 9 pm. Time to look at the stars (not Hollywood) or possibly, a ranch book. Fear not, there is never a safety risk by being disconnected from phone and iPad. There is always a landline for use and radios throughout all dude ranches, but you won’t need them, only to order up supper or to have the hot tub turned up. Disconnecting without the anxiety of outcome eases the strain of taking technology out of travel. Why do you need this form of nature therapy?  Simply put, it is good for the soul!

Dude Ranchers' Association Dude Ranches

 

Badger Creek Ranch, Colorado 

This is one of the most remote ranches in Colorado. A rental car from Denver or Colorado Springs Airport is the easiest transportation. Located in the Badger Creek Basin with barely a tree on the property is a working cattle ranch that has the DRA’s lowest guest count capacity. Maxing out at eight guests, preferably seven, the ranch provides a slice of the Wild West that is authentic and isolated, yet community-oriented. 

Guests can receive cell service in the main ranch house where meals are served and song commences in the evening. Once you leave the quarters, it’s signal silence. At 9,000 feet, you won’t need your cell phone, just the trusty guidance and leads of the two couples that co-own this rarity. 

After an epic cattle drive in the Colorado sun, sneak off to the secret river a stone’s throw from the ranch, loaded with trout, waterfalls (in average to good run-off years) and incredible stream activity. There is also a buffalo jump where Native Americans chased the herds over the edge to trap, consume and utilize their precious materials. They certainly made it work with no cell phones, so you will have no challenge. 

At night, enjoy the stars, song, hot tub and home cooking. You will be so exhausted you won’t even be able to keep your light on to read a magazine or finish a cookie. Disconnected and exhausted makes for a true night’s sleep.

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Badger Creek Ranch - Canyon City, CO.

Rancho de la Osa, Arizona

This place is remote; it’s barely in America. Rancho de la Osa is a 20-minute horseback ride to the border of Arizona and Mexico, the country. Even with all of the talk about “the wall” most people don’t realize that you can’t really talk by the wall, meaning, no cell phone reception. Take a ride out to the border and test it for yourself, you can take great selfies and landscape shots, but don’t bet on any connection to send those photos until you return home.

Upon returning to the ranch after a ride to remoteness you will be comforted in original adobe/southwest buildings, including the main house that in 1916 Pancho Villa raided and attempted to overtake, a cannon ball from the attack is embedded in the adobe wall of the Hacienda, which is on display today. The walls to these buildings are thick, don’t expect noise, or cell phone bands to get through the barricades. 

Well, one exception to this rule. In the office of the main adobe there is continuous WiFi for guests and a landline to use. However, you’ll be too busy exploring the obscurity and rarity of this nearly 600-acre ranch bordering 120,000 acres of the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge that you won’t have much time but to grab a picture and move along. Surely you can rest your feet by the heated outdoor pool, but you’ll be preoccupied on a horse, on guided off-road tours to ruins and other Southwest natural landmarks, cruising through the desert on a fat electric bike, sport shooting, hiking, bird spotting and more. 

Elk Mountain Ranch, Colorado

Located at the highest elevation of any dude ranch in the state is Elk Mountain Ranch in Buena Vista. At 9,600 feet, any sort of play will be more strenuous and tiring, making texting and typing a bit more challenging. Come evening as the generators for the ranch are switched to off, don’t expect anything but stars, silence and sound sleeping as no electricity or cellar range is coming anywhere near your cabin or lodge room.

Elk Mountain Ranch has alternative plans for keeping you occupied. They’ve got the daily horse program and children’s program, but come time to get out of the saddle, there is also a rec room with a pool table, foosball, air hockey, board games, a library and there’s an outdoor volleyball and basketball court. Not enough activities to wear you out, there’s more. Campfires, s’mores, hayrides, hiking, white water rafting, hot springs visits, rodeos and more.

“We have adults that started coming for the September season a decade ago and now come back each year with folks they met during the adults-only week where they unplugged. It gives people the communality of shared experiences and conversing when the day is done that drives the friendships,” explains Tom Murphy, co-owner of the ranch.

dude ranches

Elk Mountain Ranch - Buena Vista, CO.

Allen’s Diamond 4 Ranch, Wyoming 

Most people have never heard of Lander, Wyoming it’s fathomable because it’s located in the least populated state in the nation and the town of Lander has a population of less than 8,000 residents. However, the town has food, entertainment and cell phone coverage. Allen’s Diamond 4 Ranch on the other hand, is far from society and offers different amenities for the traveler. It’s the highest altitude ranch in Wyoming at 9,300 feet and truly the most remote. 

The maximum guest capacity remains at eight, and for good reason, this place is still a bit secretive after many decades, and it’s not from lack of beloved guests. It’s the extra journey to get to the disconnect. The ranch is nestled into Dickinson Park. Riders and visitors have range of 100,000 acres to roam, and so do cell phones. They roam once they leave ranch property. 

Specialty weeks such as Wyoming hunting, youth camp adventure and guided pack trips will take you even further into the rugged Popo Agie Wilderness area that borders the ranch where guests are unplugged from technology and completely in awe of the mountain lakes formed from glacier and pristine forests that follow visitors to their log cabin porches nightly. 

The ranch only has four guest cabins, well-kept and stocked for a Wild West adventure. This is a family owned and operated ranch, meals are served family style, so no cell phone coverage bodes well with this format as it would be rude to text under the table. The Allen family is not disconnected from traveler needs, rather trendsetting for sublime solitude.  

It’s this uniqueness and unplugged nature that has guests from England, Texas, California and more returning to the respite and reprieve of modern technology. Forget television, you’ve got catching up to do with old friends. 

Creek Ranch, New Mexico

There’s something about a boutique ranch that truly invites disconnection. Creek Ranch in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, has a maximum guest capacity of 12, and feels and operates much more like a working ranch than a Club Med on horseback. The 8,200 acres of desert arroyos, canyons, tumbleweeds, flora and fauna are stunning, but it’s the authentic location and purpose of the operation that put you out of touch with instant satisfaction of technology and enjoyment of journey and teamwork. 

The most popular activity is obviously horseback, not spa, theatre or video games. Actually, there is no television! You can watch items on your own devices in the main house if need be where you can receive WiFi, but forget accessing anything else once you leave the main gathering spot, that includes your email, text message and other modern-era communication methods; it’s all about the disconnect.

Instead, you’ll be roping steers, cattle sorting and traversing desert terrain on your trusty steed. When not riding you can, fish the nearby Pecos River or relax at the ranch located on the Carrizo Creek bed. The hot tub is always warm and the New Mexico stars come nightfall are some of the most impressive in the nation, you won’t need to check in on the Hollywood ones. 

Accommodations are authentic southwestern with comfy beds, remodeled bathrooms, serious attention to detail in each guest room and air conditioning, critical in the desert. All food is provided, you won’t go hungry wandering through the desert, but you will go unplugged. 

dude ranches

Creek Ranch - Santa Rosa, NM.

Cherokee Park Ranch, Colorado

Cherokee Park Ranch is located in Livermore, Colorado, not too far from major towns such as Fort Collins or even Denver. Don’t worry, it gets visitors off the grid quickly with loss of cell phone reception once you drive the dirt road to a late 1880’s stagecoach stop between Fort Collins, Colorado, and Laramie, Wyoming. Now, it’s one of the most family-friendly and awarded ranches in Colorado. However, don’t plan on using your cell phone. There is no reception within two miles of the ranch, unless you mount up on horseback and go for a ride with vista spots that also provide cell phone access. But, no need. Be mindful if you need to make a phone call. There’s an old-fashioned hand-held telephone to be used by anyone on the ranch. Selfies from modern day phones seem to capture this moment quite often! 

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You may feel like you need to be connected to your electronic devices, but you don't! See why dude ranches are the perfect

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.

The Best Multi-Generational Dude Ranches

Family Reunions at Dude Ranches Offer Fun for Everyone. There is something for everyone to enjoy at a dude ranch and the best part is DRA dude ranches are all-inclusive. Meals, lodging, horseback riding and much more are included in one rate, making it simple to plan and budget for your next family reunion. Surrounded by spectacular beauty, far from the noise and crowds of fast-paced cities, serenity comes easy to each multi-generational family.

Private family time. If your family is just looking to spend time with each other where you can totally reconnect a small intimate ranch where you are the only guests might be just the ticket. Where you ride together as a family, have meals together as a family and just get to know each other again.

Dude Ranches Are Fun for Kids. Most ranches have daily activities offered for kiddos 3+ and many ranches can accommodate infants as well.

Teens Enjoy Dude Ranch Adventures. The teens in the family will have the time of their lives as they zip down a mountain zip line, tube down a rushing creek, or enjoy a ‘teens only’ ride up to a cookout lunch or an overnight camp out.

Adults Have Fun, Too. Adults will find they can do as much or as little as they would like. Unlimited horseback riding, river rafting, superb fishing, fine dining the list goes on and on.

So what are you waiting for? Book you next great multi-generational adventure today!

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Western Pleasure Multi-Generational Ranch Vacation

Wyoming

Eatons' Ranch - For over 137 years, our Wyoming dude ranch has offered guests a western experience and shared with them a way of life.

Lazy L&B Ranch - At the Lazy L&B Ranch there’s nothing we like better than seeing grandparents hanging with grandkids, siblings catching up with each other and cousins exploring that special relationship that friends just can't compete with.

Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch - The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch is an all-inclusive upscale working cattle, riding, fly-fishing and adventure guest ranch in Shell, WY (east of Cody and Yellowstone National Park).

California

Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch - Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch is a rustic western resort located in the High Sierra of northern California on 600-acres of pine forest and pasture land, creeks and ponds.

Marble Mountain Ranch - Our goal is to provide a battery of exciting interactive experiences that are based in western traditions, and in outdoor adventure sports.

Idaho

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch - Escape, explore and experience the beauty and wonder of the outdoors with your family at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch.

Arizona

Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch - Our guest ranch is dedicated to providing you with the best family reunion experience you can imagine.

White Stallion Ranch - Family Vacations have become rare opportunities to leave the demands of your everyday life behind, relax, regroup and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company.

Colorado

High Lonesome Ranch - High Lonesome Dude Ranch Generations Experience – Exactly as wild as you. To help keep sporting traditions alive within family generations, we invite grandparents to come FREE while passing the torch to their next generation.

C Lazy U Ranch - Located in the heart of Colorado’s stunning Rocky Mountains, C Lazy U is the premier luxury guest ranch getaway.

Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch - Named "Best Family Vacation" by Frommer's Colorado guidebook and rated among the "Top Ten Colorado Dude Ranches" by True West Magazine, Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch offers year-round outdoor adventure.

Colorado Trails Ranch - At Colorado Trails Ranch, the vacation experience is all-inclusive from the accommodations, to the meals, to virtually all the activities and the gratuity.

Elk Mountain Ranch - Located in the heart of the Colorado Rockies with off-the-beaten path charm.  Colorado’s Highest Guest Ranch at 9,600 feet.

Latigo Ranch - The best way to enjoy your family vacation is care-free, and that’s what Latigo is offering this season. Forget worrying about finding something for everyone to do or meals which suit every dietary restriction, Latigo has it all

Montana

Elkhorn Ranch - Located at the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park in the upper Gallatin Canyon, the Elkhorn has been a family oriented ranch since 1922.

Lone Mountain Ranch - Lone Mountain Ranch has set the standard for luxury ranch destinations in the West for over a century. Located a mere 18 miles from Yellowstone National Park, our ranch offers authentic accommodations in newly renovated private cabins featuring the finest modern amenities (and a few curated decor moments inspired by the old West).

 Bar W Guest Ranch - 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.

New Mexico

Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch - Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch is a small family run ranch. We have just 4 cabins and take a maximum of 12-16 guests.

Surrounded by spectacular beauty on a ranch vacation, far from the noise  of fast-paced cities, serenity comes easy to each multi-generational family.

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Favorite Dude Ranch Desserts (With Recipes)

 Medicine Bow Mud Pie from Medicine Bow Lodge

Favorite Dude Ranch Desserts

 

Move over campfire s'mores and simple scout camp recipes that your grandparents taught you, these promising dude ranch dessert recipes are sure to knock your socks off! We have compiled a list of dude ranch dessert favorites from four dude ranches across the United States and can't wait to see which one you like best.

 

The tradition of great cowboy cooking and how ranchers continue that tradition at dude ranch vacations is one of the big draws for visiting these majestic destinations across the country. The real pleasure lies in tasting - and making -- these delicious dude ranch food recipes.


Medicine Bow Mud Pie from Medicine Bow Lodge


Relax, rejuvenate, and reconnect with loved ones at the Medicine Bow Lodge. 22 miles from Saratoga, Wyoming, in the Medicine Bow National Forest, sits this 100-year-old Ranch. The Medicine Bow Lodge is rustic with a touch of elegance.


Activities at this all inclusive resort include horseback riding, fishing, hiking, rock collecting, cooking lessons, archery, animal tracking, campfires with s'mores, star gazing, dancing, crafts, shopping, and birding. Tim and Deborah Bishop have created an experience that is perfect for beginners and expert riders.

Here is a heavenly frozen dude ranch dessert recipe Medicine Bow Lodge has shared that will compliment any meal. Bonus, it makes a wonderful presentation with the distinct layers.

 

Medicine Bow Mud Pie from Medicine Bow Lodge

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of chocolate wafers
  • 1/2 gallon of coffee ice cream
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of melted butter
  • 2 jars of marshmallow cream
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 1/2 cups whipped cream
  • 8-10 oz. chocolate chips (melted)
  • Chocolate shavings

Directions:

  1. Crush the chocolate wafers in a food processor and add the melted butter. Spread the crumbs in a baking pan. Bake in a 350° degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Cool completely.
  2. Spread ice cream carefully onto crust. Freeze 1 1/2 -2 hours or until solid. (The ice cream will spread easily when you let it thaw a little)
  3. Whip the heavy cream until light and fluffy. Add the marshmallow cream to the whipped cream.
  4. Place marshmallow cream mixture gently and quickly on top of ice cream layer.
  5. Place covered back in freezer.
  6. Pour melted chocolate over frozen dessert and spread gently to cover completely.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow to freeze completely.
  8. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Enjoy.

 

3 Favorite Dude Ranch Desserts from Elk Mountain Ranch

 

The Elk Mountain Ranch is in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, within the San Isabel National Forest, two hours from Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Ranch has a 30 guest maximum, allowing for a more intimate experience.

Enjoy your one week, all inclusive adventure with an array of activities including horseback riding, whitewater rafting, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, square-dancing, hayrides, campfires, and playing backgammon. Tom and Sue Murphy tailor visits based on their guests' needs and interests. Read on for their shared three decadent and impressive dude ranch desserts to make at home for your own family and friends.

 

Strawberry Shortcake from Elk Mountain Ranch

 

Strawberry Shortcake from Elk Mountain Ranch

 

Ingredients for shortcakes:

  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 8 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Directions for shortcakes:

  1. Gradually add sugar to butter, beating at high speed about 6 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  2. Add vanilla.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition.
  4. Gradually add flour, baking powder, and nutmeg.
  5. Pour batter into floured and greased sheet pan.
  6. Bake in 325° oven for 25-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Should just be lightly golden.
  7. Cut into hearts with cookie cutters.
  8. Use for strawberry shortcake with sweetened sliced strawberries (1/4 cup sugar added to 6 cups sliced strawberries).
  9. Add homemade whipped topping.

Whipped Topping:

Whip heavy whipping cream (1 qt.) with sugar (1/2 cup) and vanilla (1 tsp.) and almond extract (1 tsp). Whip to desired consistency.  Whip too long and you will soon get butter!

 

Denver Cheesecake from Elk Mountain Ranch

 

Denver Cheesecake from Elk Mountain

 

Ingredients for batter:

  • 2 1/2 pounds cream cheese
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon peel-grated
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Ingredients for crust:

  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar

Directions:

  1. Beat cream cheese.
  2. Add sugar, flour, salt, lemon peel, and vanilla.
  3. Then add cream and set aside.
  4. Combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup white sugar, and 1/2 cup butter. Divide in 1/2 and press mixture into greased spring.form pan.
  5. Bake at 325° for 10 minutes.
  6. Place 1/2 cream mixture in each pan.
  7. Cover pans with aluminum foil.  Place pans in a water bath and bake at 500° for 10 minutes.
  8. Reduce temperature to 200° and bake for 70-80 more minutes (until firm).
  9. Remove foil and cover each pan with a metal bowl until cool.
  10. Place in walk in and cut when chilled.  (Can be baked a day ahead.)

Oreo Ice Cream from Elk Mountain Ranch

 

Oreo Ice Cream from Elk Mountain Ranch

 

Ingredients:

  • 7 cups whipping cream
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 – 13 oz. cans evaporated milk

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Pour into ice cream maker.
  3. Surround ice cream maker with ice and rock salt.
  4. Churn until thick.
  5. Pour into a storage container.
  6. Thoroughly add in crushed Oreo cookies.
  7. Freeze.

 

2 Favorite Dude Ranch Desserts from Vista Verde Ranch

 

Take a Luxury Colorado Ranch Vacation at the Vista Verde Ranch north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado in the Rocky Mountains. Enjoy AAA Four Diamond amenities plus Western hospitality at this all inclusive Ranch.

Activities and amenities include an indoor riding area, kids cabin, swimming pool, fitness center, fishing, hiking, rock climbing, yoga, paddle boarding, massages, white water rafting, cooking class, hot air ballooning, skiing, snow tubing, sleigh riding, and private hot tubs. Vista Verde Ranch offers designated times throughout the year for adults only.

Laura and Chris Jones make sure their guests have plenty to do no matter what time of year they visit! And with their two favorite dude ranch desserts, you can create a little dude ranch heaven at home.

 

Applesauce Gingerbread Cake from Vista Verde Ranch

 

This dude ranch dessert is perfect for cold weather, a warm fire, and a cozy evening. You can make the full dessert, or just enjoy the cake by itself!Applesauce and Gingerbread Cake from Vista Verde Ranch

 

 

Ingredients for cake:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup warm milk

Directions for cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar in stand mixer.
  3. Beat in eggs, applesauce, and molasses.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Slowly add to wet mixture.
  5. Mix in warmed milk.
  6. Bake in greased and floured 9×9 pan.

Ingredients for toffee sauce:

  • 3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. molasses
  • 1 Tbsp corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream

Directions for toffee sauce:

  1. Combine sugar, butter, molasses, and corn syrup in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until butter is melted and the mixture is bubbly.
  2. Meanwhile, heat cream in a separate saucepan.
  3. Add hot cream slowly to sugar mixture. Whisk continuously.
  4. Continue to cook, 3-5 minutes. Cool until slightly thickened. Serve.

 

Blueberry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake from Vista Verde Ranch

 

Blueberrry Upside Down Cake from the Vista Verde Ranch

(need 2-9" cast iron pans)

Ingredients for cake batter:

  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 pound butter, soft
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 8 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream

Directions for cake:

  1. Mix together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  2. In the mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.
  4. Add the vanilla and sour cream and combine until smooth.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and combine until incorporated. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Ingredients for berries:

  • 4 oz. butter, divided
  • 1 cup brown sugar, divided
  • 6 cups fresh blueberries, divided

Directions:

  1. Melt half the butter in each of the cast iron pans, add the brown sugar and cook until it bubbles together.
  2. Divide the blueberries into each pan and remove from the stove. Top with half of the cornmeal batter and place on a sheet pan and then in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes.
  3. Allow to cool slightly for about 15 minutes, run a knife around the outer edge and invert the cake onto a cutting board for slicing. Top with vanilla whipped cream.

 

Alisal's Oatmeal Pie by Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort

 

The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort is in the heart of Santa Barbara, California Wine Country, minutes from 75 renowned vineyards and wineries. The Resort offers a 100-acre spring-fed lake, two 18 hole championship golf courses, tennis courts, pools, and a spa nestled in California's Santa Ynez Valley.

Choose from several packages, all offering something different: Sip Saddle Spa, Horseback Riding, Golf Getaway, BBQ Bootcamp, Cycling and Spa, Meetings, and Bird Golf Academy. There is truly something for everyone at the Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort. Since this is Alisal's most requested recipe, we thought you would enjoy a copy for your personal cookbook.

Alisal's Oatmeal Pie by Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups oats
  • 2 1/4 cups corn syrup
  • 2 1/2 cups melted butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups coconut
  • 3 Tbsp. vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • 3 9" unbaked pie shells

Directions:

  1. Place pie shells on cookie sheet.
  2. Mix all ingredients and pour into unbaked pie shells.
  3. Bake in a 350  oven for 45-55 minutes.
  4. Makes 3 pies.

 

Old Fashioned Creme Brule from the Lone Mountain Ranch

 

The Lone Mountain Ranch sits in a small valley at the base of the mountains near Yellowstone National Park, in Big Sky, Montana. The Ranch has a 70 guest maximum, allowing for a variety of activities.

Enjoy your one week, all inclusive adventure with an array of activities including horseback riding, Yellowstone Excursions, hiking, fishing, yoga, and more. The Lone Mountain Ranch is open yearround, and offers sleigh rides, cross country skiing and winter activities. You're going to love their creme brule recipe.

Dude Ranch Food Old Fashioned Creme Brule Lone Mountain Ranch

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts cream
  • 14 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 oranges
  • 3 ounces of Bourbon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Angostura Bitters
  • 1 Brandied Cherry per serving

Directions:

  1. Zest oranges into cream and heat to boiling. Allow to steep for 10 minutes off the heat.
  2. Combine sugar with egg yolks
  3. Strain cream into egg misture to temper
  4. Mix in bourbon and bitters
  5. Allow to cool before baking
  6. Place a cherry in each ramekin (small mason jar)
  7. Fill with the creme brulee base to just about 1/2" below top
  8. Place in a 2" pan with water bath.
  9. Cover with Foil and bake at 300 until done (45 minutes to 1 hour)

 

Author: Melody Pittman, whereverimayroamblog.com

Pin This Post For Later!

 

7 easy and delicious dude ranch dessert recipes from the chefs at some of America's top all inclusive ranches. Bring the taste of campfire cooking home with a luxury twist with favorites like strawberry shortcake, oatmeal pie, blueberry cornmeal upside-down cake, and several more.

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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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Straight from the Horse's Mouth about Ranch Vacations

Enjoy a taste of the authentic American West where horses, hats, history, honesty, hospitality and heart abound. With over 100 carefully chosen member ranches, the Dude Ranchers' Association (DRA) has one to match your dream vacation – perfectly, all while protecting lands, parks, forests and wildlife. Our Dude, Resort and Working Ranches are in the most picturesque regions of the USA and Canada near historic sites and national parks for a photographer’s heyday! Each has its own unique history, incredible horseback riding tailored to the rider’s age and ability, and exciting outdoor adventures like white water rafting, paradise fishing on scenic rivers, fun hay rides, hikes, golfing. Blue skies, starry nights and the sounds of silence are also included in your dude ranch vacation. Lounge in a hammock until the dinner bell rings and then breathe pure clean air as you rediscover the brightest shining stars peeking out from the heavens. See what the excitement is all about for a dude ranch vacations "straight from the horse’s mouth” so to speak.

“The place is magical. It is difficult to put this down to any one thing - it is a combination of beautiful surroundings, comfy lodgings, delicious home cooked food eaten family style in the lodge dining room (or around the campfire out on the trail), amazing trail riding which is different every day. The horses are individually matched to the riders and the rides are planned each day to give everyone the best experience possible. Whether you arrive alone, as a couple or in a group you will soon feel part of the Elk Mountain Ranch family and you won't want to leave.” - Trip Advisor Review

"My first trip to the Triangle X Ranch was in 1973 and I went on a Hunting trip in the Teton Wilderness Area and I went there many times since! My Wife and I got Married at the Ranch in 1983 and we've gone on Hunting trips together and pack trips! I did some work on the Ranch when remodeling the kitchen etc. was done! We met some friends there a couple of yrs. ago that we had met previously on a pack trip and had a short visit with them before they left to go on another pack trip!! My experiences at the Ranch has been a wonderful experience, one I think of often!!!" - Google Review

Lonesome Spur Cattle Drive Straight from the horse's mouth Dude Ranch Vacations "Hubbard's Six Quarter Circle Ranch is Montana accommodations at their finest. From the friendly staff to the gourmet meals to the first class rooms, this lodge has it all. In addition to the top-notch accommodations, the location is spectacular for all kinds of activities. Horseback riding, fishing on the Yellowstone river, a shooting range, hiking and day trips into Yellowstone National Park are all nearby. This family owned and operated lodge will make you feel at home in one of the most beautiful settings on earth. Montana is a must see state and there is no better place to have as your home base. Hubbard's Yellowstone Lodge checks all the boxes." - Trip Advisor Review

"As frequent visitor's to Moose Head Ranch, the Experience only gets better with time. Upon your first visit you will feel welcomed and at home as you had been there your whole life. It is also the memoires that will be established to be cherished for many years to come. Return visits will build on those memories and you will always find a yearning to comeback. Solitude, Serenity, Beauty and QUALITY TIME is what you will experience. Great Hosts and Staff, where manners and values are the norm. The Food, just experience it, Chef Dennis and his Team will satisfy all of your cravings. Many other options to take in while in the Greater Yellowstone and Jackson Hole area, so make sure you stay long enough to just Chill and take in all the amentities at the Ranch. Especially if Fly Fishing and Horse are your passion. Once there, you will understand Paradise!!!!!" - Trip Advisor Review

"This was my 3rd trip to the Lonesome Spur Ranch and each time was better than the last. The last thing I wanted in a ranch was a "dude ranch", I wanted to gather, saddle and bridle my own horse. I wanted to ride in areas that are not much different than they were a hundred or so years ago. I wanted to work with real cowboys, ranchers and ranch families for a true ranch experience. I wanted meals and accommodations that a cowboy would have, no worry about wearing my boots or working clothes anywhere. The participation in round ups, separating bulls, branding calves were the real deal and we were able to participate as much or as little as we wanted. The trips to the different ranges (pastures) and mountain ranges were breathtaking and being on the Crow reservation land made me feel like I was a hundred years back in time. Elaine and Lonnie were great hosts, the wranglers did a great job with all the guests no matter on ability or riding expertise. I got great tips on my riding, caring for my horse, and Lonnie taught me to throw a rope, still practicing..." - Trip Advisor Review

For more information on all of The DRA ranches go to www.duderanch.org or give us a call at 866-399-2339. Save Save Save Save Save Save

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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.


     

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