The 10 Best Dude & Guest Ranches for the Perfect Arizona Ranch Vacation

Without question, Arizona is a beautiful state and a wonderful destination for a dude & guest ranch vacation any time of year. The state is known for some of the most colorful characters in American history. Here, you can walk (or horseback ride) in the footsteps of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Pancho Villa, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and more! With a personal guide for the many outdoor activities an Arizona ranch vacation can offer, you’ll get an in-depth lesson on the particular area of each dude ranch.

With a variety of geographical features, you might ride in the mountains, deserts, grasslands or all three! With 27 National Parks in Arizona the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and the Saguaro National Park will be just the start to exploring the state of Arizona.

Here are the 10 Best Dude & Guest Ranches for the Perfect Arizona Ranch Vacation and the top reasons for going to each one.

 

Experience the Town of Wickenburg, the Team Roping Capital of the World

A vacation at the Kay El Bar Guest Ranch located right outside of Wickenburg, AZ will give you the opportunity to do and see some pretty neat things. Not only will you enjoy the small, intimate feel of the ranch, you will get to experience the town of Wickenburg as well. With several museums, musical performances, historic walking tours and more, your chance to see real cowboys and the true Western lifestyle is guaranteed. Wickenburg was named the team roping capital of the world many years ago because of the daily events that happen here, especially in the winter months. It is not uncommon to see cowboys riding their horses down the washes headed from one roping to the next!

Arizona Ranch Vacation

Visit One of the Most Iconic Western Towns

When you visit Tombstone Monument Ranch in Tombstone, Arizona you will get to walk the streets that Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and outlaw Curly Bill Brocius once walked. It has been said at this ranch the guests feel like they have traveled back in time to the old West. Also, while you are here, you will want to visit the fun tourist town of Bisbee, Arizona, home to one of the largest turquoise mines in the US!

Arizona Ranch Vacation

Saguaro National Park with Western Adventure, Solitude and Luxury Amenities

The Tanque Verde Ranch just east of Tucson will make your next stay an unforgettable Arizona ranch vacation experience. With the La Sonora Spa, fine dining, great horseback riding and additional outdoor activities for all ages your whole family will love this dude ranch resort. Look out over the Saguaro National Park from the back of your horse or from the comfort of your room’s patio, regardless of where you are at, it is an incredible sight to see.

Arizona Ranch Vacation

Mountains of Arizona provide a Different Atmosphere

Located in the White Mountains of North Eastern Arizona is where you will find the Sprucedale Guest Ranch, home to the Wiltbank Family. Here you will find a very different terrain than most other Arizona dude ranches. The mountains, pine trees and luscious meadows provide a cooler atmosphere and the chance to enjoy the south in the summer months. Sprucedale is able to offer different activities than other Arizona ranches because of its climate and location; fishing and natural water swimming are available here and quite popular for everyone! Horseback riding, hayrides and bonfires are just a few of the other activities you will find at this ranch.

Arizona Ranch Vacation

Ride Across the Grasslands in Southern Arizona

At Circle Z Ranch you will get to experience the heart of Southern Arizona’s Sky Islands and thousands of acres of scenic horseback riding trails. You’ll get to ride out on the distinct Arizona grasslands, but also experience canyons and mountains rising suddenly and dramatically out of the desert lowlands. You might come for the views, but you’ll come back for the hospitality.

Arizona Ranch Vacation

Where the Baboquivari Mountains and the Altar Valley Meet

Whether you travel solo, as a couple or with your whole family, you will find friendship, rest and adventure at the Elkhorn Ranch and the miles and miles of mountain and desert trails. The area is home to an extensive variety of curious Sonoran vegetation and birding. This ranch is near the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, so the chances of seeing some great desert wildlife is in store!

Arizona Ranch Vacation

All-Day Riding and Team Penning

At the White Stallion Ranch near Tucson, you can spend up to six hours a day in the saddle and practice your team penning skills three times a week. For your non-riding companions, there’s still plenty to do. A tennis court, sport court, petting zoo, game room, movie theater and hiking program provide fun activities for all ages. This ranch is where luxury meets Western hospitality, relax your worries away and truly enjoy your vacation.

Arizona Ranch Vacation

Ride Horses and Tee off at One of Golf Digest’s Top 100 U.S. Courses

Rancho de los Caballeros in Wickenburg, Arizona offers the perfect getaway to the old southwest. At this ranch, you will feel the charm and intimacy of Western life with all of the amenities of a resort. Horseback riding and golf are just the start of the list of things to do at this Arizona ranch vacation. Relax at the spa or enjoy the Arizona winter sun on the course or back of a horse; the itinerary is completely up to you on your vacation.

Arizona Ranch Vacation

Arizona’s Most Historic Ranch

Rancho de la Osa in Sasabe, Arizona is a sportsman’s paradise and is surrounded by the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge near the Mexican Border. You can enjoy a scenic horseback ride on trails frequented by U.S. Presidents and legendary figures like Pancho Villa. You also will be able to enjoy the incredible Arizona sunsets overlooking the desert landscape. You haven’t seen a true sunset until you have seen one in Arizona. The riding and hiking trails are fantastic and the quaintness and charm of this ranch will leave you wanting to return for years to come.  

Arizona Ranch Vacation

Family Atmosphere Welcomes All

The Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch invites guests to stay at the ranch and be a part of the ranch family, even if it is only for a little while. At the feet of the Mohave and Hualapi mountains, you can be assured of breathtaking views, constant sunny days and a fantastic Arizona ranch vacation. Experience Arizona’s vast beauty and enjoy all of the wonderful amenities this ranch has to offer like stagecoach rides, shooting sports, a swimming pool, a hot tub and more. You will leave this ranch feeling like part of the family!

Arizona Ranch Vacation

For more information on an Arizona dude ranch vacation or to learn about other Western ranch vacations, visit www.duderanch.org or contact a ranch vacation expert at the Dude Ranchers’ Association.

307.587.2339, info2@duderanch.org.

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Pin for Later!

Without question, Arizona is a beautiful state and a wonderful destination for a dude & guest ranch vacation any time of year. The state is known for some of the most colorful characters in American history. Here, you can walk (or horseback ride) in the footsteps of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Pancho Villa, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and more! With a personal guide for the many outdoor activities an Arizona ranch vacation can offer, you’ll get an in-depth lesson on the particular area of each dude ranch.

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.

dude ranch vacationsdude ranch vacations

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.

dude ranch vacations

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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The Best Holiday Gift - A Dude Ranch Experience!

The best holiday gift does not often sport a designer logo, nor does it come from a big box store.  Some of the most celebrated gifts are experiences that provide long-lasting, meaningful memories. This season, gather your loved ones and retreat to the tranquil surroundings of a Western dude ranch. Skip the long shopping lines and enjoy the gift of family time with an all-inclusive vacation at an accredited Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) member ranch.

Whether your dream getaway is a warm weather paradise that lets you escape from the cold, or a snowy wonderland that helps you embrace the magic of the season, DRA ranches have you covered. With over 100-member ranches, found in the deserts and mountains of the American West and Canada, your family can spend the holidays at a ranch best suited to your interests and lifestyle.  

What’s more, many of the DRA’s all-inclusive ranches offer special holiday packages, making them a smart holiday choice. 

But best of all, a DRA dude ranch offers your family something not found in a shopping mall: precious time spent together making memories that will last a lifetime. Give the gift of family-fun and adventures with these DRA ranches this holiday season! 

The Best Holiday Gift! 

 

Kay El Bar Guest Ranch – Wickenburg, AZ

Have the winter blues got you down? Kay El Bar Guest Ranch is a great winter getaway rich with history and character. Soak up the sun and loads of fun at this wonderful Arizona ranch! This ranch dates back to the early 1900’s and to the times of the Maricopa Indians who helped construct some of the buildings on the ranch. Open from mid-November until the end of April offers guests the opportunity to experience winter vacation or spring break in a whole new way! Ride through the desert on horseback, hike to beautiful destinations, head to town to see the great things Wickenburg has to offer or kick back and relax by the pool. Tailor this vacation to every person in your group and create memories to last a lifetime. 

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Kay El Bar Guest Ranch - Wickenburg, AZ

Circle Z Ranch – Patagonia, AZ

Circle Z Ranch is open from late October through early May. Located in the heart of Southern Arizona’s Sky Islands, this desert oasis treats guests to vistas dotted with grasslands, canyons and mountain ranges and more than 100 miles of trails spanning landscapes of Sonoran prickly pear and ocotillo, to oak and pine forests. In addition to horseback riding, activities include nature education programs, hiking and bird watching, as well as several great of photo ops and fine dining. Circle Z offers several packages tailored for winter travelers.

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Circle Z Ranch - Patagonia, AZ

Seven Devils Lodge Guest Ranch and Guide Service – Council, ID

Located in central Idaho, just south of the Seven Devils mountain range, the Seven Devils Lodge lies in a unique area, neighboring jutting canyons, high deserts and soaring mountains. Winter brings some of the best backcountry snowmobiling to life at Seven Devils Lodge, with many guests returning year after year for the experience. Riders from all over seek out the guest ranch because of its unparalleled access to trackless backcountry snowmobiling. Riding begins right out the front door, and offers trails for the novice to the highly skilled.  

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Seven Devils Lodge Guest Ranch and Guide Service - Council, ID

Elkhorn Ranch - AZ – Tucson, AZ

Fifty miles southwest of Tucson, Arizona, the Elkhorn Ranch is nestled in secluded Sabino Canyon. At an elevation of 3,700 feet, the ranch is surrounded by the picturesque Baboquivari Mountains and the open Sonoran Desert country of the Altar Valley. From November through April, guests can enjoy a traditional winter season guest or dude ranch vacation experience, made complete with horseback riding suitable for riders of all ages and experience levels. Whether you travel solo, as a couple or with your family, you will find friendship, rest and adventure amidst miles of mountain and desert trails.

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Elkhorn Ranch - AZ - Tucson, AZ

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch – Sandpoint, ID

The first hint of snow means it is time for sleigh rides, skiing and snowmobiles at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in Northern Idaho. Spend time with loved ones while enjoying a dinner and sleigh ride. Explore the ranch via snowshoes or cross-country skis. Or you can enjoy a bed and breakfast stay. Western Pleasure is located on 1,100 acres and adjacent to thousands of acres of land with breathtaking views of the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains. Winter specials include several ski packages, a snowmobile package and spa package.

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Western Pleasure Guest Ranch - Sandpoint, ID

Latigo Ranch – Kremmling, CO

Located approximately 130 miles west of Denver, Colorado, Latigo Ranch is situated in one of the most beautiful places on earth and offers a panoramic view of the Continental Divide. Guests can drink in the views, inhale the crisp mountain air and gaze in awe at some of Colorado’s most spectacular scenery from the front porch of the ranch’s historic log lodge. Guests will experience warm hospitality and winter activities, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and tubing that keep Latigo Ranch guests coming back year after year. Latigo was just voted into the Top 10 Best Cross-Country Ski Resorts by 10Best Choice Travel Awards.  The outdoor activities are as invigorating as the inside comforts are cozy. Winter rates and packages start just before Christmas and run through late March. 

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Latigo Ranch - Kremmling, CO

Lone Mountain Ranch – Big Sky, MT

For the ultimate Rocky Mountain winter adventure, visit Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, Montana. The ranch is perfectly situated just six miles from some of the best skiing in the country and was voted as the No. 1 Nordic Ski Resort in North America by Cross Country Skier magazine. Winter activities include skiing (Nordic, downhill and backcountry), snowshoeing and sleigh ride dinners. Guests can even take a short shuttle ride to explore Yellowstone National Park or the Gallatin National Forest by skis or snowshoes. 

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Lone Mountain Ranch - Big Sky, MT

Rancho de la Osa – Sasabe, AZ

Experience the desert like never before at the quaint and peaceful Rancho de la Osa located in Sasabe, Arizona. While on vacation here you will have the chance to see some of Arizona’s most beautiful sunsets, ride or hike on trails that have been forged by legendary figures like Pancho Villa, relax by the stunning pool, participate in electric bike tours, shooting sports or go on a guided off-road tour in a UTV! The activities at Rancho de la Osa will appeal to all ages and interests. Escape the cold and head to Arizona for a wonderful vacation. Your family will be excited to open a present that includes a warm getaway! 

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Rancho de la Osa - Sasabe, AZ

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The best holiday gift does not often sport a designer logo, nor does it come from a big box store.  Some of the most celebrated gifts are experiences that provide long-lasting, meaningful memories. This season, gather your loved ones and retreat to the tranquil surroundings of a Western dude ranch.

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