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. 

best holiday gift

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.

best holiday gift

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.  

best holiday gift

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.

best holiday gift

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.

best holiday gift

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. 

best holiday gift

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. 

best holiday gift

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! 

best holiday gift

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.

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. 

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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 Dude Ranchers’ Association’s Best Outdoor Meals

From Arbuckle and bear sign (cattle-range lingo for coffee and doughnuts) over an open flame to pizza ovens and prickly pear margaritas on patios under the stars, these are the top dude ranches with the best outdoor meals and dining experiences for late summer and early autumn. Nature’s bounty is at its finest this time of year. Breakfast rides with fresh confections, four-course lunch atop a mesa and evening cuisine fireside, the DRA has some of the most intimate and exquisite land in the West with access to local food and secret dishes. Fork’s up! 

Home Ranch, Clark, Colorado

Gardens and Greenhouses Galore

Nestled in the Elk River Valley is Home Ranch, definitively one of the most idyllic settings for an outdoor brick oven rolling out over a dozen varieties of stone-fired pizzas. The Home Ranch, a Relais & Chateaux property, 30 minutes from Steamboat Springs, focuses on cuisine year-round; however, their weekly offering in summer and fall of crispy pizzas loaded from the ranch’s gardens and greenhouse is as fresh and farm to fork as one can get. The sound of horses dining on their hay in the background and views of Home Ranch’s stunning barn and cabins are worthy of a Travel + Leisure cover.

The afterclaps (unexpected event after the event is supposed to be over) are the wranglers driving the herd out for the day as you finish your cocktail and dessert. The ranch’s massive greenhouse is also open for tours throughout the evening with resident gardeners and the head Master Gardener.

best outdoor meals

Endulge in flatbread pizza cooked in a brick oven with homegrown ingredients at The Home Ranch in Colorado.

Latigo Ranch, Kremmling, Colorado

Breakfast Bliss

This ranch takes food as serious as their scenery. Surrounded by 50,000 acres of the Medicine Bow—Routt National Forest, the George family has the lay of the land to devise splendid surprises come mealtime. It’s a family business for the George’s with the owner’s son and wife running the kitchen. A crowd pleaser begins when guests are escorted to the main lodge in Latigo’s covered wagon to sally forth into a picturesque aspen glade where the kitchen crew has grilled steaks, fish, and veggies to go along with a full buffet of classic dude ranch side dishes—corn on the cob, baked beans (acclaimed by some guests to be the best in the world), sweet potato biscuits, and more. Dessert, as always, is greatly anticipated. There’s a choice between rhubarb pie and peanut butter pie, consumed while eagerly awaiting the announcement of prizes from the team penning earlier that afternoon.

There’s still the weekend! On Saturday breakfast is served at a point overlooking an impossibly expansive view of the mountains. When guests arrive via horseback, they’ll find pancakes grilled by the ranch’s owner, Randy, along with eggs, bacon, sausage, all freshly cooked and served by Hannah George along with fruit, juices, coffee, tea, and homemade banana bread. Perched on the rocks with a 360˚ view of absolute wild beauty, it’s the perfect end to a spectacular week and one of the best breakfast rides in the West. 

best outdoor meals

Ribeye steak, one of many delicious meals to enjoy at Latigo Ranch in Colorado.

White Stallion Ranch, Tucson, Arizona

Patio Utopia with Prickly Pear Margs  

With the baking hot summer that has swept through the country in 2018, autumn will bring much relief and the opportune time to try Russell True’s latest baby, White Stallion Ranch’s outdoor pizza oven and Tandoor—a cylindrical clay oven where heat is made by charcoal or wood to create radiant cooking methods.  

Dinner is served alfresco throughout the week featuring foods such as classic BBQ, brisket, pork tenderloin, steak, ribs, chuck roast and locally-sourced vegetables. 

Steamship leg of pork, corn on the grill, produce skewers, wild rice, this is just a sampling of the gorgeously presented ranch food underneath the Tucson stars.

Guests enjoy some of the best dude ranch evening entertainment in the world while finishing their wine, local craft brew or one of the ranch’s legendary margaritas, the prickly pear. Crème Brule, blueberry pie, and pineapple upside down cake have become the ranch’s legacy desserts. Each outside evening, there is a local cowboy strumming the guitar. To keep things going past dusk, lights are strung throughout the outdoor eating area and entertainment space with lighted cactus as an extra quirk. 

best outdoor meals

A warm and welcoming outdoor dining area at the White Stallion Ranch in Arizona. 

Covered Wagon Ranch, Gateway, Montana

Chef’s Special

Located a stone’s throw from Yellowstone National Park, Covered Wagon Ranch takes advantage of its location and access to quieter parts of the Park. The ranch encourages guests to take a lunch ride almost daily! Sure, lunch is always available in the main lodge, but riders know best—take the chef’s special and giddy up. With nearly a dozen trails the ranch rides weaving in and out of Yellowstone, there’s a really good chance you can wind up having the chef’s special, with a moose (it happened to us!). Each night the chef surveys his crowd and crafts a special sandwich that is available for pick-up before the daily ride. Guests always have the choice of nearly 20 items, but there’s a reason for the chef’s special.

After a gently ascending two-hour ride into the Yellowstone, our family found a quiet meadow to let the horses rest and for us to enjoy the special sandwich. Not five minutes after dismount did a giant bull moose stand up from his resting spot in the meadow and curiously circle around the meadow to get a good view of us as we kept a safe distance. Our kids knew what was up, the moose wanted the chef’s special! Three generations eating the best sandwiches while enjoying secret spots in Yellowstone with a moose overseeing the feast. Apparently, your chance of spotting a moose drastically increases if you order up the special. 

best outdoor meals

Trail rides lead to beautiful destinations at the Covered Wagon Ranch in Montana. 

Sidebar: Snacking, Sweets and Soaking

Tombstone Monument Ranch in its historic namesake town of Arizona offers a slow ride labeled  “Beer and Cheetos” for obvious reasons. This is the ultimate afternoon snack. Take a flat, scenic ride to the ranch’s Beer and Cheetos site where there is shade and bathrooms. Enjoy a cold, refreshing beer delightfully accompanied by some empty calorie, salty and delicious snack foods. Followed by a slow, scenic ride back to the ranch in time for social hour. Note, this is an adult-only ride.

Wait, what about tequila connoisseurs? No problem, the “Tequila and Cheese” ride takes guests along the same route, but instead offers up a little more sophistication with a unique selection of wines and assorted cheeses, crackers and bread. Again, this is an adult-only ride. 

best outdoor meals

A great selection of food is always avaliable at Tombstone Monument Ranch in Arizona. 

Friday is the outdoor meal extravaganza with Long Hollow Ranch in central Oregon. Early autumn offers the essential time for a morning ride to be followed by a picnic lunch along the way. It gets a little more enticing; the ranch then puts on a fun demonstration with cattle before dinner. After-dinner dessert is then served at the hot tub or fire pit, depending on weather conditions. Desserts and cocktails vary, but the scenery is always guaranteed. best outdoor meals

Snow capped mountains make for some gorgeous scenery at Long Hollow Ranch in Oregon.

If you want to keep with the hot springs theme, Bar Lazy J in Grand County, Colorado offers a half-day hot springs ride on Fridays. Guests eat lunch at one of the ranch’s favorite scenic spots—the top of Byers Canyon—before working the group into the town of Hot Sulphur Springs. There, a trailer and your previously packed bag will be waiting along with a free pass into the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort to soak in the 22 naturally heated pools. Once frequented by the Ute Indians, the skin-benefiting minerals present in the water are intense and awesome. The ranch takes the horses home while guests soak and send a van for pick up later.

best outdoor meals

Ride through some beautiful scenery to the hotsprings at Bar Lazy J Ranch in Colorado. 

 

Read more about dude ranches with fabulous food here!

 

 

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From Arbuckle and bear sign over an open flame to pizza ovens and prickly pear margaritas on patios under the stars, these are the top dude ranches with the best outdoor meals and dining experiences for late summer and early autumn. Nature’s bounty is at its finest this time of year. Breakfast rides with fresh confections, four-course lunch atop a mesa and evening cuisine fireside, the DRA has some of the most intimate and exquisite land in the West with access to local food and secret dishes.

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!

#MultiGenerationalRanchVacation


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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Two Ranches Make the 10Best USA Today Best Cross-Country Ski Resorts

Whereas it used to be a time to simply kick back and relax, many of today’s travelers are using vacations as a time to continue normal health and fitness routines, or perhaps even try something new. Two of the ranches in the Dude Ranchers Association have been nominated for the USA Today 10Best cross-country ski resorts.  Both these ranches have world class trails, accommodations and amazing food.

Latigo Trails Ranch Vacation Cross-Country Ski Resort


Latigo Ranch in Kremmling, Colorado has 50 kilometers of groomed trails & 200 miles of backcountry powder for a cross-country ski resort. Guests, who have skied all over the state, proclaim that Latigo Ranch offers some of the finest cross-country skiing available in Colorado. The ranch machine grooms 50 kilometers of trail, covering varied terrain from flat beginning track to challenging advanced. The entire cross country ski track is groomed for both classic and skate skiing. For backcountry or telemark aficionados, Latigo is surrounded by over 200 square miles of deep powder in the National Forest. Don’t want to lug your skis with you? No worries, just call ahead to reserve top-of-the-line equipment from the ranch.


The Latigo kitchen takes pride in crafting exceptional meals that satisfy and delight. You won’t have to worry about choosing restaurants every day; and at each meal there are options enough to please everyone. Those with dietary restrictions won’t be left out.  With some advance notice, Latigo can accommodate nearly anything.

 

Lone Mountain Ski and Horse Snow


Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, Montana has 85 kilometers of carefully maintained woodland trails over phenomenal mountain terrain, it’s no wonder Lone Mountain Ranch has been voted Cross Country Skier magazine’s #1 Nordic ski destination in North America. Knowledgeable guides, dependable snow and wide range of trails offers something for beginners, experts, leisurely explorers and hardcore athletes. It is operated as a cross-country ski resport under a special permit with Custer Gallatin National Forest.


Besides the skiing one of the most exciting things about Lone Mountain Ranch is the food. Executive Chef Eric Gruber has made a name for himself in national culinary circles, now he oversees a deep commitment to locally sourced, farm-to-table menus that reflect true Montana heritage. Whether you join us at Big Sky’s favorite Horn & Cantle Restaurant, The Saloon or one of the signature Lone Mountain experiences, you’ll find a mix of Western favorites and modern originals.


To vote for your favorite go to http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-cross-country-ski-resort/


For more information on both these ranches visit duderanch.org or give us a call at 866-399-2339. For more options at dude ranches during the winter visit our Winter Blogs.

 

10Best USA Today's Best Cross-Country Ski Resorts

 

Two of the ranches in the Dude Ranchers Association have been nominated for the USA Today 10Best cross-country ski resorts.  Both these ranches have world class trails, accommodations and amazing food.

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How to Choose the Right Dude Ranch for Your Family Vacation


Dude ranch family vacations began way back in the late 1800s, giving city slickers an opportunity to be a real cowboy and experience the Old West. Today, this American tourist attraction is still as popular as ever, especially for family vacations. With settings that encourage families to kick up their heels or kick-back, dude ranches are scattered throughout the West (and even in Canada!) and come in all shapes and sizes. Yet dude ranches are not all created equal. So how do you know which dude ranch is right for your family vacation?
 
C Lazy U Ranch Family Vacation at a Dude Ranch



Looking to get away from it all and take on a new adventure? Wanting to reclaim family time and unplug? Discover the perfect all-inclusive family vacation at a dude ranch.


What, you say, a dude ranch? I get it. Even though I live in Colorado near all those wide open spaces and grew up on an Iowa farm, I hesitated to take my totally citified city slicker children. Can’t you see the eye-rolling now when you mention that there just might not be cell service? OMG, the world that they know has just ended. Seriously.


But persevere, parents, as your dude ranch vacation will be epic.  And your kids will love it – I promise!



How Do You Know Which Dude Ranch is Right for Your Family Vacation

 

Choosing the right dude ranch for your family vacation can be a bit challenging, especially when navigating the many possibilities of destinations, types of ranches, things to do, and more. What’s a mom (or whomever in charge of the family travel recon) to do? Which dude ranch should she choose? And how does she plan a dude ranch trip for her diverse family personalities AND keep everyone happy? Here are my tips on how to choose the right dude ranch for your family vacation.
 

Stay at in a cabin at the Home Ranch during the winter.

 



Why a Dude Ranch?

 

Let’s first address the elephant in the room – or in this case, the horse. Dude ranches are popular because they offer all-inclusive vacation packages that bundle a full week of activities, such as trail rides, swimming, fishing and hayrides with fabulous food and comfortable lodging for one low price. Often this package can be more affordable than a six-day theme park vacation.

Some ranches also offer “Kids Stay Free” and even “Grandparents Stay Free” weeks; so if you plan your trip right, you can save even more. Dude ranches offer stays from a long weekend to as many days as you want, although most families opt for a 7-day dude ranch vacation.

Black Mountain Ranch Cattle Drive



What Type of Dude Ranch Fits Your Family Vacation?

 

The first step is picking a dude ranch. Since there are literally hundreds of ranches across the United States and Canada, your first decision should be which type of ranch is the best fit for your family. Dude ranch family vacations come in all different sizes and flavors. 

There are three general categories of ranches:

  1. Working Dude Ranch where a guest’s experience is as a get-your-hands-dirty, working hand. Your family will be “ranch hands” and assisting in the operation of the ranch, requiring a higher level of riding ability.
  2. Dude Guest Ranch (Standard Ranch) features primarily horseback riding and a variety of outdoor activities. Cabins are usually more rustic. Food is usually served family style. The theme is to provide an authentic family experience on a ranch.
  3. Resort Dude Ranch, usually larger ranches, offer an array of diverse activities and onsite amenities, such as full-service spa or upscale dining options. Luxury ranches step it up with four-to-five star accommodations and amenities, gourmet restaurants, spas, and lots of activities in addition to horseback riding. Accommodations range from family-style or individual cabins to elegant lodges


Where does your family fit in the above type of dude ranches? My family enjoys a hands-on approach and getting outside, although this Grandma is more the glamping type – no pitching a tent for me! Be honest as this decision could make or break your family vacation.

 

Colorado Dude Ranch Family VacationMy horse-shy daughter overcame her fear with the patient instructions of Wranglers at a Colorado dude ranch. Photo Credit: Diana Rowe, TravelingInHeels.com

 

How Many Guests at the Dude Ranch?


Just as important as the type of dude ranch is how many guests it can host. Staying at ranch that hosts eight guests will offer a very different experience than a ranch that serves 100 guests. You'll especially notice this difference during dining and social events.

Does your family prefer a more intimate setting with personalized attention? Be one of the family at Rowses 1+1 Ranch, work right alongside the family on this working ranch that only accommodates 10. 

Not into a working dude ranch vacation? Consider the Hubbard's Six Quarter Circle Ranch, an upscale guest ranch hosting up to 12 guests on the border of Yellowstone National Park in Montana.

Or perhaps your family is a little more social and enjoys meeting and bonding with other families? Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas or Colorado Trails Ranch in Durango welcomes 50 and 55 guests, offering plenty of opportunities to meet new people. Or you might prefer a ranch with capacity at 30 or fewer, such as Long Hollow Ranch (Oregon), Rawah Ranch (Colorado) or Rimrock Ranch (Wyoming).



Consider Location, Timing and Experiences for your Dude Ranch Family Vacation

 

Now that you have the type of dude ranch your family will love, consider the location of your dude ranch, the time of year you want to take your trip and the overall type of experience you want to have. Just as you would for any vacation consider your families availability, budget, and just how far you want to travel (or not travel) to start your vacation.

Prefer a dessert landscape? Or do you dream about the mountains? Is your family into road trips? Love National Parks? Dude Ranch Association make choosing a location easy with their searchable website. Research dozens of available dude ranches by State/Province, Activity & Amenity, and even location in or near National Parks.


When to Book your Dude Ranch Vacation?

 

Once you've determined where you want to go, consider the time of year to take your trip. Ranches in northern states are busiest in summer months due to their cooler climates. Experience warm weather riding during the winter in the southern states.
 

Snowshoeing at Latigo Ranch
Snowshoeing in the winter at Latigo Ranch in Colorado – priceless! Photo Credit: Diana Rowe, TravelingInheels.com



Or take your adventurous family on a winter dude ranch vacation in the Colorado Rockies, and discover snowy activities that are fun for the whole family. Bundle up and take a sleigh ride. Build a snowman or start a snowball fight with the kids. 

A few years ago, I escaped the city for a winter getaway at Latigo Ranch, staying in my own little paradise of a cabin and trekking out on snowshoes at my leisure. I can neither confirm nor deny that I warmed up with a hot toddy afterwards.

 
Vista Verde Ranch Sleigh Ride



Accommodations at a Dude Ranch



Lastly, you want to think about what sort of accommodations you'd like. Do you prefer to rough it? Or is a luxurious hotel-like stay more your cup of tea? Ranches offer a wide range of atmospheres, and any and all of these are options for you and your family. Stay at a rustic cabin with no running water, overnight in a covered wagon, or get ready for 5-star pampering and accommodations including a spa! Choose your ranch according to your family’s needs.

 


How are the Vittles?

 

Ranch cuisine ranges from family style, fill-your-gut-with-good-ol-home-cooking meals to gourmet dining experiences. Pick your poison according to what your family will (or will not) eat.
 

 

Good old’ fashioned eggs and toast breakfast – one of many options at your dude ranches.

Good old’ fashioned eggs and toast breakfast – one of many options at your dude ranches.  Photo credit: Pixabay.com



Is Horseback Riding the most important aspect of your dude ranch family vacation?

 

Horses are a big part of just about every dude ranch experience. If you’re all about getting in the saddle and exploring the ranch, you are going to be one happy cowboy or cowgirl. First time riding a horse? Beginners will be offered lessons, an appropriate skill-based horse will be provided, and then off with you, your cowboy boots and hat. Don’t worry though - ranch hands take the lead showing you their trail rides of varying lengths. Heck, if you’re feeling really adventurous, join in a cattle drive. Some ranches offer the opportunity to spend two or three days riding the range and sleeping in the open – now there’s a story your kids can share with their friends!

 McGinnis Meadows Cattle Drive

 

Are any of your kids under 6-8 years old?

 

If the answer is yes, carefully read the fine print at each of your possible dude ranches to confirm that your kids will be able to participate. Many ranches place a minimum riding age for their programs. Although some ranches may offer babysitting or childcare options, others may require an adult to skip the horseback riding to stay with the younger children.
 

Hiking at Paradise Guest Ranch

 

Beyond Riding

 

If you or someone in your family is just not into horsin’ around, forget the horse-only dude ranch stereotype. Dude ranches are not limited to horse people, providing multiple activities for those horse-shy family members. Discover activities for every age and all interests – and you’ll might even pick up a few new favorites.

Dip your fishing pole into the lake and work the line together to bring in a 10-pound trout. Sit around the camp fire, poke a stick into the flames and roast marshmallows, arm-in-arm, singing and cementing the family relationship. Take a hike up, up, up into the rugged mountains and see vistas that will be forever imprinted into your memory. Or make it a family day and go to the small town’s rodeo. Challenge each other to learn archery or skeet shooting. All this and more is waiting for you and your family at a dude ranch.


Finally, talk to your family in advance. A dude ranch family vacation will be an epic adventure, but be sure to set up expectations. If the breakfast bell rings at 7am, if you’re teen wants to eat, she will have to roll out of bed. Some ranches’ Wi-Fi signal can be weak or nonexistent. Prepare the kids (and yourself) for the possibility of an unplugged vacation. Share the schedule in advance with your family. Pick out activities to do together, but also be prepared to give the kids (and yourself) time alone.

Got more questions? Check out the Dude Ranchers' Association for resources and tips.


By Diana Rowe, TravelingInHeels.com / Traveling Grandmom at TravelingMom.com

•	Considering a dude ranch vacation? How to choose a ranch that is the right fit for your family and the ages, stages, and interests of kids and adults.

 

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Family Travel and Dude Ranches

One of the most meaningful comments we’ve read about family travel and dude ranches is this: Dude ranches reconnect adults to a simple and innocent part of their childhood and introduce their children to these same experiences.

Western Pleasure Ranch Family Travel Destination

At dude ranches, everyone can discover magic. Photo courtesy of Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

There’s something uplifting and joyful about that. Like when parents momentarily forget themselves and regress with their kids – revisiting beloved animated cartoons from their youth, or unabashedly belting out favorite ballads from bygone (to their kids) times. Now picture horses and corrals, Stetson hats and western boots, cookouts and wide open landscapes straight out of cowboy movies and novels. Your heart goes pitter-patter, just a little bit. Or a lot. Because in today’s era of quick-paced modernization, invasive technology and growing detachment from nature (and one another), the ranch appeal is arguably more potent — for all generations — than ever before. “Perhaps it is the allure of the Western lifestyle that people long to experience. Perhaps it is the adventure that draws guests to a ranch in the first place. Most likely, it’s a combination,” believes Kari Kilmer, Manager of Vee Bar Guest Ranch. Perhaps. Whatever the case, when on a dude ranch, “The feelings that awaken inside of you are something that most people never imagine. It’s the magic!” agrees Tammy Yurich, Activities Director of Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch.

Latigo Ranch Family Travel Destination

Living in a dream. Photo courtesy of Latigo Ranch

Exploring the Magic “Dude ranches are a perfect fit for family travel simply because the dynamic shifts,” suggests Ashley Ducharme, Marketing Coordinator of Bar W Guest Ranch. “Everyone within the family is on an authentic adventure because everyone is trying new things (archery, horseback riding, square dancing, skeet shooting and more). This equalizes the parents and the children and fosters open communication. The kids say ‘Do you know what we did today?’ and the parents respond ‘Well do you know what we did today?’” That level playing field wasn’t created by accident. It has taken a lot of work and requires diligent vigilance to maintain. All the more so as it’s increasingly difficult to find other family-focused vacation experiences that so consistently “bring families together naturally,” as Kerstin Auer, Marketing & Sales of Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, sees it, all by placing careful and balanced emphasis on providing “unique adventures and educational experiences that the whole family will enjoy,” says Janice Schoonover, Owner of Western Pleasure Guest Ranch. Over the years, plenty of visitors have predictably compared their dude ranch adventures with the famous magic of other standard-bearing activity providers like Disney. How do dude ranches stand up? Incredibly well! “When you come to a dude ranch, the only lines you’ll find are the strings of horses and riders on the mountain trails. Every moment with your family will be spent finding real adventures, not being herded through fabricated ones. Without crowds of people to fight against, the buzz of this modern world will fade into serenity and wildness,” says Spencer George, son of the owners of Latigo Ranch.

Geronimo Trail Ranch Family Travel Destination

A Chance to slow down and get in touch with natures. Photo courtesy of Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch

Take Things a Little Slower There really is a lot to be said for excitement without overstimulation, and activation without commercialization. “Dude ranches give families… a place to slow down from the fast pace of daily life and reconnect with each other,” observes Meris Stout, Owner of Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch. There are two important elements to this. First, “Free of television, phone calls, texts and push notifications, family members can discover the magic that has captivated ranch guests for a hundred years,” enthuses RC Townsend, Assistant General Manager of Mountain Sky Guest Ranch. Second, “Learning together through nature and animals is a powerful thing for families to share,” says Tyler Beckley, Owner of Three Bars Guest Ranch. Of course, a readiness to make family time together just that much more engaging is stoked by freedom from one another during part of each day. This is aided by the safe environment dude ranches work to create, allowing parents to relax while their kids do their own things. “Kids have freedoms on a dude ranch that most cannot experience in today’s world,” says Jeanne Ross, General Manager of Colorado Trails Guest Ranch. Doug Cole, Owner of Marble Mountain Guest Ranch concurs: “Once you arrive at a dude ranch, you are by default in a more secure environment that has a known and fixed population during the time of your stay. Kids are more enabled to ‘free range.’”

R Lazy S Ranch Family Travel

Photo courtesy of R Lazy S Ranch

Step into the Dude Ranch Mindset Predictably, “A dude ranch offers so much… by providing very unique opportunities,” says Kelly Stirn, Owner of R Lazy S Ranch. So let’s explore some them. Keep in mind, however, that “The hardest vacation to describe is one based on an experience. For those of us that live this wonderful, rewarding, down-to-earth lifestyle, it is hard to tell a family on the phone what a wonderful time they will have,” advises Kilmer of Vee Bar Guest Ranch. “They simply have to take our word for it, then try it for themselves.” Let’s do that. Let’s put ourselves briefly in dude ranchers’ shoes by reading their words and imagining how amazing a dude ranch holiday can be. Then let’s all go try it out ourselves, remembering that, as Doug Van Berkum, Owner of Rainbow Trout Ranch likes to point out, “There truly is something for EVERYONE!” To read the extended quotes from the ranchers visit the blog post here. This blog was originally written by the Family Travel Association. Visit them on the web here. Save Save Save Save Save Save

Winter Weddings, Sleigh Rides and Skiing

Has that summer lovin' turned into something more serious? Sundance Trails Ranch specializes in making your winter weddings and elopements both beautiful and memorable. Honeymoons here are complete with Colorado snowy vistas and warm fireplaces in your own private log cabin. Stargazing from the jacuzzi completes the dream stay. Who knows, your one night stay may turn into two or a full week.

Lone Mountain Ranch Larry & Curly Draft Horses

Meet Larry and Curly. They are 6 year old Percherons at the Lone Mountain Ranch in the famous Big Sky, Montana. After two years in their sleigh ride program Curly is known to be full of energy and mischievous. Apparently it's not unusual to see him take the hose out of the water tank and spray water around. Larry is also playful and loves to push against things. These guys are a team of the noble steeds, if you will that draws the sleigh rides to the remote North Fork cabin. Here you'll have a very special dinner cooked on an old fashioned wood-fired cook stove.  A Montana-sized prime rib dinner is served family style in a room illuminated by kerosene lanterns. Cowboy music rounds out an evening reminiscent of times long ago. 

While ranches in more northerly states are generally busiest during the summer, many ranches from Wyoming, Montana and Colorado all the way up to British Columbia, Canada, are open for business during winter. With 60 Kilometers of machine groomed trails Latigo Ranch offers cross country skiing, snowshoeing and tubing. As a member of the Cross Country Ski Areas Association they guarantee a winter adventure's paradise. Check out a map of their cross country ski trails.  


 

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