6 Horseback Pack Trips You Don't Want to Miss

Do you want to explore the back country mountains, lakes, streams and wildlife but do not necessarily want to do it all by hiking? Do you want to enjoy some peace and quiet, a break from all the noises of the world and day to day life? How about create memories with a great group of people and horses alike? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a horseback pack trip might be exactly what type of vacation you are looking for! The Dude Ranchers’ Association has several member ranches throughout the Western United States and Canada that offer horseback pack trips for any level rider or adventure enthusiast. Soak in the serenity and tranquility of the mountains in some of the most beautiful locations only accessible by foot or horse. You will experience a sense of peace that is not easily found in everyday life, and you will leave refreshed and ready to plan your next trip back! 

Read on to learn about 6 horseback pack trips you don't want to miss! 

Horseback Pack Trips 

 

Absaroka Ranch

In the West, very few places remain that offer both solitude and beauty on a grand scale. The Absaroka Ranch, is such a place, located at the headwaters of Wyoming’s Wind River and at the base of the spectacular Absaroka mountain range. If you are looking for top notch amenities in the woods, Absaroka’s pack trips are for you. Located in the Shoshone National Forest, their camp is a unique and beautiful place to spend a few days. The 4 ½ hour horseback ride begins right from the ranch and offers amazing views and challenging terrain. The scenery is unforgettable and the memories created will be too.  You can enjoy anywhere from 3 to 6-night stays while on a pack trip, it is all up to you on how long you want to be in the back country. Plus, lodging and meals are offered the night before you leave and the night you get back for a small charge, that way you are not rushing to get accommodations figured out for when you get back! While in the mountains on your trip you will get to enjoy crystal clear lakes and small stream fishing, incredible 360-degree views while on horseback rides, delicious camp cooking and even a shower tent with on demand hot water! Tents, cots, sleeping bags, sleeping pads and wood stoves are all provided on the trip, all you have to worry about is warm clothes and an adventurous attitude. 

horseback pack trips

Absaroka Ranch - Dubois, WY

Broken Arrow Lodge and Outfitters  

On your horseback pack trip with the Broken Arrow Lodge and Outfitters in Montana you will venture through beautifully forested mountain ranges with wildflower blanketed meadows all while breathing in amazing mountain fresh air, seeing elk, deer, moose, antelope and other wildlife and experiencing what it is like to sleep under the stars, or in a wall tent whichever you prefer. On your trip you will get to see the Rocky Mountains as only a few do, hike across wildlife-made trails, fish in calm mirror-like streams and lakes and make unforgettable memories with your favorite four legged friends. At Broken Arrow you can tailor your pack trip whatever way you like; if you choose to fish the whole time, explore the mountains by foot or spend quality time on your horse the choice is entirely up to you. The friendly, entertaining and experienced guides will make your trip fun and comfortable, even though this trip may be light years out of your comfort zone. You will also enjoy delicious and hearty home cooked meals, you will truly appreciate a Dutch oven after being in the mountains. You will have the opportunity to encounter first hand exactly why Montana is referred to as the Big Sky State. 

horseback pack trips

Broken Arrow Lodge and Outfitters - Alder, MT 

CM Ranch

Horseback pack trips have been a part of the CM Ranch’s rich history for decades. The CM Ranch in Wyoming was started back in 1927 when Charlie Moore started the Yellowstone Camp for Boys in the Dubois, WY area. For several years, teenage boys from the East Coast would come West to endure month long pack trips into Yellowstone National Park. Upon returning home to their families explaining in exquisite detail the ruggedness and great adventures they endured on their trip, the families soon wanted their own introduction to the Western lifestyle and Yellowstone National Park. Charlie Moore turned his focus to dude ranching and creating a western experience for family vacations. The ranch has done guest horseback pack trips for many years and continues to carry on the tradition still today. The pack trips are a little less rugged and much shorter than when Charlie Moore first started. On these trips you will ride horseback into the ranch’s base camp located in the Wind River mountain range. During your trip you can enjoy day rides to beautiful lakes and some of the best fishing Wyoming has to offer. Your pack trip can be planned in conjunction with your traditional week-long dude ranch vacation or it can be added onto the beginning or end of your vacation. You will sleep in wall tents and admire the techniques of cooking in the mountains. For years guests of all ages have experienced the tremendous beauty and solitude of the Fitzpatrick Wilderness always returning to the ranch with big smiles and so many stories to tell. Not many will want to miss out on a horseback pack trip with the CM Ranch!

horseback pack trips

CM Ranch - Dubois, WY

 JJJ Wilderness Ranch 

There's still a place where time slows down and the only signpost is a hoof print.  The Bob Marshall Wilderness is considered the “crown jewel” of America’s wilderness system. The JJJ Wilderness Ranch’s fully-guided horse pack-trips are designed to accommodate all levels of riders through this magnificent, unspoiled country where the only travel is by foot or horse. Each pack trip at the JJJ Wilderness Ranch in Montana is unique ranging from base camp oriented to trips that traverse the wilderness over the Continental Divide. On your horseback pack trip, you will travel across wilderness trails on sure-footed saddle horses that are mountain savvy and a joy to ride. The ranch’s trusty string of pack-mules carries all the gear so you can rough it in comfort. The ranch’s crew, wrangler, packer, guide and camp cook, will provide a comfortable, complete camp. To ensure a high level of personal service and to make sure camp is not too crowded, the trips average around eight guests. Trips with bigger groups can be arranged, but they do have to be discussed in detail with the ranch. During your Montana riding vacation, the rugged landscape unfolds before you, revealing elk, mule deer and whitetail, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, eagles, moose and black bear. You'll have plenty of opportunities to fly fish the natural streams and lakes for native Cutthroats and Rainbow trout. This is truly a fisherman's paradise, all wrapped up in the awesome beauty of remote wilderness. Layover days on the trip offer options of riding, hiking, fishing or relaxing around the campfire. The Bob Marshall Wilderness is hard to describe with words, it is a place you have to experience for yourself to understand the beauty it holds. By booking a horseback pack trip with JJJ Wilderness Ranch you will discover this natural wonder for yourself and endure the magic the mountains seem to capture. 

horseback pack trips

JJJ Wilderness Ranch - Augusta, MT 

Spotted Horse Ranch

Go deep into the mountains of Wyoming to enjoy a horseback pack trip like no other. With the folks at Spotted Horse Ranch you will ride through the forest to their base camp which provides great customer service, food, horseback riding, fishing and amazing scenery. The main objective of your pack trip will be to enjoy and take in all that the mountains and landscape around you have to offer. You will find a sense of relaxation and true enjoyment that you probably would not expect to find being in a camp without running water or electricity. Pack trips are a great way to really unplug from the real world and find your true self. The Spotted Horse Ranch offers a great setting for large or small groups to experience the rugged outdoors and wilderness. Prior riding experience is not required to go on the trips, just a willing and “ready to have fun” vibe! All of the necessary gear, horses, tack and guides are provided by the ranch. Saddle up and take in all the wilderness surrounding the ranch has to offer! 

horseback pack trips

Spotted Horse Ranch - Jackson Hole, WY

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is an incredible landscape with a diversity of wildlife and geographical features that extend beyond the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. In this area lies the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch in Montana. The ranch offers pack trips within the boundary of the park and also in the surrounding wilderness areas. Trips within the Park’s boundary do require early planning. Scheduling your trip in January will give the folks at the ranch enough time to create an itinerary to meet your needs and plan accordingly. If you are looking to take a horseback pack trip outside the Park’s boundaries you can experience one of the ten back country camp locations that Nine Quarter Circle Ranch has to offer. Experienced outfitters will guide you on these multi-day trips into some of the wildest and most beautiful areas of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Taking a pack trip into this area is something few people get to enjoy in their lifetime. Whichever destination you choose, the trip will offer wildlife sightings, stunning views and once-in-a-lifetime memories that won’t soon be forgotten. Experiencing this wild country via horseback is an adventure you won’t quite understand until you embark on the adventure yourself! 

horseback pack trips

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch - Gallatin Gateway, MT

 

Click here to find out more about horseback pack trips and dude ranch vacations! 

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Throughout the Western United States and Canada there are horseback pack trips for any level rider or adventure enthusiast. Soak in the serenity and tranquility of the mountains in some of the most beautiful locations only accessible by foot or horse. You will experience a sense of peace that is not easily found in everyday life, and you will leave refreshed and ready to plan your next trip back!

Horseback Riding Vacations

The Dude Ranchers’ Association recommends the best horseback riding vacations in North America. At one of these carefully selected dude and guest ranches groups will experience equestrian activities and all sorts of outdoor adventures on a short stay of three or four nights, or a full week immersed in a Western trail riding destination. Guests have everything provided for them on all-inclusive stays including lodging, dining and activities. With lodges and cabins preserved and restored from when they were built many decades ago, guests experience riding horses in a uniquely Western environment. It’s no wonder dude ranch vacations have been popular since the early 1900’s! 

At these ranches guests have a horse personally selected for each person’s riding ability and personality. Because horseback riding is a daily or twice daily activity there is an opportunity to get to know the horse on hundreds, if not thousands of acres of trails in the mountains and plains of the slimly populated West. And after guests climb out of the saddle there’s always plenty of options like relaxing by the pool, fly fishing on private lakes and streams, hiking to scenic vistas or rocking their cares away on the porch in a classic rocking chair. 

Here are some of the best riding ranches for your next vacation. 

 

Crossed Sabres Ranch, Cody, Wyoming

All Day Rides on 2.2 Million Acres

For guests looking to cover some ground, the charming Crossed Sabres Ranch is one of the oldest dude ranches in the country located outside of Cody, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. This is a family run operation that specializes in custom horseback riding for individuals or groups of up to 30 people. Knowledgeable wranglers take guests out on well trained and trustworthy horses whether they have no experience or years of experience on horses. Each horse is paired specifically for each guest to match not only personality, but also riding ability. The ranch offers lessons for those looking to get individual instruction on riding in a comfortable arena environment. There are short morning and afternoon rides or all-day rides into the Shoshone National Forest’s 2.2 million acres for guests to enjoy truly spectacular scenery. 

Horseback Riding

 

Medicine Bow Lodge, Saratoga, Wyoming

Overnight pack trip in the Medicine Bow National Forest

High up in the Snowy Range of the Rocky Mountains the Medicine Bow Lodge Adventure Guest Ranch offers just what their name implies - adventure. With a very diverse riding program each guest can determine what kind of adventure they would like to have. First time riders will become more and more confident on each ride at their own pace with a personal wrangler. With this instruction and getting to know their trusty steed, the horses will earn the trust of newbie riders throughout the week. Guests who have experience can ride out on fast rides, loping and trotting their way through the mountains of Wyoming. The ranch offers all day rides and even an overnight pack trip in the hills. Kids of all ages have something to do at the ranch as well. Kids 5 and under will be led around the ranch and taught about horse care and ages 6 and up can head out on the trail. Here families can literally ride off into the sunset on the appropriately named Sunset Ride

Horseback Riding

 

Focus Ranch, Slater, Wyoming

Move 1,300 head of yearling cattle 

On the border of Wyoming and Colorado the Focus Ranch is a working cattle ranch, inviting guests to embrace the authenticity of ranch life on their vacation. At this ranch, “cowboy” is both a noun and a verb. Riding here entails managing the health and grazing patterns of the heart and soul of the ranch - cattle. The ranch can adjust the length and speed of rides to accommodate a wide variety of riders, and the work that needs to be done varies throughout the summer. One of their most exciting endeavors for guests is to move the entire herd of 1,300 yearling cattle from one pasture to the next within three days! This happens several times throughout the season. Sometimes, guests enjoy it so much they might hire on to work at the Focus Ranch! 

Horseback Riding

 

Badger Creek Ranch, Canon City, Colorado

Natural Horsemanship is a photographer’s dream

Badger Creek Ranch is located in an area rich in natural beauty and history. This area has been well traversed by the Ute Indians, Spanish Conquistadors, pioneers, miners and cowboys of the old West, but is now occupied by a relatively small number of people. Photographers enjoy secluded trails in the mountains and meadows of Colorado. As a working cattle ranch the guests are also offered a chance to ride out with the cowboy crew to check fence, doctor and sort cattle. Before heading out, guests start their relationship with their horse with ground work following the feel of natural horsemanship and continue in the saddle in a location that can only be described as a photographer’s dream. 

Horseback Riding

 

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, Gallatin Gateway, Montana

Ranch bred, raised and trained Appaloosas

The Nine Quarter Circle Ranch is not only a premier family destination with luxury log cabins, activities for all ages and very delicious meals, but also an unforgettable horseback riding destination. The ranch boasts a herd of 120 Appaloosa horses that were born and will live their whole lives on the ranch. This is an uncommon feature of a dude ranch to know all the history of every one of their horses. Their select breeding program is a reflection of the Appaloosa breed, chosen for their stamina, sweet temperament and suitability to mountain riding. Every spring a new crop of foals are born on the ranch, and guests enjoy watching the brand-new foals jump and play around the ranch. These horses will eventually be trained and added to their remuda of trail riding horses. 

Horseback Riding

 

Want to know more about a particular type of dude ranch? Take a look at the Dude Ranchers’ Association’s Working Cattle Ranches, Luxury Resort Ranches and Family Style Ranches here

 

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The Dude Ranchers’ Association recommends the best horseback riding vacations in North America. At one of these carefully selected dude and guest ranches groups will experience equestrian activities and all sorts of outdoor adventures on a short stay of three or four nights, or a full week immersed in a Western trail riding destination. Guests have everything provided for them on all-inclusive stays including lodging, dining and activities.

Dude Ranch Vacations offer Affordable Discounts for June

If you are looking for a dude ranch vacation with affordable discounts for this June look at these specials from the member ranches of the Dude Ranchers’ Association. With all inclusive rates that include lodging, horseback riding, fishing, kids programs and three meals a day you’re getting a deal on an adventure vacation. On top of being a budget and cost effective vacation, the dude ranches listed here are offering special discounts for June. Don’t forget to ask about additional savings for large groups and military families. And tell them the Dude Ranchers' Association sent ya!

 

Red Rock Ranch Discounts for June 2018

 

 

10% off a Saddle and Paddle Vacation the week of June 18, 2018 

MARBLE MOUNTAIN RANCH Somes Bar, CA

guestranch@marblemountainranch.com

The Marble Mountain Ranch in Northwestern California offers an exclusive dude ranch program called the "Saddle and Paddle" theme. They combine horseback mountain trail riding vacations and thrilling white water rafting and kayaking with other outdoor activities. Give Doug a call at 800.552.3284 to try out this special program at 10% off during the week of June 18, 2018.

View all dude ranches in California

 

10% off Opening Weeks starting June 17, 2018 and June 24, 2018 

NINE QUARTER CIRCLE RANCH Gallatin Gateway, Montana

info@ninequartercircle.com

At the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch just to the North of Yellowstone National Park there are so many things to do, and so much those things will do for you. There’s no spa here, but the ranch offers an approach to relaxation that’s been working for 100 years. It starts with a stunning setting that starts to clear the mind, and outdoor activities that could turn your focus to simple enjoyment. Talk to Kameron for 10% off your adventure by calling 406.995.4276.

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12% off Opening Week starting June 10, 2018  

THE RED ROCK RANCH Kelly, Wyoming

info@theredrockranch.com

The Red Rock Ranch is a family owned dude ranch located outside of the Grand Teton National Park. Offering an authentic western dude ranch vacation with polished amenities. They have a flexible riding program, kids program, over 2 miles of private fly fishing, fantastic dining, hiking, a heated pool and that "it" factor that your family will love. Give Doug a call for their 12% off discount for the week of June 10, 2018 at 307.733.6288. 

View all dude ranches in Wyoming

 

 

15% off Branding Week June 10 - 17, 2018 

ZAPATA RANCH Mosca, Colorado

cowboy@zranch.org

Take part in ranching’s oldest tradition and learn to wrestle a calf, vaccinate, ear tag and gather at Zapata Ranch. This is a hands-on, team-oriented experience that puts you in the center of the action. Through the week explore the ranch and the Great Sand Dunes National Park on horseback, help check fence, water and herd health while moving and gathering cattle ending the week in a full day of branding. Also available are interpretive hikes with a naturalist, fly fishing, rafting, roping and leather working sessions as well as massage to assist with those activity filled days. Talk to Kate at 888.592.7282 about their 15% discount for the week of June 10, 2018.

View all dude ranches in Colorado

 

 

About 25% off Summer Discount Weeks starting June 15, 2018 through August 31, 2018 

CREEK RANCH Santa Rosa, New Mexico

creekranchnm@gmail.com

The Creek Ranch is a small guest ranch offering an intimate working cattle ranch experience for 10 people or less each week. The terrain here is like none other. You'll experience the wild and natural views of Northeastern New Mexico from horseback just like Billy the Kid did during his heydays. Read more about their discounts for the summer time here

View all dude ranches in New Mexico

 

 

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If you are looking for a dude ranch vacation with affordable discounts for this June look at these specials from the member ranches of the Dude Ranchers’ Association. On top of being a budget and cost effective type of vacation, the dude ranches listed at the link below are offering special discounts for June.

The fun doesn't stop here! You can read more stories on Affordable Ranch Vacations

 

Affordable Ranch Vacations for your Family

Ranches of the DRA offer unmatched value in dude ranch vacations for families on a budget and for those who want to save money by getting all the adventure of twice daily riding, fishing, kids programs, 3 meals a day and lodging all for one price. Here are some of the DRA picks for the best budget and cost effective ranch holidays. 

 

Dude Ranches Offer Best Value For Travel Dollar

With the current economic situation  a vacation to any destination may seem like a “pipe dream.” But don’t rule out a summer getaway completely until you’ve considered a stay at a Dude Ranchers’ Association member dude ranch. These quintessential Western getaways have always offered exceptional value for the money.

 

Many Dude and Guest Ranches are Offering Spectacular Savings During their Shoulder Guest Seasons

Shoulder seasons are the weeks before and after the main season begins and ends.  A ranch will sometimes offer added values like a massage, private riding lessons or a fine bottle of wine upon check-in etc. They may offer a repeat guest discount, a group of more than 20 people discount or an early bird booking discount. 

6 Things to Do in Montana While on a Dude Ranch Vacation

With more mountains and cattle than there are people Montana is a vast and beautiful play ground for outdoor activities, especially on a dude ranch vacation. Less than a million people live in the whole state, so even in the largest of cities there is still wide open spaces and a relaxed small town feel. The people here are among the friendliest in the world and will make your vacation here the most memorable one to date. Take the opportunity to slow down long enough to experience Montana in a unique and authentic way. Here are the top 6 things to do in Montana while at a guest ranch.

 

6 Things to Do in Montana While on a Dude Ranch Vacation 

 

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch Montana Activities

1. Trail Ride

From one hour to an all day ride you'll get to share in the beauty of Montana while on horseback. If there ever was a traditional way to explore, a trail ride would be it. From wide open spaces to forest trails you can go anywhere and enjoy the ride to the sound of the hoof beats along the trail. This interaction with horses will create memories you won't soon forget. They will add a sense of personality to your trip. You'll really like to get to know the horses at the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch before taking them into the backcountry of Yellowstone National Park.

 

Upper Canyon Montana Outfitters Activities

2. Fly Fish

You won't have to get your feet wet stepping out into the crystal clear streams of Montana. Specialty fishing gear allow you to walkout to where the fish are. Your very own personal fishing guide will get you fitted into the proper gear and show you the techniques that will land you a really nice catch. The fishing packages at the Upper Canyon Outfitters are famous all over the country. You won't believe how beautiful the sunsets are on the water!

 

Deep Canyon Ranch (10)

3. Hike

There are hundreds and hundreds of miles to explore in Montana and hiking is one of the best ways to explore them. With your feet connected to the earth and stretching your legs to reach the next rise the rewards are great views and the experience of the flora and fauna along the way. I assure you, you've never smelt fresh air like what you'll get at the top of the crest on a Montana ranch vacation trail, and you won't likely have to share it with anyone else. At the edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness lies the Deep Canyon Guest Ranch and countless acres of Montana are there for you to explore.

 

 

Hawley Mountain Dude Ranch Activities 2

4. Jeep Tour

Back road jeep tours are another great way to explore many miles into remote locations of Montana. At Hawley Mountain Ranch they have an all day jeep adventure planned for you starting with the ghost town and mining remnants of Independence, a picnic lunch around an alpine lake and a short climb to the summit of Monument Peak. During the trip you reach as high as 11,000 ft! That's a lot to action for just one day.

 

5. National Park Trip

Montana is home to Glacier National Park and two entrances to Yellowstone National Park. You might as well stop while you are in town. A solid day in each park is the minimum recommended time, but you might "get lost" and stay for a summer.

 

Blacktail Ranch Divide Ride Montana Activities

6. Pack Trip

How about two nights out under the starts to experience the mountains? Head out on horseback with Blacktail Ranch for a two night trip to the top of the Continental Divide. The base camp has running water and power, so roughing it is optional. You can choose to sleep on a comfortable bed in the cabin or under the stars with or without a tent. The next day you'll be at the top!

 

Here is the complete list of all the best dude and guest ranches in Montana for you to explore.

 

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6 Things to do in Montana while at a dude ranch

With more mountains and cattle than there are people Montana is a vast and beautiful play ground for outdoor activities, especially on a dude ranch vacation. Take the opportunity to slow down long enough to experience Montana in a unique and authentic way. Here are the top 6 things to do in Montana while at a guest ranch.

 

Stop Working and Start Vacationing at a Dude Ranch

Stop working and start vacationing.

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

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

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

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

 

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN)

 

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

Distance from Bozeman Airport: 1 hour 17 minutes

Highlights:

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

 

Horses N Courage ~ Martinsdale, Montana

Distance from Bozeman Airport: 1 hour 45 minutes

Highlights:

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

 

 Jackson Hole Airport (JAC)

 

Spotted Horse Ranch ~ Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Distance from Jackson Hole Airport: 39 minutes

Highlights:

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

 

Moose Head Ranch ~ Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Distance from Jackson Hole Airport: 21 minutes

Highlights:

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

 

Denver International Airport (DEN)

 

Drowsy Water Ranch ~ Granby, Colorado

Distance from Denver Airport: 2 hours 21 minutes

Highlights:

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

 

Wind River Ranch ~ Estes, Colorado

Distance from Denver Airport: 1 hour 30 minutes

Highlights:

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

 

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

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Specialty Retreats - Montana Cowgirl Quilt Retreat

Nine Quarter Circle Quilt Retreat

Piecing together inspiration and friendship

at the Montana Cowgirl Quilt Retreat

Quilting was both an essential skill and form of art on the frontier. That’s why, starting more than 20 years ago, the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch  celebrates with the annual Montana Cowgirl Quilt Retreat.  For a week each fall, the ranch is open to quilters to join international artists who teach techniques while sharing new patterns and ideas. Each year the instructors design a pattern associated with the ranch and its surrounding beauty.You can quilt to your heart’s content, drawing inspiration from the retreat classes as well as from the magnificent mountain surroundings. Wednesdays are reserved for a field trip into Bozeman for a “quilt crawl,” the fiber-fabric-antique equivalent of a pub crawl. The “cowgirl” element of this retreat is that you’ll have plenty of time to ride horses, hike, fish, explore, relax on the porch or whatever you wish. If you bring your non-quilting partner, never fear. They’ll have more things to do than you’ve got fabric scraps. Nine Quarter Circle Ranch

Ranch Vacation

Can you imagine a vacation a combination of quilting, horseback riding, fishing hiking and just plain relaxing?  Classes are taught in the morning, leaving afternoons free for your choice of activity. And most evenings find us back quilting in the lodge. In addition to the onsite activities, Wednesdays you will venture to Bozeman.  Here, you will visit local quilt shops and all the wonderful, unique stores in the historic downtown. Camaraderie, sharing of tips and ideas, and making new friends are wonderful experiences shared by many quilters, a good many returning every year.

International Known Quilt Instructors

The adult-only retreat features international quilt teachers Charlotte Warr Andersen and Georgia Bonesteel.  Come join us for a wonderful week of quilting, riding, friendships and wonderful scenery. Bring your husband or friends. They can enjoy the riding and fishing while you are left to your sewing machine and fabric! Please e-mail the ranch directly for further information on this retreat.
Nine Quarter Circle Quilt Retreat Nine Quarter Circle Quilt Retreat Instructor

Instructors from left to right Georgia Bonesteel and Charlotte Warr Andersen

Hollywood Meets the Wild West

Forget Hollywood: many dude ranches have had Hollywood come to them to film some of the most notable classic Western movies ever to hit the big screen over the years. Take for example, White Stallion Ranch. This family-owned 3,000-acre dude ranch located outside of Tucson, Ariz., has been attracting Hollywood filmmakers to its unspoiled desert and rugged mountain landscape for more than 70 years. Notable Western movies filmed on-site include the 1939 legendary film, “Arizona,” as well as “Winchester 73,” “Apache Ambush” and “Backlash.” And the list doesn’t stop at just Western films. Scenes from “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” starring George Clooney were filmed on the ranch. The 2007 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue even used this desert setting for its hugely popular annual photo shoot!

White Stallion Ranch Wagon Ride Horses

White Stallion Ranch

Another guest ranch known for its movie history is Circle Z Ranch. Also located in Arizona, Circle Z Ranch is the oldest continuously operating guest ranch in the state and has served as the backdrop for movies and TV shows including “Gunsmoke” and John Wayne’s “Red River.” Most recently, the 2006 movie “Flicka” was filmed at Eaton’s Ranch in Wyoming. Upon arriving to the ranch’s 7,000 acres of beautiful open country with rolling hills, grassy meadows and hidden valleys, you too will see why the setting was perfect for the big screen. Whether you’re a movie buff looking to visit the settings of some of your favorite movies or searching for a thrilling adventure in an off-the-beaten-path locale, guest ranches provide you with the full on star treatment. Thanks to their warm Western Hospitality and full lineup of daily activities and programing, you’re guaranteed to have the experience of a lifetime…straight out of a Hollywood Western. For more DRA accredited dude ranch options or to plan your next dude ranch vacation, visit the Dude Ranchers’ Association website at www.duderanch.org.

Circle Z Dude Ranch Cat Post Historical

Circle Z Ranch

Eatons Ranch Horses Sunset

Eatons Ranch                                                      


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So Many Things to Do

“I had no idea there would be so many things to do ” or “There just isn’t enough time to do everything” are two common comments heard on dude ranches throughout the West. Most folks think of horses when they think of a dude ranch which is natural since horses are the primary focus. What many people don’t realize is that ranches offer a wide variety of activities for those who want more than riding.

Hawley Mountain Ranch - Things to do - Hiking Summit

Hike to the summit at Hawley Mountain Ranch

Like hiking, for instance? Ranches are usually located in the most beautiful, natural areas of the western states and typically offer fantastic hiking opportunities in the adjacent national parks, forests or other public lands. Experience gorgeous arrays of brilliant wildflowers, the fragrance of a pine forest, or the excitement of sighting an undisturbed elk or mule deer in a misty mountain meadow as you tread where few others have been before you. If wetting a fly line is your passion, you’re in luck again. Many ranches are located along private stretches of world famous trout streams and rivers. Others are within easy reach of cold, clear mountain lakes and streams that see little action, except from ranch guests. Many ranches offer fly fishing lessons and expert guides that can help you find that perfect spot. Some even have Orvis endorsed fishing programs. Almost all have a stocked fishing pond right on the premises.

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch - Things to do - Cast a line

Cast a line at the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch

Learn about our natural history, hunt for arrow heads, or even find a dinosaur bone! You can do it on a dude ranch. Try out Native American crafts or skills, join one of the ranch trips to nearby historical or archaeological sites, or pack a lunch and spend a day on a guided 4X4 trip touring gold mines, ghost towns or your favorite national park. Don’t forget your camera! Looking for a more relaxed pace? No problem. Wile away the day lounging by the pool or hot tub, read a good book in the shade of a stream-side tree or see how many of the abundant and colorful birds you can identify from your cabin porch swing. Evening walks in the meadow with family or friends are good for the soul - - and you might even see that doe and fawn coming to the stream for a drink. Don’t forget the optional overnight pack trip, river rafting, mountain biking, tennis, cookouts, hayrides, campfires sing-a-longs and line or square dancing offered by many ranches.

Diamond D Ranch - Things to Do - Pack Trips

On the way to your pack trip at the Diamond D Ranch

Remember, no cooking, cleaning or chores of any kind on a ranch vacation (unless you want to help the cowboys round up a few strays or feed the horses), just more fun and relaxation than you can imagine. Can’t fit it all the things to do in to one week? Don’t worry, there’s always next year to look forward to.

Find more things to do

Search www.duderanch.org for more things to do on our Find a Ranch by Activities and Amenities interactive search page.  

Yellowstone Dude Ranch Vacation

Yellowstone Entrance Sign

Yellowstone is proud to be the nations first National Park founded in 1872. This was even before Montana, Wyoming and Idaho were granted statehood. President Teddy Roosevelt legally protected this rich, 2.2 million acres of mountains, wildlife and famous geological monuments. This is a place for seeking adventure and exploration that's truly a living American history. In your travels to Yellowstone National Park consider staying at a historical dude ranch, with an industry heritage starting in the early 1900's. 

Dude rancher's were authentic western settlers of the west and operate today to share the charismatic personality of the 'true' West. Who would want to stay in a regular hotel on their way to Yellowstone anyway? At one of these nationally accredited dude ranches you can experience your own personal Western views on horseback while staying at a ranch full of adventurous activities.

Yellowstone Old Faithful

North Entrance

At the North entrance of Yellowstone you can participate in herding cattle over the Gallatin Mountains at Hubbard's Six Quarter Circle Ranch.  Here you can enjoy remarkable views of Paradise Valley and the Yellowstone River. Their approach is both upscale and personal with a small capacity of only 12 guests. They are open June 15th - September 30th and are only 25 minutes from the park.

South Entrance

If you are going to make a be line into the park to see the famous Old Faithful Gyser head up through the South Entrance with the Moose Head Ranch.   They offer a guided tour of the Southern Loop of Yellowstone.  You will see waterfalls, hot pots, mud volcanoes, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and, of course, Old Faithful.  They offer  summer and winter packages and with a capacity of 45 they can host your larger family and corporate groups.

Yellowstone Elk

East Entrance 

Crossed Sabres Ranch is not only 8 short miles from the East Entrance, but also in part of the 2 million acres of the Shoshone National Forest.  During the summer season this ranch will show you some wild and western wilderness. Along with their outstanding horseback riding they offer impressive fishing with Orvis gear on 40 miles of the Shoshone River, white water rafting and dynamic hiking. Billings International Airport is one of many airports used by Yellowstone explorers. Here it is easy to rent a car and head towards the Northeastern Entrance.

The 7D Ranch is off the beaten path between the two. This ranch is the perfect way to connect with family and nature. As a family ranch, your kids will have a blast here experiencing the Western way of life with children's counselors and a wide variety of activities. 

West Entrance 

There are three great dude ranches that are about 40 miles from the West Entrance to Yellowstone that are outstanding dude ranches. Take a look at the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, Elkhorn Ranch and the Covered Wagon Ranch

Find more DRA ranches near Yellowstone National Park here.      

 

 

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In your travels to Yellowstone National Park consider staying at a historical dude ranch, with an industry heritage starting in the early 1900's. Dude rancher's were authentic western settlers of the west and operate today to share the charismatic personality of the 'true' West. Who would want to stay in a regular hotel on their way to Yellowstone anyway?

A New Twist on an Old Trend Seen By Dude Ranch Owners

“Same time, same place next year,” is a promise often heard on the trail and around the campfire of a dude ranch.   The remote, peaceful setting lends itself to easy camaraderie, so it’s not uncommon for lifetime friendships to develop during a ranch vacation.   Statistics bear out this phenomenon with dude ranch owners reporting more than a third of all reservations each season made by repeat visitors. Colleen Hodson reports a similar yet different pattern among the daily inquiries she receives at the headquarters of the Dude Rancher’s Association in Cody, Wyoming. Hodson, Executive Director of the DRA, as it’s known, says she’s starting to hear from folks she refers to, (tongue in cheek,) as “ranch junkies.”   These are travelers loyal to the Western ranch destination but preferring to explore a different DRA ranch each trip.

The traditional pleasures of Western living - riding, hiking, camping and fishing are still the major draw of a ranch escape.  And guests can always count on any DRA member ranch meeting the highest industry standards as well as being authentic and accurately portrayed in all of its’ advertising. But that’s where the commonality ends. Travelers considering a dude ranch destination only need to glance at the DRA website or member brochure to get a sense of the many types of ranches and menu of activities offered. One finds special ranch getaways for cowgirls or adults only, while many are a virtual “Disney World” for kids of all ages. Some ranches focus on the culinary experience serving the finest wine and food pairings along with cooking instructions by noted chefs. Others attract devotees to fitness by offering yoga, meatless menus and spa treatments.  Still more are known for birding, astronomy, and special eco-tours. And, photography classes, tennis clinics, and painting workshops are just a few options for guests looking for a Western styled learning adventure.

Hodson says, "the great thing about the diversity of DRA member ranches is no matter what ranch people choose they’ll experience the same wonderful western hospitality we’ve been promoting for 90 years.” See the ranches below for a warm, welcoming hospitality and a sense of belonging with your dude ranch owners.

Blacktail Ranch

Blacktail Ranch

The Blacktail Ranch is a Historic 8,000 acre jewel, located  where the prairie meets the Rockies in Wolf Creek Montana.  Our Grandfather first came this valley back in the late 1800's and our family has lived and worked here ever since.  We have been operating as a guest ranch since the 1950's.


Hawley Mountain Ranch

Hawley Mountain Ranch

Enjoy a Montana ranch vacation in a remote pristine wilderness north of Yellowstone. Small guest capacity and unique activities. Horseback riding; Fly fishing on private frontage along the Boulder River; Jeep ride to ghost town and historic gold mines; Hiking; Scenic raft float; Campfires/cookouts.


McGarry Ranches

McGarry Ranches

A working cattle ranch with cattle managed on approx. 55,000 acres in the Rocky Mountains. We only accept 10 guests per week, a chance to get to know everyone. If you wish to experience the lifestyle of the American Cowboy while riding daily in scenic mountains we invite you to come ride with us.


Nine Quarter Circle

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch

Adjacent to Yellowstone Park, the Nine Quarter Circle is "magical" thanks to our remote location which provides incredible scenery and excellent riding opportunities. Our family-oriented vacations feature riding for all ages and levels of horsemanship while awesome blue-ribbon fly-fishing can be found on-site and in nearby rivers. Traditional activities such as campfires, cookouts, hayrides and more are a big hit, as are our dedicated kids' programs. And this all comes served with the West's BEST hospitality!


Upper Canyon Outfitters

Upper Canyon Outfitters & Guest Ranch

Upper Canyon Outfitters is nestled on the banks of the Ruby River, between three mountain ranges. Our family has been exploring these beautiful and wildlife-rich mountains since 1910. We are proud to offer a truly unforgettable Western Montana experience.


 

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