13 Best Dude Ranches for Families

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

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

13 Best Dude Ranches for Families 

 

1. The Home Ranch – Clark, CO

Best For: Cuisine and Cooking

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

dude ranches

2. Rainbow Trout Ranch – Antonito, CO

Best For: Authentic High Mountain Experience

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

dude ranches

3. White Stallion Ranch – Tucson, AZ

Best For: Evening Entertainment

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

dude ranches

4. Circle Z Ranch – Patagonia, AZ

Best For: Old West Experience

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

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

dude ranches

5. Bonanza Creek Country Guest Ranch – Martinsdale, MT

Best For: Riding in the Wide Open Country  

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

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

dude ranches

6. Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort – Solvang, CA

Best For: Wine Country and Activities

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

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

dude ranches

7. Western Pleasure Guest Ranch – Sandpoint, ID

Best For: Off-Season Vacations

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

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

dude ranches

8. Paradise Guest Ranch – Buffalo, WY

Best for: Water Activities

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

dude ranches

9. Bar W Guest Ranch – Whitefish, MT

Best For: On-Trend Vacations

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

dude ranches

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

Best For: Best-Kept Riding Secret  

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

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

dude ranches

11. Triangle C Dude Ranch, Dubois, WY

Best For: Getting a True Sense of Working Cattle

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

dude ranches

12. Three Bars Guest Ranch – British Columbia, Canada

Best For: Private Cabins and Communal Meals

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

dude ranches

13. Drowsy Water Ranch – Granby, CO

Best For: Young Children

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

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

dude ranches

 

Save this Pin for Later! 

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

 

Read the full article by Julie Bielenberg here

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

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

Take a Colorado Vacation

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

Colorado Vacation

Cherokee Park Ranch - Livermore, CO 

Colorado Trails Ranch

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

Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch

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

Laramie River Ranch

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

Colorado Vacation

Laramie River Ranch - Jelm, CO 

Badger Creek Ranch

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

Black Mountain Ranch

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

The High Lonesome Ranch

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

Colorado Vacation

The High Lonesome Ranch - DeBeque, CO

Zapata Ranch

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

4UR Ranch

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

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch

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

Colorado Vacation

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch - Red Feather Lakes, CO 

Drowsy Water Ranch

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

Tumbling River Ranch

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

Vista Verde Ranch

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

Colorado Vacation

Vista Verde Ranch - Steamboat Springs, CO 

Cherokee Park Ranch

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

The Majestic Dude Ranch 

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

Wind River Christian Dude Ranch

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

Colorado Vacation

Wind River Christian Dude Ranch - Estes Park, CO

Elk Mountain Ranch

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

Smith Fork Ranch

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

Lost Valley Ranch

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

Colorado Vacation

Lost Valley Ranch - Sedalia, CO 

C Lazy U Ranch 

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

The Home Ranch

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

Latigo Ranch

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

Colorado Vacation

Latigo Ranch - Kremmling, CO 

Rainbow Trout Ranch

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

The Broadmoor's Ranch at Emerald Valley

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

Rawah Ranch

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

Colorado Vacation

Rawah Ranch - Glendevey, CO

Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch

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

Save this pin for later! 

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

National Media Outlets Turn Spotlight to Dude Ranches

Dude Ranches are winning awards! From Forbes Magazine to Real Simple and accolades in nearly every accredited journalism outlet, the allure and experience of Dude Ranch Vacations is dominating vacation stories and bookings in 2018, but why? Is it the heat of the summer that literally drove folks to the mountains for escape into cool nights accented with breezy pine aromas and horses hooves mashing hay in the background? Or is it a generational shift to become more attached and aware of landscapes and the people that work them?

2018 Dude Ranches Winning Accolades

 

The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort, California

Wine Country Wins

Operating one of the largest dude ranches in the nation, Alisal certainly delivers entertainment for varying ages and curiosities. This year, Men’s Journal named the ranch one of the ‘Best Luxury Dude Ranches’ in the nation for many a good reason. The 10,500-acre ranch in California’s Santa Ynez Valley is a family-owned working ranch about 30 miles northeast of Santa Barbara. The property has 73 cottages, all with working, wood burning fireplaces, and without phones or televisions.

Onsite vacationers can access 50-plus miles of riding trails, a 100-acre, spring-fed lake, two 18-hole championship golf courses, tennis courts, pool, spa, in addition to fine dining. Don’t forget it’s wine country and just minutes away are more than 75 renowned vineyards and wineries. “Or, stay rustic, and take the hay truck out to the lake for kayaking, boating and fishing,” explains Shelly Rivoli, founder, Travelswithbaby.com and Familytravel411.com. 

However, it’s the multi-generational offerings that make this an award-winning ranch. Rivoli visited Alisal this past summer with her kids and mother-in-law in tow to ride, learn and shoot archery, and, of course, photograph her sister-in-law, Jill Rivoli, the ranch’s first female head wrangler. “The activities at the ranch made it easy for our three generations to stay entertained and happy, and to seamlessly move between time together as a big group and and time spent apart or in pairs,” explains Rivoli. 

For Rivoli’s family, it’s the game room, horseshoe pit, personalized corn hole games created in front of each cottage, and swimming pool that are most popular for the kids. “For me, it’s the breakfast ride to the old adobe, with hot cakes, beverages, fresh fruit, all while sitting under the old Oak Trees and Sycamores.”  

Dude Ranches

The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort - Solvang, CA 

Rainbow Trout Ranch, Colorado

Remote Paradise, Iconic Architecture and Western Wear

Preparation can be half the excitement of a vacation. From roping in new clothing for the journey to educating oneself on altitude acclimation, new landscapes provide the quintessential ‘true adventure’ many millennials are yearning for in a vacation. 

When Real Simple journalist Cari Wira Dineen needed some serious apparel and packing advice for her Western Dude Ranch adventure and editorial piece, she called Courtney Frazier, an expert in terms of raising mindful children on a ranch while impeccably and appropriately dressed, working tirelessly for the Colorado Dude Ranch Association and Colorado Tourism Office, and more importantly, championing for conservation and thoughtful preservation through hands-on ranch education and experience. 

Needless to say, Frazier needs a little R&R when possible to take off her own cowgirl hat and rhinestone jeans come dusk. Frazier describes to Real Simple the epitome of Western Dude Ranch culture and dress in the article while exploring the possibility of ranch activity for a guest. 

“My family and I stayed at the Rainbow Trout Ranch for a week and it was hospitality-forward from the get-go. Personalized and customized riding and activity for our entire family, diverse sport in terms of hiking, riding, fishing, cool and breezy evenings at 9,000 feet and splash time for the kids while we ate grilled fajitas poolside." 

Rainbow Trout Ranch continually draws families from around the world to their remote paradise. Roaring evening and morning fires are welcomed by enormous wrap-around porches, views of pines for acres, and aromas from the biscuit-shooter and roller for those airy dough-goods, it’s hook, set and catch! 

Rainbow Trout’s bean master, or cook, serves family-style, home cookin’, perfectly accentuated with evening entertainment once the corral has settled down for the evening. From classic Western line dancing to legendry cowboy guitar tunes by the fire, once the stars arrive, ranches such as Rainbow Trout understand the need and importance for multi-generational activity and enjoyment not centered around a bar, cantina or alcohol.  Many returning guests even seek out Western wear throughout the year to bring to the evening activity.

PS. Rainbow Trout Ranch has the second largest wood lodge east of the Mississippi; for architecture and history buffs, it doesn’t get any better, photography for days! 

Dude Ranches

Rainbow Trout Ranch - Antonito, CO

White Stallion Ranch, Arizona

Wild, Wild, Luxury and Entertainment

White Stallion Ranch, a longtime member of the DRA, was named one of ‘America's Best Family Resorts’ by a USA Today Readers Choice poll. The award was based on readers' votes for the resort determined by kids' amenities and family programming. A panel of experts including USA Today editors, 10Best.com editors, expert contributors and media had nominated the ranch. 

"We are so very proud to have this honor bestowed on the White Stallion Ranch," said Russell True, co-owner of True Ranch Hospitality. "This ranch has been in my family for more than five decades. We pride ourselves in offering the best hospitality and exceptional service at a fair value for all our guests, including families. For example, kids under five stay at the ranch for free," True added.

Ali Isroff, Chicago native, joined in on a family reunion at the ranch, including her three boys less than seven years of age. “White Stallion Ranch was awesome, it was a really great vacation for our family, super kid friendly and accommodating. My sister-in-law did a ton a research and felt that the ranch would offer something we all could enjoy—from 76 years old to 1 years old—and it didn’t disappoint!”

White Stallion Ranch is also one of the largest capacity dude ranches in the nation. Therefore, they are able to offer wild, wild, west entertainment once the stars come out and all the dishes have been cleared. 

Dude Ranches

White Stallion Ranch - Tucson, AZ 

Eatons' Ranch, Wyoming

Longevity Proves Attractive

Eatons' Ranch is one of the most famous dude ranches in the nation, and for deserved reason, it’s been operating for over 135 years and is the true essence of the Old West. The five-generation working cattle ranch is nestled on the pine covered eastern slopes of the Bighorn Mountains. The 7,000-acre ranch offers massive expanses of Wyoming rolling hills and over a hundred activities within this terrain to keep anyone out cowpoking or meandering through valleys for days.

Nearby Sheridan provides the easiest access for most visitors with numerous daily flights and only an 18-mile transport to the ranch. It’s not only attractive for families, weddings and reunions, but also corporate groups. “My company hosts their annual conference at Eatons' Ranch every fall,” notes Lani Oneil, director of national accounts, Frontier Asset Management. “We bring in clients from all over the US and the event is always a new and memorable experience for the, It definitely beats spending long days in hotel conference rooms followed by the usual steakhouse dinner.” 

Dude Ranches

Eatons' Ranch - Wolf, WY

Colorado Lovin’

Colorado doesn’t have the largest number of dude ranches of the States, but it certainly achieves the most palaver (discussion) for its consistent and numerous accolades. 

C Lazy U

C Lazy U, 90 minutes from Denver and easily accessible via the Amtrak Train from hipster downtown Union Station has won three awards from Travel + Leisure in 2018 for Top Hotel in the World (#74), Top 15 Continental US Resort Hotels (#6) and Top 10 Resort Hotel in the American West  (#3) And, for the second year in a row, C Lazy U was ranked #2 Destination Resort in USA TODAY’s 2018 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards for Best Destination Resort. Paging through Sunset Magazine, you might notice that C Lazy U was the runner up “Hotels That Impress” in the Sunset 2018 Travel Awards. 

Dude Ranches

C Lazy U Ranch - Granby, CO

Cherokee Park Ranch

And, to get a diverse round up (pun intended) of the ‘Best American Dude Ranch’ voted by readers of USA Today’s 10Best, the list has Cherokee Park Ranch with another #1 win. All but one of the ranches featured have been a longtime member of the DRA! (10best.com/awards/travel/best-dude-ranch

Cherokee Park Ranch, one of Colorado's first guest ranches, was a stagecoach stop between Fort Collins, Colorado, and Laramie, Wyoming. Accommodations include suites in their 120-year-old lodge and six outlying cabins, each outfitted with porch swings to take in the sites and splendor of the remote location miles from any city. 

Again, it’s the multigenerational activities, stunning new barn and kids activity space, and good old-fashioned dancing that keeps the families both returning and new ones seeking out this isolated vacation spot. For our family, it’s always the infamous line and country dancing nights. 

Dude Ranches

Cherokee Park Ranch - Livermore, CO 

Vista Verde Ranch

Located in Steamboat Springs, is one of the only four-season dude ranches in the State. When it comes to awards, and assortment of sport for all seasons, and weather conditions, Vista Verde Ranch is noted annually in dozens of publications. Think biking on snow in December, fall fly-fishing for off-season spawns or cooking classes or wine tastings al fresco or by roaring fire, the ranch’s luxurious offerings and certainly an anomaly for the Old West, but certainly welcomed.

Vista Verde Ranch has a AAA Four Diamond Award and the ranch’s Chef Chol has been building the cellar wine list to rival that of some of the country’s greatest restaurants. Fodor’s announced that Vista Verde had been selected as a Fodor’s Choice recipient yet again. And, from Shape Magazine to the Gene Kilgore World’s Best Ranches Award to mentions in everything from National Geographic ADVENTURE Magazine to Los Angeles Times and oodles more, this ranch lassos attention from all genres of vacationer. 

Dude Ranches

Vista Verde Ranch - Steamboat Springs, CO 

Save this Pin for Later! 

From Forbes Magazine to Real Simple and accolades in nearly every accredited journalism outlet, the allure and experience of Dude Ranch Vacations is dominating vacation stories and bookings in 2018, but why?

Where to Have an All-American Vacation Experience

'Made in America' continues to surge in popularity for not only domestic-minded shoppers in the U.S., but also for travelers. For those searching for an authentic getaway that stays true to your roots, consider exploring the Wild West. It doesn’t get any more authentic than the original all-inclusive, All-American experience: a dude ranch vacation – think cattle drives, hiking, rodeos, campfires and fishing.

A dude ranch vacation allows people of all ages to spend quality time in some of the country’s most beautiful, awe-inspiring settings. They are rooted in American tradition and principles – horses, hats, hospitality, heritage, honesty and heart – and that’s just the beginning.

Below are 8 All-American Dude Ranch Experiences:

 

1. Saddle Up, Like a Cowboy: Overseer Theron McGarry, a lifelong cowboy and fourth generation rancher, sees to it that guests at McGarry Ranches get the complete Western experience on these fully operational cattle ranches in Rexburg, Idaho. Guests have the opportunity to walk in a rancher’s shoes during their stay by completing typical farmhand tasks from filling water troughs and rescuing stray cows and calves to roping and fence mending, all while being treated to views of Snake River and the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

2. Participate in a Rockin' Rodeo: Saturdays at Rainbow Trout Ranch in Antonito, Colo., are spent in the arena preparing for the ranch’s rodeo. Kids, teens and adults spend the day trying their hand at traditional cowboy roping including corralling barrels and looping on to poles. The day culminates with a fast and furious "pony express" race between the wranglers, which is sure to enthrall rodeo lovers of all ages!

3. Take in the Views on Horseback: Everyday, twice a day, Bar Lazy J in Parshall, Colo., takes guests on adventure horseback rides with gorgeous views through canyons, forests and valleys. The ranch’s claim to fame is that no two rides are ever the same! Bar Lazy J offers extended rides featuring longer stretches of loping that are typically at a faster pace, perfect for thrill-seekers. Keep an eye out for local wildlife and animals as you ride through the various terrains.

Bar Lazy J All-American Dude Ranch experience

4. Learn to Fly Fish: The fly fishing and guided fishing tours at Diamond D Ranch are truly like no other. With streams 50 yards away from the cabins and a private lake on the ranch grounds in Stanley, Idaho, guests do not have to go far to relax and catch fresh rainbow and other native trout. Diamond D Ranch offers guided fly-fishing tours that range from a quick afternoon on the creek to multi-day, pack trip expeditions. It truly is an angler’s paradise!

5. Watch and Learn from the Rodeo Pros: Every Wednesday afternoon at White Stallion Ranch in Tuscon, Ariz., guests get to watch a real, traditional rodeo in action! As a tradition for almost 50 years, the wranglers and their families and friends come together in the White Stallion arena to compete in team roping, barrel racing and breakaway roping. Throughout the rodeo, narrators regale ranch guests with tales of the traditions behind the rodeo and the history of the West.

White Stallion Roping All-American Dude Ranch Experience

6. Become a Sharp Shooter: Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Harrison, Idaho, provides guests with a one-of-a-kind shooting experience with its 3D archery stations. Participants are taken on a hike through a trail in the woods to the course with life-size targets. These targets vary from life-size turkeys and elk to the occasional mountain lion, simulating a real hunting expedition.

7. Experience an Adventure Pack Trip: Rich’s Montana Guest Ranch in Seeley Lake, Mont., offers pack trips in the crown jewel of America’s wilderness system. These pack trips, which range from five to 10 days, take place in the 1.5 million acre Bob Marshall wilderness full of valleys, lakes, streams and mountains. Adventurers are on horseback and move camp every other day, with the non-riding days filled with fishing and exploring.

Rich Ranch Pack Trip Mountains All-American Dude Ranch Experience

8. Participate in Rodeo Games: One of the most unique and authentic activities at Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch in Quincy, Calif., is their Guest Rodeo Games. After a hearty Hamburger Cookout, guests meet at the corral for an afternoon of fun with the wranglers. The famous Greenhorn Games are for everyone in the family and feature barrel racing, pole-bending, keyhole competitions and even an egg race!

 

For more information or help in choosing the perfect ranch for you and your family please contact us at 307-587-2339 of shoot us an e-mail at info@duderanch.org.

 

‘Made in America’ continues to surge in popularity for not only domestic-minded shoppers in the U.S., but also for travelers. It doesn’t get any more authentic than the original all-inclusive, All-American experience: a dude ranch vacation – think cattle drives, hiking, rodeos, campfires and fishing.

10 of the Most Beautiful Dude Ranches in Colorado

 

Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the nation with the Rocky Mountains and vast plains. Your inner photographer will be brought out with so many phenomenal vistas. From the Northern border shared with Wyoming to the Southern border shared with New Mexico, picturesque ranches abound in the "Centennial State" and we look at ten of the most beautiful Colorado dude ranch vacations. 

 

10 of the Most Beautiful Colorado Dude Ranch Vacations

 

Lost Valley Ranch

Set against 26,000 acres of the Pike National Forest, you'll experience the majestic Rocky Mountains like never before at the Lost Valley Ranch. Here you can breathe the fresh mountain air, hike through flowering meadows or simply relax with a fishing pole on Goose Creek. It's all here to enjoy at your own pace. 

Lost Valley Ranch, Colorado

Find a dude ranch vacation with duderanch.orgSearch Now

Lost Valley Lake (10)

Lost Valley Ranch 

 

Tumbling River Ranch

Tumbling River Ranch feels as far away from the hustle and bustle of life as anywhere on Earth, yet it's only a few hours from the major metropolitan area of Denver and the Denver International Airport. Here, horseback riding is special. You can ride up to where only the mountain goats go, to 12,200 feet above sea level! Imagine the views from up there. 

Tumbling River Ranch, Colorado

Find a dude ranch vacation with duderanch.orgSearch Now

 

Tumbling River Colorado Dude Ranch Activities

Tumbling River Ranch

 

Rainbow Trout Ranch

In Southwestern Colorado lies the Rainbow Trout Ranch, combining the splendor of the Rocky Mountains and the enchantment of the New Mexico Southwest. It's no wonder Wild West legends like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid whiled away the hours in the magnificent backcountry paradise this ranch calls home. 

Rainbow Trout Ranch, Colorado

Find a dude ranch vacation with duderanch.orgSearch Now

 

Rainbow Trout Ranch Beautiful Colorado Dude Ranch Vacation

Rainbow Trout Ranch

 

Smith Fork Ranch

Located on 300 gorgeous acres of Colorado's Western Slope, East of the town of Crawford, Smith Fork Ranch is secluded and intimate. This luxury ranch is nestled within the beautiful Gunison National Forest and adjoins the wild, West Elk Wilderness Area. Smith Fork Ranch boasts luxurious comfort, thoughtful hospitality and five star cuisine blended with Rocky Mountain Adventures. 

Smith Fork Ranch, Colorado

Find a dude ranch vacation with duderanch.orgSearch Now

 

Smith Fork Ranch Beautiful Colorado Dude Ranch Vacation

Smith Fork Ranch

 

The High Lonesome Ranch

With mountain forests, grasslands, spring creeks and alpine mesas at elevations ranging from 4,000 to 9,000 feet, the High Lonesome Ranch is home to diverse wildlife and provides a vast playground for sports and wilderness activities. The ranch is centered around conservation, restoration and the American West.  

The High Lonesome Ranch, Colorado

Find a dude ranch vacation with duderanch.orgSearch Now

 

The High Lonesome Colorado dude ranch

The Home Ranch

 

Majestic Dude Ranch

Adjacent to the pristine La Plata Mountain Range between Durango and Cortez, Colorado the Majestic Dude Ranch is the ultimate adventure guest ranch for your Colorado dude ranch vacation. Ride amoung the shimmering aspens, follow the gold panning streams to old mining towns and settle in and watch the sunset over Sleeping Ute Mountain. 

Majestic Dude Ranch, Colorado

Find a dude ranch vacation with duderanch.orgSearch Now

 

Majestic Dude Ranch Beautiful Colorado Dude Ranch Vacation

Majestic Dude Ranch

 

Cherokee Park Ranch

The Cherokee Park Ranch is tucked into a peaceful mountain setting and radiates cozy western comfort. This little slice of cowboy heaven is surrounded by mountains, mossy rocks, colorful wildflowers, twinkling streams, a flashy river and a bright blue sky. 

Cherokee Park Ranch, Colorado

Find a dude ranch vacation with duderanch.orgSearch Now

 

Cherokee Park Beautiful Colorado Dude Ranch Vacation

Cherokee Park Ranch

 

Vista Verde Ranch

Just North of Steamboat Springs lies the Vista Verde Guest Ranch in the National Forest. With permitted access to the wild and stunning Mt. Zirkel Wilderness Area there's not a condo insight! Winter at Vista Verde is breathtaking with the beauty of over 400 inches of snow annually. Back country and cross country skiing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, sledding and more will get you out in the snow at this Colorado dude ranch vacation. 

Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado

Find a dude ranch vacation with duderanch.orgSearch Now

 

Vista Verde Beautiful Colorado Dude Ranch Vacation

Vista Verde Ranch

 

The Home Ranch

Tucked away at the far end of the valley, where the Elk River flows from the Sawtooth Mountain Ranch, you'll find the Home Ranch. This is Colorado's only Relais & Chateaux affiliated guest ranch. If you are looking for an extraordinary vacation in wide open spaces and a place to reconnect with nature, you will find it at the Home Ranch. 

The Home Ranch, Colorado

Find a dude ranch vacation with duderanch.orgSearch Now

Home Ranch Beautiful Colorado Dude Ranch Vacation

The Home Ranch

 

4UR Ranch

Known as "one of Colorado's last perfect places" the 4UR Ranch is tucked away into the slender Goose Creek Valley of the San Juan Mountains. Within its 3,000 acres wind 6 miles of trout stream, the Rio Grand River, miles of mountain trails for hiking and horseback riding and natural hot springs. The 4UR is one of the finest fly fishing resorts in Colorado. 

4UR Ranch, Colorado

Find a dude ranch vacation with duderanch.orgSearch Now

 

4UR Beautiful Colorado Dude Ranch Vacation

4UR Ranch 

 

Vist here for the complete list of Colorado Ranches

 

Pin this for Later: 10 of the Most Beautiful Colorado Dude Ranch Vacations

 

Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the nation with the Rocky Mountains and vast plains. Your inner photographer will be brought out with so many phenomenal vistas. From the Northern border shared with Wyoming to the Southern border shared with New Mexico, picturesque ranches abound in the in the

The Great American Family Holiday – on a Dude Ranch

Sylvan Dale Ranch Great American Family Holiday Clint the donkey gets a hug at the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch.

Ride ‘em cowboy! Sure there can be plenty of time in the saddle when you take the kids on a dude ranch vacation. But these days, there’s plenty else to do. In fact, ranch goers acknowledge, they often spend less time riding than they expected because of so many other activities and so much land to explore. That’s especially true for multi-generational groups who find guest ranches ideal for family reunions. They are all-inclusive so there is no bickering—and no surprises—with the final bill. No one has to get groceries, cook or clean up. And there are activities for all ages. How about mountain biking? Organized kids’ activities often include everything from riding to soccer, sack races, art projects and talent shows. Programs like at the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Colorado, means the adults get some time to catch up and parents don’t have to worry about their children’s whereabouts. The closeness of the cabins, dining room and other facilities makes it easy for parents to keep an eye on them, and means the property is more convenient to navigate for older guests. You might not have realized dude ranches today offer so many options:

A visit to a National Park – Many dude ranches are located near some of the country’s most popular national parks. White Stallion Ranch borders Arizona’s Saguaro National Park, while Rimrock Ranch is only miles outside the East entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Medicine Bow Lodge & Guest Ranch is located in the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming; while many guests at Bar W Guest Ranch in Montana head to Glacier National Park for a day.

Bar W Dude Ranch Vacation

Picnic at the Bar W Guest Ranch in Montana

A hike in the wilderness. Most dude ranches are off the tourist grid on lots of land, ideal for exploring on foot. The Diamond D Ranch, nestled in the Frank Church Wilderness Area of Idaho, offers excursions into the wild and fishing in the Salmon River Mountains, among many other activities.

Diamond D Ranch Fishing

Indulge in a massage Many ranches now offer spa treatments, like White Stallion Ranch  in Tucson, AZ and Vista Verde Ranch just outside of Steamboat, CO.

Take a yoga class. Many ranches that offer spa services also provide yoga classes and training. Before a long day in the saddle, guests can have a relaxing limbering-up session with certified trainers.

Try some new wines. Gourmet cuisine and wine paring are gaining popularity at dude ranches. At Smith Fork Ranch, favorites from their private cellar and wineries they especially like are among the choices, including some Colorado wines.

Go tubing or white water rafting. Three Bars Guest Ranch in the Canadian Rockies offers weekly white water rafting tours on the unspoiled  Mary’s River.  Put in only a 10 minute drive from the ranch.

Give shooting sports a try at Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Idaho, there is instruction in a safely controlled environment. There are 5 stations, each providing their own unique targets.

Ride a Zip Line The Bar Lazy J Ranch has one of Colorado’s longest and fastest zip lines and is the only one that crosses the Colorado River. The zip line starts on a steep bluff overlooking the Colorado River dropping 82 feet in elevation as it crosses the river, through the trees and across a pasture to the landing platform. You will be zipping along at speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour. This activity is for guests ages 13 and up.

Go fishing Rainbow Trout Ranch near several historic Spanish land grants in Antonito, Colo.,encourages guests to go trout fishing; Try your hand at fly fishing at 4UR Ranch in Mineral County, Colo.

Do si do with the wranglers or sing your favorite western songs around the campfire at ranches including – Mountain Sky Guest Ranch sits on over 10,000 operational acres of unspoiled wilderness in the heart of Yellowstone Country in Emigrant, Mont Got your cowboy hat?

By Eileen Ogintz at Takingthekids.com Save Save Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

5 Reasons a Ranch Vacation Is Better Than Disney

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

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

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

Drowsy Water Ranch Vacation Better than Disney

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

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

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

5 Reasons Ranch Vacations are Better Than Disney

5 Reasons Ranch Vacations are Better Than DisneySave

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Down at the Ranch

In an age of digital overload, polarized politics, and the overwhelming rush of modern life, there are dude ranch vacations to recharge, rejuvenate, reconnect and embrace a more simple time. There’s a dude ranch waiting for you out there, and more than likely it’s close to a national park if you want the best of both worlds (ranch and park worlds, that is). Whether it’s the high mountain range or vast desert valleys, grab your boots and hat and spend the morning in the saddle, the afternoon with a drink by the pool, and a quiet evening of reflection in front of a raging fire. You’ll be tired, but it’s a good tired, by the time the sun sets behind the wild hills.

These are all-inclusive vacations, from small outfits to large spreads, with plenty to do: hiking, fishing, swimming, white-water rafting, rodeos, western dances, and even campfire sing-a-longs. And of course, there’s boots and saddles, riding the range and lariats. And for the kids, it’s a chance to become a cowpoke, explore the ranches, play games, and make new friends. It’s the perfect cure for the modern world. While finding the right ranch might sound onerous, it doesn’t have to be if you rely on the Dude Ranchers’ Association’s members. Formed in 1926, the DRA ensures that guests are treated right, with lodging and service at the highest standards. The DRA’s six foundations for members are, “Horses, Hats, Hospitality - Heritage, Honesty and Heart.” It’s the perfect getaway, and as comfortable as a well-worn pair of pointy boots.

 

Geronimo Trail Ranch

New Mexico at the Geronimo Trail Ranch

You could head south to the Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch in Winston, New Mexico, in the Black Range Mountains. The sun provides the electricity and cell service is an hour’s drive away. It’s untouched country with high meadows, archaeological sites, and you’ll see it all from the backs of gentle horses. You’ll eat well after a day in the saddle with ranch-style cooking and outdoor barbecues, and the skies are not cloudy all day. With only four guest cabins, it’s intimate and you’ll become part of the family and ranch-life.

Tanque Verde Ranch

Arizona's Tanque Verde Ranch

One state to the west, in Arizona, spend time at one of America’s oldest ranches, the Tanque Verde Ranch near Tucson.  Located in the Rincon Mountains, it has a rich history of Native American and Spanish civilizations. Settled in 1868, the ranch has been offering an oasis for families since 1957. There are more than 150 horses to choose from, but it’s not all work in the saddle, as guests can enjoy the tennis courts and a swimming pool after a relaxing ride. And Saguaro National Park is right next door. At day’s end, dust off your chaps, kick back and watch an Arizona sunset stretch across the sky.

California's Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch

California's Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch

Out in Quincy, California, the Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch will treat you right. Just an hour from the Reno airport, it’s a Western paradise, with the nearby Feather River and high peaks are yours to explore. Along with the requisite horseback riding, you can swim, hike, mountain bike, and just take a break in this tranquil setting. It’s pure magic.

Colorado's Rainbow Trout Ranch

Colorado's Rainbow Trout Ranch

In southern Colorado, the Rainbow Trout Ranch has trophy fly-fishing, legendary trail riding, and down-home hospitality. Spend the day in the saddle, land a lunker, or just take in the beauty. Nestled at 9,000 feet along the Conejos River, guests can ride the historic Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad as well.

Lazy L&B Ranch

Wyoming's Lazy L&B Ranch

As the weather warms to the north, check out the Lazy L&B Ranch in Dubois, Wyoming. Known for its cowboy culture and snowy peaks, relax in these well-furnished log cabins with their Western flair, and private baths. There’s an outdoor sitting area to just gaze at the Wind River and Absaroka mountain ranges, and you can swim in the heated pool after a trail ride, or just dive into the river. You’ll work up a thirst and hunger for the hearty meals. This is a family operation, and you’ll feel so welcome, it’ll be difficult to head back to the “real world.”

Wyoming's Crossed Sabres Ranch

Over the mountains to the north, the Crossed Sabres Ranch in Cody has been hosting visitors since 1898. Just eight miles from Yellowstone National Park’s east entrance, Crossed Sabres is smack dab in the middle of some of the wildest, most pristine mountains in the world. Along the North Fork of the Shoshone River the fishing is superb for the wily Yellowstone cutthroat trout. And you’ll have the chance to watch moose, elk, and deer graze the creeks and hillsides, and even see an occasional bear along the ridges. There’s a large, comfortable lodge, 19 cabins, and even a saloon where you can practice your best John Wayne imitation. It’s a great place for families, as the kids hold reins instead of electronic devices. Head to Cody for the nightly rodeo after a day of white water rafting, or a long trail ride, and you may just fantasize about riding a bucking bronc.

Wyoming's The Hideout Lodge Dude Ranch Vacations

Wyoming's The Hideout Lodge

Across the Bighorn Mountains, in Shell, Wyoming, the Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch is an upscale, working cattle ranch, where adventure is on the schedule. It’s a 650,000-acre adventure paradise. Learn horsemanship from the experts, and become the rider you’ve always wanted to be. Bond with your mount as you head up the trail to the high country for a view from the top of the peaks. You can take a turn working the stock, and then take a turn with trapshooting, archery, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, biking, and even 4x4 tours. Limited to just 25 guests per week, there are visitors from around the world looking for just such an authentic experience. Its high-end culinary offerings will entice and astound you.

Bar W Ranch

Montana's Bar W Ranch

In Montana take a trip to the Bar W Ranch in Whitefish. Snow-capped peaks surround you, and you’ll gallop across lush, green meadows. You’ll have 3,000 acres to ride and hike, not far from Glacier National Park. Stay in these comfortable lodges with all of the modern amenities, and an elegant western flair. It’ll take you back to this country’s roots and the beauty of nature is all around you. So bring your boots (smooth-soled, of course, to get in and out of stirrups), and let loose your inner cowboy or cowgirl at one of America’s premiere dude ranches. It’ll change your perspective, and maybe even your life.


  Save Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Where to Have an All-American Vacation Experience

‘Made in America’ continues to surge in popularity for not only domestic-minded shoppers in the U.S., but also for travelers. For those searching for an authentic getaway that stays true to your roots, consider exploring the Wild West. It doesn’t get any more authentic than the original all-inclusive, All-American experience: a dude ranch vacation – think cattle drives, hiking, rodeos, campfires and fishing. A dude ranch vacation allows people of all ages to spend quality time in some of the country’s most beautiful, awe-inspiring settings. They are rooted in American tradition and principles – horses, hats, hospitality, heritage, honesty and heart – and that’s just the beginning. Below are 8 All-American Dude Ranch Experiences:

  1. Saddle Up, Like a Cowboy: Overseer Theron McGarry, a lifelong cowboy and fourth generation rancher, sees to it that guests at McGarry Ranches get the complete Western experience on these fully operational cattle ranches in Rexburg, Idaho. Guests have the opportunity to walk in a rancher’s shoes during their stay by completing typical farmhand tasks from filling water troughs and rescuing stray cows and calves to roping and fence mending, all while being treated to views of Snake River and the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

McGarry Ranches

  1. Participate in a Rockin' Rodeo: Saturdays at Rainbow Trout Ranch in Antonito, Colo., are spent in the arena preparing for the ranch’s rodeo. Kids, teens and adults spend the day trying their hand at traditional cowboy roping including corralling barrels and looping on to poles. The day culminates with a fast and furious "pony express" race between the wranglers, which is sure to enthrall rodeo lovers of all ages!
  1. Take in the Views on Horseback: Everyday, twice a day, Bar Lazy J in Parshall, Colo., takes guests on adventure horseback rides with gorgeous views through canyons, forests and valleys. The ranch’s claim to fame is that no two rides are ever the same! Bar Lazy J offers extended rides featuring longer stretches of loping that are typically at a faster pace, perfect for thrill-seekers. Keep an eye out for local wildlife and animals as you ride through the various terrains.
  1. Learn to Fly Fish: The fly fishing and guided fishing tours at Diamond D Ranch are truly like no other. With streams 50 yards away from the cabins and a private lake on the ranch grounds in Stanley, Idaho, guests do not have to go far to relax and catch fresh rainbow and other native trout. Diamond D Ranch offers guided fly-fishing tours that range from a quick afternoon on the creek to multi-day, pack trip expeditions. It truly is an angler’s paradise!
  1. Watch and Learn from the Rodeo Pros: Every Wednesday afternoon at White Stallion Ranch in Tuscon, Ariz., guests get to watch a real, traditional rodeo in action! As a tradition for almost 50 years, the wranglers and their families and friends come together in the White Stallion arena to compete in team roping, barrel racing and breakaway roping. Throughout the rodeo, narrators regale ranch guests with tales of the traditions behind the rodeo and the history of the West.
  1. Become a Sharp Shooter: Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Harrison, Idaho, provides guests with a one-of-a-kind shooting experience with its 3D archery stations. Participants are taken on a hike through a trail in the woods to the course with life-size targets. These targets vary from life-size turkeys and elk to the occasional mountain lion, simulating a real hunting expedition.
  1. Experience an Adventure Pack Trip: Rich’s Montana Guest Ranch in Seeley Lake, Mont., offers pack trips in the crown jewel of America’s wilderness system. These pack trips, which range from five to 10 days, take place in the 1.5 million acre Bob Marshall wilderness full of valleys, lakes, streams and mountains. Adventurers are on horseback and move camp every other day, with the non-riding days filled with fishing and exploring.
  1. Participate in Rodeo Games: One of the most unique and authentic activities at Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch in Quincy, Calif., is their Guest Rodeo Games. After a hearty Hamburger Cookout, guests meet at the corral for an afternoon of fun with the wranglers. The famous Greenhorn Games are for everyone in the family and feature barrel racing, pole-bending, keyhole competitions and even an egg race!

For more information or help in choosing the perfect ranch for you and your family please contact us at 307-587-2339 of shoot us an e-mail at info@duderanch.org.


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

Dude Ranches: Activities and Programs for Millennials

Millennials are the world traveling generation; they crave excitement and unique experiences that cannot be satisfied with just any vacation. According to a recent study done by MMGY Global, millennials travel more often than any other generational group. With an influence forecasted to grow even more over the coming decades, millennials are looking for destinations that provide them with one-of-a-kind, authentic activities along with “green” and sustainable travel experiences.

With the DRA representing more than 100 dude and guest ranches that offer an abundance of unique activities to satisfy any millennial’s adventurous spirit, we think we are the perfect fit for them. From sunup to sundown, millennials can go horseback riding, fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, cattle roping, ATV riding and much more.

A dude ranch is an all-inclusive, one-stop shop with a variety of offerings that cater to the millennial set, from accommodations and scenery to lessons and excursions. Additionally, DRA-accredited guest ranches have been the pioneers of green living and sustainable vacations for decades. From growing organic food and using energy-efficient appliances to making their own biodegradable fuel, dude ranches offer guests the ability to enjoy travel while reducing their “footprint.”

Below please find a sampling of unique programs and experiences available at DRA member ranches that appeal to millennials.

Dude Ranches: Activities and Programs for Millennials

• Many DRA-accredited dude ranches like Rainbow Trout Ranch and the Bar W Ranch have whitewaterrafting expeditions for guests to enjoy. Experience whitewater rafting dude ranch-style at the Bar W Ranch in Montana or at Rainbow Trout Ranch in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and challenge yourself to an adventure through the wild rapids. Take in the scenic backdrops of the beautiful Rockies or rolling ridges that adorn the Montana countryside while working together as a team.

Horseshoe Canyon activities Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is offered at multiple dude ranches like Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, Arkansas. Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is known in the climbing community for some of the finest sandstone sport climbing in the world. Come experience it for yourself as you scale large cliffs and peer over the breathtaking terrain.

• Celebrating farm-to-table cuisine is an important part of Smith Fork Ranch in Crawford, Colo. The ranch’s own farmstead garden cultivates over 80 varieties of herbs, fruits and vegetables without the use of synthetic fertilizers or chemicals. Additionally, with access to 1.3 million acres of the Gunnison National Forest and West Elk Wilderness, the ranch has a nearly unlimited and untouched outdoor kingdom right outside its doorstep.

• Situated in the heart of the Salmon River Mountains in Stanley, Idaho, Diamond D Ranch is completely off the power grid as electricity is provided by the ranch’s very own hydro-electric generator. The ranch features an endless variety of country and wildlife to see, streams to fish, and mountains to hike or horseback ride.

• Dude ranches like Gros Ventre River Ranch and the Home Ranch offer diverse horseback riding programs. At Gros Venre River Ranch, choose between a scenic walking ride or a challenging excursion into the surrounding hills. For a different take on horseback riding, visit The Home Ranch in Clark, Colo., for a unique luxurious week of health, wellness and relaxation with its “Experience Yoga and Horses Retreat” that takes place during exclusive weeks in late May and October.

 

Dude Ranches: Activities and Programs for Millenials

With the DRA representing more than 100 dude and guest ranches that offer an abundance of unique activities to satisfy any millennial’s adventurous spirit, we think dude ranches are the perfect fit for them. From sunup to sundown, millennials can go horseback riding, fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, cattle roping, ATV riding and much more.

Family Bonding – Dude Ranch Style

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

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

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

 

Family Wagon Ride at Rainbow Trout Ranch Colorado

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

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

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

Drowsy Water Family Dude Ranch

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

Colorado Trails Family Dude Ranch Vacation

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

The Dude Ranchers' Association - Search for family bonding

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

 

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

5 Ranch Activities to Connect with Your Family

Drowsy Water Zipline

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

Colorado Trails

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

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

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

Lost Creek

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

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


 

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Review our privacy policy for more information.