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

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

Take a Colorado Vacation

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

Colorado Vacation

Cherokee Park Ranch - Livermore, CO 

Colorado Trails Ranch

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

Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch

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

Laramie River Ranch

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

Colorado Vacation

Laramie River Ranch - Jelm, CO 

Badger Creek Ranch

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

Black Mountain Ranch

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

The High Lonesome Ranch

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

Colorado Vacation

The High Lonesome Ranch - DeBeque, CO

Zapata Ranch

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

4UR Ranch

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

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch

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

Colorado Vacation

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch - Red Feather Lakes, CO 

Drowsy Water Ranch

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

Tumbling River Ranch

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

Vista Verde Ranch

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

Colorado Vacation

Vista Verde Ranch - Steamboat Springs, CO 

Cherokee Park Ranch

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

The Majestic Dude Ranch 

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

Wind River Christian Dude Ranch

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

Colorado Vacation

Wind River Christian Dude Ranch - Estes Park, CO

Elk Mountain Ranch

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

Smith Fork Ranch

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

Lost Valley Ranch

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

Colorado Vacation

Lost Valley Ranch - Sedalia, CO 

C Lazy U Ranch 

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

The Home Ranch

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

Latigo Ranch

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

Colorado Vacation

Latigo Ranch - Kremmling, CO 

Rainbow Trout Ranch

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

The Broadmoor's Ranch at Emerald Valley

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

Rawah Ranch

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

Colorado Vacation

Rawah Ranch - Glendevey, CO

Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch

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

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

How to Choose the Right Dude Ranch for Your Family Vacation


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



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


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


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



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

 

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

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

 



Why a Dude Ranch?

 

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

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

Black Mountain Ranch Cattle Drive



What Type of Dude Ranch Fits Your Family Vacation?

 

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

There are three general categories of ranches:

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


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

 

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

 

How Many Guests at the Dude Ranch?


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

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

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

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



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

 

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

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


When to Book your Dude Ranch Vacation?

 

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

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



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

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

 
Vista Verde Ranch Sleigh Ride



Accommodations at a Dude Ranch



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

 


How are the Vittles?

 

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

 

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

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



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

 

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

 McGinnis Meadows Cattle Drive

 

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

 

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

Hiking at Paradise Guest Ranch

 

Beyond Riding

 

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

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


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

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


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

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

 

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4 Honeymoon Trends at a Ranch Vacation

Get inspired for your honeymoon with a ranch vacation experience you won't soon forget. Think outside the sand box of a beach destination and go for adventure recreation at a honeymoon paradise. These DRA accredited ranch vacations will exceed your expectations and make many opportunities to creatively start your journey together.

Rawah Ranch Romance for your Honeymoon Ranch Vacation

9:00 AM to 6 PM Spa Treatment The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort is a 10,000-acre, working cattle ranch and full-service resort in Solvang, California. Alisal offers 73  cottages with wood burning fireplaces and a host of outdoor activities. Honeymoon ranch activities include two golf courses, horseback riding, six tennis courts, 100-acre private lake for fishing and boating, extensive children's activities, barn yard activities, and an outdoor high and low ropes course with a rock climbing wall for team building. Before, after, or instead of these robust activities, the Alisal Spa is open from 9 - 6 daily and offers body treatments, massages, facials and spa waxes.

Private Guided Trail Ride with a Picnic for Two Light the fuse at Rawah Ranch in Glendevey, Colorado. The ranch will take care of everything you need - classic ranch activities, live entertainment, luxurious accommodations, fine dining, and the privacy and awe-inspiring surroundings your romance deserves. All you have to do is show up with the one you love. Your all-inclusive romantic getaway includes champagne and roses in your cabin upon arrival, a private guided trail ride with a romantic picnic for two and a private massage for each partner. This, plus everything else Rawah Ranch has to offer: The best fly fishing in Colorado on private waters, hiking, biking, trail running, communing with nature, cowboy fun, live Western entertainment, ranch games, line-dancing, skeet shooting and more.

(Optional) Dusk 'til Dawn Recreation On any given day at Cherokee Park Ranch, in Livermore, Colo. you can do as much or as little as you would like on your honeymoon. You get to build your own vacation and set the tone for each day of your trip. You can relax, immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery, and just enjoy each other and the beautiful Colorado weather. Or, you can choose to participate in the unlimited activity options CPR offers. Activities can keep you entertained from dusk ’til dawn, including horseback riding, fly fishing, going on a hayride, square dancing, hiking, biking, swimming, whitewater river rafting, tubing the river, skeet shooting, taking an art class, getting a massage, and more – the list goes on!

Cave Exploration & Museum For that out of the box honeymoon, the Blacktail Ranch is rich in archeological sites including an extensive cave system dating back to the last Ice Age, a Sun Wheel, a Medicine Wheel and numerous tipi rings from the more recent Native Americans. As part of your honeymoon stay at the Blacktail Ranch, there will be fantastic Montana cave tours along with visits to other historic sites. You’ll also enjoy an on-site museum which houses artifacts from the cave and early pioneering days. In 1946 the ranch owner, Tag Rittel was a youngster and discovered one of the most amazing archeological finds in North America, a cave whose inhabitants date back to the Ice Age, maybe earlier. Tag has spent his lifetime exploring and mapping the cave and it’s 5 miles of passageways. Over the years he discovered lots of bones and some stone artifacts, and when he opened the ranch to dude ranch vacationers, he started taking them on tours of the cave wonders.  

Get inspired for your honeymoon with a ranch vacation experience you won't soon forget. Think outside the sand box of a beach destination and go for adventure recreation at a honeymoon paradise. These DRA accredited ranch vacations will exceed your expectations and make many opportunities to creatively start your journey together.

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Book before January!

As families get together for the holidays and consider past celebrations, vacations and shared moments, the conversations often move to the topic of “Where are we going to book our next family holiday destination?” The Thanksgiving through New Years holiday season is a busy time of vacation inquiries for dude and guest ranches. That being said, most small venue dude ranches have a guest capacity under 50 persons. An extended family group that incorporates 2-4 family units might mean that an inquiring party is looking at reserving greater than half of the ranch capacity. This means that you must select a date that has minimal prior reservations in order to book for your family group size. To book last minute at these smaller venue vacation destinations is extremely difficult, since the prime dates often fill-up a year in advance. If you are considering a dude ranch or guest ranch vacation, and you hope to travel during the months of June, July, or August, then firming up your travel plans by the prior January is not too early. In fact, many of the prime weeks will already be filled by January. Small venue size, loyal returning clients, restrictive travel dates, and competing advance planners all add-up to a call to action for prospective dude ranch vacationers. Don’t Wait! Choose your ideal ranch, and make the call now, before you are disappointed by having your only available travel date blocked-out with a filled to capacity ranch. Below are some great ranches you might choose from. By Doug Cole, Marble Mountain Ranch


Book a Stay with Rawah Ranch

Colorado high country To the mountain tribe of Ute Indians, “Rawah” was the word meant for “abundance.” Nestled at 8,400 feet, just south of the Wyoming border neighboring the snow capped peaks of the rugged Rawah Wilderness, Rawah Ranch and Fly Fishing Lodge occupies a magical setting in the still undiscovered Big Laramie River valley.


  Book a Stay at Elk River Guest Ranch

The Elk River Valley, within the historic ranch lands of Steamboat Springs, Colorado Bordered by the 2.2 million acre Medicine Bow - Routt National Forest (clear up into Wyoming) and offering 2,000 feet of private river frontage, the Elk River Guest Ranch offers a unique blend of outdoor activities, town proximity, and mountain solitude.


  Book a Stay at Deep Canyon Ranch

The foothills of the Rocky Mountains Nestled in the Teton Canyon, our 1,200 acre ranch offers a diversity of riding experiences. From the foothills of the Rocky Mountain Front to the canyons entering the Bob Marshall Wilderness, you can enjoy the magnificence of nature at it's best at the Deep Canyon Ranch. A capable and experienced staff, with room for 20 guests, and owner operated, we have made this our home and business since 1958. Enjoy your free time in our spacious lodge or dining room with-a-view, or in your comfortable, modern cabin with it's porch overlooking the valley.


Book a Stay at the Sweet Grass Cattle Ranch

Sixth generation, family-owned cattle operation and guest ranch With miles of Sweet Grass Creek winding through the ranch, alpine forests, pristine lakes, and rolling foothills dotted with vibrant wildflowers, Sweet Grass Ranch offers spectacularly diverse terrain beckoning to be explored.  Our family welcomes guests to join us for exceptional horseback adventures, authentic cattle work, and to experience the area’s abundant recreation opportunities; including hiking, plentiful wildlife viewing, and lake, stream or pond fishing.


 

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