The Best of Late Autumn and Early Winter Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

Come late autumn, most the Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches (Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming) close for the season come September’s end and the last of the fall foliage. However, there are a select few ranches in each state that allow for shorter stays during some of the most magical and quieter times of the year. If you’ve ever been on the fence about a dude ranch stay, make the off-season the in-season for a dude ranch experience, and get on that horse!

Colorado has the most abundant offerings for curious folk to explore Western lure in the late season. 

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

C Lazy U Ranch, easily accessible in Granby, can even be combined with a train trip from Denver’s Union Station via the airport; guests don’t even need a car! The 8,500-acre luxury ranch celebrated their centennial this past summer and the party continues late into the year. The year-round ranch offers horseback riding, snow sports, incredible meals and cabins and suites along with a hot tub, workout facility, stunning barn and main lodge with much more.

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

Located within minutes of downtown Loveland is the family-owned-and-operated Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch. Come late October and into the holiday season, there are nearby bike trails with fall foliage packages and more festivities for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years' with short stays, themed weekends and incredible outdoor sports.

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch in Red Feather Lakes can accommodate 24 guests, and it is this boutique nature that makes the off-season even more enjoyable. The ranch is run more like a B&B and add-on activities include a horseback ride to a lake (in warm seasons, horses even swim in the water), murder mystery weekends and other clever twists on classic dude ranch style. A hot tub, gathering area, and good home-cooked food and limitless cookies await visitors.

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

Lost Valley Ranch, one of the easiest ranches to access from the metro Denver area, is open through December 1st each year and offers a great value for anyone looking to fall in love with the dude ranch culture. There is a Thanksgiving celebration week that is always a big draw, and smaller horsemanship clinics throughout the fall that allow the novices to expert riders the opportunity to build skills and confidence. 

There are so many more in Colorado! It’s truly the optimal time to test the experience. Wind River Christian Ranch near Estes Park and luxury properties like The Home Ranch and Vista Verde Ranch near Steamboat Springs typically operate into the second and third weeks in October, weather dependent; however, snag an incredible rate for next autumn now, if tempted. And, one of Colorado’s most high-end ranches, The Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley, a branch of Broadmoor Hotel, runs a season into early November, again, weather dependent. 

 

Montana has one of the largest collections of massive, stunning and rare properties in the ranch portfolio. However, due to elevation and weather conditions, their season limits late autumn and winter seasons to four of their ranches.

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

Bar W Guest Ranch in Whitefish, runs a year-round dude ranch season. The 3,200-foot elevation makes it a bit milder then high mountain terrain and the guest capacity at 35 keeps it intimate and eventful. Winter comes early and the ranch is ready! There are B&B stays November through April in six main lodge rooms and two cabin suites. Activities might include horse-drawn sleigh rides, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, ice fishing and more including an onsite hot tub.

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

Rocking Z Guest Ranch in Wolf Creek might have a smaller guest count of 20, but it’s almighty in terms of autumn and winter activity. If there’s a Montana sport, the ranch certainly tries to offer guests an opportunity to experience it throughout guided instruction. From horsemanship to archery, shooting, hiking, fishing, soaking in the hot tub, and abundant winter options, the ranch is always a choice spot come quieter times in November. The large, comfortable guest rooms are equipped with cozy individual fireplaces and the onsite saloon is always roaring with spirits and festive activity. 

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

For those who are curious about hunting and the true Montana wilderness, Upper Canyon Outfitters and Guest Ranch in Alder has the smallest guest count on this list of 18, but their June through December season runs into late autumn and early winter for those truly in the know of intimate and unparalleled places in the United States! There are both youth and family hunts that are a true rarity, the fishing program runs daily, and horsemanship clinics and trail rides paired with luxury accommodations in private cabins keep the experience high end. The food will keep your belly warm and happy and the antelope, moose, deer and elk hunts and viewings, simply spectacular. 

 

Note; Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Emigrant typically runs into the second week of October for early planners in 2020. Rich's Montana Guest Ranch in Seeley Lake opens for the winter season directly after Christmas for early winter scouts as well! 

 

Wild Wyoming goes winter white quite quickly! Only two ranches keep their barn doors open to the herds come the later months each year. This is an opportune time to witness true working ranches, horsemanship and iconic Western moments. 

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

In the sleepy town of Ten Sleep, is the 26-guest dude ranch, Red Reflet Guest Ranch. The exquisite, high-end, all-inclusive operation has an enormous amount to offer come late October through December, and they also host a hunting season for tagged and licensed hunters for a variety of mammals. Horseback riding, cattle activities, ATV tours (weather permitting), fishing, a fitness center, pool, open kitchen policy accompanied with gourmet cuisine and yoga in a floor-to-ceiling windowed studio make this ranch a standout year-round. For some of the best wildlife viewing and tranquility, late October through Thanksgiving proves to be the best value and experience for those who like secret, sneak-a-way deals! 

 

Rocky Mountain Dude Ranches

The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch. The name alone is alluring and the late autumn and early winter experience will demonstrate the reason it’s called The Hideout, you won’t want to leave. There is a tight window for this opportunity; the ranch’s season typically ends the first week in November, weather dependent. Guests might have sun and blue sky, or snow and snuggle time. There is trail riding for all levels, riding initiations and lessons, cattle work and drives, stockmanship orientation, guided fly-fishing, trap shooting, and archery, hiking, mountain biking and more! Accommodations vary including cabins, casitas, and homes. Fine dining is offered for three meals and plenty of snacks to satisfy the late-season activity. 

 

If you’re a bit more flexible with the season, there are a few more ranches to consider. Spotted Horse Ranch in popular and easily-accessible Jackson, typically operates until the second week of October. Triangle X Ranch in Moose closes the first week in October for their main season but re-opens directly after Christmas until the second week of March for a winter season.

 

All of these dude ranches and many more are members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association and can be found at www.duderanch.org. Contact Bryce or Josie at 307-587-2339 or info@duderanch.org for help on finding and picking the perfect ranch. 

Off-Season Secrets to the

Enjoy the Best of Dude Ranches in Winter

Even if it’s cold outside, you still have plenty of reasons to chose spending your vacation or weekend getaway at one of the best dude ranches. What can you do during winter at a ranch? Well, you won’t believe just how many amazing options are offered by dude ranches. They are prepared to receive guests throughout the year and offer them more than just outstanding accommodation options. So, even if temperatures are low, you can still enjoy an unforgettable vacation.

Vista-Verde-Skiing-dude ranches

Vista Verde Ranch - Colorado

Interested in finding out what the dude ranches have to offer? You will be surprised to see that you’ll have a varied offer of options when it comes to entertainment and exciting activities. Of course, the activities will depend based on the dude ranch you will choose. So, it is worth checking the offer of several dude ranches, making sure that your final offer will give you precisely the kind of vacation you are looking to enjoy. But, most of them offer the advantages listed below.

Exciting winter sports

Dude ranches are the ideal venues for winter sports enthusiasts, as they offer a wide range of outdoor activities that allow you to enjoy both the gorgeous winter scenery and powdery snow. Whether you like skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing, everything can be enjoyed at dude ranches. You can even opt for horseback riding and admire the landscape in a more relaxed and pleasant manner.

Lone-Mountain-Ski-and-Horse-Snow dude ranches

Lone Mountain Ranch - Montana

Off-season deals

By simply choosing to enjoy your vacation after the winter holidays ended, you will end up saving a lot on your vacation. So, once you chose your preferred ranch and would like to book a vacation, make sure to ask for special offers first. You may find out when it’s the best time to visit in order to enjoy outstanding prices.

Warm rooms waiting for you

After spending hours outside, enjoying all kinds of fun activities, most certainly you will want to return to a place where it’s warm and comfortable. All the rooms and cabins offered by dude ranches are made to offer the highest degree of coziness. So, get ready to enjoy a warm fire and a cup of hot chocolate after your outdoor adventures.

Vee-Bar-Winter-Snow-Cabin dude ranches

Vee Bar Guest Ranch - Wyoming

Your vacation will be calmer and more relaxing

The best part about taking a winter vacation, especially during the off-season, is the low number of visitors. In other words, the ranches will be quieter and you’ll have the chance to enjoy a truly relaxing vacation in the absence of crowds of visitors.

 

Which dude ranches are best to visit during winter? If you need help in making your selection, it is then worth taking a look at the ranches listed below. Any dude ranch you will choose, most certainly you will not be disappointed.

Wyoming Dude Ranches

For ski enthusiasts, the Vee Bar Guest Ranch in Wyoming is one of the best choices you can make. The ranch offers both exceptional lodging and the possibility to enjoy skiing in the Snowy Range Ski Area. Accommodation includes homemade breakfasts every morning and outdoor hot tubs for soothing your body after skiing. Even if you don’t ski, you can still come here and enjoy the games and entertainment offered by the John Wayne Saloon.

Vee-Bar-Winter dude ranches

Vee Bar Guest Ranch - Wyoming

Idaho Dude Ranches

The Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, located in Idaho, is great for those that wish to enjoy winter sports in a spectacular background. Once you’re done skiing or snowboarding for the day, a fire-warmed cabin is waiting for your return. Of course, you can also enjoy snowmobiling, a romantic stroll in a sled pulled by horses, cross-country skiing, biking with a fat-tire bicycle, and spa services. It is entirely up to you how you decide to spend your day.

Western-Pleasure-Sleigh-Ride-Snow-2 dude ranches

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch - Idaho

Colorado Dude Ranches

There are so many things you can enjoy at the Vista Verde Guest Ranch in Colorado that it is impossible not to enjoy a gorgeous winter vacation over here. From winter and outdoor activities for the most adventurous to yoga, massages, and cooking classes for those that want to spend more time indoors. There are even special activities for children, so families are more than welcome to the ranch, as there’s something to do for each member of the family.

Another great ranch in Colorado is the Latigo Ranch. If you come here, you will be able to enjoy cross-country skiing on trails that were perfectly groomed and prepared for you. Fat-biking is another outdoor activity available here. The thing is that there’s something to be enjoyed by the entire family. There is snow tubing and sledding for the young ones, and snowshoeing and hot tubs for the grown-ups, or indoor games for everyone.

Latigo-Ranch-Skiing dude ranches

Latigo Ranch - Colorado

Montana Dude Ranches

The Lone Mountain Ranch in Montana received the Unique Lodges in the World distinction from National Geographic. This is due to its gorgeous position in the proximity of the Montana Rockies. During winter, you can ski here or even enjoy fly-fishing, an activity that is available at the ranch throughout the year. Horseback riding, sleds pulled by horses, country-cross skiing, and warm cabins are additional advantages of visiting this particular ranch.

There is another ranch in Montana that is worth taking into account. Rich’s Montana Guest Ranch also offers a wide range of opportunities during winter, besides excellent accommodation at a cozy ranch. Snowmobiling, trekking on gorgeous trails, and the possibility to spot the wildlife are among the things you can enjoy at this ranch.

Rich-Ranch-under-a-winter-blanket-of-snow dude ranches

Rich's Montana Guest Ranch - Montana

As a conclusion, it is worth mentioning that the members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association enjoy the support of an entire community revolving about hospitality provided by genuine ranches. So, if you want high-quality services, you can be sure that you’ll find it at a ranch that is a member of this association. The association keeps its members informed about the latest trends and requirements in the industry so that the guests of these ranches will enjoy the best there is. A vacation at any of the dude ranches available in the US will definitely turn into an exciting and unforgettable experience. Try it once and most certainly you will want to return.

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Even if it’s cold outside, you still have plenty of reasons to chose spending your vacation or weekend getaway at one of the best dude ranches in the West!

 

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Bob Marshall Wilderness Adventures

The Bob Marshall Wilderness, named after Bob Marshall himself, is located in western Montana as the fifth-largest wilderness in the lower 48 states. It extends for 60 miles along the Continental Divide and consists of over 1 million acres and remains road-less, with the only permanent structures being some old ranger stations and horse bridges. You might see some of these structures while riding out with the JJJ Wilderness Ranch or the Rich's Montana Guest Ranch. Sounds like a great location for your next horseback riding vacation, right? Wait, there's more. You'll have a chance to ride to a long escarpment famously known as the Chinese Wall, averaging 1,000 feet high from its base and extends for 22 miles.  Take a look at these two unique pack trip experience to immerse yourself in Bob Marshall Wilderness Adventures.

JJJ Wilderness Ranch offers Bob Marshall Wilderness Adventures

JJJ Wilderness Ranch in the Bob Marshall Wilderness

Each pack trip is unique ranging from base camp oriented to trips that traverse the wilderness over the Continental Divide. You’ll travel across wilderness trails on sure-footed saddle horses that are mountain savvy and a joy to ride. A trusty string of pack-mules carries all the gear so you can rough it in comfort. The Triple J crew, wrangler, packer, guide and camp cook, will provide a comfortable, complete camp. These limited trips average 8 guests to ensure a high level of personal service.

Trips can be tailored for individual groups and interests. During your Montana riding vacation the rugged landscape unfolds before you, revealing elk, mule deer and whitetail, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, eagles, moose and black bear. You'll have plenty of opportunities to fly fish the natural streams and lakes for native Cutthroats and Rainbow trout... it's a fisherman's paradise. Book a trip into the awesome beauty of remote wilderness. Layover days offer options of riding, hiking, fishing or relaxing around the campfire.

RIch Ranch offers Bob Marshall Wilderness Adventures

Rich’s Montana Guest Ranch in the Bob Marshall Wilderness

Rich Ranch offers progressive pack trips through this mountainous area that vary in length from 5 to 10 days. You ride horseback and all camp gear is packed on mules. Generally, camp moves every other day and lay over on the days in between to ride, fish, explore, relax, and enjoy camp life. You will stay in teepee tents with covered floors and screened doors. Hearty meals are prepared and served under the kitchen fly fisher's paradise.

Enjoy world-class fishing for native cutthroat on the South Fork Flathead River and it’s tributaries! Alpine lakes, glacial streams, and the main rivers offer a wide opportunity for novice and expert alike. With an abundance of trout lying in wait in the cold, clear waters, you can book a trip to a fly fisherman’s paradise.


 

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