6 Misconceptions about Dude Ranch Vacations

Thought you knew everything there was to know about dude ranch vacations? Maybe you were right, maybe you were wrong—go ahead, see what you know!

1. We are going to eat pork and beans…from a can...over the campfire.

Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about a dude ranch vacation is the food! I suppose this stems from watching old western flicks and observing what cowboys eat. Many ranches actually source local ingredients (some have on-site greenhouses) and create culinary masterpieces. Some ranches feature wood-fired pizzas and craft cocktails such as prickly pear margaritas, while others offer wine tastings and fine dining experiences. You can select a ranch solely based on your appetite!

Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, allergies? No problem, with enough notice, ranch chefs are delighted to cater to special dietary needs.

dude ranch vacationsdude ranch vacations

Lost Valley Ranch - Sedalia, CO                                          Elk Mountain Ranch - Buena Vista, CO

2. We only ride horses.

Horses are a major part of the dude ranch experience as they relate to the tradition of dude ranches. Beyond horseback riding, there are several other experiences to enjoy. Nature lovers will relish in hiking, bird-watching and nature walks. Adrenaline junkies will love the mountain biking and whitewater rafting. Other activities for folks seeking something in-between include fly fishing, archery, and even cooking classes. Most all-inclusive stays at a dude ranch include any and all activities. See the complete list of activities here!

dude ranch vacations

Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch - Winston, NM

3. We’re going to sleep on hay, right?

While some ranches may be considered more luxurious than others, all sleeping quarters are quiet, cozy and comfortable. Rustic and historic accents fill the rooms, from old poster beds to antique quilts.

dude ranch vacations

Smith Fork Ranch - Crawford, CO

4. Dude ranch vacations are only available in the summertime.

Some dude ranches close for the winter, but many are still open! When snow blankets the Rocky Mountains, the dude ranches simply shift their focus. Activities during your stay might feature snowmobiling, skiing and snowshoeing, with a long soak in the hot tub at the end of your day. If you still fancy a traditional dude ranch experience, escape the cold and fly south to a ranch in Arizona! Ride through saguaro cactus country, and soak up the neon sunsets in the evening.

dude ranch vacations

dude ranch vacations

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kay El Bar Guest Ranch - Wickenburg, AZ                                        Bar W Ranch - Whitefish, MT

 

5. It’s just so expensive.

For the most part, you’ll find that the all-inclusive rate at the dude ranches covers a full day of activities, food, and lodging. When you compare the rate for a stay at a dude ranch versus another family vacation, you will likely find that it’s actually cheaper! Plus, you won’t have to obsess over different places to stay, where to eat, what to do, and getting around. At a dude ranch you pay one rate, show up and simply enjoy time together with your family.

dude ranch vacations

Goosewing Ranch - Jackson, WY

6. There are too many kids.

Dude ranches make for an excellent family vacation—no doubt! There’s something there for everyone to enjoy. For some though, having a vacation means leaving the kids at home. Many of the ranches offer kid-free weeks, perfect for romantic getaways, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and maybe even corporate retreats. With or without children, you will find peace and tranquility during your dude ranch vacation.

dude ranch vacations

CM Ranch - Dubois, WY

This article was created in partnership with Visit USA Parks.

 

6 Misconceptions about Dude Ranch Vacations

 

Thought you knew everything there was to know about dude ranch vacations? Maybe you were right, maybe you were wrong—go ahead, see what you know!

 

 

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Luxury Dude Ranches for your Next Vacation

Are you looking for a fun and entertaining vacation for your family, but also want a relaxing and rejuvenating getaway at the same time? Luxury dude ranches are the vacation you have been searching for! Luxury dude ranches offer a great atmosphere of entertainment and relaxation all at the same time. You can go out for a horseback ride through beautiful landscapes and scenery in the morning, enjoy a wonderful afternoon at the spa or retreat peacefully to your room to read a book. It really is all up to you!

But what will the kids do you may ask? Most luxury dude ranches have a great kid’s program where the kids can interact with other children their age and make memories to last a lifetime. There is no doubt that the kids will talk about this vacation for years to come and that large amounts of fun will be had! Most families that have vacationed at dude ranches agree that kids sleep well while on a ranch vacation, they wear themselves out with all of the excitement, activities and fun!  Whatever activities you are looking to mark off the list, these luxury dude ranches, members of the Dude Ranchers' Association, will fit the bill of a fantastic vacation for the whole family. 

Luxury Dude Ranches

 

Smith Fork Ranch - Colorado

Nestled in the valley of the West Elk Wilderness lies the Smith Fork Ranch, truly a hidden gem of Colorado. Smith Fork is a beautiful private luxury dude ranch that offers traditional western adventures, gracious hospitality, unique farm to table cuisine along with an award-winning wine list! If you are looking for a great family vacation and a highly rated luxurious, relaxing getaway you should definitely consider Smith Fork Ranch. Their farm to table cuisine program is like none other in the area and their spa is really fantastic. This ranch is rated at the top of many luxury dude ranch articles, so do not miss out on a wonderful ranch vacation at Smith Fork! 

luxury dude ranches

Smith Fork Ranch - Crawford, CO

Lost Valley Ranch - Colorado

An authentic Colorado dude ranch vacation with a little luxury mixed in waits for you at the Lost Valley Ranch. With an abundance of activities for the kids to enjoy, beautiful Rocky Mountain scenery on horseback rides and the option of an in-cabin massage after a fun-filled day, what else could you ask for in a dude ranch experience! Lost Valley is a very historic ranch with a special kind of charm, it holds qualities of a high-class resort, but also a family and kid friendly atmosphere. If you are searching for the perfect luxury dude ranch for a large family, take a look at Lost Valley Ranch. 

luxury dude ranches

Lost Valley Ranch - Sedalia, CO

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch - Montana

Located just 30 miles from Yellowstone National Park makes the Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Montana a prime luxury dude ranch destination for families and couples. There is literally something for everyone to do at Mountain Sky. Whether you are an avid horseback rider, enjoy fly-fishing or hiking, want to play a round of golf at the on-site golf course or spend an incredible day in the ranch’s world-renowned spa, you will not be bored on this vacation! The kids will not be bored either, Mountain Sky has a truly unique and impressive kids’ program that is suitable for all ages. There will not be a thing you have to worry about while on this luxury dude ranch vacation; book the trip, pack your bags and prepare yourself for a vacation filled with excitement, relaxation and memories no one will soon forget! 

luxury dude ranches

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch - Emigrant, MT

The Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley - Colorado

You may not get much more luxurious than the Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley. Just a short ride up the mountain from the Broadmoor sits the beautiful Ranch at Emerald Valley, a distinct western experience. This ranch is definitely in the high-end rustic retreat category. So, if you are in search of an extremely highly-rated luxury dude ranch for a romantic getaway or family vacation, don’t overlook this ranch. Here you can experience a variety of high-class activities along with a full-service spa. Your vacation to the Ranch at Emerald Valley will be the perfect mix of western charm and a fine resort. Tons of activities and great memories await you and your chosen travel partners at the Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley.

luxury dude ranches

The Broadmoor's Ranch at Emerald Valley - Colorado Springs, CO

Lone Mountain Ranch - Montana

Lone Mountain Ranch is big enough for any family reunion and will appeal to all families, traditional or luxury! It is also the perfect romantic getaway for couples too.  With high quality luxurious food options, beautiful western furnished cabins and activities for every guest, big or small, Lone Mountain has it all. Relax in your cabin or on the porch listening to the sounds of nature and the stream that flows right through the ranch. Maybe you would like to go for a long refreshing hike into the incredible surrounding Gallatin Mountains, take a horseback ride to the mountain tops and gaze over the stunning Gallatin canyon, or maybe you would like to sit and watch the kids laugh and play on the big front lawn. Whatever your definition of relaxation and rejuvenation may be, the luxury of Lone Mountain Ranch will help you escape reality and help you to truly enjoy your vacation and time away.

luxury dude ranches

Lone Mountain Ranch - Big Sky, MT

The High Lonesome Ranch - Colorado

A high-class dude ranch that offers many activities including working cattle; luxury mixed with a true western cowboy experience can be found at the High Lonesome Ranch in Colorado. With an upscale rustic charm, the High Lonesome provides a unique atmosphere perfect for both families and couples with their accommodations, exquisite food provided by a local farm-to-table program and many different activities, including cattle drives. Spa services are available on the ranch for those who are looking to reach full relaxation. Yoga and a swimming pool are also available so you can get a workout too! High in the mountains of Colorado lies this little slice of serenity. No matter the type of vacation you are looking for, you will not want to miss out on the High Lonesome Ranch. 

luxury dude ranches

The High Lonesome Ranch - DeBeque, CO

A Bar A Ranch - Wyoming

Experience a piece of history and luxury at the A Bar A Ranch in Wyoming! This ranch has been in operation since 1926 and is nearly 100,000 acres in size, all of these acres are available for you to explore and enjoy! With incredible cuisine, beautiful cabins and guest houses and so many activities for you to experience, you may have a hard time picking which ones to participate in. A Bar A is the perfect family vacation, the kids will have several ways to burn off that stored up energy, and mom and dad can kick back and relax. Play a round of golf, check out what the spa has to offer or lounge by the pool and hot tub. The amount of ways to relish in your vacation are endless at A Bar A. This Wyoming luxury dude ranch may just check all of the boxes on your wish list for the perfect vacation! 

luxury dude ranches

A Bar A Ranch - Encampment, WY

4UR Ranch - Colorado

Can you imagine a place more luxurious than a vacation with a natural hot spring right on location? The 4UR Ranch in Colorado is home to two historical natural hot springs that supply the warm water for their hot tub  and other pools. These natural wonders were first discovered by Ute tribe and the ranch was constructed around them to make sure no damage was made and to preserve history. The healing waters provide serene relaxation and many people believe they are a natural healer. The 4UR has much more to offer than just their top-notch spa, they have horseback rides, incredible cuisine for all ages, great fly-fishing, hiking, mountain biking and much more! So, while mom and dad relax by the water, the kids will be entertained all day! Make it a wonderful family vacation and have luxury meet you at the door at the 4UR Ranch. 

luxury dude ranches

4UR Ranch - Creede, CO

The Home Ranch - Colorado 

Colorado’s only Relais & Chateaux affiliated luxury dude ranch awaits you! The Home Ranch is nestled at the end of the valley where the Elk River flows from the Sawtooth Mountain Range. This is the perfect destination for your family to enjoy time together and to unwind from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Relax by the ranch’s outdoor heated pool, read a book, work on your tan or take in the clean mountain air. The kids will have plenty to keep them busy while being involved in the children’s program and making new friends around the ranch. Of course, there will be time for you to connect as a family, but when you want to truly relax there is an activity for everyone. Do not worry about the food either, the chefs at the Home Ranch are phenomenal and will provide great meals for everyone. Experience a high-class luxury dude ranch vacation and a trip the kids will always remember at the Home Ranch! 

luxury dude ranches

The Home Ranch - Clark, CO

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Looking for a fun and entertaining vacation for your family, but want a relaxing and rejuvenating getaway too? Luxury dude ranches are the vacation you have been searching for!

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.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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Experience Luxury the Wild West Way!

When most people envision a dude ranch, they picture hard work, cattle and rustic cabins. But many dude ranches actually offer plush amenities, top-of-the-line spas, world-class golf courses, five-star cuisine and more. If you’re seeking to experience a luxury dude ranch in a breathtaking setting, check out these four member ranches where you can have it all.

Red Reflet Guest Ranch, Wyoming Red Reflet Guest Ranch identifies itself as “a ranch for the senses,” and there’s no question why. The staff has mastered the art of luxury hospitality while showcasing the best recreational activities and most breathtaking scenery in Wyoming. The location of this dude ranch truly is unlike any other – guests wake up in their own luxury cabins surrounded by the Chugwater formation sandstone cliffs and contrasting snow-capped peaks of Bighorn National Forest. Whether you’re looking to relax or go on the Wild West adventure of a lifetime, Red Reflet will far exceed your expectations. Horseback riding lessons with an expert horse trainer are included in your all-inclusive stay, as well as cattle activities, ATV tours, fishing, hiking and more. Of course, no luxury trip is complete without scenic yoga, so you can find your Zen while gazing at a mountain range that looks like it’s straight out of a painting. Oh, and don’t forget the cuisine – Red Reflet’s dining is top-of-the-line, using almost all ranch-grown and raised ingredients. You can even cook your own dinner with the resident chef in a group cooking class!

 

Experience Luxury Dude Ranch at Mountain Sky Ranch

Experience Luxury & Romance at Mountain Sky Ranch

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, Montana Mountain Sky Guest Ranch opened in 1929 and has since been recognized multiple times as one of the nation’s top upscale guest ranches thanks to its luxurious amenities, exquisite dining and stunning views. For guests seeking an outdoor adventure, the ranch offers all levels of horseback riding on its 10,000 acres of beautiful terrain, in addition to endless outdoor activities like hiking, fly-fishing, and a world-class golf facility that features nine picturesque holes, Callaway golf clubs and electric carts. After these invigorating experiences, guests can take some time to unwind at Mountain Sky’s luxurious spa with a massage or treatment, or simply relax in the spa’s heated pool, sauna or outdoor hot tub. The ranch also offers yoga classes led by an expert instructor. The gourmet chefs at Mountain Sky will give you an unforgettable dining experience with buffet breakfasts, multi-course meals and snacks in the saloon. In case this wasn’t enough to make you immediately book a trip, you’ll be sold after learning that Mountain Sky is just a 30-minute scenic drive away from the world-famous Yellowstone National Park. Take a horseback tour of this national park with Mountain Sky, or bring the whole family on the van tour.

Smith Fork Ranch, Colorado Smith Fork Ranch in Crawford, Colo., offers rustic luxury at its finest. The ranch’s historic buildings have been restored with an eye for detail, and the rooms have been furnished with carefully curated American primitive antiques and original paintings. The Rocky Mountain ranges circle the luxurious cabins, making guests feel secluded and exclusive. Smith Fork Ranch offers all of the exciting activities you can experience at many dude ranches like horseback riding, fly fishing, biking and hiking, but what separates this ranch from others is the attention to detail on every aspect of the ranch. In the bedrooms, you’ll find fine linens and handmade soaps, and in the dining room you’ll find award-winning wines from the ranch’s private cellar and vintage wines from wineries in France, Italy, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. The expert chef uses fresh ingredients in all of his cooking and is ready to match the perfect wine with your gourmet meal. While you’re there, make sure to spend some time relaxing in the Smith Fork Ranch Spa. You won’t want to miss out on renewing facials, massages and more, all surrounded by the breathtaking Rocky Mountains.

The Home Ranch, Colorado The Home Ranch is located in Colorado’s stunning Elk River Valley. Since 1986, it has been affiliated with luxury travel brand Relais & Chateaux, and the ranch has since become a top luxury destination for travelers seeking a charming Western experience. This ranch is renowned for its comfort, exquisite cuisine, charming hospitality and multi-seasonal attractions. The main lodge and distinctive cabins are all beautifully furnished and ready to accommodate anyone from couples to large groups. The Home Ranch serves as a guest ranch in the summer and fall and a cross-country ski resort in the winter and spring, making it a luxurious escape for travelers throughout the year. Guests can enjoy classic dude ranch activities like horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking and more, but there’s always time to unwind with a yoga class or two at The Home Ranch’s rustic yoga studio. This guest ranch is also the perfect place to plan a family vacation. The Home Ranch has incredible all-inclusive children and teen programs that make it easy for parents to relax in luxury knowing that the entire family is having a ball.

 

When most people envision a dude ranch, they picture hard work, cattle and rustic cabins. But many dude ranches actually offer plush amenities, top-of-the-line spas, world-class golf courses, five-star cuisine and more. If you’re seeking to experience a luxury dude ranch in a breathtaking setting, check out these four member ranches where you can have it all. Save

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10 Awe-Inspiring Panoramas That Define Rustic Luxury

 Let’s face it: there are few places in the world as beautiful as Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. And there are few places better to enjoy the spectacular sights here than Smith Fork Ranch, where we’ve perfected the “rustic luxury” approach to an all inclusive guest ranch vacation. We could tell you what we mean by “rustic luxury” … but it’s probably easier to show you.

 

Smith Fork Ranch Panoramas That Define Rustic Luxury

Smith Fork Ranch — where the rainbow ends?

 

Smith Fork Ranch Panoramas

“Rustic Luxury” — historic buildings, lovingly restored with a painstaking eye for detail.

 

Smith Fork Panoramas That Define Rustic Luxury

Smith Fork Ranch’s equestrian program offers the perfect way to explore. Whether you’re an avid rider or a beginner, Smith Fork Ranch offers authentic horseback riding adventures for all skill levels, always with your maximum enjoyment and safety in mind.

 

Smith Fork Horse Panoramas That Define Rustic Luxury

Our guests love Smith Fork Ranch … and we’re pretty sure our herd does, too.

 

Smith Fork Ranch Luxury Panoramas

Not only is Smith Fork Ranch’s cuisine world-class (much of it locally sourced), but you get to enjoy it with views like these. And did we mention our extensive, Wine Spectator award-winning wine cellar?

 

Smith Fork Ranch Vacation Wine And Dine

A picnic is not just a picnic at Smith Fork Ranch.

 

Smith Fork Shooting Ranch

Smith Fork’s shooting range is a popular activity. But it’s hard to keep your eye on those clay pigeons with these views of the West Elk Mountains…

 

Smith Fork Ranch View

If you want to put a little more “rustic” in your “luxury,” Smith Fork Overnight Safaris are offered.

 

Smith Fork Ranch Fly Fishing Panorama of Rustic Luxury

Say hello to fly fishing paradise. Smith Fork Ranch is home to three private miles of the Smith Fork of the Gunnison River, six stocked trout ponds, and a mountain stream.

 

Smith Fork Ranch Camping Glamping all inclusive guest ranch vacation

Sunsets happen every night. But with colors like these, they never get old.

 


This blog was originally written and posted on www.smithforkranch.com. For some more great views of luxury ranches, take a look at the  Rancho de los Caballeros, Triangle X Ranch and CM Ranch. And give the Dude Ranchers' Association a call for your next ranch vacation. 307.587.2339



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6 Outstanding Summer Travel Destinations

"I'm gonna raise a fuss, I'm gonna raise a holler, 'bout working all summer, just trying earn a dollar..."

Summer Time Blues by Eddie Cochran isn't the only one who's " gonna take two weeks gonna have a fine vacation." 

If you are like me trying to figure out what to do on those two weeks of vacation that starts over in January, you are probably overwhelmed with so many summer travel destinations. Should I fly away to a distant country? Take a road trip from coast to coast? Find an all-inclusive adventure wonderland? I get dizzy spinning all the options around in my head... This coming year I choose to #optoutside on a ranch vacation, falling in the "all-inclusive adventure wonderland" option. There are so many things to do on a ranch vacation that it feels like you are immersed in a whole culture of the Rocky Mountains, wide open spaces, horses and outdoor activities. I have picked out 6 ranches to choose from, having not decided on which state to go to. There are a couple in Colorado, Wyoming, Oregon and Montana to choose from. In narrowing it down further I will start by contacting all the ranches with my preferred dates of travel and inquire about pricing and availability. Since most of the ranches have over a 60% return rate from previous guests I can't assume they will have space. If not, I may have to change my travel dates or choose another location. At this point I will pick up the phone and call the ranches, to get a feel for the personality there. Will it match with my family? What's their weekly schedule like? Then, I'll drop the cash and reserve my cabin for a week long vacation. Good bye, summer time blues. Out of the 6 ranches below, which one would you choose?

Home Away from Home in Oregon

Long Hollow Ranch Summer Travel Destination

Long Hollow Ranch is a pioneer style ranch in central Oregon. The original ranch buildings, over a century old, have been preserved and renovated for hosting ranch guests. All guest areas are decorated in a manner designed to evoke the feeling of "Grandma's house."

Paradise in Wyoming

Paradise Guest Ranch Summer Travel Destination

For 100 years now, folks have been coming to Paradise Guest Ranch for 100 different reasons—for some, it’s the horseback riding across sage meadows, fishing for native cutthroat trout, or hiking among wildflowers and meadowlarks. For others, it’s the family time, the fun, and campfire stories beneath a snowstorm of stars.

Climbing High Mountains in Montana

Hawley Mountain Ranch Summer Travel Destination

Seeking a place of quiet solitude in a remote wilderness of Montana? Hawley Mountain Ranch the place for you! Located in a million acres of wilderness just north of Yellowstone Park, you can enjoy exhilarating mountain experiences and warm hospitality in a remote, absolutely beautiful part of the world.

  Blacktail Ranch Summer Travel Destination

The Blacktail Ranch is a historic 8,000 acre jewel, located where the prairie meets the Rockies in Montana. This ranch family first came this valley back in the late 1800's and  has lived and worked here ever since.

Luxury in Colorado

Ranch at Emerald Valley Summer Travel Destination

The Broadmoor's Ranch at Emerald Valley is perfect for corporate retreats and special events, the ranch allows your group to reconnect in a serene and inspiring setting far removed from the worries of everyday life. Reward your top performers with an authentic ranch experience, or celebrate your wedding with western adventures and The Broadmoor’s signature luxury.

Smith Fork Summer Travel Destination

 Nestled in a valley of the West Elk Wilderness, between Aspen and Telluride, lies the hidden gem of Smith Fork Ranch. With the Gunnison National Forrest as its surroundings the location is far from the only charm, with rustic cabins that have been lovingly restored on their original 1930s-40s footprint with American antiques and original arts and crafts from the hands of the best western and native American artisans, it looks and feels like the old Wild West.


If you are still undecided about your summer travel destinations give the Dude Ranchers' Association a call at 307.587.2339 or 866.399.2339             Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save

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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.

Dude Ranch Gardens ~ From Farm to Table

This year's growing season has nearly drawn to a close for many locations for many while others are just getting started. As we at the National Dude Ranchers' Association reminisce about the warmer, growing days of summer we would like to share a few ranches who spend their long, summer days planting and harvesting. The importance and fulfillment gained by growing your own produce is understood. At these accredited dude ranches they garden not only for themselves, but also to share what they reap with you.  So, after a day of enjoying horseback riding, hiking, fishing and every other adventure imaginable, you can sit down and enjoy a family dinner, straight from farm to table. We hope before the winter blues sets in you will book a promising vacation to get your hands dirty in one of these dude ranch gardens.

 

Farm to Table Culinary Experiences

 

Honey Bee's and Sweet Garden Produce

Diana Nash, Circle Z Ranch, Patagonia, Arizona

Circle Z Bee Hive Farm to Table

One of the stand-out traditions here at the Circle Z Ranch is our commitment to the highest standards for the food we serve our guests, and we guarantee you will be satisfied. Using only the freshest of ingredients, all of our mouthwatering buffets are created in our kitchens from scratch. In our gardens, we grow many of the vegetables served at mealtime, and our honey bees are always busy making the sweetest honeys for our use. We select the finest cuts of meats, and freshest fillets of fish we can find. Fresh baked breads, mouth-watering pastries, and a variety of cookies, all made from scratch, will greet you each day of your stay. Creative alternatives are available for those guests on strict gluten-free, vegetarian, lactose-free and vegan diets.  Open October 26th - May 3rd.

 

 

Heirloom Seeds and Organic Composting

Marley & Linda Hodgson, Smith Fork Ranch, Crawford, Colorado

Smith Fork Gardening Farm to Table

 

At Smith Fork Ranch we never lose the thrill and exhilaration that comes with each new season here in our beautiful valley in the Rocky Mountains. Several years ago, we started an organic farmstead garden, nestled in the meadow below the old Dance Barn. This garden is a living breathing reflection of our continued passion for the land and it’s seasons. As we harvest each season’s crops, we feel a stronger bond to this special place. The SFR organic garden focuses on the preservation and production of heirloom varietals that have been planted for generations in Holland, France and elsewhere in America. However, it all starts with the soil. And the soil’s need for being fed provides the perfect use for the organic waste from around our guest ranch; kitchen scraps, grass and leaf trimmings, a bit of hay from the horse barns, and of course manure rich in nitrogen. We are able to cultivate dozens of varieties of vegetables and flowers without the use of synthetic fertilizers or chemicals, even in the Rocky Mountain soil of our luxury guest ranch! Open May 22nd - November 1st.

 

Fresh Eggs Farm Raised Meats & Orchards

Scott Stewart, The High Lonesome Ranch, DeBeque, Colorado

The High Lonesome Ranch Farm to Table Garden

Living the life of a cowboy all day can work up a powerful hunger for your family. Back at headquarters, our Chef and his crew are cooking up fresh family-style delights with a lot of culinary flare added in for a fine rustic dining experience.  Your meals include high quality local meat and produce. In many instances the meat is raised on the ranch. Our eggs are fresh from our chickens and The High Lonesome’s signature Black Angus beef graces our menu when the timing and aging process is complete. Lambs and hogs are raised and delivered by neighboring 4H and FFA kids. The High Lonesome Ranch’s gardens and orchards enjoy ideal conditions for growing apricots, apples, peaches, pears and plums. We also grow an abundance of vegetables like corn, peppers, lettuces, cucumbers, squash, beans, peas, carrots, radishes, pumpkins and onions.  Open year round.  

 


  As you can see the above dude ranches take meal time very seriously during your stay, so if your foodie there is no better place to get back to freshly grown organic food than a dude ranch. Click here to request more information


   

Relax in the Spa at these Dude Ranch Locations

Western dude ranches are typically located in rural areas far from the events of today. For over a century weary city-dwellers have been seeking to escape the pressures of urban life and to find spiritual relief in the beauty and simplicity of the American West. Returning to nature and a 100 year old, simple, honest ranch way of life seems to wash away those unsavory layers of stress that have become an accepted part of modern life. A natural process of unwinding starts when guests first set foot on a dude ranch. It helps them to slow down and to begin discovering the wonders around them and even within themselves. At the below ranches you can find that true spa treatment to care for yourself. You have the option to adventure out on horseback or other dude ranch activities or hideout in these serious spa locations.

Lost Creek Spa

Lost Creek Ranch

Soak in the sunlight as you are gently massaged in the Rocky Mountain air. Or, immerse yourself in a mineral bath in our cozy, peaceful treatment rooms. Savor a light, healthy lunch, take an aerobics class, work out with our personal trainers, or simply read a book while lounging on our patio.

   


Smith Fork Chef

Smith Fork Ranch

Smith Fork Ranch is the perfect destination for not only fun and adventure, but also relaxation and wellness.  Enjoy your massage in one of our tranquil rooms or creek-side at our wonderful Massage Outpost, situated among the serene beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

       


The Broadmoor Spa

The Broadmoor's Ranch at Emerald Valley

From the moment you step into the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Spa at The Broadmoor, you'll be treated to an extraordinary journey of rejuvenation, balance and pure relaxation. The healing properties of our natural surroundings, from the crystal-clear spring waters to the clean mountain air, have long been a beacon of wellness for residents and travelers alike.

     


Rancho de los caballerso Spa

Rancho De Los Caballeros

 A short walk from the main lodge is The Spa at Los Caballeros, an oasis in the truest sense, for relaxation in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Whether you choose specialty treatments like a Hassayampa Hot Stone massage, or more traditional therapies like facials and foot treatments, you'll find your zen and lose yourself in bliss.

 


   

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