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

Take Your Vacation Days!

Vacation Days

Only 23% of employees are taking all of their eligible time off, according to a recent survey by job site Glassdoor. In fact, the average employee takes about half (54%) of his or her vacation time—a number that hasn’t changed much since Glassdoor asked the question in 2014.

We are often asked why do dude ranches want you to stay a full week versus a couple of days? Well, there are many reasons which we will get to but first, we wanted to give you some facts about why using all your vacation days is so important to not only your physical health but your mental health. The top four reasons that we found are:

Vacations clear your mind and relieve stress – Allowing you to actually think about what is really important to you and what makes you happy, not your employer.

• Disconnect and recharge – Helping you reconnect with family and friends in person.

• They give you more energy, you naturally get exercise when traveling which in return will help you sleep better.

• Getting outside and connecting with nature.


Here are a couple of great articles supporting the importance of taking time off:

10 Reasons to Vacation

The Importance of Taking A Vacation


Now back to full weeks versus shorter stays at dude ranches.  As you all know dude ranches are all-inclusive destination vacation spots. Therefore, they operate on a schedule to make sure you as a guest get to experience everything there is to experience. Below are the top three reasons to spend a week at a dude ranch:

1. If you leave only after three days you will definitely be missing out on either the breakfast ride, the all-day ride, the white-water rafting trip, the talent shows, the rodeo, the dance night, the campfire cowboy singer, steak night, an incredible morning hike to watch the sunrise and the list goes on and on.

2. In this busy world that we all live in it takes the first three days on any vacation just to destress, disconnect and get your mind off work and all that encompasses. At a dude ranch, you need time to really experience not only all the activities but the beautiful surroundings these ranches are located in. You need time to sit on the porch with a good book, have an actual conversation with your kids, or how about just being still enough to hear the wonderful sounds of nature, a babbling stream, the beautiful sounds of a meadowlark? Trust me you will not need your “White Noise” app to get a good night’s sleep here. 

3. Because of dude ranch’s small guest capacities, the atmosphere lends itself to really connecting with the other guests there. Trust us, if you stay the entire week you will make lifelong friends. The DRA has ranches that have guests that come back year after year the same week so they vacation with the people they met the first time they visited the ranch. It is really hard to make these valuable connections in less than a week. The longer stay gives your kids the chance to connect not only with the other kids but with their horses and the amazing kids’ wranglers these ranches have on staff. 

Below is a sampling of ranches in The Dude Ranchers Association that offer week-long stays during their prime season:

Bar Lazy J Ranch, Colorado

Vacation Days

Nestled in a peaceful valley along the banks of the Colorado River, they are considered the oldest continuously operating Colorado Dude Ranch. Since 1912 their family-friendly ranch has been welcoming guests for recreation and relaxation. That’s over 100 years of creating lasting memories!

JJJ Wilderness Ranch, Montana

Vacation Days

Their all-inclusive Montana ranch vacation getaways are for anyone, from the beginner to experienced rider, hiker or fisherman. Included are excellent meals, private log cabin lodging, unlimited outdoor activities, responsive horses, friendly staff, fantastic kids’ programs or special adult-only weeks. Great for families! The folks at JJJ believe in Western hospitality, gracious service, and lasting friendships.

7D Ranch, Wyoming

Vacation Days

Surrounded by national forest and just a short drive from Yellowstone National Park, the 7D offers a setting of extraordinary beauty. Whether you are looking for a great guest ranch vacation, a pack trip into the Wyoming wilderness, or a fall hunting trip, let 7D’s friendly family and staff provide you and yours with an experience of a lifetime.

Cherokee Park Ranch, Colorado

Vacation Days

Cherokee Park Ranch is a family-owned, all-inclusive Colorado dude ranch vacation and horseback riding destination nestled in the beautiful Rocky Mountains in Livermore, Colorado. They always say, “Come as a stranger, leave as family,” and they promise that as a guest, Cherokee Park Ranch will forever hold a special place in your heart. In fact, 86% of their guests are returns, that just goes to prove how special this place really is!

McGarry Ranches, Idaho

Vacation Days

If you wish to experience the lifestyle of the American Cowboy with a legitimate cattle outfit, riding daily on an American Quarter Horse, then this is the ranch for you. Located in southeastern Idaho along the Snake River, log cabins surrounded by a slough is scenic and restful. A fire pit just outside your door makes for relaxed comfortable evenings with your fellow wranglers from many parts of the world.

Triangle X Ranch, Wyoming

Vacation Days

Surrounded by Grand Teton National Park, you will enjoy spectacular scenery, warm hospitality, and a relaxed pace beneath sunny, western skies. The activities include horseback riding, unmatched wildlife viewing, cookouts, square dancing, hiking, sightseeing, an engaging children’s program, world-class fishing, and scenic float trips on the Snake River plus so much more! You do not want to miss out on this ranch which has been in the Turner family for generations! 

Marble Mountain Ranch, California 

Vacation Days

Marble Mountain’s signature all-inclusive “saddle and paddle” or “raft and ride” vacation is combined with a superb dining experience and youth buckaroo programs to create the most complete family dude ranch vacation. This ranch meets the diverse interests and needs of your entire family or group. Their horseback trail riding and equestrian programs are spectacular, but their defining feature is their ability to keep whole families engaged with the large variety of outdoor Western adventures. 

While we want you all to experience everything dude ranches have to offer during a full week stay there are several amazing ranches that will let you “sample” what a ranch vacation is all about with a shorter stay. You can find a list here. Either way please do yourself and your family a favor and TAKE YOUR VACATION DAYS! You will not regret taking the time off. 

For more information, contact Bryce or Josie at 307-587-2339 or info@duderanch.org, info2@duderanch.org.  

Vacation Days

 

The Best Multi-Generational Dude Ranches

Family Reunions at Dude Ranches Offer Fun for Everyone. There is something for everyone to enjoy at a dude ranch and the best part is DRA dude ranches are all-inclusive. Meals, lodging, horseback riding and much more are included in one rate, making it simple to plan and budget for your next family reunion. Surrounded by spectacular beauty, far from the noise and crowds of fast-paced cities, serenity comes easy to each multi-generational family.

Private family time. If your family is just looking to spend time with each other where you can totally reconnect a small intimate ranch where you are the only guests might be just the ticket. Where you ride together as a family, have meals together as a family and just get to know each other again.

Dude Ranches Are Fun for Kids. Most ranches have daily activities offered for kiddos 3+ and many ranches can accommodate infants as well.

Teens Enjoy Dude Ranch Adventures. The teens in the family will have the time of their lives as they zip down a mountain zip line, tube down a rushing creek, or enjoy a ‘teens only’ ride up to a cookout lunch or an overnight camp out.

Adults Have Fun, Too. Adults will find they can do as much or as little as they would like. Unlimited horseback riding, river rafting, superb fishing, fine dining the list goes on and on.

So what are you waiting for? Book you next great multi-generational adventure today!

#MultiGenerationalRanchVacation


Western Pleasure Multi-Generational Ranch Vacation

Wyoming

Eatons' Ranch - For over 137 years, our Wyoming dude ranch has offered guests a western experience and shared with them a way of life.

Lazy L&B Ranch - At the Lazy L&B Ranch there’s nothing we like better than seeing grandparents hanging with grandkids, siblings catching up with each other and cousins exploring that special relationship that friends just can't compete with.

Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch - The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch is an all-inclusive upscale working cattle, riding, fly-fishing and adventure guest ranch in Shell, WY (east of Cody and Yellowstone National Park).

California

Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch - Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch is a rustic western resort located in the High Sierra of northern California on 600-acres of pine forest and pasture land, creeks and ponds.

Marble Mountain Ranch - Our goal is to provide a battery of exciting interactive experiences that are based in western traditions, and in outdoor adventure sports.

Idaho

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch - Escape, explore and experience the beauty and wonder of the outdoors with your family at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch.

Arizona

Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch - Our guest ranch is dedicated to providing you with the best family reunion experience you can imagine.

White Stallion Ranch - Family Vacations have become rare opportunities to leave the demands of your everyday life behind, relax, regroup and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company.

Colorado

High Lonesome Ranch - High Lonesome Dude Ranch Generations Experience – Exactly as wild as you. To help keep sporting traditions alive within family generations, we invite grandparents to come FREE while passing the torch to their next generation.

C Lazy U Ranch - Located in the heart of Colorado’s stunning Rocky Mountains, C Lazy U is the premier luxury guest ranch getaway.

Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch - Named "Best Family Vacation" by Frommer's Colorado guidebook and rated among the "Top Ten Colorado Dude Ranches" by True West Magazine, Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch offers year-round outdoor adventure.

Colorado Trails Ranch - At Colorado Trails Ranch, the vacation experience is all-inclusive from the accommodations, to the meals, to virtually all the activities and the gratuity.

Elk Mountain Ranch - Located in the heart of the Colorado Rockies with off-the-beaten path charm.  Colorado’s Highest Guest Ranch at 9,600 feet.

Latigo Ranch - The best way to enjoy your family vacation is care-free, and that’s what Latigo is offering this season. Forget worrying about finding something for everyone to do or meals which suit every dietary restriction, Latigo has it all

Montana

Elkhorn Ranch - Located at the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park in the upper Gallatin Canyon, the Elkhorn has been a family oriented ranch since 1922.

Lone Mountain Ranch - Lone Mountain Ranch has set the standard for luxury ranch destinations in the West for over a century. Located a mere 18 miles from Yellowstone National Park, our ranch offers authentic accommodations in newly renovated private cabins featuring the finest modern amenities (and a few curated decor moments inspired by the old West).

 Bar W Guest Ranch - The Bar W is open year round and treats you with true Western hospitality - from the moment you arrive until long after you have left.

New Mexico

Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch - Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch is a small family run ranch. We have just 4 cabins and take a maximum of 12-16 guests.

Surrounded by spectacular beauty on a ranch vacation, far from the noise  of fast-paced cities, serenity comes easy to each multi-generational family.

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