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. 

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

23 Dude Ranch Activities

When you think of a dude ranch vacation do you imagine time in the saddle and think it might be fun for a day or two, but wonder if there is enough to do for an entire vacation? Well, there is great news for travelers who would enjoy any amount of western lifestyle activities such as horseback riding and cattle work. If you look into it further, modern day dude ranches offer a lot more than just this. With scenic landscapes, great accommodations and knowledgeable staff, dude ranch activities vary for a diverse crowd - whether that is your multigenerational family, business associates or small group of best friends. 

It doesn’t matter if you would consider yourself a “city slicker” or an equestrian, everyone will get to ride horses and spend time doing what they enjoy the most. Dude ranches offer attractions and services that travel far beyond the trail. Fine dining? Well that’s just the beginning. Outdoor exercise? Any and all kinds. Relaxation? You got it. 

So, if you’re considering a dude ranch vacation and would like to fill your week with many types of activities, consider adding these activities to your to do list.

Dude Ranch Activities  

 

Trail Riding on Horseback

The best way to experience the West is most definitely horseback riding. Starting out with an orientation ride, you’ll easily determine how much adventure you’ll enjoy with your personal horse or horses for the week. You might be content with a daily stroll up to a nice view or have a need for speed on twice daily loping rides. 

Dude Ranch Activities

R Lazy S Ranch - Teton Village, WY

Bird Watching

For avid bird watchers dude ranches offer some exclusive places to find rare species of birds specific to the area. Many horseback rides at the Triple R Ranch in South Dakota explore deep into wildlife’s natural habitats especially native birds. It is almost guaranteed that on these rides you will see some type of unique species! 

Dude Ranch Activities

Triple R Ranch - Keystone, SD

White Water Rafting

Suited up in your life jacket you’ll get to race (or meander) down crystal clear water for yet another perspective on this beautiful location. Rimrock Ranch in Wyoming has an afternoon of their weekly program that is designated for a white water rafting trip for all of the ranch guests to enjoy.

Dude Ranch Activities

Rimrock Ranch - Cody, WY

Petting Zoos

Petting zoos on dude ranches are not just for children. Even adults enjoy interacting with all sorts of farm animals, from baby goats and pigs to gathering eggs from the chicken coop.

Overnight Campouts or Pack Trips

There’s no better place to see the stars than on an overnight campout or a pack trip into the mountains. In a lot of these places motorized vehicles are not allowed, so the only way to get out there is on foot or by horseback. On a pack trip with the Broken Arrow Lodge you’ll go through two mountain ranges in the spectacular Rocky Mountains!

Dude Ranch Activities

Broken Arrow Lodge - Alder, MT

Cattle Drives

Hup, hup! You’ll get to understand what life is like as a cowboy once you experience first hand what it’s like to move cattle across the range. From several hours to a full day cattle drive, this is the real deal when it comes to the cowboy lifestyle activities on a dude ranch. At the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Montana cattle ranching is not just a business - it’s a way of life. And you’ll be apart of it. 

Dude Ranch Activities

Bonanza Creek Ranch - Martinsdale, MT

Kids Activities

From 0 - 18 kids always have something to do on the ranch. With counselors for different age ranges, kids are engaged and have no need for electronics. There’s a creative activity to do every moment, from swimming pools to nature walks or even visiting that petting zoo we talked about earlier.

Massages

Why not sign up for a relaxing massage to complete your afternoon? With trained professionals in some of the most beautiful locations you’ll enjoy a lavish spa experience. You’ll really like the full body massage customized for your preferences at the Hubbard’s Six Quarter Circle Ranch in Montana. After a day in the saddle this is just what the doctor ordered.

Dude Ranch Activities

Hubbard's Six Quarter Circle Ranch - Emigrant, MT 

Shooting & Archery Sports

You’ll be given instruction and participate in a safely controlled environment to learn and practice shooting different types of firearms and archery.

ATV Rides

Cinch down your helmet and hit the road for an afternoon of exploring on ATV’s as one of the most fun dude ranch activities. 

Horse Drawn Wagon/Sleigh Rides

Riding in a horse drawn wagon or sleigh should be on everyone’s bucket list. At the K Diamond K Guest Ranch in Washington guests are given a tour of the ranch by a team of Belgian draft horses pulling a 12-passenger wagon. Experience transportation like the cowboys used to in the times of the old west! 

Dude Ranch Activities

K Diamond K Ranch - Republic, WA

Yoga

Try a yoga class with a certified trainer whenever you like. You might enjoy a class outside amongst the aspen trees or in a quaint cabin studio.

Fly Fishing

Whether you are an expert or a beginner your own personal fly-fishing guide will help you catch various types of trout on super private waters. The Goosewing Ranch offers twice weekly instruction on their stocked pond, allowing you to fine tune your fishing skills. Also, they offer all sorts of equipment for the guests to use and a map of all the prime fishing locations on the ranch. 

Dude Ranch Activities

Goosewing Ranch - Jackson, WY 

Glamping 

Glamping has become the new trend it seems and dude ranches are following suite. The Bull Hill Guest Ranch in Washington has 2 new glamping tents less than 5 years old! Each tent is just 100 feet from the shower house where each tent has its own private bath and shower. Both tents are fully furnished and do have electricity as well as heat. They also have beautiful porches to kick back and relax after a day full of ranch activities.  

Dude Ranch Activities

Bull Hill Guest Ranch - Kettle Falls, WA

Rustic Weddings

Picturesque settings, wide open spaces and top-notch amenities draw thousands of brides-to-be and their grooms to dude ranches each year. Whether you would like to run off and elope or prefer inviting the whole family there’s plenty of options for planning your dude ranch wedding. The Absaroka Ranch in Wyoming can accommodate 16 people in their four cabins and host up to 200 guests for the day of the wedding. There’s nothing like a reception with 360-degree breathtaking views and a mountain backdrop.

Dude Ranch Vacations

Absaroka Ranch - Dubois, WY

Talent Show

The ranch staff and guests alike are some pretty talented people and friendly competition can be found in many forms during your vacation. You’ll enjoy watching and participating in a talent night at the ranch. You can sing, tap or joke your way to local stardom in a talent show. You won’t soon forget these memories! 

Jeep Tours

At the Hawley Mountain Ranch, you’ll get to take an all-day jeep tour adventure to places where very few people can travel. Ready to see an old ghost town or visit Monument Peak at nearly 11,000 feet?? Hawley Mountain Ranch will take you there!

Dude Ranch Activities

Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch - McLeod, MT 

Zip Line 

Zoom! Your adventure guide will take you on a view of the ranch like none other. You’ll get to fly through the air for another kind of wild ride. 

Tennis & Golf 

Practice your professional swing while having a good time with friends. Some ranches have tennis courts and golf courses on site or within a close radius of the ranch. The Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley in Colorado gives their guests the opportunity to take a short ride down to the Broadmoor’s 2 different 18-hole golf courses that look like they are out of a picture book. They also have state of the art tennis courts available to guests to use, you will just have to schedule a time to go play! 

Dude Ranch Activities

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

Fine Wine and Fine Dining 

Ranches have well trained (even Cordon bleu trained) chefs that take a lot of pride in offering 5-star cuisine with beautifully paired wines. There are many dude ranches that also participate in Farm to Table Cuisine programs. Beautiful vegetables and fruits are harvested just a few yards from the kitchens and have flavors like you’ve never tasted before. Several ranches also have a long list of fine wines and beer selections for guests to choose from. 

Cooking Classes

These same chefs would love to share their kitchen with you and/or your kids to teach you their secret recipes on amazing ranch cuisine. 

Team Penning

With a team of 3 riders you’ll try your hand at a seriously fun rodeo sport. With rules that can be modified to suite, the idea is to separate a cow or steer from the group and herd it into a pen. Who ever is the fastest wins! 

Hiking

From rigorous climbs to easy ambles you can get out and explore the mountains on foot. At the Flat Creek Ranch, you’ll be able to hike up to the Teton Overlook trail for a panoramic view of the Grand Teton National Park. Hike in the Bridger-Teton National Forest and the Gros Ventre Wilderness Area while at the ranch and experience some of Wyoming's most undiscovered land. 

Dude Ranch Activities

Flat Creek Ranch - Jackson, WY

These are not all the activities you can find on dude ranches. We haven’t even talked about National Park Trips, rock climbing, winter sports, and more! 

To find that dude ranch experience with the right combination of activities use the search by amenity page on duderanch.org or give a ranch vacation expert a call at the Dude Ranchers’ Association. 

Search by Amenity 

Call a Ranch Expert 307.587.2339

 

Save this pin for later! 

When you think of a dude ranch vacation do you imagine time in the saddle and think it might be fun for a day or two, but wonder if there is enough to do for an entire vacation? With scenic landscapes, great accommodations and knowledgeable staff, dude ranch activities vary for a diverse crowd - whether that is your multigenerational family, business associates or small group of best friends.

Can You Have a Luxury Dude Ranch Vacation? Yes!

Dude ranch vacations don't typically conjure up visions of luxury. Instead, images of horses, log cabins, bunk beds and cowboys come to mind. But, with the new crop of dude ranches, all that has changed. Many now offer first class accommodations and food and make getting there half the fun. It is all about picking the right one for you. When you put luxury and dude ranch together consider location, accommodations, dining, and activities, and the choice should be easy!

 Luxury Dude Ranch Vacation

 

My family loves being in the outdoors on vacation, but we also love to be pampered, fed well, and have nice thread count sheets to jump into at the end of the day. Little did we think we could find all that at a dude ranch, but we did and on more than one occasion. The luxury came in not only through the experience at the dude ranch, but in the journey getting there.  Here's what I considered to make the right choice.

 

Location

 

No matter what kind of traveling you are doing, location is always key and getting there can be half the adventure. We love the journey. The more remote, untouched, unspoiled, and exclusive the better. The journey can involve seeing sites you would not otherwise experience, and visiting lands that are private and untouched, except for the sole use of the ranch.

Recently, we arrived on a property and as we approached the gate, we still had six miles to drive to get to the lodge. I witnessed areas that are not only protected, but also only accessible to lodge guests. Like fly-fishing on a part of the river that people dream about casting their rod in.

 Luxury Ranch Vacation Pond

 

Traveling to remote destinations that require taking small jets, helicopters, and/or four wheelers can be enough luxury in itself. The specialness of the time and manner spent getting to the ranch is as much fun to us as the being there!

 

Accommodations

 

Much like the location, the accommodations for a luxury experience at the dude ranch vary greatly. Given the location and the experiences, you may have to adjust your expectations a bit. 

Yes, there are five star rooms at many dude ranches, but the experience of the stay can also be the luxury. Staying in an original building that was used for coal mining; a wagon that has been converted to a room; a lodge that was originally the great house of the property; or even a glamping platform tent that has all the amenities, including a chandelier may be the true luxury.

The Ranch at Emerald Valley, a Broadmoor property, has all the luxuries of The Broadmoor, plus so much more. Each cabin has a fireplace and beautiful deck to enjoy the property. The amenities are all the luxuries of the resort, including super comfortable beds and luxurious sheets.

 Luxury Ranch Vacation Bedroom

 

We also love the Gros Ventre River Ranch in Wyoming accommodations for the authentic historical cabins with all the luxury amenities you need. There is an option for everyone at here, much like other ranches we visit. Stay in a log cabin, a lodge, or the Homestead, each with views for miles and wildlife all around. The beds all have bed warmers and feather beds. What else could you possibly need at a dude ranch?

When we think luxury accommodations, we also think the luxury of service. All of the dude ranches we visited also featured fires, either inside or out, ready for us when we arrived and after cocktails and dinner. And morning coffee and orange juice served at our doorstep. It is these little luxuries that make the accommodations even better.

 

Dining

 

Truth is, it is all about the food! Well, at least to us. Amazing, clean, exciting food, including cocktails, of course. I mean anyone can throw a steak on a grill and serve it with some corn, but these dude ranches go all out!  Many we visit not only grow some of their own produce, but their on-site amazing chefs or family has been cooking with recipes handed down from generation to generation. 

The Ranch at Emerald Valley sources ingredients from as many local sources as possible. Their meat even comes from their very own Eagle’s Nest Ranch Wagyu beef and wild berries are picked all around the ranch.

Some of our favorite meals came from a dude ranch where we have spent seven Thanksgivings. The luxury was about the people, our cabin, and above all, the food. Each dish prepared was passed down generation-to-generation and carefully prepared by the family members in charge. We loved that some dishes were only made by the same person each year. It truly felt like you were sitting at their family table...Well, actually we were.

The other luxury of dude ranch dining is the dining location. Some of the most delicious meals we sampled at dude ranches have not been in the dining room or lodge, but out onthe ranch. Like the early morning rides down to the river where cowboys have a traditional cowboy breakfast of perfectly cooked scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, and bacon. I am not sure if it is the food or the setting, but seriously, those breakfasts are just delicious. I especially love that they are served on real plates, too.

The other favorite meal of ours is a good cookout with all the sides. Again, the luxury is in to enjoying a beautiful setting that not many people get to experience with a meal fit for a white table steak restaurant. We are telling you, these dude ranches only serve the highest of quality food and that is what makes all of the difference.

The dude ranches we enjoy also offer extensive wine selections, if you do not like what the house is serving. But, we have always enjoyed the house wines and the cocktails are made with premium liquors.

 

Activities

 

The what to do and the how to do nothing are big factors in the luxury level at the dude ranches we visit. For us, there are a few must haves in our stay. 

One is having flexibility in our schedule. We find that the smaller dude ranches or those with a low staff to guest ratio work best for us. We like to be able to ride, fly fish, relax, hike, and engage in new experiences when we want. The lower ratio also creates more personalized horse rides, especially when we tend to visit the same places over and over.

 

 Luxury Dude Ranch Vacation Fishing

Another must have is adventure. We love when the dude ranch offers a good variety of activities -- but also add ons. For example, at The Ranch at Emerald Valley, you can add a hot air balloon ride or river rafting.

Then, for us, on site fly-fishing with and without a guide is a must have. While we love the guide to get us to the best places and for instructional purposes, we also love the down time to just throw our line in the water.

Another wonderful luxury is on-site or in room massages. And finally, the true luxury dude ranch is a big bonfire with a glass of good port and s’mores over a roaring campfire.

 Luxury Ranch Vacation Camp Fire

You ask dude ranch and luxury? We say, YES!

By Dana and Sherry from LifeDoneWell- Curated Content for those who love travel, food, wine and a Life Done Well

OR by Dana Zucker & Sherry Wernicke, Luxe TravelingMoms

Can you have a luxury travel experience at a dude ranch? Yes! Today's modern all-inclusive and luxury ranches offer first class accommodations, food, activities, spas, and amenities. How to find the right ranch for your family vacation or couples getaway.

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