The Dude Ranchers’ Association’s Best Outdoor Meals

From Arbuckle and bear sign (cattle-range lingo for coffee and doughnuts) over an open flame to pizza ovens and prickly pear margaritas on patios under the stars, these are the top dude ranches with the best outdoor meals and dining experiences for late summer and early autumn. Nature’s bounty is at its finest this time of year. Breakfast rides with fresh confections, four-course lunch atop a mesa and evening cuisine fireside, the DRA has some of the most intimate and exquisite land in the West with access to local food and secret dishes. Fork’s up! 

Home Ranch, Clark, Colorado

Gardens and Greenhouses Galore

Nestled in the Elk River Valley is Home Ranch, definitively one of the most idyllic settings for an outdoor brick oven rolling out over a dozen varieties of stone-fired pizzas. The Home Ranch, a Relais & Chateaux property, 30 minutes from Steamboat Springs, focuses on cuisine year-round; however, their weekly offering in summer and fall of crispy pizzas loaded from the ranch’s gardens and greenhouse is as fresh and farm to fork as one can get. The sound of horses dining on their hay in the background and views of Home Ranch’s stunning barn and cabins are worthy of a Travel + Leisure cover.

The afterclaps (unexpected event after the event is supposed to be over) are the wranglers driving the herd out for the day as you finish your cocktail and dessert. The ranch’s massive greenhouse is also open for tours throughout the evening with resident gardeners and the head Master Gardener.

best outdoor meals

Endulge in flatbread pizza cooked in a brick oven with homegrown ingredients at The Home Ranch in Colorado.

Latigo Ranch, Kremmling, Colorado

Breakfast Bliss

This ranch takes food as serious as their scenery. Surrounded by 50,000 acres of the Medicine Bow—Routt National Forest, the George family has the lay of the land to devise splendid surprises come mealtime. It’s a family business for the George’s with the owner’s son and wife running the kitchen. A crowd pleaser begins when guests are escorted to the main lodge in Latigo’s covered wagon to sally forth into a picturesque aspen glade where the kitchen crew has grilled steaks, fish, and veggies to go along with a full buffet of classic dude ranch side dishes—corn on the cob, baked beans (acclaimed by some guests to be the best in the world), sweet potato biscuits, and more. Dessert, as always, is greatly anticipated. There’s a choice between rhubarb pie and peanut butter pie, consumed while eagerly awaiting the announcement of prizes from the team penning earlier that afternoon.

There’s still the weekend! On Saturday breakfast is served at a point overlooking an impossibly expansive view of the mountains. When guests arrive via horseback, they’ll find pancakes grilled by the ranch’s owner, Randy, along with eggs, bacon, sausage, all freshly cooked and served by Hannah George along with fruit, juices, coffee, tea, and homemade banana bread. Perched on the rocks with a 360˚ view of absolute wild beauty, it’s the perfect end to a spectacular week and one of the best breakfast rides in the West. 

best outdoor meals

Ribeye steak, one of many delicious meals to enjoy at Latigo Ranch in Colorado.

White Stallion Ranch, Tucson, Arizona

Patio Utopia with Prickly Pear Margs  

With the baking hot summer that has swept through the country in 2018, autumn will bring much relief and the opportune time to try Russell True’s latest baby, White Stallion Ranch’s outdoor pizza oven and Tandoor—a cylindrical clay oven where heat is made by charcoal or wood to create radiant cooking methods.  

Dinner is served alfresco throughout the week featuring foods such as classic BBQ, brisket, pork tenderloin, steak, ribs, chuck roast and locally-sourced vegetables. 

Steamship leg of pork, corn on the grill, produce skewers, wild rice, this is just a sampling of the gorgeously presented ranch food underneath the Tucson stars.

Guests enjoy some of the best dude ranch evening entertainment in the world while finishing their wine, local craft brew or one of the ranch’s legendary margaritas, the prickly pear. Crème Brule, blueberry pie, and pineapple upside down cake have become the ranch’s legacy desserts. Each outside evening, there is a local cowboy strumming the guitar. To keep things going past dusk, lights are strung throughout the outdoor eating area and entertainment space with lighted cactus as an extra quirk. 

best outdoor meals

A warm and welcoming outdoor dining area at the White Stallion Ranch in Arizona. 

Covered Wagon Ranch, Gateway, Montana

Chef’s Special

Located a stone’s throw from Yellowstone National Park, Covered Wagon Ranch takes advantage of its location and access to quieter parts of the Park. The ranch encourages guests to take a lunch ride almost daily! Sure, lunch is always available in the main lodge, but riders know best—take the chef’s special and giddy up. With nearly a dozen trails the ranch rides weaving in and out of Yellowstone, there’s a really good chance you can wind up having the chef’s special, with a moose (it happened to us!). Each night the chef surveys his crowd and crafts a special sandwich that is available for pick-up before the daily ride. Guests always have the choice of nearly 20 items, but there’s a reason for the chef’s special.

After a gently ascending two-hour ride into the Yellowstone, our family found a quiet meadow to let the horses rest and for us to enjoy the special sandwich. Not five minutes after dismount did a giant bull moose stand up from his resting spot in the meadow and curiously circle around the meadow to get a good view of us as we kept a safe distance. Our kids knew what was up, the moose wanted the chef’s special! Three generations eating the best sandwiches while enjoying secret spots in Yellowstone with a moose overseeing the feast. Apparently, your chance of spotting a moose drastically increases if you order up the special. 

best outdoor meals

Trail rides lead to beautiful destinations at the Covered Wagon Ranch in Montana. 

Sidebar: Snacking, Sweets and Soaking

Tombstone Monument Ranch in its historic namesake town of Arizona offers a slow ride labeled  “Beer and Cheetos” for obvious reasons. This is the ultimate afternoon snack. Take a flat, scenic ride to the ranch’s Beer and Cheetos site where there is shade and bathrooms. Enjoy a cold, refreshing beer delightfully accompanied by some empty calorie, salty and delicious snack foods. Followed by a slow, scenic ride back to the ranch in time for social hour. Note, this is an adult-only ride.

Wait, what about tequila connoisseurs? No problem, the “Tequila and Cheese” ride takes guests along the same route, but instead offers up a little more sophistication with a unique selection of wines and assorted cheeses, crackers and bread. Again, this is an adult-only ride. 

best outdoor meals

A great selection of food is always avaliable at Tombstone Monument Ranch in Arizona. 

Friday is the outdoor meal extravaganza with Long Hollow Ranch in central Oregon. Early autumn offers the essential time for a morning ride to be followed by a picnic lunch along the way. It gets a little more enticing; the ranch then puts on a fun demonstration with cattle before dinner. After-dinner dessert is then served at the hot tub or fire pit, depending on weather conditions. Desserts and cocktails vary, but the scenery is always guaranteed. best outdoor meals

Snow capped mountains make for some gorgeous scenery at Long Hollow Ranch in Oregon.

If you want to keep with the hot springs theme, Bar Lazy J in Grand County, Colorado offers a half-day hot springs ride on Fridays. Guests eat lunch at one of the ranch’s favorite scenic spots—the top of Byers Canyon—before working the group into the town of Hot Sulphur Springs. There, a trailer and your previously packed bag will be waiting along with a free pass into the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort to soak in the 22 naturally heated pools. Once frequented by the Ute Indians, the skin-benefiting minerals present in the water are intense and awesome. The ranch takes the horses home while guests soak and send a van for pick up later.

best outdoor meals

Ride through some beautiful scenery to the hotsprings at Bar Lazy J Ranch in Colorado. 

 

Read more about dude ranches with fabulous food here!

 

 

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From Arbuckle and bear sign over an open flame to pizza ovens and prickly pear margaritas on patios under the stars, these are the top dude ranches with the best outdoor meals and dining experiences for late summer and early autumn. Nature’s bounty is at its finest this time of year. Breakfast rides with fresh confections, four-course lunch atop a mesa and evening cuisine fireside, the DRA has some of the most intimate and exquisite land in the West with access to local food and secret dishes.

Why Arizona Winters are Great for Ranch Vacations

Arizona is a wonderful place to vacation, especially to beat the winter blues. With a consistently warm and predictable climate, it’s no wonder people flock to Arizona during the winter months to enjoy the outdoors. On a ranch vacation you’ll enjoy horseback riding, fine western dining, perfectly appointed accommodations and many other western lifestyle activities. Here are four reasons Arizona winters are great for ranch vacations. 

1. Beautiful Weather 

Obviously, the weather is one of the most popular reasons you might want to go to Arizona during the winter. The sun shines most every day (300+ days a year) and temperatures average about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Even though you can find snow-covered mountains, the central to southern parts of the state often enjoy mild weather in shorts or t-shirts. At the Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch, you’ll get to enjoy spectacular sunsets late into the evening comfortably around a camp fire. 

Arizona Winters

Sunset at the Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch in Yucca, Arizona. 

 

2. Culture of the Southwest 

With a combination of historical native American and Hispanic cultures, the atmosphere in Arizona is unique to the rest of the country. These cultures blend in with the history of the cowboy at some of the most famous locations. At Tombstone Monument Ranch you can relive what it was like to live in an old Southwestern Town like famous western characters did. Rancho de la Osa is off the beaten path near the border of Mexico and immerses guests into a different world. Want to learn about the local flora and fauna? Then you will want to be at the Circle Z Ranch, where local Naturalist, Ethnobotanist, and Survival Expert Vincent Pinto leads their guests on a 1-hour Nature walk. His expertise is inspiring, as he discusses birds, a variety of rich habitats, edible plants, and Arizona’s famed Sky Islands.  Arizona Winters

Southwestern town of the Tombstone Monument Ranch in Tombstone, Arizona. 

 

3. Outdoor Activities

With the beauty of the outdoors you’ll want to spend as much time outside as you can. Hiking, biking, horseback riding, bird watching and cattle drives are some activities you can do to enjoy the mountains or deserts in Arizona. The Flying E Ranch offers all of these adventures and more in an area that’s just minutes from Wickenburg, Arizona on 20,000 acres to ride and roam. Tee up your western vacation at Rancho de los Caballeros. The golf course located on the ranch was designed by Greg Nash and Jeff Hardin, the Los Caballeros course is a Golf Digest top-five rated course and a top 100 course nationally. Featuring rolling terrain, two beautiful lakes, bunkers and five sets of tees, this challenging course can be set up for a variety of playing styles and levels. What about rock climbing, have you ever tried it?  If you’ve never tried climbing before, here’s your chance to experience it in an incredible setting. If you’re an experienced climber, you will be wowed by the climbs at White Stallion Ranch.  Their AMGA, PCGI Certified Climbing Instructor will guide you climbing boulders and faces on the East end of the ranch. He has designed beginner, intermediate and advanced climbs.

Arizona Winters

Guests participating in team penning at the Flying E Ranch in Wickenburg, Arizona. 

 

4. Family Time

You’ll want to take the whole family with you on vacation. From babies to grandma and grandpa everybody will enjoy a wonderful winter getaway. You’ll be looking for a nice swimming pool, an ample supply of board games, tennis, basketball and kid’s counselors for the youngest ones. Elkhorn Ranch provides everything you need for a successful and unforgettable multi-generational vacation. Another great option with an excellent kid’s program is the Tanque Verde Ranch their activities will engage, educate, and entertain, in addition to teach kids the importance of working together. Their caring and knowledgeable team will ensure a safe and fun experience for your child.

Arizona Winters

Kids learning how to care for horses at the Elkhorn Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. 

 

 

Take a look at the other great ranches in Arizona below and read more from our blog about Arizona dude ranches.

Arizona Winters

Kids develop lifelong friends at Tanque Verde Guest Ranch in Tucson, Arizona

 

Arizona Winters

The unique cabins, or casitas of the Rancho de la Osa in Sasabe, Arizona. 

 

Arizona Winters

Ride or hike through beautiful desert plants at the Circle Z Ranch in Patagonia, Arizona. 

 

Arizona Winters

Play 18 holes at Rancho de los Caballeros in Wickenburg, Arizona

 

Arizona Winters

Experirnce rock climbing at the White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona.

 

 

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Arizona is a wonderful place to vacation, especially to beat the winter blues. With a consistently warm and predictable climate, it’s no wonder people flock to Arizona during the winter months to enjoy the outdoors. On a ranch vacation you’ll enjoy horseback riding, fine western dining, perfectly appointed accommodations and many other western lifestyle activities. Here are four reasons Arizona winters are great for ranch vacations.

Discover Western Dude Ranches as your next Corporate Meeting Site

With dude ranches located in some of the most unique and private locations in the West, it’s no wonder they continue to be ever popular destinations for groups and corporate meetings. Dude ranches are perfect for conference planners who are looking for a location to appreciate the great outdoors via horseback riding, fishing, hiking and other adventures while meeting in high-tech spaces with Wi-Fi and all the technology standard to modern meeting facilities. Some ranches can accommodate large groups of more than 100 people, while others offer a more intimate environment to enjoy with your group. All ranches offer the highest standards of the hospitality industry with lodges and cabins and luxury amenities. And fine dining? These ranches will cook up some of the best meals you've had with professionally trained chefs, fine wine lists and farm to table cuisine. So why not head up into the mountains, forests or wide-open plains for your next meeting? 

 

Here are some great dude ranches for your next corporate meeting site. 

 

Upper Canyon Wine for your Corporate Meeting Site

With a wide selection of fine wines the Upper Canyon Outfitters are great hosts for your next corporate meeting site.  

 

Upper Canyon Outfitters 

Alder, Montana

What could be a more beautiful setting for your next event than nestled at the bank of a river in between three different mountain ranges? The Upper Canyon Outfitters hosts spectacular scenery while you explore these beautiful and wildlife-rich mountains. For corporate team building and leadership retreats the Upper Canyon Outfitters offers an event center with a full kitchen complete with dishes and utensils, as well as tables, chairs and everything you need to make your event something truly special. The ranch offers experts for demonstrations and team building events in outdoor survival skills and Equine Facilitated Learning. Upper Canyon can host up to 18 people and is open June 1 - December 1. 

 

Tombstone Monument Ranch

Tombstone, Arizona

With all the Western history of famous cowboys, Apache Indians and silver mining this ranch is styled as an old West town with 18 uniquely designed rooms. Your group will be able to walk where historical characters of the west walked and ride out on horseback where they rode. The ranch can accommodate 20 people in their unique Mine Shaft room or up to 120 people in the barn with all the modern amenities. A bar and a chuck wagon buffet to cater to your group’s needs will all be set in a western style. Tombstone Monument is open year-round. 

 

Blacktail Ranch

Wolf Creek, Montana

With unlimited horseback riding, fishing, cave exploring, evening entertainment and much more the Blacktail Ranch offers an intimate setting for your group of 10 - 30 people. An octagonal building with an extraordinary 360-degree view of the Rocky Mountains awaits for your group meetings, dancing, receptions and any other activities. The Blacktail Ranch is open from June 1 - October 1. 

 

Vista Verde Ranch

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

If you are looking for more than just a riding ranch with diverse activities, amazing food, friendly staff and luxury amenities for your next corporate meeting site then Vista Verde Ranch near Steamboat Springs, Colorado might be the place for you. Open in the summer and winter the ranch offers western team building activities tailored to your skill levels and customized to fit your plans. Ever heard of pasture golf? Vista Verde will make a unique setting and creative activities to make your meeting planner’s job easy. Vista Verde can host up to 52 people and also offers team building and group activities in the winter from December 14 - March 31 and summer June 5 - October 18.  

 

Vista Verde Lodge Corporate Meeting Site

Vista Verde lodge meeting space.

 

Rancho de los Caballeros

Wickenburg, Arizona

How about a 4,500 square-foot conference room in the middle of the Sonoran Desert for your next board meeting, corporate event or celebration? Rancho de los Caballeros has a secluded and relaxing Southwestern ranch environment for your group to hang out, work and bond at the ranch. For that over the top fun activity check out their on property 18-hole golf course and spa. Would you like the ranch all to yourself? You can rent out the ranch exclusively. Rancho de los Caballeros can host up to 140 people and is open October 1 - May 15. 

 

Discover Western Dude Ranches as your next Corporate Meeting Site

 

With dude ranches located in some of the most unique locations, it’s no wonder they continue to be popular destinations for groups and corporate meetings.

 

Read more about dude ranches and corporate meetings on our blog!

 

The 9 Best Dude & Guest Ranches for an Arizona Ranch Vacation

Without question Arizona is a beautiful state and a wonderful destination for a dude & guest ranch vacation during the winter months, and all year long. The state is known for some of the most colorful characters in American history. Here, you can walk (or horseback ride) in the footsteps of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Pancho Villa, Billy the Kid and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. With a personal guide for the many outdoor activities Arizona ranch vacations offer you’ll get an in-depth lesson on the particular area of each dude ranch.


With a variety of geographical features, you might ride in the mountains, deserts and grass lands. With 27 National Parks in Arizona the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and the Saguaro National Park will be just the start to explore the state of Arizona.



Here are the 9 Best Dude & Guest Ranches for an Arizona Ranch Vacation and the top reasons for going to each one.

 

Tombstone Town Western


Visit One of the Most Iconic Western Towns

Tombstone Monument Ranch in Tombstone, Arizona when you visit here you will get to walk the streets that Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and outlaw Curly Bill Brocius once walked. It has been said at this ranch the guests don’t just feel like they got away, they feel like they have traveled back in time.

 

traditional


Saguaro National Park with western adventure, solitude and luxury amenities

The Tanque Verde Ranch just east of Tucson will make your next stay an unforgettable Arizona ranch vacation experience. With the La Sonora Spa, fine dining, great horseback riding and additional outdoor activities for all ages your whole family will love this dude ranch resort.

 

Circle Z Field View Cowgirl


Ride Across the Grasslands in Southern Arizona

At Circle Z Ranch you will get to experience the heart of Southern Arizona’s Sky Islands and thousands of acres of scenic horseback riding trails. You’ll get to ride out on the distinct Arizona grasslands, but also experience canyons and mountains rising suddenly and dramatically out of the desert lowlands. You might come for the views, but you’ll come back for the hospitality.

 

Elkhorn Ranch Arizona Ranch Vacation


Where the Baboquivari Mountains and the Altar Valley Meet

Whether you travel solo, as a couple or with your whole family, you will find friendship, rest and adventure at the Elkhorn Ranch and the miles and miles of mountain and desert trails. The area is home to an extensive variety of curious sonoran vegetation and birding.

 

White Stallion Running


All Day Riding and Team Penning

At the White Stallion Ranch near Tucson you can spend up to 6 hours a day in the saddle and practice your team penning skills three times a week. For your non-riding companions there’s still plenty to do. A tennis court, sport court, petting zoo, game room, movie theater and hiking program provide fun activities for all ages.

 

Flying E Barn Gather


Working Cattle Ranch to Ride and Roam   

The Flying E Dude Ranch in Wickenburg, Arizona has 20,000 acres to ride and there is seldom a day without sunshine. This is a casual and relaxed ranch with home cooked meals served family style. You can enjoy beginner, intermediate and advanced riding as well as many non riding ranch activities.

 

Rancho De Los Caballeros Horseback Riding Golf

 

Ride horses and Tee off at one of Golf Digest’s Top 100 U.S. courses

Rancho de los Caballeros in Wickenburg, Arizona offers the perfect getaway to the old southwest. As a resort with the soul of a bed and breakfast you’ll feel the charm and intimacy of yesteryear with the amenities of a resort. Horseback riding and golf are just the start of the list of things to do at this Arizona Ranch Vacation.

 

Rancho De La Osa Historical Black and White


Arizona’s Most Historic Ranch

Rancho De La Osa in Sasabe, Arizona is a sportsman’s paradise and is surrounded by the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge near the Mexican Border. You can enjoy a scenic horseback ride on trails frequented by U.S. Presidents and legendary figures like Pancho Villa.

 

Stagecoach Trails Arizona Ranch Vacation

 

Family Atmosphere Welcomes all

The Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch invites guests to stay at the ranch and be a part of the guest ranch family, even if it is only for a little while. At the feet of the Mohave and Hualapi mountains you can be assured of breathtaking views, constant sunny days and a fantastic Arizona ranch vacation.



Pin this for later!

Without question Arizona is a beautiful state and a wonderful destination for a dude & guest ranch vacation during the winter months, and all year long. Here, you can walk (or horseback ride) in the footsteps of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. With a personal guide for the many outdoor activities Arizona ranch vacations offer you’ll get an in-depth lesson on the particular area of each dude ranch

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