13 Best Dude Ranches for Families

The ultimate family vacation has grown exponentially in terms of options and accommodations — and dude ranch vacations are no exception. In fact, there are very few resorts that emulate the offerings of the dude ranch community. “Activity options have skyrocketed. From ropes courses and ziplines to rock climbing, cooking classes, and more, some dude ranches now have more than 100 activities,” says Colleen Hudson, Executive Director of The Dude Ranchers’ Association.

The diversity and abundance of activities for families, along with stunning resort locations near national parks and public lands, solidify the Western dude ranch as one of the best family vacation experiences on the planet. These are the best of the best.

13 Best Dude Ranches for Families 

 

1. The Home Ranch – Clark, CO

Best For: Cuisine and Cooking

The Home Ranch does many things exceptionally well, including innovative cuisine and cocktails, luxury accommodations and extraordinary programming. Nestled in Clark, Colorado, a 30-minute drive from Steamboat Springs, the ranch is one of the few Rocky Mountain dude ranches that offers four-season activities and family options for children ages 6 and over. Bonus: All meals, lodging, local transportation, fishing gear, guide services, and on-ranch activities and adventures are included in the price of your stay.

dude ranches

2. Rainbow Trout Ranch – Antonito, CO

Best For: Authentic High Mountain Experience

We love the focus on disconnecting from technology at the Rainbow Trout Ranch. None of the 16 log cabins onsite offer TVs, and the Wi-Fi isn’t strong — and that’s on purpose. They do offer cozy fireplaces, though, and some of the cabins can sleep up to eight guests. The ranch is nestled on 600 acres at 9,000 feet and surrounded by national forest lands, providing abundant terrain for riding and spectacular views. Fly-fishers enjoy the ranch’s private 1.5-mile stretch of the Conejos River, ripe with supreme-size rainbow trout. Aside from delicious meals, accommodations, and onsite activities galore, a weekly whitewater rafting trip is included in the cost of your stay.

dude ranches

3. White Stallion Ranch – Tucson, AZ

Best For: Evening Entertainment

White Stallion is one of the two largest dude ranches in the nation; yet it remains family-owned and family-focused. The True family actually has a trifecta of ranches under their Arizona chaps (White Stallion, Tombstone Monument and Ranch de la Osa). But it’s their home base and incredible Tucson property that is one of the best family dude ranches in the world! The horse program is stellar, with various riding options, educational opportunities, family-specific rides, a weekly ranch rodeo and more. The resort also does a great job with nightly entertainment, with options such as astronomy classes with telescopes, country and western line dancing and lessons, and water color lessons with the resident artist, Ute Vaughn. And if you like shopping, you’ll be glad to know this dude ranch has one of the largest onsite gift shops of any dude ranch in the nation.

dude ranches

4. Circle Z Ranch – Patagonia, AZ

Best For: Old West Experience

If your family wants an authentic Western experience, complete with Hollywood-esque desert moonscapes, rolling hills of cacti with Southwest accommodations, fabulous cuisine, and an even better atmosphere, Circle Z Ranch is for you. Open late-October through early-May each year, Circle Z is the oldest continually operating guest ranch in the state of Arizona.

Originally a sheep ranch, Circle Z was transformed into a dude ranch in the 1920s.  Numerous generations of families have connected here ever since. Movie buffs — study up on “Broken Lance” with Spencer Tracy, “Monte Walsh” with Lee Marvin, “El Dorado” with John Wayne, and the final episode of “Gunsmoke” — all were filmed on this property.

dude ranches

5. Bonanza Creek Country Guest Ranch – Martinsdale, MT

Best For: Riding in the Wide Open Country  

This dude ranch is not for the wee ones; the focus is riding and cattle work. Bonanza Creek has a maximum allowance of 12 guests at a time, but usually averages around eight people — making this one of the most intimate guest dude ranches in the nation. There are 40 guest horses on the ranch, who welcome families into their lifestyle and incredible landscape.

Guests are matched with their horses for the half-week to week-long stay. Each stay includes lodging, three meals a day, horseback riding, herding cattle, team penning, hiking, private lake fishing, wildlife watching, a breakfast ride and cookout, campfires, and wagon rides with a team of horses.

dude ranches

6. Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort – Solvang, CA

Best For: Wine Country and Activities

Easily accessible from Santa Barbara, California, Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort is a family-owned working dude ranch. The 10,500-acre ranch is consistently awarded as best luxury dude ranch for numerous reasons.

The upscale ranch offers 73 cottages, all with working, wood burning fireplaces, and all without phones or televisions. Horseback riders can access 50-plus miles of riding trails; a 100-acre, spring-fed lake; two 18-hole championship golf courses; tennis courts; a pool; and spa.

dude ranches

7. Western Pleasure Guest Ranch – Sandpoint, ID

Best For: Off-Season Vacations

Many dude ranches in colder climates close for the season come late autumn. And while Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in northern Idaho certainly welcomes visitors year-round, it’s their off-season that’s a standout. Families will be charmed by the four hand-hewn log cabins at the ranch, each one authentically decorated and super cozy. Or, guests can choose Grandma or Grandpa’s room on the main level of the lodge, or a suite on the second level.

The ranch is located on 1,100 acres in the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountain ranges. The spectacular and changing scenery of the seasons varies the activities — enjoy horseback rides in the fall (ages 8 and up), fat bike rides in the winter, and skiing and snowmobiling in the spring! What’s also unique is the cabins can be booked without meals — a rarity at dude ranches.

dude ranches

8. Paradise Guest Ranch – Buffalo, WY

Best for: Water Activities

Come summer, it’s the child in all of us who yearns to be by water. At Paradise Guest Ranch, families can participate in an extensive fly-fishing program – either on French Creek or one of the stocked, nearby trout ponds. There’s also an onsite swimming pool.

dude ranches

9. Bar W Guest Ranch – Whitefish, MT

Best For: On-Trend Vacations

The Bar W Guest Ranch, outside of Glacier National Park, recognizes the needs of millennial families. Their traditional summer offerings have exploded in recent years, with new activities and adventures for all ages. Trail rides, wagon rides and a cultural kids’ program keep families busy on the ranch. The resort is also popular for its glamping in canvas tents with wood floors and luxurious bedding. And the resort’s location in Whitefish means you’re close to cute shops and kid-friendly restaurants and breweries.

dude ranches

10. Medicine Bow Lodge Adventure Guest Ranch – Saratoga, WY

Best For: Best-Kept Riding Secret  

The Medicine Bow Lodge Adventure Guest Ranch is nestled into the Snowy Range, about 20 miles from Saratoga, Wyoming, and two hours from Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Operating since 1917, the resort was most recently purchased by new owners in 2002, who truly enhanced the horsemanship of the ranch and riding possibilities. The maximum guest count is 15.

Families will especially love the summer program, with all-day rides, breakfast rides, overnight pack trips, sunset trip rides, fish and ride scenic trips (one of the only ones in the nation!) and other options. Guests can also participate in horse grooming and feeding, or just watch or photograph.

dude ranches

11. Triangle C Dude Ranch, Dubois, WY

Best For: Getting a True Sense of Working Cattle

Featuring an 8,000-square-foot, rustic log remodeled to include a full-service spa, home theatre, library, pool and fine dining, Triangle C Dude Ranch provides a home-away-from-home while enjoying the ranch. But, forget the luxury and enjoy the ranch’s Pack Trips that provide a true sense of the working cattle in the Rockies. Following wranglers on trails on horseback, days end at campsites where you’ll gather around the fire for dinner. Back at the resort, kids may prefer the programs geared for ages 2 to 12, including nature-based crafts, sleeping in a tepee and learning the ropes in a junior wrangler program.

dude ranches

12. Three Bars Guest Ranch – British Columbia, Canada

Best For: Private Cabins and Communal Meals

Three Bars Guest Ranch, a family-owned and operated dude ranch, is located in British Columbia, just a stone’s throw from Montana and Banff National Park. Families will enjoy private cabins and daily meals in a communal setting, where guests enjoy week-long visits together and fast become friends before the trip comes to an end. Daily horseback rides for all levels are available, as well as guided and non-guided hikes, mountain biking, river rafting and more. Each night, guests gather for drinks and dinner with the staff and enjoy games and entertainment as the stars come out and bonfires glow.

dude ranches

13. Drowsy Water Ranch – Granby, CO

Best For: Young Children

Less than two hours outside of Denver, Drowsy Water Ranch has been in business since the 1920’s. About 100 head of horses, primarily quarter horses and paints, make their home at the Drowsy Water. Nine individual cabins snuggled beside the creek offer lodging for families.

The 700-acre Drowsy Water Ranch welcomes children of all ages, even infants. The children’s program is unstructured, but comprehensive. Children ages 5 and under in the Buckaroos program are led on smaller horses in a pen. For children ages 6 to 13 in the Range Riders program, rides are held twice a day. The kids are allowed to walk, lope and trot according to trail conditions and their comfort level on the horses.

dude ranches

 

Save this Pin for Later! 

The ultimate family vacation has grown exponentially in terms of options and accommodations  — and dude ranch vacations are no exception; families love dude ranches!

 

Read the full article by Julie Bielenberg here

Take the Time to Enjoy an Exciting Road Trip to Glacier National Park

While it is okay to visit cities and landmarks, we should all take the time to see the wonders of nature, as they are always more spectacular than we imagine. The best part about being in the outdoors, one way or another, is that we can forget about our busy city life and unwind in a calm and pure environment. Besides this, we get the chance to spoil our senses with the incredible beauties this planet has to offer, gorgeous natural monuments that took ages to complete and have been here long before the first human ever existed. So, if you need a relaxing and exciting escapade at the same time, do not hesitate to take a road trip to Glacier National Park and see some of its most important places. Continue reading for all the information you need to get organized and make this trip an experience you will never forget.

Glacier National Park

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch - Sandpoint, ID 

Where is Glacier National Park located?

Glacier National Park stretches over Flathead County and Glacier County in Montana, United States of America, near the Canadian border. So, it is very close to British Columbia and Alberta in Canada. It covers an impressive area, of 4,000 square kilometers, incorporating a part of the Rocky Mountains. Called the “Crown of the Continent Ecosystem,” this park is home to a wide range of landscapes, plant species, and wildlife. So, taking a trip to visit it will be anything but boring. Depending on the things you want to see and the activities you would like to enjoy, you’ll have to choose the best time of the year for your experience.

Glacier National Park

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch - Sandpoint, ID 

The best time to visit Glacier National Park

Summer is the busiest season for Glacier National Park, as it is easier to walk on the paths of the park when there is no snow. Still, it is worth mentioning that you can visit the park throughout the entire year, as its gates will be open regardless of the season. But, during the cold season, the weather can be rather difficult, so you need to be prepared to face it if you want to visit the park when snowfall occurs. If you don’t mind the cold and the snow, which can occur in the park rather early in autumn, you will be able to enjoy nature’s beauty without the crowds of visitors that are specific to the months of summer. During winter, you can go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice climbing, all while enjoying the breathtaking scenery. Of course, summer has its own charm in the park and there are routes that are best to enjoy in the warm season only, due to accessibility issues when the weather goes bad.

Glacier National Park

McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch - Libby, MT 

Some of the most interesting objectives of the park that are a must-see:

Glacier National Park

The road to the Sun either driving or taking a cruise

Going-to-the-Sun Road is actually a road around Glacier National Park that is famous for its scenic views. So, if you want to make the most of your visit to this park, you need to take the trip on this road. It doesn’t matter if you choose to drive on it yourself or become a passenger on one of the shuttles that cruise on this road. Just do remember that the best period to visit the Going-to-the-Sun Road is between the end of June or start of July through October. This is due to the fact that the weather may make this road inaccessible. The road is open all year round in the park, but if you have the misfortune to reach the park on bad weather, you may not have the chance to take this particular trip. What will you get if you choose this road? You will enjoy 50 miles of breathtaking views of mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, and even wildlife.

Glacier National Park

Hiking the trail of the Cedars

In case you are looking for a relaxing hike that won’t put too much strain on you from a physical point of view, you need to walk the Trail of the Cedars. This is a trail that goes on a loop, so you can start it from either end, as it will be mesmerizing no matter how you choose to visit it. Because it is one of the most popular trails in Glacier National Park and it enjoys a large number of visitors in the summer months, finding a parking spot can be a real challenge during the peak season. Also, it is worth mentioning that the tail is wheelchair-accessible as well, making outdoor adventures pleasant even for those with physical disabilities.

Glacier National Park

Waterfall hike to Apikuni Fall

A hike that ends with the view of a waterfall is always worth taking. So, if you want to enjoy going through the forests of Glacier National Park, see its rocky peaks in the background, and get to discover a charming waterfall, you need to walk this hike. But, an aspect that you need to remember is that the parking space at the start of this hike is rather limited. Only 12 cars can be accommodated by the dedicated parking area, so if you decide to visit the park during the busiest time of the year parking can become an issue. A tip would be to start your day as early as possible in the park, as it will help you avoid crowded roads and lack of space in parking lots.

Glacier National Park

Scenic rafting trips

It is worth mentioning that Glacier National Park is a suitable destination even for those that are in search of adventures and adrenaline. So, if you are a person that belongs to this group of visitors, don’t hesitate to take a rafting trip while you’re in the park. Don’t worry if you are a novice in this area, as these trips are always guided and assisted by experienced and trained professionals. In fact, all rafting companies in the park have permits for their activity from the US Forest Service. Plus, both Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest manage the rafting areas in the park, for best experiences. Where can one enjoy rafting trips in Glacier National Park? The Middle Fork and North Fork of the Flathead River in the park are the best areas where you can have such an experience and where the rafting companies will take you for a memorable adventure.

Glacier National Park

Now that you have valuable tips about how to enjoy a trip to Glacier National Park, all you need to do is set the details of such an escapade in the outdoors. Sometimes, we need to let go of hotels and vacations that offer everything with minimum effort. We need to step out of our daily routine and do something different, generate memories that will make our lives interesting and fulfilling. So, pack your bags and hit the road to this park for an incredible outdoor adventure.

If you are concerned about quality and wish to find the best services, The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) is an organization of ranches that meet certain quality standards, a DRA dude ranch will never disappoint you. So, have a look at the short list below and decide which ranch suits you best. Please check out all of our ranches located near National Parks HERE.

Montana Ranches:

Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge

Glacier National Park

Email: info@flatheadlakelodge.com

Phone: +1 406-837-4391

Location: Big Fork, Montana

Closest Airport: Kalispell

Bar W Guest Ranch

Glacier National Park

Email: info@thebarw.com

Phone: +1 866-828-2900 +1 406-863-9099

Location: Whitefish, Montana

Closest Airport: Kalispell

McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch

Glacier National Park

Email: info@mmgranch.net

Phone: +1 866-764-5569 +1 406-293-5000

Location: Libby, Montana

Closest Airport: Kalispell

Idaho Ranch:

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch 

Glacier National Park

Email: stay@westernpleasureranch.com

Phone: +1 888-863-9066 +1 208-263-9066

Location: Sandpoint, Idaho

Closest Airport: Spokane, Washington

British Columbia (Canada) Ranch:

Three Bars Guest Ranch

Glacier National Park

Email: info@threebarsranch.com

Phone: +1 877-426-5230 +1 250-426-5230

Location: Cranbrook, British Columbia

Closest Airport: Cranbrook

Save this pin for later! 

Here are some valuable tips about how to enjoy a trip to Glacier National Park. If you are concerned about quality and wish to find the best services, The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) is an organization of ranches that meet certain quality standards, a DRA dude ranch will never disappoint you.

http://www.luxurytravelersguide.com/

The Best Idaho Dude Ranch Vacations

Here is the ultimate guide for Idaho dude ranch, guest ranch and working cattle ranch vacations. These Idaho dude ranches offer all-inclusive vacation packages for families with activities centered around horseback riding and adventure outdoor experiences like whitewater rafting, hiking and fishing. Some offer a full program of kid-centric activities and others offer adult-oriented immersive cowboy & cattle ranch activities. And what’s more, you’ll be extremely satisfied with the quality of the food and the accommodations at an Idaho dude ranch.

The living history of the Old West is infused and celebrated in every facet on these Dude Ranchers’ Association member dude ranches. With a culture that dates back to the pioneer days of the United States, Idaho is much more than just potatoes. If you are looking for big valleys, big views and spectacular rivers than this is the state for you. And, although the Grand Tetons are actually in Wyoming, they can also be viewed from the Idaho side of the Teton Scenic Byway which begins on the Idaho Highway 31 at Swan Valley. With these reasons it’s no surprise Idaho is a great destination for your next vacation.

Take a look at the list of the Best Idaho Dude Ranch Vacations.

 

 

McGarry Ranches Idaho Dude Ranch Working Cattle

McGarry Ranches

Are you looking to be introduced to the lifestyle of the American Cowboy? Theron McGarry of the McGarry Ranches invites you to be a ranch hand guest on his cattle ranch, riding daily on the classic American Quarter Horse. Not only that, this Idaho dude ranch is only 1.5 hours away from the Western entrance of Yellowstone National Park or Grand Teton National Park

Click here to view all Idaho Ranch Vacations

 

Red Horse Mountain Ranch Idaho Dude Ranch Vacation

Red Horse Mountain Ranch

At only 1.5 hours from Spokane International Airport, the Red Horse Mountain Ranch specializes in the Idaho dude ranch for guided adventure activities. Horseback riding is just the start! They offer family vacations for all ages and a couple of weeks each season for adult only weeks and even a singles week! Read about their extensive list of activities here

Click here to view all Idaho Ranch Vacations

Diamond D Idaho Dude Ranch

Diamond D Ranch

Nestled in a serene valley in the Frank Church Wilderness the Diamond D Ranch is surrounded by mountains in the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states. With an endless amount of country and wildlife to see this Idaho dude ranch is perfect for families. 

Click here to view all Idaho Ranch Vacations

 

Seven Devils Lodge Idaho Dude Ranch

Seven Devils Lodge 

Located in the central part of the state, the Seven Devils Lodge is an Idaho dude ranch in the unique area with neighboring jutting canyons, high desert trails and soaring mountain vistas. The lodge is only nine miles from the famous Hells Canyon, known as the deepest canyon in all of North America. Open January through November the lodge is open to horseback riding, guided hunts, fishing, hiking, trap shooting, an archery course and snowmobiling throughout the year. 

Click here to view all Idaho Ranch Vacations

Western Pleasure  Idaho Dude Ranch Vacation

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

With gourmet dining and warm, western hospitality the Western Pleasure Guest Ranch offers not only the dude ranch vacation of your dreams, but a true western experience in the wilderness of Idaho. In addition to horseback riding, the ranch also offers special activities such as horse drawn wagon rides, mounted scavenger hunts and geocashing. 

Click here to view all Idaho Ranch Vacations

 

 

For more information take a look at the best dude ranches in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Arizona and the rest of the West!

 

Pin this for later the best options for an Idaho Dude Ranch.

Are you looking for the ultimate guide for Idaho dude ranch, guest ranch and working cattle ranch vacations? These Idaho dude ranches offer all-inclusive vacation packages centered around horseback riding and adventure outdoor experiences like whitewater rafting, hiking and fishing. Some offer kid-centric family activities and others offer immersive cattle ranch activities. And, you’ll be extremely satisfied with the quality of the food and the accommodations at an Idaho dude ranch.

Lodging Near Glacier National Park at a Dude Ranch

You are about to embark on one of the most quintessential National Park trips that North America has to offer, Glacier National Park. With the itinerary planned for a sunrise trip on the road to the sun and the best places to stop in the park to stop and "smell the roses" you are ready for the experience of a lifetime. But, are you looking for something a little more than a stuffy hotel room on the first floor with kids running overhead and a continental breakfast that leaves something to be desired?  

At a dude ranch you can book your own peaceful cabin for the week and escape the crowds for an outdoor adventure on a ranch that pairs oh - so - nicely with a trip to Glacier National Park. Ranging from luxury resorts to intimate working cattle ranches pick out your very own local and immersive experience for your family at one of these well appointed dude ranches within a four hour drive of Glacier National Park.  

Here are the top dude ranches for lodging near Glacier National Park

 

Rocking Z Ranch

Wolf Creek, Montana ~ 4 Hours from Glacier National Park 

Enjoy great riding as a beginner or long time rider at Rocking Z Guest Ranch. You'll learn Parelli Natural Horsemanship, enjoy delicious ranch style meals and spacious home-style rooms. 

Find more dude ranches near National Parks 

Rocking Z Ranch Lodging Near Glacier National Park

Loping across the meadow at Rocking Z Ranch

 

Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge

Big Fork, Montana ~ 30 Minutes from Glacier National Park 

Located on the shores of Flathead Lake, Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge is a resort style ranch for the ultimate family vacation with unlimited horse and water recreation. 

Find more dude ranches near National Parks 

 

Averills Activities

There's a lot more than horseback riding at Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge

 

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

Sandpoint, Idaho ~ 4 Hours from Glacier National Park 

Experience the spirit of the west at the all inclusive adventure vacation at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch. The warm hospitality, country gourmet dining and the beauty of Idaho's wilderness will make your stay not just a vacation but a true western experience. 

Find more dude ranches near National Parks 

 

Western Pleasure Idaho Dude Ranch Lodging Near Glacier National Park

Interior of a cabin at the Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

 

JJJ Wilderness Ranch

Augusta, Montana ~ 1.5 Hours from Glacier National Park 

Located centrally between Yellowstone and Glacier National Park the JJJ Wilderness Ranch has outstanding horseback riding, fly fishing, and a fantastic kids program. Discover breathtaking experiences by day and relaxed western hospitality at night. 

Find more dude ranches near National Parks 

JJJ Wilderness Ranch - Lodging Near Glacier National Park

Kids love horseback riding at the JJJ Wilderness Ranch

 

Three Bars Guest Ranch

Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada ~ 2.5 hours from Glacier National Park 

As the adventure ranch of the Canadian Rockies Three Bars Guest Ranch is a working cattle ranch, but provides all comforts and full amenities of a true dude ranch. 

Find more dude ranches near National Parks 

 

Three Bars Rafting Lodging Near Glacier National Park

Rafting while at the Three Bars Guest Ranch

Deep Canyon Guest Ranch

Choteau, Montana ~ 2 Hours from Glacier National Park

Deep Canyon Guest Ranch is a family owned 1,200 acre ranch with over 55 years in the guest ranch business at the edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Pack a lunch in the saddlebags for a guided mountain top experience. 

Find more dude ranches near National Parks 

 

Deep Canyon Ranch Lodging Near Glacier National Park

Hiking to the overlook at the Deep Canyon Guest Ranch 

Hidden Hollow Hideaway

Townsend, Montana ~ 4 Hours from Glacier National Park 

As a small working cattle ranch nestled in the foothills of the Montana Big Belt Mountains Hidden Hollow Hideaway offers a tailored experience caring for cattle, viewing the local wildlife and witnessing the history of days long gone. 

Find more dude ranches near National Parks 

 

Hidden Hollow Hideaway Cattle Drive

Participate in cattle work at the Hidden Hollow Hideaway Ranch

 

Bar W Guest Ranch

Whitefish, Montana ~ 40 Minutes from Glacier National Park

Families, adults, singles and groups alike have thousands of acres to explore at the Bar W Guest Ranch. Friendly staff, scrumptious food, great riding and wonderful accommodations await you here.  

Find more dude ranches near National Parks 

Bar W Trail Ride Credit Danny Nestor Butts

Bring your friends - the more the merrier at Bar W Guest Ranch

Rich Ranch

Seeley Lake, Montana ~ 2 Hours from Glacier National Park 

The lodge and cabins of Rich Ranch are nestled in the trees overlooking a tranquil meadow with an awesome view of the Rocky Mountains. Three generations of the Rich family live and work on the ranch and welcome you into their home.

Find more dude ranches near National Parks 

 

Rich Ranch Pack Trip Mountains - Lodging Near Glacier National Park

Pack trips at Rich Ranch are extraordinary lodging near Glacier National Park 

 

 

Lodging Near Glacier National Park at a Dude Ranch

At a dude ranch you can book your own peaceful cabin for the week and escape the crowds for an outdoor adventure on a ranch that pairs oh - so - nicely with a trip to Glacier National Park. Ranging from luxury resorts to intimate working cattle ranches pick out your very own local and immersive experience for your family at one of these well appointed dude ranches within a four hour drive of Glacier National Park.

 

Read more stories about dude ranches near our national parks

 

 

Family Travel and Dude Ranches

One of the most meaningful comments we’ve read about family travel and dude ranches is this: Dude ranches reconnect adults to a simple and innocent part of their childhood and introduce their children to these same experiences.

Western Pleasure Ranch Family Travel Destination

At dude ranches, everyone can discover magic. Photo courtesy of Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

There’s something uplifting and joyful about that. Like when parents momentarily forget themselves and regress with their kids – revisiting beloved animated cartoons from their youth, or unabashedly belting out favorite ballads from bygone (to their kids) times. Now picture horses and corrals, Stetson hats and western boots, cookouts and wide open landscapes straight out of cowboy movies and novels. Your heart goes pitter-patter, just a little bit. Or a lot. Because in today’s era of quick-paced modernization, invasive technology and growing detachment from nature (and one another), the ranch appeal is arguably more potent — for all generations — than ever before. “Perhaps it is the allure of the Western lifestyle that people long to experience. Perhaps it is the adventure that draws guests to a ranch in the first place. Most likely, it’s a combination,” believes Kari Kilmer, Manager of Vee Bar Guest Ranch. Perhaps. Whatever the case, when on a dude ranch, “The feelings that awaken inside of you are something that most people never imagine. It’s the magic!” agrees Tammy Yurich, Activities Director of Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch.

Latigo Ranch Family Travel Destination

Living in a dream. Photo courtesy of Latigo Ranch

Exploring the Magic “Dude ranches are a perfect fit for family travel simply because the dynamic shifts,” suggests Ashley Ducharme, Marketing Coordinator of Bar W Guest Ranch. “Everyone within the family is on an authentic adventure because everyone is trying new things (archery, horseback riding, square dancing, skeet shooting and more). This equalizes the parents and the children and fosters open communication. The kids say ‘Do you know what we did today?’ and the parents respond ‘Well do you know what we did today?’” That level playing field wasn’t created by accident. It has taken a lot of work and requires diligent vigilance to maintain. All the more so as it’s increasingly difficult to find other family-focused vacation experiences that so consistently “bring families together naturally,” as Kerstin Auer, Marketing & Sales of Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, sees it, all by placing careful and balanced emphasis on providing “unique adventures and educational experiences that the whole family will enjoy,” says Janice Schoonover, Owner of Western Pleasure Guest Ranch. Over the years, plenty of visitors have predictably compared their dude ranch adventures with the famous magic of other standard-bearing activity providers like Disney. How do dude ranches stand up? Incredibly well! “When you come to a dude ranch, the only lines you’ll find are the strings of horses and riders on the mountain trails. Every moment with your family will be spent finding real adventures, not being herded through fabricated ones. Without crowds of people to fight against, the buzz of this modern world will fade into serenity and wildness,” says Spencer George, son of the owners of Latigo Ranch.

Geronimo Trail Ranch Family Travel Destination

A Chance to slow down and get in touch with natures. Photo courtesy of Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch

Take Things a Little Slower There really is a lot to be said for excitement without overstimulation, and activation without commercialization. “Dude ranches give families… a place to slow down from the fast pace of daily life and reconnect with each other,” observes Meris Stout, Owner of Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch. There are two important elements to this. First, “Free of television, phone calls, texts and push notifications, family members can discover the magic that has captivated ranch guests for a hundred years,” enthuses RC Townsend, Assistant General Manager of Mountain Sky Guest Ranch. Second, “Learning together through nature and animals is a powerful thing for families to share,” says Tyler Beckley, Owner of Three Bars Guest Ranch. Of course, a readiness to make family time together just that much more engaging is stoked by freedom from one another during part of each day. This is aided by the safe environment dude ranches work to create, allowing parents to relax while their kids do their own things. “Kids have freedoms on a dude ranch that most cannot experience in today’s world,” says Jeanne Ross, General Manager of Colorado Trails Guest Ranch. Doug Cole, Owner of Marble Mountain Guest Ranch concurs: “Once you arrive at a dude ranch, you are by default in a more secure environment that has a known and fixed population during the time of your stay. Kids are more enabled to ‘free range.’”

R Lazy S Ranch Family Travel

Photo courtesy of R Lazy S Ranch

Step into the Dude Ranch Mindset Predictably, “A dude ranch offers so much… by providing very unique opportunities,” says Kelly Stirn, Owner of R Lazy S Ranch. So let’s explore some them. Keep in mind, however, that “The hardest vacation to describe is one based on an experience. For those of us that live this wonderful, rewarding, down-to-earth lifestyle, it is hard to tell a family on the phone what a wonderful time they will have,” advises Kilmer of Vee Bar Guest Ranch. “They simply have to take our word for it, then try it for themselves.” Let’s do that. Let’s put ourselves briefly in dude ranchers’ shoes by reading their words and imagining how amazing a dude ranch holiday can be. Then let’s all go try it out ourselves, remembering that, as Doug Van Berkum, Owner of Rainbow Trout Ranch likes to point out, “There truly is something for EVERYONE!” To read the extended quotes from the ranchers visit the blog post here. This blog was originally written by the Family Travel Association. Visit them on the web here. Save Save Save Save Save Save

What About Dude Ranch Horses?

Elkhorn Ranch Horses

Horses are the magnificent, noble center piece of which dude ranching is built around. Horses have been carrying riders for centuries and provide the most in depth way to experience and explore the historical American West. Members of the Dude Ranchers' Association offer the best and most reliable horses you and your family could want. Please take a look at the following ways to enjoy different horseback riding programs. There are many ways to find your perfect horses: From the way the horses are raised, riders experience levels and to the locations or types of riding you want to do. Be specific and select the ranch that matches you and your family's dude ranch vacation dreams. There is perfectly fitting ranch for everyone.

Ranch Raised Horses

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in Standpoint, Idaho is very proud of their four-legged working partners. They maintain a herd of about 40 registered Quarterhorses, Appaloosas, and Paints for their saddle horses. Two teams of Belgian, two teams of Percherons and one team of Shire-cross are used for their sleigh and wagon rides. Most of the horses are either born and raised on the ranch or born on one of the owners' brothers’ ranches. The horses are worked with and handled at an early age to begin adapting them to their future uses. As two-year olds, their official training begins, getting them used to the saddle and working them in the round pen. They then graduate to the arena. And then to some short trail rides. A training system called the “Basic Handle,” founded by Monte Forman and Pat Wyse is used. This system creates a safe, responsive, and sensible horse. As three- and four-year-olds, these horses are used as mounts for the trail guides. Then, as five-year-olds, they begin their career as mounts for our guests. They use both mares and geldings and rotate mares in and out as they produce more offspring for our future string. Click here for more information about Western Pleasure's individual horses.

Riding for All Levels - Experienced Riders to Can't-a-lopes

With relaxed instruction from our capable wranglers, you will soon feel safe and comfortable on horseback at Elkhorn Ranch in Montana. As the terrain permits, more experienced riders will lope their horses from time to time.  Wranglers are always happy to instruct any guest who needs a little extra help sharpening their riding skills. Grown-ups, fossils or can’t-a-lopes as they are affectionately known, will be offered a variety of horseback trips each day designed to suit their interest and ability. They will get them into the high country as the week and their confidence progress.  Rides are small, normally with less than eight guests in a group. Our youngest, the Peanuts, ride, play and eat together.  On the trail, they go for carefully supervised rides.  may include a river swim, a visit to an old cowboy fort or a trip to the Bear Caves.  Teenagers also band together, and invariably have spirited rides full of adventures that always seem to grow in the retelling.  Whether you choose short and relaxing or long and challenging, sharing a mountain trail seems to build friendships for guests of every age.  As you brush your horse down before heading back to your cabin, you will  smile at the prospect of returning to the barn tomorrow – well-fed, well-rested, and ready to enjoy another spectacular summer day on a high country trail in the Montana Rockies.

Mountain Trails and Arena Events

Paradise Ranch Horses

Paradise Guest Ranch's riding program is very flexible, and features a number of choices. They offer two hour rides as well as both half-day and full-day rides. Some day rides include lunches packed on mules & cooked along the trail. Horsemanship classes are available.  Hook up with one of our seasoned wranglers and spend a morning riding through the wildflower strewn mountain meadows in the surrounding Bighorn National Forest. You’ll ride trails through mountain scenery that will take your breath away. Or spend an afternoon in our private rodeo arena practicing team penning or barrels and poles. These are timed events and competitive with fun for all. Special team penning classes are available. And the week ends with a special kids' rodeo featuring the ranch's most kid friendly horses. Unescorted Explorations Eatons' Ranch offers our guests the unique opportunity to ride one of our 220 horses unescorted with the permission of the Ranch. This allows guests the remarkable freedom to fully explore this beautiful 7,000 acres of country. Guests can ride out from our Wyoming Dude Ranch twice a day Monday through Friday, choosing among morning, afternoon and evening rides. We also have all-day rides into the Bighorn National Forest as well as breakfast and dinner rides. Riding is a bit more limited on weekends; there are only morning and afternoon rides on Saturday, and on Sunday there is only a morning ride as the rest of the day is our horse holiday. Wranglers are always available to guide rides and offer instruction. Watch this video about Eatons' Ranch and their riding program.

Rowses 1 + 1 Cattle Drive Horses`

Work Cattle in True Cowboy Style When you stay at Rowse’s 1+1 Ranch, you’ll live a real ranching life, and experience the simple pleasures of our western American heritage. It’s a land where neighbors have lent a helping hand for generations. A place where the front door is always open and fresh coffee’s waiting.  Spring, Summer or Fall…Each season is different and special at the 1+1 Ranch. No matter the season you’ll get plenty of time in the saddle on the best of our ranch horses. Spring brings the excitement of calves and foals being born, working cattle, cattle drives, and brandings. Summer brings long pasture rides checking cattle, cattle drives, working cattle, cowboy socials, team roping, and team penning. October is fall Round-Up, which involves long cattle drives on horseback, team roping, and penning.


 

5 Reasons to Visit in the Fall

With the kids back in school, Labor Day behind us and the days getting shorter, it can only mean one thing; fall is quickly approaching and will give you 5 good reasons to visit a dude ranch. Whether you’re looking for fall break travel ideas, a long weekend away without the kids or an extended vacation, a dude ranch is an ideal destination to enjoy the fall.

Circle Z Ranch Visit in the Fall

5 Reasons to Visit a Dude Ranch in the Fall

Steals and Deals: As with many vacation destinations, summer is peak season for dude ranches. However, as the air cools down travelers can take advantage of less crowds and discounted rates. Budget-friendly offers range from a percentage off standard rates to special packages. Colorado Trails Ranch  has a 25 percent discount during the fall. During Circle Z Ranch’s Lone Star Long Weekend guests receive a discount on a four-day/three-night stay.

Adult-Only Weeks: Many dude ranches offer special adult-only weeks in the fall. This gives couples, groups and solo travelers the chance to make memories that will last a lifetime. Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, for example, offers an Adult Horsemanship Week. This is a hands-on approach where guests experience the true pleasure of caring for and learning about these noble animals. Or, guests can enjoy a little pampering here, a little adventure there, and a lot of girl talk (and maybe some wine!) with a girlfriend’s getaway to Red Horse Mountain Ranch.

Cattle Drives: For working ranches, fall means cattle drives. Guests are often invited to join in these adventurous and interactive experiences. Hunewill Ranch will embark on its 105th cattle drive this fall. Guests are welcome to take part in the ultimate Old West experience by riding with the Hunewill family for five days. This trek covers 60 miles from Bridgeport, California to Smith Valley, Nevada. Participants herd 600 cows as they are driven to their winter range.

Fall Foliage: Imagine horseback riding under a canopy of Technicolor fall foliage in glorious reds, bright yellows and vivid oranges. Some of the nation’s most spectacular leaf peeping can only be found when you head off the beaten path. Choose from guest ranches in Arizona or Colorado where fall changes the Aspen leaves. Book a getaway to a dude ranch located near a National Park such as Triangle X Ranch in Grand Teton National Park or Horseshoe Canyon Ranch which borders Buffalo River National Park.

Escape the Cold: People who live up north will be pulling out their jackets in no time.  For those looking to bask in the sun one last time, a long weekend getaway in the Southwest will do the trick. With six ranches to choose from in Arizona and two in New Mexico, travelers are sure to find the right ranch for them to ride off into the (still warm) sunset.

 

Pin this for later!

Fall is quickly approaching and will give you 5 good reasons to visit a dude ranch. Whether you’re looking for fall break travel ideas, a long weekend away without the kids or an extended vacation, a dude ranch is an ideal destination to enjoy the fall.

 

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Review our privacy policy for more information.