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.

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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

The Most Interesting Things You Can do During a Trip to the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular natural monuments that attract tourists to Arizona from all over the world. If you haven’t seen the Grand Canyon, you should definitely do it. The best part is that there are great things you can do while at the location, not just witness the natural beauty of the landscape. So, you can spend several days in the area and make the most of your trip. Where can you find outstanding accommodations that are in theme with your outdoor adventure? There are several dude and guest ranches that can offer an unforgettable Arizona ranch vacation while getting the most out of your visit to the Grand Canyon.

Why choose dude ranches for your stay in the proximity of the Canyon? One of the best reasons to make such a choice is the fact that the Dude Ranchers’ Association selects only the best dude ranches to become their members, so you will always enjoy top services and conditions at these ranches. Also, you will have the chance to find gorgeous historic ranches that still preserve their old charm while offering exceptional accommodation options. In case you think that summer is the best season to visit the ranches and the stunning landscape around them, think twice, as winter may represent a much better choice. In winter, there are fewer visitors and you will actually be able to relax, not to mention that the surrounding mountains will offer mind-blowing views when their peaks will be covered in snow. But we will talk about dude ranches later on in this article. For now, let us focus on the most interesting things you can do during a trip at the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon Skywalk

Grand Canyon

Don’t be intimidated by the name of this activity, as it doesn’t involve jumping out of a plane or paragliding. The Grand Canyon Skywalk is actually a walkway made out of glass and built at an impressive height above the canyon. So, when you walk around it, you will enjoy some of the most breathtaking views. It does feel like you are floating above the canyon, allowing you to see its grandiose character and realize just how massive the canyon is. This particular tour will give you the chance to enjoy the most spectacular parts of the Grand Canyon with minimum effort and in a relatively short period of time.

The North Rim 

Grand Canyon

The “other side” of the Grand Canyon, known officially as the North Rim, is gorgeous and not as visited as other parts of the Canyon. So, if you want to explore the magnificent landscape, enjoy great restaurants, and have unforgettable experiences without having to face large crowds of visitors, the North Rim is exactly what you need. Located at an elevation of 8,000 feet, it offers gorgeous views over the canyon. Still, if you plan to visit the North Rim, it is worth considering that the area is available only in the period ranging between the 15th of May and 15th of October. So, this part is closed for the winter, as the temperature and weather here are slightly worse here, due to the orientation of this area. But, during the warm season, it is one of the best parts you can enjoy if you are looking to enjoy a more peaceful vacation.

Helicopter Tours 

Grand Canyon

Enjoying a helicopter tour is the fastest, most exciting, and spectacular way to see the Grand Canyon. It is hard to tell just how large and intricate the Canyon is until you actually get up in the sky and explore it from up above. A helicopter tour will give you the chance to get a panoramic view of the Canyon, something that not very many people can see during regular visiting tours. So, if you really want to spoil yourself and someone you love, and create memories you will never forget, schedule a helicopter tour around the canyon. There are special tours that will show you the best sides of this natural monument that won’t resemble any other experience you will have while enjoying your vacation in the area.

Whitewater Rafting in the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

You plan on doing something more adventurous on your vacation? Well, the Grand Canyon has something to offer to each type of tourist. So, besides relaxing walks and enjoying the scenery, you can easily opt for white water rafting as well. If the helicopter will allow you to see the Canyon from up above, white water rafting will take you down under, gliding between the tall walls of the canyon. Don’t worry if you’ve never done such a thing, as this activity is very well organized and you will be completely safe. The worst thing that can happen to you is to get splashed by water during your ride on the river. So, since you already took the trip down here, it is worth making the most of everything the Grand Canyon has to offer.

 

Also, with the help of dude ranches, you will definitely have anything but a boring vacation. You can enjoy more than just the activities available at the Grand Canyon, as these ranches in Arizona offers a wide range of options when it comes to having fun in the outdoors. It is worth mentioning that the Dude Ranchers’ Association is dedicated to offering unique experiences to all of the guests that pass the threshold of the ranches belonging to the association. The concept manages to entwine top-notch hospitality services with cattle farming, horseback riding, and reconnecting with nature in very many ways. It is really possible to see and explore the wilderness while enjoying accommodations, food, and entertainment at the highest standards. The ranches may have a rustic appearance and preserve a lot of the traditions connected to old ranches, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t have what it takes to answer to your requirements. Just check out these dude ranches belonging to the Dude Ranchers’ Association and you will understand that high-quality standards are a must and will be respected at all times.

Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch

Grand Canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Email: vacation@stgr.com

Phone: +1 866-444-4471 +1 928-727-8270

Location: Yucca, Arizona

Closest Airport: Las Vegas

Kay El Bar Ranch

Grand Canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Email: info@kayelbar.com

Phone: +1 928-684-7593

Location: Wickenburg, Arizona

Closest Airport: Phoenix

Rancho de los Caballeros

Grand Canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Email: info@sunc.com

Phone: +1 800-684-5030 +1 928-684-5484

Location: Wickenburg, Arizona

Closest Airport: Phoenix

White Stallion Ranch

Grand Canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Email: info@whitestallion.com

Phone: +1 888-977-2624 +1 520-297-0252

Location: Tucson, Arizona

Closest Airport: Tucson

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Why choose dude ranches for your stay in the Grand Canyon area? The DRA selects only the best ranches as members, you will enjoy top services & conditions.

 

Blog written by: Olivier Templar-James

http://www.luxurytravelersguide.com/

National Media Outlets Turn Spotlight to Dude Ranches

Dude Ranches are winning awards! From Forbes Magazine to Real Simple and accolades in nearly every accredited journalism outlet, the allure and experience of Dude Ranch Vacations is dominating vacation stories and bookings in 2018, but why? Is it the heat of the summer that literally drove folks to the mountains for escape into cool nights accented with breezy pine aromas and horses hooves mashing hay in the background? Or is it a generational shift to become more attached and aware of landscapes and the people that work them?

2018 Dude Ranches Winning Accolades

 

The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort, California

Wine Country Wins

Operating one of the largest dude ranches in the nation, Alisal certainly delivers entertainment for varying ages and curiosities. This year, Men’s Journal named the ranch one of the ‘Best Luxury Dude Ranches’ in the nation for many a good reason. The 10,500-acre ranch in California’s Santa Ynez Valley is a family-owned working ranch about 30 miles northeast of Santa Barbara. The property has 73 cottages, all with working, wood burning fireplaces, and without phones or televisions.

Onsite vacationers can access 50-plus miles of riding trails, a 100-acre, spring-fed lake, two 18-hole championship golf courses, tennis courts, pool, spa, in addition to fine dining. Don’t forget it’s wine country and just minutes away are more than 75 renowned vineyards and wineries. “Or, stay rustic, and take the hay truck out to the lake for kayaking, boating and fishing,” explains Shelly Rivoli, founder, Travelswithbaby.com and Familytravel411.com. 

However, it’s the multi-generational offerings that make this an award-winning ranch. Rivoli visited Alisal this past summer with her kids and mother-in-law in tow to ride, learn and shoot archery, and, of course, photograph her sister-in-law, Jill Rivoli, the ranch’s first female head wrangler. “The activities at the ranch made it easy for our three generations to stay entertained and happy, and to seamlessly move between time together as a big group and and time spent apart or in pairs,” explains Rivoli. 

For Rivoli’s family, it’s the game room, horseshoe pit, personalized corn hole games created in front of each cottage, and swimming pool that are most popular for the kids. “For me, it’s the breakfast ride to the old adobe, with hot cakes, beverages, fresh fruit, all while sitting under the old Oak Trees and Sycamores.”  

Dude Ranches

The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort - Solvang, CA 

Rainbow Trout Ranch, Colorado

Remote Paradise, Iconic Architecture and Western Wear

Preparation can be half the excitement of a vacation. From roping in new clothing for the journey to educating oneself on altitude acclimation, new landscapes provide the quintessential ‘true adventure’ many millennials are yearning for in a vacation. 

When Real Simple journalist Cari Wira Dineen needed some serious apparel and packing advice for her Western Dude Ranch adventure and editorial piece, she called Courtney Frazier, an expert in terms of raising mindful children on a ranch while impeccably and appropriately dressed, working tirelessly for the Colorado Dude Ranch Association and Colorado Tourism Office, and more importantly, championing for conservation and thoughtful preservation through hands-on ranch education and experience. 

Needless to say, Frazier needs a little R&R when possible to take off her own cowgirl hat and rhinestone jeans come dusk. Frazier describes to Real Simple the epitome of Western Dude Ranch culture and dress in the article while exploring the possibility of ranch activity for a guest. 

“My family and I stayed at the Rainbow Trout Ranch for a week and it was hospitality-forward from the get-go. Personalized and customized riding and activity for our entire family, diverse sport in terms of hiking, riding, fishing, cool and breezy evenings at 9,000 feet and splash time for the kids while we ate grilled fajitas poolside." 

Rainbow Trout Ranch continually draws families from around the world to their remote paradise. Roaring evening and morning fires are welcomed by enormous wrap-around porches, views of pines for acres, and aromas from the biscuit-shooter and roller for those airy dough-goods, it’s hook, set and catch! 

Rainbow Trout’s bean master, or cook, serves family-style, home cookin’, perfectly accentuated with evening entertainment once the corral has settled down for the evening. From classic Western line dancing to legendry cowboy guitar tunes by the fire, once the stars arrive, ranches such as Rainbow Trout understand the need and importance for multi-generational activity and enjoyment not centered around a bar, cantina or alcohol.  Many returning guests even seek out Western wear throughout the year to bring to the evening activity.

PS. Rainbow Trout Ranch has the second largest wood lodge east of the Mississippi; for architecture and history buffs, it doesn’t get any better, photography for days! 

Dude Ranches

Rainbow Trout Ranch - Antonito, CO

White Stallion Ranch, Arizona

Wild, Wild, Luxury and Entertainment

White Stallion Ranch, a longtime member of the DRA, was named one of ‘America's Best Family Resorts’ by a USA Today Readers Choice poll. The award was based on readers' votes for the resort determined by kids' amenities and family programming. A panel of experts including USA Today editors, 10Best.com editors, expert contributors and media had nominated the ranch. 

"We are so very proud to have this honor bestowed on the White Stallion Ranch," said Russell True, co-owner of True Ranch Hospitality. "This ranch has been in my family for more than five decades. We pride ourselves in offering the best hospitality and exceptional service at a fair value for all our guests, including families. For example, kids under five stay at the ranch for free," True added.

Ali Isroff, Chicago native, joined in on a family reunion at the ranch, including her three boys less than seven years of age. “White Stallion Ranch was awesome, it was a really great vacation for our family, super kid friendly and accommodating. My sister-in-law did a ton a research and felt that the ranch would offer something we all could enjoy—from 76 years old to 1 years old—and it didn’t disappoint!”

White Stallion Ranch is also one of the largest capacity dude ranches in the nation. Therefore, they are able to offer wild, wild, west entertainment once the stars come out and all the dishes have been cleared. 

Dude Ranches

White Stallion Ranch - Tucson, AZ 

Eatons' Ranch, Wyoming

Longevity Proves Attractive

Eatons' Ranch is one of the most famous dude ranches in the nation, and for deserved reason, it’s been operating for over 135 years and is the true essence of the Old West. The five-generation working cattle ranch is nestled on the pine covered eastern slopes of the Bighorn Mountains. The 7,000-acre ranch offers massive expanses of Wyoming rolling hills and over a hundred activities within this terrain to keep anyone out cowpoking or meandering through valleys for days.

Nearby Sheridan provides the easiest access for most visitors with numerous daily flights and only an 18-mile transport to the ranch. It’s not only attractive for families, weddings and reunions, but also corporate groups. “My company hosts their annual conference at Eatons' Ranch every fall,” notes Lani Oneil, director of national accounts, Frontier Asset Management. “We bring in clients from all over the US and the event is always a new and memorable experience for the, It definitely beats spending long days in hotel conference rooms followed by the usual steakhouse dinner.” 

Dude Ranches

Eatons' Ranch - Wolf, WY

Colorado Lovin’

Colorado doesn’t have the largest number of dude ranches of the States, but it certainly achieves the most palaver (discussion) for its consistent and numerous accolades. 

C Lazy U

C Lazy U, 90 minutes from Denver and easily accessible via the Amtrak Train from hipster downtown Union Station has won three awards from Travel + Leisure in 2018 for Top Hotel in the World (#74), Top 15 Continental US Resort Hotels (#6) and Top 10 Resort Hotel in the American West  (#3) And, for the second year in a row, C Lazy U was ranked #2 Destination Resort in USA TODAY’s 2018 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards for Best Destination Resort. Paging through Sunset Magazine, you might notice that C Lazy U was the runner up “Hotels That Impress” in the Sunset 2018 Travel Awards. 

Dude Ranches

C Lazy U Ranch - Granby, CO

Cherokee Park Ranch

And, to get a diverse round up (pun intended) of the ‘Best American Dude Ranch’ voted by readers of USA Today’s 10Best, the list has Cherokee Park Ranch with another #1 win. All but one of the ranches featured have been a longtime member of the DRA! (10best.com/awards/travel/best-dude-ranch

Cherokee Park Ranch, one of Colorado's first guest ranches, was a stagecoach stop between Fort Collins, Colorado, and Laramie, Wyoming. Accommodations include suites in their 120-year-old lodge and six outlying cabins, each outfitted with porch swings to take in the sites and splendor of the remote location miles from any city. 

Again, it’s the multigenerational activities, stunning new barn and kids activity space, and good old-fashioned dancing that keeps the families both returning and new ones seeking out this isolated vacation spot. For our family, it’s always the infamous line and country dancing nights. 

Dude Ranches

Cherokee Park Ranch - Livermore, CO 

Vista Verde Ranch

Located in Steamboat Springs, is one of the only four-season dude ranches in the State. When it comes to awards, and assortment of sport for all seasons, and weather conditions, Vista Verde Ranch is noted annually in dozens of publications. Think biking on snow in December, fall fly-fishing for off-season spawns or cooking classes or wine tastings al fresco or by roaring fire, the ranch’s luxurious offerings and certainly an anomaly for the Old West, but certainly welcomed.

Vista Verde Ranch has a AAA Four Diamond Award and the ranch’s Chef Chol has been building the cellar wine list to rival that of some of the country’s greatest restaurants. Fodor’s announced that Vista Verde had been selected as a Fodor’s Choice recipient yet again. And, from Shape Magazine to the Gene Kilgore World’s Best Ranches Award to mentions in everything from National Geographic ADVENTURE Magazine to Los Angeles Times and oodles more, this ranch lassos attention from all genres of vacationer. 

Dude Ranches

Vista Verde Ranch - Steamboat Springs, CO 

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From Forbes Magazine to Real Simple and accolades in nearly every accredited journalism outlet, the allure and experience of Dude Ranch Vacations is dominating vacation stories and bookings in 2018, but why?

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.

Where to Have an All-American Vacation Experience

'Made in America' continues to surge in popularity for not only domestic-minded shoppers in the U.S., but also for travelers. For those searching for an authentic getaway that stays true to your roots, consider exploring the Wild West. It doesn’t get any more authentic than the original all-inclusive, All-American experience: a dude ranch vacation – think cattle drives, hiking, rodeos, campfires and fishing.

A dude ranch vacation allows people of all ages to spend quality time in some of the country’s most beautiful, awe-inspiring settings. They are rooted in American tradition and principles – horses, hats, hospitality, heritage, honesty and heart – and that’s just the beginning.

Below are 8 All-American Dude Ranch Experiences:

 

1. Saddle Up, Like a Cowboy: Overseer Theron McGarry, a lifelong cowboy and fourth generation rancher, sees to it that guests at McGarry Ranches get the complete Western experience on these fully operational cattle ranches in Rexburg, Idaho. Guests have the opportunity to walk in a rancher’s shoes during their stay by completing typical farmhand tasks from filling water troughs and rescuing stray cows and calves to roping and fence mending, all while being treated to views of Snake River and the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

2. Participate in a Rockin' Rodeo: Saturdays at Rainbow Trout Ranch in Antonito, Colo., are spent in the arena preparing for the ranch’s rodeo. Kids, teens and adults spend the day trying their hand at traditional cowboy roping including corralling barrels and looping on to poles. The day culminates with a fast and furious "pony express" race between the wranglers, which is sure to enthrall rodeo lovers of all ages!

3. Take in the Views on Horseback: Everyday, twice a day, Bar Lazy J in Parshall, Colo., takes guests on adventure horseback rides with gorgeous views through canyons, forests and valleys. The ranch’s claim to fame is that no two rides are ever the same! Bar Lazy J offers extended rides featuring longer stretches of loping that are typically at a faster pace, perfect for thrill-seekers. Keep an eye out for local wildlife and animals as you ride through the various terrains.

Bar Lazy J All-American Dude Ranch experience

4. Learn to Fly Fish: The fly fishing and guided fishing tours at Diamond D Ranch are truly like no other. With streams 50 yards away from the cabins and a private lake on the ranch grounds in Stanley, Idaho, guests do not have to go far to relax and catch fresh rainbow and other native trout. Diamond D Ranch offers guided fly-fishing tours that range from a quick afternoon on the creek to multi-day, pack trip expeditions. It truly is an angler’s paradise!

5. Watch and Learn from the Rodeo Pros: Every Wednesday afternoon at White Stallion Ranch in Tuscon, Ariz., guests get to watch a real, traditional rodeo in action! As a tradition for almost 50 years, the wranglers and their families and friends come together in the White Stallion arena to compete in team roping, barrel racing and breakaway roping. Throughout the rodeo, narrators regale ranch guests with tales of the traditions behind the rodeo and the history of the West.

White Stallion Roping All-American Dude Ranch Experience

6. Become a Sharp Shooter: Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Harrison, Idaho, provides guests with a one-of-a-kind shooting experience with its 3D archery stations. Participants are taken on a hike through a trail in the woods to the course with life-size targets. These targets vary from life-size turkeys and elk to the occasional mountain lion, simulating a real hunting expedition.

7. Experience an Adventure Pack Trip: Rich’s Montana Guest Ranch in Seeley Lake, Mont., offers pack trips in the crown jewel of America’s wilderness system. These pack trips, which range from five to 10 days, take place in the 1.5 million acre Bob Marshall wilderness full of valleys, lakes, streams and mountains. Adventurers are on horseback and move camp every other day, with the non-riding days filled with fishing and exploring.

Rich Ranch Pack Trip Mountains All-American Dude Ranch Experience

8. Participate in Rodeo Games: One of the most unique and authentic activities at Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch in Quincy, Calif., is their Guest Rodeo Games. After a hearty Hamburger Cookout, guests meet at the corral for an afternoon of fun with the wranglers. The famous Greenhorn Games are for everyone in the family and feature barrel racing, pole-bending, keyhole competitions and even an egg race!

 

For more information or help in choosing the perfect ranch for you and your family please contact us at 307-587-2339 of shoot us an e-mail at info@duderanch.org.

 

‘Made in America’ continues to surge in popularity for not only domestic-minded shoppers in the U.S., but also for travelers. It doesn’t get any more authentic than the original all-inclusive, All-American experience: a dude ranch vacation – think cattle drives, hiking, rodeos, campfires and fishing.

The Best Multi-Generational Dude Ranches

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

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

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

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

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

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

#MultiGenerationalRanchVacation


Western Pleasure Multi-Generational Ranch Vacation

Wyoming

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

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

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

California

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

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

Idaho

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

Arizona

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

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

Colorado

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

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

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

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

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

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

Montana

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

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

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

New Mexico

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

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

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Ride Off Into The West, And A National Park, From A Dude Ranch

It’s after a soft, pattering rain, with the clouds clearing and the sun streaming through, that the essence of the Western landscape rises up. The pungent scent of sagebrush is wicked up by the moist air, mingling with the sweet aroma of pine. And whether you’re astride your horse, or relaxing on the ranch-house porch with a steaming cup of coffee, the early fall view of snow-dusted peaks with valleys below glimmering with the gold of aspen leaves seems crisper, almost magnified.

Dude ranches have been showcasing these landscapes, and their associated experiences, for generations of families, many who come back year after year after year to relive the experience. And why not? These typically week-long vacations revolve around trail rides that literally carry you into these marvelous settings. And that day in the saddle is followed by a hearty meal that might feature Citrus Roasted Half Chicken, Porcini Mushroom Risotto, or a classic Buffalo Tenderloin. At day’s end, you’ll settle into a soft, warm bed in a cabin that’s rooted in the setting.

With some ranches closing in on a century of welcoming guests, it’s not a lie to say the industry literally grew up with the National Park System. So intertwined are the two that there’s almost a symbiotic relationship between them. True, most dude ranch vacations feature all-inclusive ranch stays. But there are ranches out there that relish and promote their proximity to national parks, places such as the Lone Mountain Ranch that is just 18 miles from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, or the White Stallion Ranch that sidles up to Saguaro National Park in Arizona.

When considering a dude ranch vacation, be sure to look for the establishment’s endorsement from the Dude Ranchers’ Association. This organization, which arose from a meeting in 1926 in a Bozeman, Montana, hotel room between cattle ranching and railroad interests, doesn’t take membership lightly. Rather, ranches are evaluated for two years on everything from their lodgings to how they care for their horses before they’re granted membership. Today, only about 100 ranches sprinkled through the Western United States and one Canadian province have qualified for that distinction.

Here’s a look at three dude ranches that can connect you with a national park when you want the best of both experiences -- ranch life and a sampling of America’s best places.

 

White Stallion National Park Trip
   
White Stallion Ranch, Tucson, Arizona
9251 West Twin Peaks Road
Tucson, Arizona  85743
888-977-2624

This southern Arizona ranch spans 3,000 acres, but can seem larger thanks to the access it has to Saguaro National Park and its 91,439 acres right next door. All-day horseback rides at the White Stallion Ranch can include treks into the national park. You also can ride up into the surrounding mountains studded with the region’s iconic saguaro cacti or, if you have the skills, take a faster ride that features loping and cantering through the Sonoran Desert. Recall the day’s activities around the evening buffet dinner grilled outside, and relax afterwards by studying the night sky or listening to a cowboy singer.

 

Gros Ventre River Ranch National Park

Gros Ventre River Ranch, Moose, Wyoming
18 Gros Ventre Road
Jackson, Wyoming 83001
307-733-4138

Towering over your stay at the Gros Ventre River Ranch are the crags of Grand Teton National Park. Not surprisingly, the park can play a supporting role in your vacation at the ranch. You can take time to climb the Grand Teton itself, or play white-water cowboy on the rapids of the Snake River that flows through the park. Daily trail rides offer great photo opts with the bison and moose that call this landscape home. Family style dinners back at the lodge allow you to make new friends while comparing your day’s adventures.



Bar Family Father Daughter

Bar W Guest Ranch, Whitefish, Montana
2875 Highway 93 West
Whitefish, Montana 59937
866-828-2900

There is a place in northern Montana where days are spent on trail rides or sharpening skills barrel racing or maybe simply fishing. Visitors to the Bar W Guest Ranch also have access to mountain bike trails and relaxing on evening wagon rides that culminate with a cookout. For some, helping with a cattle drive might be on your schedule. For all, rides high up into the mountains and through the pine forests are daily adventures. The 3,000-acre ranch is not far from the Canadian border...and it’s also less than an hour from Glacier National Park.
Whether you’re anxious to get back on a horse, or want to slip your foot into a stirrup for the first time, a dude ranch vacation surrounds you with landscapes so magnificent in their beauty that we protect many of them as national parks.   

 

Most dude ranch vacations feature all-inclusive ranch stays. But there are ranches out there that relish & promote their proximity to a national park.

The Great American Family Holiday – on a Dude Ranch

Sylvan Dale Ranch Great American Family Holiday Clint the donkey gets a hug at the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch.

Ride ‘em cowboy! Sure there can be plenty of time in the saddle when you take the kids on a dude ranch vacation. But these days, there’s plenty else to do. In fact, ranch goers acknowledge, they often spend less time riding than they expected because of so many other activities and so much land to explore. That’s especially true for multi-generational groups who find guest ranches ideal for family reunions. They are all-inclusive so there is no bickering—and no surprises—with the final bill. No one has to get groceries, cook or clean up. And there are activities for all ages. How about mountain biking? Organized kids’ activities often include everything from riding to soccer, sack races, art projects and talent shows. Programs like at the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Colorado, means the adults get some time to catch up and parents don’t have to worry about their children’s whereabouts. The closeness of the cabins, dining room and other facilities makes it easy for parents to keep an eye on them, and means the property is more convenient to navigate for older guests. You might not have realized dude ranches today offer so many options:

A visit to a National Park – Many dude ranches are located near some of the country’s most popular national parks. White Stallion Ranch borders Arizona’s Saguaro National Park, while Rimrock Ranch is only miles outside the East entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Medicine Bow Lodge & Guest Ranch is located in the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming; while many guests at Bar W Guest Ranch in Montana head to Glacier National Park for a day.

Bar W Dude Ranch Vacation

Picnic at the Bar W Guest Ranch in Montana

A hike in the wilderness. Most dude ranches are off the tourist grid on lots of land, ideal for exploring on foot. The Diamond D Ranch, nestled in the Frank Church Wilderness Area of Idaho, offers excursions into the wild and fishing in the Salmon River Mountains, among many other activities.

Diamond D Ranch Fishing

Indulge in a massage Many ranches now offer spa treatments, like White Stallion Ranch  in Tucson, AZ and Vista Verde Ranch just outside of Steamboat, CO.

Take a yoga class. Many ranches that offer spa services also provide yoga classes and training. Before a long day in the saddle, guests can have a relaxing limbering-up session with certified trainers.

Try some new wines. Gourmet cuisine and wine paring are gaining popularity at dude ranches. At Smith Fork Ranch, favorites from their private cellar and wineries they especially like are among the choices, including some Colorado wines.

Go tubing or white water rafting. Three Bars Guest Ranch in the Canadian Rockies offers weekly white water rafting tours on the unspoiled  Mary’s River.  Put in only a 10 minute drive from the ranch.

Give shooting sports a try at Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Idaho, there is instruction in a safely controlled environment. There are 5 stations, each providing their own unique targets.

Ride a Zip Line The Bar Lazy J Ranch has one of Colorado’s longest and fastest zip lines and is the only one that crosses the Colorado River. The zip line starts on a steep bluff overlooking the Colorado River dropping 82 feet in elevation as it crosses the river, through the trees and across a pasture to the landing platform. You will be zipping along at speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour. This activity is for guests ages 13 and up.

Go fishing Rainbow Trout Ranch near several historic Spanish land grants in Antonito, Colo.,encourages guests to go trout fishing; Try your hand at fly fishing at 4UR Ranch in Mineral County, Colo.

Do si do with the wranglers or sing your favorite western songs around the campfire at ranches including – Mountain Sky Guest Ranch sits on over 10,000 operational acres of unspoiled wilderness in the heart of Yellowstone Country in Emigrant, Mont Got your cowboy hat?

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Where to Have an All-American Vacation Experience

‘Made in America’ continues to surge in popularity for not only domestic-minded shoppers in the U.S., but also for travelers. For those searching for an authentic getaway that stays true to your roots, consider exploring the Wild West. It doesn’t get any more authentic than the original all-inclusive, All-American experience: a dude ranch vacation – think cattle drives, hiking, rodeos, campfires and fishing. A dude ranch vacation allows people of all ages to spend quality time in some of the country’s most beautiful, awe-inspiring settings. They are rooted in American tradition and principles – horses, hats, hospitality, heritage, honesty and heart – and that’s just the beginning. Below are 8 All-American Dude Ranch Experiences:

  1. Saddle Up, Like a Cowboy: Overseer Theron McGarry, a lifelong cowboy and fourth generation rancher, sees to it that guests at McGarry Ranches get the complete Western experience on these fully operational cattle ranches in Rexburg, Idaho. Guests have the opportunity to walk in a rancher’s shoes during their stay by completing typical farmhand tasks from filling water troughs and rescuing stray cows and calves to roping and fence mending, all while being treated to views of Snake River and the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

McGarry Ranches

  1. Participate in a Rockin' Rodeo: Saturdays at Rainbow Trout Ranch in Antonito, Colo., are spent in the arena preparing for the ranch’s rodeo. Kids, teens and adults spend the day trying their hand at traditional cowboy roping including corralling barrels and looping on to poles. The day culminates with a fast and furious "pony express" race between the wranglers, which is sure to enthrall rodeo lovers of all ages!
  1. Take in the Views on Horseback: Everyday, twice a day, Bar Lazy J in Parshall, Colo., takes guests on adventure horseback rides with gorgeous views through canyons, forests and valleys. The ranch’s claim to fame is that no two rides are ever the same! Bar Lazy J offers extended rides featuring longer stretches of loping that are typically at a faster pace, perfect for thrill-seekers. Keep an eye out for local wildlife and animals as you ride through the various terrains.
  1. Learn to Fly Fish: The fly fishing and guided fishing tours at Diamond D Ranch are truly like no other. With streams 50 yards away from the cabins and a private lake on the ranch grounds in Stanley, Idaho, guests do not have to go far to relax and catch fresh rainbow and other native trout. Diamond D Ranch offers guided fly-fishing tours that range from a quick afternoon on the creek to multi-day, pack trip expeditions. It truly is an angler’s paradise!
  1. Watch and Learn from the Rodeo Pros: Every Wednesday afternoon at White Stallion Ranch in Tuscon, Ariz., guests get to watch a real, traditional rodeo in action! As a tradition for almost 50 years, the wranglers and their families and friends come together in the White Stallion arena to compete in team roping, barrel racing and breakaway roping. Throughout the rodeo, narrators regale ranch guests with tales of the traditions behind the rodeo and the history of the West.
  1. Become a Sharp Shooter: Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Harrison, Idaho, provides guests with a one-of-a-kind shooting experience with its 3D archery stations. Participants are taken on a hike through a trail in the woods to the course with life-size targets. These targets vary from life-size turkeys and elk to the occasional mountain lion, simulating a real hunting expedition.
  1. Experience an Adventure Pack Trip: Rich’s Montana Guest Ranch in Seeley Lake, Mont., offers pack trips in the crown jewel of America’s wilderness system. These pack trips, which range from five to 10 days, take place in the 1.5 million acre Bob Marshall wilderness full of valleys, lakes, streams and mountains. Adventurers are on horseback and move camp every other day, with the non-riding days filled with fishing and exploring.
  1. Participate in Rodeo Games: One of the most unique and authentic activities at Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch in Quincy, Calif., is their Guest Rodeo Games. After a hearty Hamburger Cookout, guests meet at the corral for an afternoon of fun with the wranglers. The famous Greenhorn Games are for everyone in the family and feature barrel racing, pole-bending, keyhole competitions and even an egg race!

For more information or help in choosing the perfect ranch for you and your family please contact us at 307-587-2339 of shoot us an e-mail at info@duderanch.org.


Lone Mountain Ranch Hosts Family with the Jack & Jill Foundation

"The best part of memories is making them" - Jon Albert, Founder of the Jack & Jill Foundation The Dude Ranchers' Association and the Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation shares a partnership, connecting families to ranches across the West. Please take a look at the video below to see how a ranch vacation at Lone Mountain Ranch was a great way to spend final moments with loved ones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnA01aFJi68 If you would like to know more about the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation and how you can get involved, please contact Jon Albert at jalbert@jajf.org, 404.537.5253 or Colleen Hodson at colleen@duderanch.org, 307.587.2339

 

About the Jack & Jill Foundation

JAJF has become exceptionally—even profoundly important because of the lives we are ALL truly impacting across the United States. When a parent is diagnosed with late-stage cancer, a family’s world is immediately turned upside down. Our supporters appreciate these children who are facing the imminent loss of their Moms and or Dads deserve a timeout from cancer to create cherished, lasting (indispensable) memories as a family… while they can. For JAJF to be “prescribed” by Oncologists across the United States as part of the treatment process and protocol is extraordinary. JAJF has now treated families from 44 states. Sadly, it is just too easy for us to find young Moms and Dads in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s dying from cancer (despite the advances in research) leaving behind their children. We gain our families strictly from Oncologist referrals. See the JAJF Family Photo Gallery and enjoy a few of the thousands of family photos. There is no cancer in these images. Smile as you see the smiles and happy moments each JAJF family enjoyed on their WOW! Experience. Smile knowing your support provides directly for families to create lasting, cherished memories together… while they can. Dads and Moms passed away knowing their children will always have the fun, positive memories as their greatest inheritance. Thank you for helping JAJF be the only organization in the country: Treating the families; not the cancer®. The White Stallion Ranch, Colorado Trails Ranch and Tanque Verde Ranch have also hosted families with the Jack & Jill Foundation.

Lone Mountain

Hollywood Meets the Wild West

Forget Hollywood: many dude ranches have had Hollywood come to them to film some of the most notable classic Western movies ever to hit the big screen over the years. Take for example, White Stallion Ranch. This family-owned 3,000-acre dude ranch located outside of Tucson, Ariz., has been attracting Hollywood filmmakers to its unspoiled desert and rugged mountain landscape for more than 70 years. Notable Western movies filmed on-site include the 1939 legendary film, “Arizona,” as well as “Winchester 73,” “Apache Ambush” and “Backlash.” And the list doesn’t stop at just Western films. Scenes from “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” starring George Clooney were filmed on the ranch. The 2007 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue even used this desert setting for its hugely popular annual photo shoot!

White Stallion Ranch Wagon Ride Horses

White Stallion Ranch

Another guest ranch known for its movie history is Circle Z Ranch. Also located in Arizona, Circle Z Ranch is the oldest continuously operating guest ranch in the state and has served as the backdrop for movies and TV shows including “Gunsmoke” and John Wayne’s “Red River.” Most recently, the 2006 movie “Flicka” was filmed at Eaton’s Ranch in Wyoming. Upon arriving to the ranch’s 7,000 acres of beautiful open country with rolling hills, grassy meadows and hidden valleys, you too will see why the setting was perfect for the big screen. Whether you’re a movie buff looking to visit the settings of some of your favorite movies or searching for a thrilling adventure in an off-the-beaten-path locale, guest ranches provide you with the full on star treatment. Thanks to their warm Western Hospitality and full lineup of daily activities and programing, you’re guaranteed to have the experience of a lifetime…straight out of a Hollywood Western. For more DRA accredited dude ranch options or to plan your next dude ranch vacation, visit the Dude Ranchers’ Association website at www.duderanch.org.

Circle Z Dude Ranch Cat Post Historical

Circle Z Ranch

Eatons Ranch Horses Sunset

Eatons Ranch                                                      


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Girlfriend Getaway - Anything but Ordinary

Skip Vegas and plan a girlfriend getaway that’s anything but ordinary at the original all-inclusive vacation destination: the dude ranch. Enjoy spa treatments, horseback riding, mountaintop yoga classes, outdoor adventure, wine tastings and, of course, girl talk in some of the most spectacular areas in the country. No matter what type of getaway you and your girlfriends have in mind, there’s the perfect dude ranch out there for you. There are a broad spectrum of guest ranches that are perfect for girlfriend getaways, ranging from rustic working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches. Whether you’re staying in your own private cabin or in a lodge room, rest assured you’ll sleep on comfortable beds, in superbly kept rooms, with all the amenities you’ll need for a pleasant and relaxing stay. So grab you mom, your sister and or your best friends and check out these great ranches for the perfect girlfriend getaway…

Girlfriend Getaways

Skip Vegas and plan a girlfriend getaway that’s anything but ordinary at the original all-inclusive vacation destination: the dude ranch. Enjoy spa treatments, horseback riding, mountaintop yoga classes, outdoor adventure, wine tastings and, of course, girl talk in some of the most spectacular areas in the country.

Bonanza Creek Guest Ranch, Montana

  • Rancho de los Caballeros in Arizona is a historic ranch resort with the soul of a bed and breakfast. Girlfriends can ride the rugged trails, relax at the luxurious spa or pool, or play a round of golf at one of Golf Digest’s Top 100 U.S. courses. With 200,000 acres of open range, 100 saddle horses and a team full of wranglers, it will be an experience you and your girlfriends will never forget.
  • Located in Montana, Bar W Guest Ranch offers an all-inclusive package for women to “Cowgirl Up” and take over the ranch. This package combines the simple beauty of nature with the unmatched Western hospitality of the ranch for a trip that will refuel your mind, body and spirit. Activities include a horsemanship clinic, cocktail receptions, “two-stepping” and a much-needed hot tub.
  • Also located in Arizona, White Stallion Ranch offers several “Cactus Cowgirls” getaway packages each year. These getaways include a margarita welcome party, one-hour massage, guided hikes, country western dance lessons, daily riding lessons, team penning, hay ride, wine tasting ride, and even a trip to a local rodeo. Girlfriends can surround themselves with the breathtaking scenery that has brought Hollywood filmmakers to the ranch for more than 70 years.
  • For an all-inclusive vacation with the girls full of highly-praised gourmet meals, experienced hiking guides, horseback riding tours, equestrian lessons, live music and roaring campfires at night, The Home Ranch is the perfect dude ranch for you. Don’t lift a finger from when you leave the airport to when you arrive with lodging, activities and delicious meals all in one place for you to enjoy.

White Stallion Cowgirl Cactus

Photo: White Stallion Ranch

  • Another gem in Montana for an unforgettable girlfriend getaway is the Bonanza Creek Country Guest Ranch with their “Cowgirl Retreats.” Running from June to September, Bonanza Creek’s Cowgirl Retreats are the perfect way to bond with your girls as you travel along the countryside on horseback together. The day is started with a good hearty breakfast, followed by a spectacular ride through the countryside. After a long day on the saddle, a massage and dinner awaits you and your girlfriends, ending your day relaxed and rejuvenated for another fun-filled day riding.
  • Located east of Yellowstone National park in Shell, Wyo., The Hideout Lodge and Guest Ranch has state-of-the-art girlfriend getaways that guarantee a fun-filled, adventure-packed week with the girls. For an all-inclusive vacation, lodge, dine and experience all of what Wyoming has to offer with the numerous activities available at your disposal at the Hideout. Start your day learning from the in-house expert cowgirls and kick up your heels with your girls as you ride through the countryside and end your day sipping cocktails and enjoying gourmet meals with a spectacular backdrop of the Wyoming countryside.

 

Skip Vegas and plan a girlfriend getaway that’s anything but ordinary at the original all-inclusive vacation destination: the dude ranch. Enjoy spa treatments, horseback riding, mountaintop yoga classes, outdoor adventure, wine tastings and, of course, girl talk in some of the most spectacular areas in the country.

All Aboard! Amtrak Train Rides to Dude Ranches

Train travel and dude ranches go way back in their relationship. In fact, the historical Northern Pacific Railway influenced early western expansion and the beginnings of leisure travel to Western States. Early dude ranchers, as in Larry Larom and his peers, founded the Dude Ranchers' Association in 1926. From the start the organization promoted leisure travel to dude ranches via train and established industry standards. Traveling to a dude ranch today is still possible. Amtrak is now the modern train travel company. They offer trips from the East coast of the United States to the West Coast and many places in between. Are you ready to take your next adventure via train?

Northern_Pacific_Railway_North_Coast_Limited_Diner

Immerse yourself in the spirit of the West and travel via train to your next dude ranch. Parasols, lace gloves, suits and heavy trunks are not necessary. Simply purchase your ticket and head out West. Below are some tools to plan your trip using the contemporary Amtrak trains. The stations are listed by state and the dude ranches close by are linked below the city. If you would like more information please call the Dude Ranchers' Association at 307.587.2339 or email us at info@duderanch.org. The Amtrak National Route Map (PDF) and the duderanch.org Interactive Map may be helpful as well.

Amtrak Train Stations by State

Norther Pacific Railroad Train Poster

Idaho

Sandpoint, Idaho Station

Western Pleasure Ranch, Sandpoint, Idaho

Washington

Spokane, Washington Station

Red Horse Mountain, Harrison, Idaho

Colorado

Granby, Colorado Station

C Lazy U Ranch, Granby, Colorado

Drowsy Water Ranch, Granby, Colorado

Bar Lazy J Ranch, Parshall, Colorado

Montana

Whitefish, Montana Station

Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge, Bigfork, Montana

Bar W Guest Ranch, Whitefish, Montana

Arizona

Kingman, Arizona Station

Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch, Yucca, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona Station

White Stallion Ranch, Tucson, Arizona

Tanque Verde Guest Ranch, Tucson, Arizona

Benson, Arizona Station

Tombstone Monument Guest Ranch, Tombstone, Arizona


 Train Travel Stamp

Sun and saddles in Southern Arizona

'Sun and saddles in southern Arizona' By Larissa Milne, originally posted on Philly.com If you're looking for a midwinter break with a twist, consider a dude ranch in southern Arizona. With sunny days and cool clear nights, the area offers glimpses into the Arizona Territory of years gone by, when the likes of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday were becoming legends. Dude ranches have evolved from the days when working cattle ranches hosted a few paying guests from back East to help with ropin' and ridin'. Modern guest ranches still raise cattle, but they offer comfortable lodging, gourmet meals, and as much (or little) horseback riding as you want. southern Arizona

Photo Credit - Larissa Milne

Read more here to find out about the Tombstone Monument RanchWhite Stallion Ranch, and how the Dude Ranchers' Association can help plan your Western dude ranch vacation at the other great Arizona ranches.    

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