After scorching summers of heat, fire, drought, and, of course, the pandemic, it’s not uncommon to dream of a different life, much simpler, based on nature, and rooted in outdoor adventure and cozy relaxation come sunset. Luxury, traditional, and working dude ranches have survived prior pandemics, fierce natural disasters, and economic downfalls. The beginning of this decade proved to the world; the ride will go on!
Throughout the Rocky Mountains, West to the Pacific, there are huge expanses of land and a Western lifestyle to help elevate your mental and physical struggles during the pandemic. Here are four distinctly different ranches, in four Rocky Mountain enclaves to get you thoughtfully planning your next wild West adventure. Next summer, where’s your ride going to be?
Located one hour from Great Falls and Helena, Montana, for air travel, or for easy drive-to directions, the Blacktail Ranch is nestled in the Rocky Mountains at the base of the Continental Divide surrounded by white-capped mountains, fields, and forests with a clear sparkling river running through the property. Guests can choose from a variety of cabins for their accommodations and there are three and seven-night all-inclusive options.
Horseback riding is offered for ages seven and older for all levels. Children ages four to seven can ride horseback around the property while being led by a wrangler. Exclusive to this ranch is the Blacktail Cave Exploration & Museum, a cave tour, and a museum visit. There is also a three-day Divide Ride that takes you to the top of the Continental Divide. Bird watching, body work, yoga, fishing, and rafting are just a handful of the weekly activities. And, with a prime location between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, guests never, ever can run out of outdoor activity.
Elevation: 4,600 Feet
Connectivity: Wifi in the main lodge, cellular service is marginal at the ranch.
When you dream of wild, open, Wyoming, the landscape is exactly that of Klondike Ranch. This is a working cattle ranch, situated in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains. The week-long, all-inclusive experience truly immerses guests into the cowboy lifestyle. Accommodations include modern and comfortable cabins, each with its own private bathroom, and offer a home-away-from-home element, with some added rustic charm. Some cabins do have kitchenettes, as well as living areas.
For guests who want to ride, this is the destination! They have the opportunity to horseback ride, herd cattle, assist in ranch work, and take the horses out on an overnight campout. The owners, the Tass Family, truly work to match each rider with the best horse for their ability in order to enjoy the extreme immersion into the ranching West. Guided fishing, hiking, photography, and historical tours are also offered as well as the weekly rodeo.
Elevation: 5,000 feet
Connectivity: Internet is available
The McGarry Ranch is actually two separate ranches located in southeastern Idaho, in the upper Snake River Valley and along the South Fork of the Snake River, approximately 90 miles west of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Theron McGarry, a lifelong cowboy, and fourth-generation rancher started the guest ranch which continues on with his family today, your hosts.
There are not many dude and guest ranches in the State of Idaho; therefore, the experience of daily activities such as roping, driving cattle to new pastures, fence-mending and never-ending odd jobs, all of which maintain the integrity of the herd, allowing guests to escape to another genre and truly embrace the Gem State’s outrageously diverse land.
Guest spend most of the week scattering cattle on the range, doctoring cattle, packing salt for cattle, trailing cattle to a new pasture on the mountain, and gathering up stray cattle in some of the most scenic mountain country of Idaho. Come sunset there is plenty of space to relax, stock small items in the cabin refrigerators, browse a library of paperback books, and a TV in the dining room and the Vet Shed (but you’ll be too busy or tired to watch).
Elevation: 4,800 feet
Connectivity: Wifi in the main lodge
The 700-acre family guest ranch is nearing its 100th-anniversary celebration this decade! The Fosha Family has owned and operated the ranch since 1977, and has developed a world-renowned reputation for unpretentious quality, insanely personal and experiential Western activity, and most importantly, a nice cabin for bunking down and plenty of homemade food to keep the fuel going in your belly for plenty of riding.
This week-long dude ranch opportunity is only 90 miles from Denver, and travelers can now arrive at the ranch with ease. Fly into Denver, hop on the light rail to Union Station, grab the scenic Amtrak train to Granby and the ranch will be there to pick you up! Of course, driving is lovely, passing by the continental divide en route to this vast landscape is spectacular, especially with surrounding wildlife such as deer, elk, moose, coyote, and birds of prey in the area.
The ranch has over 100 head of horses for guests to ride, each personally matched to the riders’ ability and comfort level. Drowsy Water is family-oriented with a world-class kids’ program. Whitewater rafting is included with each week’s activity and there is also an onsite zipline. Just miles from Rocky Mountain National Park, the ranch has premiere views and sunsets and sunrises that cannot be found in many parts of the country.
Elevation: 8,200 feet
Connectivity: Wifi in the main lodge
Contact the Dude Ranchers Association:
firstname.lastname@example.org | 307-587-2339 | 1122 12th St., Cody, WY 82414