Searching for a bucket list family trip? Consider looking into a dude ranch. From horseback riding and roping lessons to mountain biking and fly-fishing, the ultimate playground awaits you on a dude ranch.
But the ranches in our roundup don’t stop with cool activities. These spots also have gourmet dining, off-site adventures (snow skiing, off-roading, golf), and spas that are vacation draws in their own right. There’s no shortage of big sky, stars at night, and wildlife — you could even see a moose trot through your front yard depending on what state you are in. Many dude ranches are all-inclusive or all-inclusive optional.
Best Dude Ranches for Families
Here are some family favorites in no particular order. We’ve included ranches in Colorado, Oregon, Montana, California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas.
Silvies Valley Ranch
Silvies Valley Ranch is a working ranch in Eastern Oregon with luxury log cabins, profoundly delicious food, and activities like shooting guns, baking bread, and playing with goats! Mom will love the spa, dad will enjoy the golf courses, and teens will like driving around golf carts and fishing. All the accommodation types they offer are pretty plush. Plus, you are off the grid so whoever you are traveling with you are going to get some serious quality time with them.
C Lazy U Ranch
With 8,500 acres of pristine mountain landscape, C Lazy U Ranch offers the ultimate Colorado getaway. They have an extensive kids program for young kids all the way up to teenagers. Activities are age-appropriate, so depending on the age of your child they may go fishing, enjoy pool time, counselor hunt, play lawn games, cookouts, talent show, line dancing, horseback riding, ropes course, cattle clinics, whitewater rafting, go-cart racing, overnight teen campout, capture the flag and hayrides.
In the fall the best way to see the changing foliage is up close and personal, either on the ranch’s hiking trails or via horseback. Groves of Aspen create a magical canopy that is best viewed from the saddle; or with a satisfying crunch under your hiking boots. Fall fly fishing is also a thrill, as the months of October and November are the best time to catch big brown trout. All of the ranch’s fly fishing guides are Orvis-endorsed, guaranteeing a fun and fulfilling experience on the river. Guests are also welcome to take a drive to Rocky Mountain National Park, just 30 minutes from C Lazy U.
Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa
Located in Gateway, Colorado a teensy town 3 miles from the Utah border, this outdoor playground has five restaurants, a helipad with air tours, an adventure center, an auto museum, driving experiences (book a guided driving tour or rent a car from the resort’s fleet of Bentleys and Mustangs), two swimming pools, and a spa. The ranch has horseback riding, cattle drives, skeet shooting, and roping lessons for those looking to tap into their inner cowgirl.
You can even try your hand at sport-shooting. They offer lessons with instructor and Army veteran Steve Dow. You can also explore the region (and dinosaur tracks in the area) with a guided tour led by Curator of Curiosity Zebulon Miracle. Learn about the region’s former mining days and visit the Hanging Flume, a 12-mile-long open water chute built in the 1880s for gold mining.
Formerly a booming sapphire- and silver-mining town Phillipsburg, Montana the ranch has a range of year-round activities, from stagecoach rides, geo-caching, and fly-fishing, to pistol shooting, yoga (snow yoga in winter), and wildlife watching including wolves, coyote, deer, elk, and big horn sheep. Bikini Beach, a popular swimming spot with picnic tables and a gazebo, is a trout-fishing spot in summer and an ice-skating rink in winter. For dinner, go for the chef’s tasting menu (served Mondays and Fridays).
Accommodations range from one-bedroom suites to five-bedroom homes, we offer four distinct styles of lodging: Granite Lodge suites, a converted Historic Barn, Luxury Homes, and Canvas Cabins for glamping.
Just a short drive from Missoula, Montana, over in Greenough, Montana this 37,000-acre working cattle ranch (there are 300 resident elk) offers a long list of activities: ATV tours, hiking, archery, mountain biking, fly-fishing on the Blackfoot River, a rifle range, kayaking, and hot air ballooning. There’s also boating, hiking, paintball, rafting, rappelling, swimming and more
Choose accommodations from luxury cabins to safari-style luxury tents with copper clawfoot tubs and private plunge pools. After a long day outdoors, book the Montana Gold Rush massage, which incorporates 24-karat gold flakes with organic oil to boost skin elasticity and give you that true vacation glow.
Tanque Verde Ranch
Set on 60,000 acres within Arizona’s Saguaro National Park in Tuscon, the sprawling ranch framed by the Rincon Mountains is the largest in the country. Master Chef Justin Macy (formerly of Miraval Resort & Spa) serves Southwestern cuisine such as heirloom bean casserole with acorn and butternut squash and chicken Tinga relleno paired with cilantro rice and charro beans. Activities range from watercolor workshops and desert nature strolls to barbecue cookouts, “dive-in” movies at the outdoor pool, and evening cowboy tales and music.
Be sure to set aside time to go back in time to the Old West in Tombstone (think Western-style saloons and gun-fight reenactments) or travel underground with spelunking in a nearby cave at Kartchner Caverns State Park.
The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort
Conceived 70 years ago in Sovang, California, the idyllic family-operated working cattle ranch is situated on 10,000 acres with 73 cozy rooms with wood-buring fireplaces. The barn is home to 100 horses, and equestrian activities range from introductory horsemanship skills (riding basics for novices or skills refinement for advanced riders). For those who want more than horses they have tennis courts, a guided cycling program, and a spa with treatments such as a wrap with French green clay, seaweed, and peppermint.
Blisswood Bed & Breakfast Ranch
Set on a 350-acre working ranch, BlissWood Bed & Breakfast Ranch is a remote and rustic hideaway an hour west of Houston. The B&B consists of 14 cabins and cottages of varying sizes, with woodsy furniture, full kitchens, sitting areas, and porches. Some include woodburning fireplaces or woodburning stoves, whirlpool baths, or hot tubs. Also offer some glamping options (Grand Safari Tent, Conestoga Covered Wagon, Deluxe RVs) All lodging includes Continental breakfast placed in the accommodation. Private exotic safaris, animal feeding tours, hiking trails, fishing lakes, and activities, including trapshooting, horseback riding, archery, and fishing — round out the experience for an added fee. Pets are allowed; bikes and golf carts are available to rent. The B&B is 13 miles from Interstate 10 and 65 miles from downtown Houston. It’s situated within Lehmann Legacy Ranch at 13597 Frantz Rd, Cat Spring, TX 78933, and is within a 1-hour drive from Houston, 2-hours from San Antonio and Austin.
Vista Verde Ranch
Colorado’s Vista Verde Ranch is an all-inclusive luxury destination the entire family will love. Vista Verde’s fully supervised kids program provides fun activities for kids ages 6 and up, along with nearly endless opportunities to make memories and give parents some well-deserved private time. Mom and Dad can enjoy adventures and relax in a steaming private hot tub with a glass of wine. There’s also lots of time for family fun, from snow tubing (complete with a snowmobile ride back up the hill) to riding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, skiing, and more, before parents relax over a gourmet candlelit dinner while the kids enjoy a group meal and evening program. The whole family will love an old-time sleigh ride complete with bells and hot chocolate, and relaxing in front of a roaring fire.
Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, Montana
Located in the scenic town of Big Sky, Montana, Lone Mountain Ranch allows guests to really experience all of the beauty Big Sky has to offer while paying homage to the American West. Guests can veer off into the sunset during a horseback ride, get the family together and head out for fly fishing, or experience Yellowstone Park with lodge naturalists on all-access tours.
Lone Mountain Ranch offers guests a variety of luxury cabins to stage the perfect Montana adventure. Featuring a dining experience like no other, the Ranch’s Horn & Cantle Restaurant provides guests with crafted food and drink, all within an intimate social atmosphere that is perfectly suited for any getaway. Bringing together a variety of cultures and fresh flavors, all inspired by local purveyors and seasonal ingredients, Chef Eric Gruber takes guests on a culinary journey. In collaboration with Chef Gruber’s culinary creations, a team of certified mixologists works to guide guests through an extensive wine, spirits, and cocktail menu, that ranges to satisfy all palates.
Canyon Madness Ranch
Canyon Madness Ranch offers thrilling equestrian pursuits and an incredible range of outdoor activities, from sport climbing to archery to hiking to river kayaking and more just two hours from Santa Fe and five hours from Denver. Designed to be a wilderness paradise, the peace and tranquility of the eight-suite Canyon Madness Ranch mixes outstanding architectural design and well-appointed accommodations with state-of-the-art sport shooting facilities, equestrian experiences, training, outdoor pursuits of all types, and creative dining.
The ranch also boasts a large, covered arena for focused training and lessons in disciplines like English cross-country trails and jumping or Western-style reining, cutting, cow herding, or barrel-racing for beginners through expert-level riders. Canyon Madness Ranch offers guests much more than the common “nose-to-tail” teams of trail riding horses; the ranch houses more than thirty high-quality and well-trained horses, including quarter-horses, paints, Gypsy Vänners and Gypsy Crosses in order to give guests a range of riding experiences.