Saddle Up for Your Colorado Dude Ranch Vacation.
The sense of discovery and freedom that existed in the Colorado Rocky Mountains centuries ago still lives on today.
The best way to see the West is from the back of a horse.
Cantering a horse through an alpine meadow or climbing a steep trail through a pine forest is something you never forget. Being in the saddle of a Colorado dude ranch well-trained horse is the fastest way to connect to a truly western experience. Whether you are a new rider or expereinced, it’s also a whole lot of fun. Trail riding, cattle roundups, team penning, overnight pack trips, gymkhanas and family rodeos are a few of the ways you can get to know your mount.
Sometimes it’s nice to be the cowboy and not just one of the herd.
Colorado’s rich ranching heritage is one of the reasons there are so many great cattle activities available. Many dude ranches started as cattle operations generations ago and many that were conceived as Dude Ranches include the cattle experience. Hard work has never been so much fun.
You can finally give your kids that pony.
Every parent hopes to provide the experiences they had growing up for their kids. This is where you’ll find them. There’s no better place to be a kid than on a family dude ranch in the Colorado Rockies. Come to think of it, it’s not a bad place to have a second childhood either.
Other Dude Ranch Activities
There are many ways to explore the wilderness and hiking happens to be one of Colorado’s most popular pastimes. Hit the trails sans horse for some hiking. In fact, there are some places you can go with a good pair of hiking boots. Many ranches offer guided historic tours, nature walks and hikes to summit some of the Colorado’s tallest peaks.
Some guests come just for the fishing. A chance to wet a line along stretches of private or leased Gold Medal rivers and explore secluded ponds with their family. Many of our dude ranches can outfit you with the latest gear or put you in touch with a seasoned outfitter for instruction and guided trips. Check the list of dude ranches to find out what packages are available and which ones specialize in fly fishing.
The Rocky Mountains cast long shadows in the late-afternoon while rain showers often move in to cool things off. If that doesn’t work there’s always the heated pool. Looking up at the summer sky while floating in cool water or lounging poolside is a great way to relax after a long ride or hike. Some ranches offer ponds and streams with swimming beaches and decks. Of course, if you just want to dunk your head in the horse trough that’s okay, too.
Campfires and Cookouts
Campfires aren’t just for warmth. They bring people together for conversation, stories, songs and the occasional marshmallow. Even the ambiance of a fire crackling away in the lodge can put a sparkle in your eye. In the high country, campfires are a way of life. Camp cooks love to create over an open flame. The meals are usually more elaborate than you’d think. From Dutch oven soufflés and cakes to stews and steaks. Campfire cooking is mighty tasty.
Hayrides and Horseshoes
Hayrides are great for families, kids, or bring your significant other and a blanket and you’ve got a date. And horseshoes, a leisure-time activity that can get surprisingly competitive, is fun at any skill level.
Overnight Pack Trips
Get away from your getaway with an overnight pack trip to a remote place in the timbers high on an alpine meadow. It’s still not exactly roughing it since the meals are hot, the bedding soft and the tents dry. Most dude ranches have their own recipe for what awaits at the end of the trail. Some offer half-night trips for kids who just want a taste of camping. There’ll likely be singing, ghost stories and campfire treats where the stars are bright and coyotes serenade you to sleep.
There’s a creative side to every mountain. Live music, cowboy poets, weekly barn dances and even rich stage performances are part of the package at many of our dude ranches. TV doesn’t even come close.
Colorado’s Rocky Mountain scenery is more beautiful when you know what you’re looking at. Many dude ranches have naturalists on hand or bring in experts on geology, archeology, wildlife and ecosystems for tours and lectures. Most staffers know the local history. So if you ever have a question, just ask. Curiosity is always welcome.
Float a class-one river with a fly rod or paddle through class-five whitewater. Most dude ranches offer a time in the week for rafting. Our dude ranches contract with the best, most reputable outfitters around and an excursion is sometimes covered in your ranch rates or discounted so don’t forget to ask.
Not offered as part of a standard package but this sport is growing in popularity. If you’re interested in Kayaking, ask before you book to see if it’s an activity that can be arranged.
Four-Wheel Drive Trips
There’s another way to see the sights and sometimes you need a day out of the saddle. 4x4s can take you to some pretty scenic places high in the Rockies, through old ghost towns, abandoned gold mines and into deep woods. Getting there is more than half the fun.
Every great vacation needs a little side trip. Then again, wanderlust is what brings people to the West in the first place. Trips to historic monuments, quaint mountain towns, resort villages, gold and silver mines, narrow-gauge railways to local attractions and for shopping can be arranged.
The sport of Mountain Biking grew up in Colorado. If you’re a mountain biker bring your gear. If you’ve never tried, you’ll be surprised what these low-geared, rugged bikes can do. Many ranches have loaner bikes or can arrange a rental with a local bike shop. Not only is it great exercise, it’s another great way to see wildlife and spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery.
Only a few ranches have tennis courts. However, arrangements can be made to go into a nearby town for those who can’t call it a vacation without a match or two.
The Colorado Rockies are home to some incredibly scenic, world-class golf courses. Many are not far from our ranches. Check with each dude ranch to find out more about the links and if they suit your style of play.
Rock Climbing and Hot Air Ballooning
So you’re not afraid of heights? These are activities that are not typically offered at our ranches but arrangements can be made, depending on the location of the ranch. Again, call ahead.
Here’s another way the West still lives. Many ranches offer target shooting and sporting clays like trap shooting and skeet courses. All practiced with the utmost in responsible gun handling and safety. Some dude ranches have vintage western firearms for you to try or for shooting demonstrations. Check with individual dude ranches for available shooting sports and age restrictions.
Saunas, Hot Tubs and Spas
After all that adventure, you have to get yourself ready to get up and do it all again the next day. All our ranches offer a place to soak. Some have a camp hot tub and, at some ranches, each cabin has its own private hot tub. Several have saunas, spa services such as massages and one even has its own hot springs.
Lots to Choose From
Every ranch is different. Start by deciding what activities and accommodations you’d like and check the appropriate boxes under [Our Ranches]. That will narrow down your search. Then click on the links to individual ranches to learn more and have a great vacation.