Best Family Dude Ranch Vacations
Make this the summer for cattle drives, horseback riding and campfire stories at a western-style dude ranch.
There’s just something about a family dude ranch vacation. Exploring the landscape on horseback by day, dining under a sky full of stars at chuck wagon dinners by night. A stay at a western-style dude ranch is on many family bucket lists. If it’s on yours, why not make this the summer for cattle drives, horseback riding and campfire stories at a dude ranch? Here are our top dude ranch picks for families.
Crossed Sabres Ranch, Wyoming
Unplug at the Crossed Sabres Ranch in Cody, Wyoming and enjoy daily activities that don’t involve electronics, like archery, scavenger hunts, fishing, and of course, horseback riding. Just eight miles from the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park, this dude ranch is perfect for budding scientists eager to explore the park’s famed geysers, hot springs and bubbling mud pots (when not riding horses and hiking the trails, of course). Make time for the weekly Cody Night Rodeo to watch real-life cowboys and cowgirls show off their roping, barrel racing and bull riding skills.
Tanque Verde Ranch, Arizona
Kids love Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson because there’s just so much to do for Buckaroos (ages 4-6), Wranglers (ages 7-9) and Outlaws (ages 10-12). The Daily Kids Club is fantastic. Little ones can go on nature walks, splash in the pool and learn to ride horses while moms and dads hike in nearby Saguaro National Park, go mountain biking or try their hand at pickleball. There’s even an on-site spa, perfect for a deep tissue massage after a fun week spent learning to ride and care for the horses at the ranch.
The Ranch at Emerald Valley, Colorado
For authentic western cattle drives and campfire-roasted s’mores paired with gourmet meals and well-appointed cabins, look to The Ranch at Emerald Valley in Colorado Springs. Owned by and on the same property as The Broadmoor, an award-winning luxury hotel, The Ranch at Emerald Valley is an all-inclusive retreat set in Pike National Forest, allowing for easy access to fishing, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. In the evening, unwind in an outdoor hot tub or enjoy a Rocky Mountain sunset from your terrace. Look for cabins with one, two and three bedrooms, perfect for families of all sizes.
Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge, Montana
Bring the kids to Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge, a dude ranch in Bigfork, Montana, for daily trail rides, a family rodeo, even a Junior Wrangler Program, which enables children to learn the basics of horse care. Meals spent around the campfire will be talked about for ages, especially the Mountain Steak Fry in the woods, a long-standing Wednesday night tradition complete with a bonfire and live music. There’s also plenty to do on Flathead Lake, like sailing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. As a bonus, Glacier National Park is less than one hour from the ranch.
Triple R Ranch, South Dakota
Horse lovers will have plenty of time to get to know the Black Hills of South Dakota on horseback during their stay at Triple R Ranch in Keystone. Guests ride every day on horses selected especially for them, riding along trails to scenic viewpoints for must-see views of Mount Rushmore and the Badlands. Get to know the wildlife in the scenic back country before settling in for hearty cowboy suppers. You won’t want to miss Crazy Horse Memorial and the nightly Mount Rushmore Lighting Ceremony, as well as a South Dakota sky filled with millions of stars. You can’t get that in the big city.