A lot of people have resigned themselves to believing that living in a city means they’ll never experience the life of a rancher, but we are here to tell you that’s far from the truth! No matter where you live, you still have the opportunity to put on your boots and be a cowboy or cowgirl during your vacation. The way to do this, of course, is to head straight to a dude ranch. So saddle up for the best family dude ranch vacations in Colorado.
What is a Dude Ranch?
A dude ranch is also often referred to as a guest ranch. It is a real working ranch that allows city folk to stay and experience the lifestyle. In other words, they’re basically a wild west hotel that will truly transport you into the country lifestyle.
These ranches really grew out of the fact that the old west had finally disappeared, but many people still wanted to live ranch life. Fortunately, this nostalgia hasn’t worn out, and there are still plenty of dude ranches you can visit in Colorado today.
Best Family Dude Ranch Vacations in Colorado
Elk Mountain Ranch
- Location: Buena Vista, CO
- Website: http://elkmtn.com/
This ranch is located near Buena Vista, Colorado, and that means it has an easy, beautiful drive from both Colorado Springs and Denver. Elk Mountain Ranch limits the number of guests to 30, so you won’t be overrun by other people while you enjoy your week of play time in the San Isabel National Forest. You’ll get to take part in horse riding, mountain biking, trap shooting, archery, a ropes course, and more! Rates vary depending on what part of the summer you’d like to go, but they’re between $985 and $2125 for the all-inclusive, weekly price.
C Lazy U Ranch
- Location: Granby, CO
- Website: http://www.clazyu.com/
This ranch near Granby is a great place to get the feeling of being a mountain cowboy, and it was voted the #1 resort in Colorado by Condé Nast Traveler. Because of that, C Lazy U Ranch is an ideal choice for getting spoiled by a little luxury while immersing yourself in the Wild West. The rates vary significantly depending on which lodging you choose, but you most often book per night (instead of weekly).
Rainbow Trout Ranch
- Location: Antonito, CO
- Website: http://rainbowtroutranch.com/
This ranch sits down on the border with New Mexico, but it’s worth the trip south. Rainbow Trout Ranch lets you mix in plenty of fly fishing and white water rafting with all of the horseback riding. If that’s not enough, you can take an excursion to the Taos Pueblo adobe dwellings to walk through history. Prices range from $2,000 – $2,500 for a week during the summer.
- Location: Clark, CO
- Website: http://www.homeranch.com/
Home Ranch sits about 45 minutes north of Steamboat Springs, and it’s a nice escape in both the summer and the winter. They really embrace the snowy activities in the winter, so you can see how tough it was to be a year-round cowboy. There are multiple different houses on the ranch, and the rates depend on which you’d most like to kick off your boots inside of every night.
Colorado Cattle Company
- Location: New Raymer, CO
- Website: https://coloradocattlecompany.com/
The Colorado Cattle Company won the DudeRanch.com Signature Ranch Award in both 2014 and 2015. Plus, this ranch in New Raymer, CO allows you to go one step beyond the standard dude ranch activities. They offer a nightly “cowboy school” to perfect western skills like roping, and it’s a great way to have some extra chances to show off. The rates go from about $2,200 to $2,500 for six nights with the all-inclusive package.
Drowsy Water Ranch
- Location: Granby, CO
- Website: http://www.drowsywater.com/
Drowsy Water Ranch is another one near Granby, and it has managed to make the top 10 list of all-inclusive resorts by Parents.com and Trip Advisor. It does a great job of making sure that ranchers of all ages will have plenty to do and enjoy together as a family. The rates vary depending on the dates you’d like to go, but they are pretty similar to the other ranches around Colorado.
Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch
- Location: Loveland, CO
- Website: http://www.sylvandale.com/
Sylvan Dale is in Loveland, so it’s just a short distance from Denver. Not only do they offer all the excitement of a guest ranch, but they’re also really starting to focus on sustainable agriculture. Six-night stays in the summer are about $2,300 for each adult, but there are discounted periods in the spring and fall.
Black Mountain Ranch
- Location: McCoy, CO
- Website: http://blackmtnranch.com/
Black Mountain Ranch is in the heart of the Rocky Mountains near McCoy, Colorado. They have most of the usual dude ranch pastimes, and they even have a few “adults only weeks” so you can live the true cowboy life without upsetting any little ones. The rates vary depending on which cabin you’d like to call home.
Sundance Trail Guest and Dude Ranch
- Location: Red Feather Lakes, CO
- Website: http://www.sundancetrail.com/
This ranch is near Red Feather Lakes close to the Wyoming border, and it’s the real deal. They’ve simplified it compared to many other guest ranches, so you won’t have those modern distractions like swimming pools bothering you from the real experience of getting away from the city folk. Also, they have lower rates than most other ranches, and a six-night stay for an adult only goes above $2,000 during the very peak season.
Majestic Dude Ranch
- Location: Mancos, CO
- Website: http://www.majesticduderanch.com/
This ranch takes you to another part of the state because it’s about half an hour from Durango.
There are a lot of great trails that they can take you horseback riding on, or you can go for a mixture of eras and have a paintball fight in an Old West setting. The rate at Majestic Dude Ranch is generally $1,659 per week for an adult.