Know What’s Great About Dude Ranches? Everything.
One way to impress the office: don’t come back from vacation touting bronzed arms and a story about how you can’t quite be sure but you think you might’ve seen Kate Hudson at dinner one night.
Come back a cowboy.
This is the summer to your making those City Slicker dreams a reality. So leave the suit and tie behind. Here are the 10 ten best dude ranches at which to hang your 10-gallon hat.
Westgate River Ranch
Glamping meets the Wild West. Rodeo, horseshoes, swamp buggies, airboating, trap and skeet ranges, bull riding (well, mechanical) — all on campus. Even better: they’ve got 651-square-foot luxe teepees with fireplaces, private patios, AC and creative names like “Dancing Warrior,” “Roaming Buffalo” and “Soaring Eagle.”
Brush Creek Ranch
Recently named the #2 hotel and resort in the world, #1 in the U.S. and #1 resort in the west by Conde Nast Traveler, Brush Creek is a playground of majestic luxury and limitless adventure. They’ve got real cowboy stuff (riding a finished cutting horse, working a cow) and more modern cowboy stuff (a swanky spa, river floats, nightly live music and “adults-only” weeks).
Featured in the first edition of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, Home Ranch is the only Relais & Chateaux dude ranch in Colorado and an Orvis-endorsed fly fishing lodge. Distinguished by its Rocky Mountain backdrop, the experience blends adventure and leisure to a “T.” Each guest gets their own horse for the stay with wrangler-led rides, wilderness expeditions, roping, cattle-herding and English riding training courses.
A Bar A Ranch
Founded in the ‘20s, A Bar A is one of the country’s oldest cowpoke go-tos. And one of the largest to boot: talking 140,000 acres of valleys, pasture, hills and forest. It’s an oasis for the serious horseman where you’ll be matched with a horse according to your skill-level and temperament and ride twice a day (or take the longer Savage Run Wilderness adventure). Bonus experiences include: bird hunting, sporting clays and fly fishing.
Waunita Hot Springs Ranch
A family-oriented destination, though they do have “adults-only” weeks. Located in the Colorado Rockies, Waunita is a romantic stunner fed by natural hot springs for kicking back after a long day’s ride. Also on the roster: overnight campouts, square dancing, fishing and hayrides.
Ranch at Rock Creek
Small and charming yet still a Relais & Châteaux resort, guests will be hitting the pasture and roping and rodeoing by day and soaking in cedar tubs by night. For the real Eastwoods among us, there’s also a pistol range, rifle range and sporting clays.
Imagine yourself sitting back and taking in Utah’s famous red Moab buttes along the Colorado River. The ultimate outdoorsman site, with horseback riding, canyoning, steep-terrain trail rides and hiking. After dark, settle in and get starry-eyed on guided Astronomy Nights.
Clayoquot Wilderness Resort
Vancouver Island, B.C.
Personal, sophisticated and accessible only by seaplane. Clayoquat and sister ranch Siwash serve up saddle time, five-star wilderness adventures, safari tents and a chance to get close to raw wilderness. Set on 80,000 bucolic acres, their riding program is regarded as one of Canada’s best.
High Lonesome Ranch
Conveniently located just 40 minutes from Grand Junction in the Rockies, High Lonesome is an ideal pick for the environmentally conscious. All aspects — from dining to riding — reflect a mission not to fuss with the surrounding wild. So you can feel good about traversing streams, riding miles of mountain valleys, driving cattle and settling down to a pasture-to-plate feast come sundown. Expect a social environment with group meals and s’mores over the fire pit. And High Lonesome offers “adult-only” weeks two times yearly.
Lost Valley Ranch
For those seeking a genuine on-the-ranch experience. Don’t worry though — there’s Wi-Fi. Professional wranglers are on hand and happy to have you help with daily chores, but they’ll also take you out to pasture or trail for an all-terrain ride. Additional boot-worthy activities include cattle roundups, penning, rodeos, cowboy cookouts and square dancing.
This is but one installment of 37 Things a Man’s Gotta Do This Summer, our annual compendium of everything worth seeing, doing, eating, drinking and generally making time for in your neck of the woods between now and September
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