The 7 Best Luxury Ranch Resorts in the US, From Paws Up to Dunton River Camp

A Western vacation awaits, whether you want treehouses in Montana or 550,000 acres to explore in New Mexico

September 1, 2022 6:10 am
Horses and riders ford a river at Paws Up, a ranch in Montana, one of the best luxury ranches in the U.S.
You've likely heard of Paws Up, and all the Western activities on offer, but the list of top-tier ranches is long...
The Resort at Paws Up

When I drove up to Red Reflet Ranch, a 28,500-acre property located in north-central Wyoming — it’s right outside of Ten Sleep, population 271, don’t you know it? — in the middle of our first pandemic summer of 2020, I was amazed at the possibilities. At the time, it was the most socially distant destination I could conjure: an enormous working luxury ranch resort reachable via road trip (though a private airstrip allowed you to bring your jet to the party, if that’s how you roll) with a small collection of multi-bedroom chalets, and the endless American expanse of manifest destiny at your beck and call.

Red Reflet was basically a luxury summer camp for adults, with more than 100 miles of mapped-out private trails, a lake souped-up as a water park (with a slide, zipline and Tarzan swings), ATVs and dirt bikes to ride, world-class fly-fishing, mountaineering and a horse arena. My experience coincided with the appearance of Comet NEOWISE, and I geeked out watching the spectacle amid one of the brightest and most vibrant night skies I’ve ever witnessed. During the daytime, as I careened down dusty hills on my quad, not a soul in sight for who knows how many miles, I relished wearing a neck gaiter for nothing but keeping that dust out of my lungs, as opposed to its then-trendy, and mostly dubious, use as a stand-in mask.

The pandemic helped open my eyes to the tantalizing possibilities of domestic travel I had often overlooked in the past. I took road trip upon road trip, back-to-back marathon sessions behind the wheel that combined into a four-month, 18,000-mile gauntlet of a loop-de-loop around the country in that otherwise dormant summer, relishing in our abundance of national parks, natural sites and the great outdoors at large.

Alas, Red Reflet is now closed off to visitors after being sold for a cool $19 million. The good news is that the United States is dotted with a fantastic collection of ranch retreats you can still visit today. These are luxury American resorts rich with activities, steeped in natural beauty, and showcasing fantastic food, drink and all manner of creature comforts. We reckon these are the seven best. 

The Best Luxury Ranch Resorts:

Brush Creek Ranch, one of the best luxury ranch resorts in the U.S., at night with a long exposure highlighting the stars in the sky
One of the many perks of being out in the middle of nowhere? Stars like you’ve never seen.
Brush Creek Ranch

Brush Creek Ranch

Saratoga, Wyoming

If 30,000 acres of secluded Wyoming ranchlands sounded nice to you, then hop on over to The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch. The original homestead was built in 1884, and today the Saratoga, Wyoming property is split between 25 luxury log cabin rentals, alongside 19 guest rooms in its main lodge. Meanwhile, its Magee Homestead, a separate Relais & Châteaux property-within-a-property, is an adults-only collection of sophisticated cabins available for full private buyouts. A comprehensive program at The Farm has made Brush Creek a culinary haven: there’s a 24,000-square-foot greenhouse which produces 100,000 pounds of produce per year, an on-site distillery and a wine cellar with a bottle for every acre of land, along with a creamery and a bakery. Work off some of the damage with hiking, mountain biking, yoga, and other adventuring and wellness activities, or just head to the spa and fitness center, freshly renovated and expanded this year. Brush Creek also plays host to a loaded series of events featuring winemakers and chefs, along with wellness weekends and other retreats.

Dozens of horses and riders at C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado, one of the best luxury ranch resorts in the U.S.
Get back on the horse, literally, at C Lazy U.
C Lazy U Ranch

C Lazy U Ranch

Granby, Colorado

Live the Colorado dude ranch life at C Lazy U Ranch, a property adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park and just a two-hour drive from Denver or three-hour drive from Fort Collins. The property dates back to 1919 and makes use of 8,500 acres of land for year-round adventuring. But at C Lazy U, the focus is horsemanship. They have more than 200 horses and offer a spectrum of riding programs for all ages and experience levels, with an equestrian director and full team of wranglers. When it’s time to hop off the horse, or fall off the wagon perhaps, there are a dozen cabins available to rent, along with the rest of the ranch R&R you’re seeking in the form of a spa, as well as culinary activities ranging from wine tastings to cooking classes to garden tours.

A view from inside a luxury tent at Dunton River Camp, one of the best ranch resorts in the U.S.
Just because you’re staying in tents doesn’t mean they’re skimping on the amenities.
Dunton Destinations

Dunton River Camp

Dunton, Colorado

Dunton River Camp is located along its namesake river in Colorado on a 500-acre former cattle ranch from the 1800s. It’s a luxe tented outpost, with eight tents available during the summer season. Fishing, hiking and biking are all right outside your door — er, tent flaps — and each tent gets two mountain bikes to have on hand. When it’s time to indulge after a day spent pursuing your favorite leisure activities, retreat to Barbara’s Bar, a lounge space serving whiskey, wine and cocktails. Open-air tents don’t quite mesh with the frigid conditions of mountainous Colorado in the wintertime, making nearby sister property Dunton Hot Springs the smart choice when the seasons change. With 13 cabins, and activities ranging from snowmobiling and cross-country skiing to snowshoeing and ice climbing, you’ll be all set for wintertime frolicking.

One of the Tree Haus accommodations at The Green O, part of Paws Up, one of the best luxury ranch resorts in the U.S.
Our advice? Stay in a modern treehouse (sorry, Tree Haus) if you go to The Green O.
Stuart Thurlkill

The Green O & The Resort at Paws Up

Greenough, Montana

The Resort at Paws Up is one of the most well-known luxury escapes out West. Now sharing its gigantic 37,000-acre Montana ranch is a new sister property, The Green O. Don’t worry, there’s more than enough open space to go around, and they manage to offer distinctive experiences as well. Paws Up, which debuted in 2005, has 28 private homes and three dozen seasonal glamping tents. The new adults-only Green O, on the other hand, offers just 12 accommodations with a mix of concepts, including four elevated treehouses. The Green O is more modern and chic versus the classic, though well-appointed, cabins at Paws Up; the former emphasizes its dining program and activities tailored for the mind, body and spirit, while the latter is all about putting the outdoors at your fingertips with high-intensity experiences like horseback riding and cattle driving, paintballing and shooting, ATVs and go-karts, an aerial adventure park, whitewater rafting, rappelling and just about anything else you could imagine. Choose your preferred vibe — or book a room at Paws Up and then recover from that vacation at The Green O.

The Roosevelt Camp at The Ranch at Rock Creek, one of the best luxury ranch resorts in the U.S.
You can’t go wrong with any of the lodging at The Ranch at Rock Creek.
The Ranch at Rock Creek

The Ranch at Rock Creek

Philipsburg, Montana

Western Montana’s The Ranch at Rock Creek was originally a working ranch homestead from the early 1900s. Now, its 6,600 acres showcase a mix of canvas glamping cabins, log cabins, barn suites, and luxury guest rooms in its main Granite Lodge. The property, which opened in its current form in 2010, offers entertainment in the form of geocaching, sporting clays, bowling, and of course hiking and biking, while in the winter, ice skating, sledding and horse-drawn sleigh rides take center stage. The Discovery Ski Area is half an hour away, and the property makes use of an exclusive ski concierge service. Meanwhile, the resort boasts that it’s the first guest ranch to earn a five-star award from the Forbes Travel Guide. It doesn’t hurt that its all-inclusive program covers more than food: you’ll also get access to all of the gear you need, all of the scheduled activities you’d like to pursue and unlimited premium pours from the booze collection, too.

Lighted rooms on the water at Silvies Valley Ranch, one of the best luxury ranch resorts in the U.S.
Make sure to head to bed early if you visit Silvies — you’ll have a lot of golf to play while the sun’s out.
Silvies Valley Ranch

Silvies Valley Ranch

Seneca, Oregon

The Retreat, Links & Spa at Silvies Valley Ranch in eastern Oregon builds a lot into its name, and it delivers on each front. Retreat to a ranch founded in 1883 that anchors 140,000 acres of deeded and leased lands with a 34-room resort. Hit the links with two 18-hole golf courses, along with separate 9-hole and 7-hole setups. And unwind at the Rocking Heart Spa and fitness club, with an indoor rock-climbing wall, lap pool and sauna. If you need more to do, there are 50 miles of hiking trails, a dozen creeks and streams to enjoy, fine dining, and all of the Western-tinged activities you’ve come to expect at this point, from herding and horses to shooting and wildlife viewing. Come winter, there’s ice fishing and — what else? — snow golf.

The Casa Grande mansion at Vermejo, one of the best luxury ranch resorts in the U.S.
Casa Grande, a 25,000-square-foot mansion, is just one of the places to lay your head at Vermejo.
Ted Turner Reserves

Vermejo, a Ted Turner Reserve

Raton, New Mexico

Vermejo is the standout gem from the Ted Turner Reserves collection. It’s an enormous property at a scale that’s hard to visualize, comprising more than 550,000 acres in northern New Mexico. (That’s like 70% of Rhode Island.) Conservation is a major component of Vermejo’s ethos, so you can rest easy knowing that your stay is actually helping to care for the land and its natural flora and fauna, rather than stripping away its splendor. Over 1,200 bison roam the reserve, where you’ll find 19 fishable lakes and 30 miles of streams, among other animals such as black bears and mountain lions. Take a private guided wildlife tour or a casual nature walk, alternate between horseback riding and mountain biking, try your hand at archery or find some of the country’s best secreted-away fishing spots with the help of a pro. For accommodations, there are five multi-bedroom cottages, along with the seven-bedroom Casa Grande, eight-bedroom Costilla Fishing Lodge and 10-bedroom Turner House. Make your way to Vermejo by flying into Denver or Albuquerque, or by taking a side quest from a Route 66 road trip.


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