Dude Ranch Vacations in Colorado

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Written by Cassidy Barnes posted on Thursday, March 4th, 2010

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Saddle up cowboys and girls!

A cowboy leads a horse through the corral. (Colorado Dude & Guest Ranch Association)

Visiting one of the many dude ranches in Colorado is a great way to spend time with your family and friends. Horseback riding, hay rides, campfire dinners and rounding up cattle are a few of the typical activities that visitors can expect at a Colorado dude ranch.

Guest ranches vary from working horse and cattle ranches to luxury resorts. The most basic can take you on overnight pack trips under big western skies and the elite ranches may even have tennis courts and hot tubs.

Either way, it will be an experience you’ll never forget. Great for family reunions, getaways with friends or even romantic weekends with your cowboy/girl, dude ranches make for memorable vacations no matter who you are!

Here are just few high-end examples of the countless ranches across Colorado:

Vista Verde Guest Ranch
This ranch is just north of Steamboat Springs in northwest Colorado. Visit for a week to stay and experience mountain biking, rock climbing, fly-fishing and cooking or riding classes. In the winter, activities shift to snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. The ranch can hold up to 40 people. Their luxury log cabins have from one to three bedrooms and have private outdoor hot tubs. You can also stay in the lodge’s spacious rooms with balconies for mountain viewing. Check out their kids riding program! Visit Vista Verde Guest Ranch for more information.

Deer Valley Ranch
This family ranch has been operating in south-central Colorado for over 50 years. The scenery is beautiful, as the ranch is nestled between two 14,000+ foot peaks. It is open year-round and has riding from about June to September. Stay in one of their 14 fully-equipped cabins or in the Western Lodge, which has ten rooms, all with private bath. Activities at this guest ranch include trail riding, guided hiking, whitewater rafting, fly-fishing, square dancing, hayrides, campfires, gold panning and swimming. And ask about the complimentary golfing! Visit Deer Valley Ranch for more information.

King Mountain Ranch
 Located in northern Colorado, this ranch is high in the Rocky Mountains’ Arapaho National Forest. They have a great kid’s program, as well as fishing and horseback riding. Enjoy their indoor swimming pool and hot tub and experience true fine dining in a casual western setting. Sport shooting is another activity at King Mountain Ranch, with skeet, trap, sporting clays, cowboy action rifle and archery. Stay in one of their two large lodges, both with either king beds or two doubles. Many of the rooms have fantastic views of the Buffalo Valley and the surrounding mountains! Visit King Mountain Ranch for more information.

Sundance Trail Ranch
This family owned and operated ranch is just 100 miles northwest of Denver. They are open year round and have airport pickup available from DIA. The lodge has suites and there are cabins available as well. Each unit has been uniquely decorated! Go riding for half or full days in small groups of no more than six people. Fly-fish for trout while you’re here in the nearby lakes or Cache La Poudre River. Poles and gear available at the ranch! Swim in the pond or swimming pool after a long hike or climb in the surrounding national forest. Ask about gymkhana: weekly riding games in their arena! Visit Sundance Trail Ranch for more information.

Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch
This family owned and operated Loveland ranch was voted “Best Family Vacation” by Frommer’s guidebook and was on the top ten list by True West magazine. They are open all year and have summer riding programs from June to the end of August. No matter what your level of riding is, they can tailor-make your trip to make your experience as comfortable and fun as possible. Cozy lodging and comfort food are two other great perks at this guest ranch. Come and laugh learning how to herd cows! Visit Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch for more information.

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