The Best Luxury Ranch Vacations and Trips

There’s nothing better than a ranch trip for an introduction to the American West. However, not all ranches were created equal and there is a seemingly endless selection of ranches to choose from.

All Roads North will answer all of your questions in your quest to find the ranch vacation that perfectly suits you.

Types of Ranch Trips

Are you looking to get your hands dirty helping out on a bona fide working ranch or are you hoping for a more luxury experience in a bucolic setting?

What is a Luxury Ranch?

Trail ride at the Ranch at Rock Creek

Ranch at Rock Creek

Luxury ranch vacations are perfect for those looking to explore the American West in style and without leaving any creature comforts behind. Complete with typical ranching activities– such as horseback riding and fishing– luxury ranch resorts often blend further amenities into the experience, such as gourmet dining and indulgent spa treatments. At the very best of these ranches, you can expect the same levels of service you’ll find in an urban five-star property, but in the wilds of the West.

One of our favorite luxury ranches: Ranch at Rock Creek

What is a Dude Ranch?

Lone Mountain Ranch cabin

Lone Mountain Ranch

Dude ranches have a long history of introducing folks to the Western way of life with a family-friendly atmosphere, a wide range of curated activities and warm, rustic hospitality. Sometimes offered as an all-inclusive experience, rodeo nights, shooting, horseback riding and barbeque nights are just a few items on the itinerary.

Dude ranches got their start in the 1880’s as wealthy international and domestic visitors alike sought to escape the city and explore the unspoiled American West. To this day, dude ranches provide that same promise of escape. You may also see ranches in this category described as Guest Ranches, which tends to be used interchangeably but may indicate a more intimate, upscale experience.

One of our favorite dude ranches: Lone Mountain Ranch

What is a Working Ranch?

Cattle work at Zapata Ranch

Zapata Ranch

A working ranch’s sole enterprise centers around livestock. This type of ranch experience will provide you with a bona fide look at ranching operations and allow you to get your hands dirty as well. For example, you won’t just be going on a horseback trail ride, you’ll saddle up to herd the cattle from the fields. Although more immersive, the hospitality of a working ranch can’t be beat, and you’ll have great food and cozy accommodations to look forward to at the end of the day. The very best in this category will give you a true insight into modern ranching practices and conservation.

One of our favorite working ranches: Zapata Ranch

What is a Private Ranch?

Chalk Draw Ranch

Chalk Draw Ranch

A private ranch is a property that you have exclusively to yourself to enjoy. All Roads North has access to some huge private ranches, typically not open to the public, giving you a behind-the-scenes view of incredible landscapes and a unique way of life. Private ranches are ideal for larger family gatherings or simply for those seeking a secluded getaway.

Check out our Private Ranch Road Trip in West Texas.

What ranch vacation is best for you?

Whether you’re traveling with a large group or hoping for a romantic setting with your partner, there’s sure to be a ranch that suits your preferences.

What is the best ranch for families?

Kids at Tanque Verde

Tanque Verde Ranch

Ranch vacations (especially dude ranches!) generally make for great family trips, considering the wide range of activities offered. However, some do stand out from the crowd with their excellent kids programs. For example, Tanque Verde Ranch offers a daily schedule of child-friendly activities that is complimentary to guests on an all-inclusive package. When considering a family ranch vacation, the age of your children is an important factor (see below), with more riding focused ranches typically being suitable for children eight and older.

What is the best ranch for couples?

Triple Creek Ranch Dining

Depending on the couple’s interests, any range of ranch trips from an immersive working ranch to an indulgent luxury ranch would make for a great couples trip. If you are looking for a romantic, acclaimed ranch destination, look no further than Triple Creek Ranch– an adults-only retreat in Montana.

What locations to consider for a ranch vacation?

Wilderness camp at Zapata

Zapata Ranch

There are several different states in the U.S. with outstanding ranch trip destinations, and each region comes with its own distinctive flair. Many ranches in the Rocky Mountains– such as in Montana, Colorado and Wyoming– feature secluded getaways amongst the mountains and forest. If you envision a Western experience with cacti and tumbleweeds, ranches in the Southwest, such as Arizona and Texas, are your best bet. Even California, although not often pegged as a quintessential ranch vacation state, has some great properties to speak of.

More Ranch Vacation FAQs

Ranch at Rock Creek bar

Ranch at Rock Creek

How far in advance should I book my ranch trip?

Some ranch destinations host repeat family trips every year, so availability can fill up quickly. It’s always best to book as far in advance as possible and for the most in demand spots, we’d suggest planning a year in advance.

For children, what age is best for a ranch trip?

Depending on the ranch and activities offered, there will be a different age recommended. Some working ranches and luxury ranches may not offer kid-friendly activities, while most dude ranches offer programs for children as young as four year old. Typically, full riding programs are not offered to children under 8 but this does vary by property.

What level of horsemanship is required for a ranch trip?

Are you a beginner looking for a peaceful trail ride or a capable equestrian in search of some free rein? There are ranches to fit both of these riders and everyone in between. Even if you don’t wish to go anywhere near a horse, there are plenty of ranches with an abundance of alternative activities and options.

What time of year is best to go on a ranch vacation?

The most popular time to visit a ranch property is during the summer or spring. However, at many ranches, the colder months offer just as much snowy fun. It just depends if you want to go hiking or snow-shoeing? Trail riding or sleigh riding? Romp in the summer sun or watch the snow fall from the warmth of your cozy cabin window?

 

Lone Mountain Ranch dog sledding

Lone Mountain Ranch, Photo by Donnie Sexton

 

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