Saddle Up! These Dude Ranches Are the Luxe Family Vacation You Need

If you haven’t experienced the wonder of a dude ranch vacation, you definitely need to get it on your family vacation bucket list. Where else can the kids spend the day learning horsemanship while you enjoy some relaxation at the spa? It’s the perfect balance of rustic and luxury, with many providing all your meals along with activities during your stay. Check out some of our favorite ranches below!

photo: Kate Loweth

Greenhorn Ranch | Quincy, CA

Just north of Tahoe, you’ll find the gorgeous, off-the-beaten path area of the Lost Sierras. Here you can really get away from it all and spend some time with your family among massive trees and native animals. Your stay at Greenhorn Ranch includes all your meals from taco night to the Saturday Night BBQ. If you are there on a night of their cookout, you can choose to take a trail or wagon ride to and from your meal.

What to do: At Greenhorn Ranch, cowboy culture takes center stage with horseback riding being one of the main activities on the Ranch. Adirondack chairs and hammocks dot the property and are the perfect spot for a relaxing afternoon. One of the biggest draws for kids is the pond that's just outside the saloon. Here little anglers can borrow a fishing rod and some worms to cast into the pond.  

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photo: Kate Loweth

Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch | Stanley, ID

Mountains, streams, lakes and some of the nation’s most glorious scenery can be found at Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch. Perfect for multi-generational family gatherings, the 900-acre ranch offers the opportunity to slow down, sit by the fire and play a game of cards with the Sawtooth Mountains in the distance. 

What to do: The Ranch offers mountain bikes to borrow including a handful of kid-sized rides. There are loads of trails for hiking and a pond on the property where you can fly fish (catch and release only), try out stand-up paddle boarding or head out to see if you spot the resident beaver while on the pedalboat. You'll find a number of guided activities for guests including hiking, fly fishing clinics and yoga. You can also book a massage appointment.

We definitely recommend booking a half-day horseback ride with Pioneer Outfitters while at the Ranch. Their stables are located just across the street from the Ranch and their knowledgeable guides will take you on the trails so that you can get a bird’s-eye view of the valley. There’s nothing like seeing this gorgeous area on the back of a horse! 

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photo: The Ranch at Bandy Canyon

The Ranch at Bandy Canyon | Escondido, CA

Does your family love the idea of camping, but the idea of “roughing it” in the great outdoors doesn’t sound so appealing? The Ranch at Bandy Canyon offers the perfect solution. Located in the heart of Southern California's San Pasqual Valley, this rustic retreat allows you to enjoy all the comforts of home, yet be completely surrounded by nature.

Forget about pitching a tent and sleeping on the ground, The Ranch at Bandy Canyon has everything you need to experience the wilderness with the ease of modern-day amenities. 

What to do: The Ranch offers all sorts of activities from horseback trail rides to swimming, hiking, biking and more. And with cozy cabins and local wineries right outside your door, what are you waiting for? 

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JL Bar Ranch, Resort & Spa | Sonora, TX

Escape to the remote charm of JL Bar Ranch, an intimate ranch that sprawls across 13,000 acres of wide open spaces, rolling hills, ancient oak trees and wildflowers in Texas Hill Country. The ranch offers just 32 accommodations, a main lodge with a game room & bar/wine tasting room, indoor and al fresco dining venues with authentic Texas cuisine, cozy fire pits, a pool & hot tub, an intimate spa and more.

What to do: The ranch offers fun outdoor activities including hiking, horseback riding, ATV/UTV adventures, yoga, 3D archery, a Jack Nicklaus putting/chipping green, incredible cowboy cookouts & more. 

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Canyon Madness Ranch | Roy, NM

Far removed from big city lights, Canyon Madness Ranch is a luxury ranch set on 14,000 acres of outdoor adventure paradise amongst the geographic majesty of northeastern New Mexico. Opening to guests for the first time in April 2021, the ranch provides thrilling equestrian pursuits and an incredible range of wilderness activities, from archery to hiking to river kayaking and more.

An intimate property welcoming just sixteen guests, Canyon Madness Ranch’s extensive land holdings encompass Enciero Canyon, a box-canyon with seas of red clay interrupted by giant twenty-foot deep crevices. Views look out to the awe-inspiring red sandstone cliffs of the Canadian River Canyon. Mixing the high excitement of adventurous outdoor recreations with the comfort of luxury accommodations and stunning, uninterrupted, and pristine natural beauty, Canyon Madness Ranch is truly a playground for all.


Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo | River Ranch, FL

You'll love your visit to this Florida property that recently unveiled new sleeping accommodations that kids will love—Conestoga wagons and glamping tents. These premium offerings are the latest addition to the unique lodging experiences available at this secluded luxury glamping resort, located one-hour south of Orlando and two-hours north of Palm Beach County, Florida.

What to do: The Ranch, which lies on 1,700 acres overlooking the scenic Kissimmee River, features horseback riding, an award-winning Saturday night rodeo and much more. 

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Rainbow Trout Ranch | Antonio, CO

Transport yourself back to the cowboy days with a visit to Rainbow Trout Ranch. This High Sierra spot offers cozy cabins that families love with daily housekeeping and a porch to sit and enjoy the views. Meals are included with your stay and take place all over the property including near the river! 

What to do: In addition to their exceptional children's program, the ranch offers fly fishing, trapshooting, swimming, day trips to Taos and more. Of course, horseback riding is a major focus with programs available for beginner to experience riders. Spectacular all-day rides with waterfalls and views of the Continental Divide are among the offerings. 

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photo: Alisal Guest Ranch/Nicki Sebastian

Alisal Guest Ranch | Solvang, CA

Alisal Ranch is an old cowboy ranch—a working one that dates back to 1843—and it has been welcoming guests since the 1950’s. One of our favorite things about Alisal is what a great job they’ve done combining the fun activities of a ranch with the pampering of a resort. The ranch feels low key and welcoming to the whole family (where many resorts often leave you feeling like they wish you’d left the kids at home), but never skimps on the creature comforts. 

What to do: Whether you want to spend the weekend riding the range (or taking your first horseback lesson), eating at a campfire, catching fish, being pampered at the spa, listening to the roosters crow, reading a book by the pool, gathering eggs, playing an 18 hole private golf course, tasting local wines or hiking, you’ll all find the perfect activities.

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—Kate Loweth


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