Do you remember City Slickers with Billy Chrystal. Well this is not it. No really. Ranch vacations can be therapeutic. It can be fun. Let’s face it there’s a little cowboy and girl in each of us. Who wouldn’t want to saddle up a 800 pound beast and ride for the hills.

Haven’t done a dude ranch before? Well now may be the best time. It seems according to USA Today it’s a bum summer for dude ranches – you see there is a lack of dudes and dudettes. But, that means that there may be some great buys out there for families looking to get away from it all.

USA Today says, “To compensate [for the bad economy], ranches are offering cheaper group discounts, slashing children’s rates and adding free amenities like massages…” in some states like Colordao, Montana, Wyoming and Arizona they’re only reaching a 60% capacity.

Dude ranches would seem kid-friendly, but many aren’t. It’s worth asking upfront to be sure that there are kid’s programs and discounts available. I tend to think that the ranches are fine for kids of 12 and older.

Try some of these ranches:
Laughing Water Ranch in Montana

Sunset Trail Guest Ranch

Dude Ranch Vacations is a resource for
Dude Ranches in USA, CANADA and Mexico. Listing over 150 ranches by state, activities and offerings.

Wyoming-based Dude Ranchers’ Association (307/587-2339, duderanch.org/)

To get an idea of what’s out there, consult Ranchweb.com (707/939-3801), which sorts ranches by their specialties

Off the Beaten Path (800/445-2995; www.offthebeatenpath.com) organizes top-of-the-line Western adventures of all sorts and can advise on the best ranch for your posse.


The Forbes Traveler’s top 15 Dude Ranches
however don’t quite fit the discount notion, they are for the most part more upscale “dude ranches”:

  1. Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa, Moab, Utah
  2. Sundance Resort, Sundance, Utah
  3. Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, Tofino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
  4. Spring Creek Ranch, Jackson Hole, Wyo. (This one offers the rustic-chic accommodations include cabin rooms and condos as well as larger “mountain villas” ideal for families or large groups.)
  5. Keyah Grande, Pagosa Springs, Colo.
  6. Mountain Sky Ranch, Emigrant, Mont.
  7. The Resort at Paws Up, Greenough, Mont.
  8. Siwash Lake Ranch, British Columbia (Also, children of any age are welcome July to August and on long weekends, or if a family books ranch for a private stay)
  9. Lajitas Resort & Spa, Lajitas, Texas
  10. The Home Ranch, Clark, Colo.
  11. Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, Mont.
  12. Alisal Guest Ranch, Solvang, Calif.
  13. Cibolo Creek Ranch, Marfa, Texas
  14. Rancho de la Osa Guest Ranch, Sasabe, Ariz.
  15. Vista Verde Ranch, Steamboat Springs, Colo.

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