If you’re looking to take your family vacation to the next level, you might want to consider spending a week at a dude ranch! Head out west and book a stay at a working ranch where you’ll spend time together as a family learning the ropes of the ranch, horseback riding, cooking, camping and sleeping under the stars. Your kids will get to work and play with the animals on the ranch and may even have to chip in to help with chores! Dude ranches are a fantastic way to disconnect from technology and from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Most are located out west where you’ll get to experience some of the most beautiful landscapes with wide open blue skies, rolling creeks, meadows filled with wildflowers and towering snow-capped mountains in the background. Many dude ranches offer such a wide range of activities that they make for great multi-generation family trips as there’s something for all ages! So grab those cowboy boots and let’s go take a look at the best dude ranch vacations for families in the US!
Dude Ranch Vacations for Families
Eaton’s Ranch- Wyoming
Eaton’s Ranch is the oldest dude ranch in the US and it’s one of the top spots for family dude ranch vacations in the US! Located in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains in northeastern Wyoming, the ranch sits on 7,000 acres of beautiful open country with rolling hills, wide open meadows and hidden valleys that you get to explore on horseback. You’ll stay in beautiful cabins (1 to 3 bedrooms) and with four levels of cabin to choose from, there’s something for every budget. The ranch is all inclusive, so your stay includes three meals a day in the dining hall which features family sized tables. The main activity at the ranch is horseback riding, but the ranch also features fishing, archery, a large swimming pool, Pilates, and massages!
Flathead Lake Lodge- Montana
Flathead Lake Lodge is well known for it’s children’s programming. It’s a dude ranch with a family summer camp vibe! Children are given the freedom to roam the property and participate in a wide variety of children’s activities including rodeo and a junior wrangler program, arts and crafts, water activities, and of course- staff led horseback rides. You’ll be staying in “luxury rustic” cabins on the property which include hotel perks like daily maid service and laundry services. Horseback riding is the main activity on the ranch- with kids and families being encouraged to not only ride but also learn to take care of the horses as well. Flathead Lake offers all kinds of water sports too so you’ll never run out of things to do here!
Bonanza Creek Country Guest Ranch- Montana
The Bonanza Creek Country Guest Ranch offers an intimate dude ranch experience. With a maximum of 12 guests at a time- a large family could book a week entirely to themselves here! There are four cabins on the property and each guest will be paired with their own horse for the week. Horses are matched to riding ability and guests help care for their horses when not out riding in Big Sky country. The main attraction here is riding, and with such personalized attention- it’s a great place for families to have individualized instruction! The ranch also offers fishing, hiking, massages, a nearby ghost town to explore!
Horseshoe Canyon Ranch- Arkansas
Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is one of the few places you can take a dude ranch vacation in the eastern half of the US. It’s also an affordable ranch experience, which makes it popular with families! Located in the Ozark Mountains in the northwest corner of Arkansas, this ranch features the traditional western style activities such as horseback riding, cookouts, and and wagon rides- but it is also known for world class rock climbing so you can pack in a lot of adventures at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch! All meals and activities are included in this all-inclusive ranch vacation.
The Ranch at Rock Creek- Montana
If you’re looking for a luxury dude ranch experience for the whole family- then the Ranch at Rock Creek will not disappoint. This all-inclusive ranch offers a wide variety of lodging options including luxury rooms in the Granite Lodge, glamping cabins, rooms in a historic barn, and luxury single family homes. Activities include horseback riding, fly fishing, shooting sports, art classes, yoga classes, a ropes course and even sapphire mining! Their award winning Little Grizzlies kids club serves children ages 4-12 with daily ranch activities and and themed nature adventures. They also offer an additional babysitting service if mom and dad want to steal away for a morning at their luxurious spa or a sunset horseback ride.
Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort- California
The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort is located in Solvang, California which makes it easily accessible from Santa Barbara and even from Los Angeles. Accommodations include guest rooms, suites and cottages that sleep up to five people. This is not an all inclusive ranch so trail rides, children’s riding programs and dining are all a la carte. You can enjoy a weekly rodeo as well as a California Ranch Cookout for a gourmet meal. There’s also a resort spa, golf course, and swimming pool plus the Solvang area is well known for it’s wineries- so while the Alisal Guest Ranch isn’t an all-inclusive resort, it’s great choice if you want to do some horseback riding but also want to experience a lot of other activities during your stay.
Wildcatter Ranch- Texas
A resort ranch on the Texas Range, the Wildcatter Ranch is located in Graham, Texas about two hours northwest of Dallas. Accommodations include your choice of guest homes, upscale cabin suites and charming hotel rooms so there’s room for the whole family! The Wildcatter Ranch is primarily focused on horseback riding- offering both group and private rides for guests on 25 miles of riding trails. In your time out of the saddle, there’s also port clay shooting, tomahawk throwing, historical Jeep tours, archery, and hiking trails. When you’re ready to relax after all that adventure, there’s an infinity-edged pool and hot tub as well as a gourmet Texas steakhouse on site!
The Drowsy Water Ranch- Colorado
The Drowsy Water Ranch in Colorado pairs each guest with their own horse for the week- matching each guest’s personality and riding ability with the perfect horse. The ranch keeps to a weekly schedule that is packed full of family activities including riding instruction and trail rides, fly fishing, a river float, zip-lining, yoga, campfires, wagon rides and even family pictures! Where the Drowsy Water Ranch really stands out is it’s family programing. The Buckaroos program for children 5 and under includes children’s counselors who care for and entertain the little ones while parents and older kids can enjoy other activities. Parents are welcome to join their little Buckaroos for any activities, but the counselors will handle everything (including nap time!) if parents want to head out for a ride of their own. The Range Riders program is for children ages 6-13 and includes lots of horseback riding plus other fun activities like zip-lining. Families all come together for meals each day as well as for evening entertainment!
So- which of these dude ranch vacations looks perfect for your family?! Each program is unique so if you’re looking to book a dude ranch vacation, be sure to do your own research and see which ranch experience is just right for your family!