Whether you’re eager to get your hands dirty helping out or are looking for a more elevated experience, find adventures of a lifetime at Colorado’s dude and guest ranches.
In gorgeous settings across Colorado, visitors can discover active vacations full of authentic cowboy experiences. Spend quality time together and make new friends while enjoying fun-filled adventures. Choose from a range of dude and guest ranches for your family, friends or couples outing, then kick back and relax. Ranches offer all-inclusive accommodation options that consist of lodging, meals and a wide variety of activities. Depending on your travel style, from rustic to glam, you can build your vacation around working-ranch experiences, amazing outdoor adventures or more luxurious accommodations.
Channel Your Inner Cowboy
Roll up your sleeves and get ready to help around the ranch. Working dude ranches offer trail rides, cattle drives, help with feeding and caring for livestock and other hands-on experiences. At Badger Creek Ranch, a small family-owned ranch in central Colorado, guests have the option to work with livestock, fix fences and move cattle, then dine on locally sourced food. This remote, off-the-grid location is a great place to learn to ride or brush up on your riding skills and explore the open range. Adjacent to Great Sand Dunes National Park, Zapata Ranch maintains a herd of 2,000 wild bison. Guests can work alongside the ranch’s wranglers, ride among the bison or into the park, hike in the nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains and go whitewater rafting. At Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, make a special connection by taking over the care of your horse during your stay. Guests can choose from Dude Ranch Vacations (with family-friendly activities including campfires with smores), Great Grownup Getaways (think wine and cheese tastings) and Cowgirl Roundups (perfect for a girls’ getaway).
Horseback riding across sand dunes at Zapata Ranch
Embrace the Great Outdoors
Traditional dude ranches combine horseback riding with lots of family-friendly activities and opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Nestled in a valley along the banks of the Colorado River west of Boulder, Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch is one of the oldest continuously operating dude ranches in Colorado. In addition to trail riding, families can enjoy fly fishing, trap shooting, guided hikes and mountain biking, then relax in the heated pool and hot tub. At Colorado Trails Ranch outside Durango, families will enjoy the basketball/volleyball court, petting zoo and heated pool, as well as outings to the Puebloan ruins at Mesa Verde National Park and rides on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Fun activities abound at the Sundance Trail Guest Ranch northwest of Fort Collins. Try disc golf, archery, yoga, trout fishing, square dance lessons, river rafting (from float trips to whitewater rafting) and scenic rides with breakfast or lunch out on the trail.
Families enjoying music by the campfire during a Colorado dude ranch stay
Amp Up the Luxury
A cross between traditional dude ranches and luxury resorts, these spots offer equestrian and other outdoor activities alongside highly personalized service, sumptuous accommodations and gourmet meals. Just north of Steamboat Springs, Vista Verde Guest Ranch combines Western hospitality with AAA Four Diamond amenities, such as a private hot tub on the deck of every cabin, spa robes and Italian linens, creating a high-end summer or winter getaway. Clearly not your rustic dude ranch, Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa sits two hours west of Denver near Winter Park. Guests enjoy paint and sip classes, daily yoga, live music, a movie theater and a full menu of spa treatments. Accommodations range from one-bedroom log cabins to the seven-bedroom/10-bath Grand Guest House. The Broadmoor’s The Ranch at Emerald Valley has 10 luxury cabins, each with a fireplace, surrounded by Pike National Forest and just up the road from the famed Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. Herd cattle on horseback, play golf on a championship course and try your hand at lawn games. Wrap up the day with an indulgent dinner and a glass of wine on the deck or smores by the campfire.