Best ranches for families

BY Jody Dahl | Fri 06 Apr, 2012

Best ranches for families? You’ll find the best family ranch vacations at ranches that offer a diverse range of activities for all ages. Check out Top50’s great range of family dude ranches that provide multi-generational groups with great family ranch vacations worldwide. Families traveling with children will love those Top50 ranches with children’s programs, but whether your family is comprised of old or young, riders or non-riders, you’ll find the best family dude ranch vacations at Top50Ranches.com – check out our pick of the best dude ranches for families…

Riding for all ages at Red Horse Mountain

One ranch ticking all the boxes when it comes to catering for kids is Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Idaho, USA, whose comprehensive children’s program caters for 3-11 year olds. The family dude ranch encourages kids to ride, with horseback riding programs for children aged 3- 6 years allowing kids to go horseback riding on the trail led by a wrangler, along with the rest of the family. The non-riding part of the children’s program is designed to engage your child through adventure-driven activities. There’s a discount offered for nannies and grandparents, or alternatively pay for Red Horse Mountain’s babysitting service for 0-3 year olds. While the kids are having fun, mums, dads, aunts, uncles and grandparents can enjoy horseback riding catered to all levels, yoga, massages and spa treatments, an outdoor pool, mountain biking, nature trails, water sports and more.

For a luxury family ranch vacation head to The Resort at Paws Up, a 37,000-acre working Montana ranch where the grown-ups of the family can enjoy cattle drives and whole host of wilderness adventures – including fly-fishing on the legendary Blackfoot River, hot-air ballooning, white-water rafting and zorbing! While you’re having a blast, so will your kids with supervised activities including everything from horseback riding and mountain biking to nature education. Not forgetting the Paws Up "Kids Corps of Discovery” – full and half-day programs for ages 5-12 that include trips to a ghost town, authentic ranch experiences and more.

Nestled in Santa Barbara County wine country is The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort, a California dude ranch with something for the whole family. Children’s and youth programs are available from ages 3 upwards, allowing the younger family members to get stuck into animal activities, grooming and steer-head roping. Alisal’s family ranch vacations are ideal for slightly older families, as children under six must be accompanied by an adult for ranch activities. Older families can reconnect while mountain biking, hiking, enjoying the outdoor pool and hot tub, or over a game of tennis. With an 18-hole golf course and fishing available, dads and granddads won’t get bored either.

Averill's - best for multi-generational families

The best ranch for multi-generational families has to be Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge, a family-operated Montana guest ranch on the shores of Flathead Lake, just 35 miles south of Glacier National Park. This is a great dude ranch for families interested in riding and water sports, thanks to unlimited horse and water activities included in Averill’s all-inclusive ranch vacations. Relax and reconnect in a rustic ranch atmosphere and enjoy the most diverse range of all-inclusive activities offered by any American ranch – think horseback riding, sailing, personalized fly-fishing, water sports, hiking, cookouts, and family barn dances to name just a few. Averill’s unique children’s program encourages family interaction, meaning kids are free to roam the ranch and participate in the scheduled kids’ activities as much or as little as they like – from horseback riding and rodeo, to water activities and tepee campouts.

Want to see your kids transform and grow on your dude ranch vacation? Then take them on a family ranch vacation to Lone Mountain Guest Ranch near Yellowstone National Park. The Montana dude ranch’s Outdoor Youth Adventures Program encourages kids to have fun while developing more self-confidence, through supervised activities and recreation. Open to 4-18 year-olds, the daily program is geared to suit the abilities and interests of each age level – see your kids enjoy canoeing, camping, riding, hiking, pizza parties, animal tracking and many other fun activities with other children their age. This is a great dude ranch vacation for families with teenagers, with the family dude ranch’s “Teens Only” tours of Yellowstone Park and a backpacking trip into the Spanish Peaks. Meanwhile, the older family members can enjoy mountain biking, yoga, an 18-hole round of golf, campouts, white-water rafting and more. Despite a guest capacity of 70, this Montana dude ranch maintains a real family atmosphere where everyone gets along together.

Elk Mountain Ranch in Colorado, USA, is the ultimate place for families to spend time together. Elk Mountain is very family-oriented ranch and whether you’re horseback riding through unspoiled wilderness, white-water rafting or mountain biking together, you’re sure to reconnect on your dude ranch vacation. Kids aged 3-7 are no exception, with the children’s program supervisors offering fun-filled activities complete with "theme days". Each day includes riding in the arena and activities that revolve around the theme of the day – Cowboy day, Indian Day, even a day at the Mount Princeton Hot Springs pools. Come evening the family fun doesn’t stop, with hayrides, square-dances and musical entertainment bringing you closer together.

North Fork Ranch is another Colorado dude ranch geared towards families, welcoming children aged 6 upwards. Its location just an hour from Denver is ideal for restless young travelers, and the ranch offers a multitude of activities to satisfy everyone's interests – old and young, horsey or non-horsey. From horseback riding, hiking and white-water rafting, to hayrides, campfire sing-a-longs and square dancing, families are encouraged to take part in ranch activities together. As an Orvis-endorsed fishing lodge, North Fork Ranch guarantees a world-class fishing experience for keen anglers, and will also appeal to families looking for a lean toward luxury in accommodations and dining.

Also encouraging families to enjoy the ranch experience together is Latigo Ranch. The Colorado dude ranch involves children aged 6 upward in its full riding program, where kids ride twice a day as the adults do. An impressive range of kids’ activities means non-riding youngsters never get bored, and there’s plenty to occupy older family members too – from mountain biking and bird watching, to golf and instructed fishing.

Exclusively for moms and daughters is the Sugar and Spice Ranch in Texas, where the two generations can enjoy a learning and bonding vacation through fun arena games on horseback.

Wilderness adventures for every generation at Clayoquot

Appealing to groups with both older and younger family members is Clayoquot Wilderness Resort in British Columbia, Canada. The tented safari camp runs a special Multi-Generational Elders Package in May, where grandparents stay free when you book a family of eight adults or more. And for the kids, the Canada guest ranch offers a discounted rate to families traveling with children 12 years and under, provided you all share accommodation.

Majestic Dude Ranch in the beautiful Mesa Verde National Forest is a wonderful family ranch retreat, where everyone from babies to grandparents are welcome and invited to join in the multitude of activities – from adrenaline-fuelled mountain biking and white-water rafting, to more relaxing outdoor movies, wagon rides and gentle horseback trail rides. Kids and adults alike will love s’mores round the campfire under the stars, complete with cowboy poetry and music. A comprehensive children’s program for both kids and teens gives you the choice of being with your kids all day or just seeing them in passing; should you wish, the Colorado dude ranch’s highly trained counsellors will not only keep your kids busy, but also educate them from sunrise to sunset.

The C Lazy U Ranch is another Colorado dude ranch with a great balance between family time and alone time. Spend breakfast and after dinner together as a family, then let the kids out on the ranch for the remainder of the day. Your children will have the vacation of a lifetime and will be kept busy all day with a children’s program centered around horseback riding, and building their independence and confidence – leaving you to enjoy horseback rides, golf, tennis, yoga, mountain biking and more.

Head to Montana for a family ranch vacation at The Ranch at Rock Creek and you’ll be treated to limitless outdoor recreational opportunities, outstanding accommodation and cuisine, and a full-service spa. Activities programs are designed with your individual tastes, preferences and needs in mind, and you can rest assured everything is included – from horseback riding, fly-fishing in the Blue Ribbon Rock Creek and wildlife watching, to archery, paint ball and games in The Granite Lodge. Children aged 4 upwards will have the ranch vacation of a lifetime on the Kids Program, featuring both indoor and outdoor activities – including horseback riding. The whole family can also enjoy trips to local Philipsburg, as well as free tours to the Granite ghost town.

For a more exclusive, intimate family ranch vacation, The Ranch at Siwash Lake in BC, Canada, offers action-packed adventure for all ages and interests. Childcare is available by prior arrangement leaving you free to ride the range or just catching up on some much needed rest and relaxation. Children aged 4-12 can enjoy the same freedom in a safe, supervised environment with the “Free-Range Kids” program, where free play and educational content is used to build their self-esteem – through the likes of horse care, animal tracking, orienteering, scavenger hunts, horse care lessons, pony rides in the meadow and more. More experienced young riders can join the older family members on horseback trail rides, and together you can all go mountain biking, bird watching, hiking, lake water sports and much more besides.

Let the kids go wild at Sweet Grass

Secluded in the remote Rocky Mountains of Montana is Sweet Grass Ranch, a haven for family ranch vacations. It’s all about freedom at this Montana working cattle and guest ranch, thanks to no set children’s program, an unstructured riding schedule tailored to your family’s interests and endless riding options – from cattle drives to relaxing trail rides. With beautiful hiking trails and diverse fishing opportunities, the whole family can appreciate the beauty of the ranch together, as well as have fun on the ranch’s natural water slide, inner tubing the creek, campfires, weekly horsemanship clinics and a host of indoor and outdoor games. Evenings are family time and made for visiting with new-found friends, feasting on s'mores at the campfire, or relaxing with a book in the hot tub. Kids – and adults! – with any energy left can play soccer, volleyball, softball, pasture golf or horseshoes before bedtime. With Yellowstone National Park, Bighorn, local rodeos and golf nearby, venture of the ranch for family days out – taking advantage of Sweet Grass’s free-of-charge travel within a 50-mile radius.

For a flexible, customized family ranch vacation, take a trip to Three Bars Ranch in the Canadian Rockies, which lies close to Banff and Glacier National Park. For kids aged 6 upwards there’s a supervised children's program where Three Bars will make them feel right at home on the ranch, with access to wide open spaces to just be kids. Three Bars is ideal for both parents looking for some independence from their children, or to spend as much time with them as possible; the children’s program will keep them busy all day long and well into the night should you wish, but is also designed so that you can go on family rides, hike and river-raft together. Specializing in families, beginner riding and multi-sport activities, the working cattle ranch and luxury dude ranch’s diverse activities program includes a complete range of horseback riding programs, hiking, river rafting, mountain biking, fly fishing, tennis, indoor heated pool, hot tub and fitness facility. This is also one of the best family ranches for golf enthusiasts, with five of Canada’s top 25 golf courses in close proximity.

Also offering flexibility and personalization in family dude ranch vacations is Vista Verde Ranch. Don’t be fooled by its wide array of summer activities – the Colorado dude ranch maintains a personal, intimate feel unlike any resort, thanks to down-to-earth people who treat you like family. You know your kids will be in good hands on the 6-years-and-up children’s program designed to engage and educate, offering activities including animal care, horse care, arena riding, trail riding, gymkhana and rodeo. The family dude ranch’s teen program gives older kids the freedom to split off and be a little more independent and adventurous with activities, which include special teen horseback rides and overnight campouts. While your children are having the ranch vacation of a lifetime, you and the rest of the adults can too, with climbing, mountain biking, yoga, outdoor pool, hot tub, rafting, cooking classes, wine tasting, fishing and so much more.

For more information on family dude ranch vacations, visit Top50Ranches.com

TAGS: family ranch vacations, family dude ranches, best ranches for families, family ranch vacations usa, canada guest ranches, top50 ranches

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