So what does make American ranch holidays so special...?
“I bet I could live to 150 if only I can get outdoors again.”
– Geraldine Page as Carrie Watts in ‘The Trip to Bountiful’.
We all know what the character Carrie Watts meant, because at some point in life, all of us have connected to nature and, in turn, connected to a deeper, infinite spirit. This kind of exaltation only happens when we are outdoors. It is no surprise that in our exponentially technologically advancing world more and more people everywhere are yearning for ‘green’ vacations, for experiential travel, locally-sourced cuisine, and off-the-grid experiences where they can not just adventure, but learn about – and connect to – the world around them.
And of all the travel choices out there, there is only one type of vacation that goes unrivaled. A place where you can have it all: ‘green’, adventure, being at one with nature, feeling unfettered, untamed, having life-changing experiences and more… it’s a ranch vacation.
For today’s traveler, a visit to a ranch becomes much more than an itinerary. It becomes a contribution to the wellbeing of the land as much as it is to each individual’s wellbeing. The contemporary consumer knows that just as we are the food we eat, we are the land we live on and the air we breathe. These destinations not only satisfy a traveler’s urges for a sorely-needed down-to-earth-connection, but they give the traveler the opportunity to help maintain a culture and eco-system that is vital to the nation’s native range lands.
If that sense of pride and deeper connection weren’t reason enough to high-tail it to the nearest ranch, take a look at the list of options these vacations offer: rich history, personalities, spas, locally-sourced food and organic wine, culture, romance, family connection, whale watching, 600-year-old fir trees, private beaches, remote picnics, wild mustangs, world-class fly-fishing in untouched and private waters, eco-tours, volunteerism, five-star cuisine, adventure, freedom, conservation, protected wildlife, art exhibits, writing workshops, white-water rafting, glamping, cabins, luxury accommodations, hiking, moonlight trail rides, wine tasting, ATV rides, yoga, stargazing, massage, canoeing… and the list goes on.
Just to show you how diverse ranch vacations can be, we’ve picked 10 exceptional U.S. ranches to highlight ¬– each of them offers something unique for today’s vacationer.
Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort, California
Located in central California’s wine valley, Alisal seamlessly blends the past with the present. There are a few historical structures on the property and it is still a working ranch, but it also boasts two private golf courses, a fitness center, tennis courts, pool, hot tub, spa, and plenty of activities for all ages. The riding is good with some nice wide-open trails, but small children are only led in the arena – kids aged seven and up can hit the trails. There’s fishing, archery, hiking with a naturalist and plenty of private trails for mountain biking. Little ones will enjoy petting and feeding animals at the barn, as well as exploring the corn maze.
Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge, Montana
In addition to horse-riding, you’ll find water – lots of water! Paddle boarding, kayaks, canoes, boat rides and a diving platform. This is an amazing place to spend a week with family. Owner Doug Averill mingles with guests every day and takes great joy in providing fun surprises for the kids, like rides on a fire truck, spontaneous outings for ice cream, rodeo games and even mouse races! The lodging is very traditional, nothing luxurious.
Deep Canyon Guest Ranch, Montana
Imagine a charming, quaint B&B set on a ranch amidst the pines and that’s Deep Canyon. All meals are served in the main house where guests get to know the other guests and the owners. The ranch accommodates only a small number of guests at a time, so visitors are treated like family. Here, one can expect solitude, privacy, wildlife, freedom in horseback riding and exclusive access to the Rocky Mountain Front.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort and Spa, Colorado
Only an hour and a half from Denver, CO, DTR is for the progressive adventure enthusiast. They offer mountain biking, stand-up paddle boarding, yoga, hiking, a survival course that includes rappelling and river crossings, and five zip-line tours, among the usual offerings of horseback riding and archery. At the end of the day, guests can relax in the spa complete with outdoor hot tub, pool, dry and steam sauna, plus an extensive list of services. Chef Evan Treadwell uses only local ingredients or ingredients that have been grown on the ranch and their bar boasts some of the most innovative cocktails west of the Mississippi.
The Hideout Lodge and Guest Ranch, Wyoming
The Hideout is a serious equestrian’s dream, with its variety of topography and freedom. They have excellent wranglers and a top-notch horsemanship program – if a guest is not a totally proficient rider, then this is the place to learn. Vacationers can even participate in a cattle drive! The food is top quality and the chef makes a point to accommodate dietary requests. The cabins are spacious and well appointed, most with beautiful views of the dramatic Wyoming landscape. Not for younger kids, however, children must be over 11.
The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, Wyoming
Wide-open spaces, private cabins and your own four-wheeled vehicle to get around the ranch are just a few of the perks guests will get here. Sitting on 30,000 private and expansive acres, the ranch is hundreds of miles away from the nearest airport, but it’s this disconnection from everyday life that will allow guests to reconnect with family, friends and nature. Activities are endless and include sunrise yoga on a platform overlooking mountains and valleys, hiking along riversides or through forests, horseback riding and fly-fishing on 20 miles of private waters. Luxurious accommodations feature western decor and include lodge rooms, cabin suites and cabin residences. A well-appointed spa rounds out the experience at this iconic, authentic dude ranch that was recently named ‘No. 1 Resort in the U.S.’ by Conde Nast Traveler in its 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards.
The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana
Perhaps no other place encapsulates the charm and culture of Montana better, with its spirited decor, lively personnel and its variety of outdoor activities. Expect fly-fishing in complete solitude, horseback riding in wide-open spaces or nestled in the woods, a 3-D archery course and your choice of shooting ranges – sporting clays, pistol, rifle, and track and skeet. Each guest is provided their own bicycle and they also have a ropes course that is not for the faint hearted, as well as a private movie theatre and spa. Throughout the year, a kids club – ages 4 to 12 –keeps the young ones active and there is always something delicious to eat, thanks to chef Josh Drage who uses local and seasonal ingredients. Absolute luxury with service and attention to detail you won’t find anywhere else. This is a trip of a lifetime.
Red Horse Mountain Ranch, Idaho
During the summer, this is a great family vacation in a gorgeous 300,000 acre setting, in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. (In off season you can expect themed stays, such as Women Only, Mother/Daughter, Father/Son, Romantic Getaways, etc.) The wranglers here specialize in showing kids a good time, too – Red Horse Mountain is the only ranch that takes kids as young as three years old out for real horseback riding and not led in an arena. There’s an on-site pottery barn, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, and a challenge course for kids and adults alike. One of their coolest features is the mega-zip: 1100 feet long with a 100-foot drop into water!
Rowse’s 1+1 Ranch, Nebraska
Do you want to spend a day moving cattle, doctoring injured or sick animals, or mending fences? While it might not sound like a relaxing vacation to most American Cattlemen readers (too close to home?) you’d be surprised how life changing for some folks a real working ranch can be! In fact, Rowse’s boasts an impressive amount of repeat guests, which says a lot about their ability to provide visitors with an unforgettable time. Owners Jerry and Tammy welcome guests like family into their home.
Chico Basin, Colorado
Located on 87,000 acres near Colorado Springs, CO, Chico Basin Ranch is an 87,000 acre family-run working cattle ranch operating on the high prairie, with sprawling ranges of short grass and sand sage, homes to diverse populations of wildlife. Guests are intimately involved in all ranch life to the extent that they desire, whether this be on horseback, fixing fences or putting feed out for the cattle. Making a contribution to the daily ranch activities gives guests their biggest thrill, so programs have been developed to include guests so that they are a part of the daily work’s success. There are ample opportunities to take time off for hiking, wildlife viewing, swimming or fishing in one of the ranch’s five lakes.
For more information, visit www.DiscoverRanches.com and www.Top50Ranches.com, or to book your ranch holiday, call (406) 749 9131