Winter dude ranch vacations - Your Winter Wonderland Awaits along the Rocky MountainsWhile crisper weather fills the air and colorful leaves are falling across the US, for many of us, this season is more a reminder that winter is just around the corner. If you are counting the days until the north country is blanketed in a cloud of white and you need to pull out warm parkas for another season of snow, a dude ranch may offer the perfect winter wonderland. And you needn’t look farther than the provinces and states that encompass the Rocky Mountains: British Columbia, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.Along the Rocky Mountains, you can practically count on a sea of white from October through April. Naturally, the farther north you head, the more snow you’re likely to see, but elevation plays a huge part in temperatures. Rocky Mountain National Park, for example, ranges from 8,000 to 14,259 feet above sea level across its 415 square miles in Colorado. The centennial state is also home to the Rockies’ highest point, Mount Elbert, which soars 14,440 feet into the Colorado sky.If the stark mountains of the American West are calling to you, there is good reason. Life still continues in many areas here as it did hundreds of years ago. Ranching is a huge part of the Rockies lifestyle, with more than 20 guest ranches — many of which are working ranches — running along the 3,000-mile mountain range. If you’re looking for an authentic American cowboy experience, a working cattle ranch may be your best option. Some to research include Chico Basin Ranch and Badger Creek Ranch in Colorado. When you spend time at these ranches, you’ll be able to watch wrangler demonstrations, visit the cattle, and ride across the land that remains as untouched as it was when first settled in the early 1800s. In these days of cell phones, Internet, and “noise” 24/7, traveling to a simpler place and time can be a welcome escape.In addition to the traditional ranch lifestyle, a winter trip to the Rockies will allow you time to ski, fish, ice-skate, hike, and cuddle up by the fire with a warm cup of cocoa. Plan your time now to escape to your own winter wonderland at a Rocky Mountain dude ranch. You’ll wonder why you waited so long.