9 Wild West Dude Ranches Across the U.S. Slideshow
May 13, 2011
A Bar A Ranch — Encampment, Wyoming
A historic ranch founded in the 1926, A Bar A Ranch boasts 100,000 acres of land with vast hills, valleys, and pastures. The ranch owns 130 horses that have been trained to ride with beginners and expert riders while the property also offers tennis courts, a golf course, a swimming pool, and a shooting range. Healthful, “Western” cuisine awaits guests in the ranch’s lauded restaurant and their wine cellar holds an impressive collection. There is even a cookbook of recipes from the ranch’s kitchen.
Triple Creek Ranch — Darby, Montana
Set atop Bitterroot Mountain in Montana, Triple Creek Ranch offers activities like white-water rafting, horseback riding, hiking, helicopter tours, cross-country skiing, and tennis all before letting you rest your head in a luxuriously outfitted cabin. The food at Triple Creek emphasizes the “Western elegance” of the resort-like ranch with dishes like pan seared foie gras, homemade pappardelle pasta, and the Triple Creek Ranch burger. Don’t forget to take a trip into the award-winning wine cellar.
Alisal — Solvang, California
Central California’s most famous guest ranch, Alisal is stuck in a bygone era — in the best possible way. They still ask guests (adults and children alike) to dress for dinner. Built in 1946, the working cattle ranch sits on 10,000 acres and offers over 100 horses to ride, archery lessons, golf, and a kid’s barn yard. With no TVs or telephones in guest rooms, you really escape at Alisal, which seems particularly fine when you’re ordering your next glass of Tuscan red from their cellar to go with your Portobello mushroom ravioli or your bacon-wrapped filet mignon.
Latigo Ranch — Kremmling, Colorado
The family-oriented Latigo Ranch is a serene and communal place where guests mingle with each other from the first night. Once you’ve ridden in the horse-drawn covered wagon and you’ve lost cell service, succumb to offered activities like guided hikes after breakfast, horseback riding before lunch, and storytelling by the campfire after dinner. Latigo’s food is part of its rustic charm, offering fresh buffets for breakfast and lunch eaten outside with other guests. Dishes like fresh halibut, prime rib, and a mocha tart are served for dinner inside.
Mayan Dude Ranch — Bandera, Texas
As soon as you step foot on Mayan Dude Ranch’s nearly 400 acres, you’ll want to start talking with a drawl. Mornings bring the Cowboy Breakfast cook-out where guests can find likely the biggest buffet around. It is Texas, after all. Eggs, sausage, and fresh-baked biscuits are the perfect start to a day filled with horseback riding, swimming, or tubing down the Medina River. Order lunch poolside before getting ready for the evening’s festivities, which range from a country dance to magic tricks and from fireworks to Western bingo.
Vista Verde — Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Colorado’s Vista Verde Ranch seems like it was made for the food-loving rancher. With cooking classes and wine tasting events, the ranch’s other activities like mountain biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and rock climbing are an added bonus. Depending on the season, the ranch’s culinary adventures take place all throughout the property from hearty breakfasts (think honey wheat pancakes with caramelized apples on top) to outdoor grilling and from a quick lunch between activities to tasting the ranch’s inspiring wine collection.
The Ranch at Rock Creek — Philipsburg, Montana
Montana’s Ranch at Rock Creek is a quintessentially modern ranch. Sleek, clean lines throughout the idyllic property encourage an untroubled mind — as does their full-service spa. A “red flower nature facial” and a soaking tub should set you straight after a long day of playing golf, exploring the nearest town, wildlife watching, trout fishing, or horseback riding. Rock Creek’s healthful meals are served in the Granite Lodge, where guests can choose between elk, bison, and free-range chicken for dinner with fresh fruit and organic eggs for breakfast.
The Hideout — Shell, Wyoming
The law of the land at The Hideout is detailed in a picture book called Cowboy Ethics: or What Wall Street can learn from the Code of The West. With a copy in each superbly outfitted room, the ranch encourages guests to “live each day with courage” and “ride for the brand,” amongst other mantras. It is a working cattle ranch that offers horseback riding adventures on hidden trails, cattle drives, fly fishing, and fine dining. Guests eat communally most nights in the ranch’s restaurant, but on warm nights they host an outdoor cook-out where chefs will grill Angus beef with seasonal accoutrements.
Red Horse Ranch — Coeur D’Alene, Idaho
Red Horse Ranch nails the elusive balance of “rustic elegance.” They host all kinds of getaways from wine tasting weeks to family ranch vacations that offer horseback riding, guided adventures like river rafting and kayaking, and fine dining. Simple, satisfying breakfasts of pancakes or biscuits and gravy are followed by a buffet lunch of freshly made sandwiches and a dinner filled with barbecue and fresh fish. After dinner, guests are invited to sit by the campfire or grab a stool at the Old West Saloon.