View Full Version : dude ranch recommendations anyone?

Dec. 19, 2007, 04:41 PM
A friend of mine had her first trip to the Western US (awesome) recently and wants to do a dude ranch trip. Anyone have any recommendations? Places that were not so good?

Everyone is an experienced rider and we would want to do a trip with max riding time and small groups.


Dec. 19, 2007, 04:54 PM
Vee Bar Ranch in Laramie, Wyoming - we went there and it is what made us get back into horses.

Tell them Maureen from Canada Sent you.

Dec. 19, 2007, 05:03 PM
check out the Box R ranch, you get plenty of time in the saddle.

I've just booked for the 5th year in a row.

www.boxr.com (http://www.boxr.com)

Dec. 19, 2007, 05:07 PM
they vary widely in terms of what they are geared for- any idea what you friend wants?
The summer after college, I worked at Trail Creek Ranch in Wilson WY (right outside Jackson Hole). While it was a long time ago, the same folks run it now as did then so doubt it has changed much. It is not fancy schmancy (there are those that are and if that is what your friend wants, this ain't it) but the area is stunning(Grand Teton Park is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen), the ranch has all the basics you would need, the trail rides are great, there are lots of activities in the area and the majority of the guests told me it was the best vacation they had ever had.

Dec. 19, 2007, 05:12 PM
The Spotted Horse Ranch in Jackson Hole, WY gets my vote. :yes:


One of the best vacations I've ever had!! If I had been 20 years younger, I think I would have stayed and just sent for my horses. :cool:

That was the first time I'd ever cried on the way to the airport, to go home. :no:

I told my SO if we get married, that's where I want to go for our honeymoon!

Looks like just outside Jackson Hole, WY is pretty much everyone's vote regardless of what ranch each of us stayed. :D

Dec. 19, 2007, 05:15 PM
Years ago we went to the R Lazy S in Jackson Hole, WY and I remember it being very nice. I was a bit too young to appreciate it and I wish I could go back!

Dec. 19, 2007, 06:36 PM
I've been to Bitterroot Ranch in Wyoming twice and loved it. It is geared strictly to riders, not a real "dude" ranch. FABULOUS riding and horses. http://www.bitterrootranch.com

Guests divided by riding level in groups no larger than 6. You stay in individual cabins that are scattered all around and out of site of each other. Wonderful gourmet food cooked by the wranglers who come from all over the world to wrangle for the season. You'll get to jump if you want, sort cattle if you want, and enjoy some incredible scenery in the area where all the old Malboro Man commercials were filmed.

Dec. 19, 2007, 06:49 PM
Another vote for Bitterroot - like Sonesta said, it is geared more towards experienced riders. They breed Arabs there, so you'll get a bit of a change from all the QHs at the over places. It is NOT cushy - if you are looking for spa-type treatment you won't get it there (although the food is absolutely fantastic and I'm a gourmet cook myself, so it takes a lot to impress me). Friday night you get to do some team sorting, and Saturday finishes off your week with an all day ride and a picnic.

Dec. 19, 2007, 08:00 PM

E Bar L in Missoula, Montana is the closest thing to Heaven I can imagine.

Dec. 20, 2007, 12:36 AM
Slight spin off, but does anyone know anything about Red Rock Ranch? I've looked at their website, and spoken with someone on the phone, but would like to get some dirt. How do they treat their help? How do the horses look/feel? Is it disorganized, goofy, romanticized, etc...give me some dirt!

Dec. 20, 2007, 01:02 AM
I'm saving this thread under " favorites".

I almost went to the Bitterroot Ranch 2 years ago, for a Tteam clinic, but backed out, as with it's remote location, and leaving 4 small children and husband behind, I started worriying about all the "what if?'s".....

But esp. Jackson Hole might be doable. All 3 of those ranches look fantastic.
I would love to sneak away for a week.

Good luck and happy trails!

Dec. 20, 2007, 01:43 AM
A friend and I spent a week at the Rocking Z Guest Ranch in Montana about 5 years ago. Had a fantastic time, lots of riding and many opportunities to trot and gallop. Smaller capacity, family run ranch, only 6 guests the week we were there.

Good people, nice horses, great riding.

(I just visited their website tonight, it mentioned following the practices of a certain NH person, last name beginning with "P". Enough said...but I saw no evidence of that while I was there.)

Dec. 20, 2007, 07:17 AM
The Tanque Verde Ranch was the site of my very best vacation ever. It was many years ago, but from the website http://www.tanqueverderanch.com/ it looks much the same.

There are plenty of riding, including overnight excursions into the desert, lots of other stuff to do for the non-horsey in the party, and the food was absolutely wonderful.

The ranch is located very near Tucson, AZ, so there are plenty of other places to visit, including the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum http://www.desertmuseum.org/about/ which is fascinating.

I'm going back some day, after I retire. And that's a promise.

Dec. 20, 2007, 10:16 AM
But Montana, esp. Jackson Hole might be doable. All 3 of those ranches look fantastic.

Jackson Hole is in WY
The link for the place I worked is http://www.jacksonholetrailcreekranch.com/
I have heard nothing but good things about Bitterroot (actually tried to get a job there before I ended up at Trail Creek but they were done hiring by the time I called).

Dec. 20, 2007, 02:13 PM
This year we are going to Gaspe area of Canada (about 5 hours from Quebec) July 27 - Aug 2. Maximum of 6 riders. We have two openings if any of you want to go with us!


Not a dude ranch, but should be a great ride. Anyone done it?

Murphy's Mom
Dec. 20, 2007, 04:54 PM
Years ago I went to the White Stallion Ranch in Tuscon, Arizona for my spring break/college graduation present and had a great time.

I've also been to Laughing Water Ranch in Montana and had a great time there. They even let my ride in my english saddle!

I went to both places 10+ years ago, but it looks like they are both still in business.

Dec. 20, 2007, 10:08 PM
Another vote for the Vee Bar in Laramie, WY.

Dec. 20, 2007, 10:36 PM
I second White Stallion Ranch. My family's been going every April vacation for like 6 years now. It's right across from Tanque Verdee, actually.

They have great horses, lots of different stuff to do. Their all-day ride is fantastic. And you can get in a maximum of five rides a day I think if you do everything.

Dec. 21, 2007, 12:12 AM
I wish I could remember the name of the place I went so that I could tell you to avoid it like the plague. Nice little cabins in the woods, half decent horses. All the riding was up and down mountainsides so never much more than a walk in any directions and your legs hurt like hell after hours of downward riding. Granted it was lovely scenery.

However, the worst bit was that on the last day the guy leading the ride decided to cross a raging torrent of a river (I am not exaggerating). Everything went nuts, people came off their horses and kids ended up having to be rescued out of the river. To this day I cannot get the image of one horse, owned by a young female wrangler working there for the summer, rolling over and over down the river, screaming. I have never heard a horse scream before or since and I never want to. They found it about a mile down river, dead. It was heartbreaking. The girl had owned it since a weanling and had brought it up there with her for the summer. The s**t that owned the place acted like nothing had happened. I still wonder if any of the parents of kids sued his ass for endangering their kids, which he surely had.

Dec. 21, 2007, 12:31 AM

63 Ranch in Livingston, Montana. My family of five went about two years ago and had a blast! The cabins are so cute, the owners are the nicest people, and the food is amazing. My brothers and dad don't ride but they still had fun, even though I don't think they'd ever admit it.
The trails are awesome. They offer beginner and advance trails, and also have a full day group ride once a week I believe. I think (don't quote me on this one) they offer both a morning ride then an afternoon ride. The scenery is amazing and there is tons of wildlife- on one ride I watched a bear chase a moose, and another we rode past a bear watching us in the forest.
They're very safety orientated, and made everyone go into the ring (a few at a time) before setting off on any trails to make sure you could go, stop, turn, and got along with your horse.

Another plus, its not to far from Yellowstone National Park. We took a day off from riding (my brothers and dad couldn't take it anymore:lol:) and went to Yellowstone. The owners of the ranch even made us bagged lunches so we wouldn't have to buy any food!

Its something I will never forget, and it still ranks number 1 in my book for vacations...even over our 2 week Hawaii trip this past summer. :cool:

Dec. 21, 2007, 08:18 AM
Aller's Boulder River Ranch , McLeod, Montana

Wonderful :)

Dec. 21, 2007, 08:26 AM
Wow, these are great recommendations. This is a thread I would like to have saved in archives for future reference.

Dec. 21, 2007, 08:58 AM
I would so love to convince my husband to go on a dude ranch vacation this summer. I just think it will be a hard sell if there isn't anything other to do than trail ride.

Does anyone know of a ranch that has kayaking, hiking and mountain biking nearby as well?? Will they teach you to rope/cut cows too?

Any info or suggestions that would meet these needs would be great.

Dec. 21, 2007, 09:42 AM
this is a great resource


Dec. 21, 2007, 10:51 AM
I would so love to convince my husband to go on a dude ranch vacation this summer. I just think it will be a hard sell if there isn't anything other to do than trail ride.

Does anyone know of a ranch that has kayaking, hiking and mountain biking nearby as well?? Will they teach you to rope/cut cows too?

Any info or suggestions that would meet these needs would be great.
anything outside of Jackson Hole is within a short drive of Grand Teton Nat'l Park which has rocking awesome hiking. The ranch I recommended is actually has quite a few good hiking trails right from the ranch but really, if you are in the area, go to Grand Teton. It is only slightly further to Yellowstone but there are so many more people there that I prefer Grand Teton. Don't remember the rules for biking on those trails but bet the website tells you.
Also- anything outside Jackson Hole also has easy access to flyfishing (and lots of outfitters) and white water rafting. I am sure you could find kayaking outfitters as well. Almost all the guests at the ranch I worked at spent at least 1 non-riding day. Most ranches will arrange the trips you want to do with local outfitters (and you will do much better if you tell them when you make the reservation or well before you get there that you want to do these things so they can book it early).
I suspect it is the same with many ranches, I just know that stuff is available around Jackson Hole.

Dec. 21, 2007, 12:32 PM
For my 50th birthday my husband took me to Papoose Creek Ranch outside of Cameron Montana, outside of Bozeman on the Madison river. I can not say enough good things about this place. This is a cushy p5 star kind of place with all your needs being met. I rode everyday and it was just me and the wrangler riding, no one else. I had my choice of horses and rode a few before I found one I really liked and then rode him the rest of my stay. They would do whatever I wanted to do I choose to ride 3 to 4 hours a day and on the last day we went on a all day ride. He took me up to the mountains and rode above timberline. It was unforgetable in it's beauty. My husband doesn't ride nor does he fly fish ( this is a fly fishing area) but he still found pleanty to do. Hiking and exploring the area. Food was fabulous also. It was the best 50th birthday (if you have to really turn 50).

Dec. 21, 2007, 01:14 PM
Laramie River ranch in Laramie, WY. Great horses, beautiful scenery. Small groups, not real fancy, but well maintained.

Dec. 21, 2007, 02:23 PM
I wish I could recall the name of the outfit a friend/former boss of mine goes to work at most years from April-October...it is in Wyoming (I can't recall where), but is more a hunting camp...I think? they probably do have 'packages' for the home base ranch itself for those who don't want to actually pack up into the high country for hunting...

They DO do something at the home-base ranch, as I recall him telling me about some man that owned some company rented the whole place at least once before and took all his employees & families (I don't recall how much $$$$ he said but it was ridiculously expensive!, but what a wonderful thing to have a boss to do that, ya know?!)...

Friend usually comes by with pictures when he gets back home each fall...oh my! Purely Heaven on Earth! I would *love* to go there. Horses look good from the pics he's shared, and they're all business/know their jobs. If you/the group would be interested in doing some hunting, I'll try to get in touch with him to find out the name of the place. Not sure if he'll be going back and working anymore or not---said he's getting too old for it! I suspect he's got at least another summer in him though ;) I'd love to go and work there myself, but "life" has me tied down/can't just up & leave for 6-7 months!

Dec. 21, 2007, 02:32 PM
I haven't been to one yet, but this one is high on my list of places to try:


Primarily because in addition to all of the 'usual' dude ranch options, they can get you into the Range Creek area- a ranch recently donated to the state because it is chock full of Indian ruins and artifacts. Entry to the public is allowed, but by permit only- and these folks have a permit to take tours in there.

Dec. 21, 2007, 02:48 PM
My best friend and her husband went to a dude ranch in Col. and had a GREAT time. She has been riding horses for years - her husband is a beginner, but is able to canter a packer fairly well. She said that her horse experience was both good and bad. She said that no one was allowed to pick the horses' feet but the grooms, and that was not done on a regular basis. She also said that because they knew she was experienced, they gave her a 2 year old baby to take out, who only had a handful of rides on him.

I'll ask her today what the name of it was...

Dec. 21, 2007, 04:24 PM
Some friends and I used Kevin & Deb Little a few years ago (partially because they included beer in the price :D)


We had miserable weather conditions on our back country trip--record rainfalls and then 8" of snow on our way back out, but it was never-the-less lots of fun and they took excellent care of us.

The Teton/Yellowstone area is one of the absolute prettiest anywhere. I did my field work in the area from Ennis, MT through Yellowstone and out as far east as Dubois, WY. You can't go wrong anywhere in that area for gorgeous scenery, typically wonderful weather, great trout fishing and great wildlife viewing.

Dec. 22, 2007, 10:34 AM
As a kid, I stayed at the 320 Ranch in Montana. I recently looked it up and it is now a high end Dude Ranch, but looks great.

Dec. 22, 2007, 11:03 AM
Lazy K Bar Guest Ranch in Tuscon Arizona.

was an AWESOME trip!

Dec. 23, 2007, 01:37 AM
Jackson Hole is in WY
The link for the place I worked is http://www.jacksonholetrailcreekranch.com/
I have heard nothing but good things about Bitterroot (actually tried to get a job there before I ended up at Trail Creek but they were done hiring by the time I called).

Oops! Sorry, complete brain lapse. I KNOW Jackson Hole is in WY, how embarassing....
I really need to proofread my posts a little better.

At any rate, I want to, no NEED to go. Maybe this summer?

Thanks and best wishes from Kansas

Dec. 23, 2007, 10:31 AM
Lost Creek Ranch just outside of Jackson Hole Wy, was very family oriented. Will feed you lots of good country food, and price of the stay includes a white water raft trip on a local low level river and a guided tour of Yellowstone Park. Can ride 2x a day.

Dunton Hot Springs if you just want to spoil yourself rotten, soak in hot springs, eat incredible food prepared by an excellent chef, meet very interesting people, and get in a nice ride every now and then. Is located south of Telluride by about hour or 2. Not a dude ranch.

Both of the above have websites.

Dec. 23, 2007, 11:26 AM

Grapevine Canyon Ranch. I got to take some reining lessons and the horses are great. They have advanced rides, opportunities for cattle work during some weeks and great people. I went 2 or 3 times 6 or 7 years ago and loved it.

Dec. 23, 2007, 11:34 AM
My family has been going to Tumbling River Ranch in Grant, CO (about 1.5 hrs south of Denver) for almost 15 years, and my experience there is what made me get into riding as a child. The food is superb, the staff is incredibly knowledgeable and friendly, gorgeous scenery, etc.. It's definitely more of an "upscale" place, but no TV or internet which is great for dragging my dad away. They also have an AMAZING kids program! That was what my parents loved so much. They could actually spend some time together and not worry about us. The Gordon family owns it, and their daughter Megan and her husband Scott run it now.