My family and I recently enjoyed an amazing few days away just outside of Steamboat Springs in Colorado at the Vista Verde Guest Ranch, and while there I discovered why a dude ranch vacation is the ultimate family vacation. You too can experience life like a cowboy this summer by taking a family vacation at a working, dude or luxury ranch, so you can disconnect, reconnect and connect with nature.
Here are my top reasons why a dude ranch family vacation is a must and what type could be best for yours.
Reason #1: Your phone won’t work
Dude ranches are typically off the beaten path and out of cell phone range. You may wonder how you’re going to deal with — ahem, I mean, enjoy — multiple days with your kids free of cell phone distraction, but trust me all those dude-ranchin’ activities are going to whoop them. Not to mention, it is kind of nice to actually hang out with your family free of devices.
Reason #2: The kids get dirty
OK, you may not want your kids to get dirty, but I LOVE it when my kids get dirty. Why? Because it means they are unabashedly enjoying being outside and making that sometimes-forgotten connection with Mother Nature. It’s an undeniable truth that dirty kids are happy kids.
Reason #3: If the apocalypse hits and there are horses left, you’ll know how to ride one
I don’t like horses.There, I said it. They scare the piss out of me. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw my 5-year-old mount a horse much taller than me. That’s when I knew, I had to get over myself and figure out how to ride one of these things. Thank goodness it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be and I learned a few good skills that may come in handy one day.
Reason #4: So much more than horses!
Even though horseback riding is the central activity, many dude ranches actually offer so many more activities. Our winter experience included Nordic skiing, tubing, and snow biking, but summer guest ranches offer fishing, hiking, biking, canoeing, white water rafting and the list goes on depending on where you go.
Reason #5: Really connecting
Once you disconnect from the hustle-and-bustle of the “real world” and relax into nature, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to reconnect with your family; laughing, lounging and loving. That’s what you’ll love after a hard-working, fun-filled day on the ranch.
I do not think I’m alone in the opinion that every family needs a dude ranch vacation. Simply check out reviews from some of these I’ve listed below. Words like “life-changing”, “magical”, “amazing” and “time of my life” are used after folks get away to a dude ranch. Sounds pretty convincing to me and I’m lucky enough to have gotten to experience it!
Considering a dude ranch vacation? According to The Dude Ranchers’ Association, there are three categories of ranches:
- WORKING DUDE RANCH
These are working cattle or sheep operations. The ranches livestock will determine your horseback riding adventures and the work related to them. Be prepared to experience these activities first hand.
- DUDE RANCH
Horseback riding is central to these ranches. The cowboy in you will experience Western riding and a variety of outdoor activities.
- RESORT DUDE RANCH
Horseback riding is featured, and these ranches offer an array of diverse activities and onsite facilities. These are apt to be the larger ranches.
Absolutely MUST Consider: Vista Verde Guest Ranch in Colorado. VVR is an all-inclusive, luxury dude ranch with a robust kids program and amazing adult activities.