It's time to put the beach holidays to one side, and make way for unforgettable ranch holidays. Take the whole family on holiday to a ranch in the USA’s great Wild West for a taste of adventure they’ll never forget. Discover the jagged peaks and wide open plains of America’s cattle country the way they were made to be experienced – astride a sturdy steed. All levels of riding experience can be easily catered for with a variety of rides available for all abilities, group rides for children and lessons for anybody who wants to learn.
And even if you’ve no intention of saddling up, there’s still plenty of action to keep everyone entertained in the shape of guided hikes, roping, hayrides, archery, biking or watching an exhilarating rodeo. Whether you choose to stay at a rustic family-owned farm, a luxury spa resort or a working ranch, there’s no better place to ride than with people who are passionate about the wrangling way of life.
Knowing the right time of year to visit is the key to creating the perfect cowboy experience. Western & Oriental suggest the best times to visit the ranches in Arizona and Texas are between January and April, or October through to December. Though open year-round, the horses don’t work all day in the peak of summer and with temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees – you won’t want to either.
Colorado, Montana and Wyoming are more temperate states, so plan your ranch holiday between May and September to catch the great American summer. Season dates for these ranches can vary. For a ranch experience with a unique twist, a few plucky establishments are opening their saloon doors during the winter months, featuring a winter program that includes skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking and snow tubing.
Charming, picturesque and quiet, White Stallion Ranch sits upon 3,000 acres of wild plains at the foot of the rugged Tucson Mountains. Friendly staff members carefully select your individual horse. Whether you are embarking on your first time or hundredth desert ride, daily trails pass through the surrounding countryside and mountains at a pace that suits you, varying from slow and scenic to brisk, fast cantering.
White Stallion encourages families to ride together but children aged five and over can also go on scenic trail rides without mum and dad but must be aged eight and over to go on mountain rides. Back at the ranch, a swimming pool awaits, as well as volleyball and tennis court, and in the evenings barbecues and western-style meals are on offer. Regular ranch activities will leave you all feeling like a real cowboy such as cattle penning, fun cook outs, hayrides, a weekly ranch rodeo and exciting moonlight bonfires with cowboy entertainment.
Dixie Dude Ranch oozes a family gathering atmosphere with home cooked meals accompanied by homemade lemonade in a pristine Texas Hill Country setting with spectacular vistas. Twice daily horseback trail rides are suitable for all levels and advanced rides, lessons and overnight pack trips are available.
Though there is no children's program, children are extremely welcome at the Dixie Dude Ranch. Kids under 2 stay free and there are child discounts for ages 2-16. There is a kids pool to keep the children entertained and under 6s are able to double up with adults on the horse to join a ride.With Bandera only 10 minutes away, nearby attractions include the Frontier Times Museum
When Colorado’s highest guest ranch is situated at a height of 9,600 feet, it’s no surprise that Elk Mountain Ranch offers awe-inspiring views looking down over the San Isabel National Forest and surrounding peaks and valley. Elk Mountain is well suited to beginners and families looking for trail rides and offers an intimate stay with just 30 guests. Most stays include a luncheon trail ride, a brunch trail ride, hay rides and campfires.
A full children's program is offered for ages 3 to 7. Kids are looked after daily by two counsellors and activities include arena riding, a goat walk, an afternoon at the hot springs pool and slide, petting the animals, outdoor games and a rodeo. Ages 8 and over usually take part in the adults program but can also join in with the kids. Bicycle rental, archery, white-water rafting and visits to nearby Aspen town are also available.
At 7,400 feet and sat in a remote corner of North America, Goosewing Ranch offers spectacular riding scenery and is home to elk, moose, bears and eagles. This boutique ranch offers an intimate stay by accommodating only 35 guests at any one time and welcomes riders of all abilities, splitting trail and fast rides into small groups for all levels and ages.
A kid’s playground is on hand to entertain the little ones and children over six are able to ride on trails. The ranch offers short daily children’s camps of activities, including arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, nature hikes, pony rides and lawn games, an under 18’s Willow Kid Saloon and even a kid’s rodeo. Everyone is welcome to make the most of the other activities offered such as fly fishing, archery, mountain biking or a soak in the outdoor heated pool and family picnics in the wilderness can be arranged using the ATVs (all terrain vehicles) that come with every cabin.
Set on 10-square miles of rugged meadows and rolling foothills is the ultra-luxurious Ranch at Rock Creek, a resort with a wide range of facilities that caters for every member of the family. The Little Grizzlies Kids Club entertains ages four-12 with creative morning and afternoon activities based around various themes; rivers & ponds, cowboys & horses and plants & rocks, while adults can relish some downtime in the Granite Spa.
If budget is no boundary, this ranch will be heaven on earth for your family. Here, indulge in scenic trail rides and a seemingly limitless option of outdoor activities including fly-fishing, horseback riding or mountain biking. A swimming pool is also available, along with a games room, table tennis, pool tables and the opportunity to try archery. Gourmet meals are served in the Granite Lodge while evening entertainment includes bowling at the Silver Dollar Saloon and a movie screening room.