There's nothing like make family memories on a scenic trail ride or around a campfire looking up at a blanket of stars. Gene Kilgore, the world's leading expert on dude ranch vacations agrees. “Ranch Vacations offer the perfect blend of adventure for families that want to get away from big city life and embrace nature, camaraderie, fun and most of all real quality family time," says Kilgore. "Ranches today celebrate hospitality and goodness second to none. Parents can really be on vacation while their kids are having the time of their life.”
As the authority behind the popular site Top50Ranches.com, Kilgore certainly knows his dude ranches. He's rounded up his favorite ranch destinations for families that feature the perfect junior wrangler activities.
Just 30 miles from Yellowstone National Park, Mountain Sky Guest Ranch has spent 80 years perfecting their rustic elegance on nearly 10,000 acres of stunning countryside in Montana's Paradise Valley. Mountain Sky features all-inclusive packages for every member of the family with all meals, and ranch activities including horseback riding, guided hiking, fly-fishing instruction, yoga, kids program and golfing on the private course.
The Lazy L&B Ranch in Wyoming is perfect for independent children and families. Kids programs are grouped by age and riding ability for the day and later reunited with their families for an evening of food and games under the stars. The ranch also features a petting zoo, pool and tree house.
Situated just North of Steamboat Springs, Vista Verde Ranch offers an all-inclusive luxury guest ranch experience in a relaxed and casual environment. During the summer months, guests are invited to participate in guided hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, fly-fishing, yoga, trail riding and in-depth horsemanship clinics. Once snowfall hits, the ranch features an exciting selection of country skiing, snowshoeing, tubing, and sleigh rides, snowy horseback rides as well as indoor options like horsemanship clinics, leatherworking and photography.
Rancho Las Casadas Ranch puts an emphasis on the care and responsibility of horseback riding. Kids will love the up close & personal time with the ranch horses, as well as the array of bonfires, pool activities, art classes, hiking, biking and outdoor games offered. One child age 14 or under can visit for free when sharing a room with a full-paying adult.
The Ranch at Rock Creek is the perfect family get-away. Set in one of the most idyllic Montana valleys, this five-star ranch offers lavish all-inclusive amenities in an authentic ranch setting. Kiddos will love the Little Grizzlies Kids Club, offering lessons in fly-fishing, naturalist hikes, horseback riding and more.
Families of all ages and sizes love Rankin Ranch. Just a short 2.5 hour drive from Los Angeles, Rankin Ranch boasts an impressive all-inclusive package featuring, ranch style accommodations, meals and horseback riding. Parents and kids ages 4-11 will both love the on-site camp that runs from 9:30 to 3:30 daily.
Little cowboys and cowgirls will feel right at home at the Bar W Guest Ranch's Junior Wrangler Cowpoke Program. The program is open to little ones ages 7-11 and teaches kids how to groom, saddle and care for horses before diving into basic rodeo routines such as barrel racing, keyhole and pole bending and working the cattle!
C Lazy U Ranch has welcomed families with little ones to their rustic retreat for over 50 years. Counselors supervise children on horseback rides, on a ropes course and zip lining, in paddle boats in the pool and while fishing.
Courtesy of Brush Creek Luxury Ranch Collection
Located in picturesque Saratoga, Wyoming, The Brush Creek Ranch offers more than just ranch fun. Kids will love the variety of horseback rides, wildlife viewing, archery and hiking the on-premise professional counselors and guides lead. Parents, on the other end, can brush up on their advanced horsemen skills or relax at the Trailhead Spa.
Located in the remote Rockies, Elk Mountain Ranch is a true escape. A pleasant two-hour drive from Denver, this family-friendly ranch boasts The Little Buckeroo's program for kids under 7 and tailored ranch activities for older kids. From the petting zoo, panning for gold, hiking, crafting and fishing, Elk Mountain will please even the most horse-averse kids.
Western Pleasure Guest Ranch offers a Youth Horsemanship Program that is the ultimate ranch vacation for kids who love horses. Open to ages 8 to 18, kids and teens will learn how to care for their horses and equipment in preparation for a real horse show with ribbons and trophies to conclude their trip.