Planning your family dude ranch vacation

So, you’ve decided that you want to take a family dude ranch vacation.  Now what?  The search for the best dude ranches can be daunting.  How do you know which one will really be good?  How do you know which one is right for you?  Then, you find one and love it.  Vista Verde is your pick.  (Of course, we think this is a steller pick).  But, when you call the ranch with your credit card in hand, ready to make your deposit, you find out they are full.  Gasp, oh no!

Pardon the comedic tone, but although we love our success and the fact that the ranch fills up quicker and quicker each year for our family dude ranch times, it’s doesn’t feel good to tell someone who is excited to take the plunge that they can’t do it this year.  Maybe we should feel proud about that, and sure, we do a little.  But, honestly, we all agree that is such a bummer to have to turn an excited potential guest away.

Since we typically try to offer some other suggestions for finding another spot for their family dude ranch vacation, we thought we’d share those tips with everyone.

The first thing to know is that there really isn’t a “best dude ranch”.  There just isn’t.  There is a best dude ranch for you, but that may not be the same as the best one for your neighbor.  The beauty of dude ranches is that they are all unique and special.  Each one fits different people, and appeals to guests for different reasons.  But, here are a couple we think highly of, and recommend often.

If you like the Steamboat Springs area, then you should check out the Home Ranch.  It’s similar in the capacity of the ranch and it’s a very nice place with a great culinary aspect.

For a smaller ranch (in terms of capacity) you should check out Smith Fork Ranch.  Their food is great, and so is the guided fly fishing program.

C Lazy U is another nice ranch.  It’s much larger, but that is a good thing if you’re planning a last minute vacation for your family, as they are more likely to have space for you.

The last one is Lost Valley Ranch.  It’s got a great family feel, and a strong riding program.

Now, keep in mind that these are just the ranches we typically recommend.  There are a bunch of other amazing Colorado dude ranches listed at  Any of them are perfect spots for a family dude ranch vacation.  Many are a bit more rustic than Vista Verde, but still in beautiful locations and run by great people.

Hopefully we’ll have a spot for you at Vista Verde, but just in case, we still want you to have a great vacation, and hope that you feel that the ranch where you end up is the best dude ranch for you!