The weather is glorious out in the Rockies, from Colorado north through Wyoming and on into British Columbia. And down in Texas, around the Big Bend area, the weather is perfection, too. Sunny days, gorgeous sunsets, and nights so starry you feel like you’re in a planetarium show. The best news is, there’s still time to jump in and snag a week (or a long weekend) at a fabulous Rockies or Texas dude ranch before the weather cools.
At Drowsy Water Ranch, a family-oriented ranch outside Granby, you’ll find hayrides, horseback riding, jeep trips, trout fishing, swimming, western dancing, gymkhana rodeos, raft trips, and special children’s programs. Nearby, there’s golfing, hunting, and much more. NEWS: New this year: Cowgirl Only Week September 6-12; enjoy riding, guided hikes, massages, yoga, a mountain supper cookout, plus a sunrise ride, and a trip to local hot springs. And be sure to check out the ranch’s own blog at www.drowsywater.com/blog/
Historic Pines Dude and Guest Ranch is a landmark in beautiful south central Colorado, and one of the state’s most revered ranches. There’s plenty to do here— even if you can’t stay overnight. The ranch offers hourly trail riding; sessions start at 9:30 and 1:30 daily Mon-Fri; and at 9:30 Saturday mornings. Call several days ahead to book your space. Trail riding is available May 1—October 3; call 800/446-9462. NEWS: The next Couples-Only week is September 13¬–19; the cost is a low all-inclusive rate of $1100 per person. The Parelli Natural Horsemanship Clinic runs September 19 & 20; bring your own horse (or not) to learn this method of natural horsemanship. A Parelli-trained coach will teach and demonstrate this new approach to understanding your horse; call for more at 800/446-9462.
Both a summer ranch and a winter cross country ski destination, Latigo Ranch (pictured, above) boasts some of Colorado’s most spectacular scenery (stand on the front porch of their historic log lodge and you’re looking at 100 miles of the Continental Divide). NEWS: Some prefer to visit Latigo Ranch when there are no young children here, so the week of September 13–19 is reserved only for adults (no guests under 18 years of age for the adults’ week). The ranch is becoming increasingly popular for family reunions. For the latest news and info about Latigo, check out their new blog (click on the word blog). There, you’ll learn how the ranch is going green, about all the latest programs, and get a taste of the season.
Set high in the Colorado Rockies, the Waunita Hot Springs Ranch has been hosting guests for over 40 years. But they’re hip to technology here; in fact, you’ll never have to wonder what the weather forecast for your visit will be: a handy link gives you a complete weather map for the area (http://www.waunita.com/ranchNews/weatherMap.html). NEWS: Green on the ranch: Waunita has a long ‘green’ history concerning heat and domestic hot water (the ranch uses no propane or fuel oil for heating buildings and homes, blessed with free hot water from the springs. They are now moving towards ‘greener’ practices with soda pop cans, plastic water bottles, milk jugs. Weddings: The front lawn of the ranch has been the site of two weddings, and is available for more. Staying in touch: the ranch has begun a “friends of Waunita” email list; if you’d like to stay up on the latest news and/or changes at the ranch, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Red Rock Ranch is a classic, family-owned/operated dude ranch in a classic location: just outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. You can easily explore Grand Teton National Park from here. Besides an outstanding horseback riding program, the kids program keeps families coming back for years, the Western log cabins are richly appointed yet authentic. Anglers will go for the 2 ½ miles of private blue ribbon fly fishing waters running through the ranch, 4 stocked trout ponds, and a weekly fly fishing clinic. Miles of scenic hiking trails beckon both the beginning hiker and the more advanced. The limit of 28 guests makes for an intimate, relaxed atmosphere; sip your coffee in front of a roaring fire in the lodge, or roam the extensive ranch library. Red Rock is a good choice for family reunions and small corporate groups, due to its wide range of activities, amenities, and its conference center .
You just can’t be bored at Spotted Horse Ranch. Summer fun ranges from trail rides to trout fishing (their an Orvis partner) and exciting float trips on the beautiful Snake River. The Spotted Horse Ranch is handy to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and if you’re looking for bright lights, there’s the quaint town of Jackson, with its stagecoach rides, weekly rodeos, and places to bend an elbow or listen to music. NEWS: Anglers here go for Snake River Fine-Spotted Cutthroat, Rainbow, and Brown Trout. These fish are fighters and they’re wily, so they offer flycasters a satisfying experience no matter your experience level. There’s a new spring-fed pond with its own Cutthroat population, a way to help anglers build confidence and improve casting skills. A free casting lesson is offered on Monday afternoons.
You want really close-up views of the Teton Range and Snake River Valley? Triangle X Ranch sits in the heart of Grand Teton National Park (the only operating guest ranch concession inside the park). This is a real working dude and horse ranch, so you’ll find a true western experience. And thre’s plenty of fun: riding, cookouts, square dancing, wildlife watching (and photography). You can also access a scenic rft trip, guided angling expeditions, and more. Sit back and relax or use Triangle X as your gateway to a wilderness adventure. In winter, the ranch becomes a hub for cross-country skiing.
A trip to Cibolo Creek Ranch is a journey back in time to the romantic old west. If you’re looking for rich history, boundless vistas, and timeless hospitality, this is the place for you. Cibolo Creek Ranch is ‘Texas big’, stretching over some 30,000 acres around the Big Bend area (and it has its own private airstrip!). It’s an oasis of luxury, adventure, and serenity. Set amidst the Chinati Mountains, the ranch sits in the cool, clean mountain air. Hop on your horse (or ATV) and explore, go fishing, hiking, swimming. Or not. Many guests enjoy simply relaxing by the pool, working out in the fitness center, or chilling out in the hot tub or sauna. But all enjoy the panoramas. There’s beauty all around, even in the ranch buildings themselves: stylish enough to have been featured in Architectural Digest Magazine.
BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
High in the Canadian Rockies, Three Bars Cattle and Guest Ranch combines the setting for real adventure and western hospitality. Activities range from fly fishing to mountain biking and horseback riding. Three Bars is a working ranch and if the ranch is moving cows when you are here, there will be opportunities to go along. NEWS: Run by The Beckley family, the ranch was recently voted Canada’s Best Dude Ranch for 2009. An Adults Only Week is set for September 6-12; call the ranch for details. And from October through mid-May, the ranch is available for conferences.