A young mom makes her first dude ranch visit

My new pal, Carolyn Flinn McCool, sends word that she’s just wild about dude ranches. Last summer, she took a ‘girl’s getaway’ with a friend to a ranch near Granby, Colorado. Carolyn was so thrilled with the vacation, she wanted to tell Ranchweb readers all about her experiences (turns out, she makes a pretty good travel writer). Here’s her report:

A Dude Ranch Vacation Is Unlike Any Other

“Someone might get hurt doing that.”  “Doesn’t interest me.”  “Too expensive.”  “A week would be too long.” Over the years I mentioned to my friends and family I wanted to go to a dude ranch.  I got plenty of looks and responses like the ones above.  Then I became reacquainted with a friend at a high school reunion and I mentioned I wanted to go to a dude ranch but no one, even family, ever wanted to go with me!  Her face lit up and she said she would love to go to a dude ranch and we should plan it!  She even pushed me along to make it a reality.  Hooray!  This trip might be possible now I thought.


I got to work.  I loved Colorado, so I had the state picked and I knew I wanted something within a few hours of a major airport.  I located dude ranches from web sites, visited their sites, and I called some of them.  From them I gathered lots of information and a woman I spoke with encouraged me there were lots of good choices; I just needed to search for what I wanted.

In my search I learned the people in the industry love what they do and offer.  I sought out ranches based on experience (hotel vs. ranch), location (remote or nearby a city), and connection with those I spoke with, and price.  I made a list of those ranches that offered what I desired and narrowed them down to four ranches.  I then surveyed these ranches more carefully–making a spreadsheet for comparison and mulling over the options for some time.

I spoke with my friend often about my finds and she kept saying what she wanted in the experience or what we couldn’t miss out on, so that drove my search.  In the end it was personal contact, however, that sealed the deal after getting the 3 R’s of ranching—price, place, and prescription.  A business that treats me like a good friend or attempts to value my thoughts while making me feel welcome has a good chance of securing my trust!


After thinking about the choice over the months, a Rocky Mountain ranch won the vote of approval.  Reflection tells me it was a great choice and my friend would agree.   I savor the memories, the moments, and the mountains still…almost daily.

I am so glad I didn’t let other’s negative or uniformed comments derail my quest to experience a dude ranch.  While I was at the ranch I kept thinking of my family and how I wished they were a part of my experience.  This was something we should have shared.   You really can get close to people, nature, and enjoy some of the best things about life on a dude ranch vacation!

A dude ranch vacation is different, so unlike most vacations.  Maybe it’s the camaraderie and closeness you feel with others sharing a meal or maybe it’s the removal from the everyday hustle of life and the beauty of the out of doors.  I am still not exactly sure why, but all I know is a dude ranch vacation may be one of the best ways to share life with those you care about while at the same time renewing your spirit.

Editor’s note: Carolyn Flinn McCool is a freelance writer with twin sons.  Making new memories and sharing something special is one of her favorite ways to experience life.


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