Selecting the best dude and guest ranch for the kids

rankin ranchSmart Ranch Traveler

Moms are often the ones who end up doing the background research for any vacation. That’s especially true when they’re hunting for a dude or guest ranch vacation for the family. Any mom would agree: it’s always good to start your selection process early. But even August isn’t too late-ask about cancellations. (In fact, you can find some great last-minute bargains even in dude ranching’s high season– see item below).

Begin asking friends and family if they’ve been to a good dude ranch (posting a query on Facebook is guarenteed to garner some good ideas). Then, on the Internet, start with sites that narrow the search (like Ranchweb, the Dude Ranchers Association, and state tourism sites). Query ‘last minute deals’ or click over to thhe site’s deals section (like

Then work the phones. When you’ve selected your top choice ranches, ask each for a list of past guests that wouldn’t mind a call from you (that is, guests who came with kids). Then call and ask if they have time for a few questions about their ranch stay: how child-oriented they felt the ranch was; what kinds of kid-programs they participated in and what ages the programs worked best for; what their kids really loved (or not) about the ranch.

Finally, ask if you can get a short taste of ranch life for you and your family. Most ranches request that you stay at least a week, but some kid-friendly ranches, like California’s Rankin Ranch, allow stays as short as one night.

See if there’s anything out-of-the-ordinary the parents suggest you should bring for the kids when they visit a ranch. You might get some surprising answers. And if your “little dudes” have any special considerations, mention them; if their children share those considerations, you’ll find out how the ranch accommodated them. You’re sure to get some great ideas from the vast—and helpful—network of parents out there. And you might even make a new phone friend.

Details: great ranches for kids are easy to find on the Ranchweb site. Go to the category ‘selecting a ranch’, then click on ‘for kids’.


Canada’s Echo Valley Ranch & Spa is calling you, girlfriend

In beautiful British Columbia, Echo Valley Ranch and Spa is calling all ‘wannabe’ cowgirls. If you’ve ever wanted to ride the range and throw a lasso, yet still like a little luxury at the end of the day, then the Echo Valley Ranch girls getaway is a vacation to think about.

Start your day with an early morning Thai yoga class, then saddle up and ride the golden hills of British Columbia’s eastern side, taking a break to enjoy one of chef’s gourmet picnic lunches. At the end of the day, you can restore your mind and body with an Asian or European spa treatment, then watch the sun go down.

Priced per night from $605, this vacation isn’t for budget-minded gals, but it can include: One half day horseback ride and wilderness picnic; One signature Western or Asian spa treatment during the stay; Group manicure/pedicure; Lasso throwing lessons from the local cowboys; Self guided hiking program; Daily Thai yoga (Ruesri dat ton ) stretching classes, and more.

Details: To book the Girlfriends Getaway Package please contact Echo Valley at 800/253-8831 or email

Hot Deals

Summer/Fall Dude Ranch Deals

Right now is the right time to find great bargains in dude and guest ranch vacation. Take California’s Rankin Ranch, offering a 50% Discount: Rest and Relaxation Week October 2nd-5th. Or Colorado’s Laramie River Ranch: : 30% Discount for Adults Only Special in September! The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch has Home on The Range Summer Package. Colorado’s Elk Ranch has ‘the more the merrier’ 15% discount (check details); Wyoming’s 7D Ranch has 10 % discount weeks in September (adults only).

Details: Find these deals and more at


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