Dude Ranch Resort for family vacation

Mar 8th, 2019, 08:41 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 143
Dude Ranch Resort for family vacation

Hi all! We are looking at doing a higher end outdoorsy trip for the family this summer and need some help. For info our family are two adults in the 40s, and a 7-year-old. Mom (me) is not too outdoorsy thus the higher end requirement! Looking to spend around $12k for the week for the three of us. Love Paws Up but it is WAY out of our price range. Looking at possible ranch vacation in Colorado or Wyoming (Arizona is too hot in summer. We live in Florida and are trying to escape the super heat!). Need the place to be all-inclusive, must have onsite spa, kids program, daily rides although I am going to admit I have never been on a horse in my life (city girl here) and neither has the 7-year-old so we need the place to be familiar with our type hahaha. Would like them to have other options as well such as skeet shooting, hiking, fishing, maybe ATV rides? things for us to do besides just horseback riding. Out other requirement is that the place must be 1 hour ish or less from a major airport. We don't want to have to change planes 3 times to get to the place and then rent a car and drive another 3 hours and I am seeing lots of the choices in Colorado to be a 3-4 hr drive from the Denver airport. Note we will be using frequent flier miles on Delta for the trip so ideally the place would have a nonstop from Atlanta (which all major airports are).
And Go! I appreciate hour help in advance!
sunlover is offline  
Mar 8th, 2019, 09:21 AM
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Just google: Dude Ranches and go shopping

rvvagbond is offline  
Mar 8th, 2019, 09:27 AM
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This is not a "dude ranch" per se-- but it does tick most all the boxes for you:
Devil's Thumb Ranch (DTR), Tabernash, CO.
(It is not an hour or less from Denver, but is less than two hours from the airport.)

So-called "dude ranches" tend to be less upscale, more rustic.
There's one called C Lazy U, somewhat near DTR.

DTR is a classy ranch, which I call the "Ritz Carlton of the Rockies". It's decorated with authentic Western artifacts, in a sort of Ralph Lauren-esque style. It is extremely well-managed and maintained.
There are cabins for rent, a 'bunkhouse', and two lodges with rooms, many with fireplaces. Food is locally-sourced and excellent. Their Ranch House Restaurant has been our go-to place for special dinners for many, many years (prior to current ownership, as well).
Horses, fishing, hiking, zip-lining, fantastic spa, outdoor pool, kids activities, cows, mountain bike riding, etc, etc.
You can easily drive from DTR to Grand Lake for a day-trip, and even drive over Trail Ridge Road into Rocky Mountain National Park, if you like to drive. Or go to Winter Park ski area for various summer activities. Check out Winter Park music and art festivals, as well.

Several nonstop flights available on Delta from Atlanta.

DTR is seriously eco-friendly (weak wi-fi signals). It's event 'barns' were re-constructed from actual Civil War-era barns, moved in pieces from other states.
I can personally recommend it highly.
We have gone there many times, and never been disappointed. Our daughter was married there, in a fantastic three-day event. DTR takes care of all the details and the setting makes for amazing photographs. You won't be disappointed.
It is not a true "all-inclusive' resort, but they are offering a summer package that includes daily breakfast/lunch/dinner (we could never eat that much!), snacks and activities:

Last edited by MoBro; Mar 8th, 2019 at 09:52 AM.
MoBro is offline  
Mar 8th, 2019, 09:59 AM
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YES! Devil's Thumb is exactly the type we are looking for although my husband may be hesitant about the 2 hour drive from Denver. Thank you for the recomendation. C Lazy U is one I have heard of and already checked their website but they wer ealready booked all of June nad all of July so I didn't look any further. I will really check out Devil's Thumb and see if it is in our price range.

I found Home Ranch and Vista Verse Ranches online and liked them but they were too far from an airport so that is an issue. I also found Lost Creek in Jackson Hole Wyoming online and there is a nonstop flight to Jackson Hole from Atlanta - the airport is 20 min from the ranch! I just couldn't find any actual reviews of soemone who had experience there.
sunlover is offline  
Mar 8th, 2019, 10:06 AM
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We drive from Denver to Winter Park all the time. From the airport, you hop on I-70 West and you're on your way. You take the 40 exit from 70, to go up and over Berthoud Pass (this is not a scary pass, per se, especially in the summer; it's well-designed and maintained). I'd say it's typically about one hour + 45 minutes' drive from the airport, if you don't stop on the way. (Red Rocks is on your way, if you want to take a quick look. And you will drive by Winter Park/Mary Jane ski area and through the town of Winter Park.)
The customer service at DTR is awesome. If you're not happy, they will make it right.
It's become a huge wedding venue, so lodging can be scarce on some weekends.

A less expensive option in that same region is Snow Mountain Ranch, a YMCA of the Rockies. Beautiful setting, more family-style and rustic. No spa.

I think your budget would easily cover DTR. If not, they own Vasquez Creek Inn in Winter Park. Itís nice, but not special like DTR is. You would have access to the Ranch property, though, as Vasquez guests.

Last edited by MoBro; Mar 8th, 2019 at 10:55 AM.
MoBro is offline  
Mar 8th, 2019, 10:10 AM
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A snapshot I took a while ago. DTR property runs all the way to the Continental Divide.
MoBro is offline  
Mar 8th, 2019, 05:42 PM
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Depending on when your flight gets into Denver, you could take the Amtrak California Zephyr out of Denver to Fraser/Winter Park. When on time (sometimes) the train leaves Denver at 8:05AM and is in Winter Park about 2 hours later. I'm guessing that someone from DTR would pick you up if you did not want to rent a car at Winter Park-Fraser.
tomfuller is offline  
Mar 8th, 2019, 05:53 PM
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Unfortunately some of your criteria are mutually exclusive. Few 'dude ranches' are close to major cities/airports. By definition they are in the boonies, so you will have to drive some distance. Many are near-ish small regional airports -- but those places don't have non-stop flights. Dude ranches are fun and have lots of family activities but they don't usually have day spas. Something(s) gotta to give.
janisj is offline  
Mar 8th, 2019, 09:02 PM
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We also love Devils Thumb Ranch. It really is not that far from Denver and I think you will enjoy your stay there.
Cali is offline  
Mar 9th, 2019, 09:35 AM
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Check out Triangle X ranch also in Jackson Hole -
15 miles up the road from JAC.

If it doesn't have to be a dude ranch per se, you may like the activities at Spring Creek. It has the spa options you want, but obviously not an all inclusive option -

You could do the Triangle X experience and get away to a day spa in Jackson (Olga's is an option) or up to the spa at Spring Creek.

Spa menu -
starrs is offline  
Mar 9th, 2019, 01:37 PM
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There are dude ranches within driving distance of Bozeman Montana as well. The ranches pick you up. The nice thing about Triangle X outside of Jackson is that you can easily drive to Jackson for "civilization" if you want.
StantonHyde is offline  
Mar 9th, 2019, 02:44 PM
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I"ve been to a really nice dude ranch outside Durango, but it wasn't "upscale" and didn't have a spa, etc., so doesn't sound like what you want. IO liked it because I didn't want to ride all day (I'd be too sore to try that), so I rode maybe in the morning, then could do other things in the afternoon, like visit Durango, Mesa Verde, etc. It was a perfect schedule. The ranch was very serious about riding, and I liked that, although of course any "dude ranch" in going to have some beginners. But this one could cater to more experienced riders.

I agree that the problem ,with your criteria is the airport. Dude ranches just are not often wihin one hour's drive of a major airport, I drove to Durango from ABQ which wasn't a difficult drive at all, but it took several hours. I also wanted to spend a couple days in Santa Fe anyway. It seems you are calling Jackson Hole a major airport, which I sure would not, but maybe you just mean any airport. Durango has an airport.

I don't agree hat because you aren't outdoorsy you must have "high end." On the ranch where I stayed, some older folks who couldn't ride would just spend time on the very nice porch of the main lodge reading, enjoying nature or something like that. And then of course, you could do excursions as I said. And they had a pool. None of those things have anything to do with being high end. In fact, I think the ranch itself had some excursions, they planned the one to Mesa Verde as I recall, it was all day. Their food was excellent. Also, Durango has that neat old railroad. I went to Silverton one day, also, and some other Indian ruins in northern NM.

FWIW, the ranch I went to was Colorado Trails. It's not as expensive as you want to spend, I suppose because it isn't upscale. It's about $3K per adult for a week, AI. Kids are a little less. That includes lodging, meals and activities. It's an authentic ranch, however, so not geared to people who don't want to ride or want upscale, so I guess it's not for you, just an experience.

Maybe you should reflect on whether you need a spa on a dude ranch and what you mean by major airport. United has flights from DEN and American from DFW to Durango, for example, which is only 20 miles from that ranch I went to. I think there are others in that area, but nothing posh. Perhaps you could find something else to do rather than a spa, such as reading, visiting towns and historic sites, or some outdoor activities even if not riding. But if you definitely want a posh upscale place, some I know of are

Tanque Verde Ranch near Tucson AZ but I guess you don't want AZ if you go in summer.

This one is in Sedalia but tjhat's almost a 2 hr drive from DEN

Home Ranch is near Steamboat Springs, they have an airport. It is a Relais & Chateaux property, which might be right for you. They even call themself luxury.

I don't understand why you say Home Ranch is not close enough to an airport. Steamboat/Hayden Airport (Yampa Valley) is only about 35 miles away. I know United has service there from DEN. There are lots of nonstops, even from ATL, in winter.

All of those have spa services.

Last edited by Christina; Mar 9th, 2019 at 02:47 PM.
Christina is online now  
Mar 9th, 2019, 06:40 PM
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Lost Creek Ranch in Jackson, WY might be another good option, though not sure of the price. Check into Heart 6 Ranch and Turpin Meadow Ranch as well. Have fun!
caze17 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2019, 08:48 AM
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Hi all. First Thank you for the great responses! I really appreciate the help. After some research over the weekend, I really liked Devil's Thumb but realized it is out of my price range. When I first did the math, it seemed to be below my budget and I thought it would work until I realized it wasn't all inclusive and even the package that included meals did not include activities and when you add that in it goes way over unfortunately. (I don't expect spa treatments to be included by the way, but I would expect fly fishing, excursions, skeet shooting, trail rides, rodeos or shows etc. to be included) so bad news there.


I had looked at Home Ranch and it is EXACTLY the type of experience I was looking for I can't get into the Steamboat Springs/Hayden airport. I am a million miler on Delta and always use miles that I have accumulated flying for work so that I get free flights when traveling for pleasure so I have to fly Delta and Delta only does flights into steamboat Springs/Hayden during ski season not during the summer so that is why it doesn't fit with my proximity to the airport requirement (I would have to drive from Denver)

I guess also to clarify my upscale/dude ranch/spa conundrum, when I mean "upscale", I am talking about gourmet food, plush thick duvets, nice toiletries provided in the bathroom, definitely not roughing it and more like a posh hotel that happens to be in a beautiful outdoor setting and have horses and outdoor activities at your disposal. It doesn't have to a be dude ranch per se but have those activities as options but also have the spa where I can soak int he jacuzzi at the end of the or have a nice massage after a horseback ride or the like. These places do exist Rock Creek Ranch, Paw's Up, and C Lazy U Ranch are all in this category but some of these are already booked for the summer and Paws Up is like $20k a week for a family of three (way too much for me)

Caze 17, do you have personal experience with Lost Creek in Jackson Hole, it was one I found online that looked fabulous and the price was right, but I couldn't find any actual reviews. I will look at the other two you mentioned.
sunlover is offline  
Mar 11th, 2019, 09:22 AM
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DTR's site says that activities are included in their package:

"Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa is introducing packaged getaways that include lodging, dining, and an exciting daily menu of authentic ranch adventures. Pack your boots and unpack your cares as you explore a range of included activities across 6,000 untamed acres — from fly fishing and mountain biking to ziplining and horseback riding. With the appetite you’ll work up, we’ve paired true Colorado adventure with full American Plan dining. Be one of the first to enjoy an exclusive experience with all the right inclusions.
Our Complete Ranch Experience Package, with rates based on double occupancy, includes:
Luxury accommodations
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks
Unlimited access to a range of ranch activities"

From the link I posted above-- https://www.devilsthumbranch.com/inclusive/

PS. tomfuller is correct: DTR will send a car to pick you up at the Fraser train depot.

Last edited by MoBro; Mar 11th, 2019 at 09:29 AM.
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Mar 12th, 2019, 05:44 AM
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Hi sunlover,

No, I don't have personal experience with staying at Lost Creek. I live in Jackson Hole and it has a stellar reputation for what you describe - not just being a great guest ranch, but for offering a luxury experience. But I can't personally vouch for that. I did take a look at Trip Advisor and the reviews are glowing, but I realize those are not always representative of the experience.

I can say that the views from Lost Creek are the best in the area (and it is very close the airport), but I realize that the view might not be at the top of your list of luxury amenities.

It was featured on an episode of Modern Family a few years back, so maybe there are some scenes that will help you get a feel for the amenities? I have not seen it, so I do not know if that's the case.

Best of luck with your search!
caze17 is offline  
Mar 12th, 2019, 11:58 AM
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Have not been to the ranches but for a beautiful place to be, Jackson Hole and the Tetons cannot be beat.
crefloors is online now  
Mar 12th, 2019, 02:00 PM
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Salt Lake City is a Delta hub. You could land there and drive 30-45 minutes to Park City or Heber. Stay in a nice resort hotel that will offer activities like horse back riding, fly fishing river rafting, and definitely spa services. The activities aren't on site, but they will transport you there.
StantonHyde is offline  
Mar 13th, 2019, 08:15 AM
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Not to be pushy, but there's a big difference between walking outside your cabin or lodge and seeing horses grazing in the pasture next to you, as opposed to being driven to an off-site stables. Or heading out directly to hike, from your breakfast restaurant's patio. . .. Just sayin' that it's worth the money to get the exact place you want.
MoBro is offline  
Mar 15th, 2019, 12:05 AM
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(Full disclosure: We stayed here over 20 years ago, so my personal experience is way out of date. Friends though, have gone here several times in the last 10 years, and it seems like it's still a great place).

We loved Cherokee Park Ranch near Fort Collins, CO. Google shows the drive from Denver airport as 2 hours and 7 minutes, but I remember it as an easy and interesting drive. Our girls were about 7 and 9 at the time. You could do fly fishing, morning and afternoon trail rides, an overnight ride (camping out), a chicken coop and petting animals, a kids sleepover In a giant teepee, talent night, trip to Estes park, white water rafting, a pool, nice cabins and great food. Our 7 year old was really afraid of the horses, but the staff worked with her till she felt comfortable.


Our favorite dude ranch was the flying U in British Columbia. Canadians have different laws regarding liability, so ranch owners there were quite happy to give us a bag lunch, a map and a horse and let us go exploring on our own. American ranches always make you go with a wrangler. (Don't worry about getting lost; you turn the horse around and say let's go home, and most horses with know exactly how to get home for their dinner!).
They were a bit more rustic than Cherokee park, but had nice cabins and canoes and Kayaks to use on the lake across the road. Unfortunately, it was a four hour drive from Vancouver.

Have you triedRanchweb.com? it is a great site for finding a ranch anywhere in the world. You can search by location, type of ranch (rustic, luxury), price, activities, and read a quick summary on each.
lcuy is offline  

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