Each American family has its own idea of the perfect vacation destination. But oftentimes, it’s the same big city or the same amusement park with little or no chance to enjoy the great outdoors. If you are looking for something completely different this year, why not go on a trip to one of America’s remarkable guest ranches where you can ride horses and get away from it all? Although New York’s Rocking Horse Ranch is known as America’s Family Resort, here is a look at five of the best horseback riding vacations in the country that better personify the Old West.
A Bar A Guest Ranch
820 A-Bar-A Ranch Road
Encampment, WY 82325
Established in 1926, A Bar A Guest Ranch is one of the oldest guest ranches in America. It’s also one of the largest, with nearly 100,000 acres to explore in the heart of Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Mountains. The ranch, located along the banks of the North Platte River, owns 130 horses of high quality for you and your family to ride, but there are plenty of other activities offered, including fly fishing, hiking, swimming, golf and tennis, along with a children’s program. Rates for lodging include all meals served at the ranch, horseback riding and most other outdoor activities.
Dixie Dude Ranch
833 Dixie Dude Ranch Road
Bandera, TX 78003
Attracting seasoned horseback riders and city slickers since 1937, Dixie Dude Ranch is located in Bandera, also known as the Cowboy Capital of the World. The historic ranch in the Texas Hill Country is designated as a Texas Historic Ranch and awards include a Certificate of Excellence winner from Trip Advisor. Guest ranch packages include three meals and two horseback rides per day. The historic ranch also features a large outdoor pool, kiddie pool and other outdoor activities such as catch and release fishing, nature hiking and evening ranch entertainment. All of the guest rooms and cottages have private baths, air conditioning and either vented heat or a fireplace.
201 Colorado Road 1911
Kremmling, CO 80459
Once voted the best dude ranch in Colorado, Latigo Ranch is located 9,000 feet above sea level in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The family-owned property lies on 450 acres but also has access to roam more than 50,000 acres for a full day of horseback riding. Latigo Ranch offers both summer and winter all-inclusive packages which includes all meals, kids programs and outdoor activities, although horseback riding is only allowed during the summer. Lodging options ranges from single-bedroom units to larger suites, and Wi-Fi is available dependent upon each guest’s wireless device.
480 Big Creek Road
Emigrant, MT 59027
Mountain Sky is another guest ranch with a history that stretches back more than 80 years. Comfortably settled within the heart of the breathtaking Paradise Valley, this historic ranch is just 30 miles from Yellowstone National Park. Mountain Sky Ranch has 130 quality-bred horses to explore nearly 9,000 acres. Other activities include golf, fly fishing, spa and fitness center and a kids program. The cabins have been described as “luxury meets the Wild West” and gourmet dining, gratuities and on-ranch activities are all part of the vacation packages.
Tanque Verde Ranch
14301 E. Speedway Blvd.
Tucson, AZ 85748
Named one of the best family resorts in the country, Tanque Verde is believed to be the “last luxurious outpost of the Old West.” Established in 1868, the ranch lies on 60,000 acres and is the perfect setting for many outdoor activities, including horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing and hiking. The historic ranch, located about 16 miles east of Tucson, offers a number of lodging options from spacious rooms equipped with a one or two beds, a small refrigerator, internet radio and Wi-Fi to luxurious haciendas with accommodations for up to six people. Tanque Verde offers both all-inclusive and bed and breakfast packages and the gourmet meals help make this ranch an extraordinary experience.
Related: Guide To Vacationing In Arizona
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.