Oh, Give me a Home.....(actually, a vaca)
February 17, 2015 6:42 PM   Subscribe

Help me find the perfect "Dude and Dudette" Ranch for my children and me for an awesome summer vacation..

My kids and I have had a rough year and I want to take the three of us on an AMAZING vacation this summer. We've decided that a really nice, western-style, ranch resort is the thing we would like to try. We live in Atlanta and have done the Disney, NYC, and DC thing several times. A ranch will be COMPLETELY new for us....a real adventure!! I'm willing to spend some money but don't want to go crazy. Want to have great activities for the family (girl who will be 15, boy who will be 8 who are both up for anything)... Beautiful, natural mountains and scenery, all inclusive is preferred, onsite pool or lake for some swimming, lodge accommodations (cheaper than some resorts I've researched that just have luxury homes), and a direct flight from ATL would be preferred but not a must. 5-7 days. Love the idea of Montana but open to anything. I don't know much about the great plains / mountains, just think they would be a great place for us to unwind, have an adventure and be together. Throw all you have at me friends.... Other suggestions welcome as well.....I just think this Southern,City girl needs some spurs.
posted by pearlybob to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
A few of my friends used to work at A Bar A Ranch in Wyoming, and its always stuck in my mind as a pretty badass spot.
posted by stinkfoot at 7:10 PM on February 17, 2015

I went to Lost Valley Ranch last spring, so it wasn't the full summer experience, but it was amazing and the summer program sounds even more fun. All-inclusive, horseback riding, campfires, swimming, hiking, etc. It's a couple hours outside of Denver, but I think they do airport pick-ups if you pre-arrange it. The staff were all friendly and we talked to people whose families had been coming for years.
posted by wsquared at 8:01 PM on February 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you want to do a test run closer to home, try Cataloochee Ranch in the N.C. mountains.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:19 PM on February 17, 2015

I loved the Cinnamon Lodge in Gallatin Gateway, Montana. The people were super friendly and knowledgeable and prices were much lower than many places nearby. I found the location ideal, too: Bozeman is the nearest airport, Big Sky is a neighbor, and an entrance to Yellowstone National Park is under two hours away (West Yellowstone, WY.) I did a spontaneous evening trip to Yellowstone -- didn't realize how close it was to Bozeman -- and got to see Old Faithful and take a dip in a river.

If you decide on Montana, I also recommend the small-towns of Philipsburg and Three Forks as well as the bigger cities of Missoula and state capital, Helena. Of course, there's northern Montana, too, but I'd defer to someone else for specific recommendations! Depending on where you're coming from, getting there (via plane or train) could be expensive; I absolutely recommend you rent a car when you go because distances were greater than expected, like city layouts are more spacious than those of similar sizes on the East Coast.

I went to Montana a few summers ago to visit a friend who moved out west. I loved the scenery, the activities, and the people; it was familiar enough to be comfortable but different enough to be exciting. There are so many great places to visit in the US but it sounds like Montana would be exactly what you're looking for. If you decide on a trip and want more specific recommends, please let me know and I can give you more details!
posted by smorgasbord at 9:32 PM on February 17, 2015

Highly recommend Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico. Lots and lots of activities, entertainment, great staff.
posted by parmanparman at 4:58 AM on February 18, 2015

Zion Mountain Ranch is spectacular. They arrange any manner of activities, from 4x4s to horseback riding to climbing to kayak and fishing. You stay in cabins better than a lot of 4 star hotels I've been in. I am not an active person but I absolutely loved it (I can tell you a lot more about the spa and localvore food). The larger cabin we were put in had plenty of room for a family but a private bathroom for adults. There's a buffalo herd in the pasture where the cottages are - we had buffalo grazing serenly by our porches in the morning. Most people had kids.
posted by sweltering at 1:17 AM on February 19, 2015

This might not be as structured as you like, but I've been to the Freestone Inn in Mazama, Washington many times, and love it. There's a pool and a lake, you can rent bikes or ride horses. We stay in the cabins, which have kitchenettes, but usually get a meal or two in the lodge and it's great. It's about a three- or four-hour drive from Seattle over the North Cascades Highway, which is the most beautiful highway in the entire world.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:40 PM on February 19, 2015

You didn't mention a price range but the Ranch at Rock Creek gets good reviews and I've heard good things from someone who stayed there recently doing a photo shoot for them. Also consider looking on the Rocky Mountain Front around Choteau, Montana.

Avoid the Resort at Paws Up near Missoula. I have never heard anything good about the place from their workers I 've known, from management to cowhands to EMTs.

If you do come to Montana, feel free to memail me for tips. I've lived here my whole life and traveled and recreated pretty much anywhere. I know where to go. ;-)

For instance, if you stay at the Ranch at Rock Creeek and like to fish, take a right out the gate, when you can't go forward anymore take another right, then you take a left (down a road I'll tell you about) then after five miles take the right just after the gate with the broken wagon wheels and then take a left and park just before you cross the east fork of Rock Creek. Go upstream past the first log jam at the bottom of the hill, fish the second pool and you might catch a 26 inch bull trout like my buddy did.

And you'll be lucky if you see three other people fishing in the whole day,
posted by ITravelMontana at 8:35 PM on February 26, 2015

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