C Lazy U Ranch, Colorado. The barn at C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado, which has been family-owned since its opening in 1919. Photo credit: Darley Newman.
Darley Newman wrote this post on winter mountain dude ranch holidays. She is an author and the host and producer of the PBS travel show Equitrekking. Newman travels the world horse riding and having active adventures with local people.
Dude ranch holidays aren’t just about summer horse riding, fishing and family fun.
Many dude ranches, including a few of North America’s best dude and guest ranches from Equitrekking’s Top20Ranches.com, allow travelers to spend their winter break in beautiful mountain locations in both snow and sun.
For travelers looking to snuggle in a horse drawn sleigh, ski or just hike in the snow and drink hot cocoa, Colorado’s Home Ranch and C Lazy U Ranch, Montana’s Bar W Guest Ranch, The Resort at Paws Up and Idaho’s Western Pleasure Guest Ranch are open year-round and offer holiday packages in cool mountain settings.
Arizona Trails at Hideout Ranch. Riders take to the mountain trails at Hideout Ranch on the border of Arizona and New Mexico. Photo credit: Darley Newman.
Some standout attractions in the winter snow at mountain dude ranches include ice skating on an outdoor rink at The Resort at Paws Up in Montana. Bar W Guest Ranch in the popular resort town of Whitefish boasts ice fishing. C Lazy U hosts holiday family dinners for Christmas, puts trees in every cabin and continues the holiday spirit with a big New Year’s party. Home Ranch attracts cross country skiers to its Relais & Châteaux property and offers a complimentary shuttle to and from Steamboat Ski Resort for downhill skiers.
For a warm winter mountain Arizona dude ranch retreat, Elkhorn Ranch in the Baboquivari Mountains southwest of Tucson, Arizona offers mountain horse rides and the chance to see Arizona’s wintering birds or take an excursion to a nearby historic Spanish mission site. In Tucson, Tanque Verde Ranch, which serves a mean chuckwagon breakfast, also offers riding on desert mountain trails, as well as luxury ranch amenities, like a spa and fitness center.
Hideout Ranch on the Arizona-New Mexico border boasts Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s packages for horse lovers, that include unlimited horse riding where famous outlaws like Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Doc Holliday, Pancho Villa, Billy the Kid, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid once trod in the Chiricahua Mountains.
In Mexico, Rancho Las Cascadas, located on a mountain plateau, takes horse riders into the mountains to local archeological sites, cathedrals, waterfalls, lakes, charming villages and local restaurants to try authentic Mexican food. If you’re craving margaritas this winter, you might want to head south to this Mexican dude ranch.