The Ranch at Emerald Valley
Photograph: Courtesy The BroadmoorThe Ranch at Emerald Valley

The best dude ranches and luxury ranch resorts in the U.S.

Retreat to nature in style at one of these incredible ranch vacations in America

Lauren Dana

Those looking to retreat to nature—or essentially anyone craving some outdoor adventure—should consider staying at a ranch resort in the U.S. These eclectic properties offer ample action-packed activities—think horseback riding, archery and fly-fishing. While the rustic accommodations run the gamut from log cabins to cozy rooms and suites to glamping units. Depending on the specific property, some are more luxe than others.

As you scroll through our list of the top ranch resorts, you’ll notice a handful of them are all-inclusive—which provides excellent value—while others are a la carte. Keep in mind that some of these properties may also be referred to as “dude ranches,” which, per the Dude Ranchers Association (which, yes, is a thing), is described as “an all-inclusive immersive vacation that includes lodging, meals, horseback riding, fishing, hiking and more.”

From a working cattle ranch in Montana to a family-friendly oasis in New York, here are the best luxury ranch resorts and dude ranches across the country.


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Best ranch resorts in the U.S.

1. The Resort at Paws Up | Greenough, MT

Surrounded by rolling pastures, this luxury ranch resort is located on a 37,000-acre working cattle ranch that’s home to over 300 resident elk and Black Angus cows. Here, travelers can pick up dude ranch activities like horseback riding, cattle drives, Fly-fishing, rappelling, ATV tours, rafting and more, depending on the season. Don’t be fooled by the resort’s rustic setting: Accommodations take the form of luxury homes and glamping tents. The cuisine is equally impressive—options range from chili-dusted Angus steaks to roasted rainbow trout—as is the on-site spa, where travelers can enjoy some much-needed R&R after a morning or afternoon spent exploring. Keep in mind that rates here include gratuities, three meals per day, non-alcoholic beverages and house beer, wine and liquor with lunch and dinner.

2. 1000 Acres Ranch Resort | Stony Creek, NY

Nestled in the Adirondacks, this wallet-friendly dude ranch—which dates back to 1942—offers sweeping Hudson River views; however, that’s just the icing on the cake. Guests can fill their schedule with several outdoor activities, ranging from sports like basketball and cornhole to more adventurous excursions like horseback riding, river tubing and kayaking. Additional amenities include two outdoor pools, an indoor pool and hot tub and an arcade. Accommodations, including cabins and duplexes, exude rustic charm, and some offer bonus features like private porches. Keep in mind that all-inclusive stays, available from May through November, include three meals a day in the main dining room.


3. Rocking Horse Ranch | Highland, NY

Rocking Horse Ranch in the Hudson River Valley is situated on 500 acres of land and offers 113 spacious rooms and suites. The ranch resort is a family favorite for its kid-friendly activities and amenities, such as mini golf, mountain tubing, wagon rides and horseback riding. There's plenty of indoor fun to keep the family entertained: a water park, a shooting gallery and archery range, laser tag, an arcade, and scavenger hunts. At night, entertainment ranges from live music to comedians and jugglers. While the kids are at play, grown-ups can soak in the on-site hot springs. Dining here is all-inclusive, as well.

4. Rancho de la Osa | Sasabe, AZ

Known as Arizona’s most historic ranch, this property—approximately 90 minutes from Tuscon—is home to the state’s oldest continuously used building. This 1722-era former mission outpost now serves as the Cantina. Days are well spent here horseback riding, biking and hiking; however, adrenaline junkies may also consider signing up for an off-roading adventure. Come nighttime, retreat to one of the 19 adobe guest rooms, each decked in vintage furnishings and Mexican antiques. The sweeping Sonoran Desert and mountain views are an incredible added bonus. While the property offers several packages, the Dude Ranch Package (which includes lodging, all meals, horseback riding and activities like sport shooting, archery and UTV Tours) offers the most bang for your buck.


5. Alpine Falls Ranch | Superior, MT

Located in western Montana with the Lolo National Forest as its backdrop, Alpine Falls Ranch is an oasis for outdoor lovers with popular activities such as horseback riding, guiding hiking, mountain biking, fly-fishing, UTV rides and even—get this—gem mining and rockhounding (it is the Wild West, after all!). Rustic-chic accommodations include everything from glamping units and lodge-style rooms to classic cabins and mountain villas. Travelers can pick their own packages, some of which are all-inclusive. At the end of a long day, head straight to the Six8 Saloon, which features classic Western aesthetic and serves as the beating heart of the property with cushy leather sofas and pool tables.

6. Cataloochee Ranch | Maggie Valley, NC

This Relais and Chateaux property in the mountains has been welcoming guests for over 90 years—and it’s fresh off a four-year renovation. In addition to classic ranch activities like horseback riding, the property also offers fishing, birding, hiking, an on-site adventure course and even art-centric offerings—think pottery, leatherworking and hat making. Accommodations take the form of contemporary albeit rustic-inspired cabins ranging in size from one to three bedrooms; however, there’s also a lodge slated to open soon. The on-site food offerings, including a gourmet food truck, two restaurants, and a bar, are sure to impress culinary connoisseurs; expect what the property describes as “ranch cuisine reimagined,” including dry-aged duck, yuzu blackberry tarts and brown butter rutabaga. Note that this property is not all-inclusive, meaning all dining and activities cost extra.


7. Western Pleasure Guest Ranch | Sand Point, ID

This Idaho dude ranch has been around for five generations and counting. Rooms and cabins are charming, clean and comfortable, with cozy touches like handmade quilts and, in some cases, en-suite fireplaces. Common spaces include The Great Room for dining and mingling, an upstairs loft for relaxing and a recreation room for watching movies and playing pool. There’s also a hot tub, basketball court, playground and horseshoes. While the resort is open year-round, we especially recommend visiting in the summertime, when packages include lodging, daily horseback rides, three meals per day, evening entertainment and access to all guest amenities. 

8. The Ranch at Emerald Valley | Colorado Springs, CO

Over 100,000 acres of the picturesque Pike National Forest flank the all-inclusive Ranch at Emerald Valley—which dates back over a century and is operated by the Broadmoor Resort. Open seasonally from May through October, travelers can stay in freestanding log cabins ranging in size from one to three bedrooms, each with fireplaces, modern amenities and gorgeous furnishings. Activities run the gamut from adventure-packed (kayaking, canoeing, fly-fishing or swimming in spring-fed ponds) to more leisurely (i.e., board games, lawn games and soaking in the hot tub). Or, for an additional fee, partake in a cattle drive. When it comes to cuisine, farm-to-table fare is the name of the game: The menu features seasonally grown produce from Broadmoor Farms.


9. Brasada Ranch | Powell Butte, OR

Situated east of Bend, Oregon, Brasada Ranch offers a mix of postcard-worthy vistas, upscale accommodations, farm-to-table fare and an abundance of outdoor activities. The 1,800-acre resort offers three types of accommodations—suites, two- to four-bedroom cabins and bungalows. The 22,000-square-foot Athletic Center will appease fitness enthusiasts of all ages, while additional amenities include an 18-hole golf course, several pools, scenic trails and several pools. Like many other ranch resorts featured on this list, Brasada has no shortage of activities, such as horseback riding, hiking, fly fishing and axe throwing. Family-centric programming, including s’mores roasting, a kids-only clubhouse and scavenger hunts are also available. Don’t miss the on-site spa, which offers seasonal treatments like chocolate pedicures (yes, really), either. In between activities, guests can refuel on fresh-prepared favorites like burgers, cheese nuggets and street corn soup.

10. Darwin Ranch | Jackson, WY

Darwin Ranch is run by mother-son duo Kathy Bole and Oliver Klingenstein. The family-owned ranch resort spans nearly 170 acres; however, despite its sprawling size, the property still manages to feel intimate thanks to communal-style family meals and just nine accommodations, including hand-built log cabins. As part of the weeklong, all-inclusive stays, guests can take their pick of activities like horseback riding, hiking, floating or kayaking down the river, fly fishing, hunting and more, depending on the season. When it comes time to unwind, make a beeline for the wood-fired hot tub or sauna.

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