West's Best Ranch Getaways
A long way from roughing it, top guest ranches around the West will put some giddyup in your summer vacation
The Ranch at Rock Creek
Taming the Wild West is an art form at this homestead in the heart of western Montana’s ranchland. With names like “Palomino,” “Derringer” and “Wrangler,” private cabins, log homes and guest rooms in the Granite Lodge might reference iconic Western themes, but they’re decorated beautifully, with a light, fresh touch. Flat-screen televisions and king-size beds prove they’re present-day.
Creature Comforts: Regional gourmet cuisine, a full-service spa and a concierge staff to arrange for myriad activities, from fly-fishing and horseback riding to gem mining and ghost-town exploring.
Insider Tip: Luxury tents, called “canvas cabins,” along Rock Creek take the concept of camping to new heights.
From $900 per night, per person, 877-786-1545, theranchatrockcreek.com
Tanque Verde Ranch
Sixty thousand acres of dramatic desert landscape among the Rincon Mountains is the singular setting of this spirited ranch resort, which mixes Santa Fe-style architecture with Western sensibilities and amenities that are decidedly civilized. Perfect for family getaways, guest rooms and suites sleep up to six and feature beautiful mountain and desert views.
Creature Comforts: Tasty Southwestern cuisine (don’t miss the weekly ranch barbecue) and hot-stone massages using local Rincon Mountain rocks at La Sonora Spa.
Insider Tip: The horseback-riding programs are top-notch. With a herd of 160 horses to choose from, wranglers easily match each rider with the right mount.
From $390 per night, double occupancy, 800-234-3833, tanqueverderanch.com
Smith Fork Ranch
When you’re not fly-fishing, horseback riding or hiking at this private luxury ranch in the North Fork Valley, take part in its unique farm-to-table experience. The produce you help harvest from the organic farmstead garden (with more than 80 varieties of herbs, fruits and vegetables) will star in ranch chef Seth Bateman’s meals.
Creature Comforts: Choose your lodging from a collection of meticulously restored historic cabins and guest houses, each with Western furnishings and antiques and downy featherbeds.
Insider Tip: Get another taste of the area’s bounty via tours of local farms and wineries.
From $3,200 per three-night stay, double occupancy, 970-921-3454, smithforkranch.com
Red Horse Mountain Ranch
You’ll feel right at home on the ranch at Red Horse, an hour south of Coeur d’Alene, where log cabins and lodge suites are wonderfully rustic—and comfy to boot. Stay busy with fly-fishing, kayaking, archery, horseback riding or whitewater rafting, or put your feet up on the porch rail and just kick back.
Creature Comforts: Seasonal, regional ranch fare means everything from biscuits and gravy to weekly seven-course dinners.
Insider Tip: Special all-inclusive “Wine Tasting Weeks” feature 30 wines from the Pacific Northwest, gourmet meals and, of course, ranch activities.
From $1,000 per person, per half-week stay, 888-689-9680, redhorsemountain.com
The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch
A stay at this grand resort under the wide Wyoming sky imparts a taste of the historic American West. Set on 13,000 private acres of a 19th-century working cattle operation, the ranch preserves its spirited history with everything from campfire cookouts to barn dances and hunting excursions. No detail has been overlooked here, from the luxe interiors of hand-hewn log cabins to finding you the perfect spot to cast your fly.
Creature Comforts: Satisfy your culinary cravings with everything from chuck-wagon dinners to formal meals paired with wines from an 800-bottle cellar.
Insider Tip: Reconnect with the energy of the earth during a “smudging ritual” in a Native American teepee.
From $1,200 per night, double occupancy, 307-327-5284, brushcreekranch.com
10 More High-Country Ranches Well Worth a Visit:
Vista Verde Guest Ranch, Steamboat Springs, Colorado The focus of this intimate guest ranch near Steamboat Springs is its first-class equestrian program, which includes clinics, trail riding and an indoor riding arena. Cuisine here is designed to impress even the most discerning palate, and cabins and lodge rooms are luxe. vistaverde.com
Spring Creek Ranch, Jackson, Wyoming On a wildlife sanctuary 1,000 feet above the town of Jackson, Spring Creek Ranch offers gracious inn rooms, condos and mountain villas, as well as the notable Granary Restaurant and the wonderful Wilderness Adventure Spa (try the High Altitude Hot Stone Heaven Massage). springcreekranch.com
Alisal Guest Ranch, Solvang, California Forty miles northwest of Santa Barbara lies this 10,000-acre dude ranch, with 50 miles of hillside and canyon horseback riding trails, water activities on a 100-acre lake and California ranch-style lodging. alisal.com
Lone Mountain Ranch, Big Sky, Montana Fly-fishing and horseback riding are on the agenda at this genuine mountain guest ranch situated 20 miles from Yellowstone National Park. Historic cabins with featherbeds and Western décor are cozy, and meals in the stunning log cabin dining room are memorable. lmranch.com
Brooks Lake Lodge, Dubois, Wyoming Built in 1922 as a way station for travelers heading to Yellowstone National Park, this appealing spot features a craftsman-style lodge and activities including horseback rides and hikes into the high country, canoe rides on the lake and wildflower spotting. brookslake.com
Zapata Ranch, Mosca, Colorado Owned by the Nature Conservancy and set on a 103,000-acre working cattle and bison guest ranch bordering the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Zapata is all about real ranch life and the great outdoors. Meals feature the ranch’s own grass-fed bison and beef, as well as locally grown produce. zranch.org
Pack Creek Ranch, Moab, Utah Two thousand feet above Moab in the foothills of the La Sal Mountains, this homey guest ranch/country inn is a great home base for hiking, river rafting and mountain biking. Eight cozy cabins have kitchens, fireplaces and mountain or red rock views. packcreekranch.com
Bishop's Lodge, Santa Fe, New Mexico The adobe-style accommodations at this esteemed resort lodge fit in perfectly with its setting in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, just 3 miles north of downtown Santa Fe. Activities include horseback riding, hiking, tennis, skeet shooting and dining on fine Southwest cuisine. bishopslodge.com
C Lazy U Ranch, Granby, Colorado This luxury dude ranch near Granby is the perfect spot for families in search of a vacation packed with everything from horseback riding, fly-fishing and hiking to skiing on a private hill during the winter months. Hillside cabins, family-style gourmet meals and copper-tub soaks in the riverside Lazy U Spa are tops. clazyu.com
Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch, Stanley, Idaho The striking Sawtooth Mountains are the backdrop to this hospitable ranch, where Western adventures—hiking, horseback riding and swimming in the natural hot springs pool—are a way of life. Lodge rooms or newly remodeled cabins offer all the comforts of home. idahorocky.com