Each year, luxury ranch vacations continue to grow in popularity with my clients. This type of vacation has so much to offer — beautiful setting, tons of activities — with most properties set up as an all-inclusive experience and great opportunities for high-quality time together as a family. There is a huge range of excellent options, so it can be overwhelming to navigate the choices. Here are a few things to consider:
Luxury vs. Authentic West
Want a luxury vacation with a broad array of activities, or do you want an authentic working ranch with horses and cowboys? Ranches generally fall into one of these two categories and it is important to know what type of experience you are looking for.
Compare Apples to Apples with Pricing
All-inclusive can mean different things at different properties. Be sure to understand what is included in the quote. Each property handles it differently — some may charge a rate per cabin or house, while others charge per person. So even though a price point may be higher at one property, be sure to understand what the price includes.
Understand Restrictions for Property and Activities
Some properties have age restrictions. If you have a young family or are considering a multigenerational group, know what is available for younger ones. Many properties will also have minimum stay requirements.
Distance to Travel
How far are you willing to travel? Some of these properties are quite far from major airports — you can plan to drive ~4 hours to some of these locations. This is part of the appeal for some, but we don’t want clients to be surprised by the distance.
What to Include Beyond the Ranch
While you can plan to spend your entire vacation at the ranch property we select for you, we can also combine part of your trip with adventures in the surrounding areas. For the Montana and Wyoming Ranches, we can include a trip to Yellowstone or Glacier National Park. The Colorado ranches can easily be combined with some of the fantastic Southwest National Parks. The Utah ranches can include part of your stay in Park City.
We will walk through all of these considerations during our Discover More process as we plan the perfect trip. Here are some of our favorite properties:
The Resort at Paws Up - Greenough, Montana
This all-inclusive luxury mountain resort is situated on a 37,000 acre working cattle ranch that feels like a private national park. You really get an incredible sense of space here. There are 100 miles of trails to explore, either on foot, bike, horseback or ATV and plenty of space for outdoor activities like archery and fly fishing. They offer a variety of kids programs for children ages 3–12, making it easy to get them away from screens and into nature. After a long day of outdoor adventure, guests can relax at Spa Town, a colony of pristine white tents that feature full baths and heated massage tables, for relaxing spa treatments and wellness classes. Accommodations include 28 private vacation homes — most of which sit on four acres — or six safari-style luxury glamping tents, each offering different views of the property. Paws Up is also opening The Green O in September, an adults-only “resort within a resort” that will offer 12 ultra-modern, secluded woodland accommodations on the south end of the property. This property is for those who want comfort, luxury and tons of options for activities above anything else.
The Ranch at Rock Creek - Philipsburg, Montana
The Ranch at Rock Creek is the very first Forbes Travel Guide 5-star ranch, located on a 6,600 acre authentic 19th century homestead. This intimate, all-inclusive property offers 29 accommodations, 17 of which are separate buildings, making it easy to book a more private stay. There’s a large selection of privately guided activities, including the new High Mountain Adventures, which are more advanced hiking and horseback riding trips to the high mountain lakes. Kids are sure to love the Ride-Along with a Rancher activity, where they can join the resort’s manager for a few hours on his daily tasks, which could include checking on baby calves or feeding the herd. The wellness programming at the ranch is also top notch, with multiple yoga classes. Keep in mind that while this is an expensive property, it’s also the ultimate in luxury experience. A much smaller, more intimate experience than some of the other ranches with incredible guest service.
The Lodge at Blue Sky - Park City, Utah
This 3,500 acre modern mountain lodge offers plenty of unique experiences for guests apart from the usual fishing and horseback riding. Go on a full moon hike, take a heli-yoga class, or visit High West Distillery to learn all about the whiskey distillation process. Kids can enjoy the Little Vaquero’s Club, an adventure-based outdoor camp where they’ll learn about the local environment, history, and culture from an experienced guide. Of the 46 accommodation options, there are 5 freestanding, adults-only homes that make for a great romantic getaway. While the rest of the rooms and suites here are not as secluded, they do feature private outdoor spaces and floor-to-ceiling windows that make you feel totally immersed in nature.
Brush Creek Ranch - Saratoga, Wyoming
Situated on 30,000 acres of unspoiled land, this property is an authentic working cattle ranch filled with rich history and the true spirit of the West. The property has 33 individual units, including 11 elegant two- and three-bedroom log cabin residences. You can access countless riding trails, drive cattle, or hike the 12,000 foot Medicine Bow Peak. Brush Creek is also an Orvis-endorsed fly fishing lodge and offers Wing shooting. The history dates back to the late 1800s, when pioneers heading West were establishing homesteads along the way, and the property works hard to maintain that western ranch heritage.
There are many more ranches to consider and we are happy to help you understand the best option for you and your family. Feel free to fill out our Travel Questionnaire to get started!