Abby, the writer’s daughter, and her horse Breezy // © 2014 Lisa McElroy
Travelers often romanticize the cowboy life and look to dude ranch vacations to fulfill their western fantasies. But there’s one problem: They don’t actually want to sleep in a bunkhouse and rough it.
That’s why Lost Valley Ranch, about two hours from Denver in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, is the perfect destination for discerning families who want AAA Four-Diamond luxury — think individual cabins with big, comfy beds and gourmet cowboy fare — combined with a true Wild West ranch experience.
Lost Valley Ranch appeals to all ages. Younger children spend the day with trained counselors, riding horses and playing old-fashioned camp games such as Capture the Flag; teens ride out in their own group and hang out together at teen-only bonfire gatherings; and adults can choose from various rides at different levels — or just kick back on their own porch swings.
In the evenings, Lost Valley Ranch gets everyone into the spirit, with square dances, bonfires, s’mores, cowboy sing-alongs and even an old-fashioned melodrama performance. Guests tired from a long day on the trails can soak in a hot tub or sink back in the main lodge lobby’s leather chairs while munching on homemade cookies. Children can splash in the pool, run around on manicured lawns or grab a milkshake at an old-fashioned soda fountain.
Agents should be aware that summer weeks book up fast. So for families looking to experience the not-so-Wild West, Lost Valley Ranch might be the answer.