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Travelers looking for a true mountain experience will find it in Grand County, Colo., home to some of the best dude and guest ranches in the Rocky Mountains. Most offer all-inclusive packages that provide lodging, meals, trail rides and activities ranging from tennis, golf and swimming to hayrides and cookouts. Whether your clients are looking for down-and-dirty cattle drives, square dance dinners, family activities by the dozens or top-notch, elegant lodges, there’s a ranch in Grand County for almost everyone.
For a ranch that specializes in the quintessential family experience, check out Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colo. Accommodations range from yurts with no heat and motel-style lodges to luxury cabins overlooking the mountains and valley.
But what really makes Snow Mountain special is its “we love families” approach to entertainment and activities. In a single spring weekend, guests can hike to a waterfall, horseback ride, mountain bike or slide down the ranch’s new summer tubing hill. In the winter, they can try ice skating, snowshoeing and Nordic skiing on approximately 50 miles of trails. There are also campfires, sleigh rides, canoeing, roller skating and crafts for the whole family to enjoy.
In fall, winter and spring, Snow Mountain offers family festivals themed according to the season. In April, for example, the spring festival features nighttime sensory walks, guided hikes, wilderness living skills classes, spring science projects and more. The price is right at $115 per adult and $85 per child for the entire weekend. Kids under age 6 stay and play for free in a lodge room.
Best of all, Snow Mountain is steeped in history, with ties to the Just Ranch, a working ranch of almost 3,000 acres, founded in 1885. Several original buildings from way back when add character and keep the spirit of the wild west alive.www.snowmountainranch.org
Looking for a few more options? Check out these ranches for a variety of Western and mountain activities.
Bar Lazy J RanchThe oldest continuously operated guest ranch in Colorado, the Bar Lazy J calls relaxation and personal attention its passwords — the owner even keeps a supply of hats and boots for visitors who arrive without them. Guests can fish for trout on the Gold Medal waters of the Colorado River or explore the adjacent 30,000 acres of forestlands.www.barlazyj.com
C Lazy U RanchAn upscale, family-style dude ranch, C Lazy U offers horseback riding on 8,500 acres of trails, extensive supervised programs for children and teens and creekside “spa tents,” luxurious retreats where guests can enjoy traditional spa treatments. Guests can participate in cattle drives and other Western adventures, too.www.clazyu.com
Drowsy Water RanchNestled in its own private mountain valley, the 700-acre ranch focuses on providing top-notch children’s programs and a true family atmosphere. Families can horseback ride, go trout fishing, try square dancing, take hayrides and compete in gymkhana rodeos.www.drowsywater.com
Latigo RanchLocated near Kremmling, Latigo Ranch specializes in horsemanship and in creating a personal and intimate feel, with accommodations limited to 35 guests. Guests are carefully matched with horses, and experienced riders can participate in a cattle drive with a local rancher.www.latigotrails.com