Why a Dude Ranch Should Be On Every Busy Parent’s Travel List


My husband and I recently spent 4 days at Vista Verde Ranch, an all-inclusive luxury resort dude ranch tucked back in the Rocky Mountains, approximately 40 minutes north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Having never visited a dude ranch before, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. After a weekend filled with winter activities by day and peaceful relaxation by evening, we headed home completely recharged and already talking about taking our kids next time.

Why a Dude Ranch

Vista Verde describes their guest ranch as “a little bit luxury, a little bit Old West, a place for adventure, and a place for rest”, which is just what my husband and I needed.

Our dude ranch adventure was great to experience as a couple, as we were able to enjoy the peaceful quiet of the snowy landscape and escape the daily demands of life. Imagine being tucked away in a cabin with a stocked fridge of beverages, a hot tub overlooking the fresh snow, and no access to internet. The best part was no meal planning or cooking – hot breakfast, lunch, and dinner was served daily, complete with afternoon fresh warm cookies and a stocked fridge with drinks and a daily happy hour. And each day we were able to participate in various activities, enjoying the breathtaking scenes. 

This trip provided the recharge we didn’t know we needed!

Here is a great resource to answer the question, is a dude ranch trip for me?

Things to Do

It was quite cold when we went (ranged from 10-20 degrees daily), but we still managed to work up a sweat during a lot of our activities. Some of the winter activities provided by the ranch are:

Ice Fishing
Snow Tubing
Cross Country Skiing
Horse Riding Lessons
Trail Rides
Snow Shoeing
Snowmobiling *extra charge

I loved the skiing, and my husband really loved the snow shoeing off the trails. And neither of us are experienced in horsemanship, but the ranch staff made us both extremely comfortable with our horses before we took them on a trail ride in the fresh falling snow. Such a lovely experience!

The ranch would be a wonderful place to visit in the spring, summer and fall as they have their kids program (summer months), mountain biking, paddleboarding, hiking, horse programs, archery, fly fishing, and more. So much access to adventure and nature, which is right up our alley. 

Dude Ranch Tips

These are my best tips for a winter trip away from the hustle and bustle of daily life:

Bring a swimsuit for the hot tub! We used our hot tub daily after all of our outdoor activities.

Drink tons of water. We both felt a bit off the first day but eventually got used to the altitude, mostly from drinking a significant amount of water. We each brought our own water bottles for filling.

Pack plenty of layers. I bought some fleece turtleneck layers which were so cozy, and I layered with thick sweatshirts, leggings, and snow pants. The one thing I feel like I was missing was a face cover like this one. I wish I would have had one to protect against the wind and snow during some of our activities.

Bring several books. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip – time to sit down and actually read!

Expect to Not Connect to the Internet. I was pretty nervous about this one, but essentially being forced to be tech-free was just what we both needed. No scrolling, no working, just focusing on nature and true relaxation!

How to Get to the Ranch

My husband and I decided to drive – it took a little under 10 hours (with no kids in the car!) and was such an easy drive along I-70. However there is the option to fly into Denver (DIA) and take a connecting flight to Yampa Valley (HDN) or fly into Denver and take a shuttle service or rent a car and enjoy the views from there. 

It was really easy for us to drive – we simply downloaded audio books and podcasts and enjoyed the peace and quiet.

Thank you so much to Vista Verde Ranch for providing an expenses-paid, unique recharging experience for this busy mom. All opinions are my own.



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