Your guide to North American ranches – bucket list check!

Greetings travelers!  I have a personal confession to make – I regret that I never took my two sons to a ranch out west when they were young.  It’s not that it didn’t cross my mind, but I didn’t have a travel advisor to inspire and guide me through the options or the wherewithal to make it happen myself.  As you’ll see below, that doesn’t mean we can’t experience a ranch vacation together now that the boys are older, but I really wish I had taken them back when they were 10 and 12 or young teens. 

Last week, I participated in an inspiring webinar presented by an amazing travel supplier who provided a comprehensive overview of some of the best ranches in North America.  It was exciting to learn what they offer and how they make the entire vacation truly unforgettable for our clients.  I’m very happy to pass this information onto you and discuss these and other options when you’re ready.  Read on for the details…

The ranches highlighted are divided into two general destinations – Montana/Wyoming and Colorado/New Mexico.  Interestingly, each ranch has its own style, level of “luxury” and focus, so identifying the ranch that is right for you is key.  Here are some considerations:

  • Who is traveling and how many in total? (all adults, family with school-aged kids, other and if you have a large enough group, you may be able to buy-out a smaller ranch)
  • When are you hoping to go and for how long? (some ranches are open all year and others are seasonal; ranches typically have a minimum length of stay)
  • What is your price range? (ranch service and accommodation levels range from 4-5 stars and some ranches are all-inclusive)
  • What activities are you and your travel group most interested in experiencing and are there activities you have no interest in? 
  • Are there places pre/post your ranch stay that you want to visit while in that part of the country?

Below is a selection of ranches for your consideration.  Reach out if you’d like information on these ranches or other options:


The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana

Season, length of stay – year found except January; 3-4 nights minimum.

Why go?  6,000 acres, horseback riding, fly-fishing, gem mining, target sports, pool, hot tub, and a full-service spa.  Daily schedule of activities for all ages and a kids’ club. Suggested itineraries for Summer, Fall, Winter, and Romantic trips. 

Accommodations –   4 luxury styles:  lodge rooms, glamping canvas cabins, historic barn, luxury homes.

From pricing – $2,000 per person/night – All-inclusive.

Note – 1.5 hours from the Missoula airport (MSO) and transfers provided by ranch staff.

The Resort at Paws Up, Montana

Season, length of stay – year found except February and March; 2-4 nights minimum.

Why go?  70+ activities over 3,700 acres for all ages include horseback riding, river rafting, fly-fishing, cattle drives, cooking classes, art and photography programs, live music, and more. Junior Wrangler program and Kid’s Discovery Corps programs. Romantic and multi-gen groups accommodated.  A Virtuoso network property!

Accommodations – Safari-style tents, treehouses, luxury homes.

From pricing – $1,000 per person/night – All-inclusive.

Note – You can bring your dog or horse!  The resort is 45 minutes from the Missoula airport.

Summer 2020 guide gives a nice overview:

Lone Mountain Ranch, Montana

Season, length of stay – Year-round except for May and November; 4-7 nights minimum.

Why go?  A National Geographic Unique Lodge and Orvis endorsed fly fishing program with summer and winter programs that pair perfectly with Yellowstone; 4 night back trips into the Yellowstone backcountry.  Kids’ outdoor adventure program and much more. 

Accommodations – Rustic but comfortable 1-2 bedroom log cabins, connecting cabins, lodges.

From pricing – $500 per person, per night – NOT all-inclusive.

Note – Only 18 miles from the Yellowstone National Park boundary and 50 miles from the airport. 

The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, Wyoming

Season, length of stay – May to December; 3 nights minimum.

Why go?  A Virtuoso network and award-winning property, Brush Creek Ranch offers it all in all-inclusive luxury.  30,000 acres, a working cattle ranch, and myriads of activities that allow you to deeply enjoy this amazing place and panoramic Wyoming landscape.  Seed to plate culinary excellence, an impressive wine cellar, spa, and golf at a nearby private country club round out the top-notch offerings. 

Accommodations – Rustic-chic luxury: lodge rooms and cabin rooms/residences.

From pricing – $1,800 per person/night – All-inclusive.

Note – Group buyouts available for 2020 from 10-29 people.  Perfect for extra-special multi-generational family gatherings and celebrations!

Triple Creek Ranch, Montana

Season, length of stay – Year-round; no length of stay minimum except around holiday weekends.

Why go?  Adults-only (16 years and older) intimate, a luxury property in the Virtuoso network.  “Experience” programs for couples and solo guests include Experience Fly Fishing, Experience Wellness, Experience Fine Dining, and Experience Romance (honeymoons and babymoons included). 

Accommodations – 1-3 bedroom rustic elegance cabins and luxury ranch homes. 

From pricing – $550 per person, per night – all-inclusive.

Note – October offers special “cowgirls” week for girls-only getaways. 


The Ranch at Emerald Valley, Colorado

Season, length of stay – Year-round; no length of stay minimum.

Why go?  Family activities, golf, spa, and access to the 5-star Broadmoor Resort which is a short ride down the mountain in the Pike National Forest. 

Accommodations – Luxury cabins with fireplaces.

From pricing – $400 per person, per night – NOT all-inclusive.

Note – For an additional cost, you can experience driving cattle called their “City Slicker” experience.

Zapata Ranch, Colorado

Season, length of stay – March to October, 2-3 night minimum length of stay.

Why go?  Proximity to Great Sand Dunes National Park, you can follow wild bison on horseback.  Geared to adults, it’s quite a unique experience.

Accommodations – 17 rooms in a lodge built in the 1800s (4-star).

From pricing – $350 per person, per night – all-inclusive.

Note – This property is owned by The Nature Conservancy and is a working cattle and bison ranch.  2020 reopening date TBA.

Gateway Canyons, Colorado

Season, length of stay – year-round, no minimum length of stay.

Why go?  In the heart of red rock country, this ranch/resort is drivable to/from Moab and Arches National Park and a nice add-on experience.   Kids programming (a top-rated resort for families by T+L), archeological learning center, spa, auto museum, ranch activities, and much more.

Accommodations – luxurious rooms and suites housed in original adobe structures, private casitas.

From pricing – $429 per person, per night – NOT all-inclusive.

Note – Located in a unique red rock canyon called Unaweep (meaning “canyon with two mouths”) Gateway has a fascinating history.

Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico/Colorado border

Season, length of stay – year-round, 2-night minimum length of stay.

Why go?  Customized experiences, relatively small number of guests, and an emphasis on sustainability make Vermejo very special.  Conservation tours and many other outdoor activities offered descriptions here including a fun Survivor-style challenge.

Accommodations – Lodge rooms and private homes and cottages.

From pricing – $600 per person, per night – semi all-inclusive (alcohol not included).

Note – This unique Virtuoso network property privately owned by Ted Turner and spans close to 600,000 acres. 

Inspired? If you’re up for a summer vacation this year, we are here and happy to help you sort through the options.  If you’d love to experience one of these ranches next summer, we can help you add them to your Wanderlist (explained in a recent newsletter and posted in the BLOG section of the website).  As a bonus to your 2020 booking, we will give you a copy of the exclusive “Virtuoso’s Best of the Best Guide” while supplies last. This impressive 700-page coffee table magazine is an incredible resource to have at your fingertips and not available in stores.

Hidden Gem Tip:   If you’d like to explore a 2020 vacation, every property has policies to help you reserve and stay with confidence. 

Wishing you and your family continued good health,


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Hi, I'm Susan Wilson

I’m the founder of Hidden Gem Travel Consulting. As your personal travel advisor, I craft custom worldwide itineraries that astound and inspire you.


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