One of the best surprises my family discovered during a summer vacation was how family-friendly a guest ranch experience can be. When we were living in Tucson, Arizona we certainly visited some local ranches for day rides or evening parties but it wasn’t until we experienced the weeklong dude ranch that our hearts were captured. That guest ranch that keeps our children begging to return was Flathead Lake Lodge in Montana. This specific ranch is a member of the Spur Alliance, a special group of ten top-rated guest ranches in North America.
To be included in this prestigious top-ten list, the ranches must meet certain criteria including being family owned and operated and all have been in continual operation at least 20 years. In addition, all ranches are members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association and are very active in their state associations – you will likely also see them active on social media conversing with guests and each other.
The Spur Alliance ranches are selected for guest ranch quality and also excellence in a specific niche. What does this mean for you? If you’re not a horseback-riding fan, there’s no reason to dismiss a guest ranch (aka dude ranch) because the good news is there’s much more to do at a guest ranch than just horseback riding. Thinking back to my family’s personal getaway at Flathead Lake Lodge, in addition to an early morning trail ride and riding lessons for the kids, we enjoyed swimming (in the pool and the lake), canoeing, skeet shooting, fly fishing, hiking, tennis, a sunset lake cruise, campfire s’mores, and the kids had their own kids club teeming with arts and crafts, games and sports. In other words, a guest ranch is a multi-sport vacation with activities for everyone in the family. Here’s my favorite part, the stay is all-inclusive which means you can put your wallet away for the week and simply enjoy everything the guest ranch has to offer. The delicious meals might turn your trip into an annual vacation. Trust me.
After reading my Flathead Lake Lodge review, one of our readers booked a stay for an extended family reunion. She returned saying it was hands-down one of the best family trips they have ever had – if not the best. Honestly, I knew she would say that. Intrigued? If you visit the Spur Alliance website, you can learn more about the individual dude ranches making the list, including Three Bars Ranch in the Canadian Rockies between Glacier National Park and Banff.
Other properties include Hunewill Ranch, California; Lost Valley Ranch, Colorado; Paradise Ranch, Wyoming; Rainbow Trout Ranch, Colorado; Tanque Verde Ranch, Arizona; The Hideout, Wyoming; Triangle X Ranch, Wyoming; and White Stallion Ranch, Arizona.
Which one to choose? One of the benefits of using the Spur Alliance is it can help you narrow down the ranch that’s right for you and your traveling companions. One thing is certain, each one of the top-ten ranches are in scenic locations with unique regional features – think of the stark beauty of the Sonoran Desert compared to the lush surroundings of the Rocky Mountains. Both are beautiful and have so much to offer but the landscapes are extremely different. Another Spur Alliance benefit is narrowing down the ideal spot according to the time of year. Escape to Arizona for a warmer winter climate or brave the winter in a colder environment like Wyoming. No matter who is going, where you want to go, when you want to travel, and what you want to do while you’re there – the Spur Alliance will help you discover that perfect guest ranch getaway.
Learn more here: The Spur Alliance website is BestDudeRanches.com and information requests can be sent to: [email protected].
This post is sponsored by Spur Alliance, but all opinions are my own.