Five of the Best: Colorado Dude Ranches

Scattered throughout Colorado, dude ranches stand as a testament to the legacy of the region’s old west roots. Embodying the spirit of the West, they offer an array of experiences that highlight the essence of cowboy culture. From the thrill of horseback riding through breathtaking mountain trails to the warmth of campfire stories under the starry skies, these ranches provide a diverse range of authentic Western adventures. With a commitment to preserving tradition, a spirit of innovation, and a touch of Rocky Mountain charm, these dude ranches have earned a well-deserved reputation for excellence in the world of cowboy experiences. Here are a few that have become beloved destinations over the years.

Nestled on 540 acres amid vast national forest expanses, Vista Verde is an opulent, secluded ranch just 25 miles north of Steamboat Springs. Offering both tranquility and adventure, this rustic retreat caters to diverse preferences. The dozen cozy log cabins at Vista Verde feature inviting interiors with roaring fireplaces and hot tubs. Guests can indulge in everything from massages and wine tasting to horseback riding, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing. Day trips to nearby Steamboat Ski Resort are also available. With over 60 staff during winter, guests are pampered. For those looking for an a la carte option and a little less luxury, check out Vista Verde's sister property just up the road, the Steamboat Lake Outpost

Devil’s Thumb, Tabernash

Expertly and purposefully straddling the line between rustic and luxurious, Devil’s Thumb Ranch is set on 6,000 acres and surrounded by millions of acres of public land. Devil’s Thumb is set up to give you whatever kind of experience you want, whether that be comprehensively relaxing or packed with adventure - or a combination of both. In keeping with the overall feel of the resort, the rooms are cozy yet luxurious. Rich wood paneling and flooring and stonework bring the outside inside, while luxurious furnishings, fireplaces and soaking tubs amp up the luxury. 

Ceder Ridge Ranch, Carbondale

Just a stone’s throw from Carbondale, Cedar Ridge Ranch has several glamping options that make it perfect for a weekend getaway or a week-long retreat from modern life. The expansive property is open year round thanks to a quaint cabin at the rear of the farm. Best described as rustic chic, the bathroom is outside in its own little tent, although there is a shower and kitchenette inside. Tastefully decorated with a menagerie of antiques and knicknacks, the cabin is the perfect place for a short getaway. There is a grill on the tiny porch which is perfect for cooking a zebu burger (if you dare after looking one in the eyes) while enjoying a classic Colorado sunset. Two safari tents and the yurt open for business when the snow melts. 

C Lazy U, Granby

Offering an authentic dude ranch experience, C Lazy U offers traditional ranch activities such as horseback riding (for those that feel the cold, there is a 12,000-square-foot heated indoor arena, but they also head out onto the trails daily) and because C Lazy U is a working cattle ranch, seasoned riders and adventurous beginners can even get involved in a cattle drive. There are also plenty of other activities (including some that are winter-only) such as the Feed Wagon Sleigh which gives guests the opportunity to feed the ranch’s 200 horses up close and learn about the herd dynamics when they are out to pasture. 

Music Meadows is a 4,000-acre working cattle ranch just outside Westcliffe. The historic three-bedroom Ranch House, once a late 1800s homestead, offers complete privacy for up to eight guests. The house features a full kitchen, a cozy fireplace, and a piano, while the dining room offers stunning views of the mountain range or the serene meadows. There is also a rustic hot tub, a fire pit, hammock, and horseshoe pit, all nestled alongside a gentle creek. Music Meadows offers all inclusive winter and summer ranch vacations, as well as photography workshops and various horseback riding adventures, including one-day excursions with coaching from experienced cowpokes. Stargazers will love it here, too, as Westcliffe is a designated International Dark Sky Community. Visit

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