Family at a dude ranch riding horses in Montana
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15 Best Dude Ranches for Escaping the Crowds This Summer

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Family at a dude ranch riding horses in Montana
EMPPhotography/istockphoto

Pony Up

The COVID-19 crisis has put the kibosh on summer vacations across the country, but it's still very possible to get away while maintaining social distance — the key is to truly get away. America's many dude ranches allow vacationers across the land to do just that. Large, sprawling recreation areas, dude ranches were always about digital detox, unplugging, escaping the crowds, and leaving the big, mean world's stress in the dust — dust that is kicked up by horses. This list features a diverse blend of dude ranches and similarly themed resorts that are still open and accepting new arrivals. Some are luxurious and pricey. Others are low-key and affordable. Most have posted comprehensive lists of new coronavirus-related safety guidelines, temporary restrictions, new protocols, and other measures on their websites. All offer fresh air, wide-open spaces, solitude, safety, and serenity. (Don't really feel like mounting up? Here are 31 Historic Places Across America That You Can Tour Virtually.)

Bush Creek Ranch Wyoming
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Bush Creek Ranch | Wyoming

Bush Creek Ranchin Wyoming's Platte River Valley is still open for anyone who wants to get away, albeit with a modified schedule and a few new restrictions. In fact, the ranch's COO posted a statement saying that adjusting and adapting during difficult times is the embodiment of the spirit of the West. Spanning more than 30,000 acres, Bush Creek offers as much solitude as you like as well as amenities like a bakery, distillery, brewery, and creamery.

Resort at Paws Up Montana
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Resort at Paws Up | Montana

The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough is not only open for business, but they're currently running a bunch of specials. A sprawling wilderness spanning 37,000 acres, Paws Up is a high-end resort that offers luxury camping, luxury homes, and even an exclusive private island lodge. They have special packages for couples, families, and groups.

Rocking Horse Ranch New York
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Rocking Horse Ranch | New York

Located in Highland, the Rocking Horse Ranch reopened on June 12. An all-inclusive family resort with a heavy focus on things to do for children, Rocking Horse is highly rated on TripAdvisor. Thanks to offerings like live entertainment and a spa, however, there's also plenty for grownups and groups.

Goosewing Ranch Wyoming
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Goosewing Ranch | Wyoming

Goosewing Ranch in Kelly is open as of June 28. With the exception of Goosewing rendezvous glamping and pack trips, visitors can participate in all activities. That includes kids' activities, mountain biking, hiking, fly fishing, river and water activities, and, of course, horseback riding.

Related: 40 Crazy-Expensive Glamping Experiences

C Lazy U Colorado
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C Lazy U | Colorado

C Lazy Uis celebrating 100 years of history, and it consistently makes best-of lists in ranch-based travel and vacation writeups. Located in Granby, it's an upscale, all-inclusive, year-round resort sprawled out across the heart of the Rocky Mountains and the Colorado River's run off the Continental Divide. Right now, the resort is offering special summer packages, particularly for families.

Devil's Thumb Ranch Colorado
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Devil's Thumb Ranch | Colorado

High in the mountains of Tabernash, you'll find Devil's Thumb Ranch. Weekly special events include bird viewing, forest therapy walks, beekeeping experiences, and private tours of Rocky Mountain National Park. Daily activities include stand-up paddleboarding, fly fishing, archery, air rifle biathlons, zip line tours, hiking, mountain biking, hatchet throwing, and, it should go without saying, horseback riding.

Related: Stunning Photos of Every National Park in America

Kay El Bar Arizona
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Kay El Bar | Arizona

Located in Wickenburg, Kay El Bar is a historic ranch in the heart of the Southwest that celebrated its centennial in 2018. Its 100 acres are situated at 2,130 feet above sea level—but those acres are just the ranch itself. Riders also have access to more than 2,000 acres of federal land. The all-inclusive, year-round ranch has a guest capacity of just 28 visitors, making it the ultimate in truly getting away.

Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort California
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White Stallion Ranch Arizona
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White Stallion Ranch | Arizona

White Stallion Ranch in Tucson and its rugged, virgin mountain/desert acreage have been the site of many Hollywood movie shoots. The ranch offers several packages based on activity preference, time of year, and more. The Getaway Today package (starting at $149 a night), for example, includes activities like shooting, archery, and e-biking. The Outdoor Adventure package includes rock climbing, team cattle sorting, and shooting.

Bull Hill Guest Ranch Washington
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Bull Hill Guest Ranch | Washington

Located in the wide-open wilderness of the Great Northwest, Bull Hill Guest Ranch in Kettle Falls is nestled in the foothills of the Rockies in eastern Washington near British Columbia. Fourth-generation family members still run the authentic Western ranch, which has a history of more than 115 years. Untouched wilderness is the backdrop of the destination, which is part of a working ranch spread across 50,000 acres of pristine mountain country.

Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch Idaho
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Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch | Idaho

Located just south of Stanley, Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch offers breathtaking views of the wild and rugged Idaho Rocky Mountains. The ranch stands out for its flexible approach, where guests move through their vacation at their own pace and on their own schedule. Guests can ride horses for a few hours or all day long, with all kinds of other activities to choose from, including river activities, fishing, trail riding, and even mountain climbing.

Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch New Mexico
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Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch | New Mexico

A truly authentic New Mexico dude ranch, Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch in Winston can accommodate only 12-16 guests at any given time. Located in the southwestern portion of the state, the property is tucked away in the 3.3 million-acre Gila National Park. Horses trot through sprawling meadows and deep canyons while crossing crystal clear spring-fed streams. Open from March through November, the weather is predictably perfect almost all the time.

Related: 30 Stunning Photos of Iconic Landscapes in the American West

V6 Ranch California
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V6 Ranch | California

Let your inner cowboy or cowgirl loose at V6 Ranch in Parkfield. The ranch has a revised 2020 calendar of events, but most of what it’s famous for is still on the table. That includes cattle drives, the Cowboy Academy, wrangler rides, and a ranch rodeo.

Related: 18 Towns Where You Can Still Experience the Wild West

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch Arkansas
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Horseshoe Canyon Ranch | Arkansas

At Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, guests can live an authentic dude ranch experience in the wild and rugged Ozark Mountains. Visitors stay in rustic log cabins and can take their pick from any number of activities, including rock climbing, horseback riding, skeet shooting, barn games, moonlight rides, and water activities. The zip line there is known as one of the best in the country.

Long Hollow Ranch Oregon
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Long Hollow Ranch | Oregon

Located near the city of Sisters, Long Hollow Ranch is one of the most historic guest ranches in the entire state. Fly fishing and horseback riding are all part of the package, as are bird watching, hiking, lawn games, and morning and evening sunrise and sunset viewing from the sprawling ranch’s spectacular panoramic viewing areas.

Related: Best Fishing Spots in All 50 States