If you're stuck in the same old vacation rut and are tired of resorts with an "attitude," stressful sight-seeing schedules, crowds of tourists and poor service, then it's time to try a dude ranch vacation. At a "wild west" ranch you'll enjoy spectacular scenery, the solitude of nature, scrumptious home-cooked food, new unpretentious friends, action and relaxation, cowboys, horses and hot tubs all rolled into one.
Horseback riding is at the heart of any dude ranch holiday. Although the romance of a western dude ranch was captivating, my husband and I worried that we might not enjoy an entire week in the saddle. Our kids however, begged for the "horse-riding" vacation and in the end, they knew best. Our week at Colorado Trails Ranch was a resounding success for us all. The homestead is located just outside quaint and colorful Durango and near Mesa Verde National Park in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado.
Every day our girls had a different adventure. The supervised youth programs included horseback riding, fishing, archery, tubing on a mountain lake and even a camp-out in the nearby forest. They made new friends from all over the country and amazingly we never heard "there's nothing to do" or "I'm bored."
Julieclaire, age nine at the time, was horse crazy. She mounted her steed Prince on the first morning and loped into kid paradise. Our six-year-old, Annalyse, who had never been on a horse, was matched with "Dr. Pepper" a huge and mellow thoroughbred who was chosen to match her ability. She quickly learned the basics and we watched her self-confidence soar.