Best US states for a ranch holiday
Enjoy biscuits and beans from the chuck wagon on a working cattle drive in Kansas or follow in the footsteps of Wyatt Earp with a trip through the frontier towns of Arizona. Whether you want find the backdrops of your favourite John Ford film or spend a week in the saddle lassoing longhorns we’ve picked five of the best ranch holidays and the best US states to enjoy them in.
From the O.K. Corral in Tombstone to the backdrop to the sets of John Wayne westerns in Monument Valley, nowhere is home to more of the Old West than Arizona. The state offers stunning landscapes and amidst the cactus, canyons and windswept desert you can still seek out some of the west’s best ghost towns. Saddle up and ride the ghost town trail to explore the saloon at Gleeson, the jail in Courtland and general store in Pearce which has been trading since 1896. Stay at the Tombstone Monument Guest Ranch on the outskirts of Tombstone. The ranch is set in a recreated 1880s frontier town, with rooms decorated in turn of the century style and dinner served in the swinging door saloon.
If your vision of the Old West means plains and prairies rather than pistols, then head to Montana. This is big sky country, where grand blue skies meet endless prairies, and grizzly bears, wolves and bison still roam the grasslands, mountains and creeks. The state has also played a pivotal part in frontier history and you can hike the Lewis and Clark trail or stand in the footsteps of General Custer on the battlefield at Little Bighorn. Stay in log cabins at Lone Mountain Ranch on the edge of Yellowstone Park where local wranglers will lead you on rides through spruce forests and mountain trails.
Live the life of a cowboy in Colorado where you can spend your days in the saddle at one of the states working cattle ranches. Few can match the Colorado Cattle Company for both history and the scale of the challenge they offer would be cowboys. The ranch started life back in the 1880s, and you can still stay in one of the private rooms inside the original log wood bunkhouse. Days are spent in cowboy school with wranglers learning how to rope cattle, pen, sort, cut and tag, before heading out to track live cattle. For those who know which way round to hold their lasso the company can even enter you in a local rodeo.
Yes, you want to spend some time in the saddle but you also wouldn’t mind having a hot tub to unwind in at the end of the day or a rub down in the spa. For all the horses you’ll need but plenty of premium facilities to boot, head for a Texan dude ranch. Try the Wildcatter Ranch in 4,000 acres of wild Texan countryside where Indians and Cowboys once wrestled over land. The ranch offers riding lessons and trails as well as fly fishing, ATV tours and skeet shooting. You’ll find massages at the on-site Sage spa and some of the biggest and best steaks in Texas at the award winning Dinner Bell restaurant.
The ranch is part of the cowboy experience, but it’s out on the range that the real bronco-busters spent their time. Sign up for the hands-on-cowboy-experience at Moore Ranch in Kansas and you can rope longhorns, mend fences and mark out territory. The real highlight is the three annual cattle drives the ranch lays on where you’ll help move cattle across open country and out to pasture. Spending up to seven days in the saddle, you’ll ride through a Wild West landscape of creeks, prairies and the famous grand plains of Kansas. Sleep under the stars in canvas bedrolls while stew, cornbread and other cowboy classics are served from the chuck wagon.