If you’re looking for a family-friendly, all-inclusive dude ranch with a lot to do besides just riding horses, Black Mountain Ranch is your spot. Of course, there’s riding galore (real cattle drives happen on Saturdays and you’ll find your perfect match with one of the ranch’s 150 glorious horses), but there’s also white-water rafting, roping, dancing at the saloon, skeet shooting, rodeos and camping under the glittering stars. Plus, your kids can go off and do their own thing if they want (a nice perk!). Every day starts and ends with amazing food, too — there’s a real-life chef at the ranch. See a sample vacation week >>
What makes it special?
It’s all the horseback rides you’ll do that are catered to your personal experience level — you can go slow, fast, up steep slopes or just around the corral. Even if you’re new to the saddle, you’ll leave a seasoned rider who loves to gallop. And, if you don’t feel like riding much, that’s cool, too. Every vacation is customizable.
The most “Colorado” thing about this place
You know you’re in Colorado when it snows in June, and being up in McCoy is no different. Expect ever-changing mountain weather typical of when you’re waaaay high up. The ranch’s elevation is above 8,500 feet, so any type of precipitation is possible. Pack for dressing in layers (that includes a warm knit hat for shivery nights) and bring a raincoat. Check out the ranch’s handy packing list >>
Most unexpected amenity
Head to the on-site Old West saloon to grab your favorite adult beverage (your choice of spirits or ice-cold beers). While you sip, practice your roping skills, or play classic bar games like ping pong and pool.
Top sensory encounter you’ll experience
We’re going with ogling the blazing fuchsias of sunset, then posting up around a crackling campfire after a long day on your steed. Stare up and you just might spot Orion’s Belt (you’ll know it from those three glittering orbs — named Alnilam, Mintaka and Alnitak). You’ll be sleeping under those same ol’ stars when you’re way up high at pack camp.
Our favorite traveler review
“This year was our second trip to Black Mountain Ranch. The first time was an amazing experience and we talked about it off and on for two years until we could return. Now we will be talking about this year's trip until we return again. Everything about this ranch is beyond compare. Prepare yourself for a lifetime experience riding horses in the mountains and fields, herding cattle, singing around the campfire at pack camp, river rafting, eating great food, meeting new people, dancing in the saloon, soaking in the hot tub or just reading a book on the porch overlooking the ranch and mountains. I can't say enough about the staff, the wranglers and the owners. We can't wait to return!” — Patricia W., Tripadvisor
Things to see & do nearby
Going to Vail? Catch live music amidst a mountain backdrop at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, sip aromatic wines at Root & Flower, nom on wagyu steak and flaky buttermilk biscuits at Mountain Standard, and stroll through Vail’s and Beaver Creek’s ski villages.
Photos courtesy of Black Mountain Ranch