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Ride horses, fish or just relax at a world class, all-inclusive dude ranch. (Image: Grand County Tourism)

Channel your inner cowboy with a trip to a dude ranch

Be honest: have you ever worn a cowboy hat?

We’re guessing 95% of you answered yes.

We’re also guessing many of you felt a bit like a fraud, knowing you were donning the headwear of John Wayne, Billy the Kid and Doc Holliday, without ever having ridden a horse, danced a square or cooked your dinner over an open flame.

Fear not! Grand County, Colorado is here to make you a bona fide cowboy/girl.

Known as “The Dude Ranch Capitol of the United States,” Grand County is home to four world-class dude ranches, just 90 minutes from Denver. All are all-inclusive (score!), but each has something special to offer the weary traveler.

Bar Lazy J Ranch

Relaxation and personal attention are the passwords at Bar Lazy J. The owner even keeps a supply of hats and boots for visitors who arrive without them. And during the summer, the staff puts on a Friday night talent show for guests.

  • Oldest continuously operated guest ranch in Colorado
  • Located on the Gold Medal trout fishing waters of the Colorado River near Parshall
  • Favorite fishing destination since 1912
  • Adjacent to 30,000 acres of state and federal forestlands

C Lazy U Ranch

  • An upscale, family style dude ranch, C Lazy U offers luxury accommodations, elegant dining, and first-name-basis service.
  • Riding available on 8,000 acres of trails and in the 10,000-square-foot indoor arena
  • Tennis, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing (shuttles to nearby ski resorts)
  • Extensive supervised programs for children age 3 and up – and teens
  • Located on the banks of Willow Creek are the ranch’s “spa tents”, luxurious retreats where guests can enjoy traditional treatments including massages, facials and manicures/pedicures
  • Working cattle ranch, with guests able to participate in cattle drives and other western adventures

Drowsy Water Ranch

Nestled in its own private mountain valley, the 600-acre ranch has specialized in providing authentic western vacations for over 70 years.

  • Focus on children’s program, family atmosphere, horseback riding, meals and entertainment
  • Honored as Best All Inclusive Resort in the World in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards. The Family Vacation Critic named the ranch the No. 1 Best Dude Ranch for Families in 2011.

Latigo Ranch

Located near Kremmling in the western part of the county, Latigo Ranch’s focus is on horsemanship – and on creating a personal and intimate feel.

  • Homemade caramel corn upon arrival
  • Accommodations limited to 35 guests
  • Careful matching of guests with horses (temperament, physical requirements, ability, progress)
  • Authentic cattle drive with a local rancher available for experienced riders (third week of September)
  • The Ranch has been named “Best Dude Ranch in Colorado” in “Colorado’s Best: The Essential Guide to Favorite Places” and one of the top 50 ranches in the world by Top50Ranches.com

We got a chance to travel to Grand County this summer for an up close look at some of the dude ranches. Check out the show to learn more and start planning your trip at http://www.dude-ranch.com/

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