In addition to Western-style horeseback riding, your family can likely enjoy hiking, fishing, bird-watching, roasting weenies, and taking covered-wagon rides, depending on the property. But the real beauty of living the ranch life is that kids get to see their grandparents in a new light. (They’ll never forget the sight of Nana shooting clay pigeons.) Bonus: Many ranches embrace the all-inclusive approach, which means fewer opportunities for “We’ve got the check!” battles.
How to Find One
Search for ranches by location and features at Duderanch.org or Ranchweb.com. For the most authentic cowboy experience, look for a family-run ranch off the beaten path, with activities and menus that vary with the seasons. Before you book, check to make sure it’s a child-oriented establishment. If you know your parents won’t want to ride horses, ask whether they offer “non-rider” or senior rates.
A Grand Adventure
Located near Yellowstone National Park, Mountain Sky Guest Ranch (Mountainsky.com) in Montana’s Paradise Valley houses 130 steeds along with an experienced crew of horse — and kid — wranglers. Children under 6 can safely enjoy a lead-line horseback ride while the older generation ventures into the national park.
Our other top pick: Spring Creek Ranch in Jackson, WY (Springcreekranch.com). Their main event? A chuck-wagon dinner on the banks of a spring; with the Rockies as the backdrop, kids will love imagining you’re a pioneer family traveling cross-country. Grandparents, meanwhile, will get a thrill out of joining an on-staff naturalist on a wildlife safari — think bald eagle, bear, and wolf sightings — in Grand Teton National Park.