Our Research TravelingMom visited a Rawah Guest Ranch, a Colorado Dude Ranch, with her family and fell in love. If you’ve never considered a dude ranch vacation for your family, read more about her stay and why she thinks that it is a perfect spot to reconnect as a family.
My husband and I visited Rawah Guest Ranch, a Colorado dude ranch, for the first time in the early fall of 2016 and instantly knew that we would need to return with our kids. Little did we know, that just 9 short months later we would, in fact, return with our children.
The first issue that we need to get out of the way is that a dude ranch vacation likely isn’t what you are picturing.
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But, I don’t want to work while on vacation
If you have been picturing a dude ranch vacation as having to pay to be a ranch hand, think again. I am certain there are ranches that offer that type of experience. A stay at Rawah Guest Ranch is the furthest from a working vacation. There is no wake-up call at 6 am unless, of course, you are from Kentucky like we are and suffer from major jet lag.
Each morning, should you opt in, their coffee service is brought to your cabin. The tray of goodness contains coffee, cream, sugar, and freshly baked pastries. A precursor to the breakfast that is about to be served in the main lodge.
Due to the time change, most mornings we had our coffee in the main lodge chatting with the employees while they prepared for breakfast service. Honestly, that was the highlight of most of my days. I absolutely loved relaxing on the overstuffed couches, coffee in hand, getting to know the employees. They became so much more than members of the staff to our family, they became friends. Often, these fantastic people come up in our everyday conversations, they left such a lasting impression on us.
Listen, before we go any further, I realize that I sound like a walking commercial for Rawah. To be honest, I didn’t want to write this post because I wanted to selfishly keep Rawah all to myself. However, more than I want to keep it to myself, I want them to succeed.
Accommodations at Rawah Guest Ranch
Each family (or group) visiting Rawah, has a cabin that is separate from the main lodge. Some of these cabins are mere steps from the lodge while others are a bit of a walk.
The cabins are a welcome retreat from everyday life. You won’t find a TV inside of the cabin, but rather plush bedding and a rustic setting with a modern twist.
At check in, you are asked a variety of questions such as the type of pillow that you would prefer or if you would like a scent in your room at the evening turndown.
Additionally, if you are traveling with children like we were, they have the option to include a nighttime activity box for the kiddos. It was a box full of games and activities (and cowboy hats!) to use during our stay.
What Rawah Ranch doesn’t have
You won’t find cell service, wifi or cable at Rawah, so stock up on good books and charge your camera. In this hustle bustle day and age that we live, it is a breath of fresh air to escape from constantly being connected. It was a fantastic way for my family to reconnect, and disconnect all at the same time. My kids only saw us with our cell phones if we were snapping pictures. And I read two books from cover to cover while we were there!
Things to do at Rawah Ranch
By now you are probably thinking, Allison that sounds great, but what is there to do at this Colorado dude ranch?
I am glad that you asked.
The short answer is that there is so much to do!
Of course, there are horses and horse riding. That was a lot of fun, especially since I rode horses for the better part of my childhood. What made my momma heart happy was that my kiddos enjoyed being on horseback. What I love the most about the horse program is that they really work with all skill levels. My youngest really had no ability beyond just a pony on a lead line, and by the time we left, we had done a family trail ride all together!
Each guest of the ranch is assigned a horse that is ‘their’s’ for the week. This really allows the rider and the horse to get to know one another and hopefully limits any surprises.
Shooting and Archery
During our first visit to Rawah, I discovered that I really enjoyed skeet shooting and archery. So much so that when we returned home, we got some compound bows for our boys to start practicing. I am still in search of an affordable left handed bow if you know of one let me know!
Our oldest did some target shooting with the .22 and thought that being able to help operate the clay pigeon launcher was about the coolest thing that he had ever done. Don’t worry, He had expert instruction the entire time that he tried his hand at shooting and was supervised the whole time.
Before you turn up your nose at this next activity, please know that ‘regular’ fishing isn’t something that I enjoy in the least. Fly fishing is a whole other ball game that I grew to love. There is something so relaxing about putting the waders on and stepping into the water with the fish. Now, they didn’t have waders small enough for my little guys, but they still got to participate in fly fishing. The anglers (fishing guides) were so very patient and walked them through every step. My kids loved fly fishing!
At Rawah Guest Ranch there are a few options for hiking, and let me tell you there is ample space to do so.
You can choose to do a guided hike with one of the staff members or they will give directions and your group can go out on their own.
My husband and I opted for a self-guided hike, and while we didn’t reach our final destination, holy altitude ya’ll, we had a great time seeing the sights.
Each week Monday – Friday there is an optional kid’s club that to be very honest with you I was afraid that my little guy would resist going to. He is very very attached to mom.
Wouldn’t you know it? He loved every second of it! In fact on the day that we were scheduled to take the kids shooting, he opted to go all alone. I was shocked. Normally, if his brother isn’t going, then neither is he.
Oh my, the food. Rawah Guest Ranch’s Chef Ford is a culinary visionary. Seriously. First and foremost he doesn’t understand reasonable portion sizes so you will not go hungry. Trust me.
I would call the style of food comfort with a twist. There is nothing simple about what he does. Breakfast is made to order, so if you want an omelet and your kids want chocolate chip pancakes, no problem!
Lunch is typically served buffet style and we feasted on things like chicken fajitas, a sandwich bar and a salad bar with every type of topping that you could imagine.
Dinner is a plated affair kicked off by cocktails and appetizers in the lodge. My family’s most favorite Chef Ford dinner is hands down the chicken fried chicken with jalapeno gravy.
The kids cried when we left.
Several times through the course of the trip my kids told me that they liked Rawah Guest Ranch better than….dare I say it? Disney.
I was shocked. I knew they were having a great time, I just didn’t know how great of a time they were really having.
Here is the thing, the price tag can seem staggering. If you break it down you realize what a good value it really is. You literally can leave you wallet in your cabin the whole time. Virtually everything is included, unless of course, you request a spa service, order top shelf liquor or opt for a white water rafting trip.
As we said our goodbyes, we hugged the staff, who had become like family it was tough to say goodbye. In fact, my son was training for the Junior Olympics while we were there and they asked that we let them know how he did because they truly cared.
So, yes as we drove away my kids were crying, but what they didn’t know that I had tears in my eyes too.