Category Archives: Reviews & Accolades

Best Value in Dude Ranching

December 4, 2019 by Elk Mountain Ranch

Best Value in Dude Ranching

We strive to offer a 5-star vacation at reasonable, all-inclusive prices. A dude ranch vacation is an investment in your family ~ and the memories created will last a lifetime.

1. As more and more ranches are shifting to six-night stays, we are proud to continue to offer a full seven-night stay. How else could we squeeze in the best activities that Colorado has to offer? Ride every day ~ or take a turn at shooting sports, mountain biking, ropes course, whitewater rafting, fishing, hiking, van trip to Aspen, sitting around a campfire, dancing, star gazing, or reading your favorite book. You will not want to cut this week short.



2. Some ranches may charge you extra for your raft trip. At EMR, we include a full-day raft trip with lunch on the River. And Buena Vista happens to be the Whitewater Capital of Colorado. This trip will take you through the heart of Browns Canyon National Monument. In fact, at EMR all activities are included. No extra charge for ammo, shot gun rentals, cowboy boot rentals. Let’s keep this simple and affordable.



3. We may be old-fashioned, but we still believe a gratuity should be earned. We believe our staff is one of the best in dude-ranching. And we are confident that they will provide a level of service that is unsurpassed. But we prefer that a gratuity should be left at YOUR discretion – and not an imposed service charge (leaving you wondering if you should still be leaving additional gratuity in addition to your service charge).



4. Our accommodations date back to the 1970’s. But don’t let that lead you to believe you will not be comfortable. In fact, we are quite proud of our cabins and lodge rooms. All have been improved and are kept spotlessly cleaned. We think you will find our mattresses and linens to be 5-star. Our hope is that you will have a grand slumber in the Colorado Rockies.



5. Our intimate setting allows us to provide an refreshing experience to 30 pampered guests. No delay in checking in; no waiting in lines for activities. It also allows us to be flexible with your riding experience (doing our best to accommodate your family group, young children, experienced riders). We will do our best to adapt rides to a length or ability of your desire. Special diets are happily accommodated. You are not an unfamiliar face to our staff.  We look forward to getting to know you and your family.



Plan your Ranch Adventure – call Tom or Sue at 1-800-432-8812.

10 Best Things about a Dude Ranch Vacation

March 20, 2017 by Elk Mountain Ranch

10 Best Things about a Dude Ranch Vacation

There are many great things about a dude ranch vacation, especially one at Elk Mountain Ranch, so we have compiled a list of the top 10 best parts about our life in the West:

1. Enjoying the beauty of your surroundingsIMG_9795
At Elk Mountain, you have the opportunity to spend time outdoors, enjoying the beauty of Colorado, with breathtaking views of the Collegiate Peaks, whether on a trail ride or hiking in the San Isabel National Forest.



2. Slowing down and relaxingIMG_7515
Time moves differently here. You can take the time for some R&R, read a good book, enjoy the hot tub, play a board game or spend the day at the hot springs. There are simple pleasures in activities that we may have forgotten about in our busy day to day lives. Take a moment for yourself, breathe and take it all in.

The ranch is a little oasis in the middle of the beautiful state of Colorado. At 11 p.m. the generator turns off, and all of a sudden it is quiet and dark. Take a moment to look up at the millions of stars above you and find the Milky Way. Depending on where you live, you may never have an opportunity quite like this to view such a spectacular sky, where it is actually harder to pick out the constellations because there are so many more stars in sight. This place is a change from your everyday life, which is what makes it so special. Embrace this break from reality and enjoy all it has to offer.

3. Disconnecting and having great conversationsIMG_5289
The remote nature of Elk Mountain gives you an excuse to disconnect from the world, leaving email and the internet behind (there is connectivity but it is limited). This gives you an opportunity to focus on those around you and engage in great conversations at dinner, around the campfire, or out on the trail.


4. Creating new bondsIMG_5190
There is something special that happens over a week – many different bonds are created. You find a connection with your horse, learning their personality and how you can work together. The intimate nature of the ranch allows you to get to know your fellow guests and you learn more about the staff. The experience is similar to the intense bonds created when you were a child a summer camp. There is an EMR alumni network of sorts – friends of the ranch who have shared a special week with us and can relate to the amazing experience. It is like one big family that extends beyond Buena Vista.

5. Reconnecting with othersIMG_6025
The atmosphere at the ranch allows you to reconnect with your family members and friends. It also gives you time to have moments to yourself and take in your surroundings. Conversations can start during happy hour and continue all the way through a campfire after dessert. Seeing your family in a new setting also shakes things up a bit and gives you new ways to connect.


6. Adventures!activities21
If trail rides are not adventurous enough, you also have the opportunity to go whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River, or test your skills on an adventure course. Rafting is great fun as you make your way through Browns Canyon – be sure to keep an eye out for local wildlife as you paddle by! The adventure course allows you to challenge yourself, tackling new heights, overcoming obstacles and possibly even unleashing your competitive side.

7. Trying something newIMG_5802
Maybe you have always wanted to ride a horse, or try your hand at shooting a .22 or take aim at clay pigeons? Are you an adventurous eater and want to try some Rocky Mountain Oysters? This is your opportunity to try something new, or even check off an item on your bucket list. You are in the Wild West – challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone.


8. Great food dude ranch dining
You will never go hungry at EMR – I promise. Between the hearty breakfasts, on the trail lunches, happy hour appetizers and filling dinners, there is something for everyone’s palate. We take food as seriously as we do our horses, and make accommodations for those with special dietary needs. We also want to help you celebrate any major occasion, whether a milestone birthday, anniversary or a big family reunion. Our surroundings may be more rustic, but the menu is nothing but top notch – and always save room for dessert!

9. Amazing horsesIMG_9628
The passion that the Murphys have for their horses and for the ranch is clear from the first moment you interact with them. Tom and Sue first met at the ranch in 1985 as wranglers, and the attention they pay to their herd is evident. Safety is always important, and even the housekeeping staff attends Horse Orientation to learn how to properly interact with the horses on and off the trail. The horses are well taken care of and are happy and eager to do their work. Each rider is matched with the right horse based on their personality, experience, comfort level and the type of riding they would like to do during the week. This process ensures that you have the best experience possible. Also, each horse has a great story, so take a moment to talk with Tom or one of the wranglers to learn more about your horse’s biography.

10. Making memories
All of these factors help make for an amazing week and give you memories that last a lifetime. It could be quiet time spent with your spouse while your kids are busy panning for gold or hunting for arrow heads. It could be the wonder of watching a herd of antelope go by while you are on horseback. Maybe you have a laugh while square dancing, or are touched by the music by Carin Mari. Or it could be toasting champagne at the top of a plateau while eating brunch and looking out at Mt. Princeton and the surrounding 14ers. By the end of the week, you will have new memories that will last long after the dirt is off of your cowboy boots. announces Elk Mountain Ranch as esteemed Award Winner in their Inaugural Ranch Vacation Awards of Excellence, 2015!

March 13, 2016 by Elk Mountain Ranch

2015AwardofExcellenceTop50Family Reunion Email Template

The Ranch Vacation Awards of Excellence ~ 2015 were chosen from hundreds of online reviews written for the traveller, by the traveller and feature 10 categories; each category has been divided into a number of awards to celebrate everything the discerning guest, family or traveller requires for their perfect ranch vacation.

As winner of the ‘Best All-Round Activities For The Entire Family Award’ in the ‘Family Friendly’ category, Elk Mountain Ranch has left guests feeling that there was the most exciting and widest range of activities available on a dude ranch.

Guests to the ranch have commented:

“There are many activities to choose from: horseback riding, shooting, whitewater rafting, hiking, massage, kids program, etc.”

“The activities are diverse and interesting – our daughter enjoyed every single thing.”

“I really liked all the activities that were planned. You could pick out exactly what you wanted to do.”

Designed to celebrate all aspects of a dude, guest or working ranch vacation, the Ranch Vacation Awards of Excellence recognize ranches’ ability to deliver to their guests’ exceptional service, stunning locations and accommodations, outstanding food and wine, and life-changing experiences amongst other attributes.

Top 50 Ranches – Elk Mountain

Cool Colorado Places to Stay

May 4, 2015 by Elk Mountain Ranch

Elk Mountain Ranch is No 2! Thank you Colorado Vacation Guide.

There are plenty of options for every type of getaway.  Colorado is truly an amazing place for a vacation of a lifetime.  Join us for week-long package full of adventure.

A 10-mile dirt road leads to the ranch – get away from the crowds.

Capacity of 35 guests – intimate atmosphere.

Best activities that Colorado has to offer –  horseback riding, white water rafting, trapshooting, marksmanship, hayride & campfire, evening entertainment, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, children’s program and much more.


5 Places I Can’t Wait to Visit with My Kids

March 17, 2015 by Elk Mountain Ranch

Topping the list is Elk Mountain Ranch!  Bring your family for a vacation of a lifetime.  Horseback riding, whitewater rafting, shooting sports, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, petting zoo, children’s program for the Little Buckaroos.  A week of adventure.

Kid friendly ranch

Grandchildren – Cherish the Moments at a Dude Ranch

November 6, 2014 by Elk Mountain Ranch

A week at Elk Mountain Dude Ranch with your grandchildren will not be forgotten.  Create memories to last a lifetime.  They will cherish this time.  View this special video created by one very special and creative grandchild.  The highlight of the triplet’s year is spending this week with “Bobo”.   Vacation with your grandchildren; you will have no regrets.Grandchildren at ranch

An All-Inclusive Colorado Vacation!

May 1, 2013 by Elk Mountain Ranch

DSC_0200When you come to Elk Mountain, you aren’t just getting a standard vacation.  Our all-inclusive week-long packages include three hearty meals a day, horseback riding (we match you with your perfect horse!), pack trips, camping, river rafting, lodging in our private cabins, “me time”, and so much more than we can put into words. We welcome families with children of all ages, and even have an adults-only week. Just check out some of our great reviews from TripAdvisor:

“Trip of a lifetime – Tom, Sue and all their staff were amazing, food was superb and horses were simply the best, felt so safe and cared for. The scenery was spectacular and to top off great days out cosy and comfortable accommodation. A truly magical place to stay.”

“What a welcome! Tom and Sue and their wonderful staff could not do enough to make our stay perfect. Next to the last week of the season and we were treated as though it was the first week. Nothing was too much trouble. We had a ball – adults only and we all got on so well. So many laughs, so many new friends and so many fabulous memories. Loved the horse orientation with Tom on Monday morning – so informative and certainly made us all think! Great riding, and just couldn’t get enough of those magnificent Colorado views! Sue’s meals were out of this world and the only down side are the extra pounds around the waistline!”

“We just returned from our vacation at Elk Mountain Ranch. It was an amazing family vacation. The hospitality provided by the owners and the staff are second to none. Everyone has a smile and always eager to please and accommodate. There are so many things to do… horseback riding, white water rafting, fishing, hot springs.”

So what are you waiting for? Come to Elk Mountain Ranch and experience the dude ranch vacation of a lifetime!