When considering a Colorado guest ranch vacation, one of the first concerns of the prospective guest is cost. Google puts everything at our fingertips, and yet, this question is still difficult to answer because there are so many options depending on activities, types of accommodations, etc. So, I hope to put together an average price range for you along with an idea of some of the reasons for the differences in prices. Once you become a more-informed shopper, you'll be on your way to choosing a Colorado guest ranch that fits the needs and desires of your family.
Range of Rates (What You Expect to Pay for a Week):
Most guest ranches have different rates for different age groups, and some offer special double occupancy or family occupancy rates. For one adult for one week, you can expect to pay anywhere between $2,000 to $5,000. Teens (12+) are typically included as an adult, but there are a few guest ranches that will offer a couple hundred dollars less than your adult rates for that age group. For your child, you can expect to pay anywhere between $900-$4,000. Infants are usually $0-500, while some guest ranches do not allow children under the age of three.
Degrees of All-Inclusiveness:
According to the Dude Ranchers' Association's website (http://www.duderanch.org/what-to-consider.php#18), the dude ranching industry created the idea of "All-Inclusive" as early as the late 1800s. This doesn't mean that all ranches actually include everything, so you'll want to make sure you're not fooled by the term. Most ranches do include lodging, meals and some activities in your stay. In fact, the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association states that all its member ranches include lodging, meals, and daily horseback riding (www.coloradoranch.com). Before you make your choice, however, decide whether you'll want all the costs handled ahead of time or if you want to bring a heavier wallet with you. While many dude ranches are striving to become completely all-inclusive, determine if your visit is going to include activities such as whitewater rafting, horseback riding lessons, overnight pack trips, fly fishing, children's programs, baby-sitting services, etc.
The Week-Long Stay:
A week-long stay also has different meanings in the dude ranch world. There are six-night weeks (Sunday to Saturday) and seven-night weeks (Sunday to Sunday). There are advantages and disadvantages to both. In the seven-night week you get a longer stay at the ranch (and believe me, it's hard to leave), but in the six-night week you will have more time to get back home and recuperate from your traveling.
Level of Luxury:
Dude ranches in Colorado range from rustic to luxurious. What you choose will largely depend on how much you want to pay and how much you'd like to be pampered. While all the member ranches in the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association are going to give you a fine experience, if you want a more modern, luxurious week, look for words such as "gourmet," "luxury," "spa" and "exquisite" in the dude ranch's description. There's a price tag involved, but you'll love the treatment. If you're looking for a slightly more rustic experience, look for words like "authentic," "Old West," "cowboy experience." These words don't mean the luxury ranches are any less authentic, but the less luxurious ranches may make it easier to imagine the way it was in pioneer days. By the way, you'll also find that internet and phone use is limited or encouraged in certain locations on the ranch in order to complete the get-away-from-it-all atmosphere.
Although the prices and rates I gave are very general and vary depending on what you're looking for in your Colorado guest ranch, I hope this blog gives you a better idea of how to shop for this type of adventure vacation for your family.