The folks I chat with on the phone are so thrilled to have found the right place for themselves and/or their family. But the struggles they describe to get to that point don't have to be shared by you. With these four pointers that I've learned from our future and past guests, I hope to help steer you in the path of decisiveness and easy hunting.
1) Figure out what you want to spend. There's more to this than simply what you can afford. The Elk River Guest Ranch is toward the lower price range, but we still get guests that could afford to go to a ranch that costs $4,000 per person instead of sub $2,000/person. If money is a non-issue, then skip this point. Otherwise, whether you have a lot or a little, decide how much you're willing to spend on this type of vacation. Then, you can view which ranches fit your needs via the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association website. Simply click on the drop-down that allows you to search ranches by their listed "Rates."
2) Figure out the atmosphere you want. Big or small? Is it important to you to have lots of interaction with lots of different people, or do you prefer a more intimate guest experience? The guest ranches range anywhere from 15-90 and everywhere in between. Every ranch offers a different perspective, different personalized experience. But, it doesn't have to be a difficult choice. Get a feel for what you want...lots of kids, lots of quiet, lots of personal time with the owners and staff, lots of different guests to boogie with on dance night? The choice is yours.
3) Decide what location of the western states you want to see. It really comes down to what type of geography and remoteness make you happy or give you that "West feel." Cactus or aspens? Remote or easy access? Or, a mixture of both? Snow-capped peaks or gently rolling mountains? What's your view of the West? And, if it doesn't matter to you except to be in the mountains on a horse, then skip this one, too. :)
4) Decide what activities of a western vacation entice you the most. If you're most interested in horseback riding, make sure that the ranches on your short list have a variety of horseback options that will keep you entertained throughout the week. Or, if you or someone in your family isn't as pumped about riding, check to see that there are other activities that you enjoy that are included in your vacation package.
I hope this helps! If you have any more questions about finding a ranch without getting overwhelmed by the process or if you need more information about Elk River Guest Ranch, give me a call at (970) 879-1946, and I'll be more than happy to help you in whatever way I can.