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North Fork Ranch | Shawnee, Colorado Expect to pay about $300 per night. northforkranch.com
Of the destinations here, North Fork Ranch offers the most traditional dude ranch vacation. Situated in the Colorado Rockies, it’s owned and operated by Dean and Karen May, who met as young people while working at another guest ranch. Though North Fork features such things as zip lining and river rafting, the focus is on time-honored ranch activities like hay rides, camp fires, barn dances and trail rides in the mountain valleys. (For those who’d like to learn fly fishing, this Orvis endorsed destination can’t be topped).
Beginning and experienced riders alike will enjoy the horse program, as there are horses for all abilities. Guided rides of two to four hours take place on thousands of acres of the Pike National Forest, which surround the ranch on three sides.
There are no women-specific rides or packages (past ones simply didn’t draw enough participants), but with a capacity of just 35 guests, the Mays can custom-tailor activities to a groups’ needs, whether it be a riding club, a ladies’ social group, or a mother and daughter getaway.
“We don’t have department heads here,” says Karen. “You’re not spending vacation at the Marriott, you’re joining us in our home. We raised our family here and we treat our guests like family.”