With its fifth and final season making its way down the trail, Kevin Costner’s wildly popular Yellowstone – a Paramount Network series about a cattle-ranching family in the American West – continues to spark interest in the cowboy aesthetic. Looking to learn the ropes? These five destinations have you living out your ranch-hand fantasies in no time.

Three people on an autumn horseback ride at the Ranch at Rock Creek
Equestrians have some 6600 acres to roam at the Ranch at Rock Creek © The Ranch at Rock Creek

The Ranch at Rock Creek – Philipsburg, Montana 

The vibe: classic luxury

Located 20 miles outside of Philipsburg in western Montana, midway between Yellowstone and Glacier national parks, The Ranch at Rock Creek is perhaps the standard bearer of the luxe ranch experience. The 6600-acre all-inclusive Relais & Châteaux property was homesteaded back in the early 1900s, but it opened to guests 10 years ago and now hosts up to 75 people at a time for ranch standards like trail riding and roping lessons, alongside 21st-century upgrades like private yoga classes and wilderness-inspired spa treatments.

There’s also hiking, mountain biking, zip lining, and fly fishing in four miles of Blue Ribbon–designated waters; the quarters are cushy, the dining is fine-yet-casual, and the quiet, remote grounds provide a true escape from the usual grind.

The exterior of the Lodge at Blue Sky in summer
Utah's Lodge at Blue Sky offers a "modern interpretation of Western adventure" © The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection

The Lodge at Blue Sky – Wanship, Utah

The vibe: modern Western

Another upscale option, The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection is a 3500-acre private ranch in Utah’s Wasatch Range, just 25 minutes from Park City and a 40-minute drive from the Salt Lake City airport. With 46 rooms and suites looking out on a stunning backdrop of peaks and greenery and a roster of cowboy-oriented activities like Vaquero horsemanship lessons, sunset trail rides, and working cattle, plus fly fishing, shooting clays, and stand-up paddle boarding on a mirror-like lake, the property offers an experience it describes as a “modern interpretation of Western adventure.”

For equine lovers, there’s an on-site sanctuary devoted to rescue horses, and for spa-goers, a cliff-side facility boasts open-air pools, aerial yoga, and guided meditation, while tipplers are sure to approve of the on-site distillery – the property is home to High West and its small-batch whiskey.

A group of people on horseback, framed by cacti, on an evening trail ride at Tanque Verde Ranch
At Tanque Verde Ranch, guided trail rides are available almost any time of day © Courtesy of Tanque Verde Ranch / Buffalo Media Group MN

Tanque Verde Ranch – Tucson, Arizona

The vibe: entry-level equestrian

Twenty miles east of Tucson, in the shadow of the Rincon Mountains, Arizona’s Tanque Verde Ranch has grown by leaps and bounds since its founder put down roots in the valley in 1868. Today the ranch borders Saguaro National Park and Coronado National Forest and spans 640 acres, with an additional 60,000 leased from the US Forest Service for its cattle.

Get more travel inspiration, tips and exclusive offers sent straight to your inbox with our weekly newsletter

Its stables house more than 150 horses, and guides lead rides along the property’s miles of trails at breakfast and lunch, sunrise and sunset; horsemanship lessons are available for beginners and intermediates, and daily camps and programs teach kids the basics. Equines aside, activities include archery, yoga, fishing, and mountain biking, as well as less-expected offerings like watercolor workshops and classes on the nutritional and medicinal properties of desert botanicals. 

A group of people on horseback at Red Reflet Ranch
With accommodations for just 30-some people, Red Reflet Ranch provides a more intimate experience @ Red Reflet Ranch

Red Reflet Ranch – Ten Sleep, Wyoming

The vibe: all hands on deck

Nestled at the base of the Big Horn Mountains, nearly 40 miles from the nearest store, Wyoming’s Red Reflet Ranch provides an intimate experience for up to 32 guests, who travel to the remote spot to learn the ropes on a working cattle operation. Horseback riding is the preferred method of transportation here, and under the guidance of experienced wranglers and ranch hands, visitors can participate in driving the cattle, branding, sorting, and pairing the herd, and keeping the newborns up to date on their shots, among other daily activities.

Lessons on roping and barrel-racing are included in the rate, and equestrians are invited to take advantage of the training facilities as well, which feature indoor and outdoor riding arenas, round pens, stables, and pastures – just be sure to BYO riding boots. 

Zapata Ranch – Mosca, Colorado

The vibe: holistic herding

Owned by the Nature Conservancy and run by Ranchlands, Mosca’s 103,000-acre Zapata Ranch is home to a herd some 2000 bison strong, comprising both cattle and free-roaming wild animals alike. Guests can participate in the day-to-day operations, like moving livestock and learning about holistic management; sign up for activities like guided rides through nearby Great Sand Dunes National Park; or visit during a themed week to help brand calves, participate in equestrian clinics for all skill levels, or learn to paint horses under the tutelage of accomplished western artists.

The 17-bedroom lodge sits on the site of the original late-19th-century homestead, with quarters decorated with southwestern flair, and the meals are served family-style, with local produce and cuts of meat from the ranch’s own bison rounding out the menu. 

You may also like: 
How America's premier dude ranch spurred a century of wild west vacations
This Utah dude ranch comes with a luxurious backdrop
The complete guide to Yellowstone National Park

This article was first published Aug 17, 2020 and updated Sep 28, 2023.

Explore related stories



A reason to visit Tucson: the UNESCO-worthy Mission Garden

May 6, 2024 • 5 min read