Man riding a horse through the river on Covered Wagon Dude Ranch
Screengrab via YouTube

Love 'Yellowstone'? Visit One of These Dude Ranches in Montana


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If you love Yellowstone or western movies, did you know you can actually take a vacation that lets you feel like you're living in that world? In the stunning state of Montana, you can actually experience cowboy culture up close by staying at one of the many dude ranch resorts. You can learn to ride horses at the instruction of a real wrangler, explore the beautiful terrain, and unwind by the campfire at night just like real cowboys out on the range.

Perfect for either families or couples looking for an adventurous getaway, these are 10 of the best dude ranches you can visit in Montana.

1. Covered Wagon Ranch

This Montana ranch dates back to 1925. Though it had a few different owners over the years, the Puckett family purchased the property in 2013 after years of experience working on Montana dude ranches, including the Covered Wagon. It's one of the oldest continuously operating ranches in the area, just three miles from Yellowstone National Park. This all-inclusive getaway offers 6-night or 13-night stays either in the summer or winter season, welcoming only 24 guests at a time. The summer season runs roughly June-September, and winter (considered an off-season visit) is available around Christmas or January. This is a family-friendly dude ranch with specific adult-only weeks available if that is preferred.

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Find more information here.

2. Triple J Wilderness Ranch

The Triple J has been welcoming guests since the mid-70s so you know you're in good hands. Get an all-inclusive experience where you can stay at one of the charming log cabins onsite, enjoy tasty western cuisine from the onsite chef, and take part in some of the many ranch activities. Learn cattle penning, roping, trap shooting, archery and more. You'll even get to perfect your horse riding skills with the help of a real wrangler. Evening campfires full of tall tales, songs, and snacks will really make you feel like you're out on the range. Open June-September, this ranch is family-friendly outside of specific adult-only dates.

Find more information here.

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3. The Ranch at Rock Creek

This five-star resort offers its guests 6,000 acres to immerse themselves in a western lifestyle for the duration of their stay. This has a bit more luxury than other options on this list, offering housekeeping services, an onsite spa and a Silver Dollar Saloon for evening entertainment full of cowboy saloon drinks, a bowling alley, a movie theater and more. Each couple or family visiting the ranch gets their own ranch ambassador for the duration of their stay, as well as two daily activities that range from archery and fly fishing to hiking and horseback riding. Visits are available in summer, fall, and winter.

Find more information here.

4. Bonanza Creek Guest Ranch

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Bonanza Creek has been in operation since the 1870s so guests are really stepping into history by choosing their ranch adventure here. Only 8-12 guests can stay each week, so everyone gets as much attention as possible. You'll get your own horse, chosen specifically for you based on your experience level. There are four different cabins available for guests to stay in during the summer season, welcoming guests June-September. Additional activities include visiting the local rodeo, fishing, enjoying the onsite masseuse, or visiting an abandoned 1800s town once inhabited by Calamity Jane.

Find more information here.

5. Bar W Guest Ranch

This Whitefish area resort offers fun for the entire family. With availability for up to 60 guests each week, all guests will experience a 6-night stay full of ranch activities, including trail rides, rodeo games, cattle work, hiking and more. Special campfire nights will feature cowboy songs under the Montana skies as well as evenings with wagon rides and line dancing classes. You can visit on adult only weeks or even participate in a Montana cattle drive where you will literally be participating in all of the work like roping, branding and moving all the cattle.

Find more information here.

6. Blacktail Ranch

This historic ranch in the Rocky Mountains is just outside of Helena. This all-inclusive resort is run by the same family who settled on the land in the 1800s and has been welcoming guests since the 1940s. You'll get six nights on the ranch with days full of horseback riding, riding lessons, roping lessons, cave exploration, cave tours, fishing and more. This is a family-friendly ranch, with children under four able to visit for free. Stay in your own one-bedroom cabin or one of the 15 guest rooms located in the main lodge. For an extra fee you can even add a 3-day ride to the top of the Continental Divide.

Find more information here.

7. Lone Mountain Ranch

This Big Sky ranch was established in 1915. There are specific summer adventure activities you can enjoy, including a ropes course, mountain biking, canoeing, yoga and of course, all the horseback riding your heart desires. Packages in the winter include skiing, dogsledding, snowshoeing and fly fishing. There's even an Outdoor Youth Adventures Program for children ages 3-14. In the summer, reservations are available with a 3-night minimum from the end of May through mid-October. The winter season is available from December-early April. Note that horseback riding is only available in the summer season. In the winter, you'll get to experience the onsite horses taking you to a sleigh ride dinner, which sounds incredibly dreamy.

Find more information here.

8. Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch

This family-friendly all-inclusive resort only welcomes a maximum of 20 guests at a time for a week filled with memorable adventures. Immerse yourself in western ranch cowboy culture with days filled with instructor-led horseback riding, fly fishing, memorable campfires, and cookouts to round out your fun-filled days. You can also take a jeep trip 10,000 feet up into the mountains, where you'll get to see incredible views, a real ghost town, and a stunning glacier lake. Not to mention you'll get to hike to the top of Monument Peak. Staying at a small dude ranch gives you a ton of personal attention from instruction in activities to learning about the history of the area.

Find more information here.

9. Mountain Sky Guest Ranch

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch has earned a reputation as one of the best since opening as a dude ranch back in 1929. Family season runs June through August where you'll get a 7 night stay full of horseback riding, hiking, kids activities and more. The Fall Roundup is essentially the same experience but is child-free, where adults can enjoy lengthy horseback riding trips, yoga, live music in the saloon, and two-stepping on western dance night. The ranch also offers women-only experiences in May for ladies wanting to get the real cowgirl experience.

Find more information here.

10. Elkhorn Ranch

Spend a week at this family-oriented retreat where your all-inclusive experience will include lodging in the ranch's original log cabins, horseback riding, wildlife watching, and participating in the bonfire and square dance nights.

Find more information here.

READ MORE: The 7 Largest Ranches in Montana

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