Jul 5, 2022

Travel Inspiration

9 Best Hotels in the American West

Fora Author Henley Vazquez

Co-Founder

Henley Vazquez

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With its rolling plains, free-roaming bison, working cattle ranches and cowboy culture, the American West holds a certain allure for many travelers. If you’re a first-time visitor looking for a classic Western stay, you might be overwhelmed by the number of luxury dude ranches and nature lodges tucked away inside forests and alpine valleys. Thankfully, I’ve culled together a list of the best dude ranches, Western-inspired resorts and nature lodges that are not only stunning, but offer a slew of exciting ranch activities and outdoor adventures. 

Dunton Hot Springs, CO

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Image courtesy of Dunton Hot Springs

Booking a stay in an 1800s ghost town might not sound romantic, but wait until you see Dunton Hot Springs. Nestled in an alpine valley across from Telluride Mountain, this Colorado resort comprises hand-built log cabins with rustic-chic furnishings, a saloon serving tantalizing bites and surrounding nature offering up hot spring baths and jaw-dropping trail rides. Notably, the resort was once an old mining town established in 1885 that, in its heyday, was home to nearly 300 people. By 1918, the town was deserted until its second renaissance as a dude ranch in the 70s and 80s until it was abandoned once again. Today, the lovingly restored ghost town is a sprawling resort that guests can rent in its entirety for weddings, family reunions and other large gatherings. 

Fora Perks:

  • $100 resort credit.

  • Daily a la carte breakfast.

  • Bottle of Sutcliffe wine in room upon arrival.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection, UT

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Image courtesy of The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection

For the ideal family vacation, look no further than Utah’s Lodge at Blue Sky as part of the Auberge Resorts Collection. Sitting just 35 minutes from Salt Lake City airport, this mountain lodge is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Utah’s main cities. The resort is a private mountain retreat that feels more like the bygone family summer camps once popular in the 1950s. Expect a daily itinerary of optional activities the whole family can enjoy. I’m talking morning yoga with mountain vistas, lunchtime horseback riding, roaring campfires and an evening spent owl-tracking or gazing at the stars. 

Fora Perks:

  • $100 resort credit.

  • Daily breakfast (alcohol excluded).

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Vermejo, a Ted Turner Reserve, NM

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Image courtesy of Vermejo, a Ted Turner Reserve

Tucked away in Northern New Mexico, Vermejo is like a guest ranch-meets-wildlife sanctuary. Sitting on 550,000 acres of pristine nature, Vermejo has a wide range of accommodation options, including mountain-top lodges, turn-of-the-century mansions, log cabins and romantic cottages. But aside from the property, the true draw of Vermejo is its surrounding beauty, which is home to over 1,200 wild bison, 30 miles of glittering streams, 19 lakes that are perfect for fly-fishing, and a slew of other wildlife, including elk, mountain lions and black bears. It comes as no surprise that Vermejo is committed to wildlife and environmental conservation, working to protect endangered species (like the black-footed ferret) and to improve the upper Vermejo River watershed.

Fora Perks:

  • $100 resort credit.

  • Daily breakfast buffet.

  • Choice of beer / wine at a scenic location after afternoon activity.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

The Lodge & Spa Brush Creek Ranch, WY

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Image courtesy of The Lodge & Spa Brush Creek Ranch

When you read an article about the best hotels in the American West, you expect a dude ranch vacation where you’ll be donning cowboy hats and boots. Thankfully, Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming delivers on that expectation. At this all-inclusive stay, you’ll find luxury accommodations on a 30,000-acre working ranch. Expect to find yourself surrounded by rolling prairies, rising mountains and babbling brooks as you tip your cowboy hat and ride your horse across the windswept plains into the sunset. If horseback riding is not your speed, don’t fret. Brush Creek boasts many family-friendly activities that tap into the ranch experience, from fly-fishing to trail rides to cooking classes. But by far, the cutest activity is their Lil’ Wrangler experience, where the kiddos can try their hand at being a cowboy (or cowgirl) with some dude ranch excitement such as pond fishing, ranger-led tours, pony rides and — of course — wrangling. 

Fora Perks:

  • $100 resort credit.

  • Daily breakfast.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

The Green O, MT

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Image courtesy of The Green O

First off, I have to give props to The Green O for its cheeky name. Found in the town of Greenough, Montana (I see what you did there), the name is not only a nod to the location but also to the stunning greenery that envelopes this hidden ranch. This sophisticated woodland getaway is the adults-only, romantic gem from the creators of Paws Up, the family-adored ranch that sits on the same property (though the Green O is delightfully removed).  Set amidst verdant forests about an hour outside Missoula, this collection of 12 standalone houses boast floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the surrounding wilderness. The Green O is meant to inspire relaxation, with activities such as horseback riding (this is Montana, after all) and fly-fishing. But of all the Green O offers, their culinary prowess at the on-site Social Haus steals the show. 

Fora Perks:

  • $300 activity credit.

  • Daily breakfast.

  • Complimentary bottle of wine.

  • Extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Ranch at Rock Creek, MT

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Image courtesy of the Ranch at Rock Creek

Another Montana stay worth checking out is the 5-star Ranch at Rock Creek. This luxury dude ranch is all-inclusive and offers 29 one-of-a-kind accommodations, such as glamping cabins, converted barns and a granite lodge. This vacation destination offers seasonal activities, whether you’re hiking with the kiddos or trying out a rope course in the summer, or snowmobiling in the winter. Found in western Montana, near Philipsburg’s town, Rock Creek was originally a working ranch and homestead in the early 1900s. Today, this resort combines the culture of a dude ranch with outdoor adventures exploring the surrounding mountains, forests and meadows. 

Fora Perks:

  • $100 resort credit.

  • Daily breakfast.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi

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Image courtesy of Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi

In the heart of Santa Fe, the Rosewood is a living celebration of the American Southwest, from its colorful, textile-filled interiors to its fusion cuisine. Accommodations are inspired by the region’s unique pueblo architecture and design, with fresh, white-on-white decor accented by color Native American textiles and wooden exposed beams. When not exploring Santa Fe’s artisan workshops or admiring the surrounding scenery by bright-blue bicycles or open-air electric cars (the hotel provides both for rental), guests can dine at the hotel’s numerous handsome restaurants. A favorite is the Patio restaurant, which offers great people-watching on the hotel’s historic plaza and an elevated Taco Tuesday. Tequila enthusiasts won’t want to miss a special tasting at the fabled ‘tequila table,’ where rare elixirs are expertly paired with seasonal dishes.

Fora Perks:

  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Daily breakfast.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Sage Lodge, Montana

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Image courtesy of Sage Lodge

Nestled in Montana’s Paradise Valley on the banks of the Yellowstone River, Sage Lodge is beloved for its cozy atmosphere and plentiful outdoor adventures. This luxury lodge offers accommodation  in the form of  lodge houses and ranch-style cabins, with magnificent views on the mountains, spa treatments and Montana-inspired meals. When it comes to outdoor activities, Sage Lodge offers private Yellowstone tours year-round, fly fishing, horseback riding, hot air balloon rides and helicopter tours. If you are looking to leave the area, you can drive 35 minutes to Yellowstone National Park, spend the day hiking Pine Creek Falls and visit one of the many hot springs nearby. Once you’ve had your fill of outdoor activities, indulge in Sage Lodge’s top-notch, Montana-inspired cuisine with ingredients sourced from local farms. 

Fora Perks:

  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Daily breakfast.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Kimpton Armory Hotel Bozeman

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Image courtesy of Kimpton Armory Hotel Bozeman

The Kimpton Armory sits on the corner of Cowboy coolness and high-touch style. The heritage Art Deco building is located in the heart of Bozeman, Montana, which is known as an up-and-coming cultural capital of the West – and the Kimpton certainly fits in. Interiors are designed with handsome leather and earth tones, both in the inviting public spaces and sophisticated rooms. Head to the basement bar for live music and great whiskey, or upstairs to the rooftop Sky Shed. This light-filled, cozy-meets-industrial-style lodge offers great views of downtown. And did I mention the outdoor swimming pool? 

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Author - Henley Vazquez

    Henley Vazquez

    Henley Vazquez is the co-founder of Fora and a seasoned travel advisor. She's built her career through fostering meaningful relationships and developing opportunities for her community. A self-proclaimed hotel junkie, Henley is driven by match-making the perfect property to each traveler's unique style.