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Top Dude Ranches

After an unseasonably long winter (which lasted into the first few weeks of spring), it’s hard not to dream of open skies and lying out under the stars. The Western U.S. has a lot of great ranches where you can live out your cowboy fantasies and get your fill of the Great Outdoors. Descriptions courtesy of Virtuoso’s Best of the Best catalogue.

The Resort at Paws Up

Known as “The Last Best Place,” The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, Montana, may be just that. A pristine escape in the Rocky Mountains, taking full advantage of the Big Sky countryside, this wilderness outpost offers something for all energy levels. Explore the land on horseback, cast a fly for trout or simply indulge in spa treatments at Spa Town. As for accommodations, you can choose from 28 luxurious vacation homes, or you can experience upscale camping in one of 36 luxury tents, with decadent furnishings, your own private bathroom and even the services of a Camping Butler. It's nature served on a silver platter.

Triple Creek Ranch

Triple Creek Ranch, in Darby, Mont., is renowned for offering innovative, all-inclusive guest experiences. One can return time and time again and never have the same vacation twice. There is so much to do at this award-winning adults-only hideaway in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana that you won't know what to try first. Perhaps you'll learn to fly-fish on a scenic float down the river. Or maybe join the ranch staff to drive cattle. Of course, there's a hefty dose of luxury included, from elegant cuisine and fine wines to a wood-burning fireplace and private hot tub at the cabin.

The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch

Go wild in style at The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyoming. Through its front gates lie 30,000 unspoiled acres, where you can reclaim a sense of independence while riding trails, driving cattle, fly-fishing or hiking 12,000-foot Medicine Bow Peak. The adventures at this all-inclusive, authentic working cattle ranch are near-endless. Accommodations include 42 luxurious, timbered rooms, with open-hearth fireplaces and plush amenities. Families can spread out in 19th-century, restored log cabins with decks, full kitchens + expansive views, or stay at the upscale Magee Homestead, exclusively for adults 21 and over.

The Ranch at Rock Creek

Surrounded by 6,600 acres of ranchland, The Ranch at Rock Creek offers an all-inclusive “True West” experience complete with breathtaking scenery and activities as limitless as the Philipsburg, Mont., sky. Take advantage of long summer days to fly-fish, ride horseback or hike. Winter activities include snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and horse-drawn sleigh rides. Accommodations comprise nine Western-themed guestrooms in The Granite Lodge, multi-bedroom log homes and luxurious canvas cabins on Rock Creek. Prime organic beef, elk, bison and fresh fish grace the table in the evening, along with vegetables and herbs grown in gardens on-site.

Ladder Ranch

Ted Turner operates his empire by a simple motto, “Save Everything,” and once you lay eyes on Ladder Ranch, you’ll understand why. The conservationist has diligently preserved the diverse ecosystems comprising his 150,000-acre Ladder Ranch, in south-central New Mexico; the four tributaries of the Rio Grande that traverse the land support abundant flora and fauna, like historic bison. Turner’s five-bedroom family home features personal mementos; an on-site chef prepares meals to your taste. Expeditions are individually crafted and all activities are included in your stay.

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