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When the temperature cools, the pace slows at many Western dude ranches, where snowy landscapes beckon guests to embrace winter with peaceful sleigh rides, relaxing spa treatments, and comforting cuisine. “To me, it’s like you’re coming home to your warm, cozy cabin,” says Cory Untch, executive chef of Granby’s C Lazy U Ranch. Here, three all-inclusive properties with stellar culinary programs to visit this holiday season and beyond.
C Lazy U Ranch
Travelers return to 103-year-old C Lazy U Ranch year after year for its high-end but down-home cabins and lodge rooms, horsemanship clinics, 8,500 acres of serene Grand County terrain, and polished fare. Start each morning with a cup of cowboy coffee, prepared in a percolator over an open fire by one of the destination’s hat- and boot-clad wranglers. Then, after a day of private, on-site tubing, cross-country skiing, or unwinding at the spa, guests can refuel with the ranch’s hearty wood-fired cuisine paired with a deep wine list of sips from around the world. Dishes such as bison-stuffed short rib meatloaf and duck confit are accompanied by decadent family-style sides such as truffled corn casserole and brown butter carrot confit. Starting at $587 per person, per night
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Vista Verde Ranch
Each winter, a thick layer of snow blankets nearly 600-acre Vista Verde Ranch, situated north of Steamboat Springs in the tiny town of Clark. There, executive chef and food and beverage director Jonathon Gillespie and his team transform ingredients, many of which are sourced from the Centennial State, into soul-warming meals such as short rib ravioli, dry-aged racks of Colorado lamb, and vegetarian stew made with butternut squash and sweet potato. The ranch’s fan-favorite cured salmon—made by marinating a whole side of salmon in lime zest, coriander, mustard seed, cilantro, brown sugar, and tequila—is so popular that returning guests demand it stays on the menu. The kitchen has an open-door policy, so guests can wander in at any time to glean a few tricks of the trade, and they can also take weekly, rotating cooking classes or simply enjoy beer and wine tastings. Starting at $2,295 per person for three nights
Brush Creek Ranch
Epicurean experiences take center stage at this working cattle ranch nestled in southern Wyoming’s North Platte River Valley, making it a destination worth crossing state lines to visit. In fact, it is home to a licensed goat dairy and creamery, distillery, 20,000-square-foot greenhouse, 30,000-bottle wine cellar, and subterranean speakeasy. Ranchers also pamper more than 200 head of wagyu cattle, and when the time is right, chefs dry-age the beef into melt-in-your-mouth steaks. Along with taking powder runs on a private ski mountain and trail rides on horseback, guests can don aprons and learn new culinary skills during cooking and baking classes. Private sommelier-led tastings and cuddle sessions with Alpine, Nubian, and Nigerian goats are also on the menu. Starting at $1,250 per person, per night