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Alternatives abound for nonskiers in Ski Country

A cabin at the Home Ranch in Clark, Colo.
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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

The hardest part of any ski trip is keeping everyone happy.

There always seems to be at least one nonskier, or at the minimum someone who skis at a quite different level. Some only like to ski when it's sunny and warm. Others want to be mixing up the powder the minute it falls.

Throw in different generations going on the trip and you have a whole host of issues. After all, if you don't ski, there is only so much shopping and drinking that can be done.

Some Western dude ranches, however, are filling the void with packages that give skiers and nonskiers alike some luxurious and adventurous options outside of the traditional mountain-resort setting.

From adaptations of more traditional summer activities such as horseback riding, fishing  even ziplining  to snowshoeing, dog sledding and sleigh riding, dude ranches such as the Home Ranch and Vista Verde near Steamboat Springs, Colo., and the Lone Mountain Ranch and the 320 Guest Ranch in Big Sky, Mont., have a little something for everyone.

All are close to popular ski resorts, making them perfect alternative getaways for small groups, families or even couples who simply want to mix it up a bit on their ski trips.

Just 18 miles from Steamboat Springs, the Home Ranch in Clark, Colo., bills itself as "one of the finest all-inclusive winter vacations on Planet Earth." 

With a lodge and eight family-size cabins, it offers roundtrip transfers daily to the slopes for die-hard downhill skiers, along with other activities that include horseback riding, going out by sleigh to help feed the ranch's more than 100 horses, snowshoe and cross-country ski excursions, skating and back-country skiing, snow tubing and sleigh rides. There is gourmet dining available for every meal.

Nearby is the Vista Verde, which offers a host of similar all-inclusive activities, as well as yoga and fat-biking adventures.

Both can also arrange additional excursions with local outfitters for winter fly-fishing on the Yampa River, driving a dog team or snowmobiling.

In Montana, not far from Big Sky, Lone Mountain Ranch offers similar packages with shuttles to the downhill ski trails and options such as morning yoga and sleigh-ride dinners.

Lone Mountain Ranch, as well as the nearby historic 320 Guest Ranch, also offers snowcoach tours of winter in Yellowstone National Park and can help book a host of activities, from dog sledding to fly-fishing and ziplining.

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