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With a 'yeehaa' and a twirl of the lasso, the classic American ranch remains one seriously enticing option for travellers pining for a real escape to nature. Like the star-spangled answer to Europe's agritourism stays, they offer you a chance to get your hands dirty, to get stuck into farm life, to surround yourself with wild landscapes and to balance out those big cities vibes with a good old dose of backcountry.
Ranches are the place to go to channel your inner cowboy. Detached from the concrete jungles of major metropolises, they sit out in the dusty hinterlands. Many occupy spots in the fabled Wild West region, with rock-ribbed canyons and toppling hoodoos, spikey cacti and boulder-speckled bluffs the backdrop you can expect. Others sit on verdant Texan plains, forever enjoying the sounds of babbling creeks, neighing stallions and the swaying oak groves of the nearby woods and forests.
For outdoorsy types, there might be nothing that can beat the pull of the ranch. Encompassed by nature, you'll never be too far from an enticing trailhead or a mountain biking path, a horse riding route or a craggy summit that's just asking to be conquered. Just take the isolated Sevier River Ranch & Cattle Company in Utah. Its rustic cabins will place you in equidistance from the ochre-hued towers of Bryce Canyon and the chiselled gorges of the Dixie National Forest – 2 of America's greatest wildernesses.
But a rustic setting doesn't mean ranches have to be rustic. There's also a distinct touch of luxury to many of these sorts of stays. There's 4 stars for the sumptuous Joshua Creek Ranch in San Antonio, for example. Its grand timber halls house richly-decorated lounges, the rooms come with flat-screen TVs and there's hearty American frontier architecture throughout.
Other ranches crank up the opulence even more. Take the Tanque Verde Ranch that sits between the cacti-peppered hills of Arizona. That's built in the Mexicana adobe style and is home to a duo of bubbling hot tubs, romantic private rooms with fireplaces and all-American diners to boot. And it's a similar story at the White Stallion Ranch, where an outdoor pool and a gym add an extra layer of service, while the interiors are laden with evocative Wild West art and sculpture, not to mention roaring fireplaces and 'come-sit-in-me' sofas.
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