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10 Surprising Dude Ranch Activities

Does “dude ranch” conjure images of office workers doffing their Dockers in favor of denim? Do you envision time in the saddle, or sleeping under the stars, and think it might be fun for a day or two … but you’re not sure about an entire vacation? There’s good news for travelers who would like a taste of the dude ranch experience blended with a heaping serving of other vacation-type activities.

Today’s dude ranches cater to a diverse crowd – from families to couples to singles – with activities, attractions and services that travel far beyond the trail. “While dude ranches still provide that one-of-a-kind ‘cowboy-style’ vacation you can’t find anywhere else, many have also expanded their offerings to appeal to the diverse and discriminating tastes of today’s traveler. So if you’re considering a dude ranch vacation and would like to spend time out of the saddle…

Consider these 10 surprising things to do on today’s dude ranches:

1. Get a massage or spa treatment

Hotels and resorts around the world have hopped on the spa bandwagon, spending millions to build lavish facilities or offer massage, salon and spa services. Many dude ranches now offer comparable services, like White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona where guests can indulge in a massage and much more.

2. Take a yoga class

Many ranches that offer spa services also provide yoga classes and training. Before a long day in the saddle, guests can have a relaxing limbering-up session with certified trainers.

Smith Fork Wine Tasting

3. Indulge in a wine-tasting

Gourmet cuisine and wine paring are gaining popularity at dude ranches and the wine list at the Smith Fork Ranch offers varied choices. They have chosen some favorites from their private cellar as well as other specific vintages from wineries they admire. Wines from the premiere growing regions of France, Italy, Australia and America’s West Coast are represented, as well as Colorado’s own fine wine country just a short distance northwest of the ranch. Above all we want you to enjoy a wine that is a perfect match with the cuisine our chef prepares for you.

4. Get married

Picturesque settings, wide open spaces and top-notch amenities draw thousands of brides-to-be and their grooms to dude ranches each year. Some dude ranches even offer personal wedding planners to assist couples in planning every facet of their special day – a leading-edge service you would expect to find in the finest hotels or resorts. At Sylvan Dale Ranch, you can even rent the entire ranch for your event.

5. White Water Rafting

Three Bars Guest Ranch offers weekly white water rafting tours on the St. Mary’s River. Rafting down this unspoiled natural stone stream allows you to explore the river from a unique perspective. They put in only a 10-minute drive from the ranch. After a quick safety talk you will board the rafts and travel eight miles down this Class II and Class III River. The trip winds through the St. Mary’s Valley and past the ranch to the pull-out location, just a 5-minute drive from the ranch.

Three Bars Ranch white water rafting

6. Shooting Sports

At Red Horse Mountain Ranch, you’ll be given instruction and will be participating in a safely controlled environment. Shooters will be provided with the opportunity to have a lot of fun, to learn some things about shooting, and be challenged. There are 5 stations, each providing their own unique targets. The routine is much like golf; shooters will be starting in small groups, which move from station to station. Our Sporting Clay course has made good use of thick brush, steep terrain and other natural features to make the shooting both difficult and realistic. Our Sporting Clays course will have everything to fit your needs, including shells, different shotguns, shooting glasses, ear protection, vests, pouches, and of course a guide and trapper.

7. Perform in a Talent Show

Friendly competition can be found in many forms on dude ranches, from roping contests to talent shows. If lassoing a speeding calf isn’t your forte, you can sing, tap or joke your way to local stardom in a talent show.

8. Ride a Zip Line

The Bar Lazy J Ranch has one of Colorado’s longest and fastest zip lines and is the only one that crosses the Colorado River. The zip line starts on a steep bluff overlooking the Colorado River dropping 82 feet in elevation as it crosses the river, through the trees and across a pasture to the landing platform. You will be zipping along at speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour. This activity is for guests ages 13 and up.

Bar Lazy J Ranch Activities Zipline


Dude Ranchers’ Association

To browse our member ranchers by activity, use our find a ranch tool. There are plenty of fun dude ranch activities for you and your travel companions to take part in!