Folks who are seeking to reconnect with their kids or who are seeking to strengthen family bonds are turning to a special type of vacation that fosters close family ties, a dude ranch vacation. Like previous generations, today’s families are learning about the wonderful hidden value of the simpler, caring way of life found on a dude ranch. They are learning that dude ranches are extra friendly places for kids and families to re-discover each other. Out on the ranch folks are cut off from their usual distractions of TV, phones, computers and electronic games. No car pools, no housework, no evening business meetings. Removed from their usual activities, families find new ways to relate. We have repeatedly seen families doing such novel things as taking an evening walk and talking to each other or playing old-time children’s games on the lawn in front of the lodge. These days it is a rare treat to see such joy and laughter on the faces of an entire family as we do on dude ranches. The new adventures and exciting experiences that fill dude ranch days are the positive types of shared experiences that build healthy family bonds and a sense of togetherness that enable us all to weather the more difficult times in life. To watch a father and son gain new respect for each other as they ride the trails together can warm the heart of the toughest ranch hand.

At the same time, the gurgle of a mountain stream and the cheerful song of a Meadow Lark do much to heal the soul and calm nerves frazzled by the demanding ring of a telephone or the current uneasiness in the day’s news. Returning to nature and a hundred year old, simple, honest way of life seems to wash away those unsavory layers of stress that have become an almost accepted part of modern life. A natural process of unwinding that helps guests to slow down and begin to discover the wonders around them and those within themselves and their families starts when they first set foot on a dude ranch.

Moving as one with your horses through a mountain meadow touched by the morning dew and alive with the brilliance of spring wildflowers seems to lift the spirits and heal the wounds of modern life like no amount of psychotherapy can. Sharing stories of the day’s activities in the warmth of a fading sunset, while awaiting the dinner bell on the lodge porch, somehow fosters friendships and family ties that last through the years. Quiet talks on evening walks through the meadow help to bring families closer together than they have been for years.