Having a vacation is great, but it is even better to enjoy a vacation that respects the environment with the help of healthy practices. What does this mean? It means to have a great time and get the most of what nature provides without ruining its balance. We need time to relax and unwind, but it is worth knowing that we can do this without triggering a negative impact on the environment. There are already enough environmental issues these days and it is worth doing anything we can to minimize the impact of these issues on our environment.
If you are looking for eco-friendly vacations, it is worth knowing that dude ranches selected by the Dude Ranchers’ Association have their entire structure based on eco-tourism. They are dedicated to offering outstanding vacations while preserving natural ecosystems and teaching people how to enjoy their time without negatively impacting nature. By simply visiting a dude ranch, you will learn how to have fun while being eco-friendly, what to do to increase your recycling rates, and what practices to adopt for keeping nature intact. These ranches have been around for a while, but ever since they appeared, they have worked in perfect communion with nature. Now that they are accepting guests, things haven’t changed much, as these ranches are determined to teach people about ecologic responsibility and enjoying spare time in a responsible manner.
So, would you like to give eco-tourism a chance? Most certainly you will return home not just relaxed and refreshed, but also feeling much better about yourself, knowing you did something responsible to preserve the environment. Here is a list with some of the best dude ranches that promote eco-tourism and help guests enjoy the beauty of natural landscapes without triggering negative impacts.
1. Diamond D Ranch, Idaho
Still a family owned and operated business, the Diamond D Ranch will make you feel like part of the family, instead of just being a guest. This ranch is famous for the fact that it produces its own electricity, with the help of a hydro-electric generator. So, this self-sufficient farm has what it takes to allow you to enjoy a relaxing vacation while adopting a responsible attitude. You can enjoy horseback riding, fishing, pleasant walks to observe the birds and flora, fishing trips, or simply lounging by their outdoor pool. At mealtime, you will enjoy food just like you do back home. Everything is made by the hosts out of fresh ingredients and cooked like the dinner is made for their family. The atmosphere is very warm and friendly and living off the grid for a while can do wonders when it comes to replenishing your reserves of positive energy.
2. High Lonesome Ranch, Colorado
Back in the days, farms were capable of providing everything that was needed for a family to survive. The same happens at the High Lonesome Ranch in Colorado these days as well. Everything needed is still grown at the farm, so every dish made here contains only fresh ingredients that are grown on the premises. Following a farm-to-table philosophy, the food is slowly cooked, so that it preserves the flavor, savor, and nutritional value. But there are more reasons to visit this farm than the food it provides. This is the best dude ranch to visit if you want to vacation and learn more about environmental responsibility. While enjoying your stay at the ranch, you can acquire a lot of knowledge about the conservation of nature, sustainable development, restoration of streams, and many other valuable pieces of information. Staying at this ranch can literally change your life, once you find out what you can do to make the environment a cleaner and safer place.
3. Zapata Ranch, Colorado
The Zapata Ranch dedicates its entire activity to two main aspects. One is showing sufficient support to the ranching heritage specific to the West and the other is the conservation of natural landscapes and biodiversity in the area. If you really want to feel like being on a ranch while knowing that you’re doing something significant for the environment, you should visit the Zapata Ranch. Part of Nature Conservancy, this ranch deposits a consistent amount of effort into the preservation of ecosystems. A good example is the efforts deposited to transform a former golf course into what it once was, which means a pasture with native grass species, instead of a field of weeds. All the ecosystems and habitats from around the ranch are closely monitored and rehabilitation is done in a consistent manner. The goal is to give the area its pure beauty and maintain the local landscapes just as they were before mankind appeared in the area.
4. Flat Creek Ranch, Wyoming
This particular ranch was founded back in 1921. Ever since then, the main purpose of the ranch was to preserve the local landscapes and biodiversity. It functioned in communion with nature and respecting it, still doing the same decades after. It is worth mentioning that the ranch acquired the Business Emerald Sustainability Tier for the achieved sustainability performance level. Only one more business in Jackson Hole managed to acquire the BEST distinction. In order to receive BEST, a business must follow rigorous criteria concerning environmental protection and sustainability at community and economic levels. Flat Creek is a ranch that operates entirely off the grid, so it is easy to see why sustainability is such an important aspect for them. If you want to enjoy the pure natural beauty and daily activities that are done with respect and awareness for nature’s health, this is the best place to be.
5. Laramie River Ranch, Colorado
Everything about this ranch is about creating a sustainable existence and limiting the impact on the surrounding environment. Electricity comes from green sources, such as wind and solar generated energy, the vehicles used are chosen to be the kind that produces low emissions, and as many materials as possible are recycled. Also, both food and agricultural leftovers are transformed into precious compost, which is later used to fertilize the ranch’s crops. The ranch also does its best to maintain clean air and water around the ranch, by choosing machines that create less pollution and adopting practices meant to maintain the quality of water at high levels. So, if you choose to stay at this ranch, you know that everything is made in a manner meant to reduce negative effects on the environment.
6. Goosewing Ranch, Wyoming
This ranch has a very healthy view of how things should be made to keep the guests and community happy while preserving the environment. The ranch’s team closely monitors the impact their settlement produces on the surrounding environment and devotes constant efforts to increase their level of sustainability. The truth is that only ranches that work hard on reducing their “footprint” on the environment are selected to be part of the Dude Ranchers’ Association. The Goosewing Ranch made it due to the fact that it is indeed environmentally sustainable. The ranch recycles used motor oil by utilizing it for heating purposes and harvests its own timber, by choosing ill or dead trees, leaving the healthy ones to reign the forest. Waste is reduced by using anything that can be re-purposed instead of just throwing it away. Also, every staff member receives proper training in order to embrace the best practices for environmental protection.
7. Rocking Z Ranch, Montana
The Rocking Z Ranch is another eco-friendly dude ranch that is worth visiting. Waste management is very important here, by re-utilizing everything that is possible instead of simply throwing it away. Even the horseshoes receive a different purpose once they accomplished their purpose, becoming bridle racks for old barn wood, which are both transformed into beautiful photo frames. Besides this, the team at this ranch does everything it can to keep their daily activities clean for the environment. The irrigation pump runs on pure vegetable oil, the pump engine starts and gets cleaned with bio-diesel, and horses are fed with barley sprouted in a hydroponic system. If you want clean air and a clean environment during your vacation, this ranch has what it takes to provide all these and more.
Did you know that you have the power to change things? The Dude Ranchers’ Association supports sustainability through the Dude Ranch Foundation, created to protect and maintain land conservation. You can also be part of this plan and get involved too through the available membership program. It is your chance to contribute to a greener and cleaner tomorrow by joining a very dedicated team.
The popularity of eco-tourism has increased in recent times, as people become increasingly sensitive to the existent environmental issues. We cannot sit around and do nothing while the environment degrades every passing year. This translates in people’s desire to enjoy a cleaner vacation, with less impact on nature. Dude ranches have always been in great connection with nature and protected it from the beginning of their activity. These days, these ranches deposit efforts in teaching their guests in leading happier and healthier lives, while offering unforgettable vacations. Time spent at one of these ranches will show you that it is possible to have fun and enjoy all the comfort you can get, without posing a threat to the environment. Yes, technology may be less present over here, but the regained connection with yourself and nature are much more valuable than an Internet connection. Try an eco-friendly vacation at a dude ranch and you will never regret it.
Eco-tourism on Dude Ranch Vacations
This article was written in conjunction with Olivier James at Luxurytravelersguide.com