Would you like to escape your mundane, urban life and experience the Great Outdoors? The best way to experience America’s beautiful countryside is on a dude ranch vacation. 

Staying on a working ranch is a wonderful experience for anyone who feels stuck in the rat race at home. At a dude ranch, you and your whole family can enjoy horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing, white-water rafting, kayaking, swimming, camping, hiking, and any other popular outdoor activity you can imagine. 

Whatever you enjoy doing in the wilderness, you’ll find a dude ranch that caters to your needs.

Dude Ranch Vacation

#1. Horseback riding

If you like horses, you’ll love the feeling of freedom you experience horseback riding along a trail. Horseback riding is the core activity at the DRA dude ranches. Whether you’ve never sat upon a horse before or you’ve competed in the Kentucky Derby, you’ll find a guest ranch that’s perfect for you and your interests.

Check out all the guest ranches affiliated with the Dude Ranchers Association. Many ranches provide special programs to educate kids (and interested adults) in horse care and horse-riding skills. You’ll find patient instructors for beginners and professional coaches for more experienced equestrians. Just select what you’re looking for on the association website. 

Take Tanque Verde Ranch in Arizona as an example. Tanque Verde is a multiple award-winning resort that has operated as a dude ranch for over 150 years. It is located adjacent to Coronado National Forest and Saguaro National Park. 

At Tanque Verde, you can experience riding across breathtaking desert landscapes in the shade of the Rincon Mountains. As well as providing horse riding instruction and trail riding, Tanque Verde also makes a great base for hiking, mountain biking, and fishing.  

Dude Ranch Vacation

#2. Campfire sing-a-longs

No childhood is complete without a campfire sing-a-long. A guest ranch is a wonderful place to take your kids so they can get closer to nature and enjoy wonderful cultural experiences like this. 

And if your childhood didn’t include one, it’s time to catch up now. A campfire out in the wilderness near a dude ranch is a great way to experience the quiet of the great outdoors but with the security of knowing civilization isn’t too far away.

Without the light pollution of the big city, the skies are clear, and the stars are bright. With the eeriness of the city a thousand miles away, you can wander off into the night and walk under the open skies.

If you’re an amateur astronomer, don’t forget to take along your telescope. A guest ranch is the perfect location for stargazing. Especially when the ranch is up high on a mountain range, and the stars are a few thousand feet nearer. 

Dude Ranch Vacation

#3. Mountain biking

Mountain biking is a great way to get fit. Biking gives you a great cardio workout and doesn’t put too much strain on your joints. And biking in the countryside provides you with a wonderful change of scenery. 

Many dude ranches are located in mountainous regions and near state or national parks, so they make a fantastic base for mountain biking adventures. The best thing is that the biking trails near many guest ranches aren’t located near cities and crowded. You’ll be out in the wilderness, enjoying amazing scenery, and breathing the fresh mountain air. 

You can hire a mountain bike at some dude ranches, but you’ll probably feel more comfortable using your own. To transport your bike safely to the ranch, consider purchasing a bike travel bag

4UR Ranch is a historic guest ranch located in a stunning valley in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. They have provided accommodation and trail riding to guests for over 120 years. And with the Rocky Mountains on the doorstep, you can enjoy fantastic mountain biking experiences.

Dude Ranch Vacation

#4. Fishing

Not everyone escapes to the countryside to go on long trail rides. Some people want to pursue a more relaxing activity that still gets them out into nature. Fly fishing is a perfect way to spend time beside the water on lakes or rivers. And many dude ranches offer private ponds, lakes, or riverbanks for eager anglers.

For example, Allen’s Diamond 4 Ranch in Wyoming is located right next to the Wind River and within easy reach of hundreds of alpine lakes stocked with wild trout. The fly fishing there is world-class, and with so many fishing spots to choose from and so few people out there in Dickinson Park and Shoshone National Forest, you’re spoiled for choice. 

Dude Ranch Vacation

#5. White water rafting and kayaking

Adrenaline junkies can find lots of activities to enjoy on a dude ranch. With so many guest ranches located near mountains and fast-flowing rivers, lots of guest ranches offer white water rafting or kayaking experiences. 

Some of these Class III and Class IV rapids are undiscovered by the majority of water sports enthusiasts. If you search through the list of dude ranches in America, you’ll find many that make wonderful bases for a thrilling water-borne adventure.

And you’ll often find other unique water-based experiences at dude ranches. Many offer gold panning, and swimming in private ponds is fairly common. Whatever you love to do on the water, you can do it at a guest ranch.

Marble Mountain Ranch in California specializes in rafting and riding vacations. They offer excellent equestrian instruction programs, trail riding, and white-water rafting. These adventures all occur in California’s Klamath National Forest, where the views of granite ridges and deep river valleys are stunning.

Embrace life and live a little!

As you can see, there are many great activities you can enjoy at a dude ranch. It’s a way you can safely enjoy a Wild West experience. On a guest ranch, you’ll definitely have a vacation you never forget. For more information or assistance in selecting the right dude ranch for you, contact the Dude Ranchers’ Association at info@duderanch.org! With almost 100 years of experience and over 95 ranches to choose from, we will help find the right ranch for you! 

This article was written in partnership with Outsidepursuits.com.

Dude Ranch Vacation