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6 Things to Know Before Booking a Dude Ranch Stay

A common misconception when it comes to a dude ranch vacation is that it is a working vacation, as in you are paying to work as a ranch hand. Not so, my friends. In fact, a dude ranch vacation is one of the most relaxing vacations you can take. Take it from me and my family — who now have experienced three dude ranch vacations — and look forward to our next!  Your dude ranch stay will move at a pace that best suits the guest, and in this fast-paced world, it is  a gift to be able to take advantage of such a schedule.

You won’t be roughing it….unless you really want to.



Take a look at one of the cabin’s at Rawah Guest Ranch Photo Credit: Allison Taylor


With three dude ranch vacations under our belts, I can safely say that my family’s experiences were the farthest thing from being rustic.

One of the dude ranches my family stayed at was C Lazy U Ranch. The cabins featured heated tile floors in the bathrooms, luxuriously high thread count sheets, and a plush living area begging for a book to be read on it’s oversized couch.

Often, ranches will offer the option of going on an overnight camping trip should you want to get up close and personal with nature. Even those aren’t terribly strenuous because a guide from the ranch helps with the entire camping experience, taking away the roughing it aspect.


The food is often the best you’ve ever had.

The Food at Rawah Ranch

One of our favorite meals at Rawah Guest Ranch! Photo Credit: Allison Taylor 


My husband and I loved the food so much at Rawah Guest Ranch, that we have attempted to recreate some of the recipes at home. Our favorite meal was chicken fried chicken with jalapeno gravy and mashed potatoes. What’s better? The food at Rawah Ranch was so good that my kids were willing to try dishes that took them outside of their comfort zones, like lamb chops!

The food may just very well be the highlight of the three dude ranch vacations we experienced. The portions were large and hearty, a good thing because often days on a dude ranch are packed with physical activities.

Horse lover? Good news, you will love the dude ranch life!


Yes, a large component of most dude ranches involve horses, but you don’t have to be a horse lover in order to have the time of your life. A dude ranch offers a wide variety of activities that if you don’t ever want to come into contact with a horse, it is possible to steer clear!

For me, the horse component of the vacation was my favorite part. I grew up riding horses, so I am very comfortable on the back of a horse. But even for those less experienced, guests at dude ranches are matched by skill level.

When we visited Rawah Guest Ranch with our children, the staff went above and beyond helping them learn the correct techniques for riding. My oldest participated on a trail ride right away, but my youngest spent time in the arena under the watchful eye of an instructor before allowing him to join a family trail ride. Once he graduated to that level, he was so proud of all that he accomplished.


A dude ranch vacation will broaden your horizons

Fly Fishing on a Dude Ranch

Who Knew I would like fly fishing so much?! Photo Credit: Allison Taylor


Often, when my family takes a trip, we go to our old standby spots. This wasn’t the case for us when we chose to go to a dude ranch. We tried activities that we hadn’t ever thought of trying before. In fact, I found that I really enjoyed (and was quite good at) using a compound bow for target shooting. My boys discovered they liked fly fishing better than the typical bank fishing that they are used to, the only problem is that they have been using their fly fishing skills on our family farm!

Some ranches are so remote that you will be able to totally disconnect.


Look, I know, for some, the mere thought of not having cell service or cable results in a panic attack. Unfortunately — and fortunately — some dude ranches are so remote that they do not have these luxuries. In fact the dude ranch we frequented the most does not have cell service, wifi, or cable and I highly recommend giving that experience a try!

Rawah Ranch offered my family the gift of “checking out.” My husband and I played board games with the kids and I read two books while we were there. And no one missed the TV for one moment! However, if you just can’t disconnect all the way, plenty of dude ranches are close enough to civilization that your email inbox won’t get out of control.


It is sure to be a trip that your family will talk about forever.


At least once a week, one of my children tells me that they want to hop on a plane and head back to the ranch that sold us on the wonders of a dude ranch vacation. We talk about our time on the ranch often with friends and family, I am sure by now that they wish we would stop talking about it already!

If a dude ranch vacation has been on your list of potential vacations to try, it is time to move it from something you have been considering to booking the trip!

Author: Allison Taylor,


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