More than 60 member ranches from across the Western United States and Canada, are expected to ride into Cody, Wyo., to attend the 90th anniversary of the Dude Ranchers’ Association.
The DRA was founded in Cody in 1926 and has since grown to more than 100 members. The Convention will kick off a yearlong celebration of the DRA’s 90th anniversary. Guest and dude ranches have played a significant role in Wyoming’s history for more than 100 years. High demand for a nostalgic frontier experience offered first at Wyoming ranches, and then other ranches throughout the region, led to the founding of the DRA in Cody.
Attendees at this year’s Convention will exchange ideas about how to continue exceeding the highest standards within the dude ranching industry and promote the Western ranch vacation. Seminars will discuss topics related to the various aspects of the dude ranching and hospitality industries, such as new vendor introductions, marketing initiatives and risk management.
The DRA has scheduled an impressive line-up of speakers for this year’s convention, including David Pollard, professional speaker with Fred Pryor Seminars; Jon Albert, Founder, Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation; Rainer Jensen, Founder, Family Travel Association; Nancy Schretter, Publisher, Family Travel Network; Larissa Milne, travel writer and business consultant; Leah Knepper, Associate Vice President, French/West/Vaughan; M. Cole Bormuth, Estate Planning Law Specialist, Bormuth Law; and Sarah Bachman, Lawyer, Bormuth Law.
True to the spirit of authentic Western hospitality, the convention’s programming includes plenty of opportunities for fun, with a ‘50s and ‘60s-theme dinner at Bud’s Drive in Sock Hop, a special reception at the Educational Trust Museum and dining and dancing at the Historical Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel. The convention will also host the annual Dude Ranchers’ Educational Trust Auction, which seeks to preserve the history of Dude Ranching by maintaining a museum, archives and scholarships for educating the public on the historical nature of the dude ranching industry.
“We look forward to our annual convention every year, but this year is extra special for us since we are celebrating such a significant milestone,” said Colleen Hodson, Executive Director of the DRA. “We are proud to have spent the past 90 years introducing guests from all over the world to the Western way of life and look forward to continue doing so for years to come.”
Created in 1926, the DRA is the official governing body of the West’s dude ranch industry and was founded to preserve, protect and promote the unique experience and identity of a dude ranch vacation. In September of 1926, the first official association meeting was held and attended by 32 ranchers, railroad and national park officials. During the two-day meeting, attendees discussed initial objectives including standardizing dude ranch practices, transportation and proper care of guests.
Over the past 90 years, vacation expectations have shifted, and the DRA and its member ranches have evolved their offerings to fit with changing times. All of the Association’s 100+ member ranches have completed a rigorous two-year inspection and approval process. Members represent a broad spectrum of guest ranches across North America, ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches offering five-star cuisine and spa treatments.
True to the spirit of authentic Western hospitality, today’s guest ranch experience includes plenty of opportunities for fun and entertainment for families of all sizes, ages, ability levels and interests. This “original Western Adventure vacation” introduces the unique beauty of the American West and seeks to foster dude ranch heritage and passion for wild nature. From horseback riding to overnight pack trips, hunting trips to cattle drives, there are plenty of ways to explore the outdoors at a dude ranch. Guests can also enjoy hiking and nature walks, interacting with the ranch’s animals at their petting zoos, fishing, archery and more.
Today’s guest ranches also offer plenty of activities for those interested in going beyond the saddles and cowboy boots, including programs catered to photographers, foodies, artists, wine aficionados and more. Guests can even mix their love for the rustic outdoors with luxury amenities such as massage services, hot tubs, and workout facilities and classes.
About the Dude Ranchers’ Association
Dude ranches are the original Western vacation. The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) was founded to preserve, protect and promote this unique vacation experience and its identity. Though guest expectations have changed and ranchers have had to change with them, the core principles of dude ranching remain the same: horses, hats, hospitality, heritage, honesty and heart. The DRA was founded in 1926 and currently has more than 100 accredited members, all of which are required to uphold the highest quality and standards within the dude ranching industry. For more information on the DRA or individual ranches, visit duderanch.org. The DRA can also be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DudeRanchers, Twitter @DudeRanchers and Instagram @duderanchersassociation.