For a truly memorable vacation, nothing beats a Western cattle drive. Straight from the big screen, these working cattle drives, offered through various accredited members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association, transform a movie moment into a real-life vacation experience unlike any other. Please do not confuse the “Big Screen” with “Reality TV” as it is my opinion that a recent reality TV show inaccurately portrayed what vacationing at a DRA “working ranch” is all about. All DRA working ranches are about YOU, the guest, having the time of your life while learning skills that cowboys use to be successful ranchers.
The wranglers that work on these ranches are some of the most knowledgeable folks in this field. Having been in the business for over 11 years, I know firsthand that “Western Hospitality” comes first and foremost on any DRA-accredited ranch, and as such I can assure you there will be no yelling, no name calling and no belittling. All these ranches have made the decision to add the guest experience to their working ranch operation so they can share this wonderful way of life with folks who would not normally get a chance to experience it. They love what they do and it shows. What a guest will really experience on one of these ranches is nothing short of amazing.
The cattle drive experience varies from ranch to ranch, with some ranches providing only two drives (one in the spring and one in the fall) while others offer cattle drives almost every day. The purpose of the drives, however, is universal: to move cattle from one location to another without losing any animals along the way. Guided by expert wranglers, cattle drive participants shoulder important responsibilities as they keep the herd together, chase down stragglers and stay on the move. For just a taste of the cowpoke life, dude ranch visitors can participate in cattle drives that last only a few hours. When cattle need fresh water, new grass or simply a change of pace, a cattle drive is the answer, and on working dude ranches, guests saddle up with the hired hands to make things happen. Multi-day cattle drives fill the urge for the more adventurous to get a taste the true Western experience. These drives often include river crossings, mountain riding and range roaming as the herd travels miles from one location to another. Of course, long days of riding are rewarded with evenings of fly fishing, card playing, and other rest and relaxation—just like in the days of the real cowboy. Cattle drives appeal to riders of all levels, although some riding experience is obviously beneficial.
However, there’s no better way to improve riding skills and abilities than to spend a day in the saddle riding with a purpose. The exhilaration of combining real work with real pleasure is impossible to ignore, and nothing beats riding herd in the broad expanse of the Wild West. Of course, no cattle drive is complete without plenty of good food, and every DRA member provides outstanding cowboy cuisine. After a day on the range, ranch guests love the hearty meals, down home entertainment and cozy Cowboy Chic lodging that are the hallmarks of every dude ranch experience. The next time you are looking for an adventure, a unique experience or a time to reconnect with nature, we invite you to explore our accredited working ranches which are sure to both challenge and revive your body, spirit and mind.
The Dude Ranchers’ Association was formed in 1926 to preserve this special way of life and the wonderful environment in which dude ranching takes place. When you vacation at a Dude Ranchers’ Association Dude Ranch, you can be sure of a quality vacation. Membership in the Association is a rigorous two year inspection and approval process, to assure that guests are treated to genuine western hospitality combined with the lodging industry’s highest standards. Our Dude Ranches offer all-inclusive vacations that are perfect for everyone, from the littlest rancher to Grandpa and Grandma. Horseback riding, hiking, petting zoos, swimming holes, rodeos, fishing, games, skeet shooting, archery, art classes, cooking classes and more await your discovery on your next Dude Ranch Vacation. Horses, Hats, History and Hospitality – they’re the foundation of every ranch. There is a little cowboy in all of us… come find yours…