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Dude Ranch 101

Escape to Big Sky Country to Experience A Dude Ranch Vacation

Montana folks, the birth of Yellowstone and Kevin Costner 

Averill’s Flathead Lake Ranch (Bigfork, Montana)

trail ride

Flathead Lake Lodge is a third-generation family-owned and operated guest ranch on the shore of Flathead Lake in Bigfork, Montana. Founded in 1945 by Les Averill, the ranch combines lake recreation with a rich Western heritage. Offering all-inclusive stays, Flathead Lake Lodge operates from mid-May through mid-October and welcomes guests to play, explore and experience Montana on its 2,000 acres. All-inclusive activities include horseback riding, sailing, mountain biking, water recreation, live music, mountain-meadow steak fry, and more. The ranch offers weeklong family stays during the summer, as well as adult-only packages in the spring and fall. Flathead Lake Lodge is also an ideal location for destination weddings and corporate retreats.

Bar W Guest Ranch (Whitefish, Montana)

The Bar W is a small ranch that can host up to 60 guests per week. Being a smaller ranch gives them the ability to tailor their riding and activities each week to the interests and skill levels of guests. Horseback riding is their main activity and with their proximity to public land, we are able to ride on close to a million acres. You’ll find a variety of terrain, from prairies and wide-open spaces to mountain trails. In addition to trail rides, you can test your horsemanship skills with barrel racing and working cows during team penning and sorting.

Blacktail Ranch (Wolf Creek, Montana)

cattle in a field

The Blacktail Ranch is a Historic 8,000-acre jewel, located where the prairie meets the Rockies in Wolf Creek Montana. Founded in the late 1800s, the same family has lived and worked here ever since. This ranch has been operating as a guest ranch since the 1950s.

Bonanza Creek Guest Ranch (Martinsdale, Montana)

Bonanza Creek is a small guest ranch, with just 8 – 12 guests at a time, catering to those who love good horses, good riding, adventure, and personal attention. They are best known for their riding, cattle work, life-enhancing Cowgirl Retreats, and western hospitality. The ranch features adult-only weeks, intermediate and advanced rider weeks, as well as our life coaching Retreats.

Circle Bar Ranch (Hobson, Montana)

The Circle Bar Ranch is a historic guest ranch that dates back to the 1800s in central Montana. The 520-acre guest ranch sits at the base of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. Guests can explore the mountains by horseback, and enjoy fishing, hiking, shooting, archery, and other activities while staying in historic accommodations. Explore the surrounding area of the Judith River Headwaters and the Little Belt Mountains and ride where western artist Charlie Russell once rode. At 5000 feet in elevation, the Circle Bar enjoys the best of Montana’s weather with a host of activities to enjoy.

Covered Wagon Ranch (Gallatin Gateway, Montana)

Four generations ago each guest arrived here at Covered Wagon Ranch by way of stagecoach and Model T. Today descendants of some of those families still come to this Montana dude ranch to experience the mythic beauty of the Old West, in a region that is very nearly the same as it was in 1925 when the guest ranch first opened. Covered Wagon Ranch is one of the oldest continuously operating guest ranches in this canyon. Here you’ll stay in historic log cabins with their original 1920’s charm, complete with wood-burning stoves, rustic wood furniture, and private baths. You’ll enjoy great meals and pampered attention from ranch hosts who are happy to cater to your every need.

Elkhorn Ranch (Gallatin Gateway, Montana)

The Elkhorn Ranch is one of the few remaining traditional dude ranches where outdoor activities are the focus each day. They are a family-oriented guest ranch with guests of all ages enjoying time with their friends, new and old, without sacrificing the very special feeling of shared family time.

Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch (Mcleod, Montana)

Enjoy a fun-filled Montana guest ranch vacation in a million-acre pristine wilderness just north of Yellowstone Park away from the distractions of everyday life at Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch. Horseback riding, Blue Ribbon fly fishing, a jeep adventure, scenic river rafting, and many other activities can be enjoyed while experiencing the warm western hospitality that only a small dude ranch can offer.

Hidden Hollow Hideaway (Townsend, Montana)

Hidden Hollow Ranch is owned by the Flynn family and is situated on the eastern side of the great Canyon Ferry Reservoir in the foothills of the Big Belt Mountains. The Flynn family roots trace back to the 1860s when Kelly’s ancestors followed the gold rush to Diamond City, a once booming ghost town located on the northern side of the present-day ranch. After several years of struggling in the gold mines, the family moved to the valley and homesteaded. In the early years, Kelly’s ancestors carved a living from the fields and mountains but in the next century, the ranch grew from a small farm on Poverty Flats to a sweeping ranch of tens of thousands of acres.

Hubbard’s Six Quarter Circle Ranch (Emigrant, Montana)

Hubbard’s Six Quarter Circle Ranch is an upscale guest ranch on the border of Yellowstone National Park in Montana. Go riding and work cattle in the Gallatin Mountains. Enjoy spectacular views of Paradise Valley and the Yellowstone River while relaxing at this award-winning lodge.

JJJ Wilderness Ranch (Augusta, Montana)

Tucked just inside Montana’s majestic Rocky Mountain Front between Yellowstone and Glacier National Park, the Triple J Ranch overlooks the beautiful Sun River Canyon and Gibson Lake. The road ends here! Out their backdoor is the famous, million-acre Bob Marshall Wilderness.

Lone Mountain Ranch (Big Sky, Montana)

A clear mountain stream runs through the middle of Lone Mountain Ranch, which sits in a small valley at the base of the mountains near Yellowstone National Park. The ranch provides a warm, relaxed western atmosphere with just the right creature comforts to help guests “get away from it all” in their special ranch home.

McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch (Libby, Montana)

McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch is an authentic working cattle ranch located in the northwest corner of Montana. The ranch is only 100 miles west of Glacier National Park with a main emphasis on Buck Brannaman-style horsemanship and our cattle program.

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch (Emigrant, Montana)

Since opening as a dude ranch in 1929, Mountain Sky Guest Ranch has topped the list of the nation’s upscale guest ranch resorts. The secret of their success lies not only with the breathtaking views, fine food, world-class facility and the many activities offered but also with the staff. When you arrive, you are welcomed into the Mountain Sky family by the warm and friendly employees that truly set them apart.

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch (Gallatin Gateway, Montana)

The Nine Quarter Circle is far away in the sense of both place and time. We are a Montana dude ranch that looks and operates just as it did 100 years ago. Owned by Kameron and Sally Kelsey, the ranch is nearing its 75th year of Kelsey ownership and is steeped in tradition and family values. Its rhythm is marked by generations of horses born, raised, and trained here and of generations of families returning again and again. Nestled in a small mountain valley nearby Yellowstone National Park, our ranch is a unique landscape full of native flora and fauna. You might see grizzly bears, moose, elk, and other native species when hiking or riding around the ranch. Between our 2-two hour rides offered each day, our two all-day rides each week, and our overnight pack trip, there is a horseback riding adventure for all abilities. You can ride 360 degrees from the ranch without ever needing to trailer the horses, and there is terrain to explore for all ability levels. The Taylor Fork River runs through the ranch property and the Gallatin River is just a few miles down the road. These streams provide opportunities for beginners and experienced fly fishermen and women. For an authentic Montana Dude Ranch experience, this is your place.

Parade Rest Ranch (West Yellowstone, Montana)

Parade Rest Guest Ranch is a true Montana dude ranch offering that memorable Montana guest ranch experience, located just 15 minutes from the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park. PRR is the closest of all the Montana guest ranches to Yellowstone National Park. The ranch also is located within 30 miles of world-renowned fly-fishing rivers and streams.

Rich’s Montana Guest Ranch (Seeley Lake, Montana)

The Rich Ranch is located in Western Montana, adjacent to the spectacular Bob Marshall Wilderness and two hours from Glacier National Park. Lodge and cabins are nestled in the trees overlooking a tranquil meadow with an awesome view of the Rocky Mountains looking across the ranch meadows. Three generations of the Rich Family live/work on the ranch and have been part of the valley since 1958. You will enjoy daily horseback riding (for all levels), fishing, mountain biking, hiking, ghost town tour, roping, lake swimming, campfires, and more. You can also include a wilderness pack trip and rafting options in your vacation. 

Rocking Z Guest Ranch (Wolf Creek, Montana)

Horseback riding is the central activity at Rocking Z. They are proud of their horses and know them all well. Through the use of Parelli Natural Horsemanship and personal experience, they have very talented and versatile horses for every level of rider. They take great care choosing the best partnership for horse and rider by considering each horse’s unique horsenality, and the rider’s ability and desires, enabling every rider to have a great horse experience!

Sweet Grass Ranch (Big Timber, Montana)

Sweet Grass Ranch is part of a sixth-generation, family-owned and operated working cattle ranch and guest ranch. They are secluded in the Crazy Mountains about 6 miles from the nearest public road. The ranch was homesteaded in the late 1800s and the original ranch buildings are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The Van Cleve family homesteaded in this area around 1880, putting together property for a cattle ranch and were instrumental in starting the dude ranch industry. 

Upper Canyon Outfitters & Guest Ranch (Alder, Montana)

Upper Canyon Outfitters is located in southwest Montana in a valley near Yellowstone National Park where Native American tribes of Crow, Shoshone, Snake and Bannock once summered beneath the mountains and along the streams that provided all they needed to survive through the changing Montana seasons.

The Dude Ranchers’ Association – All Ranches

Curious about the full list of The Dude Ranchers’ Associations’ ranches? Sort through them using our Find a Ranch tool or choose a ranch by location.

Contact the Dude Ranchers Association: | 307-587-2339 | 1122 12th St., Cody, WY 82414