Five Reasons to Take Your Family on a Dude Ranch Vacation

Everything They Want, Everything You Need! Horseback riding and high-end luxury. Cookouts and craft wine. Zip-lining and line dancing. Rodeos and rafting. On a dude ranch vacation, you can have it all… and more. Indulge in the finest cuisine, pamper your senses, or satisfy your sense of adventure. Whatever you’re seeking, you’ll find it here on a dude ranch vacation.

1. Focus on the Family Your teenager’s a thrill seeker. Your little one wants to explore. And you’re caught between craving some peace and quiet, and some quality family bonding time. Dude ranches pride themselves on their ability to provide all of it: plenty of activities for all skill levels, opportunities to get close to nature, and chances to slow down, team up, and enjoy time together as a family.    

2. Delicious Food Home to cowboy barbecues, farm-to-table fresh cuisine, and elegant wine selections, dude ranches offer an impressive culinary scene to rival that of any four-star resort. The foodies in your party will definitely find something to enchant their taste buds!

Deep Canyon Ranch

Deep Canyon Ranch in Montana is a great location for your family.


3. Variety of Activities Maybe you’d like to refresh your spirit on a leisurely horseback ride, or wade in a stream and fish. Or you might want to earn your keep by working the cattle with the ranch hands. Perhaps you prefer the adrenaline rush of whitewater rafting or soaring over the treetops on a zip-line. And what if your idea of “adventure” is trying all the spa services offered over the course of your stay? Well, there’s a dude ranch vacation for you, too. You’re sure to find something that appeals to you among a ranch’s impressive range of offerings.  

The Home Ranch Family Vacation

The Home Ranch in Colorado is spectacular for a leisurely trail ride in the spring.

4. Nightlife Immerse yourself in a vibrant nighttime scene unique to the dude ranch experience. Sing and dance the night away at a saloon or a dance hall, to the tune of the fiddle and joyful laughter. Or, relax around the campfire with some s’mores after a full day of adventures, and enjoy an unobstructed view of the stars.

5. Options With over one hundred ranches to choose from, you’re sure to find one that will fit easily into your next national park trip or Western heritage adventure. Many are located near small towns boasting of local character, history, cuisine, and crafts; as well as national parks and monuments for an easy day trip. There’s plenty to make a dude ranch the perfect choice for your next vacation! This story has been created in partnership with DUDE RANCHERS’ ASSOCIATION.               

 Take your Family on a Dude Ranch Vacation

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Down at the Ranch

In an age of digital overload, polarized politics, and the overwhelming rush of modern life, there are dude ranch vacations to recharge, rejuvenate, reconnect and embrace a more simple time. There’s a dude ranch waiting for you out there, and more than likely it’s close to a national park if you want the best of both worlds (ranch and park worlds, that is). Whether it’s the high mountain range or vast desert valleys, grab your boots and hat and spend the morning in the saddle, the afternoon with a drink by the pool, and a quiet evening of reflection in front of a raging fire. You’ll be tired, but it’s a good tired, by the time the sun sets behind the wild hills.

These are all-inclusive vacations, from small outfits to large spreads, with plenty to do: hiking, fishing, swimming, white-water rafting, rodeos, western dances, and even campfire sing-a-longs. And of course, there’s boots and saddles, riding the range and lariats. And for the kids, it’s a chance to become a cowpoke, explore the ranches, play games, and make new friends. It’s the perfect cure for the modern world. While finding the right ranch might sound onerous, it doesn’t have to be if you rely on the Dude Ranchers’ Association’s members. Formed in 1926, the DRA ensures that guests are treated right, with lodging and service at the highest standards. The DRA’s six foundations for members are, “Horses, Hats, Hospitality - Heritage, Honesty and Heart.” It’s the perfect getaway, and as comfortable as a well-worn pair of pointy boots.

 

Geronimo Trail Ranch

New Mexico at the Geronimo Trail Ranch

You could head south to the Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch in Winston, New Mexico, in the Black Range Mountains. The sun provides the electricity and cell service is an hour’s drive away. It’s untouched country with high meadows, archaeological sites, and you’ll see it all from the backs of gentle horses. You’ll eat well after a day in the saddle with ranch-style cooking and outdoor barbecues, and the skies are not cloudy all day. With only four guest cabins, it’s intimate and you’ll become part of the family and ranch-life.

Tanque Verde Ranch

Arizona's Tanque Verde Ranch

One state to the west, in Arizona, spend time at one of America’s oldest ranches, the Tanque Verde Ranch near Tucson.  Located in the Rincon Mountains, it has a rich history of Native American and Spanish civilizations. Settled in 1868, the ranch has been offering an oasis for families since 1957. There are more than 150 horses to choose from, but it’s not all work in the saddle, as guests can enjoy the tennis courts and a swimming pool after a relaxing ride. And Saguaro National Park is right next door. At day’s end, dust off your chaps, kick back and watch an Arizona sunset stretch across the sky.

California's Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch

California's Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch

Out in Quincy, California, the Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch will treat you right. Just an hour from the Reno airport, it’s a Western paradise, with the nearby Feather River and high peaks are yours to explore. Along with the requisite horseback riding, you can swim, hike, mountain bike, and just take a break in this tranquil setting. It’s pure magic.

Colorado's Rainbow Trout Ranch

Colorado's Rainbow Trout Ranch

In southern Colorado, the Rainbow Trout Ranch has trophy fly-fishing, legendary trail riding, and down-home hospitality. Spend the day in the saddle, land a lunker, or just take in the beauty. Nestled at 9,000 feet along the Conejos River, guests can ride the historic Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad as well.

Lazy L&B Ranch

Wyoming's Lazy L&B Ranch

As the weather warms to the north, check out the Lazy L&B Ranch in Dubois, Wyoming. Known for its cowboy culture and snowy peaks, relax in these well-furnished log cabins with their Western flair, and private baths. There’s an outdoor sitting area to just gaze at the Wind River and Absaroka mountain ranges, and you can swim in the heated pool after a trail ride, or just dive into the river. You’ll work up a thirst and hunger for the hearty meals. This is a family operation, and you’ll feel so welcome, it’ll be difficult to head back to the “real world.”

Wyoming's Crossed Sabres Ranch

Over the mountains to the north, the Crossed Sabres Ranch in Cody has been hosting visitors since 1898. Just eight miles from Yellowstone National Park’s east entrance, Crossed Sabres is smack dab in the middle of some of the wildest, most pristine mountains in the world. Along the North Fork of the Shoshone River the fishing is superb for the wily Yellowstone cutthroat trout. And you’ll have the chance to watch moose, elk, and deer graze the creeks and hillsides, and even see an occasional bear along the ridges. There’s a large, comfortable lodge, 19 cabins, and even a saloon where you can practice your best John Wayne imitation. It’s a great place for families, as the kids hold reins instead of electronic devices. Head to Cody for the nightly rodeo after a day of white water rafting, or a long trail ride, and you may just fantasize about riding a bucking bronc.

Wyoming's The Hideout Lodge Dude Ranch Vacations

Wyoming's The Hideout Lodge

Across the Bighorn Mountains, in Shell, Wyoming, the Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch is an upscale, working cattle ranch, where adventure is on the schedule. It’s a 650,000-acre adventure paradise. Learn horsemanship from the experts, and become the rider you’ve always wanted to be. Bond with your mount as you head up the trail to the high country for a view from the top of the peaks. You can take a turn working the stock, and then take a turn with trapshooting, archery, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, biking, and even 4x4 tours. Limited to just 25 guests per week, there are visitors from around the world looking for just such an authentic experience. Its high-end culinary offerings will entice and astound you.

Bar W Ranch

Montana's Bar W Ranch

In Montana take a trip to the Bar W Ranch in Whitefish. Snow-capped peaks surround you, and you’ll gallop across lush, green meadows. You’ll have 3,000 acres to ride and hike, not far from Glacier National Park. Stay in these comfortable lodges with all of the modern amenities, and an elegant western flair. It’ll take you back to this country’s roots and the beauty of nature is all around you. So bring your boots (smooth-soled, of course, to get in and out of stirrups), and let loose your inner cowboy or cowgirl at one of America’s premiere dude ranches. It’ll change your perspective, and maybe even your life.


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Riding Lessons Before My Ranch Stay?

The Dude Ranchers' Association often receives inquiries about riding lessons before going on a dude ranch vacation. Recently, Philip W asked,

"Should I attend a Western riding school here in England before? Or, would it be better to wait till I am at the ranch in case the teaching here is not as good as (or would conflict with) that which I would receive on the ranch?"

In short, I responded "I think it would be a great idea to take riding lessons before you go." The long explanation below has a little more information. English and Western riding styles vary but the essential muscles used are the same. Taking lessons from a quality location will teach you about basic interactions with horses and help get you in shape for a weeks worth of riding. However, please understand that horse training and styles of riding can be related to intense perspectives. The more flexible you are at learning different viewpoints the more you are apt to benefit from the dude ranch experience and independent riding lessons. Each dude ranch in this association has policies and guidelines in place to keep riders safe. Adaptation to each location will be essential. Most riding lessons will occur in an enclosed arena and most dude ranches ride over hills, mountains and National Parks. If you can imagine these differences of locations you can imagine why the instructions might be different.

Should I Take Riding Lessons Before My Ranch Stay?

  • Introduction to Equus Caballus, the modern day horse

A horse weighs anywhere from 840 - 2,300 pounds, 4.7 - 6 feet at the shoulders and has as many different breeds as dogs. There are lots of different things you can learn about this animal and the equipment used in your lessons. The physical characteristics, proper etiquette and basic grooming techniques. Each horse you meet is different from the next; the more interactions you have with them the more you can discover.

  • Physical Fitness

Horseback riding does not require extreme athleticism, but like learning any new sport or exercise, new muscles can be "discovered" by soreness. Taking lessons would be an accurate, if not the most accurate, way to identify these muscles. Preventing soreness would definitely make your ranch stay more enjoyable.

  • Coordination, Balance and Stability

First time riders may soon realize that riding a horse is tougher than it looks. It requires coordination, balance and stability. There are a lot of parts and pieces to keep up with. A lot needs to happen simultaneously to get a horse to pick up speed or even walk in a circle without wandering off. Riding lessons will begin this learning journey, that even the most experienced of riders continue to improve upon.

Riding is definitely not as hard as walking a tight rope at the circus, but it does require you to straddle the horse and stay in the middle. Balancing and stabilizing your weight in your seat and in the stirrups gets easier with practice. And the better you are at this the easier it will be on the horse.

All this being said, dude ranches are accustomed to and enjoy sharing their love of horses and horseback riding with novice riders and can accommodate all experience levels. You can ride for as long as you like each day and your down time is flexible. Did you know that most dude ranches offer riding lessons as well? All in all I would say riding lessons are a good idea before, during and even after your dude ranch stay. Make sure the location is a quality one and learn all you can. Call the office at 307.587.2339 if you have any questions. Be inspired by this quote from Denis Diderot

"There are three principal means of acquiring knowledge... observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation. Observation collects facts; reflection combines them; experimentation verifies the result of that combination."
Sundance Trail Arena Rodeo Barrel Race Riding Lesson
Sundance Trail Ranch in Colorado Offers Riding Lessons and Rodeo Activities

Read more about the Sundance Trail Guest Ranch

Rocking Z Arena Round Pen Riding Lessons
The Rocking Z Ranch Teaches Lessons from Pat Parelli

Read more about the Rocking Z Ranch

McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch Riding Lessons
 
Learn about cattle work at the McGinnis Meadows Cattle Ranch

Read more about the McGinnis Meadows Cattle Ranch

 

Do I Need Riding Lessons Before a Dude Ranch Vacation?

The Dude Ranchers' Association often receives inquiries about riding lessons before going on a dude ranch vacation. Recently, Philip W asked, "Should I attend a Western riding school here in England before? Or, would it be better to wait till I am at the ranch in case the teaching here is not as good as (or would conflict with) that which I would receive on the ranch?" Read more about why we think it may be a good idea to take riding lessons before your stay.

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Romance & Horses, Your Dude Ranch Vacation


'A feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.' - definition of romance Riding horses with your partner is, surely, full of excitement and mystery. Consider a ranch stay to put some extra special romance into your relationship. It is as easy as picking out your geographic setting(mountain range of choice) and paring your personalities with a ranch. Then, hop on a plane and arrive at your secluded cabin for an 'all-inclusive' destination experience. Don't worry, there are plenty of activities to inspire other than saddling up and riding into the sunset at a dude ranch; morning fishing trips, spa afternoons, hot tub evenings and nights full of fine dining pared with excellent wine. Valentine's day is a great motivator to book you and your partner a vacation full of romance and connection - away from the monotonous crowd of chocolates and teddy bears. Experiences turn into memories, and those memories turn into a lifetime of togetherness.

Ranches for Romance

The ranches below are just a few options for your choosing. If you don't find one that you connect with, give the Dude Ranchers' Association a call. We can help. 307.587.2339.  


The Heart of the Rockies, Colorado

Elk Mountain Couple Hill Side Romance

Elk Mountain Ranch Fall is for adults only - Enjoy the mountains during the peak of the fall colors in the Colorado Rockies. The already spectacular scenery at the Ranch unveils more glory in the Autumn. Aspens crown the mountainside in golden grandeur. Fall is exclusively for adults at this Colorado dude ranch. The tranquility and stillness are uninterrupted, whether you’re riding through the aspen forests…or curling up with a favorite book by an crackling fireplace.


The Ruby River, Montana

Upper Canyon Fishing Couple Romance

Upper Canyon Outfitters One of the best uncrowned waters in Montana - "My wife and I ventured to Upper Canyon this summer to enjoy the ranch, fishing, horseback riding and hiking and preview where I had booked an elk and mule deer hunt this fall. After returning from the fall hunt all that I can do is reinforce the previous comments complimenting the complete operation of Upper Canyon Outfitters, from the facilities to the staff. It seems like they are all extended family." - Roland


7,000 Acres in the Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming

Eatons Gather Sunset Romance

Eaton's Ranch Freedom to ride into the sunset - Eatons’ offers our guests the unique opportunity to ride one of our 220 horses unescorted with the permission of the Ranch. This allows guests the remarkable freedom to fully explore this beautiful 7,000 acres of country. Guests can ride out from this Wyoming Dude Ranch twice a day Monday through Friday, choosing among morning, afternoon and evening rides. Also, there all-day rides into the Bighorn National Forest as well as breakfast and dinner rides.


Yellowstone Country, Montana

Mountain Sky Romance

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch A rare treat - After a day filled with ranch activities, dinner is always a highly anticipated event. Kick things off with hors d'oeuvres and drinks in the saloon, where friends share stories of the day's adventure next to a crackling fire. What follows is an unforgettable three- to five-course dinner featuring carefully crafted and regionally-inspired dishes prepared by Chef Brian Bielen and his talented team. Complement your dinner with a bottle of wine from a fine selection, and do try to leave room for that slice of chocolate decadence or Basque cake.


     

The Western dude ranch rejuvenates & boosts health

According to experts, taking a vacation is good for your health.  Despite this fact, Americans and Canadians tend to shortchange their vacation time, often leaving earned time on the table or taking a day here and a day there instead of a week or more at one stretch. The Western dude ranch rejuvenates & boosts health.

Since 1926 the Dude Ranchers’ Association shaped and established the highest quality standards in the guest ranch industry. A DRA (as it’s known,) guest ranch is the epitome of a Western holiday and providing both the time and environment to foster good health. Surrounded by spectacular beauty, far from the noise and crowds of fast-paced cities, serenity comes easy to each guest.

According to the career website, Workopolis, “Psychologists say that it takes five to seven days to de-stress from work, so doing it piecemeal can be counter productive. Most of the studies show people need about two weeks in one block a year to feel the benefits of a vacation.”  During summer the majority of DRA guest ranches operate in week-long increments, allowing guests the time to unwind, settle in and savor the experience. In addition to horsemanship, ranches offer activities satisfying the recreational and social needs of each generation. Tennis clinics, mountain biking, rock climbing, zip-lining, bird watching, crafts, hiking, whitewater rafting, and golf; each can be enjoyed during a  Western ranch vacation. Some ranches also offer known stress reducers like yoga, meditation, massages and other soothing spa treatments.

The Home Dude Ranch Yoga Retreat for your health

Dude ranches are ideal places for kids and families to re-connect.  Without the typical distractions of TV, phones, computers and electronic games, families spend quality time together sometimes just hanging out on the porch swing or sitting around the campfire. There are more than 100 members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association in the Western US and Canada.  Each is a little different but each DRA dude ranch vacation is the most potent tonic to combat the stress caused by the uncertain times we live in.  Check out our website at www.duderanch.org or e-mail us at colleen@duderanch.org.


 

Book before January!

As families get together for the holidays and consider past celebrations, vacations and shared moments, the conversations often move to the topic of “Where are we going to book our next family holiday destination?” The Thanksgiving through New Years holiday season is a busy time of vacation inquiries for dude and guest ranches. That being said, most small venue dude ranches have a guest capacity under 50 persons. An extended family group that incorporates 2-4 family units might mean that an inquiring party is looking at reserving greater than half of the ranch capacity. This means that you must select a date that has minimal prior reservations in order to book for your family group size. To book last minute at these smaller venue vacation destinations is extremely difficult, since the prime dates often fill-up a year in advance. If you are considering a dude ranch or guest ranch vacation, and you hope to travel during the months of June, July, or August, then firming up your travel plans by the prior January is not too early. In fact, many of the prime weeks will already be filled by January. Small venue size, loyal returning clients, restrictive travel dates, and competing advance planners all add-up to a call to action for prospective dude ranch vacationers. Don’t Wait! Choose your ideal ranch, and make the call now, before you are disappointed by having your only available travel date blocked-out with a filled to capacity ranch. Below are some great ranches you might choose from. By Doug Cole, Marble Mountain Ranch


Book a Stay with Rawah Ranch

Colorado high country To the mountain tribe of Ute Indians, “Rawah” was the word meant for “abundance.” Nestled at 8,400 feet, just south of the Wyoming border neighboring the snow capped peaks of the rugged Rawah Wilderness, Rawah Ranch and Fly Fishing Lodge occupies a magical setting in the still undiscovered Big Laramie River valley.


  Book a Stay at Elk River Guest Ranch

The Elk River Valley, within the historic ranch lands of Steamboat Springs, Colorado Bordered by the 2.2 million acre Medicine Bow - Routt National Forest (clear up into Wyoming) and offering 2,000 feet of private river frontage, the Elk River Guest Ranch offers a unique blend of outdoor activities, town proximity, and mountain solitude.


  Book a Stay at Deep Canyon Ranch

The foothills of the Rocky Mountains Nestled in the Teton Canyon, our 1,200 acre ranch offers a diversity of riding experiences. From the foothills of the Rocky Mountain Front to the canyons entering the Bob Marshall Wilderness, you can enjoy the magnificence of nature at it's best at the Deep Canyon Ranch. A capable and experienced staff, with room for 20 guests, and owner operated, we have made this our home and business since 1958. Enjoy your free time in our spacious lodge or dining room with-a-view, or in your comfortable, modern cabin with it's porch overlooking the valley.


Book a Stay at the Sweet Grass Cattle Ranch

Sixth generation, family-owned cattle operation and guest ranch With miles of Sweet Grass Creek winding through the ranch, alpine forests, pristine lakes, and rolling foothills dotted with vibrant wildflowers, Sweet Grass Ranch offers spectacularly diverse terrain beckoning to be explored.  Our family welcomes guests to join us for exceptional horseback adventures, authentic cattle work, and to experience the area’s abundant recreation opportunities; including hiking, plentiful wildlife viewing, and lake, stream or pond fishing.


 

There's a Dude Ranch for Everyone

Enjoy a taste of the authentic American West where horses, hats, history and hospitality abound. With over 100 carefully chosen member ranches, the Dude Ranchers' Association (DRA) has one to match your dream vacation – perfectly, all while protecting lands, parks, forests and wildlife. Our Dude, Resort and Working Ranches are in the most picturesque regions of the USA and Canada near historic sites and national parks for a photographer’s heyday! Each has its own unique history, incredible horseback riding tailored to the rider’s age and ability, and exciting outdoor adventures like white water rafting, paradise fishing on scenic rivers, fun hay rides, hikes, golfing. Blue skies, starry nights and the sounds of silence are also included in your dude ranch vacation. Lounge in a hammock until the dinner bell rings and then breathe pure clean air as you rediscover the brightest shining stars peeking out from Heaven. Want to gaze into a crackling fire instead of a computer screen? Then, it’s time you discovered the majestic beauty of the land and got reacquainted with your family and friends. Join us any time of year for genuine western hospitality. Prices, programs and activities vary. We guarantee the lodging industry’s highest standards whether staying in a rustic cabin or top end ranch resort. Once you’ve had a taste of a dude ranch, you may never want to go anywhere else on vacation again. These ranches below offer unique, personalized experience. Find the one that fits you and yours below.


Elkhorn Family Reunion

Elkhorn Ranch - Montana

The Elkhorn Ranch is one of the few remaining traditional dude ranches where outdoor activities are the focus each day. We 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.    

Medicine Bow Western Family Vacation

Medicine Bow Lodge

The Medicine Bow Lodge And Guest Ranch is located at approximately 8500 feet in the Snowy Range of the Rocky Mountains. The closest town is Saratoga, Wyoming which is about 22 miles to the west. The land on which the Guest Ranch sits is located in the Medicine Bow National Forest.    

Red Reflet Ranch Lodges

Red Reflet Ranch

The Red Reflet is both Working Ranch and Luxury Resort where guests are treated like family. Super inclusive of ATV use, all riding, lessons, all beverages, snacks, stocked kitchen, all activities.      

Triangle X Grand Teton National Park

Triangle X

Triangle X Ranch is an authentic working dude ranch located in the heart of Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Established in 1926 by the Turner family, Triangle X offers unparalleled horseback riding and one of the most complete outdoor recreational packages of any facility in the Mountain West.  


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Splash into Summer with a Dude Ranch for Teenagers

When the kids are little you try to make sure the parents have their space, but as teenagers, they would like some activities geared towards them. Plan a dude ranch vacation next summer where everyone has an equally great time. Each family member, regardless of age can experience a little bit of freedom and a chance to do something unique at the ranch. There is plenty of flexibility at a dude ranch to appreciate things individually, as a family or with new friends you meet along your stay. As an all - inclusive destination you might find yourself doing any number of outdoorsy activities, horseback riding, hiking, rock climbing, white water rafting, zip lining, fishing, etc. There are so many things to do! Careful, time flies when you are having fun, so be sure to book your stay long enough to enjoy everything!

Swim Your Horse

Sweet Grass Teenager

Sweet Grass Ranch, Big Timber, Montana Watching children have the freedom to run and play under Montana’s Big Sky, is one of the best parts of a Sweet Grass Ranch vacation, where children and grandchildren abound. Sweet Grass started out as a kids’ camp years ago, hosting kids ages 9 to 19 for the entire summer; This ranch understand the magic that happens between a kid and a horse.  Without a 'formal' teenager program everyone is welcome to participate in all aspects of ranch life.  Teens often go on their own rides, swim their horses, and participate with cattle work.  The ranch is well set up for kids’ entertainment with a variety of activities,  including soccer, volleyball, softball, paintball, campfires, the natural water slide, pool, cards and board games.

Sail Away 

Averills Teenagers

Averill's Flat Head Lake Lodge, Big Fork, Montana Located only 35 miles from Glacier National Park, Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge offers the ultimate family vacation with unlimited horse & water recreation.  The lakefront is always a popular spot for teens. Popular among beach communities all over the country, Stand Up Paddle Boarding has become a favorite activity for teens at the Lodge. In addition, teens can spend the afternoon wake boarding, water skiing, or knee boarding off the ski dock, a great opportunity for experienced or first time skiers! The pool is always a great spot to lounge on hot afternoons as are the canoes and kayaks that are always available. Enjoy unmatched Western hospitality by the Averill family and staff and a truly priceless family experience…Montana style!

Your Day, Your Way!

Vista Verde Hot Air Balloon Teenager

Vista Verde Ranch, Steamboat Springs, Colorado What makes a ranch vacation at Vista Verde unique is the flexibility and personalized attention that goes into each experience. The diverse selection of activities can make it hard to choose what to do each day, but the planning is made easy as the staff simply comes around each evening and ask “What do you want to do tomorrow?”  Your day, your way! The wranglers and guides will go out of their way to tailor each experience to your interest, ability, and fitness level. Top-notch gear and equipment are provided, and you’ll get plenty of instruction to help you master a new skill, or build on existing skills fly fishing, rock climbing, paddle boarding, photography, yoga, culinary adventures, rafting & kayaking.

There's More!

Don't see your teen's favorite sport or activity? Give us a call here at the National Dude Ranchers' Association. We represent 100+ Dude Ranches West of the Mississippi. There's sure to be the perfect ranch for you. 307.587.2339

 

Dude Ranch for Teenagers

 

When the kids are little you try to make sure the parents have their space, but as teenagers, they would like some activities geared towards them. Plan a dude ranch vacation next summer where everyone has an equally great time. Each family member, regardless of age can experience a little bit of freedom and a chance to do something unique at the ranch.

Anytime is the Best Time to Go to a Dude Ranch

Dude Ranches are the original western adventure vacation. They are locations in the wilderness that 'haven't had all the rough ridden off of it.'  While at the same time still being the perfect vacation spot will all the amenities you could need or want. Often clients of the Dude Ranchers' Association ask when is the best time of year to go to a dude ranch. The answer is always, 'Anytime you would like.' In all four seasons there are ranch destinations available to meet your expectations. Even if your are traveling through the holidays!  There are ranches open year round with exclusive spots catering around special seasons of the year. Summer is the peak season for our Northwestern Ranches. It's the high time to enjoy nice warm sunny days in the mountains. At the end of the summer season for these ranches life in the mountains slows down to almost a halt. Some destinations are snowed in until spring and the only way in or out is by snow mobile.  At these ranches, this means only a select few employees are allowed to stay and maintain, while other ranches invite you into their winter wonder land,  full of winter adventures of all types. What happens when you live in a cold place and you would like to warm up a bit? Well, you head south of course. Where the dry dessert winter has plenty of warm sunshine to melt away your winter blues. Leave your parka's at home. Put on your cowboy boots and jeans and head out for a few days or a week to our Southern Ranches.  This is their time to shine as an adventure vacation destination.  The weather here has reached the peak of enjoyment.

No matter where you are or what kind of weather you are looking for, the Western United States and Canada is home to your preferred western adventure ranch. Below are highlighted few winter and summer destinations.

Vista Verde Drive Cattle

Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado

June - October, December - March

K diamond Krcrossing the river

K Diamond K Guest Ranch, Washington

Year-Round

Seven Devils Snow Snowmobiling

Seven Devils Lodge & Guide Service, Council, Idaho

January - November

Hideout AZ

Hideout Guest Ranch, Portal, Arizona

Year-Round

Circle Z Ranch

Circle Z Guest Ranch, Patagonia, Arizona

October ~ May

 

Best Time of Year for a Ranch Vacation 

     When is the Best Time for a Ranch Vacation

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Bring Your Own Horse to these Dramatic Dude Ranch Spaces

Updated 4/24/2018

Do you take your four legged, 1,000 pound equine family member on vacation with you?  Why not make your next trip to a nationally accredited dude ranch where you can bring your own horse?  Members of the Dude Ranchers' Association invite you and your horse to experience the 'Original Western Vacation.' Be sure to bring the proper ‘foot wear’ for your horse (you’ll most likely be in the mountains) and the proper vet papers, especially if you are crossing state lines. But, most importantly, make sure your trusty steed can is in shape and can handle the extra hours under the saddle. With the comfort of having your own with you these dude ranch locations will inspire you with the beauty of the American West.  Ranches offer three types of experiences you can look for; spectacular trails, informative clinics and true cowboy cattle work. Take your pick of these horse friendly ranches below and bring your own horse to these locations.

 

Extraordinary Trail Rides

At these ranches you are going to find freedom in the sunshine and wide open spaces. It’s the sort of trip where you forget to worry about all the different troubles in your life.

Sundance TrailGreenhorn Creek Guest Ranch, Rancho de los Caballeros

   

Informational Clinics

Attend a clinic with your horse to build your relationship skill set as horse and rider partners.

McGinnis Meadows, Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

 

Cowboy Cattle Work

Take your horse to these ranches for arena work, cutting, cattle drives, roping, the original old western style cowboy vacation.

Black Mountain Ranch, Zapata, Hunewill Guest Ranch, Latigo Ranch

 

 For more information give us a call at 307.587.2339. 

 

Bring Your Own Horse to Spotted Horse Ranch in Wyoming

Bring Your Own Horse to a McGinnis Meadows Buck Brannaman Clinic

Bring Your Own Horse on a Zapata Ranch Cattle Drive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring Your Own Horse - Pin this for later!

 

Do you take your four legged, 1,000 pound equine family member on vacation with you?  Why not make your next trip to a nationally accredited dude ranch where you can bring your own horse?

 

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Celebrating 90 Years of Preserving, Protecting and Promoting the Western Way of Life

Historic Dude Ranch

Created in 1926, the National Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) was founded to preserve, protect and promote the unique experience and identity of a dude ranch vacation. And 90 years later, the association has stayed true to its mission – while also evolving to offer guests the ultimate, all-inclusive Western vacation experience. While its core values and emphasis on horsemanship have remained the same, the DRA has continued to strengthen its presence and purpose each year through promoting new member experiences and innovative ideas within the industry. Nearly a century ago, the DRA was created as the official governing body of the West’s dude ranch industry. In September of 1926, the first official DRA 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.

Paradise-Ranch-Historic

2016 officially marks 90 years of introducing guests from all over the world to the Western way of life. Over the years, vacati on expectations have shifted, and the DRA and its member ranches have evolved their offerings to fit with changing times. The association is currently made up of more than 100 ranch members, all of whom have completed a rigorous two-year inspection and approval process, and over 150 affiliated members. 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. 

Triangle-X-Historic-2

This “original Western 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 and 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. For those interested in activities beyond the saddles and cowboy boots, many guest ranches offer 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.

The DRA will kick off its yearlong anniversary celebrations at the 90th Annual Dude Ranchers’ Association Convention on January 19-23, 2016, in Cody, Wyoming, where more than 60 member ranches are expected to attend the four-day event. 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. We hope you will join us in celebrating the legacy built by the DRA. Its 90th anniversary milestone not only represents a history of success for dude ranches, but also looks forward to a future of upholding the ultimate Western vacation. By Wrangler Network contributor, the Dude Ranchers’ Association


 

Navigating Your Dude Ranch Search

At the National Dude Ranchers' Association we are proud of everyone of our members and their commitment to cleanliness, hospitality and wonderful horseback riding adventures. Ride the West with the Best and make sure you book your vacation with an accredited member of the National Dude Ranchers' Association. Find out more about our standards here. When planning your (or your clients) vacation it can be a momentous task to navigate you search of all the available dude ranches in North America. Let us help make your planning a breeze. Take some time to brain storm about your trip and ask yourself a few questions.

CM Guest Ranch

What type of riding would you like to do? Different ranches offer different experiences. They range from all day in the saddle working cattle to short, beautiful summit rides with your kids.

What kind of accommodations would you like? Cleanliness and quality are high standards at all ranches. When you visit you can be assured your accommodations are freshly cleaned and stocked. If you prefer chocolates on your pillows and fluffy robes to wear to the spa after your ride a resort ranch would be your style. If you prefer the classic log cabin and ranch homestead feel, a traditional dude ranch would suite you just fine.

When would you like to go? Consider the weather and geographic location. The weather often coordinates when the ranches open, close or transition their seasonal activities. The West is wide open for all sorts of geographic preferences: States, National Parks, Mountain Ranges, birding, foliage, wildlife, etc. Explore your options and then narrow your choices. With these questions answered you are ready to find the ranch you are going to book for your next vacation.

Use our Find by Amenity search engine.

Keyword Search

You can just dive on in if you're feeling lucky with a keyword search like "dancing" or "skiing." Those searches would pull up 22 and 6 ranches respectively. Or you can search our blogs. They are listed by category or you can use the blog search box at the top right of the categories.

Check a few Amenity Boxes

Select a box out of each of these categories and it will help eliminate a lot of ranches who offer a different experience than the one you are expecting. Don't worry if your search comes back with too many (or too few) ranches. Keep checking more (or less) boxes for each consecutive search. When choosing a dude ranch go with your guy feelings; go with the unique experience that you've always imagined it to be. Our personal favorite categories to select are:

  • Capacity
  • Dates Open
  • Length of Stay
  • Ranch Policies
  • Specialty Events

Collect your Favorites in the Saddle Bag

When you see a ranch that catches your eye add it to your "Saddle Bag." This is your dude ranch term for shopping cart. This icon is found to the right of each ranch’s profile. Once you click on ‘View Saddle Bag’ this will take you to a table of the ranches you have selected for easy viewing and narrowing your search. Here you can also send a message to all of them at once to ask about pricing and availability.

Book your Vacation with your Favorite Ranch

Once you have completed your search and found the perfect fit for your vacation needs call and book the ranch directly. Don't forget to ask about travel arrangements to and from the airport!

Additional Help If you would like additional help in planning your vacation please give us a call or send over an email to our office. We can help point you in the right direction! 307.587.2339 info@duderanch.org    

Red White and Blue ~ 4th of July at a Dude Ranch

The 4th of July is all about family, BBQ’s, Rodeos, Parades and our Freedom. Why not celebrate in 4th of July style every day of the week with  a vacation that involves riding horses in the great open spaces of the American West and the Canadian Rockies. Dude Ranches are located in some of the most breathtaking areas of the U.S. (and Canada), dude ranches can handle any request, from horseback riding and fly fishing to yoga and cooking classes to zip lining and hiking, campfire cookouts, BBQ's, line dancing and much more.

The term ‘dude ranch’ typically brings to mind images of cowboys and cattle drives, a la the popular 1991 comedy, “City Slickers.” While dude ranches still evoke those same memories and are rooted in American tradition, they are much, much more. There is a broad spectrum of guest ranches across North America, ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches. From valleys complete with untouched Rocky Mountain backdrops to desert sunsets across the Southwest, you can find DRA-accredited ranches throughout the Western U.S. in Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nebraska and South Dakota, as well as in California, Arkansas and Canada.

The DRA was founded to preserve and protect the unique dude ranch vacation experience and identity. It requires its members to uphold top quality and service standards. The DRA’s experienced staff helps families of all ages customize their experience, guiding them to the perfect ranch that suits their needs and desires.

Priced competitively with respect to other similar all-inclusive vacation options, almost all meals, activities and special events are included in the cost of a ranch visit. “The Dude Ranchers’ Association takes great pride in all of our ranches, and we know families will have an unforgettable trip, regardless of which guest ranch they choose. One of the best things about a dude ranch vacation is that it makes family travel easy: from working with our experts to plan and customize your trip, to airport pickup, to on-site activities and meals once you arrive, it’s easy and hassle-free and most importantly, fun.”

No matter which guest ranch you choose, a dude ranch vacation guarantees plenty of time to bond and spend time as a family, creating memories that will last a lifetime and a vacation destination you’ll want to return to time and time again. Many dude ranches have special programs and events tailored to children of varying ages, including customized horseback riding lessons based on experience and ability level. Activities can often be done solo or as a group, giving guests the option to spend time as a family and individually. Like the ranches themselves, accommodations vary from luxurious and elegant to rustic and cowboy-chic, from private cabins that can sleep entire families to lodge rooms that share common space. All DRA-accredited lodging options will soon feel like your “home away from home.”

Below are a few ranches you should consider this summer for your “All-American Family Vacation”

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch Red White and Blue`

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch - Arkansas

Stagecoach Trails Red White ad Blue

Stagecoach Trails Ranch - Arizona

Hunewill Guest Ranch Red White and Blue

Hunewill Guest Ranch - California

Black Mountain Ranch Red White and Blue

Black Mountain Ranch


Give Mom and Dad the Gift of Memories this Year

Most Moms and Dads have more than enough “stuff,” and if asked, they may confess they haven’t even opened last year’s gift. This year, how about thinking a little outside the box when it comes to their special day? Why not consider sending Mom and Dad on a Western adventure vacation to a dude ranch? It’s surely a gift they will never forget. Whether they are traveling with or without the kids there’s the right ranch to fit all vacation plans.

Elk Mountain Ranch Mom Special DayElk Mountain Ranch Mom Special Day

Deals for the Parents

Elk Mountain Ranch is offering a complementary airport transfer (a savings of $375) and a complimentary cowboy hat for Dad during the weeks of June 21 - 28. Goosewing Ranch is offering a 40% discount special off the peak season rates for any package if you book your 2015 summer vacation before Mother’s Day, May 10, 2015. Let Mom enjoy her vacation; They will handle the cooking, cleaning, planning, and organizing, Mom just needs to sit back, relax and enjoying being surrounded by loved ones. Daily adventures and one Massage included in all our packages! For Father’s Day Goosewing Ranch is offering 40% discount special off the peak season rates for any package booked during the dates of June 11th - 28th 2015. Here Dads will enjoy fishing, exploring on UTVs, skeet shooting, and much more.

Kid’s Program for Your Freedom

Elk Mountain Rafting Silly Mom and Kids

Majestic Ranch in Durango, Colorado is offering a 30% discount for both Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. They have an awesome kids program so Mom and Dad can spend all the time they want with the kids or some much needed alone time.  Here the counselors, who have all worked with kids of all ages before working here, do an amazing job keeping all the kids busy so parents can rest easy while they enjoy their vacation. All kids ages six and up are able to ride trails while younger kids are given the option to ride in the arena. Additionally, kids pan for gold, play laser tag in our Old Western Town, learn to shoot bows and arrows and BB guns, spend time supervised in the pool, take part in a rodeo, and sleep under the stars in Teepee Village. Parents consistently make comments about how excited they are to see their kids, usually glued to their phones and game consoles, playing outside and smiling all day. While your kids will probably need a bath before going to bed, they will definitely sleep well each night.

Pampering for Mom

C Lazy u Mom and Dad

Enjoy a weekend getaway and treat your mom to a Mother’s Day escape at C Lazy U Ranch. Refresh her body, relax her mind and feed her soul with a serene combination of fine dining and elegant accommodations. For the ultimate pampering mom can take advantage of the ranch’s spa. Flowers will be budding and the trees will be in full bloom as she horseback rides, hikes and mountain bikes across C Lazy U's extensive trail system. If that’s not enough excitement she can do some fly fishing, shoot trap or archery, tackle the ropes course or zoom across the zip line. Spoil Mom and kick off spring with a fun getaway she will never forget. • DATES: May 8-10, 2015 • 2 night minimum • $375 per adult per night • $125 per child per night 3-17 Fly Fishing for

Dad

Focus Ranch Fly Fishing Sqaure

What Dad does not like spending time on the river bank trying to outsmart the cut-throat trout? Focus Ranch on the Wyoming, Colorado boarder will be offering a fly fishing clinic in 2015. Whether you are new to fly fishing or just needing some tips, this clinic is designed to tailor the content to participants’ needs -providing practical experience. It covers a broad range of skills-novice to experienced. Those who want a thorough introduction to the sport, will receive hands on instruction. Those who are already proficient, may benefit from his guiding skills. Topics to be covered include: fly casting techniques; gear; knot tying; trout behavior; water entomology and flies; river anatomy; fishing strategies, catch and release and trout fishing techniques.  

Triangle C Mom Dad

I have often heard “the best part of Memories is making them” and I would have to totally agree. So grad your Mom and Dad and give them memories that will last a Lifetime!!


 

National Parks Week on a Dude Ranch

In honor of National Parks Week we wanted to share with you two great travel story ideas about the best ways to experience some of the awe-inspiring National Parks in America: through a dude ranch vacation.

Moosehead Grand Teton National Park

1.    Great news for road trip lovers this summer! Road trips will be cheaper than they’ve been in six years, according to a new government report that predicted lowgas prices over the summer. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that a gallon of gasoline will cost an average of 32% lower than last year nationwide. With that in mind, may we suggest a piece that explores a road trip to Wyoming and Montana guest ranches nearest some of the country’s most breathtaking national parks? 2.    Similarly, as ecotourism becomes more popular, the Dude Ranchers’ Association’s guest ranches have been the pioneers of green living and green vacations for decades. At a guest ranch, you can explore the country’s National Parks System while reconnecting with nature in some of the most tranquil, pristine areas of the country. Learn to “live off the land” with fishing trips, bird watching, hikes, wildlife viewing and more.

Below, please find a sample of Accredited DRA ranches located near or right in the heart of the country’s top national parks.

Elkhorn MT Yellowstone National Park

Glacier National Park in Montana is one of the 20 largest national parks in the United States. There are two DRA ranches located within an easy drive of the park, known for its abundance of wildlife and more than 700 miles of hiking trails. Take a day trip to Glacier National Park from Three Bars Guest Ranch and Bar W Guest Ranch is highly recommended.

Triangle X Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park - Moose Head Ranch and Triangle X Ranch are located completely within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park, a location that attracts nearly four million visitors per year to Northwestern Wyoming. The R Lazy S Ranch is located on the Southern boundary of Grand Teton National Park, within walking distance from your cabin. Yellowstone National Park is located in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho and home to a large variety of wildlife, including grizzly bears, wolves, bison and elk. Visit Rimrock Ranch to enjoy a picnic lunch on their Friday tours of the park, when guests are treated to a tour of the whole "Lower Loop" of the Park, which includes Sylvan Pass, Fishing Bridge, Yellowstone Lake, West Thumb, Old Faithful, Madison, Norris Geyser Basin, Canyon and Yellowstone Falls, and Yellowstone River. Elkhorn Ranch is located 1.5 miles from the northwest corner of Yellowstone Park and 35 miles from the entrance at West Yellowstone. So don’t miss out this summer give us a call and let us help you plan your trip. 307.587.2339


 

What About Dude Ranch Horses?

Elkhorn Ranch Horses

Horses are the magnificent, noble center piece of which dude ranching is built around. Horses have been carrying riders for centuries and provide the most in depth way to experience and explore the historical American West. Members of the Dude Ranchers' Association offer the best and most reliable horses you and your family could want. Please take a look at the following ways to enjoy different horseback riding programs. There are many ways to find your perfect horses: From the way the horses are raised, riders experience levels and to the locations or types of riding you want to do. Be specific and select the ranch that matches you and your family's dude ranch vacation dreams. There is perfectly fitting ranch for everyone.

Ranch Raised Horses

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in Standpoint, Idaho is very proud of their four-legged working partners. They maintain a herd of about 40 registered Quarterhorses, Appaloosas, and Paints for their saddle horses. Two teams of Belgian, two teams of Percherons and one team of Shire-cross are used for their sleigh and wagon rides. Most of the horses are either born and raised on the ranch or born on one of the owners' brothers’ ranches. The horses are worked with and handled at an early age to begin adapting them to their future uses. As two-year olds, their official training begins, getting them used to the saddle and working them in the round pen. They then graduate to the arena. And then to some short trail rides. A training system called the “Basic Handle,” founded by Monte Forman and Pat Wyse is used. This system creates a safe, responsive, and sensible horse. As three- and four-year-olds, these horses are used as mounts for the trail guides. Then, as five-year-olds, they begin their career as mounts for our guests. They use both mares and geldings and rotate mares in and out as they produce more offspring for our future string. Click here for more information about Western Pleasure's individual horses.

Riding for All Levels - Experienced Riders to Can't-a-lopes

With relaxed instruction from our capable wranglers, you will soon feel safe and comfortable on horseback at Elkhorn Ranch in Montana. As the terrain permits, more experienced riders will lope their horses from time to time.  Wranglers are always happy to instruct any guest who needs a little extra help sharpening their riding skills. Grown-ups, fossils or can’t-a-lopes as they are affectionately known, will be offered a variety of horseback trips each day designed to suit their interest and ability. They will get them into the high country as the week and their confidence progress.  Rides are small, normally with less than eight guests in a group. Our youngest, the Peanuts, ride, play and eat together.  On the trail, they go for carefully supervised rides.  may include a river swim, a visit to an old cowboy fort or a trip to the Bear Caves.  Teenagers also band together, and invariably have spirited rides full of adventures that always seem to grow in the retelling.  Whether you choose short and relaxing or long and challenging, sharing a mountain trail seems to build friendships for guests of every age.  As you brush your horse down before heading back to your cabin, you will  smile at the prospect of returning to the barn tomorrow – well-fed, well-rested, and ready to enjoy another spectacular summer day on a high country trail in the Montana Rockies.

Mountain Trails and Arena Events

Paradise Ranch Horses

Paradise Guest Ranch's riding program is very flexible, and features a number of choices. They offer two hour rides as well as both half-day and full-day rides. Some day rides include lunches packed on mules & cooked along the trail. Horsemanship classes are available.  Hook up with one of our seasoned wranglers and spend a morning riding through the wildflower strewn mountain meadows in the surrounding Bighorn National Forest. You’ll ride trails through mountain scenery that will take your breath away. Or spend an afternoon in our private rodeo arena practicing team penning or barrels and poles. These are timed events and competitive with fun for all. Special team penning classes are available. And the week ends with a special kids' rodeo featuring the ranch's most kid friendly horses. Unescorted Explorations Eatons' Ranch offers our guests the unique opportunity to ride one of our 220 horses unescorted with the permission of the Ranch. This allows guests the remarkable freedom to fully explore this beautiful 7,000 acres of country. Guests can ride out from our Wyoming Dude Ranch twice a day Monday through Friday, choosing among morning, afternoon and evening rides. We also have all-day rides into the Bighorn National Forest as well as breakfast and dinner rides. Riding is a bit more limited on weekends; there are only morning and afternoon rides on Saturday, and on Sunday there is only a morning ride as the rest of the day is our horse holiday. Wranglers are always available to guide rides and offer instruction. Watch this video about Eatons' Ranch and their riding program.

Rowses 1 + 1 Cattle Drive Horses`

Work Cattle in True Cowboy Style When you stay at Rowse’s 1+1 Ranch, you’ll live a real ranching life, and experience the simple pleasures of our western American heritage. It’s a land where neighbors have lent a helping hand for generations. A place where the front door is always open and fresh coffee’s waiting.  Spring, Summer or Fall…Each season is different and special at the 1+1 Ranch. No matter the season you’ll get plenty of time in the saddle on the best of our ranch horses. Spring brings the excitement of calves and foals being born, working cattle, cattle drives, and brandings. Summer brings long pasture rides checking cattle, cattle drives, working cattle, cowboy socials, team roping, and team penning. October is fall Round-Up, which involves long cattle drives on horseback, team roping, and penning.


 

Lucky

By Samantha Cook To spend a summer in the pristine mountain wilderness of Southern Colorado is a beautiful gift denied to most. I, however, was given that privilege. There are no words that will be able to adequately describe the adventures I had, the landscapes I saw, or the relationships I formed—but what are words for if not to make a feeble attempt at such a thing?

Rainbow Trout Ranch Lucky Blog 2

About 30 of us showed up at Rainbow Trout Ranch in the middle of May, ready for a brag-worthy summer job. I was one of two that was lucky enough to receive college credit for my time, though for  me that meant stumbling my way through an office position that my brain was unfit for (despite being a fresh college grad with a business degree). Friendships were formed instantly, through pre-season raking, hilarious games of Apples to Apples, and full-staff nighttime outings.

It wasn’t long before we were weeks into the season, meeting dozens of new guests every week and doing our best to make each day special. Despite early mornings and working close to 50 hours a week, the summer was nothing short of unforgettable. Granted, I spent more time waiting for e-mails to load and copies to print than I did enjoying my affinity for the outdoors, but my job taught me a lot and my days off made for the most incredible adventures. Over the course of eighteen weeks, I did everything I wanted to do and more. I climbed waterfalls. I jumped in the river during a rainstorm. I danced, a lot. I took a 36 hour road trip to Utah, in which I car-camped, visited two national parks in 105 degree heat, and had the time of my life in a beautiful hidden swimming hole in Moab. I rode dozens of horses up and down mountains and through vast meadows and rivers. I was caught in a torrential storm with lightning strikes that were far too close for comfort. I learned to fly-fish, and took nearly every opportunity to do so—most notably packing out a number of miles on horseback to fish Elk Creek all afternoon in complete serenity. I climbed (though, failed to summit) Mount Blanca, Colorado’s fourth tallest mountain. I learned the sport of team roping under the instruction of some incredibly talented people and horses. I took hammock naps beneath cool mountain pines. I caught my first four trout and was giddy with the excitement of a kid at Christmas. I shot assault rifles. I attended rodeos. I made the most unlikely of friends and shared endless hours of laughter with them. I traveled through the state of Colorado with good company, savoring summer with the windows down and accepting wherever the road took us. 

When you have one day off a week, you don’t waste it by sleeping in. Amidst the excursions, I enjoyed the company daily of the fine folks that traveled from around the world to spend their vacation with us. This was without a doubt the most fascinating aspect of my job, because mealtimes meant hearing the life stories of men and women whose lives were vastly different from my own. Families came from England, Italy, New Zealand, and Japan. I met pastors, gym teachers, stay-at-home moms, and car mechanics. I also met film directors, finance executives, brain surgeons, and a member of the LAPD. At the ranch, however, work uniforms and three piece suits are exchanged for wranglers and cowboy hats, and suddenly that big-wig lawyer that makes more money than I can even comprehend just becomes a dad and a husband that may be a little apprehensive about loping his horse for the first time. The “real world” is simply left behind, and worries and stresses from home are temporarily forgotten while the west takes over.

Rainbow Trout Dude Ranch

While I wish I could go into detail on everything, there is one day from my summer that stands out among the others. It was a Thursday that I had off, and I chose to do the back-country ride with about six other guests. The back-country is an advanced all-day ride that traverses out of the valley and up to what feels like the top of the world. My boss, Jane, put me on a horse named Chugwater, named for Chugwater, Wyoming. I hadn’t ridden him before, but I fell in love immediately. He wasn’t the prettiest thing—small, with funny conformation and a Mohawk for a mane—but he was fun to ride and one heck of a mountain horse. Trying to describe the scenery is futile. We could see for miles over expansive meadows and forests, with mountain ranges serving as the perfect backdrop. Rolling golden hills stretched out before us as if the entire world was ours for the taking. Soon we came to a turn in the meadow where Jane just let us go. “If you want to ride slow, ride slow. I’ll be back here. But if you want to run…run.” These are the words I’d been itching to hear all summer. I had competed in some speed events in high school—barrel racing, pole bending, keyhole. But an arena is limited; there is a definitive end. Not the case here. Chugwater was chomping at the bit. All I had to do was move my hands forward and drive my heels down and he took off, racing by all the other horses as we galloped through that beautiful country. To say that I felt like I was flying may be a little cliche, but few other terms can describe the phenomenon of 1,000 pounds of muscle surging underneath you at such fast speeds. Time stopped for a minute and all I could hear was my horse’s breathing and the thunder of his hooves until he came to an exhausted halt. We had a blast together, and it wasn’t even lunchtime yet. Isn’t this the dream for every horse lover?

Rainbow Trout Dude Ranch

The rest of the ride was similarly stunning. We loped along a canyon’s edge, and I knew I had seen identical scenes in some of my favorite horse movies from my childhood (“Flicka,” anyone?). We walked spread out, talking and laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Dark grey clouds gathered and it started to rain at one point, but nothing could dampen my spirits. A while later we split into two groups for another lope, and soon I found myself racing alongside Cameron, the only other summer staff member on the ride that day. Our horses ran through the hills and we laughed at the rain as we got soaked through to our skin. We stopped at the top of a meadow and turned our horses around to watch the rest of the riders hoot and holler as they loped up after us. The ground was shaking and the skies were opened. Cameron simply turned to me in that moment and said, as more of statement than a question, “How lucky do you feel right now?” In the hours after that, we maneuvered our horses through rain and hail to see views of endless aspen forests and foggy cliff faces, each panoramic being more breathtaking than the last. We all shared jokes and stories from our far-away lives in big cities, and when it finally came time to ride back down into the valley, we sat exhausted in our saddles, allowing our horses to do all the work of picking their way through the rocky mountains. My clothes may have been drenched and my knees sore, but my heart was full. That was, without a doubt, the best ride of my life. I still feel so lucky. This past summer was one that I’ll share about for the rest of my life, though my dude ranch adventures are far from being over. Today, I move to Wyoming to begin a new season on another ranch, and I know if the friends, stories, and memories I create there are even just half of what I experienced in Colorado, I’ll be happy. I am living the life that I dreamed of as a little girl, one with horses, mountains, and wide open spaces. “Lucky” doesn’t even begin to cover it.


   

3 ways Dude Ranches Offer Best Value for Travel Dollar

Due to the cost of travel a vacation to any destination may seem like a “pipe dream.” But don’t rule out a summer getaway completely until you’ve considered a stay at a Dude Ranchers’ Association member dude ranch. These quintessential Western getaways have always offered tremendous value for the money. Below are 3 ways Dude Ranches offer best bang for your buck.

Your Dollar Buys More at Home - To keep cost down many travelers are looking for vacation destinations within the USA. For the same reason, so are many European and other foreign travelers. The dude ranch has always been popular overseas for its quintessential American flavor. So, even if you forgo a British Isles trip this season, your kids may very well get the opportunity to mingle with kids from another country at a Western DRA member dude ranch. When you are ready, head out to the Cowboy State - Wyoming and visit the Rimrock Ranch  and Medicine Bow Lodge & Guest Ranch. Visit with the Rocking Z family operated ranch in the big sky country of Montana.    

All-inclusive - DRA ranches are typically all-inclusive operating under the American plan. At Marble Mountain Ranch you can enjoy their saddle and paddle program - riding horses and white water rafting all for one price. Most activities don’t come with extra charges, including extra costs for dining out. Ranches are notorious for hearty wholesome meals – many catering to guests request and special dietary needs. At the Red Reflet Ranch you are provided with farm raised produce and beef excellently prepared by the executive chef.       Red-Horse-All-Inclusive

There’s A DRA Ranch to Fit Each Lifestyle, Each Budget - While each DRA ranch guarantees an authentic Western experience, each offers different amenities and activities. A carefully selected ranch can satisfy the entertainment needs for each member of the family. Ranches come with hot tubs, rifle ranges, swimming pools, spas, fishing guides, tennis and basketball courts, whitewater rafting and more. Red Horse Mountain Ranch is one with a very extensive list of family fun adventures.  While each DRA ranch is a quality destination, rates do vary. For the budget minded there are ranches offering stays of shorter duration. At Three Bars Guest Ranch you can stay for three nights or indefinitely.  And, don’t forget it’s possible to pay off-season, reduced rates for periods just before and following the “high season” of Mid June through late August and September. Today, there are more than 100 DRA member ranches in the Western US and Canada, and at least one of them has all the elements making it an ideal and affordable getaway for your 2015 summer vacation.


Fishing + Dude Ranches = A Great Family Getaway

Casting a line through a baby-blue sky scattered with cotton-puff clouds, then watching it settle into the crisp-cold babble of a mountain stream somehow symbolizes an ideal vacation for almost anyone—especially when Dad knows that his family is relishing the trip as well. Members of The Dude Ranchers’ Association offer a wonderful combination of plenty of pristine fishing moments for avid fishermen along with captivating activities for every other family member as well. 

Since DRA dude ranches are far from big crowds, located in gorgeous natural settings, and mostly on private land, the rivers, lakes and streams on these properties provide some of the finest fishing available in the country. Relatively untouched, each fishing hole offers a prime chance to experience fishing at its best.

The High Lonesome Ranch Fishing View

 

Many DRA member properties border national parks, such as the Spotted Horse Ranch next to the Grand Teton National Park. This makes for a setting for each fishing moment is spectacular. And with bountiful numbers of trout, browns, cutthroat, and rainbows around, fishermen can choose their favorite bait, pick a spot, and count on some of the best fishing of their career.

 

Many of The Dude Ranchers’ Association members feature Orvis-endorsed lodges, which means their operations and guides are continually reviewed by the Orvis staff and offer the latest in fishing techniques and client services. The C Lazy U Ranch is such a ranch. The fish you catch here you will remember for a lifetime. Whether you are here for the day, multiple days, or the entire week, you will always want “one more day.”

4UR Ranch Fly Fishing Boat

Many ranches carefully manage their fishing locales, run catch-and-release programs, and even have stocked ponds, ensuring that every fisherman meets success—from the beginner to the most expert. In fact, a vacation at a DRA dude ranch is ideal for first-time fisherman or children just learning the sport. The Bar Lazy J Ranch offers a free fly fishing clinic at the beginning of your vacation. If you are looking for the most expertise in fly fishing guides look no further that the Diamond D Ranch's Dave Tucker and his guides from Dreams on the Fly. This, affordable lessons and ample stock make those first fishing attempts rewarding and exciting.

But this vacation doesn’t have to just make Dad happy. While fishermen are experiencing the best fishing available, other family members are creating their own treasured vacation memories. Whether they are hiking, biking, horseback riding, or participating in one of the many carefully planned kids’ programs at the 4UR Ranch, everyone is having the best family vacation ever.  And don't forget about the evening activities for the family to gather together at the High Lonesome Ranch. This is the time to share the day’s activities, and create even more memories—only this time getting to know each other better and spending quality time strengthening family ties.

 

Fishing + Dude Ranches = A Great Family Getaway

 

Casting a line through a baby-blue sky scattered with cotton-puff clouds, then watching it settle into the crisp-cold babble of a mountain stream somehow symbolizes an ideal vacation for almost anyone—especially when Dad knows that his family is relishing the trip as well. Members of The Dude Ranchers’ Association offer a wonderful combination of plenty of pristine fishing moments for avid fishermen along with captivating activities for every other family member as well.

Head South for the Winter

If you’re planning a getaway or full-fledged vacation during the heart of the winter, consider heading South. There is wide range of options available from the member ranches of The Dude Ranchers’ Association. Winter provides an ideal opportunity in the warmer climates of the Southwest for a traditional dude ranch vacation. Across Arizona, for instance, ranches operate either year-round or seasonally from fall through spring. Horseback rides through inspiring stretches of the desert or on stunning mountain trails are just the beginning. Hiking, mountain biking, swimming, scrumptious meals, and plenty of time to kick back and relax amidst the region’s natural splendors makes for a great ending.Circle Z Icon

Want to stay in a traditional setting?  Circle Z Ranch this winter will be an enchanting vacation. This ranch has seven historic Spanish- style adobe guest cottages that dot the plateau on which the ranch lies. Accommodations vary from individual rooms to suites with living rooms or entirely private cottages, each reflecting Southwestern charm. The Casa Rosa (arch way pictured above) is an adobe building in the Spanish Revival style embracing a fountain courtyard. There are eight double rooms, each with a private bath and courtyard entrance. This is a favorite of many returning guests. Several of the rooms have connecting doors for families.

Western style horseback riding at Elkhorn Ranch provides adventure and a great way to see the incredible scenery of the Baboquivari Mountains. The ranch’s ten thousand acres provide plenty of remote canyons and mountain country to explore, a true wilderness experience. Experience gentle or loping rides through the desert and more vigorous trips up into the mountains – including all day ventures with sandwiches or a mule-packed hot lunch. You won't forget this winter vacation. Flying E Celebrate a cowboy Christmas at the ranch. Take a step back into old west days and celebrate the season. Make ornaments to decorate a real Christmas tree, eat cookies by the fire, and sing carols while waiting for Santa to arrive on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning breakfast ride offers a western breakfast at Yucca Flats. Hotcakes on the campfire griddle, ham, sausage, cowboy potatoes, eggs and the best dutch oven biscuits you have ever tasted. The best gift is the gift of family time. Additional Arizona Ranches: Rancho de los Caballeros White Stallion Tanque Verde


 

Hollywood Meets the Wild West

Forget Hollywood: many dude ranches have had Hollywood come to them to film some of the most notable classic Western movies ever to hit the big screen over the years.  Take for example, White Stallion Ranch. This family-owned 3,000-acre dude ranch located outside of Tucson, Ariz., has been attracting Hollywood filmmakers to its unspoiled desert and rugged mountain landscape for more than 70 years. Notable Western movies filmed on-site include the 1939 legendary film, “Arizona,” as well as “Winchester 73,” “Apache Ambush” and “Backlash.” And the list doesn’t stop at just Western films. Scenes from “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” starring George Clooney were filmed on the ranch. The 2007 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue even used this desert setting for its hugely popular annual photo shoot! 

Another guest ranch known for its movie history is Circle Z Ranch. Also located in Arizona, Circle Z Ranch is the oldest continuously operating guest ranch in the state and has served as the backdrop for movies and TV shows including “Gunsmoke” and John Wayne’s “Red River.”

Most recently, the 2006 movie “Flicka” was filmed at Eaton’s Ranch in Wyoming. Upon arriving to the ranch’s 7,000 acres of beautiful open country with rolling hills, grassy meadows and hidden valleys, you too will see why the setting was perfect for the big screen.  Whether you’re a movie buff looking to visit the settings of some of your favorite movies or searching for a thrilling adventure in an off-the-beaten-path locale, guest ranches provide you with the full on star treatment. Thanks to their warm Western Hospitality and full lineup of daily activities and programing, you’re guaranteed to have the experience of a lifetime…straight out of a Hollywood Western.eatons fall (2)


 

Find Your Frontier

Find you frontier at this classic Wyoming Dude Ranch, the T Cross Ranch, with a timeless magic. The T Cross Dude Ranch lies inside the Shoshone National Forest at an elevation of 7,800 feet. Surrounded by an untouched country of pine forests and open meadows, trout-rich streams and small lakes, with endless vistas rising well over 11,000 feet - it is scenically magical. Through the T Cross gate you will discover a pristine wilderness. In the backyard, the Washakie Wilderness Area of Wyoming covers 704,274 acres, adjoining the southeastern boundary of Yellowstone National Park and the Teton Wilderness in one huge chunk of very wild country. From atop well-trained horses, guests discover rugged mountain trails revealing a myriad of wildlife seen only in the greater Yellowstone area. Most guests, however, remember the T Cross for its familiar atmosphere that blends the color of the West and the relaxing comforts of home.


  Looking for the perfect riding ranch? While Three Bars Guest Ranch offers a variety of activities; their horseback riding program is in a class of its own. Nowhere else will you find this combination of such great horses, beautiful riding terrain, and world-class horsemen with generations of experience. Three Bars Guest Ranch is home to over 110 head of horses. The horse-to-guest ratio is over 2-to-1, allowing for horses suited to each rider's individual ability and experience level. Horses range from "bomb proof" kids' horses all the way through to young horses suitable for experienced riders. So, whether you're an old hand or someone who needs a helping hand, you can be sure to enjoy your time in the saddle. Your horse will be just that - YOUR horse for the week. He will be ready and waiting for you every morning of your stay, along with the saddle that suits you most.


  The opportunity to work with the cattle at Sweet Grass Dude Ranch is what brings many guests back year after year. Since the cattle graze on Sweet Grass Ranch lands for most of the summer, guests have the opportunity to learn first-hand about the challenges and joys of caring for a herd of grass-fed range cattle, monitoring their health and moving them to new grazing grounds as water and grass vitality dictates. You may do some cattle work on any given week, and are often checking fences, grass conditions, and putting out salt and minerals. On these working rides guests are always invited to get a true taste of the cowboy life. For those looking for that working ranch experience of a cattle drive, there are certain weeks to move cattle. Here’s a chance to drive cattle from one ranch to another or over to different grazing lands. These dates may change slightly from year-to-year, so it’s best to check with the ranch when planning your trip.  


  With many of our ranches located on private pristine waters fly fishing is one of the activities that is sure to make any angler happy. Spotted Horse Ranch in Jackson Wyoming is no exception. There is a one acre spring-fed pond holding Snake River Cutthroats - a unique strain of cutthroat and the only native trout to Jackson Hole. A resident since the last ice age, this gem of a fish sports a golden bronze body speckled with black spots, accented by a scarlet slash under each gill plate. In the spirit of preservation please be gentle with these fish, should you be fortunate enough to make their acquaintance. Land them quickly and send them on their way.  Spotted Horse Ranch has some of the best streams and rivers for spawning and growing trout. Vigorous and hungry, Snake River Fine-Spotted Cutthroat, Rainbow, and Brown Trout thrive in the cool waters in their backyard. The ranch offers virtually every level of fly caster a satisfying experience. Free casting lessons are offered on Monday afternoons. Put on your boots and cowboy hat and travel to a classic DRA ranch. Where time passes slowly and life remains consistent. Find your frontier amongst ranchers and crew who have made the West a historical way of life.


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Dude Ranch - The Cure for Nature Deficit Disorder

Richard Louv, child advocate and writer of the bestselling books The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods, has coined the term Nature-Deficit Disorder. He explains a growing body of research indicating the lack of nature in today's online generation. This term parallels the lack of nature to the growing trends of childhood obesity, attention disorders and depression. He explains, "Direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults"(richardlouv.com). At a dude ranch your are guaranteed to get your nature fix and spend the majority of your vacation outdoors in some of the most beautiful locations West of the Mississippi. With three square meals a day planned out carefully by a professional chef, you won't have to worry about feeding your children fast food on the road. Once you know your kids are eating right, what kind of outdoor activities will they be doing all week? There is something for all ages at a guest ranch, balancing quality time together and apart. For the little tikes there is a children's program, equipped with a weeks worth of activities including pony rides, field days, crafts and all sorts of toddler friendly activities. Look at this little girl (pictured left) riding for the first time at the A Bar A Ranch in Wyoming.  

For the kids old enough to go out on trial ride, I’m sure they will team up with the other children and tackle every hill and trail with their new favorite wrangler. Pictured Right is a young cowgirl racing around the barrels in the arena activities at the Tumbling River Ranch in Colorado. The older teens might end up fishing or going on an all day hike, hanging out with the crew and other guests their age. They won't even realize how much time they'll spend in nature, except for the repeated application of sunscreen. A vacation this summer will inspire them to go outdoors and explore. Who knows- when they become of age they might end up working a summer or two for a ranch. No matter how much time you spend at a dude ranch physically and emotionally you and your whole family will leave refreshed and full of memories. If you're seeking a healthy, active outdoor vacation to combat Nature-Deficit Disorder take a look at the following ranches with activities designed with the whole family in mind. R Lazy S Kids Program

R Lazy S Pictured left is the Kid’s Wrangler, Will, jamming to Musical Chairs during Gymkhana. Along with Musical Chairs, they had fun riding horses while balancing an egg on a spoon, a 3-Legged race, and the famous M&M’s hidden in whip cream race. This, followed by a hamburger/hot dog barbecue, makes for a perfect day.  

Cherokee Park The Cherokee Park Ranch is a family owned dude ranch nestled in the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains. We cater to families with kids of all ages, horse back riding, river rafting, rodeos, fishing, music, dancing, cow wrangling, swimming, ropes/challenge course, skeet shooting and mountain biking.    

Greenhorn Creek A truly all inclusive guest dude ranch vacation, we provide the perfect location for family vacations, reunions, weddings, corporate and business retreats, meetings, special events, equine guided education and so much more. Still serving up the best hospitality in the west!    

Three Bars Three Bars Guest Ranch The adventure ranch of the Canadian Rockies invites you to experience the ultimate horseback riding vacation. Located just south of Banff National Park, Three Bars Ranch offers the most diverse vacation activities available anywhere. Voted Canada's #1 Dude Ranch in 2012.    

Drowsy Water Winner Tripadvisor Travelers' Choice Awards #1 All Inclusive Vacation. For over 90 years Drowsy Water Ranch has been providing folks from around the world with Western vacations. Under the same owner/management for 35 years, we promise nothing less than real down home hospitality and memories.    

Lone Mountain Endless recreational possibilities at this historic ranch offering horseback riding, hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, fly fishing and Outdoor Youth Adventures just 18 miles from Yellowstone National Park. Cozy, comfortable log cabins with western furnishings.  

Dude Ranches Come With Multi-Sport Family Adventures So You Don’t Have to Create Your Own!

There’s a new term popping up for the action-packed modern family vacation. It’s known as the “multi-sport adventure,” and it calls for multi planning as well. Long before anyone lifts a paddle or laces-up hiking boots they must first create an itinerary calling for frequent stops, hiring a local outfitter, and arranging for suitable food and shelter along the adventure. Linking together the components of the multi-sports adventure can get complicated. But it doesn’t have to be. There’s one vacation category where sports loving families can simply park the car, unpack their bags and settle in for a week of jam-packed action. It’s the Western dude ranch, a place where folks don’t have to think about what comes next. All the details are in place to let the good times roll! Sure, horses and riding are paramount to any Western dude ranch experience, but in addition to riding (or sometimes in place of) they ride the rapids, paddle a canoe, play golf or tennis, hike in the wilderness, cycle the back roads and mountain trails, go caving, hot air ballooning or rock climbing. Many ranches have recently added ropes courses, zip lines, climbing walls and 3 dimensional archery. 

"Another beauty of multi-sporting at a dude ranch is when parents want to take time for themselves, Dad can play a round of golf and Mom can relax with spa treatments.” That’s an apt description for Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge, a 2,000 acre, family operated Montana dude ranch, nestled on a bay on the east shore of Flathead Lake just south of Glacier National Park. Here, guests are just steps away from the largest freshwater lake West of the Mississippi. A waterfront staff leads activities at the main dock daily, including sailing, water skiing, and wake boarding. Instruction for beginners and private lessons are available. The ranch volleyball, tennis, and basketball courts see a lot of action each day as do the horses. Riding can get competitive here as well. There are team penning and barrel racing events all week ending with a family rodeo. And yes, there’s a top-rated Jack Nicklaus Jr. golf-course just minutes away as well as an on-site professional masseuses skilled in therapeutic massages from hot stone to rejuvenating deep tissue.

  Arkansas’s Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is another paradise for families on multi-sport adventures. Tucked into the Buffalo River Wilderness of Northern Arkansas, sporting adventures include “Frisbee” golf, skeet shooting, the state’s longest zip line course, and of course, rock climbing. One of the finest climbing courses in the state was developed on ranch property. The zip-line carries many a thrill seeker moving at breakneck speed above a deep gulch. For some, paddling the Buffalo River, trout fishing, or exploring old Indian caves provides enough action.       

"Glamorous Camping" has come of age at the Bar W Ranch. You get the best of both worlds - being and feeling a part of nature while staying in an elegant setting at the same time. The Bar W offers two luxurious canvas tents decorated Bar W style - simple elegance blended with western informality. Each tent is decked out with a queen size bed, full sized futon, private porch, kitchenette and chic Western décor. Both tents have a private bath located just a couple of feet away. Your glamping experience is nestled in a pasture with wild flowers, a string of horses and all sorts of wildlife right outside. You'll never think of camping the same way again.   As you can see there really is something for everyone at a Multi-Sport Dude Ranch, so what are you waiting for??

Horseshoe-canyon-activities-Rock-Climbing

4th of July Dude Ranch Celebrations

Hunewill-Creek-Crossing-Trail-e1436290031730 With the 4th of July fast approaching what could be more American than a cowboy vacation at a Dude Ranch.  With all our dude ranches located “out west” you can be assured of an old fashioned 4th of July celebration. Barbeques, parades and rodeos are just the beginning. Hay rides, cattle drives, river rafting and sightseeing at a national park such as Yellowstone or Glacier would put you well on your way to independence day. The night might end with fireworks, bonfires and maybe even traditional Western street dancing.   Dude ranches are ideal places for kids and families to re-discover each other. Without the typical distractions of TV, phones, computers and electronic games, families spend time together recharging and re-connecting. Days are spent in the saddle, enjoying stunning scenery and breathing fresh country air, and evenings enjoying tasty down home cooking and ranch entertainment. Today, as it did over a century ago, the western dude ranch experience offers relief for both the body and spirit of those seeking refuge from the pressures and routine of everyday life.  

Here's the schedule for Hunewill Guest Ranch's 4th of July: Spend the week riding through our breathtaking meadows, enjoy a breakfast ride, and take cows up to the high country on Wednesday. On Friday, you will be able to ride horseback with us in the 152nd Bridgeport 4th of July parade, the oldest continuously run parade in the US(pictured left). July 4th is always a memorable time at Hunewill’s, as the parade is followed by a special barbeque back at the ranch. The day is topped off by watching Bridgeport’s spectacular fireworks show against the silhouette of the rugged Sierra.

Bordered by Grand Teton National Park, Bridger Teton National Forest and the Gros Ventre Wilderness Area the Gros Ventre River Dude Ranch offers something extra special, check out the antique car show and a live band at the Gros Ventre River Ranch.  

 

 The following ranches also have some pretty great 4th activities. T Cross Ranch, Paradise Guest Ranch, White Stallion, Diamond D, Goosewing Ranch, Covered WagonHorseshoe Canyon, Red Rock Ranch, JJJ Wilderness Ranch The great thing about dude ranches is the above activities take place at ranches all season not just over special holidays. While staying at a ranch everyday will feel like the 4th of July.

Cody, Wyoming Dude Ranches

Crossed-Sabres-with-Logo-600x387Yesterday I had the pleasure of getting out of the office to visit Crossed Sabres, a Cody, Wyoming Dude Ranch. We took a drive down the North Fork Highway that leads right to the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. We passed the famous Buffalo Bill Damn and the Buffalo Bill Reservoir. There are some good pictures to be taken at these scenic outlooks! At just 10 miles from the East gate we pulled into the Cross Sabres Ranch. This ranch has been there for many, many years, but recently ranch ownership has changed hands. The cabins and facilities enjoyed a fresh coat of paint and care from the new owner Kenny Long. He purchased the ranch a couple of years ago and has done an amazing job restoring much of the ranch. We heartily give him a welcome into the Dude Ranchers Association and wish him and his family the best of luck. Kenny gave us the grand tour of the lodge, cabins and riding facilities, but not before feeding us a home cooked lunch of soup and sandwiches.  I have to say it was delightful and the oatmeal raisin cookies were one of the best ranch cookies I have had. Their lodge is centrally located within the ranch. There is a beautiful great room with a high ceiling and an intimate feel next to the fire place. This room leads up to a game room upstairs. There is a large dining hall and a Western style saloon that opens to the front porch. You can imagine yourself having a drink and watching the kids play off of the porch, learning to rope a calf dummy. You might also sneak away to stroll though the cabins strategically placed around Libby Creek, which meanders through the ranch. Picking out a secluded spot to read a book and letting the sounds of the creek fill your soul would be one the moments guest ranching is famous for. While horseback riding is the main focus for all DRA member dude ranches they do have a fishing guide that is happy to get you all suited up with their on- property Orvis gear and take you out to find that perfect fishing hole.  There is a small archery and BB gun shooting area.  Hiking is endless in the Shoshone National Forest so, as you can see there is something for everyone. On our visit we had the pleasure of hanging out with this guy. He was lying just outside one of the cabins, relaxing in the sunshine.  He is just an example of the diversity of wildlife you can see on your adventures in Yellowstone. After saying good bye to the buffalo and our friends at Cross Sabres we headed back towards town.  On our way we stopped at The Historic UXU Dude Ranch.  The ranch welcomed new managers Ally and Jim and we wanted to introduce ourselves.  They certainly added their personal touches and everything looked great. They are excited to welcome their first guests of the season. The cabins are decorated with beautiful western furniture done in the Moles Worth Style. The wranglers were cutting trails and getting the horses and tack ready for the season. This made for breath taking scenery with cowboys, green pasture and the warm Wyoming sun reflecting off of the North Fork of the Shoshone River. Heading back to town I was filled with thoughts of adventure not only for what these 2 ranches have to offer, but also the trails and sights along the way in the foothills of the Absaroka Mountain Range. I can’t wait to explore the other DRA dude ranches around Cody, Wyoming. Check out the list of the nearby ranches below and imagine the memories to be made at these vacation destinations.  

7D Ranch The 7D Ranch is Cody, Wyoming's premier family guest ranch since 1958. Extensive trail riding in a pristine mountain setting. Fly-fishing with instruction. Supervised children's program. Western cuisine. Hiking from the ranch as well as in the Beartooth Mountains. Weekly trips into Yellowstone NP.       

Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch in Shell, Wyoming, is 300,000-acre working cattle, riding & fly-fishing ranch. This upscale all-inclusive quality ranch is located 60 miles East of Cody, Wyoming & Yellowstone National Park. Limited to around 25 guests per week. Quarter, Paints, Gaited & Mustang horses. 4 languages.       

Rimrock Ranch Rimrock Ranch is nestled on the banks of Canyon Creek, halfway between Cody, Wyoming and the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. This dude ranch is family owned and operated since 1955. The week is filled with riding, rafting, rodeo, and an all day tour of Yellowstone. Heated pool, hot tub and fishing pond.    

   

Western Adventure Vacation

Whether you are looking to get your family to unplug and reconnect or to challenge and revive your body, spirit and mind in breathtaking off-the-beaten path locales, an all-inclusive dude ranch is the perfect vacation destination – paired with thrilling adventures, opportunities to recharge and a chance to explore the “Wild West.” Think horses, hats, hospitality, heritage, honesty and heart. And that’s just the beginning.

As the original all-inclusive western adventure vacation, dude ranches offer value and numerous advantages over other all-inclusive vacation options including no planning once you arrive, flexibility to customize your itinerary and no additional costs once you arrive to your destination. Guest ranches also offer a wide variety of activities. From horseback riding and hiking, to zip lining and archery, to swimming and yoga, a dude ranch vacation guarantees a memorable experience and memories that will last a lifetime.

The three most asked questions when people call the DRA to find out information about a western adventure vacation on a dude ranch are as follows:

What will I do?

The activities at all of our dude ranches can be as leisurely or active as you want. While unlimited horseback riding is the main focus of all DRA ranches the other activities you can experience are endless. Hiking in National Parks and forests, white water rafting, world class fly fishing on private waters, overnight pack trips, mountain biking, trap shooting, golf, children’s programs, evening entertainment, cattle work and much, much more. There really is something for everyone.

 

What will I eat?

Dining at a dude ranch will be one of the most memorable parts of your vacation. Whether you are dining around a camp fire, under the stars, enjoying a pool side barbeque, or sitting at an elegant candlelit table, the food is simply amazing. The fare will range from home-style cooking to the finest in western cuisine. Ranches offer freshly baked pastries and breads, deserts, fresh fruits and vegetables. Many ranches have farm-to-table relationships with the local farming communities so you can be assured of freshness. Special dietary needs can be accommodated upon request.

 

Where will I stay?

Sitting in a big overstuffed chair with your favorite book by a crackling fire or standing on a porch looking at a view that simply takes your breath away. No noisy streets, no high-rise buildings, just you and Mother Nature at your fingertips. Dude Ranch accommodations vary from luxurious to elegant rustic, to cowboy chic. Whether you are staying in your own private cabin or in a lodge room, rest assured you will be sleeping on comfortable beds, in superbly kept rooms with all the amenities you could need.

 

Western Adventure Vacation 

 

As the original all-inclusive western adventure vacation, dude ranches offer value and numerous advantages over other all-inclusive vacation options including no planning once you arrive, flexibility to customize your itinerary and no additional costs. With horseback riding, hiking, zip lining and archery a dude ranch vacation guarantees a memorable experience. Here are the top 3 FAQ's about dude ranches.

Ecotourism and Sustainable Practices Happen Year Round at Dude Ranches

 

Did you know that the UN World Tourism organization predicts that there will be a whopping 1.6 billion eco-inspired trips taken by 2020? While ecotourism is an up-and-coming trend, DRA-accredited guest ranches have been the pioneers of green living and sustainable vacations for decades. From growing organic food and using energy-efficient appliances to making their own biodegradable fuel, dude ranches offer guests the ability to enjoy travel while reducing their “footprint.”

 Besides offering green living, a dude ranch vacation provides you with the ability to reconnect with nature in some of the most tranquil and pristine areas of the country. You’ll learn to “live off the land” with fishing trips, bird watching, hikes, wildlife viewing and much more.

 Below please find a sample of some of the DRA’s accredited ranches that are particularly well suited for those in search of a more sustainable vacation.

Smith Fork Ranch - Crawford, ColoradoSmithfork-Gardening

Celebrating farm-to-table cuisine is an important part of Smith Fork Ranch. Their own farmstead garden cultivates over 80 varieties of herbs, fruits and vegetables without the use of synthetic fertilizers or chemicals.  Additionally, with the ranch’s access to 1.3 million acres of the Gunnison National Forest and West Elk Wilderness, the ranch has a nearly unlimited and untouched outdoor kingdom.

Wilderness Trails Ranch – Durango, Colorado

This Colorado guest ranch collects bottles, cans, plastic and paper from approximately 45 guests and 35 staff members that stay at the ranch each week and loads a larger trailer to take into town 30 miles away. While staying at the ranch, guests can enjoy an exceptional horseback riding program, unsurpassed wilderness and lake access, phenomenal fishing, an award-winning Never Bored Kids Program, mountain biking opportunities, overland tours, indulgent spa treatments, taste-bud tantalizing cuisine, specialty events and more.

Rocking Z Ranch – Wolf Creek, Montana

Utilizing recycled vegetable oil, this guest ranch first started powering a stationary diesel motor to pump water for irrigation. It worked so well, the ranch now uses vegetable oil to make biodiesel after taking out the fatty acids. They use this to run the tractors, loaders, an excavator, dozer and diesel pickup during the summer months.

Diamond D Ranch - Stanley, Idaho

Situated in the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states and family owned, Diamond D Ranch is completely cut off from the power grid as electricity is provided by the ranch’s very own hydro-electric generator. At the ranch, there is an endless amount of country and wildlife to see, streams to fish and mountains in which to hike or horseback ride.

Eaton’s Ranch – Wolf, Wyoming

This Wyoming dude ranch and working cattle ranch is located on the magnificent, pine covered eastern slopes of the Bighorn Mountains. Just eighteen miles west of Sheridan, the ranch consists of 7,000 acres of beautiful open country with rolling hills, grassy meadows and hidden valleys.  A historic Wyoming dude ranch for 135 years, it offers guests a true western experience and way of life. Many new ranches have embraced and implemented modern elements into their ranches. Conversely, Eaton’s Ranch has managed to preserve its authenticity, with cozy cabins, many of which date back to the early 1900s.

Black Tail Ranch – Wolf Creek, Montana

Come discover the beauty and partake in new adventures on a historic guest ranch near the continental divide. Explore majestic mountain trails on horseback or by hiking accompanied by our experienced guides. Try your hand at fly fishing on one of Montana's premiere rivers, enjoy bird watching, cave exploring, incredible wildlife viewing, go for a swim in the creek or spend the afternoon in the shade of the big Cottonwood trees. This well-appointed working guest ranch on 8000 acres of spectacular Big Sky country is perfect for individuals, family vacations and gatherings of all kinds.

 

 

Dude Ranches Pioneer Educational Travel

The Travel Effect Campaign reports that adults who took educational trips as kids are 12 percent more likely to graduate from college and earn more than those who didn’t. Statistics  have more parents searching for family vacation options that make learning fun. Filled with experiences rooted in local culture and history, two items that 77 percent of respondents in the Travel Effect Campaign cited as having a lasting impact, we are dedicated to preserving and promoting the genuine western way of life. By offering kids the ability to experience this way of life, dude ranches are helping future generations appreciate nature, wildlife and Western culture.

A dude ranch vacation offers a variety of programming for kids of all ages, with daily schedules that are so engaging kids won’t realize they’re learning along the way. Kids programs and activities, many of which are overseen by dedicated wranglers and staff members, are designed to educate and entertain with activities ranging from ropes courses, scavenger hunts, horseback riding, panning for gold, wildlife excursions, overnight camping trips, campfire sing-a-longs, capture the flag, hay rides and much more. “I think one of the best parts about our kids programs is that it really engages kids’ adventurous spirit and teaches them about many things they wouldn’t learn within the four walls of their classrooms,   the experience has a lasting effect on the child. You can ask any kid the name of the horse they rode while vacationing at a dude ranch in a month or even a year and they will be able to tell you as well as the names of the kids and wranglers. It’s a unique memory that stays with them for many years. To embark on your next educational adventure go to www.duderanch.org/listings_search.php and search for the kids program that is right for you and your kiddos. Below are a few ranches with great kids programs to get you started: Horseshoe Canyon Fall Colors

4UR Ranch

Vista Verde Ranch

Wind River Christian Dude Ranch

A Bar A Ranch

Wilderness Trails Ranch

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

Elkhorn Ranch

Lost Valley Ranch

Three Bars Guest Ranch

Averill’s Flathead Lake Ranch

CM Ranch

 

Vacation of a Lifetime at a Dude Ranch

A Dude Ranch Vacation is all about YOU, the guest. All member ranches of The Dude Ranchers’ Association are committed to making sure you have the vacation of a life time.  With our warm Western Hospitality, outstanding horses, great food,  inviting accommodations and our spectacular locations, we guarantee a vacation you and your loved ones will not soon forget. Dude ranches are ideal places for kids, families and couples to re-discover each other, without the typical distractions of this fast paced world we live in. Families spend time together enjoying horseback riding, hiking, fishing, river rafting, working cattle, children’s programs, evening programs and much more.              Immerse yourself in the welcoming atmosphere of the Southwest while horseback riding at White Stallion Ranch or golfing at the world class golf course at Rancho de los Caballeros.                Whether you are a seasoned angler or simply want to give it a try,  stake out some private shoreline for amazing fly-fishing in Wyoming at Red Rock Ranch or Paradise Ranch.                In Montana, Glamping or “Glamorous Camping” has come of age at the Bar W Ranch and there isn’t a more fitting place to explore the wilderness of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem than at Lone Mountain Ranch.                Looking for a little more adventure while learning how the “real cowboys” made a living?  Check out The Hideout Ranch and the Red Reflet Ranch during their cattle weeks.                For some spectacular views of Teton National Park, you can’t beat Moose Head Ranch located at the base of the Tetons. Ride the high meadows of Goosewing Ranch and The Gros Ventre River Ranch while gazing at the spectacular views of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.                At Eatons’ Ranch in Wyoming and the Latigo Ranch in Colorado, they honor their heritage by providing a traditional dude ranch experience. Both ranches are family owned and operated offering great food, amazing horseback riding and, of course, true Western Hospitality. So what are you waiting for, come experience the Original all-inclusive Western Vacation at its Best!!

The Dude Ranchers' Association

When the stress and strain of modern life frays your nerves too thin, it's time to start dreaming up your next vacation. It's time to dream big - as big as the spacious skies, wide-open plains, and mountain spires of the rural West. Leave it all behind - traffic snarls, cell phones, laptops - and come live a big dream way out in the heart of nature in the welcoming comfort of an authentic Western dude ranch. Ever since the late 1800's, real working ranches have been opening their doors to friends and families and showing them what Western hospitality is all about. These ranches originated the concept of the dude ranch with lodging, dining, and guided trips into the surrounding countryside, all rolled into one vacation package. Modern dude ranches range from historic working ranches to upscale resort ranches affording hot tubs on private decks, gourmet dining by candlelight, and cozy rooms with moss rock fireplaces and contemporary Western decor. What all these guest ranches have in common is that they handle everything - from big hearty breakfasts in the morning to entertainment in the evening for friends and family gathered in the lodge. Dating from 1926, The Dude Ranchers' Association has overseen quality control for its industry and provided invaluable assistance in pointing guests toward a ranch with activities and amenities that suit their needs and interests. The screening process to become a DRA member is rigorous and demanding, including references from guests, on-site inspections, and a probationary period for new members of at least a year. Each of the association's 100 member ranches across the western United States and Canada have passed its tests for safety, proper care of horses and equipment, clean rooms in good repair, and dedication to the preservation of the traditional dude ranch experience. This stamp of authenticity is your assurance that you'll get the real thing. The Dude Ranchers' Association publishes a yearly brochure and trip planning information is available online with easy ways to narrow down your search. Telephone inquiries are always encouraged!  For more information, visit www.duderanch.org, email info@duderanch.org of call 307-587-2339. Three Bars Gather

    THREE BARS GUEST RANCH Cranbrook, British Columbia Phone: +1 877-426-5230 Three Bars GuestRanch, The Adventure Ranch of the Canadian Rockies, invites you to experience the ultimate horseback riding vacation. Located just south of Banff National Park, Three Bars Ranch offers the most diverse activities program available anywhere. Voted Canada's #1 Dude Ranch 2011.

 

    Elkhorn Ranch Tucson, Arizona Phone: +1 520-822-1040 Sunny winter season Sonoran Desert guest ranch in scenic Baboquivari Mountains southwest of Tucson, Arizona. Family owned and operated since 1946. Comfortable living and excellent horseback riding for singles, couples and families of all ages and abilities. Adventure, relaxation, friendship.

 

    Circle Z Ranch Patagonia, Arizona Phone: +1 888-854-2525 Join us at Circle Z Ranch for an old-time ranch adventure! From the moment you arrive you feel a sense of stepping back in time.

 

    Colorado Trails Ranch Durango, Colorado Phone: +1 800-323-3833 Fun and adventure in the San Juan Mountains near historic Durango include horseback riding, fly-fishing, rafting and shooting sports. Special programs for children, evening and other activities, freindly staff, excellent food, cozy cabins and spectacular location make this a vacation of a lifetime.

 

    Drowsy Water Ranch Granby, Colorado Phone: +1 800-845-2292 Winner Tripadvisor Travelers' Choice Awards #1 All Inclusive Vacation. For over 90 years Drowsy Water Ranch has been providing folks from around the world with Western vacations. Under the same owner/management for 35 years, we promise nothing less than real down home hospitality and memories.

 

    Red Horse Mountain Ranch Harrison, Idaho Phone: +1 888-689-9680 Located on 300,000 acres, the ranch is 1.5 hour drive from the Spokane International Airport, near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Full service, all-inclusive vacation is available from June through October.

 

    63 Ranch Livingston, Montana Phone: +1 888-395-5151 "Montana's Magic" happens to you on your 63 Ranch Vacation. A mountain ranch located 50 miles north of Yellowstone National Park at the foot of the magnificent Absaroka Mountain Range. Unmatched scenic grandeur. Owned and operated by original founding family since 1929.

 

    Mountain Sky Guest Ranch Emigrant, Montana Phone: +1 800-548-3392 Just 30 miles from Yellowstone National Park, we have spent over 80 years perfecting our rustic elegance on nearly 9,000 acres of beautiful rugged countryside in the heart of Montana's Paradise Valley. We invite you to explore the vacation of a lifetime here at Mountain Sky Guest Ranch.

 

    Lost Creek Ranch Moose, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-733-3435 Nestled between towering mountains just north of Jackson,Wyoming,the Lost Creek Ranch & Spa is a family-owned Western-style guest ranch that belies all expectations with would-class luxuries, gourmet meals and a state-of-the-art spa facility. The service is exceptional.

 

    Vee Bar Guest Ranch Laramie, Wyoming Phone: +1 800-483-3227 The Vee Bar, located near Laramie Wyoming, is a family-friendly vacation destination that is sure to please the horse loving cowboy or cowgirl in you. A variety of activities, ranging from horseback riding to river tubing, will suit each member of your group. Experience true western hospitality!

 

     

At the Heart of every Dude Ranch Vacation is the Horse

 At the heart of every Dude Ranch vacation is the horse. However, novices need not be overwhelmed with visions of straight backs, dress coats and bouncing up and down on tiny saddles, the whole ethos of Western riding is based on comfort and control. Those old time cowboys would be on the go all day and Western saddles reflect this being higher in the back, with pommels in the front and wide long stirrups. The horses are also schooled to stop, go and turn with the minimum of effort which basically means you do not need to be an Olympic standard equestrian to enjoy this style of vacation. Equally, those with riding experience are more than well catered for as one guest explains, ‘having horses of my own and riding on regular basis for the past 30 years I thought I would find the riding a little regimented and more geared to just the beginner rider. Well was I wrong! They truly can accommodate any riding level from the most inexperienced to the most experienced.’ Furthermore , ‘the wranglers at Dude Ranches are some of the most well rounded, diverse people I have ever been around,’ she laughs. ‘You may get a kid who grew up on a cattle ranch working cows since he was four, or a kid that just graduated from Cornell and was on the polo team, and everything in between. The one thing they all have in common is their love of horses and people.’ 

With the vast array of different experiences on offer, the Dude Ranch experience can be pretty much tailor-made. Further considerations therefore must also be given to the type of environment you want to ride in, i.e. meadows, mountains or prairies (as this will dictate the geographical location) the type of riding you would like to do and the level of comfort of the ranch itself. Accommodation is a lot simpler to choose from and basically consists of three different types. A working ranch, which will let you experience some real cowboy activities rounding up livestock, a Classic Dude Ranch which again will emphasis the riding but is usually combined with outdoor activities and last but not least, the resort Dude Ranch where western riding is obviously a feature, but also offer a diverse selection of activities and onsite facilities.

DRA ranches offer excellent diversification of accommodation, terrain and conditions. Where the Rocky Mountains meet the high plains providing breathtaking backdrops for your adventure on horseback. From the world famous Yellowstone and Grand Tetons national parks with their steaming geysers, stunning waterfalls and deep canyons. DRA ranches offer a choice ranging from the rustic to the luxurious with a range of activities both on horseback and off, as diverse as the stunning landscape.   

Guest expectations may have changed  over the years and ranchers have had to change with them, but the core principles and foundation of every Dude Ranch remain the same HORSES, HATS,HISTORY, HEART, HONESTY  and HOSPITALITY. There is a little cowboy in all of us come find yours at DRA Dude Ranch.  

Lone Mountain Cowgirl Loping Dusty Adventure

This year, give the gift of shared adventure to your other half

The season of love is fast approaching and couples will begin to ask themselves two questions: Is it time to get engaged? And what am I going to get my other half for the holidays or Valentine’s Day? While the traditional gift ideas of jewelry, roses and candy may make for a touching token of love, we challenge you to think outside the box and consider some stats.

According to The Knot, 39 percent of couples get engaged during the “season of love,” the time between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. Regardless of whether you’re ready to propose – or to be proposed to – statistics like this put pressure on men and women to find the perfect gift to stand out from the crowd. According to a survey by the U.S. Travel Association, the gift of travel may be the perfect solution as 63 percent of couples think a getaway is more likely to spark romance than gifts of any size, and 7 percent think simply traveling inspires romance.

 This year, give the gift of shared adventure to your other half. Imagine a rustic romantic getaway, complete with horseback riding, outdoor adventure and bonding – the perfect backdrop for an epic proposal. Or a passionate weekend for foodies filled with delectable gourmet dishes and carefully selected wine pairings that the two of you can indulge to your heart's content. When it comes to love, a vacation at a dude ranch resort has all the ingredients necessary to make your love swoon with delight.

 Vista-Verde-Drive-Cattle

Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado - Winter Romance- Whisk away your sweetheart to celebrate Valentine’s Day in a romantic winter wonderland.  Ask for the Valentine’s Day romance package, and we’ll start your Valentine’s Day off with breakfast in bed, followed by a day of as much outside activity as you desire.  In the afternoon, we’ll treat you to a private sleigh ride complete with hot toddies to keep you toasty warm.  Following that, the chefs will delight your taste buds with their Valentine’s Day aphrodisiac dinner.   The rest is up to you to enjoy the serene setting, the cozy cabin and the bubbling hot tub with views of snow covered meadows and mountains.

Red Reflet Ranch, Wyoming - Back by popular demand - Valentine’s Dining at the Red Reflet Ranch, Ten Sleep, Wyoming.  Dine in the Main Lodge and relax by the crackling fire while you enjoy spectacular views overlooking the Chugwater Formation of the Canyon.  Extraordinary dining experience and six-course meal prepared by Executive Chef Matthew Cariveau.  Overnight accommodations available in our luxuriously appointed chalets.  Offering Valentine’s Dining on two nights: Friday, February 14 and Saturday, February 15.  Now taking reservations.  $40 per person.  Make plans early – this will sell out!  Click here for online reservations.

Vee Bar Ranch, Wyoming - Winter Getaway Package - This package could be called the Deluxe Escape Package.  The package is designed for winter enthusiasts!  This is the perfect package for guests who want to experience everything.  The Vee Bar staff will make sure that you get the most out of your vacation while exploring the Vee Bar, the Snowy Range Mountains, and local attractions.  Guests will need their own transportation to and from the activities off property.  A three-night minimum stay is required to purchase this package.  See our Winter Getaway Package Sample Schedule for activity and meal details.

 

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Hunger Games Adventures at Dude Ranches

 Countless fans will flock to movie theaters across the country starting tomorrow to cheer on Katniss and her admirable and enviable archery skills as biggest movie of the fall, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,  opens nationwide. And while some fans might not know of the outcome of the epic Quarter Quell yet, one thing is certain: the second installment is sure to leave fans across the country wanting more.

 Experience a bit of the “Hunger Games” yourself (minus the gut-wrenching battles) by visiting a dude ranch to try your hand at archery, along with many other Hunger Game-inspired skills such as fishing, zip lining, skeet shooting and navigating the wilderness.

 With 95 ranches in North America (two in Canada), we are positive that there is a ranch that will fit all your needs.  Below is a sampling of ranches perfect for those in search of a Hunger Games-inspired experience.

 Red Horse Mountain Ranch, Idaho, Adventure for the Whole Family!Red Horse Lake Activities Kayak

Whether it’s riding horseback to breathtaking vistas, conquering the climbing wall, practicing your aim at the shooting range, or simply relaxing in the tranquility of a Rocky Mountain dude ranch, you decide how to spend your week at Red Horse Mountain Ranch. Red Horse Mountain Ranch offers a Western dude ranch vacation experience with a wide variety of seasonal activities…View ranch website.

 

Black Mountain Ranch, Colorado

Rather than a rigid itinerary we strive to offer our activities in the most flexible way possible.  Click here if you want to see exactly what Colorado Dude Ranch Vacations are like.  We want you to choose what you want to do, when you want to do it, and whom you want to do it with.  We encourage families to ride together but also offer kid's programs and activities.  Teens will never be bored here and singles will find this is a great place to hang out and make new friends.  View ranch website.

Wilderness Trails Ranch, Colorado We pride ourselves in creating perfect Colorado dude ranch vacations and AdvenTours (adventure tours) for our guests. Whether you are seeking adventure or R&R, we can customize a vacation for you, and we have something for everyone - from our exceptional horseback riding program, unsurpassed wilderness and lake access, phenomenal fishing, award-winning Never Bored Kids Program, incredible mountain biking opportunities, overland tours, indulgent spa treatments, taste-bud tantalizing cuisine, specialty events and more! View ranch website.

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Arkansas

In addition to our scheduled activities other things to try include campfires, hiking, cave trips, elk viewing, cookouts, skeet shooting and .22 target shooting, a petting zoo, fishing pond, archery, disc golf, wagon rides, games in the lodge and barn and more. There’s no need to leave the ranch if you need a quick dip. Cool off in the pool in the summer, or relax those muscles in the hot tub and let your cares melt away. Spend some time alone: Several cool springs, cascading streams, and quiet pools await you on hikes and nature walks. The rock outcroppings and caves along the bluffs are there to be explored and arrowheads are waiting to be found. View ranch website.   Save

Western Dude Ranches Appeal to Worldwide Travelers

There are some folks that drive across their home state or province to visit a dude ranch.  Others make a trans-Atlantic journey and don’t speak the same language as their hosts. Colleen Hodson, Executive Director of the Dude Ranchers’ Association says Western dude ranches (found throughout the plains, deserts and mountains of the US and Canada,) have mass appeal. 

DRA Brown Tag -1In fact, it seems they cross cultural barriers.  “I would say about 10 to 20 percent of our dude ranch guests are European, with folks from The UK and Germany representing the largest share,” notes Hodson. What is the tremendous lure of the Western dude ranch?  For starters, there’s the call to adventure, exhilarating freedom instilled by the wilderness, definite experience of place, sociability and camaraderie. 

 For more than a century, these are a few of the elements that have enticed visitors from around the globe and keep them coming back year after year. The opening of dude ranches in the American and Canadian West to paying guests has a long and illustrious history.  Media reports on the Western adventures of Teddy Roosevelt followed by the “Western” movie and prime time television shows like “Gunsmoke” and “Bonanza” fueled the public’s fascination in the US and abroad with ranching and cowboys. 

In 1926 the Dude Ranchers’ Association was formed to represent the interests of the rapidly growing industry. Today the organization remains strong.  More than 100 ranches in the Western US and Canada are members of the DRA, as it’s often called. Each DRA member ranch has its own distinct character and charm. Before selecting a ranch visitors are encouraged to contact the DRA for suggestions of ranches matched best with their own style and preferences.  

There are several factors to consider including the classification of the ranch into one of three broad and sometimes overlapping categories.

Types of Western Ranches

First is the traditional Dude Ranch, centered on the horse and horse related activities.  Guests can ride to their hearts content and try their hand at wrangling, barrel-racing and may even perform in the weekly ranch rodeo. People who prefer this category of ranch tend to love horses and other rugged outdoor activities. 

 

The Resort Dude ranch includes riding as an activity along with many other pursuits and a variety of onsite facilities in addition to the stables.  These ranches are generally larger, able to accommodate more guests at one time and often appeal to the traveler who opts for a vacation with more luxuries. 

Finally, there’s the Working Dude Ranch.  These ranches are working cattle or sheep operations, with the riding adventure dictated by the work schedule surrounding the livestock.  Visitors of these ranches are immersed in the life of a working cowboy. The decision upon which ranch to visit is a personal one.  But it’s highly recommended the ranch selected is a DRA member.  This guarantees visitors from near and far that it  meets the highest industry standards in quality, safety, and authenticity.  (Not all ranches that apply for DRA membership qualify.  In fact 30% do not meet the strict standards!)   

Ranches accepted for membership are on probation for two years.  Every DRA ranch is inspected on a regular basis to ensure high DRA standards are maintained. No matter how far folks travel to reach their DRA ranch vacation destination and no matter what language they speak they can be reassured knowing a quality vacation experience awaits them.

 

 

Dude ranch makes for a blue-ribbon family roundup

The

Minneapolis Star Tribune recently wrote a wonderful article about Tumbling River Ranch.  I have included a short piece of the article along with the link. Be sure to click through to read the complete story!

Article by: Tony Jones , Star Tribune

Updated: October 26, 2013 - 4:07 PM

You probably wouldn’t take me for a barrel racer, and surely not for a blue ribbon-winning, rodeo barrel racer. But I am, and no one can take that away from me. Many years ago, my parents took my brothers and me to a dude ranch in Montana. It was almost universally commended as our best-ever family vacation. As my mother’s 70th birthday approached, she hoped to re-create that magic as a present to herself. But 30 years later, this trip would include spouses and a new generation, her grandchildren. All told, 17 of us from three generations converged on the Tumbling River Ranch, just up a dirt road from the tiny burg of Grant, Colo. That’s two grandparents, three sons, three spouses and nine grandchildren, ranging in age from 4 to 72. We arrived for our weeklong stay on Sunday afternoon and were met by Megan Dugan, who owns the ranch with her husband, Scott. As Megan showed us around, she told us that she’d grown up on the ranch, which her parents purchased in 1975. In their teens, Scott and Megan were both on summer staff. They re-met, married and eventually bought the ranch when her parents retired. Now they’re raising their own three kids there. The Dugan family, and their home at the center of the ranch, brought a family feel to the whole experience, as did something we heard at orientation that night. The ranch was full to capacity on our week, with six families totaling 49 guests. Of those six families, three were making return visits to Tumbling River, two of them on their fourth visit. Clearly, Tumbling River engenders some serious loyalty. At orientation, the entire staff of wranglers, cooks, servers, kids’ counselors and housekeepers sat up front, dressed in their cowboy duds, explaining the ins and outs of the week. Turned out that the stellar staff — most of them college kids on a summer job — became one of the most memorable elements of Tumbling River; our kids are still talking about them. (Read More)

Dude and Guest Ranches: The Affordable Family Vacation

 Have you ever dreamed of going to a place where you can experience the beauty of the outdoors and leave “real life” behind? Do you dream of an affordable family vacation destination where you can take the whole family and feel confident that there will be something that appeals to everyone? You need not look any further than then a Dude Ranch Vacation. Many people have this dream but are often under the assumption that a unique Dude Ranch getaway for the whole gang is too expensive and not doable. Another misconceived notion is that all-inclusive Dude Ranch vacations often have hidden fees and that paying for items a la carte is a more affordable option. While that may be the case for some vacation options, you can rest assured that an all-inclusive stay at a DRA-accredited  Dude or Guest ranch is truly all-inclusive, and there are no hidden fees. At a dude or Guest  ranch, everything is included in the rate so you know exactly what you are going to pay for upfront and can plan your budget accordingly. There are never any additional charges for valet parking or resort fees. Plus, the forests and deserts these ranches are located in never charge you for the beauty that will surround you. The fresh air and the joyful noises of nature are priceless.     Following is a cost comparison between what an average Dude Ranchers' Association Dude Ranch and Guest ranch  might cost for a week for a family of four (not including airfare, taxes and gratuity) and an a la carte trip where the same family would take part in all of the same activities:  DRA Ranch 

  • Lodging  - Included
  • Meals - Included
  • Horseback Riding (everyday) -  Included
  • River Rafting - Included
  • Rodeo -  Included
  • National Park Trip/Tour  - Included
  • Evening Entertainment -  Included
  • Car Rental/Gas -  N/A

Total Average Cost: $8800.00 A La Carte

  • Lodging  - $2500
  • Meals  - $2200
  • Horseback Riding  - $2000
  • River Rafting  - $600
  • Rodeo -  $300
  • National Parks Tour  - $620
  • Evening Entertainment  - $800
  • Car Rental - $1500

Total Average Cost: $10520.00 As you can see, you can make your dream a reality with a dude ranch vacation! In addition to the budget-friendly price tag, dude ranches offer much more. There is such a wide variety of activities  there will be something the kids, parents and grandparents will enjoy. And with all activities happening on the ranch property, you don’t have to worry about getting lost or arranging transportation. The atmosphere is also hard to beat as you can’t put a price on the personal interaction and sense of family you feel at a  Dude  or Guest ranch. Many guests will leave the ranch at the end of their stay having made lifelong friends with the owners, staff or even other guests. I have heard stories of several families that met on a ranch vacation years ago and continue to see each other once a year on that annual trip to what many families consider to be their second home. Dude ranches pride themselves on going the extra mile to make their guests feel special which is why over 60% of all dude ranch guests are repeat customers. So the next time you are planning a vacation consider the value of a dude ranch and the memories that you will take home that will last a lifetime.  

Vacationing at an Eco-Friendly Dude Ranch

 

As more people are becoming aware of environmental issues, vacationing green is a growing travel trend. Families are seeking vacation options that offer activities that respect the earth, and experiences that create cherished memories and a renewed connection to nature.

Dude Ranches are the original Eco-friendly Tourism destinations and a great way to bring your family closer on your next vacation. People come to enjoy the outdoors, have an adventure and relax in nature. After they leave, they often have a renewed appreciation for the environment.

Successful ranching depends on a positive relationship with the earth, therefore all ranchers know that they need to treat it with care. This relationship influences a visitor’s experience at a dude ranch and often brings them a deeper appreciation for the environment in which they live.

For example, Rocking Z Ranch in Montana uses a stationary diesel motor that is powered by recycled vegetable oil to pump water for irrigation. This worked so well, the ranch took the idea one step further by using the vegetable oil to make biodiesel after taking out the fatty acids. They use this to run the tractors, loaders, an excavator, dozer and diesel pickup during the summer months.Rocking-Z-Bareback-Jumping

Another great example is the White Stallion Ranch which went solar. On January 3, 2011 construction began and on Tuesday March 22, 2001 the first solar panels began to operate. We have three separate sites where the electricity comes from solar panels into the meters for the ranch; the well, staff area and our main lodge buildings plus west side rooms. This is the largest amount of solar power that we are allowed to install and use based on the program that we entered. When last checked, one of the meters (the one for the main lodge)  had delivered 5,360 KWH, bought 104 KWH and sold back 7 KWH. The system is designed to power 35% to 40% of the electricity for the ranch, a very exciting prospect indeed.

Recycling is another aspect that dude ranches are embracing. Keep in mind, with some ranches being far from major cities where a recycling program might exist, it’s a bit harder than simply putting items in a bin and putting it at the end of the driveway every week. Wilderness Trails Ranch in Colorado collects bottles, cans, plastic and paper from the approximately 45 guests and 35 staff that stay at the ranch each week and loads a large trailer to take into town 30 miles away.

A ranch offers activities for the whole family. Maybe your daughter loves horses and has always dreamed of lopping across a grassy meadow, or your son wants to learn how to rope a steer. While your wife enjoys sometime in the spa, why not try some fly fishing? Then you better rest up so you can all go whitewater rafting the next day.

So if you are looking for a vacation that will leave your family with memories to last a lifetime and a closer relationship with Mother Nature then a vacation at a Dude Ranch might be just the ticket for you and your family.  For more information about vacations where your family can embrace the great outdoors visit www.duderanch.org.  

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Ranch Recipe: Sinful Brownies from Rowse's 1+1 Ranch

There are few things in life more enjoyable than riding a beautiful horse all day, chasing cows and enjoying the vast outdoors.  The only way to top this type of experience is to end that glorious ride by arriving back at the ranch to the smell of fresh baked chocolate brownies made from scratch.  Tammy at Rowses 1 + 1 Ranch in Burwell, Nebraska is an amazing cook and she has kindly offered to share her recipe with us. Tammy's own chocolate brownie recipe will have you itching to visit  1+1 Ranch to get your hands on some of her delicious baked goods and if you're worried about just how sinful they are, get yourself to the ranch for a working ranch vacation and work up a real cowboy appetite for these gooey brownies! Here's the recipe... 

Ingredients

1 cup margarine

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

½ cup flour

1½ tsp baking soda

2 cups chocolate chips

Method

1. Beat together the margarine, peanut butter, white and brown sugars, eggs and vanilla, until creamy

2. Add the flour and baking soda, and mix well.

3. Finally, stir through the chocolate chips until evenly combined

4. Spread the mixture into a greased cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes in a 350F degree oven.

As long as you're careful not to overbake, the brownies will come out good and chewy!

Recipe for Brownies

American Adventure Month

As we are in the midst of American Adventure Month, a month-long celebration to honor vacationing in the Americas, I wanted to share with you the original all-American, all-inclusive destination where adventure and outdoor enthusiasts can both challenge and revive their body, spirit and mind in breathtaking off-the-beaten path locales in the country: the dude ranch.

At a dude ranch, guests can enjoy fly fishing, white water rafting, hiking, rock climbing, golf, cattle roundups, ATV trips, water sports, horseback riding and much more. A dude ranch vacation is perfect for much needed time away. From valleys complete with untouched Rocky Mountain backdrops to desert sunsets across the Southwest, you’re sure to experience an unforgettable getaway.

The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) represents a broad spectrum of 100 guest ranches across the U.S., ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches. Experience the ultimate American adventure by visiting a DRA-accredited ranch. The DRA takes great pride in the quality and standards it requires its ranches to uphold.

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Experience the Beauty of Fall at a Dude Ranch

 Don’t just walk through the leaves, ride through the leaves as dude ranches are the original all-inclusive destination for fall travel, and it’s never too early to start planning your getaway. Imagine horseback riding under a canopy of technicolor fall foliage ranging from glorious reds, bright yellows, and vivid oranges.  Some of the nation’s best leaves can only be seen when you get off the major highways and head out to the winding country roads. Choose from guest ranches in Arizona or Colorado where fall changes the Aspen leaves or book a getaway to a dude ranch located near or within a National Park such as Triangle X Ranch located in Grand Teton National Park or Horseshoe Canyon Ranch which borders Buffalo River National Park in the Ozark region of Arkansas.

 As the air cools down and the days get shorter on a dude ranch, fall fishing, hiking, and of course, horseback riding  are popular outdoor activities among guests to enjoy and take in the beautiful colors of fall. Many ranches also offer fall photography workshops to help guests capture the natural beauty of the autumn season. For those dude ranches that are actual working ranches, fall means cattle drives, and guests are often invited to join these memorable and one-of-a-kind drives.

 While many people tout the benefits of “all-inclusive vacations,” few realize the variety of choices out there and that not all are created equal. Guest ranch getaways offer numerous advantages such as no planning once you arrive, flexibility to customize your itinerary and no hidden fees. In addition, dude ranches are the ideal all-inclusive destination for families of all types and sizes, especially multi-generational families with a wide variety of interests and abilities.

 The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) can help travelers and travel agents choose the perfect guest ranch for their fall getaway from its more than 100 DRA-accredited guest ranches in North American (two in Canada). Ranging from luxury resort-style ranches to working ranches, all of these dude ranches uphold the highest quality of services within the industry.

 

Dudes Flock to Guest Ranches

The Santa Barbara Independent By Barney Brantingham

The Old West still lives at dude ranches sprinkled through the saguaro-studded deserts of Arizona. Actually, they’re known as “guest ranches” these days and are magnets for Europeans who hanker for a dusty taste of the cowboy life, strong cowboy coffee, and getting astride a horse. I found tourists from England, Ireland, Germany, Scandinavia, and thereabouts on a recent visit to horse country at the White Stallion Ranch and Tanque Verde Ranch, both near Tucson. The High Chaparral TV series (1967-1971) is still being shown in Europe, spurring interest to see the country where it was filmed. “I’m not disappointed,” said Ann Reid of Stratford-on-Avon, daintily digging into scrambled eggs while on a breakfast ride at the White Stallion. (READ MORE)

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Fall is a Great Time for Couples to Visit a Dude Ranch

Flat-Creek-Fall-Tetons

 

When the kids get back on the bus it’s time for parents to get back in the saddle for a classic Western getaway.  From the latter part of August through October, dude ranches are a couples’ best bet to rekindle romance and replenish spirit.  And the price is right too!  

The height of summer finds most ranches filled to capacity with families.  In fall couples have their pick of dude ranches with September traditionally a time for adults only.  No need to break the bank for airfare, car rentals or a dozen tanks of gas, since for many American’s and Canadians, a ranch is found within less than a day’s drive.  And with rates including meals, riding, other activities, and accommodations, it becomes an even more attractive getaway.

To narrow the search and ensure high quality standards, consider only ranches belonging to The Dude Ranchers’ Association.  There are more than 100 DRA, as it’s known, ranches in the Western US and Canada.  Since 1926, the DRA has kept the bar raised high for the industry.   Travelers can be assured of an authentic Western experience and high standards of quality at any DRA ranch.

Spectacular dude ranch scenery is at an all time high in autumn when aspens sport yellow cloaks and icy mountain streams swirl with fat trout.  These are the conditions found at Northern California’s Hunewill Ranch.  Just East of Yosemite National Park, couples have their pick of packages this fall.  There’s the “Escape to the Ranch” weekend package in early September, or in the latter part of the month an “Autumn Getaway.”  For those with a little more time the “Fall Color Ride,” September 27 - October 1 is a dramatic adventure. 

 The only traffic passing Waunita Hot Springs Ranch  is an elk or two.  Perched high in the Colorado Rockies, surrounded by Gunnison National Forest land, time is measured only by shadows cast by the sun.  Add to the remote location an immense swimming pool, bathhouse and hot tub fed by natural hot springs and any cares or worries melt away.  The remote retreat caters to adults only August 25 - September 28. 

“An outpost of unpretentious comfort” is how folks describe the Spotted Horse Ranch in NW Wyoming.    An Orvis affiliate, and host to a trout fishing school, The Spotted Horse draws riders and angler from all over the world.  Sixteen miles from the Western resort town of Jackson Hole, it’s far enough away from the action that guests can enjoy solitude, but get a taste of city amenities like art galleries, fine shopping and sizzling nightlife.  In September and October this Wyoming paradise is reserved for adults only.  

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...

Live the American Dream Vacation at the West’s Best Dude Ranches

At the more than 100 dude ranches that make up The Dude Ranchers’ Association, guests are sure to find the All-American Western vacation they have been dreaming of—days spent in the saddle, enjoying stunning scenery and breathing fresh country air, and evenings enjoying tasty down-home cooking and ranch entertainment. Today, as it did over a century ago, the western dude ranch experience offers relief for both the body and spirit of those seeking refuge from the pressures and routine of modern life. Dude ranch vacations are based on a lifestyle that stretches back more than a century. By the end of the 1800s, most of the American West had been explored and the stories of its natural wonders had spread throughout the Eastern portion of the country as well as Europe. Lured by the promise of awesome beauty, a spirit of romance and adventure, and the honest simplicity of the western way of life, travelers headed west in search of a respite from the crowded, noisy squalor of fast-paced cities. Most dude ranch guests are looking for that same experience today—a chance to rejuvenate their souls and refresh their spirits. And with the impressive array of activities found at these dude ranches, everyone—Mom, Dad, kids, grandparents, couples or singles—can find something that interests them. Dude ranches are ideal places for kids and families to re-discover each other. Without the typical distractions of TV, phones, computers and electronic games, families spend time together, riding, hiking, playing games or simply talking. And while dude ranches are a popular destination for families, couples, singles and groups of all types love this unique traveling option as well. Most ranches offer a wide variety of activities such as horseback riding, fly fishing, river rafting, swimming pools, children’s programs, cattle drives, cookouts, line dancing and plain relaxing on the porch swing, so everyone in a group is sure to find something that appeals to them. And since the cooking, cleaning and planning is all taken care of, everyone enjoys a true vacation.

Since 1926 The Dude Ranchers’ Association has been helping folks find quality ranch vacations by establishing and enforcing high standards for its members. Dude ranches applying for membership go through a rigorous two-year inspection and approval process, including a close review of their application, a review of references from former guests, an appearance before the board of directors and on-site inspections during actual dude ranch operations. Typically, only 70% of the ranches that apply meet the high standards of the Association. When guests book a vacation at a Dude Ranchers’ Association member ranch, they can be assured that it is actually a ranch and not just a hotel with horses. The Dude Ranchers’ Association’s original membership of 35 ranches from the Yellowstone area has now grown to 100-plus member ranches in 12 western states and Canada. In spite of this growth, the Association today remains dedicated to preserving the beauty, natural resources, and the original western ranch experiences that attracted the first visitors. For more information about the unique experience of a dude ranch vacation or to request a brochure, call 1-866-399-2339 or visit www.duderanch.org.

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Live a Movie Moment through Real-Life Working Cattle Drives

For a truly memorable vacation, nothing beats a Western cattle drive. Straight from the big screen, these working cattle drives, offered through various members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association, transform a movie moment into a real-life vacation experience unlike any other.

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—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.

Days-long cattle drives fill the urge for the morFocus Ranch-Riders on the Mesae adventurous to 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 cays 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 board expanse of the Wild West.

 Of course, no cattle drive is complete without plenty of good grub, and every DRA member provides outstanding cowboy cooking. After a day on the range, ranch guests love the hearty meals, down home entertainment, and cozy lodging that are the hallmarks of every dude ranch experience. 

Since 1926 The Dude Ranchers' Association has been helping folks find quality ranch vacations by establishing and enforcing high standards for its members. The association’s original membership of 35 ranches from the Yellowstone area has now grown to 100-plus member ranches in 12 western states and 2 Canadian provinces. In spite of this growth, the Association today remains dedicated to preserving the beauty, natural resources, and the original western ranch experiences that attracted the first visitors.

For more information about a real working cattle drive or any of the other unique features of a dude ranch vacation, or to request a brochure, call 1-307-587-2339 or visit www.duderanch.org.

Hunewill Circle H Guest Ranch

Bridgeport, California Phone: +1 760-932-7710 Hunewill Ranch is a family owned and operated cattle and guest ranch located near Yosemite National Park in the beautiful Bridgeport Valley. Horseback riding and cattle work are our featured attractions for a vacation experience suited to families, singles, or couples.    

McGarry Ranches Rexburg, Idaho Phone: +1 866-593-4455 A working ranch with a herd of approx 2,000 head, managed on approx 55,000 acres in the Big Hole Range of the Rocky Mountains. If you wish to experience the lifestyle of the working cowboy while riding daily in scenic mountains we invite you to cowboy up with the ranch crew. Major Credits Accepted    

Klondike Ranch Buffalo, Wyoming Phone: +1 800-362-2982 Klondike Ranch is a working cattle ranch with accommodations for 6 to 10 adult guest 14 years and older. We trail the cows and calves to the mountains the end of June and back home the end of September. Throughout the summer we move them from pasture to pasture. Our guests are welcome to join.    

Rowses 1+1 Ranch Burwell, Nebraska Phone: +1 308-346-5530 The 1+1 Ranch invites you to experience the old west & life as a Cowboy on a Real Working Ranch. Guests can participate in all ranch activities & can expect up to 6 hours a day in the saddle. New log cabins, delicious meals, great horses & tack await you. Dont Just Dream the Cowboy Dream... Live It!    

G Bar M Ranch Clyde Park, Montana Phone: +1 406-686-4423 An Authentic Ranch Experience -AGRITOURISM G Bar M is a Working Ranch, which means we are an operating horse and cattle ranch that encourages guests to share in our lifestyle.    

Focus Ranch Slater, Wyoming Phone: (970)583-2410 A traditional ranch, guests contribute to the successful yearling cattle operation. Ride for a purpose in beautiful landscapes. Fly fish in the Little Snake. All ages enjoy participating and experiencing the cultural heritage. Since 1938, generations have embraced the authenticity of Focus Ranch.

All- Inclusive Dude and Guest Ranch Vacations are the Perfect Locations for Solo Travelers

While traveling alone may sound like a scary proposition, I’d like to share with you an all-inclusive destination perfect for solo travel: dude ranches. Dude ranches are the ideal vacation for those looking for much needed time alone, a new and exciting adventure, or even for those in search of making new friends. Guest ranches offer numerous advantages over other vacation options for those going solo, including:

 Intimate and Friendly Environment

When at a dude ranch, you instantly feel like a part of the family as there is great camaraderie amongst guests and staff. It instantly becomes your home away from home. Many guest ranches only accommodate up to 40 or 50 guests per week, which not only allows the staff to know your name but also results in you getting to know most of the other guests. Meals are often served family style so there are always guests to chat with throughout the day, making sure you never feel like you are on the “outskirts” if traveling alone.

 Group Activities

There is never a dull moment at a dude ranch. There are activities to keep you busy from sunup to sundown such as horseback riding, fly fishing, white water rafting, rock climbing, cattle roping, ATV-riding and much more. Plus, these activities are usually done in groups so you won’t encounter any “couples only” activities or events if you don’t want to.

 Adult-Only Weeks

Many guest ranches report fewer “couples” visiting now than in the past. As a result, many of these ranches host adult-only weeks in September. Activities during these weeks range from wine and cheese tastings, guided hikes, cooking classes, country dance instruction, cookouts, themed cocktail receptions and much more.

 Connect with Yourself

Dude ranches are a great place to spend time alone to revive your body, spirit and mind in some of the most spectacular areas in the country, from valleys complete with untouched Rocky Mountain backdrops to desert sunsets across the Southwest. Whether it’s a rejuvenating day at the spa, an adventurous hike or a relaxing day reading a book under the sun, you are sure have plenty of quality alone time.

 Dude Ranchers’ Association

The Dude Ranchers' Association (DRA) is like your own personal travel agent, minus the fees, and can help you plan the perfect solo vacation. Whether you are looking for an authentic cowboy experience or a luxury resort, the DRA can customize the trip of your dreams. There are more than 100 DRA-accredited guest ranches in North America (two in Canada), all of which uphold the highest quality of services within the industry.

Triangle C Ranch

Dubois, Wyoming Phone: +1 800-661-4928 The Triangle C Dude Ranch is located on the Wind River, nestled between Jackson Hole and Dubois, Wyoming. We pride ourselves in being a true Wyoming Ranch - where our handshake is our bond and the coffee pot is always on!    

Colorado Cattle Company & Guest Ranch New Raymer, Colorado Phone: 1-970-437-5345 Colorado Cattle Co. and Guest Ranch is located on 10,000 acres of grassland for cattle, rolling hills, canyons, streams and bluffs in Northeastern CO. This is not your typical Dude Ranch. This is a real working cattle ranch where the guests actually work cattle just as a real cowboy would.    

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch Sandpoint, Idaho Phone: +1 888-863-9066 With ranch adventures for families, couples or singles, Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, rich in history and family heritage, is Idaho's most northern ranch. Activities include horseback riding, skeet shooting, cattle sorting, mountain biking, hiking, children's programs, adult only weeks and more.     

Upper Canyon Outfitters & Guest Ranch Alder, Montana Phone: +1 800-735-3973 Upper Canyon Outfitters is nestled on the banks of the Ruby River, between three mountain ranges. Our family has been exploring these beautiful and wildlife-rich mountains since 1910. We are proud to offer a truly unforgettable Western Montana experience.    

Hunewill Circle H Guest Ranch Bridgeport, California Phone: +1 760-932-7710 Hunewill Ranch is a family owned and operated cattle and guest ranch located near Yosemite National Park in the beautiful Bridgeport Valley. Horseback riding and cattle work are our featured attractions for a vacation experience suited to families, singles, or couples.    

White Stallion Ranch Tucson, Arizona Phone: +1 888-977-2624 Immerse yourself in the welcoming atmosphere of the Southwest. You will experience the aura of a real Western ranch combined with present-day comforts and conveniences. Varied riding program, guided hikes, full bar & excellent food. 41 rooms, heated pool, fitness center, gift shop & meeting room.  

A Dude Ranch Vacation is a Lot More Fun Than You Might Believe

Tumbling River Ranch Teens Barrel RacingChicago Parent By Andrea Guthmann Monday, June 10, 2013 This isn't my first rodeo. Well, actually it is. Maybe that's why I'm having so much fun living out my cowgirl fantasy on our family's dude ranch vacation! Prime rib, Caesar salad, shrimp and a dessert table? Whatever happened to franks-n-beans? Apparently, they're long gone, like much of what I expected to find at a dude ranch. Thankfully, some of the iconic images are still here. There's a lot of horseback riding, as well as an occasional old-fashioned chuckwagon cookout, complete with a country-western crooner and cowboy doing incredible rope tricks. But you'll also get to indulge in spa treatments, a luxurious pool, wine tastings and cooking lessons.  (read more)

Experience the Outdoors on a Pack Trip!

Have you ever dreamt of horseback riding for miles in wide open spaces? Then a pack trip might be the perfect adventure for you!  Pack trips allow you to experience amazing landscapes, wildlife and pristine fishing waters that you can only get to from the back of a horse.  Most dude ranch pack trips can be customized and tend to include guides and staff that take care of all of the details for you including camp set up and cooking.  The trips tend to range from 3 days to 10 or more and can be designed around novice riders as well as those with more experience.  Please check out The Dude Ranchers’ Association ranches below for more information  or call us here at the office at 866-399-2339.

 

 7D Ranch

Cody, Wyoming Phone: +1 888-587-9885        

Absaroka Ranch

Dubois, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-455-2275    

Broken Arrow Lodge and Outfitters Alder, Montana Phone: +1 406-842-5437        

CM Ranch Dubois, Wyoming Phone: +1 800-455-0721      

Covered Wagon Ranch Gallatin Gateway, Montana Phone: +1 800-995-4237                

Diamond D Ranch Stanley, Idaho Phone: 800-222-1269        

JJJ Wilderness Ranch Augusta, Montana Phone: +1 406-562-3653        

Paradise Guest Ranch Buffalo, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-684-7876      

Seven Lazy P Guest Ranch Choteau, Montana Phone: +1 406-466-2044      

T Cross Ranch Dubois, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-455-2206        

Triangle X Ranch Moose, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-733-2183      

Cowgirl Getaway Weeks!

 Whether it’s mother-daughter time, a sisters’ get-together, or just friends catching up, Cowgirl Getaway Weeks are one of the best ways to escape while grabbing that much needed "girlfriend" time.  Kick your boots off and let your daily worries and stress fade away in the comfort of good company, generous hospitality, great horseback riding and much, much more. Listed below are just a few of the great ranches that offer weeks where you can focus on "girl time".   Mountain Sky Guest Ranch Emigrant, Montana Phone: +1 800-548-3392 Just 30 miles from Yellowstone National Park, we have spent over 80 years perfecting our rustic elegance on nearly 9,000 acres of beautiful rugged countryside in the heart of Montana's Paradise Valley. We invite you to explore the vacation of a lifetime here at Mountain Sky Guest Ranch.   Bar W Guest Ranch Whitefish, Montana Phone: +1 866-828-2900 The Bar W is open year round and treats you with true Western hospitality - from the moment you arrive until long after you have left. Beautiful vistas and rolling ridges adorn the Montana countryside of this cozy dude ranch. Located on Spencer Lake between two pine covered ridges, families, adults, singles and groups alike, have 3,000 acres to explore and 3.5 miles down the road from this serene wilderness is the vibrant resort town of Whitefish, offering up the finest in shopping, dining, theater, and nightlife. Friendly staff, scrumptious food, great riding and wonderful accommodations await you at the Bar W   Red Horse Mountain Ranch Harrison, Idaho Phone: +1 888-689-9680 Located on 300,000 acres, the ranch is 1.5 hour drive from the Spokane International Airport, near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Full service, all-inclusive vacation is available from June through October. Booking now for 2013 Summer. 15% off All rates until January 1st, 2013!     White Stallion Ranch Tucson, Arizona Phone: +1 888-977-2624 Immerse yourself in the welcoming atmosphere of the Southwest. You will experience the aura of a real Western ranch combined with present-day comforts and conveniences. Varied riding program, guided hikes, full bar & excellent food. 41 rooms, heated pool, fitness center, gift shop & meeting room.     Smith Fork Ranch Crawford, Colorado Phone: +1 855-539-1492 Smith Fork Ranch is a private luxury destination nestled in the Colorado Rocky Mountains amidst thousands of acres of the West Elk Wilderness and the Gunnison National Forest. SFR offers unique western adventures, gracious hospitality, superb farm to table cuisine and an award winning wine list.     Wilderness Trails Ranch Durango, Colorado Phone: +1 800-527-2624 Reconnect, Relax, Recharge! Experience the Best of the West with an exclusive vacation with Wilderness Trails, the Durango-Silverton Train, & famous Strater Hotel in Durango, Colorado -a "Top 10 Town of the West"! World-class riding, hiking, fishing, dining, kids programs, adults-only weeks, & more

What Makes Fishing at a Dude Ranch So Special?

Fly Fishing Packing TipsIs it the fresh mountain air or the wide open spaces? …or could it be that flash of color rising from the dark, clear pool as that beautiful, sleek trout rises to your offering?

Why not experience all of this combined with spectacular scenery, miles of private fishing waters, experienced guides, and more…grab your fly rod and head to one of the Orvis Endorsed Dude Ranches listed below for the fishing experience of a lifetime!
 
 North Fork Ranch & Fishing Lodge
Shawnee, Colorado Phone: +1 800-843-7895 Welcome to life at North Fork Ranch! One hour from Denver, in the majestic Rocky Mountains, you will find horseback riding, whitewater rafting, world class fly fishing (Orvis Endorsed), zip line, evening activities, intimate accommodations, dining with a gourmet flare and activities for all ages!
 
 
  C Lazy U Ranch
Granby, Colorado Phone: +1 970-887-3344 Serving guests since 1919, the C Lazy U Ranch is known for providing the highest level of personalized service, professional horsemanship programs, first-class amenities, enriching children's programs, gourmet meals and upscale accommodations.
 
 
 Home Ranch

Clark, Colorado Phone: +1 970-879-1780 Featured in the first edition of "1,000 Places To See Before You Die", The Home Ranch, located 18 miles north of Steamboat Springs, CO in the stunning Elk River Valley, is the only Relais & Chateaux dude ranch in Colorado, an Orvis-endorsed fly fishing lodge, and a year round paradise for families.

Hidden Meadow Ranch

Greer, Arizona Phone: +1 866-333-4080 Celebrate the seasons at this pristine quest ranch surrounded by thousands of acres of national forest in Arizona's White Mountains.    

Hubbards Six Quarter Circle Ranch

Emigrant, Montana Phone: +1 406-848-7755 We are a working cattle ranch with upscale accomodations and food. We feature a very personalized riding program that includes daily cattle drives, scenic trail rides, and the chance to canter through our alpine meadows.  

The Lodge & Spa At Brush Creek Ranch

Saratoga, Wyoming Phone: 307-327-5284 Situated on 15,000 acres of expansive, rolling wilderness in Saratoga Wyoming between the peaks of the Sierra Madre and Snowy Mountain Ranges. Designed for high-end group experiences, the ranch offers something for everyone from horseback riding to guided fly fishing and snowmobiling.

Lone Mountain Ranch

Big Sky, Montana Phone: +1 800-514-4644 Discovery is in our Nature! Endless recreational possibilities at this historic ranch offering horseback riding , hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, fly fishing and Outdoor Youth Adventures just 18 miles from Yellowstone National Park. Cozy, comfortable log cabins with western furnishings.  

High Lonesome Ranch

DeBeque, Colorado Phone: (970)283-9420 The High Lonesome Ranch is a high-end guest ranch that offers experiences ranging from sporting pursuits, weddings, corporate group retreats, family reunions and hunting leases. A getaway to the High Lonesome Ranch can be "exactly as wild as you want it" by customizing it to your specific needs.

Spotted Horse Ranch

Jackson Hole, Wyoming Phone: +1 800-528-2084 Located south of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the Spotted Horse Ranch offers a wide variety of activities for people of all ages. From horseback riding to river rafting; from the Jackson Hole Rodeo to bar-be-que cookouts, we offer something for everyone, which enhances your western experience.  

Dude Ranches and National Parks

Moosehead-Kids-Lake-Swimming_edited-1In honor of National Parks Week, I wanted to share with you a great summer vacation idea located nearby some of most visited national parks in America, according to a recent study released by the National Park Service: a dude ranch vacation. As ecotourism is becoming more popular than ever, the Dude Ranchers’ Association’s dude and guest ranches have been the pioneers of green living and green vacations for decades. At a guest ranch you can reconnect with nature in some of the most tranquil, pristine areas of the country and learn to “live off the land” with fishing trips, bird watching, hikes, wildlife viewing and more. Below, please find a sample of DRA-accredited ranches located right in the heart of or near some of the country’s top national parks.

  • Glacier National Park in Montana is one of the 20 largest national parks in the United States. There are two DRA ranches located within an easy drive of the park, which is known for its abundance of wildlife and more than 700 miles of hiking trails. A day trip to Glacier National Park from Averill’s Flathead Lake Ranch and Bar W Guest Ranch is highly recommended.
  • Several DRA-accredited guest ranches are either located in or bordered by national parks. Both Moose Head Ranch and Triangle X Ranch are located completely within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park, a location that attracts nearly four million visitors per year to northwestern Wyoming. White Stallion Ranch borders Arizona’s Saguaro National Park, while Tanque Verde Ranch – the largest DRA-accredited ranch in terms of acreage – is less than a 10-mile drive. The Buffalo National River – America’s First National River – runs through Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, which borders Buffalo River National Park in the Ozark region of Arkansas.
  • Many dude and guest ranches are located within an easy day trip from national parks. Located in the north-central region of Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park is a short, scenic drive away from not one but four DRA-accredited ranches: Drowsy Water Ranch, Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch and C Lazy U Ranch. Pikes Peak – a mountain in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains – is within an hour drive of Tarryall River Ranch. Dude ranch guests can drive to the top, take the Pikes Peak Cog Rail (the world’s highest cog railroad), or enjoy a panoramic view of Pikes Peak from one of Tarryall’s trail rides.

Many Dude and Guest Ranches are Offering Spectacular Savings During their Shoulder Guest Seasons

Shoulder seasons are the weeks before and after the main season begins and ends.  A ranch will sometimes offer added values like a massage, private riding lessons or a fine bottle of wine upon check-in etc. They may offer a repeat guest discount, a group of more than 20 people discount or an early bird booking discount.  Some ranches will  offer special packages during these times as well like fishing packages, riding only packages, horse clinic packages, shorter stay packages,  pack trips packages,  overnight camping and much more. We know finding the perfect ranch match for your family can sometimes be hard so The Dude Ranchers Association wants to help, give us a call at 866-399-2339 or shoot us an e-mail and we will do all we can to help you find that perfect ranch for your family. Any time is a great time to make memories with your family so what are you waiting for let us help you make memories that will last a lifetime!!!

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch Red Feather Lakes, Colorado Phone: +1 (800) 357-4930 Family dude ranch vacation in the Colorado Mountains; Smallest smallest of the CO member ranches. Western Horseback Riding; NOT nose-to-tail; we love teaching beginners! A relaxed, stress-free, hassle free, easy going atmosphere that only a very small family dude ranch can enjoy. Sundance-Trail-Arena-Rodeo

Smith Fork Ranch Crawford, Colorado Phone: +1 855-539-1492 Smith Fork Ranch is a private luxury destination nestled in the Colorado Rocky Mountains amidst thousands of acres of the West Elk Wilderness and the Gunnison National Forest. SFR offers unique western adventures, gracious hospitality, superb farm to table cuisine and an award winning wine list.

Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch Quincy, California Phone: +1 (800) 334-6939 A truly all inclusive guest dude ranch vacation, we provide the perfect location for family vacations, reunions, weddings, corporate and business retreats, meetings, special events, equine guided education and so much more. Still serving up the best hospitality in the west!

Goosewing Ranch Jackson, Wyoming Phone: +1 888-733-5251 Here at Goosewing Ranch, we combine the lifestyle of ranching in the Wyoming wilderness with many of the modern refinements that make your visit with us especially enjoyable. Remote with spectacular scenery overlooking and close proximity to Jackson Hole and Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Excellent horseback riding, fly fishing, newly remodeled outdoor heated pool and hot tub, and kids activities.

Paradise Guest Ranch Buffalo, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-684-7876 Celebrating 100 years of FUN in 2007. Tucked away in the scenic Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Luxury log cabins with fireplaces, outdoor decks & spacious living rooms.

Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch McLeod, Montana Phone: +1 877-496-7848 Enjoy a Montana ranch vacation in a remote pristine wilderness north of Yellowstone. Small guest capacity and unique activities. Horseback riding; Fly fishing on private frontage along the Boulder River; Jeep ride to ghost town and historic gold mines; Hiking; Scenic raft float; Campfires/cookouts.  

THREE BARS CATTLE & GUEST RANCH Cranbrook, British Columbia Phone: +1 877-426-5230 Three Bars GuestRanch, The Adventure Ranch of the Canadian Rockies, invites you to experience the ultimate horseback riding vacation. Located just south of Banff National Park, Three Bars Ranch offers the most diverse activities program available anywhere. Voted Canada's #1 Dude Ranch 2011.

Echo Valley Ranch & Spa Jesmond Clinton, British Columbia Phone: 1.800.253.8831 Echo Valley Ranch & Spa is located in the pristine Cariboo region of British Columbia. Surrounded by wide open spaces and tranquil wilderness, Echo Valley offers horseback riding, hiking, fly-fishing, gold panning, bird watching, rafting, golf and a world class spa.

A New Mexico Cattle Drive

Burnt-Well-Icon-Cattle-ColorBurnt Well Cattle Drive - by Mark Bedor Anybody who’s ever seen the movie City Slickers has dreamed about going on a cattle drive!  I was fortunate enough to be one of ten people who had come to Burnt Well Guest Ranch in New Mexico from as far as Florida and California to go on a weeklong cattle drive to move more than 150 cows to their summer pasture. The cattle drive would put us in the saddle of that real cowboy world all week. The chance to do this was a dream come true for many in our group, like 73-year old Kathy from New Jersey. “I’ve always wanted to do this,” she told me as we rode along that first morning. “I figured if I don’t do it soon, it’s gonna be too late.” Starting out Monday on the Burnt Well's  24 square mile spread (relatively small by arid New Mexico standards), a willing, yet inexperienced group of guests would help push the herd across four neighboring ranches,  before finally arriving at Bonney Canyon Ranch, where Kim Chesser, owner of Burnt Well along with his wife Patricia,  had leased pasture land to graze those cattle for the summer. When they say “pushing cows,” that is an accurate description. Without constant pressure, the herd of 156 animals including 30 heifers (females that had never given birth), six bulls, and 60 pairs of momma cows with brand new baby calves, would  just stop and eat. The unspoiled ranch lands we rode through are the very definition of wide open spaces. With a rugged beauty all its own, this horseback view of New Mexico is a jaw dropping sight to people who spend most of their lives in a congested city. “I’ve never been in a place this open in my life,” beamed  Liz Edwards, here from Boston with her husband Chris. “There’s so much beauty.” The couple had flown in a day early, and got a taste of the area’s cowboy culture when they made a side trip to nearby Ruidoso, New Mexico.  Saturday night they dined and danced at the town's very Western Texas Club. “Just a completely different side of the United States,” marveled Chris. “We’re all Americans... same as us... but it’s a totally different world." The cattle drive gave us the chance to visit with some of the area’s real working cowboys, as the ranches we crossed provided horseback escorts through their property. These guys are real pros and they make stringing out a herd and keeping it moving look easy. “This is the fun part of cowboyin’,” smiled rancher Kevin Floyd.  As we rode along, Kevin talked of the very difficult challenges ranchers face, not the least of which is a largely urban public’s misguided perceptions of the cattle industry. “I saw an article... a serious editorial in a newspaper... that said if all you ranchers would go to the grocery store like the rest of us to get your meat...you wouldn’t be harming animals!” There are lots of tough issues. Ranchers can be sued by trespassers who get hurt on their property. Sheep ranching, once a thriving business here, is being decimated by out of control predators.  Inheritance taxes and land values make it next to impossible for young people to get into ranching. “But it’s still a wonderful life,” smiles Kevin, as we ride along, enjoying perfect horseback weather on a cool and cloudy morning. “You get to be with God out here.” That Wednesday morning we were up, with bedrolls, tents and personal gear packed in time for breakfast at six. We’d been told to be prepared for a twelve hour day in the saddle. And that was no exaggeration. Local horse trader and  veteran cowboy, Dave McIntosh saddled up to ride with us on what would be the toughest day of the trip. It started out easy enough, with Dave showing us how it’s done, we had those cows stepping out nicely. “Most everybody thinks that cattle drive from the back,” revealed Dave, when I asked for his views on the best way to drive a herd. “But if you work the sides and keep 'em pushed in... and keep the front end goin’ somewhere... the back end’ll want to stay up with the front.” Lunchtime found us at the base of that imposing barrier known as Border Hill. Steep and rocky, it wasn’t the easiest place to just ride a horse, let alone drive cattle. “It’s gonna be tough,” warned wrangler Tim. It was tough, and we had to push hard on those cows and our horses every step of the way. Slowly but surely, we climbed that steep and rugged incline. We made  it to the top and at six that evening, we reached the corrals where we’d park the herd for the night and refill our depleted canteens.  After settling the herd in for the night we still had another hour’s ride to get to camp. Finally, we arrived!  We'd been in the saddle almost twelve hours on the dot when we stepped off those horses. As we plopped into camp chairs, and savored a cold beer, the trials of a long day were suddenly replaced by a great sense of both achievement and camaraderie. “We all came together as strangers... and look what we accomplished,”  reflected Linda from Minnesota. “That’s so cool!” And many of those in our group of ten had done it with very little riding experience. Linda, an accomplished rider who owns her own horse back home, was very impressed with not only the horse she rode, but the other mounts of the Chesser string. “I look at Cheyenne and Mickey and Mo,”  she observed of the horses the beginners had ridden. “They take good care of people.” After three days and some 35 miles,  we’d spend the next two nights at this last camp. We had one short two hour ride Thursday morning to push the cows from their holding pens to the pasture where they'd spend the summer. That  afternoon we had  another easy ride, checking some five miles of fence with wrangler Tim, a great chance to relax in the saddle and soak in the beautiful vistas of New Mexico. There were other treats to enjoy before we’d ride out to the trail head on Friday morning.  Thursday evening Patricia’s fiddle came out, and our camp meadow became an impromptu dance floor filled with fun and laughter.  And in this part of New Mexico, where you can’t see any lights of civilization and the heavens don’t shine any brighter, many of us also took advantage of the perfect dry weather to sleep out under the stars. Staring at the stars from a sleeping bag is not something Chris and Liz do very often in Boston. “We’re officially converted!,” she laughed on Friday morning. It had been quite a week, not to mention  all the wildlife we saw, like abundant mule deer, jack rabbits, wild turkeys, and even a bobcat!  Yes, there were moments when it was hard, but as we rode out Friday morning I felt so good. Restored. Alive. And I wasn’t the only one. “I’m coming back actually feeling better than when I arrived,” said 69-year old Addie.  “Very refreshed! Coming back. It’s something a lot of guests do who visit the Burnt Well Guest Ranch. I'd like to come back myself. Burnt Well Guest Ranch is a member of  The Dude Ranchers’ Association which 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… For More information about Burnt Well Guest Ranch  you can visit www.duderanch.org or call 866-399-2339.    

Go White Water Rafting at this Colorado Dude Ranch

Rafting or white water rafting is the challenging recreational outdoor activity of using an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other bodies of water. This is usually done on white water or different degrees of rough water, in order to thrill and excite the raft passengers. The development of this activity as a leisure sport has become popular since the mid-1970s

For the first time, Rainbow Trout Ranch, a dude ranch located deep in the southern Colorado Rockies, is offering whitewater rafting included in their rates.

The Rainbow Trout Ranch has been in operation for over eighty years, the last twenty under the ownership of the Van Berkum family. Summer guests are mainly families looking for a western vacation in the spectacular scenery of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The ranch rates are based on a per person/per week scale and have always included all meals, accommodations and ranch activities such as riding, fishing, kids and teen programs, trapshooting and evening entertainment. In the past, guests paid extra for the whitewater rafting trip on the Rio Grande River near Taos, NM. (read more)

High Lonesome Ranch Review - A Colorado Dude Ranch that is the West at its Best

Splash Magazine published a great review of The High Lonesome Ranch so I wanted to share it with you.  Hope you enjoy it! By Andrea Gross; photos by Irv Green With well over thirty dude ranches in Colorado, you wouldn’t think that there was a need for another one. But in May of 2012, High Lonesome Ranch, a luxury getaway for fly fishermen and big game hunters, began welcoming wannabe cowboys as well. The property, which is situated on the west slope of the Rockies, consists of 300 square miles of leased and permitted land. As such it is bigger than 25 of the nations 58 national parks. Paul Vahidiek Jr., a Houston attorney who began buying some of the property in 1994, is determined that this land—a mix of high mesas covered with sparse vegetation and deep valleys filled with greenery—be preserved and protected from rampant development. Opening the ranch to guests year round helps fund the conservation and restoration projects that take place on the ranch, but even more important, it imbues young children with an appreciation for all that nature has to offer. “We want children to experience and appreciate the great outdoors,” says Scott Stewart, general manager of the dude ranch. “They are the policy makers of tomorrow, and we want them to understand the importance of land conservation and preservation.” The new ranch aims to differentiate itself by offering guests an almost totally customizable experience. Yes, the main focus is on equestrian experiences, but there are also plenty of activities for the non-horsey set. My family and I are among the first guests, and we bring new meaning to the phrase “beginning riders.” All of us—grandparents, parents and two kids—are admittedly, if sadly, city folks through and through, more at home with four-lane highways than with four-legged creatures. We eye the other guests warily. Will we be the only novices in a group of experts? The answer becomes clear the next morning when we go down to the stables for our first horseback ride. Everyone else is wearing a cowboy hat or riding helmet. We, on the other hand, are decked out in baseball caps and bonnets. Oh dear! (read more)HighLonesome_s92x3i

Hosting Guests Helps Ranchers Endure Lean Times

Fount this article at Capital Press and thought you might enjoy it!

By JOHN O'CONNELL Capital PressWestern-Pleasure-Blog-Contest-Danielle-Ottis-Winner-2014-Bareback

When cattle and sheep prices dipped eight years ago, Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, rancher Ken Andrus and his family supplemented their income by opening their home to visitors. The customers still come from throughout the world to ride horses and experience the open space and cowboy life at the Andrus Guest Ranch. Andrus, the Republican chair of Idaho's House Agricultural Affairs Committee, enjoys the stable revenue the side business generates and the opportunity to employ his children on the ranch, which he runs with his brother. They raise 350 head of cattle and another 350 head of registered Suffolk sheep. They also offer two-hour trail rides for $50 each, a bed and breakfast for $100 per person and a six-day guest ranch experience for $800 per adult, with reduced rates for children. "Compared to the ranch it's minimal," Andrus said of the added income, "but it does help." Startup costs included renovating lodging for guests, creating a website and obtaining liability insurance. They entertain roughly 100 customers per year. On July 11, the de Froidmont family of Belgium checked in. "For us, America is also Western," said Anne de Froidmont, adding she grew up watching spaghetti Westerns. "And to experience the ranching lifestyle is very interesting." Andrus advises any rancher interested in starting a guest ranch to take breaks between visitors. "The guest ranch thing can be quite draining because you're with people all the time," he said.  Janice and Roley Schoonover carved a niche for themselves and their children at the family's ranch in Sandpoint, Idaho, by opening Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, which serves about 3,000 guests per year, counting weddings, sleigh rides and trail rides. They leave the actual ranching to Janice's brother. "Ranch people are very tight. You want your kids around you," said Janice, who heads a loose association of about eight Idaho guest ranches. Colorado, Montana and Wyoming are the major guest ranching states, according to the Dude Ranchers' Association, which represents more than 100 U.S. guest ranches. Only a few operations remain in Washington and Oregon. Dick and Shirley Bloomfeldt opened their Long Hollow Ranch in Sisters, Ore., to guests in 1998, after hearing a presentation from the Oregon Department of Agriculture about alternative agricultural income sources. The guest ranch now represents the majority of their income. "If you don't like people, you won't like this. They eat three meals a day with you," said Dick Bloomfeldt. Based largely on inspiration from the movie City Slickers, Don Guglielmino opened Bull Hill Guest Ranch in Kettle Falls, Wash., in 1995. "We were looking at a way of diversifying and creating a cash flow that would help carry us through those lean times," Guglielmino said. Guglielmino, who has a background in the hotel industry, oversees the guest business, which now accounts for more than 70 percent of the operation's income. His brother Pete runs the ranching. "You have to have the right mix of personalities in the business and family to make it happen," Guglielmino said.

Dude Ranches: Beyond the Stables

  Anyone that’s been on a dude ranch vacation or retreat knows how much fun they have to offer.  From arena games to family rides to pony rides for the kids, there’s truly something out there for everyone.  Still, with all of the fun horse-riding activities and “ranch” related things to do, it’s sometimes easy to forget how many other great activities are offered on America’s Guest Ranches.  Here is a list of five activities offered on various DRA Dude Ranches that you may not have known existed, but should make sure not to miss…  Western Dancing – While you’re out on the ranch, why not delve into a little dancing?  There’s nothing like a sunset hoedown, and there are 51 different DRA certified ranches that offer such shindigs!  Next time you’re out on a guest ranch vacation, throw on your dancing shoes and a cowboy hat and let the good times roll.          Zip Line – While riding around on the ground can be fun, zip lining through the sky can bring your trip to a whole new level.  Guaranteed fun for both adults and kids, there are dude ranches in Arkansas, Colorado and Idaho that each offer zip lines.  Get out there, and get ready to fly!          Fishing – Take your rec time from the stables to the lake for some good old-fashioned dude ranch fishing.  There are 87 Dude Ranches that offer fishing activities, so there’s no excuse not to pull out the hook, line and sinker and catch tonight’s dinner!          Yoga – Vacations are all about relaxing, and when it comes to relaxing, there is nothing like a little bit of yoga.  Whether you want to start your day with a short session before you head out into the wilderness, or you just want to finish the day off with a nice calming activity, yoga has what you’re looking for.  There are fifteen different dude ranches that offer yoga, so if this is something that interests you, you’re in luck!          Archery – When you think of a dude ranch you don’t necessarily think of archery, but there are thirty different DRA ranches that offer such activities.  Nothing’s more fun for the family then a little bit of friendly competition, and archery is the perfect outlet for this.  Take a break from horses and test your skills and coordination, archery can be more fun than you might expect!     As far as fun non-riding activities offered on dude ranches, this is a great start, but the list is by no means exhaustive.  Bird watching, mountain climbing, river rafting and more are all available at guest ranches across the country.  Next time you visit a guest ranch, make sure to take advantage of all the activities they have to offer, and you’re sure to have the time of your life.  

What Should I Pack for Summer Dude Ranch Vacation?

What to wear on a ranch vacationChoosing what to pack for your dude ranch vacation can be a bit overwhelming, especially if it is your first time visiting one of these great ranches.  Most ranches are very laid back and casual attire is the name of the game.  Occasionally you will find a ranch that has a dress code for the dining room, so make sure you look into this as you pack. Whether you are going to Arizona in January or Montana in July, jeans and comfortable shirts are absolute essentials on a ranch.  Temperatures can vary, so make sure you bring a variety of layers to stay comfortable.  Sunscreen is always a must and it is also a good idea to bring a hat.  Most ranches will have a gift shop with those little items you forget and many ranches also have guest laundry facilities. Following is a list of suggestions to include in your packing list:

Horseback Riding -Jeans -Lightweight, breathable shirts -Riding boots with a 1" heel and smooth sole (we also have boots available to borrow) -Light windproof jacket and fleece jacket -Long socks for riding, wool or wool blend is ideal -Rain jacket -Riding helmet (we also have helmets to borrow) -Cowboy/ cowgirl hat

Fly Fishing -Lightweight shirt (no cotton preferably) -Polarized sunglasses -Synthetic base layer (Patagonia® or Smartwool) for under waders -Rain jacket -Warm jacket or fleece jacket -Gloves and hat (for cooler days)

Hiking -Lightweight breathable shirt and shorts or pants -Hiking Boots -Water Bottle

Teens -If interested in the overnight backpacking trip, backpack, sleeping pad & sleeping bag (we also have these items to borrow)

Accessories and Other Items -Sunglasses -Hat -Day pack -Swim suit -Comfortable clothing (yoga or relaxing) -Socks (wool or wool blend; no cotton) -Gloves and warm hat (chilly mornings and evenings) -Sunscreen -Insect repellent -Lip balm with sunblock -Flashlight or headlamp (and extra batteries) -Binoculars -Camera and memory card Additional Tips -If you are unable to fit everything, try sending us some of your items in advance to the ranch.  Contact the ranch for the best method of shipping and the appropriate shipping address. -Wear your cowboy boots or hiking boots the day you travel, as it leaves more room for other items if you are wearing the larger, heavier items

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To Stand or Not to Stand?

The Home Ranch Family VacationBy John Fisher of The Home Ranch, Granby, CO Let’s not beat around the bush.  Why do you stand up in the saddle when your horse is urinating?  Although this question may sound humorous, what is probably more humorous is that I have developed an obsession with this question I operate a guest ranch in Colorado, so already my sanity comes into question. It all started about 10 years ago.  We had a new wrangler in from Virginia.  This woman had an incredible resume with numerous credentials in the horse industry.  She was giving instruction to a group when one of the horses started urinating.  “Stand up! Stand up!” she cried.  The befuddled guest remained motionless.  “Stand up in the stirrups when your horse is urinating!” she demanded.  The poor guest hadn’t noticed that the horse had changed positions and was now urinating.  Myself, having never heard of such a thing stood helpless in amazement.  This was something big!  Shame on me.  I had been riding horses for years and I never once stood up while a horse was urinating.  Think of all the pain I personally inflicted on all of those horses!  I discussed this new concept with this wrangler later that day.  She explained to me in very technical terms about why it made sense to get off the horse’s kidneys and many other anatomical functions that went along with it.  Those credentials of hers were impressive, and gosh I had learned everything I know from country hicks. My mind is always seeking answers, and apparently those credentials never quite impressed me to the point that they fully convinced me.  Recently, while attending a horsemanship clinic with a horseman that I like and respect, a horse started urinating, the woman stood up in the saddle, and he pointed out that standing in the stirrups was a good habit to develop.  “That’s what riding a horse is all about - developing good habits.” Why do you stand in the stirrups?  The question burned inside of me.  I couldn’t ask the question in front of all these people.  They paid good money to ride in this clinic, I couldn’t waste their time and money with my silly question.  Ten minutes went by, my stomach was churning, we were going over the importance of impulsion when my hand went up. “Marty, I’m really sorry but this has been bugging me and I can’t stand it anymore.  I’ve got a question.” “Go ahead John.” “Well you see, everything that you have said today makes sense to me.  Pay attention to the horse - he tells you a lot, etc… Why do you stand in the stirrups when a horse urinates?”  (Some laughter from the crowd)  “No, I’m serious.  Has a horse said ‘man that feels good’ or has anyone done any research that proves that we should do this?” Marty’s reply - It just makes sense, you get off the horse’s kidneys. Now for the kicker.  Well, I had to admit that I’ve done some experiments on myself with tightening my belt and placing it over my kidneys and other unmentionable things.  Frankly, I found no difference.  I still did not have an explanation that was satisfactory for me. Well, it is now two months later, and I’ve done considerable research trying to find an answer to my question.  I’m not convinced.  All of the horse gurus have done a wonderful job improving the lives of horses and riders the world over and have been able to explain to me all sorts of mysteries regarding the mind of the horse, but I still don’t have a good answer to my question. I would like to offer another theory on horses urinating.  I think that they would prefer us to sit right where we are during urination.  If you’ve ever noticed, a horse almost goes through a ritual to get ready for urination -  this is true whether we’re on his back or not.  Male or female, they get prepared and get balanced before the moment.  I’m not suggesting that folks go to the lengths that I do, but imagine yourself, male or female, without the aid of a toilet, wearing a 20-pound backpack getting prepared to urinate.  Then the backpack makes a major move on your back.  It would be rather uncomfortable to now proceed, but you must. The act of urination has nothing to do with the kidneys.  The kidneys are involved in the process of making urine, but it is the bladder that is relieved during urination. This may seem rather trivial, but so much of the horsemanship that I learned was because so and so said this, or does this.  With the progression of good horsemanship, I would like proof that we should stand in the stirrups.  I’m waiting.

Bob Marshall Wilderness Pack Trips and Hunts

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Bob Marshall Wilderness Pack Trips and Hunts

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Where Adventure is Beyond Each Bend of the Trail...

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  There’s still a place where time slows down and the only signpost is a hoof print. The Bob Marshall Wilderness is considered the “crown jewel” of America’s wilderness system. Our fully-guided horse pack-trips are designed to accommodate all levels of riders through this magnificent, unspoiled country where the only travel is by foot or horse.

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Each pack trip is unique ranging from base camp oriented to trips that traverse the wilderness over the Continental Divide. We’ll travel across wilderness trails on sure-footed saddle horses that are mountain savvy and a joy to ride. Our trusty string of pack-mules carries all the gear so you can rough it in comfort. The Triple J crew, wrangler, packer, guide and camp cook, will provide a comfortable, complete camp. These limited trips average 8 guests to ensure a high level of personal service. Trips can be tailored for individual groups and interests.

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During your Montana riding vacation the rugged landscape unfolds before you, revealing elk, mule deer and whitetail, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, eagles, moose and black bear. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to fly fish the natural streams and lakes for native Cutthroats and Rainbow trout... it’s a fisherman’s paradise, all wrapped up in the awesome beauty of remote wilderness. Layover days offer options of riding, hiking, fishing or relaxing around the campfire.

Check out our pack-trips in an article in June 2008 Western Horseman, "Will Work for View" by Mark Bedor. The beauty of the Bob Marshall Wilderness is unparalleled, and we can take you there! Experience the challenge of adventure, the fellowship of guests and crew... and appreciation of the horse. It is an outdoor vacation adventure you’ll not soon forget. See our YouTube video! 91MORTIMER ROAD, P.O. BOX 310, AUGUSTA, MONTANA 59410 Contact Us:phone us at (406) 562-3653 or check us out on the web: www.triplejranch.com/wilderness-adventures

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Courtesy of www.travelsavvywest.com

Saddle up! - Group Adventure Travel

March 28, 2012 Looking for a unique, authentic way to enjoy the best of Arizona? Consider a visit to a dude ranch. At one of the nine ranches affiliated with Arizona Dude Ranch Association, it is possible to savor the real western lifestyle, where the world moves at a more relaxed pace and where horseback riding is an everyday treat. A girlfriends getaway, an intergenerational adventure or any other group outing can be enjoyed. The ranches are as diverse as the state, “ranging from the more traditional smaller, remote ranches, where horseback riding and ranching are the primary focus, to our larger resort-style guest ranches, with all the amenities,” said Lacy Gambee, a spokesperson for the association.

Circle Z Ranch  Circle Z, located 60 miles southeast of Tucson, is a guest ranch operated continuously since 1926. Here, guests ride ranch-bred horses through the foothills of the historic Santa Rita Mountains. As a quiet, family-oriented ranch, the emphasis is on riding and down-home hospitality. The ranch has 27 rooms and is open from October through May. The Circle Z is known for excellent horses and great variety of trails, but also recognized worldwide for birding throughout the ranch and on the adjacent Patagonia Nature Preserve. (888) 854-2525, www.circlez.com

Elkhorn Ranch  The Elkhorn Ranch lies 50 miles southwest of Tucson in its own mesquite-covered valley, where the mountains and open desert meet. Since 1945, the Miller family has operated the ranch with exceptional riding and comfortable living for 32 guests in 20 cabins. Visitors enjoy wildlife and wintering birds, lazy hours in the sun, tennis, swimming and shuffleboard from November through April. (520) 822-1040, www.elkhornranch.com

Flying E Ranch   High on a mesa in the Hassayampa Valley, 60 miles northwest of Phoenix, the Flying E Ranch offers a personal approach to the dude ranch experience with a strong family feeling between guests and staff. Since 1946, the Flying E Ranch in Wickenburg has specialized in authentic Western hospitality, with great horses for every rider, ranch-style home cooked meals and a comfortable place to relax at the end of the day. The 17-room ranch is in operation from November through May. (888) 684-2650, www.flyingeranch.comFlying E Barn Gather

Hidden Meadow   This luxurious guest ranch is surrounded by the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in eastern Arizona’s White Mountains. Guests enjoy hiking, mountain biking, fly-fishing, archery and horseback riding on the hundreds of miles of national forest trails surrounding the ranch. The 12-cabin ranch is open year-round.(866) 333-4080, www.hiddenmeadow.com

Rancho De La Osa  Rancho De La Osa is a 300-year-old ranch property and one of the last great haciendas in the U.S. Established as a guest ranch in 1924, visitors enjoy innovative Southwest cuisine and scenic trail rides, while surrounded by history that has been lovingly preserved in the beautiful buildings set in the Sonoran Desert. The ranch, located 65 miles southwest of Tucson, has 18 rooms and is open year-round. As the ranch borders the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, there are abundant opportunities for viewing birds and wildlife — on foot or on horseback. (800) 872-6240, www.ranchodelaosa.com

Rancho de los Caballeros   This ranch, with 79 rooms, is located in Wickenburg. It’s open from October through May. Tee off on the 18-hole championship golf course, enjoy a scenic trail ride, play tennis or relax in the spa. (800) 684-5030, www.sunc.com

Sprucedale Guest Ranch  Sprucedale Ranch is nestled high in the pine country of northeastern Arizona at an elevation of 7,600 feet. It has been in the Wiltbank family since 1941, and it is a haven for people to ride horses, relax and reconnect with nature. In addition to horseback riding, there are activities for all ages — cow milking, gymkhana rodeos, colt leading, branding, western dance lessons, cookouts, fishing and hiking trails. The 14-cabin ranch is open from May through October. (928) 333-4984, www.sprucedaleranch.com

Tanque Verde Ranch  A historic working ranch and a Mobil 4 Star Resort, Tanque Verde Ranch combines the adventurous lifestyle of the Old West with the comfort and amenities of a world-class resort. Located on 640 acres in the foothills of the Rincon Mountains east of Tucson, Tanque Verde Ranch offers horseback riding lessons, trail rides, hiking, mountain biking, tennis, swimming, fishing and La Sonora Spa. The 74-room ranch is open year-round. (800) 234-3833, www.tvgr.com

White Stallion Ranch  The White Stallion Ranch sits on 3,000 acres of the beautiful Sonoran desert, adjoining Saguaro National Park, north of Tucson. The varied riding program includes walk rides, lope rides, breakfast rides, mountain rides, all-day rides and team cattle penning (a horse and cattle game done in the arena). Saturdays typically offer an exhibition rodeo with steer wrestling, team roping, and barrel racing. White Stallion Ranch, a 41-room property, is open year-round. (888) 977-2624,  www.whitestallion.com

 

Ride the Outlaw Trails of Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid!

Whether on horseback or hiking you will enjoy some of the most beautiful, untouched country in America here at Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch. Ride the outlaw trails of Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and visit Native ruins where the Mimbres people of 750-1150 AD, and later Geronimo and the Apaches once roamed. Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch is a small ranch with a relaxed and personal atmosphere, located in the mountains in the beautiful Gila National Forest of SW New Mexico. Horseback riding here takes you through open meadows, tall ponderosa forests, up on high hills where the views go on forever across the 3.3 million acre National Forest, and down into deep canyons with sheer cliffs and crystal clear streams. We have wonderful gentle and responsive horses good for any ability to see it all by. The trails start at our backdoor and we have millions of acres to discover. Our main focus is on riding and making this a special vacation for you. No lines or schedules here! You can ride as much as you want or not at all.... the choice is yours. Other activities that our guests enjoy are campfires at night with s’mores and fantastic stargazing, musical entertainment around the campfire or in our rec hall, barbecues, outdoor and indoor games, roping lessons, photography, rodeo games and riding lessons in our arena, swimming in our small pool or the creek, or just reading a good book on one of our bench swings. We have two miniature paint horses and two mini donkeys that are fun to groom, pet, and just watch trying to be bigger than they really are! Since we are in the mountains we have moderate temperatures all year round. One great bonus of living at this altitude is that we are almost bug free so it's the perfect place for all outdoor activities. We have lots of sunshine with turquoise New Mexico skies that invite you to spend your time outside.

Top Reasons we are a Great Place for a Family Vacation! 

We are a small family run ranch. We have only 3 cabins and take a maximum of 12 guests. Because of this we are able to cater to our guests desires. You tell us what you want the schedule to be with your family! 

This is a great place to spend quality time with your family having fun! In today’s busy world it can be hard for families to have time to spend together. Everyone has their own schedule and often it is not even possible to have a meal together. Here at the ranch families can ride horses, eat meals together, relax around a campfire, hike, swim in the creek, play games, line dance, and make memories together that will last a lifetime!

Getting back to nature! We are located in the middle of the 3.3 million acre Gila National Forest. This is a great place for families to get away from the hustle and bustle of town and city life. Wildlife is plentiful here including large herds of elk, many types of birds, mule deer, javelina, eagles, and much more.  It is a great place to learn and experience the beauty of our natural world. We love sharing our knowledge of the flora, fauna and wildlife with our guests! And the scenery is unparalleled: deep canyons, views from up high, open meadows, ponderosa forests, the variety is endless.

History! The Mimbres people were in this area from 750-1150AD. Right in our area there are remains of pit houses, cliff dwellings and pictographs (rock paintings) that we take guests to explore. This is unique because these are not part of a National Park and there will be no one else there! Later, the Chiricahua Apaches were also in this area and Geronimo’s birthplace is within 15 miles of our ranch! Even more recently Cowboys and Basque Sheepherders stayed in the area and made shelters which remain today.

The price is all-inclusive! Comfortable cabin, 3 full meals a day, horseback riding, hiking and all other activities and entertainment are included in the price!

This is a great place for a family reunion! If there are between 10-15 people in your group you will have the ranch to yourselves and our undivided attention!

Ask about packages for groups of 7-9! For more information please call 575-772-5157 or visit www.geronimoranch.com  

Geronimo Trails Creek Crossing

How to Select the Perfect Ranch for Your Dude Ranch Vacation

Now is the time to start planning your next Dude Ranch Vacation!  We thought it might be helpful to provide some information on how to find the perfect ranch for you.  Everyone has different ideas and visions on what that ideal ranch vacation should be like, so here are some suggestions to help you weed your way through all of the options.  While you are on your quest for that ultimate ranch experience, don't hesitate to call us here at the office for help!  We would love to talk to you!  You can reach us at 1-866-399-2339 or 1-307-587-2339.

McGinnis Meadows Cattle Drive

How do you choose the ranch to match your dreams? Riding should be your first consideration - choose the riding environment that appeals to you; open meadows, prairies, mountain trails or southwestern desert. The location of the ranch determines the terrain.

Then, choose the type of riding you'd like; working livestock, cattle drives, pack trips, team penning and arena games or daily trail rides. All ranches fall into one of the following categories - which will help you make the best choice:

  • WORKING DUDE RANCH These are working cattle or sheep operations. Your horseback riding adventures will be determined by the ranch's livestock and the work related to them. Be prepared to experience these activities first hand.
  • DUDE RANCH Horseback riding is central to these ranches. The cowboy in you will experience Western riding and a variety of outdoor activities.
  • RESORT DUDE RANCH Horseback riding is featured, and these ranches offer an array of diverse activities and onsite facilities. These are apt to be the larger ranches.

Your next consideration should be the time of year - typically, the ranches in the northern states (and cooler climates) are the busiest in the summer months, while the southern ranches offer warm weather riding in the winter months.

The number of guests that a ranch can host will also be something to think about - a stay at a ranch with only eight guests is a dramatically different experience than choosing a ranch that serves eighty or one hundred guests. The difference is most noticeable in the dining and social experiences.

Your accommodations are also an important consideration - ranch atmospheres range from rustic to luxurious, and everything in between. Ranches are always extremely clean and comfortable, but if you need hair dryers, TV's, Jacuzzi tubs, a daily massage and wireless Internet to make your dream vacation, just choose your ranch accordingly. With over one hundred unique ranches in the Association, we have one to match your dreams - perfectly. As you narrow your choices down to a couple ranches, call and explain to them what's most important to you - they'll help you make the best choice.  Choose a Dude Ranchers' Association ranch and Ride The West with The Best!

Where will I Stay, What will I Eat and What will I do at a Dude Ranch?

  A Dude Ranch Vacation is all about YOU the guest. All member ranches of The Dude Ranchers’ Association are committed to making sure you have the vacation of a life time. With our warm western hospitality, our outstanding horses, great food, accommodations and our spectacular locations, we guarantee a vacation you and your loved ones will not soon forget.. Come experience the Original Western Vacation at its Best.  

Where will I Stay?4ur Food

Imagine yourself sitting in a big overstuffed chair with your favorite book by a crackling fire. Now, imagine glancing out the big picture window to a view that simply takes your breath away. No noisy streets, no high-rise buildings, just you, your book and that spectacular view. Dude Ranch accommodations will vary from ranch to ranch from luxurious to elegant rustic to Cowboy Chic. Whether you are staying in your own private cabin or in a lodge room, rest assured you will be sleeping on comfortable beds, in superbly kept rooms with all the amenities you will need.

What will I Eat?

You will discover that dining at a dude ranch will be one of the most memorable parts of your vacation. Whether you are dining around a camp fire, under the stars, enjoining a pool side barbecue or sitting at an elegant candlelit table, the food is simply amazing. The fare will range from home-style cooking to the finest western cuisine you will find anywhere. Ranches offer freshly baked pastries and breads, fresh fruits and vegetables (often grown right on the ranch) and some of the most delectable desserts you have ever imagined. Your dining experience is truly one of our highest priorities; special dietary needs are always accommodated upon request.    

What Will I Do? 

The pace at all dude ranches can be as leisurely or as active as you would like it to be. While unlimited Horseback riding is the main focus of all DRA ranches the other activities you can experience are endless. Hiking in National Parks and forests, white water rafting, world class fly fishing on private waters, overnight pack trips, trap shooting, golf, children’s programs, evening entertainment, cattle work and much, much more….There really is something for everyone.  

Area Attractions:

Many of our ranches are located next to National Parks, National Forests and monuments. Many are located on or near rivers and lakes all having world class fishing. Some of the many activities included are of course world class horseback riding and fishing, white water rafting, hiking, trap shooting, children’s programs, cattle work, evening entertainment, campfires, star gazing, bird watching and overnight camp trips just to name a few.

Horse Vacations

Written by Jennifer Walker | 02 May 2011 Posted in Articles  Dude Ranches/Guest Ranches Dude ranches, also known as guest ranches, are the Vista-Verde-Dancing-2classic vacation idea to get the complete western experience. They are generally all-inclusive, with accommodations on-site in cabins or quaint inns and food served in the ranch’s dining room or by the campfire. Dude ranch vacations are usually free-form rather than structured, allowing guests to participate in whichever activities they like. Choices vary from ranch to ranch, but horseback riding is universal. Guided or independent trail rides can last anywhere from a couple of hours to all day. Another requisite dude ranch activity is a campfire or cookout. Guests are transported back to the old west, when cowboys sat around the campfire singing songs. Guests will gather around for a delicious cook-out meal and sing songs together—a great social activity. Some other common dude ranch activities include country dancing, trips to ghost towns or other site-seeing spots, fishing, hunting, swimming and boating. There is something for every member of the family, young and old.  (read more)  

Cattle Drives - A Truly Western Experience

For a truly memorable vacation, nothing beats a Western cattle drive. Straight from the big screen, these working cattle drives, offered through various members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association, transform a movie moment into a real-life vacation experience unlike any other.


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 activities every day. The purpose of the drives, however, is universal—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. Days-long cattle drives fill the urge for the more adventurous to 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. 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.

For just a taste of the real cowboy life, dude ranch visitors can participate in other cattle activities. Moving cattle for the day or gathering and doctoring are just a couple of the “real” experiences while saddling up with the hired hands.

For more information about a real working cattle drive or any of the other unique features of a dude ranch vacation, or to request a brochure, call 1-307-587-2339 or visit http://www.duderanch.org/.

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