7 Things You May Not Know About Dude Ranches

Three Bars Guest Ranch - Things to know about dude ranches

What comes to mind when you think of dude ranches? Putting on cowboy boots and saddling up your steed for a trail ride? You’re halfway there. Now picture this: indulging in a luxurious spa treatment and eating a gourmet cuisine after an action-packed day of whitewater rafting and archery. While dude ranches (also known as guest ranches) are known for providing guests with authentic, one-of-a-kind Western adventures, many have also expanded their offerings to cater to a diverse crowd of travelers – from families to couples to singles – with activities, attractions and services that extend far beyond the trail. Read on for seven surprising things you may not know about a ranch vacation.

 

Surprising Things You May Not Know About Dude Ranches

 

Dude Ranches Span The Country

Accredited DRA ranches are located in numerous states from Montana and Wyoming down to New Mexico and Arkansas. Many are located in some of the most scenic areas of the country, each offering a unique guest experience.

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Dude Ranches Pamper You

Just because you’re on vacation at a ranch and not a five-star hotel, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice luxury amenities.

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Dude Ranches Indulge Your Taste Buds

Gourmet farm-to-table cuisine is an important part of the culture at the Flat Creek Ranch where they use local and organic meat whenever possible. They also include fresh vegetables form their garden.

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Flat Creek Guest Ranch Dining

Dude Ranches Teach Yoga

The “Experience Yoga and Horses Retreat” at The Home Ranch, led by two fabled Cowgirl Yoginis, prioritizes health and wellness through gentle and soothing yoga, restorative horseback riding, fine wine and relaxation – serving as the perfect girls getaway.

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Dude Ranches Host Weddings

With picturesque mountain views and luxurious accommodations, a dude ranch is the perfect spot to say “I do.”  Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch offers romantic nuptials atop the breathtaking Rocky Mountains.

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Dude Ranches Test Your Limits

Outdoor and adventure enthusiasts will feel right at home on a dude ranch with a variety of high-endurance activities to choose from. Three Bars Guest Ranch offers weekly whitewater rafting tours, along with fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, archery and ATV tours.

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Dude Ranches Welcome Children

Kids can come too! Programs catering to young children and teens are available at Rainbow Trout Ranch. Children ages three and older are supervised by qualified counselors during daytime activities such as riding, nature study and Western crafts. Teens are given more independence and can embark on day trips to an abandoned gold mine or the Colorado Gator Farm.

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Rainbow Trout Ranch Children's Program - Things to know about dude ranches

 

7 Things You May Not Know About Dude Ranches

 

What comes to mind when you think of dude ranches? Putting on cowboy boots and saddling up your steed for a trail ride? You’re halfway there. While dude ranches (also known as guest ranches) are known for providing guests with authentic Western adventures, many have also expanded their offerings to cater to a diverse crowd of travelers with activities, attractions and services that extend far beyond the trail. Read on for seven surprising things you may not know about a ranch vacation.

5 Ways a Dude Ranch Vacation Can Heal You

The U.S. Travel Association reports a strong correlation between leisure and a person’s overall well-being and even attributes annual vacations to improved health. With that in mind, it makes sense that a trip solely planned around healing would yield powerful restorative results. While the term ‘dude ranch’ usually brings to mind images of cowboys and cattle drives, dude ranches are surprisingly perfect destinations for reviving your mind, body and spirit. Below, please find an overview to help you discover the healing power of dude ranches on your next vacation. In keeping with the belief that wellness starts from within, many DRA-accredited ranches offer a variety of rejuvenating activities and programs specifically designed to heal what ails you.

Yogi in the Rockies: Now in its ninth season, the “Experience Yoga and Horses Retreat” at The Home Ranch, led by two fabled Cowgirl Yoginis, is the ultimate girlfriend getaway. The retreat invites adventuresome cowgirls of all ages to a legendary all-inclusive week of restorative horseback riding, soothing yoga, fine dining, wine pairing and relaxation. With a million acres of Rocky Mountain Wilderness at your doorstep, you’re sure to have the most memorable experiences of your life.

Change you’re Pace: C Lazy U Ranch, a premier luxury guest ranch getaway located on 8,500 acres in Grand County, Colo. and easily accessible from Denver, recently launched its Outlaw Fitness and Wellness program. Guests can enjoy 60-minute yoga classes, personal training sessions and fitness activities that incorporate the ranch’s natural surroundings, as well as area activities such as hiking and mountain biking. The wellness sessions are designed to rejuvenate mind, body and spirit as guests retreat from everyday life, and complement the traditional ranch stay through stretching and guided fitness regimens.

Step into Zen: Smith Fork Ranch is the perfect destination for not only fun and adventure, but also relaxation and wellness. After an arduous hike or an exhilarating mountain bike or horseback ride, indulge in various selections at The Spa at Smith Fork Ranch, including healing massages, renewing facials or soothing foot treatments. Enjoy massages in one of their tranquil rooms or creek-side at the ranch’s Massage Outpost, situated among the serene beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Trained and attentive staff melt your pains away and take care of all the details, so all you have to do is relax.

Practice Your Balance: If there was one phrase to capture Echo Valley Ranch & Spa’s wellness philosophy, it would be “Sabai Sabai,” a Thai term used to describe balanced harmony of mental, physical and spiritual health and wellbeing. Everything at this destination wellness resort and luxury spa in British Columbia sets the stage for the perfect wellness retreat. The water you drink is even taken from one of the five natural springs located on the ranch! Echo Valley also offers two types of spa experiences: a Thai-style spa offering a range of authentic Thai therapies and a Western-style spa offering contemporary aesthetic services.

Harmonize with Horses: Tanque Verde Ranch is one of America's old time cattle and guest ranches. Nestled amongst the Rincon Mountains and adjacent to Saguaro National Park and Coronado National Forest in Tucson, Az., Tanque Verde Ranch offers a unique opportunity to enhance your ranch vacation. Harmony with Horses will provide you with extensive horsemanship skills, improved riding ability, better self-understanding, and one of the most unique vacation experiences amidst 60,000 acres of Tucson's most breathtaking desert landscapes.

Vista-Verde-Yoga-2


 

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.

 

 

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.

Triangle X Ranch Sunset Creek fall

 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.

 

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.  

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