Why Moms Choose a Dude Ranch for a Great Family Vacation

Dude ranches make an incredibly memorable and enjoyable family vacation - for moms especially. With a sense of togetherness and shared experiences moms and the whole family are sure to love their time in the great outdoors, horseback riding and participating in a limitless number of outdoor adventures, such as hiking, fishing, white water rafting, cattle work, petting zoos, zip lining and more. Whether you’re an adventure loving mom (busy body) or a relaxation loving mom (spa and hanging out by the pool type), we’ve got you covered.  It is sure to be a blast for kids of all ages and we’re sure dads will have fun too, but here are the top reasons why moms love dude ranches for a family vacation. 

family vacation

Paradise Guest Ranch - Buffalo, WY

3 square meals are prepared daily (even for picky eaters)

Traveling moms understand the task of finding a restaurant everyone will enjoy while on the road. Who wants tacos for dinner? And you hear simultaneously, “I do!” and “No way!” and this process repeats itself until finally you order pizza and take it back to the hotel room. This just isn’t the case at a dude ranch. All the guess work is taken out of the equation and professional trained chefs make wonderful dinners for the whole family - even if someone has a special dietary need. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are all planned out for you. And the best part? Moms get to enjoy this with the whole family, not worrying one bit about clean up, grocery shopping, making sure there’s something on the menu the kids will eat. Once you let the kitchen know what you’ll need for the family, the entire week will be “all gravy,” if you will, at the dinner table. 

Chores are non-existent 

A ranch vacation goes far beyond booking a typical hotel or even staying at a vacation rental home. We all know what it would take to replace mom’s job while on vacation, an entire team of folks. And that’s just what we’ve got for you for your week stay. With a two to one guest to staff ratio moms won’t have to worry about cleaning up your cabin - a swat team of house keepers are deployed every morning, that will sweep through every room, tidying up every sock and pj’s from the day before. And what about the dishes? There won’t be any fighting over who’s turn it is. Mom certainly won’t have to do it and neither will the kids. And, not one time during the week will anyone have to vacuum dirt dragged in from the barn. If something breaks, no worries, maintenance crews are on staff with all the right tools. 

The activity planning is already done

Moms won’t have to worry about scouring the internet for things to do at your destination. Stop the hassle of worrying about TripAdvisor reviews of afternoon excursions for outdoor adventures. The ranch will have you and the whole family covered for fun things to do. The best thing about this? You won’t have to plan every step or every activity out for the week before hand. You and the family can decide in the morning what you want to do. There won’t be any need for additional transportation. Fly into the airport and someone from the ranch will be there to pick you up. There won’t be any need for a map or navigation - unless of course you go geocaching while you’re there. 

family vacation

Bar Lazy J Ranch - Parshall, CO

Everyone can be together or free to be with their own age group.  

Sometimes the adults want to have some time together, and kid’s counselors makes this easy and fun for everyone. With a full day of programing, your kids have the option to be with their peers all day playing games and learning about the Western cowboy lifestyle. And mom and dad can make some much needed memories as a couple. 

Cell phones are put away!  

Without cell service in most locations and limited WIFI, everyone in the family will be encouraged to leave their phones alone. When you think about it, if you are spending your days at the barn riding horses or fishing, your hands are full and won’t be able to carry around your cell phone. Minimal opportunities for electronics are definitely something any parent will love about dude ranches. 

Hello Fresh Air and Sunshine 

Moms will have an easy time getting kids outside. Dude ranches are known for their beautiful settings in the mountains. With every horseback ride or afternoon rodeo, kids and parents will get plenty of time in the great outdoors. The only thing to remember is your camera. Although the pictures won’t do justice of the real-life experiences, you’ll enjoy looking back on the pictures of your kids on green grass and mountain views. 

family vacation

Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch - McLeod, MT 

Crowds? What crowds? 

Dude ranches are full of wide-open spaces and an intimate number of people. Moms won’t have to worry about anyone getting lost in the crowd, or have to wait in long lines to do anything, really. With an average of 30 guests per week on most dude ranches, everybody will get to meet each other, the staff and other guests alike. By the end of the week everyone in the family is sure to have made a new friend.  Who knows? You might even book the exact same week next year to hang out with the same families.  

Moms will certainly be able to enjoy a much-needed vacation on a dude ranch. As a worry-free destination everyone will get to have fun and get to take a break from the normal day-to-day routines. Here are some great destinations to consider for your next visit. 

 

Family Vacation at a Dude Ranch 

7D Ranch Near Yellowstone National Park, Cody, Wyoming

Bar Lazy J Ranch Near Rocky Mountain National Park

Majestic Dude Ranch Mancos, Colorado

Tumbling River Ranch In the Rocky Mountains, Grant, Colorado 

Crossed Sabres Ranch Near Yellowstone National Park, Cody, WY

Elkhorn Ranch Near Yellowstone National Park, Gallatin Gateway, MT

Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch Near Yellowstone National Park, McLeod, MT

Paradise Guest Ranch In the Big Horn Mountains, Buffalo, WY

 

Looking for more options? Read about: 

Affordable Ranch Vacations for your Family  
A Family Dude Ranch Vacation - Fun for All Ages  
The Best Multi Generational Dude Ranches 

 

Save this Pin for Later! 

ude ranches make an incredibly memorable and enjoyable family vacation - for moms especially. With a sense of togetherness and shared experiences moms and the whole family are sure to love their time in the great outdoors. Read about all the reasons moms choose dude ranch vacations for a great family vacation.

The 25 Most Popular Destinations for a Colorado Vacation at a Ranch

An outdoor enthusiast’s wonderland, Colorado is jam packed with breathtaking landscapes, and more than 300 sunny days a year for travelers to come and explore its diverse areas. From the spine of North America, the famous Rocky Mountains, to lush valleys and the easily accessible Denver Airport, Colorado is an obvious choice for all types of travelers - families, couples, solo travelers and business associates - who are looking for adventure. With an unlimited variety of outdoor attractions, scenic destinations and diverse wildlife, Colorado is urging you to explore. From cross country skiing, hiking a National Park or horseback riding through the country, Colorado has a long list of things to do all year. Read on to discover the best places to take a Colorado vacation. 

Take a Colorado Vacation

All of the 25 best ranches in Colorado will give you a wonderful vacation - each unique in its own way. 

Colorado Vacation

Cherokee Park Ranch - Livermore, CO 

Colorado Trails Ranch

Near Durango, Colorado the Colorado Trails Ranch is an all-inclusive family vacation adventure in the San Juan Mountains. This is definitely a great place to go if you are looking for excitement and relaxation on your vacation. The delicious home cooked meals, delightful cabins and activities for all ages makes this an incredible dude ranch experience. 

Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch

Get packed and saddle up for a week at the Bar Lazy J Ranch. Just Southeast of Rocky Mountain National Park, this ranch is famous for recreation and relaxation. There are tons of outdoor activities, including a 1,500-foot zipline - and countless ways to sit back and unwind. 

Laramie River Ranch

Laramie River Ranch is known for horseback riding, but has so many well-developed programs and activities. Expert fly fishing, natural horsemanship demonstrations, team penning, naturalist programs for birdwatching, star gazing and wild flower identification makes the Laramie River Ranch a destination for those interested in an educational and fun outdoor adventure. 

Colorado Vacation

Laramie River Ranch - Jelm, CO 

Badger Creek Ranch

Ride out with the cowboy crew at the Badger Creek Ranch. You’ll get to do all the important tasks that makes a cattle operation run. Ready to fix a fence? Sort cattle? Go on an iconic cattle drive? Then Badger Creek is a great place for you. 

Black Mountain Ranch

Ready for a  Saturday afternoon cattle drive for the Black Mountain Ranch’s herd of long horn cattle? You’ll not be bored during the week while you wait, doing some of the most exhilarating outdoor adventures - loping rides, fly fishing, paddle boarding, skeet shooting, white water rafting and even a cookout in the Colorado sunset. 

The High Lonesome Ranch

If you are looking for your inner cowboy you can find it at the High Lonesome Ranch. Known for the nostalgic combination of the views of the Rocky Mountains, equestrian activities and culinary adventures this ranch has an assortment of things for everyone to enjoy.  

Colorado Vacation

The High Lonesome Ranch - DeBeque, CO

Zapata Ranch

As a working cattle and bison ranch the Zapata Ranch and Nature Conservancy offers guests the chance to experience what it takes to run a ranch. Have you ever seen a bison up close and personal? Here’s your chance! With a capacity of only 15 you’ll get a tailored vacation. You might even select one of their themed weeks to get more in depth on Western painting, photography workshops and some cattle working special events. 

4UR Ranch

The 4UR Ranch boasts 3,000 acres of adventure and 6 miles of private trout stream on the Rio Grand River. Not only this, but the ranch also has miles and miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding, a natural hot springs and top-notch accommodations. A well-rounded ranch no doubt. 

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch

Everyone is welcome at the Sundance Trail Guest Ranch, from Grandma and Grandpa and the kids to your pet dog and best trail riding horse. There are a variety of different horseback rides from beginner to advanced as well as plenty of activities to do while not riding. You can even play a round of frisbee golf!

Colorado Vacation

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch - Red Feather Lakes, CO 

Drowsy Water Ranch

From infants to teenagers the Drowsy Water Ranch has a program and counselors in place with plenty of activities to teach your kids about the western cowboy lifestyle in Colorado. And there’s plenty to do here for adults as well!

Tumbling River Ranch

Shine up your cowboy boots for the evening entertainment at the Tumbling River Ranch. With live music and square dancing after a day in the saddle you’re sure to love this western ranch experience. 

Vista Verde Ranch

The vastness of the views at the Vista Verde Ranch makes you feel like your vacation experience is in high definition. You’ll have an unforgettable luxury experience that will bring you back year after year. 

Colorado Vacation

Vista Verde Ranch - Steamboat Springs, CO 

Cherokee Park Ranch

Have you always wanted to learn how to rope? Cherokee Park Ranch offers roping lessons for all age groups to learn one of the longest art forms of the cowboy. With hay rides, tubing the river and even art classes everyone will have something they really want to do when they aren’t horseback riding. 

The Majestic Dude Ranch 

The Majestic Dude Ranch is known as the ultimate adventure ranch. Along with spectacular horseback riding, the ranch offers paintball and laser tag, mountain biking, white water rafting, baseball, hiking and more. 

Wind River Christian Dude Ranch

You’ll never forget the Wind River Christian Dude Ranch. With a ministry component to the ranch you’ll fill your soul while in some of the most beautiful places in Colorado. 

Colorado Vacation

Wind River Christian Dude Ranch - Estes Park, CO

Elk Mountain Ranch

Elk Mountain Ranch offers an intimate Colorado dude ranch setting for your family. When you arrive, your hosts will tailor the experience to meet each guest’s needs for their vacation. And then you’ll get to settle in to cozy and comfortable cabins. 

Smith Fork Ranch

Fine dining at the private luxury destination of the Smith Fork Ranch is definitely worth writing home about. Farm to table cuisine, an incredible wine list and a view like non-other sets this ranch apart from all the rest. 

Lost Valley Ranch

Reconnect with the spirit of the old west at the Lost Valley Ranch. Set against 26,000 acres of public land in the Pike National Forest fresh mountain air has never been more pristine. And with a history that begins in the late 1800’s the Lost Valley Ranch invites guests to become a part of the story of the ranch. 

Colorado Vacation

Lost Valley Ranch - Sedalia, CO 

C Lazy U Ranch 

Located in Granby, Colorado, the C Lazy U Ranch is a top-notch resort ranch with the finest offerings for accommodations, food and of course outdoor adventure activities. With a capacity of 95 this location can host large groups of multi-generational families and offer tons of things to do for solo travelers and couples. 

The Home Ranch

Ready for a summer or winter adventure? The Home Ranch offers a fine dude ranch stay through out the summer and from December through March. You can ride out into green mountains or cross-country ski across snow covered hills. 

Latigo Ranch

Majestic scenery reaching all the way to the Continental Divide, the Latigo Ranch has an experience for you like no other ranch. Gourmet contemporary cuisine will delight the senses in the evenings and phenomenal horseback riding and fishing will engage your family during the day. 

Colorado Vacation

Latigo Ranch - Kremmling, CO 

Rainbow Trout Ranch

The Rainbow Trout Ranch is all about the family adventure. Your kids and teens will rave about the whole new world of fun and activities they can do on a ranch. You’ll find old fashioned hospitality and the Colorado backcountry a very charming vacation. 

The Broadmoor's Ranch at Emerald Valley

The Ranch at Emerald Valley is just a short ride up the mountain from the famous Broadmoor Hotel. You’ll be set for an incomparable luxury vacation here in one of 10 beautifully appointed cabins with modern amenities and all set to ride horses in some really incredible country. 

Rawah Ranch

Ready for a romantic escape with someone special? The Rawah Ranch knows how important it is to cultivate your relationships and fosters a wonderful experience with champagne and roses upon arrival, your own private trail ride and private massages. 

Colorado Vacation

Rawah Ranch - Glendevey, CO

Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch

Take time to play on your next business trip to the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch. You’ll get a variety of outdoor activities and team building opportunities and even a challenge course. A wagon ride followed by a campfire in the evening will complete your western experience for a company meeting, training or retreat. 

Save this pin for later! 

An outdoor enthusiast’s wonderland, Colorado is jam packed with breathtaking landscapes, and more than 300 sunny days a year for travelers to come and explore its diverse areas. Colorado is urging you to explore. From cross country skiing, hiking a National Park or horseback riding through the country, Colorado has a long list of things to do all year. Read on to discover the best places to take a Colorado vacation.

The Dude Ranchers’ Association’s Best Outdoor Meals

From Arbuckle and bear sign (cattle-range lingo for coffee and doughnuts) over an open flame to pizza ovens and prickly pear margaritas on patios under the stars, these are the top dude ranches with the best outdoor meals and dining experiences for late summer and early autumn. Nature’s bounty is at its finest this time of year. Breakfast rides with fresh confections, four-course lunch atop a mesa and evening cuisine fireside, the DRA has some of the most intimate and exquisite land in the West with access to local food and secret dishes. Fork’s up! 

Home Ranch, Clark, Colorado

Gardens and Greenhouses Galore

Nestled in the Elk River Valley is Home Ranch, definitively one of the most idyllic settings for an outdoor brick oven rolling out over a dozen varieties of stone-fired pizzas. The Home Ranch, a Relais & Chateaux property, 30 minutes from Steamboat Springs, focuses on cuisine year-round; however, their weekly offering in summer and fall of crispy pizzas loaded from the ranch’s gardens and greenhouse is as fresh and farm to fork as one can get. The sound of horses dining on their hay in the background and views of Home Ranch’s stunning barn and cabins are worthy of a Travel + Leisure cover.

The afterclaps (unexpected event after the event is supposed to be over) are the wranglers driving the herd out for the day as you finish your cocktail and dessert. The ranch’s massive greenhouse is also open for tours throughout the evening with resident gardeners and the head Master Gardener.

best outdoor meals

Endulge in flatbread pizza cooked in a brick oven with homegrown ingredients at The Home Ranch in Colorado.

Latigo Ranch, Kremmling, Colorado

Breakfast Bliss

This ranch takes food as serious as their scenery. Surrounded by 50,000 acres of the Medicine Bow—Routt National Forest, the George family has the lay of the land to devise splendid surprises come mealtime. It’s a family business for the George’s with the owner’s son and wife running the kitchen. A crowd pleaser begins when guests are escorted to the main lodge in Latigo’s covered wagon to sally forth into a picturesque aspen glade where the kitchen crew has grilled steaks, fish, and veggies to go along with a full buffet of classic dude ranch side dishes—corn on the cob, baked beans (acclaimed by some guests to be the best in the world), sweet potato biscuits, and more. Dessert, as always, is greatly anticipated. There’s a choice between rhubarb pie and peanut butter pie, consumed while eagerly awaiting the announcement of prizes from the team penning earlier that afternoon.

There’s still the weekend! On Saturday breakfast is served at a point overlooking an impossibly expansive view of the mountains. When guests arrive via horseback, they’ll find pancakes grilled by the ranch’s owner, Randy, along with eggs, bacon, sausage, all freshly cooked and served by Hannah George along with fruit, juices, coffee, tea, and homemade banana bread. Perched on the rocks with a 360˚ view of absolute wild beauty, it’s the perfect end to a spectacular week and one of the best breakfast rides in the West. 

best outdoor meals

Ribeye steak, one of many delicious meals to enjoy at Latigo Ranch in Colorado.

White Stallion Ranch, Tucson, Arizona

Patio Utopia with Prickly Pear Margs  

With the baking hot summer that has swept through the country in 2018, autumn will bring much relief and the opportune time to try Russell True’s latest baby, White Stallion Ranch’s outdoor pizza oven and Tandoor—a cylindrical clay oven where heat is made by charcoal or wood to create radiant cooking methods.  

Dinner is served alfresco throughout the week featuring foods such as classic BBQ, brisket, pork tenderloin, steak, ribs, chuck roast and locally-sourced vegetables. 

Steamship leg of pork, corn on the grill, produce skewers, wild rice, this is just a sampling of the gorgeously presented ranch food underneath the Tucson stars.

Guests enjoy some of the best dude ranch evening entertainment in the world while finishing their wine, local craft brew or one of the ranch’s legendary margaritas, the prickly pear. Crème Brule, blueberry pie, and pineapple upside down cake have become the ranch’s legacy desserts. Each outside evening, there is a local cowboy strumming the guitar. To keep things going past dusk, lights are strung throughout the outdoor eating area and entertainment space with lighted cactus as an extra quirk. 

best outdoor meals

A warm and welcoming outdoor dining area at the White Stallion Ranch in Arizona. 

Covered Wagon Ranch, Gateway, Montana

Chef’s Special

Located a stone’s throw from Yellowstone National Park, Covered Wagon Ranch takes advantage of its location and access to quieter parts of the Park. The ranch encourages guests to take a lunch ride almost daily! Sure, lunch is always available in the main lodge, but riders know best—take the chef’s special and giddy up. With nearly a dozen trails the ranch rides weaving in and out of Yellowstone, there’s a really good chance you can wind up having the chef’s special, with a moose (it happened to us!). Each night the chef surveys his crowd and crafts a special sandwich that is available for pick-up before the daily ride. Guests always have the choice of nearly 20 items, but there’s a reason for the chef’s special.

After a gently ascending two-hour ride into the Yellowstone, our family found a quiet meadow to let the horses rest and for us to enjoy the special sandwich. Not five minutes after dismount did a giant bull moose stand up from his resting spot in the meadow and curiously circle around the meadow to get a good view of us as we kept a safe distance. Our kids knew what was up, the moose wanted the chef’s special! Three generations eating the best sandwiches while enjoying secret spots in Yellowstone with a moose overseeing the feast. Apparently, your chance of spotting a moose drastically increases if you order up the special. 

best outdoor meals

Trail rides lead to beautiful destinations at the Covered Wagon Ranch in Montana. 

Sidebar: Snacking, Sweets and Soaking

Tombstone Monument Ranch in its historic namesake town of Arizona offers a slow ride labeled  “Beer and Cheetos” for obvious reasons. This is the ultimate afternoon snack. Take a flat, scenic ride to the ranch’s Beer and Cheetos site where there is shade and bathrooms. Enjoy a cold, refreshing beer delightfully accompanied by some empty calorie, salty and delicious snack foods. Followed by a slow, scenic ride back to the ranch in time for social hour. Note, this is an adult-only ride.

Wait, what about tequila connoisseurs? No problem, the “Tequila and Cheese” ride takes guests along the same route, but instead offers up a little more sophistication with a unique selection of wines and assorted cheeses, crackers and bread. Again, this is an adult-only ride. 

best outdoor meals

A great selection of food is always avaliable at Tombstone Monument Ranch in Arizona. 

Friday is the outdoor meal extravaganza with Long Hollow Ranch in central Oregon. Early autumn offers the essential time for a morning ride to be followed by a picnic lunch along the way. It gets a little more enticing; the ranch then puts on a fun demonstration with cattle before dinner. After-dinner dessert is then served at the hot tub or fire pit, depending on weather conditions. Desserts and cocktails vary, but the scenery is always guaranteed. best outdoor meals

Snow capped mountains make for some gorgeous scenery at Long Hollow Ranch in Oregon.

If you want to keep with the hot springs theme, Bar Lazy J in Grand County, Colorado offers a half-day hot springs ride on Fridays. Guests eat lunch at one of the ranch’s favorite scenic spots—the top of Byers Canyon—before working the group into the town of Hot Sulphur Springs. There, a trailer and your previously packed bag will be waiting along with a free pass into the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort to soak in the 22 naturally heated pools. Once frequented by the Ute Indians, the skin-benefiting minerals present in the water are intense and awesome. The ranch takes the horses home while guests soak and send a van for pick up later.

best outdoor meals

Ride through some beautiful scenery to the hotsprings at Bar Lazy J Ranch in Colorado. 

 

Read more about dude ranches with fabulous food here!

 

 

Save this pin for later! 

From Arbuckle and bear sign over an open flame to pizza ovens and prickly pear margaritas on patios under the stars, these are the top dude ranches with the best outdoor meals and dining experiences for late summer and early autumn. Nature’s bounty is at its finest this time of year. Breakfast rides with fresh confections, four-course lunch atop a mesa and evening cuisine fireside, the DRA has some of the most intimate and exquisite land in the West with access to local food and secret dishes.

Where to Have an All-American Vacation Experience

'Made in America' continues to surge in popularity for not only domestic-minded shoppers in the U.S., but also for travelers. For those searching for an authentic getaway that stays true to your roots, consider exploring the Wild West. It doesn’t get any more authentic than the original all-inclusive, All-American experience: a dude ranch vacation – think cattle drives, hiking, rodeos, campfires and fishing.

A dude ranch vacation allows people of all ages to spend quality time in some of the country’s most beautiful, awe-inspiring settings. They are rooted in American tradition and principles – horses, hats, hospitality, heritage, honesty and heart – and that’s just the beginning.

Below are 8 All-American Dude Ranch Experiences:

 

1. Saddle Up, Like a Cowboy: Overseer Theron McGarry, a lifelong cowboy and fourth generation rancher, sees to it that guests at McGarry Ranches get the complete Western experience on these fully operational cattle ranches in Rexburg, Idaho. Guests have the opportunity to walk in a rancher’s shoes during their stay by completing typical farmhand tasks from filling water troughs and rescuing stray cows and calves to roping and fence mending, all while being treated to views of Snake River and the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

2. Participate in a Rockin' Rodeo: Saturdays at Rainbow Trout Ranch in Antonito, Colo., are spent in the arena preparing for the ranch’s rodeo. Kids, teens and adults spend the day trying their hand at traditional cowboy roping including corralling barrels and looping on to poles. The day culminates with a fast and furious "pony express" race between the wranglers, which is sure to enthrall rodeo lovers of all ages!

3. Take in the Views on Horseback: Everyday, twice a day, Bar Lazy J in Parshall, Colo., takes guests on adventure horseback rides with gorgeous views through canyons, forests and valleys. The ranch’s claim to fame is that no two rides are ever the same! Bar Lazy J offers extended rides featuring longer stretches of loping that are typically at a faster pace, perfect for thrill-seekers. Keep an eye out for local wildlife and animals as you ride through the various terrains.

Bar Lazy J All-American Dude Ranch experience

4. Learn to Fly Fish: The fly fishing and guided fishing tours at Diamond D Ranch are truly like no other. With streams 50 yards away from the cabins and a private lake on the ranch grounds in Stanley, Idaho, guests do not have to go far to relax and catch fresh rainbow and other native trout. Diamond D Ranch offers guided fly-fishing tours that range from a quick afternoon on the creek to multi-day, pack trip expeditions. It truly is an angler’s paradise!

5. Watch and Learn from the Rodeo Pros: Every Wednesday afternoon at White Stallion Ranch in Tuscon, Ariz., guests get to watch a real, traditional rodeo in action! As a tradition for almost 50 years, the wranglers and their families and friends come together in the White Stallion arena to compete in team roping, barrel racing and breakaway roping. Throughout the rodeo, narrators regale ranch guests with tales of the traditions behind the rodeo and the history of the West.

White Stallion Roping All-American Dude Ranch Experience

6. Become a Sharp Shooter: Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Harrison, Idaho, provides guests with a one-of-a-kind shooting experience with its 3D archery stations. Participants are taken on a hike through a trail in the woods to the course with life-size targets. These targets vary from life-size turkeys and elk to the occasional mountain lion, simulating a real hunting expedition.

7. Experience an Adventure Pack Trip: Rich’s Montana Guest Ranch in Seeley Lake, Mont., offers pack trips in the crown jewel of America’s wilderness system. These pack trips, which range from five to 10 days, take place in the 1.5 million acre Bob Marshall wilderness full of valleys, lakes, streams and mountains. Adventurers are on horseback and move camp every other day, with the non-riding days filled with fishing and exploring.

Rich Ranch Pack Trip Mountains All-American Dude Ranch Experience

8. Participate in Rodeo Games: One of the most unique and authentic activities at Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch in Quincy, Calif., is their Guest Rodeo Games. After a hearty Hamburger Cookout, guests meet at the corral for an afternoon of fun with the wranglers. The famous Greenhorn Games are for everyone in the family and feature barrel racing, pole-bending, keyhole competitions and even an egg race!

 

For more information or help in choosing the perfect ranch for you and your family please contact us at 307-587-2339 of shoot us an e-mail at info@duderanch.org.

 

‘Made in America’ continues to surge in popularity for not only domestic-minded shoppers in the U.S., but also for travelers. It doesn’t get any more authentic than the original all-inclusive, All-American experience: a dude ranch vacation – think cattle drives, hiking, rodeos, campfires and fishing.

Where to Have an All-American Vacation Experience

‘Made in America’ continues to surge in popularity for not only domestic-minded shoppers in the U.S., but also for travelers. For those searching for an authentic getaway that stays true to your roots, consider exploring the Wild West. It doesn’t get any more authentic than the original all-inclusive, All-American experience: a dude ranch vacation – think cattle drives, hiking, rodeos, campfires and fishing. A dude ranch vacation allows people of all ages to spend quality time in some of the country’s most beautiful, awe-inspiring settings. They are rooted in American tradition and principles – horses, hats, hospitality, heritage, honesty and heart – and that’s just the beginning. Below are 8 All-American Dude Ranch Experiences:

  1. Saddle Up, Like a Cowboy: Overseer Theron McGarry, a lifelong cowboy and fourth generation rancher, sees to it that guests at McGarry Ranches get the complete Western experience on these fully operational cattle ranches in Rexburg, Idaho. Guests have the opportunity to walk in a rancher’s shoes during their stay by completing typical farmhand tasks from filling water troughs and rescuing stray cows and calves to roping and fence mending, all while being treated to views of Snake River and the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

McGarry Ranches

  1. Participate in a Rockin' Rodeo: Saturdays at Rainbow Trout Ranch in Antonito, Colo., are spent in the arena preparing for the ranch’s rodeo. Kids, teens and adults spend the day trying their hand at traditional cowboy roping including corralling barrels and looping on to poles. The day culminates with a fast and furious "pony express" race between the wranglers, which is sure to enthrall rodeo lovers of all ages!
  1. Take in the Views on Horseback: Everyday, twice a day, Bar Lazy J in Parshall, Colo., takes guests on adventure horseback rides with gorgeous views through canyons, forests and valleys. The ranch’s claim to fame is that no two rides are ever the same! Bar Lazy J offers extended rides featuring longer stretches of loping that are typically at a faster pace, perfect for thrill-seekers. Keep an eye out for local wildlife and animals as you ride through the various terrains.
  1. Learn to Fly Fish: The fly fishing and guided fishing tours at Diamond D Ranch are truly like no other. With streams 50 yards away from the cabins and a private lake on the ranch grounds in Stanley, Idaho, guests do not have to go far to relax and catch fresh rainbow and other native trout. Diamond D Ranch offers guided fly-fishing tours that range from a quick afternoon on the creek to multi-day, pack trip expeditions. It truly is an angler’s paradise!
  1. Watch and Learn from the Rodeo Pros: Every Wednesday afternoon at White Stallion Ranch in Tuscon, Ariz., guests get to watch a real, traditional rodeo in action! As a tradition for almost 50 years, the wranglers and their families and friends come together in the White Stallion arena to compete in team roping, barrel racing and breakaway roping. Throughout the rodeo, narrators regale ranch guests with tales of the traditions behind the rodeo and the history of the West.
  1. Become a Sharp Shooter: Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Harrison, Idaho, provides guests with a one-of-a-kind shooting experience with its 3D archery stations. Participants are taken on a hike through a trail in the woods to the course with life-size targets. These targets vary from life-size turkeys and elk to the occasional mountain lion, simulating a real hunting expedition.
  1. Experience an Adventure Pack Trip: Rich’s Montana Guest Ranch in Seeley Lake, Mont., offers pack trips in the crown jewel of America’s wilderness system. These pack trips, which range from five to 10 days, take place in the 1.5 million acre Bob Marshall wilderness full of valleys, lakes, streams and mountains. Adventurers are on horseback and move camp every other day, with the non-riding days filled with fishing and exploring.
  1. Participate in Rodeo Games: One of the most unique and authentic activities at Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch in Quincy, Calif., is their Guest Rodeo Games. After a hearty Hamburger Cookout, guests meet at the corral for an afternoon of fun with the wranglers. The famous Greenhorn Games are for everyone in the family and feature barrel racing, pole-bending, keyhole competitions and even an egg race!

For more information or help in choosing the perfect ranch for you and your family please contact us at 307-587-2339 of shoot us an e-mail at info@duderanch.org.


Family Travel and Dude Ranches

One of the most meaningful comments we’ve read about family travel and dude ranches is this: Dude ranches reconnect adults to a simple and innocent part of their childhood and introduce their children to these same experiences.

Western Pleasure Ranch Family Travel Destination

At dude ranches, everyone can discover magic. Photo courtesy of Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

There’s something uplifting and joyful about that. Like when parents momentarily forget themselves and regress with their kids – revisiting beloved animated cartoons from their youth, or unabashedly belting out favorite ballads from bygone (to their kids) times. Now picture horses and corrals, Stetson hats and western boots, cookouts and wide open landscapes straight out of cowboy movies and novels. Your heart goes pitter-patter, just a little bit. Or a lot. Because in today’s era of quick-paced modernization, invasive technology and growing detachment from nature (and one another), the ranch appeal is arguably more potent — for all generations — than ever before. “Perhaps it is the allure of the Western lifestyle that people long to experience. Perhaps it is the adventure that draws guests to a ranch in the first place. Most likely, it’s a combination,” believes Kari Kilmer, Manager of Vee Bar Guest Ranch. Perhaps. Whatever the case, when on a dude ranch, “The feelings that awaken inside of you are something that most people never imagine. It’s the magic!” agrees Tammy Yurich, Activities Director of Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch.

Latigo Ranch Family Travel Destination

Living in a dream. Photo courtesy of Latigo Ranch

Exploring the Magic “Dude ranches are a perfect fit for family travel simply because the dynamic shifts,” suggests Ashley Ducharme, Marketing Coordinator of Bar W Guest Ranch. “Everyone within the family is on an authentic adventure because everyone is trying new things (archery, horseback riding, square dancing, skeet shooting and more). This equalizes the parents and the children and fosters open communication. The kids say ‘Do you know what we did today?’ and the parents respond ‘Well do you know what we did today?’” That level playing field wasn’t created by accident. It has taken a lot of work and requires diligent vigilance to maintain. All the more so as it’s increasingly difficult to find other family-focused vacation experiences that so consistently “bring families together naturally,” as Kerstin Auer, Marketing & Sales of Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, sees it, all by placing careful and balanced emphasis on providing “unique adventures and educational experiences that the whole family will enjoy,” says Janice Schoonover, Owner of Western Pleasure Guest Ranch. Over the years, plenty of visitors have predictably compared their dude ranch adventures with the famous magic of other standard-bearing activity providers like Disney. How do dude ranches stand up? Incredibly well! “When you come to a dude ranch, the only lines you’ll find are the strings of horses and riders on the mountain trails. Every moment with your family will be spent finding real adventures, not being herded through fabricated ones. Without crowds of people to fight against, the buzz of this modern world will fade into serenity and wildness,” says Spencer George, son of the owners of Latigo Ranch.

Geronimo Trail Ranch Family Travel Destination

A Chance to slow down and get in touch with natures. Photo courtesy of Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch

Take Things a Little Slower There really is a lot to be said for excitement without overstimulation, and activation without commercialization. “Dude ranches give families… a place to slow down from the fast pace of daily life and reconnect with each other,” observes Meris Stout, Owner of Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch. There are two important elements to this. First, “Free of television, phone calls, texts and push notifications, family members can discover the magic that has captivated ranch guests for a hundred years,” enthuses RC Townsend, Assistant General Manager of Mountain Sky Guest Ranch. Second, “Learning together through nature and animals is a powerful thing for families to share,” says Tyler Beckley, Owner of Three Bars Guest Ranch. Of course, a readiness to make family time together just that much more engaging is stoked by freedom from one another during part of each day. This is aided by the safe environment dude ranches work to create, allowing parents to relax while their kids do their own things. “Kids have freedoms on a dude ranch that most cannot experience in today’s world,” says Jeanne Ross, General Manager of Colorado Trails Guest Ranch. Doug Cole, Owner of Marble Mountain Guest Ranch concurs: “Once you arrive at a dude ranch, you are by default in a more secure environment that has a known and fixed population during the time of your stay. Kids are more enabled to ‘free range.’”

R Lazy S Ranch Family Travel

Photo courtesy of R Lazy S Ranch

Step into the Dude Ranch Mindset Predictably, “A dude ranch offers so much… by providing very unique opportunities,” says Kelly Stirn, Owner of R Lazy S Ranch. So let’s explore some them. Keep in mind, however, that “The hardest vacation to describe is one based on an experience. For those of us that live this wonderful, rewarding, down-to-earth lifestyle, it is hard to tell a family on the phone what a wonderful time they will have,” advises Kilmer of Vee Bar Guest Ranch. “They simply have to take our word for it, then try it for themselves.” Let’s do that. Let’s put ourselves briefly in dude ranchers’ shoes by reading their words and imagining how amazing a dude ranch holiday can be. Then let’s all go try it out ourselves, remembering that, as Doug Van Berkum, Owner of Rainbow Trout Ranch likes to point out, “There truly is something for EVERYONE!” To read the extended quotes from the ranchers visit the blog post here. This blog was originally written by the Family Travel Association. Visit them on the web here. Save Save Save Save Save Save

So you want to work at a Dude Ranch

Dude ranches. Guest ranches. Whatever you call them, they offer incredible experiences with potentially life-changing benefits. And we’re not just talking about for the guests. For the people who come to work, there are tremendous opportunities and experiences as well. If you’re doing it right, being a part of a guest ranch staff is being part of a whole new family—a RANCH family—who share a common goal of providing an unforgettable vacation for others, while having an unimaginable adventure of their own. Here are the best tips for aquiring dude ranch employment.

Bar Lazy J Work at a dude ranch

Can you picture it? Waking up on a cool morning to the sounds of horse feet (unless you’re one of the wranglers and then uhhh…YOU’RE LATE!) coming in, getting a hearty breakfast from the kitchen and then spending your days laughing and sharing with the ranch guests you’ll want to keep in touch with for years to come? Eating your lunches out on the trail with your horse?  Spending evenings listening to music and relaxing by a warm fire with others equally exhausted from the fulfilling day of hard work and fresh air? Do you love the outdoors?  Lounging by the pool on your breaks? Getting served 3 meals a day? Being surrounded by beautiful countryside just waiting for you to explore it? Sounds pretty good, huh? So maybe you answered yeses to all the questions above, but let’s check out these ones, too. Really think about these ones. Can you work long hours and be counted on to do your part? Can you smile even when you’re having a bad day and leave your personal problems outside of work? Can you stop whatever you’re doing to make time for guests’ needs at the drop of a hat? Can you give the same genuine smile from morning til night?

Ok, so who’s still with me? If you are—GREAT!!!! It’s possible you’re a good candidate for potentially the BEST job you’ll ever have. You might be thinking, “I would love to come to the mountains! I have a great work ethic!” And that’s awesome. That’s step one. But I mentioned before that the competition is thick and the positions open are few. Every ranch is different, but we personally get hundreds of applications every year for just a handful of open positions. So when an application comes in, most ranches will likely be filing them or deleting them according to a couple of specific qualifications. And I’m going to do you a favor—I’m going to tell you how we do that. The following are essential to consider when you’re filling out that application though-- so listen up!

1) Availability

Bar Lazy J Work at a Dude Ranch

We ask you when you’re available to work. It should be noted that some ranches stay open year-round and have a rotating staff while others are only open a few months. So BE FAMILIAR with the availability needs of the ranch you’re applying for.

2) Position Applied For At Bar Lazy J we ask you to put your top three choices. That doesn’t mean you have to put three things if you don’t have three things you could do for us. If you’re only applying for wrangler, then it’s ok to put just that. Those other spaces are for people who legitimately could work in positions other than their first choice. And it’s possible if we aren’t hiring for your first choice, we might need you for your second.

3) Experience and qualifications for the different positions If you made it past 1 and 2, this is where one of the major final cuts gets made. For good reason. Almost anything can be taught and a willingness to be able to learn is essential in any job, but experience will trump eagerness almost every time. Almost.  So let’s talk about the main kinds of job available through the majority of ranches.

A.  The first category we’ll mention is our wranglers. Let’s be real. Fudging your horse experience will be of no benefit to anyone. Trust us. It’s easily revealed and dangerous to you, your co-workers and our guests. So wrangler positions are carefully chosen and extensively combed over to find the very best.

B.  If you don’t have horse experience, but you love to work with people and want to work in a guest ranch atmosphere, a crew position might be right for you. Here’s where other ranches will probably vary a great deal, but essentially the jobs are similar. Some have an extensive amount of guests and may therefore hire specific individuals for housekeeping or wait staff, kitchen help and laundry.

C.   Those with culinary and kitchen experience would find room to express their artistic love of food in our kitchen assisting our chef and helping to prep the delicious meals we serve here at the ranch. Then of course there’s the almost full-time job of keeping our bottomless cookie jar actually bottomless.

D.   If you’re handy, it would be handy (see how I did that?) to know what maintenance positions are available.  There may or may not be multiple areas of building maintenance, mechanical maintenance or grounds maintenance. It is understood this is an area experience is going to be necessary.

E.  Office workers who are the front line of every guest ranch. Office staff make reservations, answer questions, phones and emails and are often people’s first interaction with the whole guest ranch experience. You are who the guests will rely on to know all the answers, so be ready to think on your feet with a desire to serve and always with a smile.

4) Tell Us Why WE Need YOU. Most applications have an area to write additional notes about why you’d be  a great candidate to work at their ranch. We know ours does, so please USE that space to sell yourself! If you grew up riding horses and fixing tractors on your uncle’s ranch, but you never worked in an actual paid position doing that,  tell us! Write it up once and copy and paste it to multiple ranches if you’re applying to several, but don’t cheat yourself in this area. We want to know why you would be great for us---not why we’d be great for you.  A lot of personality comes out in the way people write, so let us “hear” it! Just that taking some time to thoughtfully articulate your desire to add your talents to a ranch’s program is far more impressive than not.

Bar Lazy J Work at a Dude Ranch - Campfire

Be prepared to have a lot of fun, but be prepared for all the responsibility that comes with making EVERY week the BEST week of the season. From your first day until your last day, there must be diligence in proudly presenting yourself as the face of Bar Lazy J’s excellent program.  Jerry and Cheri are incredible people to work for and will literally treat you like family while you’re here and even well beyond your summer job here when you’ve done your best for them. So if you’re lucky enough to come and work in the mountains—make the most of it by living up to the standard we saw you at.  Any job worth doing, is worth doing right.

 

Dude Ranch Employment 

 For the people who come to work, there are tremendous opportunities and experiences as well. Here are the best tips for acquiring dude ranch employment.

 

Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch Best Tips for Dude Ranch EmploymentSave Save Save

All Aboard! Amtrak Train Rides to Dude Ranches

Train travel and dude ranches go way back in their relationship. In fact, the historical Northern Pacific Railway influenced early western expansion and the beginnings of leisure travel to Western States. Early dude ranchers, as in Larry Larom and his peers, founded the Dude Ranchers' Association in 1926. From the start the organization promoted leisure travel to dude ranches via train and established industry standards. Traveling to a dude ranch today is still possible. Amtrak is now the modern train travel company. They offer trips from the East coast of the United States to the West Coast and many places in between. Are you ready to take your next adventure via train?

Northern_Pacific_Railway_North_Coast_Limited_Diner

Immerse yourself in the spirit of the West and travel via train to your next dude ranch. Parasols, lace gloves, suits and heavy trunks are not necessary. Simply purchase your ticket and head out West. Below are some tools to plan your trip using the contemporary Amtrak trains. The stations are listed by state and the dude ranches close by are linked below the city. If you would like more information please call the Dude Ranchers' Association at 307.587.2339 or email us at info@duderanch.org. The Amtrak National Route Map (PDF) and the duderanch.org Interactive Map may be helpful as well.

Amtrak Train Stations by State

Norther Pacific Railroad Train Poster

Idaho

Sandpoint, Idaho Station

Western Pleasure Ranch, Sandpoint, Idaho

Washington

Spokane, Washington Station

Red Horse Mountain, Harrison, Idaho

Colorado

Granby, Colorado Station

C Lazy U Ranch, Granby, Colorado

Drowsy Water Ranch, Granby, Colorado

Bar Lazy J Ranch, Parshall, Colorado

Montana

Whitefish, Montana Station

Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge, Bigfork, Montana

Bar W Guest Ranch, Whitefish, Montana

Arizona

Kingman, Arizona Station

Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch, Yucca, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona Station

White Stallion Ranch, Tucson, Arizona

Tanque Verde Guest Ranch, Tucson, Arizona

Benson, Arizona Station

Tombstone Monument Guest Ranch, Tombstone, Arizona


 Train Travel Stamp

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