5 Great Working Cattle Ranch Vacations in the West

Working cattle ranch vacations with the Dude Ranchers’ Association offer guests a taste of what life is like on a real cattle ranch. Here, you’ll be a cowboy yourself for the week - riding horses, checking cattle, participating in cattle drives. You'll be sleeping in comfortable bunk house cabins after a traditional day of ranch life. Day to day activities is in part dependent on the season and what needs to be done at that moment to care for the livestock. You'll need to ask your host about the work and riding agenda during your stay.

Working cattle ranches tend to accommodate smaller guest numbers (less than 20 people) to ensure individually tailored experiences. You will get to know each rancher personally and learn about the history of the ranch, cattle production local to the area and so much more. Take a look at the experiences offered by the ranches below. They are five of the best working cattle ranches across the West.

 

5 of the Best Working Cattle Ranch Vacations

 

working cattle ranch vacations

 

Burnt Well Guest Ranch – New Mexico 

An authentic “old west” style cattle drive is what you will find at the Burnt Well Guest Ranch in New Mexico. Here you will experience what it was like to live on the prairie and in the desert while moving cattle and putting many miles in the saddle. This cattle drive is the duration of a week and happens once a year in the fall. The ranch will supply you with a bedroll, cot, cowboy teepee, horse and tack. All you need to bring is a go-getter attitude, a smile and probably some clothes! Stories, memories and bucket list items are created on this cattle drive and if it is something you have always wanted to do, do not miss your chance

 

working cattle ranch vacations

 

Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, Colorado 

You will most definitely find your inner cowboy or cowgirl at the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Colorado. This historic working horse and cattle ranch will help you enjoy a vacation like none other. Help the cowboys in their daily chores, roundup cattle with them and help drive the cattle to the next pasture. This ranch offers overnight pack trips and many other great horseback oriented activities! Saddle up and experience the old-fashioned family hospitality and cowboy culture of the historic American West.

 

working cattle ranch vacations

 

Three Bars Cattle and Guest Ranch, British Columbia

The Three Bars Cattle and Guest Ranch is not your normal dude ranch, it is so much more! Help the Beckley Family manage their herd and enjoy all that the ranch has to offer. In this beautiful location in British Columiba you will find fun, memorable experiences as well as some time to relax and soak in the tranquility and quietness of the area. Go with the family or by yourself, no matter your group size or what you are looking to do, Three Bars Ranch will be fantastic! 

 

working cattle ranch vacations

 

Creek Ranch Working & Guest Ranch, New Mexico

If you already have dreamed to experience the Wild West on a Working Guest Ranch, then your dream can come true at Creek Ranch. The terrain out here is wild, rough and yet beautiful. You'll get the meaning of Land of Enchantment out here! Experience the Western lifestyle by being a part of the "crew" and learn the cowboy way all while enjoying a fantastic vacation.   

 

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McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch, Montana

Experience a well-rounded horseback riding program centered on what the horses can do with cattle at the McGinnis Meadows Ranch in the Northwest corner of Montana. With about 15 guests per week, your hosts will get to know you, work with you individually and tailor each day to you. You'll leave this ranch a better rider and wanting "more." The memories you will make will never be forgotten, you will get to truly experience the Western and cowboy way of life at this ranch. 

 

For more information on the best working cattle ranch vacations visit our blog category - Cattle Drives & Cattle Work

 

Working Cattle Ranch Vacations

working-cattle-ranch-vacations-and-cattle-drives

 

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Exceptional Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Horse enthusiasts and equestrians who know how to ride are in love with dude ranch vacations. They have come to find that the best way to explore the beauty of the American West is via horseback. For your next vacation consider a trip to a dude ranch located in some of the most beautiful areas of the country. This is sure to be an experience that you won’t soon forget. For intermediate to advanced riders, there is a great opportunity to ride out and traverse through the mountains. Most would agree that this will bring about a sense of freedom like no other.

There are many dude ranch vacations that specifically cater to people who have advanced riding ability, and even those with a lifetime of experience with horses. There are many horses on each ranch that will be individually matched to your personality and riding style. The ranches below have been hand selected for their expertise in trail riding over a variety of terrain and giving guests the adventure of their dreams. They welcome guests who know their way around a horse. If you are looking for just the right place for your group of horsemen and women then take a look at these ranches and schedule your vacation.

Drowsy Water Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Drowsy Water Ranch

Drowsy Water Ranch

Are you looking for a spot that will allow you to ride from leisurely walks to smooth lopes and gallops? Drowsy Water Ranch might be the place for you. Experienced riders love this ranch and their 100+ horses for their vacation. The bond that guests can create with their horses will go beyond the week-long stay. Your vacation at the Drowsy Water Ranch also includes a magical breakfast horseback ride to the top of the mountain. From here you’ll enjoy a spectacular view overlooking the Rocky Mountains. Bring your camera, because you’ll want to remember these views time and time again. 

Badger Creek Ranch Dude Ranches the Experienced Rider

Badger Creek Ranch

Badger Creek Ranch 

For horsemanship and participation in the lives of working cattle ranchers, the Badger Creek Ranch in Canon City, Colorado is a great place for people serious about horses while on their vacation. Guests at this ranch are invited to ride horses trained in Natural Horsemanship and participate in that training as well. Once you are saddled up and ready to ride, each day will present a new opportunity with the herd of cattle at the ranch. Would you like to ride out and check a down fence, move cows from pasture to pasture or ride out on their semiannual cattle drive? You’ll be able to this and more at the Badger Creek Ranch.

For experienced riders, there is a great opportunity to ride out and traverse through the mountains on one of these advanced dude ranch vacations.

Cherokee Park Ranch 

With only three or four guests and a wrangler on each ride, Cherokee Park Ranch in Livermore, Colorado has a tailored horseback riding program. The small group of riders that go out on each ride is grouped according to skill level can be adapted to what the riders want to do on each excursion. At Cherokee Park Ranch there is a lot more to do than just trail riding. The ranch offers team pinning with cattle, private horseback riding lessons, practicing rodeo events, horsemanship classes and fly-fishing lunch rides. The more adventurous riders can discover what they might want to do. For example, guests may want to jump some tree logs or bushwhack/blaze a new trail. Whatever you’re looking to do you’ll be able to find it at this ranch. And with the scenery, great food and western accommodations everyone in your group will have a great time.

Cherokee Park Ranch Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Cherokee Park Ranch

The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch  

The Hideout Lodge and Guest Ranch in Shell, Wyoming is a great destination for those that are looking to spend miles and miles on the trail at a spectacular destination. The number of acres and varying terrain at this ranch is unlike any other that you can find. Experienced riders can enjoy an upscale destination that caters to adults all year round. The Hideout puts a genuine emphasis on excellent trail riding across a varied landscape. The ranch also has a relationship with a working cattle ranch close by and offers guests the opportunity to ride out and work cattle for a couple of days during their week stay.

The Hideout Lodge Guest Ranch Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch

Paradise Guest Ranch

Paradise Guest Ranch in Buffalo, Wyoming is a great family destination that can cater to families with kids and or parents with a lot of riding experience. With a considerable number of horses and extensive trails, each person in the group will be able to have as much or as little advanced riding as they desire. The riding program is very flexible and features a number of choices. Team penning, barrel racing, all day rides and fly-fishing rides are offered at the ranch as a part of their well-developed week-long itinerary. You’ll have to ask them about the roller coaster ride if you are interested in having a super fun time!

Paradise Guest Ranch Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Paradise Guest Ranch

Bonanza Creek Ranch

Every day is a new adventure at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Martinsdale, Montana. Because an intermediate level of riding ability is required at the ranch due to the rugged nature of the terrain, equestrians find this destination a place of discovery and exploration. Here, riding is most certainly the main activity with morning and afternoon rides as well as all day rides. Guests have the opportunity to climb high ridges, meander through the woods along a creek, canter across the open country, gather up a herd of cow/calf pairs and ride to an old homestead that the modern world hasn’t touched. This weeklong experience allows guest to soak up all the beauty and tradition of Montana from the best seat in the world – on horseback! Bonanza Creek also offers cowgirl retreats for that group of ladies in your life that love trail riding.

Bonanza Creek Ranch Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Bonanza Creek Ranch

Book a Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Whatever you’re riding style and personality, you will be able to express your love for horses and adventure on one of these dude ranch vacations. While at one of these ranches, you’ll be among other equestrians that will be able to match your skill set and enjoy the level of experienced riding that you are accustomed to. Find the ranch that matches your personality and desire and book your next great adventure.

Cherokee Park Ranch Dude Ranches for the Experienced Riders

Cherokee Park Ranch

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Advanced Horseback Riding Programs

Bring Your Own Horse to these Dramatic Dude Ranch Destinations

 

Badger Creek Ranch View Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Badger Creek Ranch

 

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23 Dude Ranch Activities

When you think of a dude ranch vacation do you imagine time in the saddle and think it might be fun for a day or two, but wonder if there is enough to do for an entire vacation? Well, there is great news for travelers who would enjoy any amount of western lifestyle activities such as horseback riding and cattle work. If you look into it further, modern day dude ranches offer a lot more than just this. With scenic landscapes, great accommodations and knowledgeable staff, dude ranch activities vary for a diverse crowd - whether that is your multigenerational family, business associates or small group of best friends. 

It doesn’t matter if you would consider yourself a “city slicker” or an equestrian, everyone will get to ride horses and spend time doing what they enjoy the most. Dude ranches offer attractions and services that travel far beyond the trail. Fine dining? Well that’s just the beginning. Outdoor exercise? Any and all kinds. Relaxation? You got it. 

So, if you’re considering a dude ranch vacation and would like to fill your week with many types of activities, consider adding these activities to your to do list.

Dude Ranch Activities  

 

Trail Riding on Horseback

The best way to experience the West is most definitely horseback riding. Starting out with an orientation ride, you’ll easily determine how much adventure you’ll enjoy with your personal horse or horses for the week. You might be content with a daily stroll up to a nice view or have a need for speed on twice daily loping rides. 

Dude Ranch Activities

R Lazy S Ranch - Teton Village, WY

Bird Watching

For avid bird watchers dude ranches offer some exclusive places to find rare species of birds specific to the area. Many horseback rides at the Triple R Ranch in South Dakota explore deep into wildlife’s natural habitats especially native birds. It is almost guaranteed that on these rides you will see some type of unique species! 

Dude Ranch Activities

Triple R Ranch - Keystone, SD

White Water Rafting

Suited up in your life jacket you’ll get to race (or meander) down crystal clear water for yet another perspective on this beautiful location. Rimrock Ranch in Wyoming has an afternoon of their weekly program that is designated for a white water rafting trip for all of the ranch guests to enjoy.

Dude Ranch Activities

Rimrock Ranch - Cody, WY

Petting Zoos

Petting zoos on dude ranches are not just for children. Even adults enjoy interacting with all sorts of farm animals, from baby goats and pigs to gathering eggs from the chicken coop.

Overnight Campouts or Pack Trips

There’s no better place to see the stars than on an overnight campout or a pack trip into the mountains. In a lot of these places motorized vehicles are not allowed, so the only way to get out there is on foot or by horseback. On a pack trip with the Broken Arrow Lodge you’ll go through two mountain ranges in the spectacular Rocky Mountains!

Dude Ranch Activities

Broken Arrow Lodge - Alder, MT

Cattle Drives

Hup, hup! You’ll get to understand what life is like as a cowboy once you experience first hand what it’s like to move cattle across the range. From several hours to a full day cattle drive, this is the real deal when it comes to the cowboy lifestyle activities on a dude ranch. At the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Montana cattle ranching is not just a business - it’s a way of life. And you’ll be apart of it. 

Dude Ranch Activities

Bonanza Creek Ranch - Martinsdale, MT

Kids Activities

From 0 - 18 kids always have something to do on the ranch. With counselors for different age ranges, kids are engaged and have no need for electronics. There’s a creative activity to do every moment, from swimming pools to nature walks or even visiting that petting zoo we talked about earlier.

Massages

Why not sign up for a relaxing massage to complete your afternoon? With trained professionals in some of the most beautiful locations you’ll enjoy a lavish spa experience. You’ll really like the full body massage customized for your preferences at the Hubbard’s Six Quarter Circle Ranch in Montana. After a day in the saddle this is just what the doctor ordered.

Dude Ranch Activities

Hubbard's Six Quarter Circle Ranch - Emigrant, MT 

Shooting & Archery Sports

You’ll be given instruction and participate in a safely controlled environment to learn and practice shooting different types of firearms and archery.

ATV Rides

Cinch down your helmet and hit the road for an afternoon of exploring on ATV’s as one of the most fun dude ranch activities. 

Horse Drawn Wagon/Sleigh Rides

Riding in a horse drawn wagon or sleigh should be on everyone’s bucket list. At the K Diamond K Guest Ranch in Washington guests are given a tour of the ranch by a team of Belgian draft horses pulling a 12-passenger wagon. Experience transportation like the cowboys used to in the times of the old west! 

Dude Ranch Activities

K Diamond K Ranch - Republic, WA

Yoga

Try a yoga class with a certified trainer whenever you like. You might enjoy a class outside amongst the aspen trees or in a quaint cabin studio.

Fly Fishing

Whether you are an expert or a beginner your own personal fly-fishing guide will help you catch various types of trout on super private waters. The Goosewing Ranch offers twice weekly instruction on their stocked pond, allowing you to fine tune your fishing skills. Also, they offer all sorts of equipment for the guests to use and a map of all the prime fishing locations on the ranch. 

Dude Ranch Activities

Goosewing Ranch - Jackson, WY 

Glamping 

Glamping has become the new trend it seems and dude ranches are following suite. The Bull Hill Guest Ranch in Washington has 2 new glamping tents less than 5 years old! Each tent is just 100 feet from the shower house where each tent has its own private bath and shower. Both tents are fully furnished and do have electricity as well as heat. They also have beautiful porches to kick back and relax after a day full of ranch activities.  

Dude Ranch Activities

Bull Hill Guest Ranch - Kettle Falls, WA

Rustic Weddings

Picturesque settings, wide open spaces and top-notch amenities draw thousands of brides-to-be and their grooms to dude ranches each year. Whether you would like to run off and elope or prefer inviting the whole family there’s plenty of options for planning your dude ranch wedding. The Absaroka Ranch in Wyoming can accommodate 16 people in their four cabins and host up to 200 guests for the day of the wedding. There’s nothing like a reception with 360-degree breathtaking views and a mountain backdrop.

Dude Ranch Vacations

Absaroka Ranch - Dubois, WY

Talent Show

The ranch staff and guests alike are some pretty talented people and friendly competition can be found in many forms during your vacation. You’ll enjoy watching and participating in a talent night at the ranch. You can sing, tap or joke your way to local stardom in a talent show. You won’t soon forget these memories! 

Jeep Tours

At the Hawley Mountain Ranch, you’ll get to take an all-day jeep tour adventure to places where very few people can travel. Ready to see an old ghost town or visit Monument Peak at nearly 11,000 feet?? Hawley Mountain Ranch will take you there!

Dude Ranch Activities

Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch - McLeod, MT 

Zip Line 

Zoom! Your adventure guide will take you on a view of the ranch like none other. You’ll get to fly through the air for another kind of wild ride. 

Tennis & Golf 

Practice your professional swing while having a good time with friends. Some ranches have tennis courts and golf courses on site or within a close radius of the ranch. The Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley in Colorado gives their guests the opportunity to take a short ride down to the Broadmoor’s 2 different 18-hole golf courses that look like they are out of a picture book. They also have state of the art tennis courts available to guests to use, you will just have to schedule a time to go play! 

Dude Ranch Activities

The Broadmoor's Ranch at Emerald Valley - Colorado Springs, CO 

Fine Wine and Fine Dining 

Ranches have well trained (even Cordon bleu trained) chefs that take a lot of pride in offering 5-star cuisine with beautifully paired wines. There are many dude ranches that also participate in Farm to Table Cuisine programs. Beautiful vegetables and fruits are harvested just a few yards from the kitchens and have flavors like you’ve never tasted before. Several ranches also have a long list of fine wines and beer selections for guests to choose from. 

Cooking Classes

These same chefs would love to share their kitchen with you and/or your kids to teach you their secret recipes on amazing ranch cuisine. 

Team Penning

With a team of 3 riders you’ll try your hand at a seriously fun rodeo sport. With rules that can be modified to suite, the idea is to separate a cow or steer from the group and herd it into a pen. Who ever is the fastest wins! 

Hiking

From rigorous climbs to easy ambles you can get out and explore the mountains on foot. At the Flat Creek Ranch, you’ll be able to hike up to the Teton Overlook trail for a panoramic view of the Grand Teton National Park. Hike in the Bridger-Teton National Forest and the Gros Ventre Wilderness Area while at the ranch and experience some of Wyoming's most undiscovered land. 

Dude Ranch Activities

Flat Creek Ranch - Jackson, WY

These are not all the activities you can find on dude ranches. We haven’t even talked about National Park Trips, rock climbing, winter sports, and more! 

To find that dude ranch experience with the right combination of activities use the search by amenity page on duderanch.org or give a ranch vacation expert a call at the Dude Ranchers’ Association. 

Search by Amenity 

Call a Ranch Expert 307.587.2339

 

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When you think of a dude ranch vacation do you imagine time in the saddle and think it might be fun for a day or two, but wonder if there is enough to do for an entire vacation? With scenic landscapes, great accommodations and knowledgeable staff, dude ranch activities vary for a diverse crowd - whether that is your multigenerational family, business associates or small group of best friends.

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