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.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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