What Ranch Adventure Will You Have This Summer?

Vee Bar Guest Ranch

A Funny Thing Happened On My Way to Getting Old By Laurie Hartman, Wrangler Hello from one of those folks usually a day late and a dollar short, a jack of many trades and master of few, a perpetual student of the School of Hard Knocks, a late bloomer. But better late than never, right? I’ve had lots of ideas over the years, some good and some bad, and half my life was over before I got the idea to apply to be a guest ranch wrangler. I can’t recall how or when or why the idea came to me, but once it got in my head it would not go away. I questioned my sanity. I was 53 years old, thirty pounds overweight and well, frumpy. Age will do that to you. At least that’s what I’d been telling myself, like when I bought bigger sweatpants and when I stopped fussing over grey roots. My chin was sagging and other body parts were on the road to saggville as well. One of my eyes got lazy. I got lazy. I quit mapping my barrel racing plans on the calendar, I quit hauling every weekend, I quit riding when I got home from work. I was one step away from granny panties and blue hair. Then another thought came to mind. It was one of my characteristic play-it-safe what if’s, but this one had a twist. What if I didn’t apply? What if I didn’t get hired? The alternative didn’t look good.

Vee Bar Guest Ranch

So I worked up a resume, spent hours searching the internet for ranches I wanted to apply, filled out applications and investigated how ranches tick. I’d never been to a guest ranch…I’d never really been anywhere unless it involved a barrel race. I started working out and taking care of myself and I stopped worrying about what Grandfather Time was doing to me. I couldn’t do anything about my age or being hired but I could give it my best shot, another characteristic I’m known for. The bottom line is I stuck with it. And not only did I did get hired, but before it was over I knew it was one of the best things I’d ever done. I traded an office chair for a saddle and the great outdoors. My new seat offered breathtaking views, the scent of sage, the experience of not only seeing from a new perspective but through the eyes of others as well. I traded air conditioning for Mother Nature. The majority of days were made to order. It rained several times but there’s something magical about the sound of rain on your slicker and cowboy hat.

Vee Bar Guest Ranch

I traded fine-tuned barrel horses for dude ranch mounts that surpassed my expectations. The horses on the ranch weren’t nose-to-tail plugs like I expected, but they had been around the block a time or two and were very wise. They adapted to their new riders each week by reading them well and reading them quickly. It was interesting to see the horses change depending on the skill level of their rider, and humorous seeing them come to life when a wrangler rode them. A few old reliables gained my respect and gratitude for simply doing their job without taking advantage of the novice on their back. I traded moody clients for enthusiastic people appreciative of me and what I did for them, driving in traffic every morning for rides at sunrise bringing the herd in from pasture, coworkers I never related to for staff members whose joy to be there was contagious. A good guest ranch offers big country, great horses, awesome food and wonderful people. You really can’t ask for better job conditions than that, and in my case it changed the course of the rest of my life.  I’ve heard it said if you enjoy what you’re doing it’s not work. That’s so true. I’ve noticed people who aren’t happy don’t bring that up. They don’t know what they’re missing. I didn’t know what I was missing.

Looking for seasonal work this summer?

Check out the employment ads for the following ranches. Click on their links for more information. Kitchen Work  - Hideout Ranch, AZ & Laramie River Ranch, CO Wrangler - Red Rock Ranch, WY & 4UR Ranch, CO


 

Lucky

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

Rainbow Trout Ranch Lucky Blog 2

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

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

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

Rainbow Trout Dude Ranch

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

Rainbow Trout Dude Ranch

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


   

Find Your Frontier

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


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


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


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


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5 Tips for Scoring a Last Minute Dude Ranch Job

By Patty Ceglio, Web Recruiting & Seasonal HR Specialist for CoolWorks.com Summer is almost here and while most dude ranches are currently staffed, there a good number still filling last minute vacancies or increasing staff to meet business demands. Cool Works, a national board for jobs in great places, has experienced a 30 percent increase in summer job listings this year and currently has 152 posts for employers pushing to fill positions in the next few weeks. While urban summer jobs may be in decline, there are more opportunities in 2014 than in recent years for last minute job seekers to land a position at a guest ranch.   Cool Works offers these five tips to job seekers hoping to land at a ranch this summer:

  • Check Your Bucket List – For job seekers who don’t know where to start, identify locations of interest or activities you’ve always wanted to try. Interested in seeing Glacier National Park or the Grand Canyon in your time off? Love the water and want to be near it? Use these interests to help narrow down focus to a few locations and start looking for ranches in those areas.
  • Think Adventurously – Don’t be afraid to explore outside your comfort zone. Sure, a dude ranch job may be across the country but it offers perks that many summer jobs won’t such as on-site housing and meals. Many employers even throw this in as part of the package.
  • Be Flexible – Consider a variety of positions and locations. Those who approach the job hunt with an open mind and a willingness to do anything are likely to score a job in a great place.
  • Exude Professionalism – Just because this is a summer job doesn’t mean you can take the application process casually. Slang and short form won’t go far with ranch employers. Fill out applications using proper grammar, spelling and punctuation and be willing to download and fill out PDFs if necessary to submit an application. Additionally, provide reputable references on each application – workers with limited experience can turn to a teacher, former employer or coach who can speak to work ethic and aptitudes - avoid using friends or peers.
  • Leverage Your Connections - Your social networks, both on and offline can be a great resource for finding the perfect summer job. Check your social media sites for friends and relatives who may be working at dude ranch and find out if their employer is still hiring.  Consider touching base with ranch where you spent your childhood years on vacation and find out if they are looking for summer counselors or to fill other positions

To check out the ranch jobs in great places available through Cool Works, visit http://www.coolworks.com/ranch-jobs. Patty Ceglio is the Web Recruiting & Seasonal HR Specialist for CoolWorks.com. CoolWorks.com has been central to the summer job and seasonal job market niche since 1995. True to the company’s mantra, the Cool Works® "home office" is located on the Yellowstone River, just outside the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, MT.

Lone Mountain Cowgirl Loping Dusty Adventure

More than 200 Attendees from 56 Ranches to Ride into Town for Annual Convention

The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) is excited to announce that its 88th annual convention will take place on January 22-25, 2014 at The Bahia Hotel in San Diego. Attendees, consisting of top dude and guest ranch owners and operators from across North America, will trade their cowboy boots for flips flops as they head to sunny California, a twist for the convention as previous events have been held at DRA-accredited member ranches.     DRA White Large

The four-day conference will feature numerous seminars related to the various aspects of the dude ranching and hospitality industries such as new vendor introductions, fodder education, marketing updates and initiatives, horse safety seminars, moral workshops and “Dude Ranching 101.” There will be a series of roundtables moderated by subject matter experts in the areas of blogger outreach, public relations and website marketing. The annual action for the Dude Ranchers’ Educational Trust will also take place at the convention. The Trust protects and preserves the history of dude ranching by maintaining a museum and archives for educating the public on the historical nature of the dude ranching industry. The Trust also has a scholarship program which support Dude Ranching and the future of Dude Ranching by providing financial  assistance and encouragement to students pursuing an educational program that will lead to a career of benefit to them and the Dude Ranch industry.  

The DRA has scheduled an impressive line-up of speakers for this year’s event, including Nancy D. Brown, a travel writer and journalist who currently writes a travel column for the Contra Costa Times and Lamorinda Sun; Kirk Weisler, an international keynote motivational speaker; Jon Albert, founder of Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation; and Pat McCauley, President of InsideOut Solution, a hospitality marketing company.    

Networking will be an important part of the convention, as ranch owners and operators exchange ideas and experiences to help one another continue to meet and exceed the highest standards in the dude ranch industry, promote the Western ranch vacation experience, and preserve and protect parks, forests and wildlife. Programming for this year’s convention was designed to allow plenty of time to explore all San Diego has to offer such as the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, USS Midway Museum and the Gaslamp district. Attendees will also be able to take full advantage of the resort’s amenities including on-site watersports, the Bahia Belle Mission Bay Cruise, or simply relaxing by the pool or on the beach.  

The DRA represents a broad spectrum of dude and guest ranches across North America, ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches offering five-star cuisine and spa treatments. Established in 1926, the DRA was founded to preserve, protect and promote the unique experience and identity of a dude ranch vacation: the original all-inclusive vacation destination. The association is currently made up of more than 100 guest ranch members.

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

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

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

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

 Vista-Verde-Drive-Cattle

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

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

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

 

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

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

Ingredients

1 cup margarine

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

½ cup flour

1½ tsp baking soda

2 cups chocolate chips

Method

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe for Brownies

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

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

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

Crossed Sabres Horses View

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

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

Cowgirl Getaway Weeks!

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

Fall Cowgirl Roundup at Sylvan Dale Ranch

August 13, 2012 Loveland, Colorado

This fall, cowgirls will reunite at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch to enjoy a weekend of horseback riding adventure, good food and fun. “Cowgirl Round-up” is a unique “ladies only” package, providing a weekend of horseback adventure and pampering, to refresh, renew and rejuvenate the body and spirit.  It’s perfect for moms and daughters, sisters, college roommates, single travelers and best friends seeking a respite from their busy lives. Riding Adventures Whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced Cowgirl, the handsome ranch-raised and trained quarter horses are friendly and reliable, and always eager to please. Horseback riding activities include scenic trail rides, cattle work, team penning and gymkhana games on horseback. Pampering The weekend of outdoor activities, crisp mountain air and brilliant sunshine serve to re-energize the mind, body and spirit.   Guests can partake in a variety of activities, including Yoga Classes, Campfires & S’mores and a classic Cowboy Serenade. Treat your body right! Massages are performed indoors or out, subject to the weather.  All natural oils soothe the skin and open pores…  Citrus Blend, Peppermint and Eucalyptus are current favorites. A deep tissue, therapeutic massage relieves sore muscles and rejuvenates the body.  Another option is the Relaxation Massage, offering a lighter touch to relax the overall body and mind…it’s so relaxing that many guests fall asleep! Sylvan Dale’s hot tub is a favorite of guests seeking a hot soak at the end of the day.  It’s a great place to share laughs and stories with new found friends. Wine and cheese tasting  Enjoy a tasty selection of wines, accompanied by platters of artisanal cheeses, chocolate dipped strawberries, and special treats that take advantage of local farm-grown crops. Cowgirl Round-up takes place September 27 – October 1st, 2012, and the 4-night package starts at $995 per person.   For additional information, contact Karen Burbank at 970-667-3915 or KarenB@sylvandale.com.  Additional information can be found at www.sylvandale.com. Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch is an authentic working horse and cattle ranch on 3200 acres in the Rocky Mountain foothills.   Over 70% of Sylvan Dale Ranch land is under perpetual conservation easements, protecting the surrounding view and wildlife from development. Sylvan Dale is in Loveland, Colorado,  one hour north of Denver International Airport, and a half hour from Ft. Collins.

10 Great Dude Ranches for Families

Saddle up at one of these dude ranches for families

by:  www.travelsavvymom.com Of all the many trips I’ve taken with my family, I get the most questions about our horse back riding vacations.  It turns out I’m not the only one who with a cowgirl fantasy. When I planned our first dude ranch vacation, I used the Dude Rancher’s Association website (full disclosure: they are now an advertiser of ours). Using their search tool, I was able to browse their 100 member properties by amenity and then compare them side by side.  Here are ten that stood out:

Averill’s Flathead Lake Ranch Where: Big Fork, Montana Rates: $342-464 Open: May-October Is there any image more iconic than kids jumping in a lake?  When you’re not jumping in the lake, you can sail, canoe, water ski, paddle board, kayak, and fish in it too.  Plus, all the usual horse-y fun. You’ll feel like you’ve walked onto the set of a coming of age film. Averills Flathead Lake Lodge for Families Vista Verde Guest Ranch Where: Steamboat Springs, Colorado Rates: $295-545 Open: January-March,  June-August,  September,  December Picture this: after an outrageously fun day of riding, learning to herd cattle, or watching your kids compete in a just-for-fun rodeo, you unwind on the porch of your private cabin in your private jacuzzi.  It’s heaven. We’ve been there — read our review.

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch Where: Gallatin Gateway, Montana Rates: $253-362 Open: June-September Can’t decide between visiting one of America’s western national parks and spending a week at a dude ranch?  With the rustic and wonderful Nine Quarter Circle Ranch (overlooking the northwest corner of Yellowstone Park) you don’t have to.  The owners breed and raise their own Appaloosas and have just the right ride for everyone.

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch for Families  

Rancho de los Caballeros Where: Wickenburg, Arizona Rates: $202-232 Open: January-May, October-December This luxury dude ranch in the Arizonan Sonora Desert offers convenient a la carte pricing for families that tend to go in different directions on vacation.  It’s a really great option for multi-generation trips where not everyone rides.  Guests can also play golf and tennis, hike, visit historic Wickeburg, or partake of the spa. We’ve been there — review coming soon.  

The Home Ranch Where: Steamboat Springs, Colorado Rates: $275-575 Open: January-March,  June-October,  December When you imagine a dude ranch vacation, you probably don’t imagine snow.  But guess what?  Winter is a magical place to be at a ranch.  Get ready for sleigh rides, cross country skiing, tubing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding.  And if you overdo it, you can relax in front of a roaring fire or book a massage.  This ranch is wonderful in the summer too, of course.

THe Home Ranch for Families

Black Mountain Ranch Where: McCoy, Colorado Rates: $307-369 Open: June-September If you’re looking for an intimate ranch experience, look no further than Black Mountain Ranch.  With a capacity of just 40, this place is cozy.  If you have a big family (or a lot of friends), you could easily take over the whole ranch! Animal loving kids will appreciate that this ranch has more than just horses — there are rabbits, chickens, ducks, alpacas, donkeys, dogs, and baby goats too. We’ve been there — read our review.

 C Lazy U Ranch Where: Granby, Colorado Rates: $325-525 Open: Year round If you’re looking for a ranch with a really great kids’ program that will feel like summer camp to them (except for the fact that they’ll have to spend some time with their parents), check out C Lazy U Ranch.  Unlike some of the smaller ranches, this one is big enough that your kids will meet lots of kids who share their age, gender, temperament, and interests.  

Tanque Verde Ranch Where: Tucson, Arizona Rates: $195-395 Open: Year round If your fantasy dude ranch vacation features saguaro cactus, roadrunners, and endless sunshine, point your compass south.  The riding at Tanque Verde Ranch is great, but so is the pool scene.  You’ll quickly adjust to the rhythm of the desert — for a lot of the year, that means playing in the morning and at dusk and resting in the middle of the day.  Sounds like a vacation to me. We’ve been there — read our review.  

Burnt Well Guest Ranch Where: Roswell, New Mexico Rates: $234-260 Open: Year round There are some places that I’m longing to visit, but they’re just too far away or remote to justify the trip.  My personal list includes Mt. Rushmore, the Four Corners, and Roswell, New Mexico.  Imagine my delight when I discovered this authentic working cattle ranch within easy striking distance of Roswell and all its UFO fun!  Go for the riding.  If you pick up any alien souvenirs while you’re there, it’ll be our secret.  

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Dude Ranch Family Vacations

 Written by Diana Lambdin Meyer www.familyvacationcritic.com
 Hideout-Horses-Running-Square

Few vacations are more all-American than one that involves riding horses in the great open spaces of the American West. But if an adult-acquired fear of actually riding a horse compromises your willingness to fulfill your children's vacation dreams of being a cowboy or cowgirl for a week, do not fear. There's plenty for mom and dad and the entire family to do at many dude ranches other than ride horse. Think swimming holes or swimming pools, hikes in the woods, fishing, square dances, star gazing, bird watching, or just sitting in a lawn chair reading a good book. Dude ranches, which are often called guest ranches, are as diverse as the clientele they serve and the individuals who operate them. Many are located in some of the most intriguing parts of the country adjacent to national parks, along historic pioneer trails and near charming little communities where the Old West is not that far in the past. And while roughing it is an option, with overnight trail rides and cooking over an open fire, a dude ranch vacation can just as easily include a full-service spa, culinary workshops, a round or two of golf and five-star accommodations. Either way, quality family time and a memorable vacation experience are available without fear of horses on a Dude Ranch Family Vacation.

What is a Dude? Contrast to more common, everyday slang that may be mumbled from your child's mouth more frequently than you prefer, "dude" in the context of dude ranching is a term of respect for those experiencing a lifestyle they don't otherwise know or understand. There are basically two kinds of dude ranches. The first is a working dude ranch. That's where you get out there and really get your chaps dirty, working with cattle, sheep and other livestock. You may have the chance to throw a lasso, haul some hay, or scoop some poop. The second kind of dude ranch is a resort dude ranch. Riding horses is the primary activity, but there are other activities to be pampered and enjoy the outdoors. These are places with hot tubs and hot toddies, maybe a tennis court or fitness center, but certainly an atmosphere of relaxation and tranquility. However, the horses are the basis of any dude ranch experience and that's what the kids want. Ask about programs that emphasize riding techniques, that partner the horse and rider for the duration of your stay, and that allow the guest to participate in choosing the horse right for them. It's a better quality experience for the rider and for the horse as well. And be sure to ask about riding instruction and guided rides versus free rides, as well as opportunities for Mom and Dad to get away for a few minutes without the kids.

Choosing a Ranch When searching for a dude ranch, a good place to start is at The Dude Ranchers' Association of America, a 90-year-old organization representing properties in 14 western states and two Canadian provinces. From its website, you can search for amenities, price ranges, and destinations from more than 100 ranches. Membership in the association is based on many factors, including care and protection of animals. as well as the natural landscape of a region. (click here to read more....)

Horse Vacations

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

Western Wear – What to Wear to a Dude Ranch

After you decide to book a western vacation to a Dude Ranch, you now need Western wear, cowboy boots and western apparel for your trip. I really enjoyed Jamie Pearson’s article where she mentions to bring more clothes and she wished she had brought cuter clothes. I have just the thing! Western Clothing and apparel has to be durable and comfortable and I have picked some items for Men, Women and Children that combine Western fashion and function for your dude ranch getaway. Cowboy hats, Western wear, Cowboy Boots & Western Accessories are some things you want to stock up on. Look great while on your western Dude Ranch vacation! Make sure you have the “cute clothes” Jamie refers to. I’m going to let you know what’s hot in western wear plus durable enough to withstand a day in the saddle. Let’s start at the top:

What to wear on a ranch vacation

Cowboy Hats - Although most people think of a traditional felt cowboy hat, if you are going to a Dude ranch in the summer you will want a straw cowboy hat. Charlie 1 Horse Hats (pictured on the woman in this picture) are our best selling womens hats.Want to know how your cowboy hat should fit? Watch our Cowboy Hat Fit Video on Youtube.

Western Shirts - It’s a toss up between a long sleeve shirt to protect against dust, sun or bugs and a short sleeve western shirt to stay cool. I would recommend both – one for hot mid-day and one for evening. Western shirts come in a variety of styles, from traditional western yokes to modern retro cowboy shirts.

Western Jeans - Here is one of the most important decisions you can make directly correlating to your comfort while riding. I've spent many hours in the saddle and I can truly recommend some jeans to keep you comfortable while looking great. Make sure you order them 2” longer than normal to allow for creep while in the saddle and to cover your boots creating the traditional "stacked" look preferred by cowboys and cowgirls.

Top picks for Womens western jeans for horseback riding:

  • Wrangler Q-Baby  Ultimate Riding Jeans – These fit any woman’s body shape. No gap waistband, minimal seam on inside of leg to reduce friction against the saddle.
  • Cowgirl Tuff Dark Don’t Fence Me In Jeans Modern Styling on a cowgirl jean – designed by a barrel racer these jeans look amazing and are comfortable in the saddle.  Rise is a bit lower than the previous 2 jeans.

Top picks for Mens western jeans for horseback riding:

All of the Kids Jeans from Wrangler, Cinch and Cowgirl Tuff are excellent for riding.

Cowboy Boots -  There are so many choices for cowboy boots out there, but you want your feet to be happy on a vacation, so here are some based on comfort, safety and cowboy boot style.

  • Tony Lama Men’s Ostrich Cowboy Boots Handsome, supple leather, Made in USA. Square toe – Classy cowboy style.
  • Lucchese Cowgirl Collection Ostrich Boots  This high quality super comfy crepe sole boot features a bucking bronco for true cowgirl spirit. Pamper yourself in these handmade beauties.
  • Ariat Cowboy Boots - Overall, for those new to the game, Ariat is an excellent choice for your first cowboy boot. They are a very versatile boot and most have rubber soles designed to help keep your feet in the stirrups.
  • Kids Cowboy Boots in all colors and styles from infant to youth.

Western Accessories - Don’t forget western accessories to complete your look! Many of these western accessories double with your regular wardrobe and look great! I’ve also included some “must haves” for your Dude Ranch trip like stampede strings.

Thanks for reading this article and browsing the choices for western wear, cowboy boots and western accessories for your Dude Ranch getaway or western vacation. These items are tested and tried by real cowboys and cowgirls and I’m sure you will like them for yourself. If you are not sure about the fit and style of western wear, please see the Western Wear Sizing Center to help determine what size clothing, cowboy hat or cowboy boots to get. To find a Dude Ranch or pick out the perfect western vacation visit the Dude Ranch Association website.  Happy Trails!

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