Kick Off Your Boots for an Authentic Dude Ranch Vacation!

The coffee is hot and breakfast is served—the perfect wake up call. You pull up your boots and meet your guide for the day. As you make your way outside, the air is crisp and cool. You slip a saddle on your horse, and head out onto the trail. Your guide points out mountain ranges in the distance and identifies bird species in nearby trees. As lunch approaches, you pull off at a spectacular viewpoint, then enjoy your packed lunch.

The ride back to the ranch is effortless and relaxing. When you return, you kick back on your front porch and read the next chapter of your gripping novel. A group of kids are having their first experience on horseback in the distance, giggling as they trot along. You have the option of activities for the afternoon including tennis, pickleball, swimming, mountain biking, or rafting. As the sun begins to set, cliffs are silhouetted in the distance. Finally, it’s time for dinner!

Vista Verde dude ranch kids program

 

A multi-course meal paired with a variety of wines awaits you, and farm-to-table freshness is the name of the game at these dude ranches. After dinner, you join the group around a campfire and sing along to Tom Petty songs as someone strums the guitar. For the next day, will you do the same thing or something different? The choice is yours. Finally, a vacation where you can truly reconnect with yourself and your family. The Dude Ranchers’ Association offers authentic vacations in most states west of the Mississippi, all the way to British Columbia. Whether you’re looking for a relaxed vacation or something more adventurous, dude ranches have something for everyone.

 

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CHOOSE A RANCH

 

To meet your needs, you have the choice of three different styles of dude ranches:

 

Working Dude Ranch: On this ranch, you will immerse yourself in the ranch life and help with the daily duties. You might help move cattle, and you can expect longer days of horseback riding.

Dude Ranch: The traditional dude ranch involves a greater focus on the horse and riding. These ranches feature longer trail rides, and a wider availability of other outdoor activities.

Resort Dude Ranch: These ranches are typically larger than the other two, which is perfect for big groups. There are more amenities available at these ranches and options for guided activities. A naturalist may accompany you on hikes and identify flora and fauna. Horseback riding is still a highlight at these ranches, and you can also enjoy other adventurous activities. Moreover, many also have tennis courts and swimming pools. Don’t miss the wine pairing dinners!

 

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE

 

You can expect a high quality experience from all ranches under the Dude Ranchers' Association! Each ranch is personally and carefully inspected. Furthermore, each ranch is evaluated based on its facilities, horse program, food, and—most importantly—safety. The food at all dude ranches is exceptional; most ranches raise their own beef and grow their own vegetables. Additionally, all meals are farm-to-table fresh and can cater to special diets.

Whether you’re interested in a solitary vacation, a girls’ weekend, or a family reunion, these dude ranches are sure to present a fun and unique experience. The summer months are popular with families, and all ranches have excellent kids’ programs. Children can have close encounters with many ranch animals, learn line dancing steps, hop aboard a sleigh ride, or even learn some rodeo skills! Alternatively, if you’re seeking an adult-only vacation, September is a great month to visit.

The Dude Ranch Foundation is committed to preserving the way of the real west and the role dude ranches have played over the years. Not only is visiting a dude ranch a special experience, but it’s also a taste of history. The Dude Ranch Foundation is committed to the conservancy of land management and sustainable practices. Find a ranch today!

Dude Ranch

 

This story has been created in partnership with the VisitUSAParks.com.

 

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DUDE RANCH VACATIONS

 

Finally, a vacation where you can truly reconnect with yourself and your family. The Dude Ranchers’ Association offers authentic vacations in most states west of the Mississippi, all the way to British Columbia. Whether you’re looking for a relaxed vacation or something more adventurous, dude ranches have something for everyone.

Best Things to Do at a Dude Ranch When You Aren't Horseback Riding

Dude Ranches are a super family vacation destination. But what if one of your family members is just not that into horses? Relax. In addition to trail rides, dude ranches offer a wide range of appealing activities. Give archery a try or perhaps take a cooking class. Maybe you just want to curl up with a good book before a nap. Optimism TravelingMom Cathy Bennett Kopf shares some of the activities available at a dude ranch that don't involve a horse.

 

 Flyfishing-Rawah-Ranch

Flyfishing is an activity offered at many dude ranches, such as Rawah Ranch in Colorado. Photo: Allison Bean Taylor/Family Vacations US.com

 

What if my knee flares up?

Booking a dude ranch vacation for my family is something I plan to do. In fact, we schedule biennial reunions for 20 of us and, on our last trip, we all voted for one that involves horseback riding.

I voted “yes’ reluctantly.

For the past few years, my left knee gets swollen, creaky and very painful. Despite my relatively young age - cough, cough - the orthopedist says it’s arthritis. Rest, Aleve and gentle movement usually make it go away. But the bouts occur without warning.

My fear is that we’ll book our dream dude ranch vacation and just as I’m about to mount my steed, my knee will buckle and I’ll be consigned to the bunkhouse for the duration of our trip.

 latigo-guest-ranch-view

Dude ranches are set in some of the prettiest spots in North America. A great alternative to horseback riding is to simply relax and take in the view like this one at Latigo Guest Ranch. Photo: Diana Rowe/TravelinginHeels.com




  

6 Great Dude Ranch Activities Beyond Horseback Riding

 

Not to worry, the experts at the Dude Ranchers’ Association say it’s possible to have a fantastic dude ranch vacation without ever going horseback riding. Say what? For those of you who have allergies, or kids too small to ride or arthritic joints, here are the best things to do at a dude ranch if you don’t ride horses.

 

1. Practice your Photography

 

Dude ranches are set in the prettiest landscapes in North America. I’d really enjoy getting up in the predawn hours, sneaking out of the bunkhouse and shooting sunrise photos of the mountains in Montana or Nebraska’s Great Plains.

And, even if I’m not horseback riding, animals make great subjects for photos. Sweet Grass Ranch in Montana offers 3-day workshops with an award-winning Western photographer to practice your skills and help you capture ranch life for your Instagram feed!

 Zapata-Cattle-Drive

I could spend hours shooting photos during a dude ranch cattle drive like this one at Zapata Ranch. Photo: Dude Ranchers' Association

 

2. Listen to Traditional Music

 

The sights of a dude ranch are the first things that come to my mind: horses, low-slung bunkhouses, cattle pens. But there’s a sound, too. Think of traditional folk music with fiddles, guitars and an upright bass.

The Home Ranch, a luxurious Relais & Chateaux property in Colorado, features nightly entertainment for guests and a weekly barn dance. With a caller telling you how to dosado (or perhaps you prefer do-si-do?) and promenade your partner, it’s great for people like me who don’t have moves like Jagger.

 

3. Try Something Completely Different - Glamping!

 

When I think dude ranch, I envision bunkhouses with rustic beds, a big ole fireplace and a large kitchen table for card playing at night. Just like the places where cowboys stayed in every Western movie I’ve ever seen.

However, Bull Hill Guest Ranch in Washington State has two glamping tents available for guests. I would book one of these in a heartbeat. Maybe not for a family trip, but if it was just hubby and me or we were dude ranching with friends, a glamping tent would be so much fun to try. They’re decorated in comfy luxury and let you be outside in the great outdoors without the discomfort of sleeping on the rocky ground.

 

4. Relax and Unwind at a Dude Ranch Spa

 

If you choose not to go horseback riding during your dude ranch vacation, spending a day or two indulging in spa treatments might be just the cure to fix what ails you. Or if you do take daily trail rides, you might need a massage to work out the kinks after you dismount.

Arizona’s Rancho de Los Cabelleros features a full-service spa comparable to those you’d find in a luxury hotel. They feature a Bourbon Bubbler Body Scrub because even cowboys like a pampering now and then!

 

5. Dine and Wine

 

If you think you’ll be eating franks and beans during your dude ranch vacation, think again. Cattle wrangling is hard work, even if you’re sitting on the sidelines watching all the action. Many dude ranches feature gourmet meals, prepared with locally sourced meats and produce. Who knew there was such a thing as a cowboy foodie?

And nothing pairs better with great food than wine. The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort is located in the heart of wine country in Solvang, California. They’ve arranged complimentary tastings at a number of nearby wineries for ranch guests.

 

6. Tour Area Attractions

 

North American dude ranches stretch from Arkansas to California and north into British Columbia in Canada. You may choose one that’s in an isolated region. Or, your dude ranch may be located in an area worth touring.

 

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Dude ranches offer tours of area attractions such as Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. Photo: Shutterstock/amadeustx

 

For example, the Triple R Ranch in South Dakota is a great base to explore the state’s attractions. During a weeklong stay, guests have the opportunity to hop in a ranch vehicle and see the famous Mount Rushmore lighting ceremony, check out the Dakota badlands and visit the Crazy Horse Memorial.

Of course, you may choose to spend your entire dude ranch vacation horseback riding. It’s an amazing opportunity to experience a way of life that’s completely different than the one most of us city slickers live each day.

But, when you dismount, or, if you’re just not that into horses, there are plenty of activities to keep a cowboy or cowgirl entertained.

 

Author: Cathy Bennet Kopf, TheOpenSuitcase.com

 

Considering a dude ranch vacation but want to do more than just ride horses? Outdoor adventures, activities, excursions, and things to do beyond horseback riding, including a few that might surprise you!

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The Great American Family Holiday – on a Dude Ranch

Sylvan Dale Ranch Great American Family Holiday Clint the donkey gets a hug at the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch.

Ride ‘em cowboy! Sure there can be plenty of time in the saddle when you take the kids on a dude ranch vacation. But these days, there’s plenty else to do. In fact, ranch goers acknowledge, they often spend less time riding than they expected because of so many other activities and so much land to explore. That’s especially true for multi-generational groups who find guest ranches ideal for family reunions. They are all-inclusive so there is no bickering—and no surprises—with the final bill. No one has to get groceries, cook or clean up. And there are activities for all ages. How about mountain biking? Organized kids’ activities often include everything from riding to soccer, sack races, art projects and talent shows. Programs like at the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Colorado, means the adults get some time to catch up and parents don’t have to worry about their children’s whereabouts. The closeness of the cabins, dining room and other facilities makes it easy for parents to keep an eye on them, and means the property is more convenient to navigate for older guests. You might not have realized dude ranches today offer so many options:

A visit to a National Park – Many dude ranches are located near some of the country’s most popular national parks. White Stallion Ranch borders Arizona’s Saguaro National Park, while Rimrock Ranch is only miles outside the East entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Medicine Bow Lodge & Guest Ranch is located in the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming; while many guests at Bar W Guest Ranch in Montana head to Glacier National Park for a day.

Bar W Dude Ranch Vacation

Picnic at the Bar W Guest Ranch in Montana

A hike in the wilderness. Most dude ranches are off the tourist grid on lots of land, ideal for exploring on foot. The Diamond D Ranch, nestled in the Frank Church Wilderness Area of Idaho, offers excursions into the wild and fishing in the Salmon River Mountains, among many other activities.

Diamond D Ranch Fishing

Indulge in a massage Many ranches now offer spa treatments, like White Stallion Ranch  in Tucson, AZ and Vista Verde Ranch just outside of Steamboat, CO.

Take a yoga class. Many ranches that offer spa services also provide yoga classes and training. Before a long day in the saddle, guests can have a relaxing limbering-up session with certified trainers.

Try some new wines. Gourmet cuisine and wine paring are gaining popularity at dude ranches. At Smith Fork Ranch, favorites from their private cellar and wineries they especially like are among the choices, including some Colorado wines.

Go tubing or white water rafting. Three Bars Guest Ranch in the Canadian Rockies offers weekly white water rafting tours on the unspoiled  Mary’s River.  Put in only a 10 minute drive from the ranch.

Give shooting sports a try at Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Idaho, there is instruction in a safely controlled environment. There are 5 stations, each providing their own unique targets.

Ride a Zip Line The Bar Lazy J Ranch has one of Colorado’s longest and fastest zip lines and is the only one that crosses the Colorado River. The zip line starts on a steep bluff overlooking the Colorado River dropping 82 feet in elevation as it crosses the river, through the trees and across a pasture to the landing platform. You will be zipping along at speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour. This activity is for guests ages 13 and up.

Go fishing Rainbow Trout Ranch near several historic Spanish land grants in Antonito, Colo.,encourages guests to go trout fishing; Try your hand at fly fishing at 4UR Ranch in Mineral County, Colo.

Do si do with the wranglers or sing your favorite western songs around the campfire at ranches including – Mountain Sky Guest Ranch sits on over 10,000 operational acres of unspoiled wilderness in the heart of Yellowstone Country in Emigrant, Mont Got your cowboy hat?

By Eileen Ogintz at Takingthekids.com Save Save Save

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10 Best Things about a Ranch Vacation

There are many great things about a ranch vacation, so Sue Murphy of the Elk Mountain Ranch has compiled a list of the top 10 best things about a ranch vacation:

1. Enjoying the beauty of your surroundings You have the opportunity to spend time outdoors, enjoying the beauty of Colorado, with breathtaking views of the Collegiate Peaks, whether on a trail ride or hiking in the San Isabel National Forest.

2. Slowing down and relaxing Time moves differently here. You can take the time for some R&R, read a good book, enjoy the hot tub, play a board game or spend the day at the hot springs. There are simple pleasures in activities that we may have forgotten about in our busy day to day lives. Take a moment for yourself, breathe and take it all in.

3. Disconnecting and having great conversations The remote nature of a ranch vacation gives you an excuse to disconnect from the world, leaving email and the internet behind (there is connectivity but it is limited). This gives you an opportunity to focus on those around you and engage in great conversations at dinner, around the campfire, or out on the trail. Elk Mountain Ranch writes the 10 Best things about a Ranch Vacation

4. Creating new bonds There is something special that happens over a week – many different bonds are created. You find a connection with your horse, learning their personality and how you can work together. The intimate nature of the ranch allows you to get to know your fellow guests and you learn more about the staff. It is like one big family that extends beyond the ranch.

5. Reconnecting with others The atmosphere at the ranch allows you to reconnect with your family members and friends. It also gives you time to have moments to yourself and take in your surroundings. Conversations can start during happy hour and continue all the way through a campfire after dessert. Seeing your family in a new setting also shakes things up a bit and gives you new ways to connect.

6. Adventures! If trail rides are not adventurous enough, you also have the opportunity to go whitewater rafting. It is great fun as you make your way through Browns Canyon – be sure to keep an eye out for local wildlife as you paddle by!

7. Trying something new Maybe you have always wanted to ride a horse, or try your hand at shooting a .22 or take aim at clay pigeons? Are you an adventurous eater and want to try some Rocky Mountain Oysters? This is your opportunity to try something new, or even check off an item on your bucket list. You are in the Wild West – challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone.

8. Great food You will never go hungry – I promise. Between the hearty breakfasts, on the trail lunches, happy hour appetizers and filling dinners, there is something for everyone’s palate. We take food as seriously as we do our horses, and make accommodations for those with special dietary needs. We also want to help you celebrate any major occasion, whether a milestone birthday, anniversary or a big family reunion. Our surroundings may be more rustic, but the menu is nothing but top notch – and always save room for dessert!

9. Amazing horses The passion that the ranch owners have for their horses and for the ranch is clear from the first moment you interact with them. Each rider is matched with the right horse based on their personality, experience, comfort level and the type of riding they would like to do during the week. Also, each horse has a great story, so take a moment to talk with one of the wranglers to learn more about your horse’s biography.

10. Making memories All of these factors help make for an amazing week and give you your next great adventure. It could be quiet time spent with your spouse while your kids are busy panning for gold or hunting for arrow heads. It could be the wonder of watching a herd of antelope go by while you are on horseback. Maybe you’ll have a laugh while square dancing, or are touched by the western music. By the end of the week, you will have new memories that will last long after the dirt is off of your cowboy boots.

This blog was originally posted on Elk Mountain’s website here. For more great ranches in Colorado take a look at the Cherokee Park Ranch, Elk River Ranch and the Majestic Ranch.

10 Best Things about a Ranch Vacation

   There are many great things about a ranch vacation. Here is the list of the top 10 best things you will enjoy about a ranch vacation.Save Save

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Straight from the Horse's Mouth about Ranch Vacations

Enjoy a taste of the authentic American West where horses, hats, history, honesty, hospitality and heart abound. With over 100 carefully chosen member ranches, the Dude Ranchers' Association (DRA) has one to match your dream vacation – perfectly, all while protecting lands, parks, forests and wildlife. Our Dude, Resort and Working Ranches are in the most picturesque regions of the USA and Canada near historic sites and national parks for a photographer’s heyday! Each has its own unique history, incredible horseback riding tailored to the rider’s age and ability, and exciting outdoor adventures like white water rafting, paradise fishing on scenic rivers, fun hay rides, hikes, golfing. Blue skies, starry nights and the sounds of silence are also included in your dude ranch vacation. Lounge in a hammock until the dinner bell rings and then breathe pure clean air as you rediscover the brightest shining stars peeking out from the heavens. See what the excitement is all about for a dude ranch vacations "straight from the horse’s mouth” so to speak.

“The place is magical. It is difficult to put this down to any one thing - it is a combination of beautiful surroundings, comfy lodgings, delicious home cooked food eaten family style in the lodge dining room (or around the campfire out on the trail), amazing trail riding which is different every day. The horses are individually matched to the riders and the rides are planned each day to give everyone the best experience possible. Whether you arrive alone, as a couple or in a group you will soon feel part of the Elk Mountain Ranch family and you won't want to leave.” - Trip Advisor Review

"My first trip to the Triangle X Ranch was in 1973 and I went on a Hunting trip in the Teton Wilderness Area and I went there many times since! My Wife and I got Married at the Ranch in 1983 and we've gone on Hunting trips together and pack trips! I did some work on the Ranch when remodeling the kitchen etc. was done! We met some friends there a couple of yrs. ago that we had met previously on a pack trip and had a short visit with them before they left to go on another pack trip!! My experiences at the Ranch has been a wonderful experience, one I think of often!!!" - Google Review

Lonesome Spur Cattle Drive Straight from the horse's mouth Dude Ranch Vacations "Hubbard's Six Quarter Circle Ranch is Montana accommodations at their finest. From the friendly staff to the gourmet meals to the first class rooms, this lodge has it all. In addition to the top-notch accommodations, the location is spectacular for all kinds of activities. Horseback riding, fishing on the Yellowstone river, a shooting range, hiking and day trips into Yellowstone National Park are all nearby. This family owned and operated lodge will make you feel at home in one of the most beautiful settings on earth. Montana is a must see state and there is no better place to have as your home base. Hubbard's Yellowstone Lodge checks all the boxes." - Trip Advisor Review

"As frequent visitor's to Moose Head Ranch, the Experience only gets better with time. Upon your first visit you will feel welcomed and at home as you had been there your whole life. It is also the memoires that will be established to be cherished for many years to come. Return visits will build on those memories and you will always find a yearning to comeback. Solitude, Serenity, Beauty and QUALITY TIME is what you will experience. Great Hosts and Staff, where manners and values are the norm. The Food, just experience it, Chef Dennis and his Team will satisfy all of your cravings. Many other options to take in while in the Greater Yellowstone and Jackson Hole area, so make sure you stay long enough to just Chill and take in all the amentities at the Ranch. Especially if Fly Fishing and Horse are your passion. Once there, you will understand Paradise!!!!!" - Trip Advisor Review

"This was my 3rd trip to the Lonesome Spur Ranch and each time was better than the last. The last thing I wanted in a ranch was a "dude ranch", I wanted to gather, saddle and bridle my own horse. I wanted to ride in areas that are not much different than they were a hundred or so years ago. I wanted to work with real cowboys, ranchers and ranch families for a true ranch experience. I wanted meals and accommodations that a cowboy would have, no worry about wearing my boots or working clothes anywhere. The participation in round ups, separating bulls, branding calves were the real deal and we were able to participate as much or as little as we wanted. The trips to the different ranges (pastures) and mountain ranges were breathtaking and being on the Crow reservation land made me feel like I was a hundred years back in time. Elaine and Lonnie were great hosts, the wranglers did a great job with all the guests no matter on ability or riding expertise. I got great tips on my riding, caring for my horse, and Lonnie taught me to throw a rope, still practicing..." - Trip Advisor Review

For more information on all of The DRA ranches go to www.duderanch.org or give us a call at 866-399-2339. Save Save Save Save Save Save

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Ranch Vacation for your Rodeo loving, Barrel Racing Children

Your children have gone absolutely horse crazy and all you hear about is horseback riding camps and more riding lessons. So, how can you compromise on a family vacation and have lots of horsing around and barrel racing for your children and moderate amounts of all types of adventure recreation for the rest of your family? Well, a barrel racing ranch vacation of course! For your barrel racing enthusiasts there will be some type of barrel racing throughout the week with authentic cowgirl staff. You might have the arena set up to "turn and burn" with some ladies (and gentleman) who have competed in the barrel racing world.

You might dabble in all the experiences offered on horseback - some riding at different speeds, some team penning, some specialty rides, etc. You might take a all day picnic ride with the whole family where your interests in photography will have beautiful high mountain scenery to capture. If that may be a little too much time in the saddle you might all take the afternoon to go white water rafting, a guided naturalist hike or a drive through a National Park. Whew, that's a lot of fun together, but what about for mom and dad? For mom, she might sneak away for an afternoon massage while dad learns to fly fish and the kids are off with the horses and kid wranglers. That night during a fine dinner with a nice wine list you won't find a lull in the conversation about the stories of the day. After dinner you might turn in, or maybe catch your second wind and head down to the lawn for a camp fire, western dancing or into the saloon for a game night.

Tumbling River Kids Barrells

Arena Activities at the Tumbling River Ranch, Colorado

 

Barrel Racing Ranch Vacations

Paradise Guest Ranch Paradise Ranch has a way of reconnecting kids with animals and the outdoors. An award winning kids program exposes children to the natural world but it also offers parents a chance to enjoy their own pursuits or spend time with their children. Arts and crafts, pony rides, talent show, kid's fishing derby, kid's rodeo and even overnight pack trips are just some kid's activities offered through the program.  The Kid's Rodeo is a special afternoon in which all the young cowgirls and cowboys participate in a ranch rodeo with barrel racing hosted by none other than your very own wranglers. With clowns, audience games, and exhilarating wrangler competitions. 

CM Ranch The CM is a family friendly environment with a welcoming atmosphere and a unique charm. The expansive ranch lands are contiguous with the Shoshone National Forest and Fitzpatrick Wilderness, which allow for almost endless private riding and fishing in country of great variety and beauty. During your week stay you can ride, fish, hike, swim, picnic, participate in activities, or relax with your book during the day. Evenings can be spent with others at square dances or cookouts, playing softball, horseshoes or volleyball on the lawn, or ping pong and card games. On Friday, your kids can participate in the ranch rodeo (gymkhana) and head down town for the Dubois rodeo. Guest participation is encouraged.

Cherokee Park Barrel Racing

Barrel Racing at the Cherokee Park Ranch, Colorado

 

Rimrock Ranch Rimrock Ranch is nestled on the banks of Canyon Creek, halfway between Cody and the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. The ranch is family owned and operated since 1955. The week is filled with riding, rafting, rodeo, and all day tour of Yellowstone. Heated pool, hot tub, and fishing pond.  Rimrock offers private lessons for your barrel racer and is located 30 minutes from Cody, Wyoming, the “Rodeo Capital of the World.” On Tuesdays all the ranch guests are shuttled to a river float trip and to the rodeo which runs for 90 consecutive days throughout the summer. As a rodeo enthusiasts, your daughter might have you rent a car and go to the rodeo every night of the week. You'll might get the opportunity to watch Gary Fales, the owner of Rimrock Ranch compete in team roping too! 

Sweet Grass Ranch Sweet Grass Ranch is a sixth generation, family-owned and operated working cattle ranch and guest ranch. Watching children have the freedom to run and play under Montana’s Big Sky, is one of the best parts of a Sweet Grass Ranch vacation, where children and grandchildren abound. We don’t have a “formal” separate children’s program, as kids are welcome to participate in all aspects of ranch life.  We are lucky to have several wonderful kids’ horses and offer “pony” rides for the very young and lessons, progressing to gymkhanas, bareback rides and a host of horse-related activities designed to build comfort and confidence. Teens often go on their own rides, swim their horses, and participate with cattle work. Sweet Grass is well set up for kids’ entertainment with a variety of activities,  including soccer, volleyball, softball, paintball, campfires, the natural water slide, pool, cards and board games.

 

 Barrel Racing Ranch Vacation For Your Kids

 

Your children have gone absolutely horse crazy and all you hear about is horseback riding camps and more riding lessons. So, how can you compromise on a family vacation and have lots of horsing around and barrel racing for your children and moderate amounts of all types of adventure recreation for the rest of your family? Well, a barrel racing ranch vacation of course! Take a look at these dude ranches who offer barrel racing for kids.

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Bob Marshall Wilderness Adventures

The Bob Marshall Wilderness, named after Bob Marshall himself, is located in western Montana as the fifth-largest wilderness in the lower 48 states. It extends for 60 miles along the Continental Divide and consists of over 1 million acres and remains road-less, with the only permanent structures being some old ranger stations and horse bridges. You might see some of these structures while riding out with the JJJ Wilderness Ranch or the Rich's Montana Guest Ranch. Sounds like a great location for your next horseback riding vacation, right? Wait, there's more. You'll have a chance to ride to a long escarpment famously known as the Chinese Wall, averaging 1,000 feet high from its base and extends for 22 miles.  Take a look at these two unique pack trip experience to immerse yourself in Bob Marshall Wilderness Adventures.

JJJ Wilderness Ranch offers Bob Marshall Wilderness Adventures

JJJ Wilderness Ranch in the Bob Marshall Wilderness

Each pack trip is unique ranging from base camp oriented to trips that traverse the wilderness over the Continental Divide. You’ll travel across wilderness trails on sure-footed saddle horses that are mountain savvy and a joy to ride. A trusty string of pack-mules carries all the gear so you can rough it in comfort. The Triple J crew, wrangler, packer, guide and camp cook, will provide a comfortable, complete camp. These limited trips average 8 guests to ensure a high level of personal service.

Trips can be tailored for individual groups and interests. During your Montana riding vacation the rugged landscape unfolds before you, revealing elk, mule deer and whitetail, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, eagles, moose and black bear. You'll have plenty of opportunities to fly fish the natural streams and lakes for native Cutthroats and Rainbow trout... it's a fisherman's paradise. Book a trip into the awesome beauty of remote wilderness. Layover days offer options of riding, hiking, fishing or relaxing around the campfire.

RIch Ranch offers Bob Marshall Wilderness Adventures

Rich’s Montana Guest Ranch in the Bob Marshall Wilderness

Rich Ranch offers progressive pack trips through this mountainous area that vary in length from 5 to 10 days. You ride horseback and all camp gear is packed on mules. Generally, camp moves every other day and lay over on the days in between to ride, fish, explore, relax, and enjoy camp life. You will stay in teepee tents with covered floors and screened doors. Hearty meals are prepared and served under the kitchen fly fisher's paradise.

Enjoy world-class fishing for native cutthroat on the South Fork Flathead River and it’s tributaries! Alpine lakes, glacial streams, and the main rivers offer a wide opportunity for novice and expert alike. With an abundance of trout lying in wait in the cold, clear waters, you can book a trip to a fly fisherman’s paradise.


 

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Specials near the Border for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de MayoArrrrribaa!! Cinco de Mayo is less than a month away! If Taco Tuesdays are a weekly celebration at your house than heading south for Cinco de Mayo may be something of interest. Did you know, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces back in 1862? Nowadays the date has become a celebration of Mexican-American culture. This year celebrate big by going to a South Western dude ranch vacation close to the Mexican border. At these ranches decorations are up year round, but it's called interior design. Horses (and possibly donkeys) are ready for you to saddle up ride off into the sunset. Cheers to Mexican-American culture and food. Book now and ask when they will serve the queso dip! Yum!

Giddy-Up Gals Package

Rancho de los Caballeros Giddy-up Gals for Cinco de Mayo

Giddy-Up Gals package is tailored for women who wish to have a fabulous Southwestern escapade in Wickenburg, Arizona! Rancho de los Caballeros is the resort with the soul of a bed and breakfast offering full resort amenities and privacy, yet with the charm and intimacy of yesteryear. It's the kind of place where everyone knows your name. Click for Reservations or Call 800-684-5030

 

Discounts for Veterans, Active Service Members and Law Enforcement Officers

Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch Discounted Rates for Service Men & Women for Cinco de Mayo

Located in the heart of cowboy country in Yucca, Arizona Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch is dedicated to providing you with the best dude ranch vacation you can find. A special, friendly atmosphere let's you glimpse into the old west while enjoying the beautiful northwest Arizona desert. Click for Reservations or Call 866-444-4471

 

 3 for 1! Visit Three Ranches in One Week

Tombstone Monument Ranch for Cinco de Mayo

Get ready for a vacation full of adventure and new experiences Sunday April 30 - Sunday May 7, 2017. You’ll visit three ranches and three eco-systems. Begin your stay at White Stallion Ranch, Tucson, then on to Rancho de la Osa in Sasabe, and finish at Tombstone Monument Ranch in Tombstone, Arizona. Each ranch is unique, and they cater to every level of riding skills. Meals are included except Saturday, May 6th when you will be in downtown Tombstone. All transfers are included.

 

 The Art of Marriage Ranch Experience

Burnt Well Ranch the Art of Marriage for Cinco de Mayo

Kim & Patricia Chesser of the Burnt Well Guest Ranch in Roswell, New Mexico have always had a heart for strengthening homes by strengthening marriages. Now you can combine a fun week in the New Mexico ranch country with a series of videos from The Art of Marriage by Family Life. Just the Burnt Well setting alone has been known to have a therapeutic effect on people, couples and families! Click for Reservations or Call 866-729-0974  

 

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10 Awe-Inspiring Panoramas That Define Rustic Luxury

 Let’s face it: there are few places in the world as beautiful as Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. And there are few places better to enjoy the spectacular sights here than Smith Fork Ranch, where we’ve perfected the “rustic luxury” approach to an all inclusive guest ranch vacation. We could tell you what we mean by “rustic luxury” … but it’s probably easier to show you.

 

Smith Fork Ranch Panoramas That Define Rustic Luxury

Smith Fork Ranch — where the rainbow ends?

 

Smith Fork Ranch Panoramas

“Rustic Luxury” — historic buildings, lovingly restored with a painstaking eye for detail.

 

Smith Fork Panoramas That Define Rustic Luxury

Smith Fork Ranch’s equestrian program offers the perfect way to explore. Whether you’re an avid rider or a beginner, Smith Fork Ranch offers authentic horseback riding adventures for all skill levels, always with your maximum enjoyment and safety in mind.

 

Smith Fork Horse Panoramas That Define Rustic Luxury

Our guests love Smith Fork Ranch … and we’re pretty sure our herd does, too.

 

Smith Fork Ranch Luxury Panoramas

Not only is Smith Fork Ranch’s cuisine world-class (much of it locally sourced), but you get to enjoy it with views like these. And did we mention our extensive, Wine Spectator award-winning wine cellar?

 

Smith Fork Ranch Vacation Wine And Dine

A picnic is not just a picnic at Smith Fork Ranch.

 

Smith Fork Shooting Ranch

Smith Fork’s shooting range is a popular activity. But it’s hard to keep your eye on those clay pigeons with these views of the West Elk Mountains…

 

Smith Fork Ranch View

If you want to put a little more “rustic” in your “luxury,” Smith Fork Overnight Safaris are offered.

 

Smith Fork Ranch Fly Fishing Panorama of Rustic Luxury

Say hello to fly fishing paradise. Smith Fork Ranch is home to three private miles of the Smith Fork of the Gunnison River, six stocked trout ponds, and a mountain stream.

 

Smith Fork Ranch Camping Glamping all inclusive guest ranch vacation

Sunsets happen every night. But with colors like these, they never get old.

 


This blog was originally written and posted on www.smithforkranch.com. For some more great views of luxury ranches, take a look at the  Rancho de los Caballeros, Triangle X Ranch and CM Ranch. And give the Dude Ranchers' Association a call for your next ranch vacation. 307.587.2339



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Kids and Cattle Drives on a Family Vacation

Take your family this summer to experience a ranch vacation and maybe a cattle drive (or 2).  On this vacation you will develop a deeper appreciation for cattle and cowboys.  Your question might be "Can I take my children on a cattle drive too?" The answer to that question is a very big yes, yes you can. Adults are not the only ones able to go on such adventures, your kids can too. The DRA accredited ranches below will get your kids and cattle drives together for a unique ranch vacation. Take a look at the different ages, riding abilities and type of activities to pick out the one that's right for your family's next vacation.

 

Ages 8 & Up

 

Intermediate Riders ages 8 & up are invited to the Bonanza Creek Ranch to hone in on their western horseback riding skills at this working cattle ranch. With the ability to canter outside an arena your kids can have a great time experiencing remote Montana ranching, team penning and a weekly cattle drive along with putting miles and miles of trail riding in the Rocky Mountains.

 

Bonanza Creek Ranch Kids and Cattle Drives

Bonanza Creek Ranch, Martinsdale, Montana

 

Ages 7 & Up

 

Twice weekly cattle working days for ages 7 & up are offered to the guests of Laramie River Ranch. Tuesdays and Thursdays are the designated cattle drive in the morning at this Colorado ranch followed by team penning in the afternoon and then pushing the steers back out to pasture. This will be a gentle way to introduce kids to riding and moving cattle. A separate kids program is also available for toddlers to teenagers with swimming, fishing and a naturalist program to explore the area ecosystem.

 

Laramie River Ranch Cattle Drive with Kids

Laramie River Ranch, Jelm Colorado

 

Ages 6 & Up

 

Longhorn Cattle Drives for ages 6 & up are offered on Saturdays at the Black Mountain Ranch as the highlight of the entire week. All are welcome on this walk ride adventure.  You family rides out into the Medicine Bow National Forest of Colorado in the morning to gather the cows in the high country and them bring them back to the ranch in time for lunch.  After lunch you all learn to rope and brand, then drive the cows back into a different high pasture in the afternoon. Throughout the week your family will also enjoy a full week of activities: skeet shooting, white water rafting, and an overnight pack trip into the mountains.

 

Black Mountain Cattle Drive with Kids

Black Mountain Ranch McCoy, Colorado

 

A Job for Everyone ages 6 & up at the Bull Hill Ranch in northeastern Washington. Here you and your family can enjoy a laid back atmosphere with few rules or hard schedules. Cattle drives are based off the cattle and time of year. In the spring, cattle drives are more frequent (4+ times a week), as you help push the cattle from the ranch, out to pasture on the Canadian border. Throughout the summer months, cattle drives happen about 3 times a week to keep the cattle on green pasture. Then, in September and October, you can participate in the fall round-up where they ride for cattle almost daily to get them home for the winter.  Here, there is a job for everyone, regardless of riding ability.  

 

Bull Hill Cattle Drive Kids

Bull Hill Guest Ranch, Kettle Falls, Washington    

 

 

 

 Can I take my children on a cattle drive?  Yes you can! Adults are not the only ones able to go on such adventures, your kids (ages 6 & up) can too.

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Love Letters to the Ranch

Drowsy Water Love Letters When did you last write a love letter?  Was it to a cute boy in second grade?  That one girl across the street in fifth grade?  Maybe is was to your husband or to your wife.  Here at Drowsy Water, we get a lot of love letters.  They float into the mailbox occasionally and we save them for ages, keeping them in a special envelope and bringing them out to read when we're feeling sentimental. Sure, Ken is a great singer when you put him next to a fire under the stars, but the letters aren't to him.  Randy Sue can sure tell her flowers while simultaneously hiking up a mountainside and cooking a turkey, but the letters aren't to her for her super-powers either.  Nope, Justin and Ryan, sorry to break it to you, but you aren't that cute and Peyton and Chase, thankfully, you're still too young. At Drowsy Water, most of our love letters come addressed to those of us with four legs, two eyes, and a mane and a tail.  Our horses are, without fail, the primary recipient of these professions of love.  Something about them indisputably captures the hearts of our visitors. Drowsy Water Love Letter Our herd seems to manage maintaining multiple long distance relationships.  The magical bond that a rider; young, old, or somewhere in-between; and a horse make during the week is a true and strong love.  Our horses take their riders on grand adventures, they keep them safe, and they respond to feelings and emotions.  It's really no surprise they are the popular ones around here.   Drowsy Water Love Letter Horse We treasure each and every letter, and strive to help each guest feel they love their horse enough to write one.  More often than not, it's the kids that write them, but we get letters to horses from teens and adults as well.  Not very often in life to you experience the trust and companionship a horse can offer. Just like you might always remember the name of your first love,  many of our guests can remember the name of their horse years after they were last at the ranch.  The relationship is not one that is easy to forget. We hope you enjoyed a few love letters to the herd.  And, as you start thinking of writing that next love letter, don't forget your horse!


For over 90 years the 700 acre Drowsy Water Ranch in Granby, Colo. nestled in its own private mountain valley has been providing folks from around the world with authentic Western vacations. Under the same owner/management for 36 years, the ranch promises nothing less than real down home hospitality amidst unforgettable mountain scenery. Most of all you'll enjoy a sense of total relaxation and freedom from stress. The staff has been hand picked for their friendliness, personality, talent and sincere desire to please. They participate in all activities and create much of the entertainment. Vacation packages offer a schedule of enjoyable activities for all ages with an emphasis on service and quality. This blog was originally posted on here on Drowsy Water's Blog by Gretta Fosha


Drowsy Water is not the only dude ranch who receives love letters addressed to their horses. You can find many ranches who have great horses that your kids will fall in love with. Visit them here. And, as always, call the office if you have any questions. :) 307.587.2339. Drowsy Water Horse Love Letter to Patches   Save Save Save Save

Namaste on the Ranch

Whereas it used to be a time to simply kick back and relax, many of today’s travelers are using vacations as a time to continue their normal health and fitness routines, or perhaps even try something new. Yoga, in particular, has never been more popular: since 2012, the number of practitioners in the U.S. has increased by 50 percent to over 36 million. More and more people are realizing the benefits of yoga, which range from stress relief to flexibility to overall well-being. Whether you are one of the 80 Americans that say they are likely to try yoga for the first time in the coming months, or if you have been getting your ‘ namaste ’ on for quite some time, you may want to consider planning a vacation to a dude or guest ranch offering innovative and unique yoga-based programs. Below please find a sampling of five ranches accredited by the Dude Ranchers' Association (DRA) that provide guests with a special haven to discover new yoga traditions and find their Zen.

Revive and Ride. Find the inner Zen you have been craving at Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Emigrant, Mont. Re-energize your mind, body and soul with the ranch’s Yoga Program, offered to all ages and levels of experience. Morning sessions encourage the awakening and energizing of the body and mind in preparation for a full day of activities, while afternoon sessions are restorative and focus on stretching and relaxation. In addition to the variety of outdoor activities available at the ranch, guests can relax in a heated pool, outdoor hot tub and sauna and can also take full advantage of a variety of massage services. Each therapist offers a specific approach, from hot river rocks and salt scrubs to stretching sessions and therapeutic massages.

Stretch, Relax, Ride, Repeat. Zapata Ranch is inviting guests to experience the ranch like never before during its first ever yoga retreat. Connect with the diverse surroundings of the ranch – which include high desert grasslands, alpine forests, wetlands, sand dunes, creeks and lush meadows – through daily yoga sessions and exploratory hikes and horseback rides. Zapata Ranch is located on the eastern wall of the San Luis Valley in Mosca, Colo., and borders the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. It is owned by The Nature Conservancy and has one of the most scenic and ecologically diverse landscapes in the country. The Yoga and Ranch Retreat takes place in April.

Hope, Courage and Healing. Horses N Courage, located in “Big Sky Country” in Sawmill Canyon of Lennep, Mont., has created a Hope, Courage and Healing Retreat, exclusively targeted to women of all ages. The retreat aims to bring together like-minded women who are eager to rediscover themselves through horseback riding, trailing cattle, exploring wildlife and bonding with one another. It includes wall-tent accommodations, ranch-style cooked meals, beautiful scenery, horseback riding, plenty of chances to see wildlife, and even a natural hot spring spa. Hope, Courage and Healing takes place for four days and three nights in July.

Om on the Range. Focus Ranch, located in the Rocky Mountains of Slater, Colo., invites guests to partake in a tranquil combination of riding their horse and riding their breath while riding the range with Yogi Martha McPherson. Martha guides participants in the pleasure of uniting breath and body in the art of yoga. Guests can also participate in some of the ranch’s other offerings like hiking, birding and fly-fishing. Focus Ranch is a traditional working cattle ranch known for its horseback riding, cattle and pristine setting. Om on the Range takes place each August, giving guests the opportunity to experience the changing of the seasons, which comes early at the 7000 ft. elevation.

Discover Your Zen. Grab your girlfriends and head to Clark, Colo., to disconnect from reality and reconnect with each other. The Home Ranch will be offering their popular Experience Yoga and Horses Retreat for the twelfth season. All ages are welcome for an all-inclusive week of health, wellness and relaxation centered on horseback. Cowgirl Yoginis Tammy Pate and Janice Baxter will help guests experience horsemanship instruction, gentle yoga, healthy gourmet dining and massage, all set amidst the spectacular fall season in the Elk River Valley in October.

The Home Ranch Namaste Yoga

Photo Courtesy of The Home Ranch

May your travels be safe, happy and healthy. Namaste Save Save

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Secrets to the Best Family Reunion

Family reunion planning can be tricky. Just picking a reunion destination spot can take time. I myself come from a large family and we’re lucky to have several amazing planners who handle our family reunions. Planning can be stressful and trying to find a perfect location which everyone will enjoy is a daunting task. Working at Red Horse Mountain Ranch for over a decade, I’ve come to know many of the challenges with family reunion planning. However, it is a small price to pay for some of life’s most enduring memories. Sadly, I think ranches are not normally on a family’s radar as a destination spot. There are definitely some true advantages in picking a ranch for a family reunion. A ranch can streamline your family planning, control your budget, reconnect your family, and make sure each member has an amazing time. There are also a few ways to help you with costs.

Red Horse Mountain Ranch Family Reunion

Photo courtesy of the Red Horse Mountain Ranch

A Ranch can streamline your planning. Typical family reunion planning starts 12-18 months in advance and it’s usually on the shoulders of one or a few individuals to begin the early planning phase. Besides the typical quirks in everyone’s family, the most common difficulties revolve around finding a convenient location, controlling costs, choosing dates, and making sure everyone has activities to keep them happy. Although the web has put a lot of information at your fingertips,  it can be somewhat tangled, formidable, and messy. Ranches tend to eliminate some of these barriers in planning a family reunion.

A Ranch can control your budget AND Reconnect your family.  Most ranches, like Red Horse Mountain Ranch, are all-inclusive. It’s typical a few auxiliary costs will come (such as souvenirs or an extra massage), but you should have total control over 95% of your costs. Most ranches aren’t like you’re typical all-Inclusive resorts; they don’t usually attempt to capture added revenues through nickel and diming you. Some ranches even include beverages and alcohol beverages. It’s usual that family members will never need or see their wallet throughout their entire stay at a ranch. Many things such as a wrist watch, cell phone, or other devices, quickly find the bottom of a suitcase. Everyone is usually scrambling to find all these devices when it’s time to head home. This is an important distinction between many other more public choices for a family reunion. If your goal is to re-connect and disconnect, a ranch setting by nature makes these items not necessary.

A Ranch will make everyone happy (even if they don’t think it will).  Family members whom have handled planning of a reunion will quickly agree the initial planning is one of the most important phases. Ranches tend to make this relatively easy. A ranch is typically on a schedule with certain days of arrival and departure. Their activities and guest adventures are also well developed to accommodate families with multiple desires. With a large list of guided and non-guided adventures, a ranch can accommodate numerous interests and age groups. Outdoor activities are also interactive and allow for true family time and conversations. Family members who have not had the opportunity for some outdoor activities may very much like the challenge or new adventure, especially while in the company of their family members.

Dietary Concerns and the Healthy Alternative. Dietary concerns or healthy food alternatives are more the norm these days than a special request and ranches have definitely embraced this. Working outdoors, maintaining a healthy herd of horses, and living where a trip to the doctor can mean being in a car for a two hour round trip requires conscientious diets. Most ranches, like Red Horse Mountain Ranch, can easily accommodate vegan, gluten-free, or other dietary needs. These menu items are usually part of the daily menu now on the ranch.

The Tough Part: Costs. A family will need to have a budget to use an all-inclusive ranch as their destination. However, there are advantages to never needing to cook or worry about menus or dietary concerns. Attempting to coordinate outdoor adventures in fifteen different directions is a big task; and finding a coordinated time to meet back up for meals is almost impossible. There are definitely benefits of having the ranch handle all these tasks and giving every family member time to focus on family. These additional benefits are hard to quantify when deciding on costs. Advance planning will give you the advantage of the best pricing and best dates to fit your family needs. For example, Red Horse Mountain Ranch released a new  program allowing families to book the entire ranch 12-18 months in advance at a reduced rate. This unique program gives the family full control of the ranch and at the same time allows the ranch to budget their season as well.

Another great tool is to visit the Dude Ranchers’ Association website and fill out and use the search for ranches feature.This provides you a quick and easy way to make contact and determine which ranch best fits your family’s desires; and it all happens with a single click. Large scale resorts, cruise liners, or hotels just don’t offer the level of privacy a ranch can offer and these days it’s an important criteria. When we’re looking for reunion spots, we definitely give consideration to giving the kids a chance to roam and play. Ranches definitely offer this ability. Ranches may not be affordable every year for your family but it is one of those family reunion destinations you should consider. The Dude Ranchers’ Association has a varied mix of ranches and there’s more than likely a few that would fit your family’s needs.


Article originally posted here by Cory Inouye

The Extended List of Family Reunion Ranches

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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

Merry Christmas Dude Ranch Style

Best wishes for your Christmas Is all you get from me, 'Cause I aint no Santa Claus— Don't own no Christmas tree.

But if wishes was health and money, I'd fill your buck-skin poke, Your doctor would go hungry An' you never would be broke.

-From Charlie Russell's 1914  Christmas Card

A Bar A Christmas Dude Ranch

A Bar A Ranch's Barn in the Snow

 May you all have a safe and happy holiday season and bring in 2017 for the best year yet. From the Dude Ranchers' Association, your dude ranch planning resource since 1926.


Here is a great article on the History of Dude Ranching for some light reading during the holidays for a Merry Christmas Dude Ranch Style Dude ranches sometimes get short shrift in history because they’re seen as contrived, Hollywood-derived entertainment, distant from the real work of Wyoming’s agricultural and resource-based industries. In its 1920s heyday, however, dude ranching was a common and respected way for elite Americans to experience the West. The fact that many did so in Wyoming not only bolstered the regional economy and culture, but also shaped national ideas about Western identity. In many ways, dude ranching emerged as an extension of guiding. As Euro-Americans explored the West, they often hired experts to help. After President Theodore Roosevelt took office in 1901, his earlier, much-touted experience on a North Dakota cattle ranch often led visitors’ interest in hunting and sightseeing to merge with interest in ranch lifestyles. Howard, Alden and Willis Eaton—brothers from a prominent Pittsburgh family—are widely credited with running the first dude ranch. Howard established a ranch near Medora, Dakota Territory, in 1879, with his brothers soon following. After the Northern Pacific railroad arrived the following year, they frequently had guests from back east. In 1882, one guest, Bert Rumsey, insisted on paying Howard for his troubles. By the following year, the Eatons had so many paying guests that Howard started taking them on pack trips where they toured Yellowstone National Park... Read more here.   Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save

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6 Outstanding Summer Travel Destinations

"I'm gonna raise a fuss, I'm gonna raise a holler, 'bout working all summer, just trying earn a dollar..."

Summer Time Blues by Eddie Cochran isn't the only one who's " gonna take two weeks gonna have a fine vacation." 

If you are like me trying to figure out what to do on those two weeks of vacation that starts over in January, you are probably overwhelmed with so many summer travel destinations. Should I fly away to a distant country? Take a road trip from coast to coast? Find an all-inclusive adventure wonderland? I get dizzy spinning all the options around in my head... This coming year I choose to #optoutside on a ranch vacation, falling in the "all-inclusive adventure wonderland" option. There are so many things to do on a ranch vacation that it feels like you are immersed in a whole culture of the Rocky Mountains, wide open spaces, horses and outdoor activities. I have picked out 6 ranches to choose from, having not decided on which state to go to. There are a couple in Colorado, Wyoming, Oregon and Montana to choose from. In narrowing it down further I will start by contacting all the ranches with my preferred dates of travel and inquire about pricing and availability. Since most of the ranches have over a 60% return rate from previous guests I can't assume they will have space. If not, I may have to change my travel dates or choose another location. At this point I will pick up the phone and call the ranches, to get a feel for the personality there. Will it match with my family? What's their weekly schedule like? Then, I'll drop the cash and reserve my cabin for a week long vacation. Good bye, summer time blues. Out of the 6 ranches below, which one would you choose?

Home Away from Home in Oregon

Long Hollow Ranch Summer Travel Destination

Long Hollow Ranch is a pioneer style ranch in central Oregon. The original ranch buildings, over a century old, have been preserved and renovated for hosting ranch guests. All guest areas are decorated in a manner designed to evoke the feeling of "Grandma's house."

Paradise in Wyoming

Paradise Guest Ranch Summer Travel Destination

For 100 years now, folks have been coming to Paradise Guest Ranch for 100 different reasons—for some, it’s the horseback riding across sage meadows, fishing for native cutthroat trout, or hiking among wildflowers and meadowlarks. For others, it’s the family time, the fun, and campfire stories beneath a snowstorm of stars.

Climbing High Mountains in Montana

Hawley Mountain Ranch Summer Travel Destination

Seeking a place of quiet solitude in a remote wilderness of Montana? Hawley Mountain Ranch the place for you! Located in a million acres of wilderness just north of Yellowstone Park, you can enjoy exhilarating mountain experiences and warm hospitality in a remote, absolutely beautiful part of the world.

  Blacktail Ranch Summer Travel Destination

The Blacktail Ranch is a historic 8,000 acre jewel, located where the prairie meets the Rockies in Montana. This ranch family first came this valley back in the late 1800's and  has lived and worked here ever since.

Luxury in Colorado

Ranch at Emerald Valley Summer Travel Destination

The Broadmoor's Ranch at Emerald Valley is perfect for corporate retreats and special events, the ranch allows your group to reconnect in a serene and inspiring setting far removed from the worries of everyday life. Reward your top performers with an authentic ranch experience, or celebrate your wedding with western adventures and The Broadmoor’s signature luxury.

Smith Fork Summer Travel Destination

 Nestled in a valley of the West Elk Wilderness, between Aspen and Telluride, lies the hidden gem of Smith Fork Ranch. With the Gunnison National Forrest as its surroundings the location is far from the only charm, with rustic cabins that have been lovingly restored on their original 1930s-40s footprint with American antiques and original arts and crafts from the hands of the best western and native American artisans, it looks and feels like the old Wild West.


If you are still undecided about your summer travel destinations give the Dude Ranchers' Association a call at 307.587.2339 or 866.399.2339             Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save

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Corporate Meeting Trends for 2017

With winter in full swing, it’s now every event organizer’s "most wonderful time of the year" scheduling conferences!  If you are in charge of planning a conference or corporate meeting for your company, consider the 2017 trends shaping today’s corporate events. In regards to these trends, consider an accredited dude ranch to fit the bill. With capacities varying from ranch to ranch you might find one intimate enough for your board of directors or large enough to take the entire enterprise.

Strong WiFi Connection Even when you are planning an event in the mountains access to highly effective WiFi can be a selected option. Business travelers want to stay connected now more than ever, and many attend conferences with multiple wireless devices. A meeting space that can provide sufficient bandwidth and free, fast and reliable WiFi capabilities is one you don’t want to overlook.

Red-Reflet-Lodge-Meeting-Corporate-

Red Reflet Guest Ranch Offers WiFi in each Chalet 

Dining choices Food and beverages served throughout a meeting is instrumental to its success.  The diverse culinary offerings of a meeting space are very important. Now a days it starts with having a variety of meal options and continues with selections for those with dietary restrictions for meals and refreshment breaks.

 

Refreshing Breaks Yes, dining is important, but attendees also want to get moving.  Meeting trends are heading towards replacing traditional coffee/snack breaks with energy boosting sessions.  You might consider offering a 30 minuet yoga session or fly-fishing casting class within your day’s conference schedule. Planners and attendees want breaks that keep them energized for the day’s remaining sessions.

 

Team building activities Team building is a classic meeting trend and includes activities with unique ways to spark partnerships with colleagues. Choosing a location with a variety of scheduled team building exercises will enhance the satisfaction of attendees, especially if they have never done the activity before.

 

Entertaining Entertainment Make each event unique, so attendees will eagerly anticipate in the next one. Live entertainment not only helps you instigate conversation before your conference, but it can also help you retain attendance for future events. Recent trends in entertainment at conferences and corporate functions include added entertainment from the host and engaging themed activities with your group.

 

Increasing Demand According to the Dude Ranchers' Association annual survey of ranches reservations for ranch vacations are consistently on the rise. Though short-term bookings are still common, booking opportunities stretch into the next couple of years. For last minute events, choices can be very limited by availability, but you can contact the office for help finding a last minute location.  307.587.2339


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Pass the #TravelSauce While Vacation Planning During the Holidays

Take the time this holiday season – when bellies are full, spirits are high and good will is in abundance – to sit with family and pass the #travelsauce, by planning next year’s perfect family vacation to a dude ranch. This Thanksgiving and through Christmas is the designated time every year for family's to come together and share not only a meal, but also experiences from the past year and hopes for the year to come. Take this opportunity and seize the moment to plan your family's next Western adventure vacation at a dude ranch. Here's the perfect way to "pitch" a week at a ranch to the family:

  • There's plenty of room

Whether your are traveling with your nuclear family of kids and parents or as an extended family reunion a dude ranch is set up to accommodate families of upwards of 200 people. Reservation specialists can help you book the right number and locations of cabins. And with professional chefs on staff the dining will be prepared with excellence to satisfy the tastes of even the most selective family members.

In Montana Horses N Courage has a unique, glamping style set-up for an intimate family of 10 while Averil's Flathead Lake Lodge can host up to 130.

  • There's plenty to do for everyone

This vacation is for more people in your family than your 8 year old cousin who went horse crazy two years ago. There will be mountain biking, wilderness hikes and white water rafting for the 20 somethings, adequate spa time and fishing for the parents who need some quiet time and plenty of nightly entertainment for everyone.

Cherokee-Park-Cabin

In Colorado, Cherokee Park Ranch offers these activities plus offers archery, golfing and National Park trips.

 

  • There's easy planning at every step

The best part about an all-inclusive ranch stay is the ease of planning once you have arrived.  Everyone in the family can scatter to their activity of choice. There are daily sign up sheets for horseback riding and the other engaging activities on the ranch. This presents a limitless combination of activities your family can be involved in. On top of all the activity planning your host ranch will take care of preparing all the meals and the cleaning up.

If you are wondering what you should bring take a look here while planning next year's family vacation. So please, pass the #TravelSauce this holiday. You can always contact the Dude Ranchers' Association for more information.


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Working Cattle Ranches Are Great For Young Adults

As your kids grow into adulthood (17 to early 20s) their individual interests begin to branch off into new and different directions.  As parents you long to plan trips that will fully engage them and create long-lasting memories.  But how?  How do parents get their burgeoning young adults to fully abandon their pocket technology and other distractions and simply hang out as a family…and love it? These questions popped up regularly in our house as my husband and I considered where to spend our family vacations.  Colorado Cattle Company Adult

We wondered if a dude ranch might hold some answers but, as a family of four from Ohio with mixed horse experience and knowledge, we had some reservations.  Our family: Brian (20), Emily (18), Bill, and Kristin. We were concerned that our 20-yr-old son, and complete non-horseman, would not enjoy it. We didn’t worry about our daughter (18); she is our resident equestrian, riding English since third grade. 

My husband grew up in rural Ohio with a “pet” horse but no formal training and no continued riding experience as an adult, while I had what I termed horse familiarity as a “barn mom” – but no actual riding experience. Well, after a number of years of cautious consideration we finally pulled the trigger and booked at Colorado Cattle Company and Guest Ranch, owned and operated by Tom & Darcy Carr in New Raymer, CO.  Looking toward the main ranch gate–nothing but pastures, rolling hills, and bluffs for miles and miles and miles, in all directions. What can we share?  First and foremost, we shouldn’t have waited so long!  If you’re on the fence about booking a similar trip with your “emerging adult children,” Go For It!  And Colorado Cattle Company and Guest Ranch would be an excellent option

... Read the rest of Kristin Shawd's experiences here.  Kristin is a wife, mother-of-two and soon-to-be-empty-nester who has just launched TuesdayPause.com - a travel blog with a go-often, go-local twist.

 

For more information about working cattle ranches throughout the west, look to these additional states to offer a similar experience to Kristin's. Wyoming

The Klondike Ranch is nestled in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains of north central Wyoming, and has been in their family since the 1920's. You are invited to take part in their way of life, and experience the thrill of a real Western ranch in the beautiful atmosphere of the Old West. You will  become a part of the family and they take great lengths to ensure you are comfortable, well fed, taken care of and get as much riding in as you can handle. At Klondike, they enjoy making your stay there as memorable and enjoyable as it should be.

Nebraska

Step back into the Old West and satisfy the cowboy in you as you come alongside the cowboys of the 1+1 Ranch. This 7,000 acre ranch, set in the beautiful sand hills of Nebraska is the perfect setting for your getaway & some of the most spectacular horseback riding ever. Get involved as much or as little as you want in daily ranch activities such as cattle drives, branding, working cattle, gathering & sorting, roping, checking cattle & windmills in the wide open pastures. Arena activities are also available as time allows - riding lessons, team penning, tracking & roping lessons. You will be matched up with one of the ranch raised quarter horses that you can call your own during your entire stay.

You can read more stories about cattle work on our blog and contact the Dude Ranchers' Association with any questions.

Book your Western Adventure Vacation Today


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An Equine Photographer's Paradise

Three Bars Ranch is home to over 100 head of horses, 1000 acres of land and an incredible backdrop with the Rocky Mountain Range to our East and Purcell Mountain range to the West, making the ranch the most incredible equine photographer's paradise. Last Spring we hosted a group of photographers for a week long seminar on Equine Photography and it was such a success, that we are offering another week of fun, excitement and learning. Three Bars Equine Photographer's Paradise This year’s instructor is Professional Equine Photographer, Ryan Courson (Horse and Hound Photography https://www.facebook.com/ryancoursonphotography/ ) An award winning Canadian equine photographer, Ryan’s images grace the walls of homes and businesses throughout the world. In addition, his work has been featured on the National Geographic website, and has also been used by The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft, and various horse publications throughout Canada. Three Bars Guest Ranch Photography Ryan’s passion for teaching has led him to present the “The Art of Equine Photography” at various organizations throughout Ontario, and he loves sharing his knowledge and experiences with budding photographers. “My goal is to help my students and workshop participants grow as photographers. It’s a two-fold process. To educate and inspire while at the same time, give photographers of all levels an environment where they can put to use what they’ve learned. By putting all of those elements together, the end result is that people come away with some pretty incredible images that were better than anything they’ve taken before!”

What your week includes

Accommodations in an upscale log cabin, all meals are included, use of all ranch facilities, ranch activities, working with Ryan from the start (setting up and taking photos) to editing and final work on your photos from each day. To book your week with this amazing photographer at Three Bars Ranch, please contact Tyler Beckley (1-877-426-5230) or tyler@threebarsranch.com Three Bars Guest Ranch

Ultimate Dude Ranch Photography Retreat

What do you get when you combine the splendor of Montana scenery with majestic horses, authentic cowboys, and wildlife? The answer is a photographer’s dream vacation. Escape to the Bar W on Spencer Lake, in the fall, for a photography vacation of a lifetime. Catering to amateurs and professional photographers, the Bar W is offering an all inclusive 6-night photography week package – complete with a professional instructor. This full week of unparalleled photo opportunities, both on and off the Ranch. This is your chance to photograph the splendor and beauty of Montana nature, as well as the wildlife provided by the Triple D Game Farm. Triple D’s facilities include over 120 exotic animals, typically including mountain lions, grizzly bears, wolves, and a variety of young cats. The week also includes a herd of running horses, cowboys and cowgirls in full regalia, fly fishing scenes, action shots, and incredible landscape photo opportunities. After a full day of photography, relax with our informal cocktail hour by the fire, or loosen up in our hot tub before a homemade dinner you will not soon forget. So grab your camera and prepare to be awed! Package Details Full accommodations including all meals Trail riding & horsemanship lessons skeet shooting, fly fishing, and archery Wagon rides, cookout dinners, campfires, and cowboy singing All photo shoots (cameras not provided)

Stephen Weaver Photography Retreat

Enjoy the breathtaking colors and wildlife of fall at Zapata Ranch with a unique photo and nature workshop led by nature photographer Stephen Weaver. Experience the ranch like never before against the snowcapped Sangre de Cristo mountain range while scouting for wildlife among the gold and auburns of the Aspen and Cottonwood trees. Cost: $2,600 pp includes all meals, activities, instruction and lodging  


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From Babies to Teens - Bring Your Children to the Ranch

Traveling is one of many wonderful things a parent can do for a child's education and early experiences. Many families may be come dismayed while searching for a destination to take their young ones. That being said, here is a great solution for families with babies as new as one month can find suitable - or rather an amazing - ranch vacation. The Wind River and Tumbling River Ranches are just those type of spots. Although you may be looking for a baby friendly place the fun doesn't stop there. Nope, it continues on to great times for small children through the teenage years and settles in with activities for parents and grand parents alike. These are adventure ranch destinations with amazing experiences for all ages.

Bring your children of all ages

Wind River Ranch Baby Riding a Pony

Wind River Ranch, takes care of your entire family’s needs and desires seriously. They know that kids and teens need the time and space to play and explore with kids of their own ages and interests, that infants need to be coddled and swooned, and that everyone in the family needs a chance to experience rejuvenation and unplugged happy downtime in Nature.

Wind River Rock Climbling Kids Program

All of the children's counselors at Wind River have gone through a tough screening process and rigorous training and they excel at creating a wide variety of fun and exciting activities~ from morning to night. So whether they choose to hang out at the kids club or go horseback riding with amazing wranglers, your kids will find both the elbow room and latitude they need to explore freely, combined with the supervision and security you need to ensure they have a wonderful and safe experience in the great outdoors.

Tumbling River Ranch Kids Program

Tumbling River Ranch is well-known as a premier kids ranch in Colorado, for good reason: not only do they focus on the interests of the children, but relish the opportunity to introduce them to the Western lifestyle and Western ideas. It is a flexible program, built both to allow families ample time together and kids to have plenty of their own adventures. Some of the teen group highlights: rock climbing (not on a wall), the teen loping brunch ride, white-water rafting, the overnight pack trip to a ghost town in the mountains, fly-fishing clinics, teen cookout, yoga, capture the flag, private arena clinics and horseback games.

tumbling-river-kids-barrells-001

Tumbling River Ranch offers a nanny program, loves babies and has lots of gear. In fact, Scott and Megan added the program once they started a family of their own. They want the program to work for your family, so you have a few options. The full nanny program (8 hours a day to use as you’d like; this is a one-on-one program with college-age nannys) is one option. Another option would be once you get to the ranch and find yourself enjoying the activities and wanting to get out on your own, there are babysitting services for an additional charge. The counselor team at Tumbling River is top-notch: each was chosen based on their experience with and desire to work with children. Most have an extensive background working with kids, and many return each summer–testament both to their love of the west and the quality of their programs every year.

Tumbling River Ranch  

To find out more about these family destinations (and their adult activities) visit them on the web or use the contact information below. To make a reservation contact the ranch directly. If you have general questions about ranch vacation you can call the Dude Ranchers Association at 307.587.2339

Wind River Guest Ranch

Estes Park, Colorado

970.586.4212

ranch@wrrnet.com

Open May through September  

Tumbling River Ranch

Grant, Colorado

303.838.5981

info@tumblingriver.com

Open May through October    

From babies to teenagers there are plenty of guest ranch options that cater to families. Many offer kids clubs or nanny services so everyone can have fun. Ranches help kids connect to nature with supervised activities like horseback riding, bike riding, hiking, fishing, zip lining, rock climbing, and rafting.

 

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First Impressions of the Sylvan Dale and Vee Bar Dude Ranches

This past Tuesday I had the pleasure of going to Sylvan Dale Ranch and Vee Bar Ranch.  At the Dude Ranchers' Association there are a number of reasons to visit a ranch, including an inspection that is done every five years and to return a display from the Dude Ranchers' Museum. This was also an opportunity to get to know the ranches on a personal level.

Sylvan Dale Ranch Visit

Sylvan Dale Ranch Welcome Sign Ranch Visit

I arrived at Sylvan Dale in the early afternoon and was pleasantly surprised at how well the ranch is situated off the road in it's own valley. The more of the ranch I observed the more I realized it was a side door to the mountains, to 3,600 owned acres of ranch lands and many times that in public lands.

sylvan-dale-susan-jessup

Susan Jessup, the owner of Sylvan Dale, greeted me personally at the ranch and shared some of her fondest memories growing up at the ranch. I met Susan at the DRA Convention and in the above picture she is presenting at the Dude Ranch 101 presentation, where the "Old Timers" of the industry form a panel for questions about how to operate a successful dude ranch.

Sylvan Dale Ranch Cabin

To get to know the ranch she showed me around the cabins.

Sylvan Dale Ranch Clint the Donkey

I met my new favorite donkey named Clint. He is a big hit among the kids and would be one of my go-to friends at the ranch, for sure.  Speaking of kids, Susan told me all about the kids program at Sylvan Dale. There is always plenty of things to do with a planed kids program in the morning and family time in the afternoon. At age 7 the kids can go on the trail rides with the whole family.

Sylvan Dale Ranch Valley View

As we went past the fields Susan talked about the horse program at the ranch. The horses are bred and raised at the ranch, with a couple born each year.  There is only one trainer used, and as Susan put it, "He trains the horses and the wranglers and the wranglers teach the guests." A big emphasis on horse handling and education is in place at the ranch with educational clinics during the week. The riding style reflects this as the control of the horse is placed in the responsible hands of the guest. Everyone gets to ride in a group as opposed to riding in a straight line where the trail permits, and if the terrain permits the guest might have the opportunity to lead the trail ride for a bit. My visit at Sylvan Dale was filled with great conversation and exploration. I am thankful for the hospitality shown to me there.

Vee Bar Ranch

Vee Bar Ranch Driveway

The drive up to the Vee Bar Ranch was one of unique beauty seen in Wyoming. This is where country songs about 'wide open spaces' are made. The view was expansive and filled with open fields and tall grass, in other words, distinct from the 'sage grass expanse' seen in most of the state.  I was greeted by the wonderful Kilmer family. Kari and Brent are a very active part of the ranch, participating in the events and actives. Their children are not far behind.  They are all active participants in promoting the dude ranch industry. Brent is the previous president of the Wyoming Dude Ranchers' Association and Kari is the current president. They also make the DRA convention a yearly family trip.

Vee Bar Ranch Cabins

The cabins are very clean and well maintained. They were built by Kari's grandfather Lefty 20 or so years ago.

Vee Bar Ranch Creek View from the Cabin

He picked a great place to put the cabins - right along the creek pictured above.

Vee Bar Ranch Arena

At Vee Bar the riding is pretty incredible. There are plenty of open meadows to lope. At this ranch fast riders and slow riders all ride together - and are happy about it. How? There are two wranglers on each ride and they separate at the edge of a loping spot, with a group going loping and a slower group walking up to meet them around the next bend. Oh, and there's no straight line riding here, unless, A: you want to or B: the terrain demands it.

Vee Bar Ranch

The ranch has its very own John Wayne Saloon and Jukebox (pictured above), but the bartender position is vacant. Guests are welcome to fix their own drinks when they please, and are charged on the honor system by way of a tally sheet on the bar. You may arrive as a stranger but you will leave as a friend.   If you would like more information on the Vee Bar Ranch or the Sylvan Dale Ranch give us a call at 307.587.2339


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Dude Ranch Seasonal Changes

The changing of season always ushers in a sense of excitement. The start or end of a school year, a shift in the climate, the grandeur of nature as it blossoms and matures. For most people, new seasons bring certain inevitable changes. We brace for the cold of winter, or relax into the cozy climate of Fall. For dude ranchers, changing seasons mean more than decorations or change of apparel. A changing season means transitioning into a different business model, or perhaps shutting down the business for a season of rest. Geography is the largest factor in determining how severe seasonal changes can be on the land. California in particular is known for its beauty and geographical diversity. In the mountains of remote northern California, the weather boasts a balanced diet of four complete seasons. The start of the year is met by the cold, brisk winter, which leaves the mountaintops with a healthy layer of snow, and a soggy, rain-soaked valley.

Marble Mountain Seasonal Changes at the Ranch

For dude ranchers,  the colder precipitous months of late fall to early spring bring a much needed break from the public eye, as well as a concurrent loss of cash flow and some serious concerns about surviving the brutally harsh weather patterns. In an especially wet year, northern Californians can expect landslides, flooding, swollen creeks and rivers, and saturated vegetation that pulls loose from soil. If the rains are warm, the snow-pack is melted and increases the runoff that drains into creeks and streams. Over time, all of these factors create road blockages and major damage on mountainsides. To a rancher in these parts, nothing is worse than heavy, warm rain after a substantial snowfall in early spring.

The care and protection of equipment and livestock are difficult during times of cold and wet. Animals both young and old need secure shelters from the harsh elements and predatory wildlife. Large machinery needs to be kept safe from moisture and the cabins and ranch buildings need to be kept dry and protected. Our trips into town for supplies also need to be carefully timed and planned between storm pulses. In mid April, when spring begins to unfurl in the mountains, the world shifts gears once more. For ranchers, this is a time of haste. What was left undone during the winter months must now be accomplished at a faster pace. Trees that have overgrown in a winter of arboreal neglect, begin to bear fruit prior to their appointed prunings.  The pruning then picks up an even faster pace.  Large tangled and brown piles of slash left in the gardens are suffocating  infant seedlings trying to take root beneath them. Livestock that has been kept behind doors for months are restless. People who have been cooped up in their houses for months due to bad road conditions are typically going cross eyed with cabin fever. It’s not a very pretty sight as this time of Winter rest is transformed into a time of panicked Spring hustle. rainbows and clouds cover the pastures of California's dude ranch.

Seasonal changes in weather and in business at California’s Dude Ranch By June, the blossoms have dispersed and the mountain range is awash in a fresh shade of green. The balmy days of spring are passed and have given way to the heat of summer. The river is lower and the foliage has matured to a darker, handsomer green. Tourists trickle down the winding mountain roads; eager for fresh mountain air and recreation. For ranchers, this is a time of work now in the eye of the public. The day is divided into three parts: morning, afternoon, and evening. The cooler air of morning and evening make them prime hours for performing outdoor chores. This means waking earlier, and going to bed later. The heat of the afternoon brings about a lull when manual labor becomes stressed under oppressing heat. 

The Summer “prime season” is the season of harvest as we execute our primary business model of a public dude ranch.  We persist in the “dude ranch” business model from May to September unless we are  interrupted by the start of wild fires in late July/ August. In the year 2016, the amount of acres burned in the United States was 46% above normal. Sadly, the charm of things turning rose colored dissipates with the decline of air quality and news of home evacuations. Wildfires have been known to last into the early part of October. For a guest ranch, this is sad news and can mean refunds on booking deposits with re-scheduled family holidays. Late September marks the beginning of the fishing season. The steady flow of city-crazed tourists has ebbed, replaced by fisherman and small groups of people seeking cozy lodging to enjoy the fall weather in.

For ranchers and landowners, coping with wildfire takes many forms. Assuming that evacuation orders have not been issued, the protection of property becomes a full-time position that rivals closely with the responsibility of guard duty at a super max. Eyes must always be keenly aware of the elements. Which way is the wind blowing? Is the smoke getting closer? Is the ash getting closer? Is there burning debris traveling with the wind? Is flame visible? How dry is the air? What is the mph of the wind? Are their sirens? Can I hear the falling of trees or the crackle of fire? It is a taxing position, one that landowners in Northern California have sadly become too familiar with. Surviving in the mountains of northern California requires one to be fire smart. This means first of all that you have invested time and due diligence in reducing the fuel load around your property improvements.  This is more than being especially observant, or being up to date with local announcements. All threatening vegetation should have been removed or reduced and available water sources, such as hoses and sprinklers, are placed near large structures for protection. If you have a hose, hook it up and pull it up to your house! And then repeat with additional hoses as many times as possible. Anything that is not fire safe needs to be secured and or relocated. Fuel tanks, flammable objects, dry debris, anything combustible, must be accounted for. All livestock should be moved to a safe location if not evacuated. All vehicles should be ready for emergency departure, with food, water, and first aid supplies as necessary.

These are the seasons of life in northern California. From an outdoor enthusiast perspective, it is a paradise of many wonders. In reality, living remotely ultimately requires more of people. It means greater emergency preparedness, increased self-reliance, a strong work ethic, and if you are lucky, an impressive stash of hot chocolate and great books. The wilderness is not just a playground, it is a living breathing force that is unpredictable and can be harsh. The only way to survive there is to be prepared, and with equal intensity, to meet the fickle demands of dear mother nature.

Marble Mountain Ranch Seasonal Changes with Snow

Cierra Sorensen Cierra Sorensen is the youngest child and only daughter of Doug and Heidi Cole.  She now lives in Salt Lake City with her husband Jason and their two boys while Jason pursues a doctorate at the University of Utah. Save Save Save

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Dude Ranches Guarantee an Unforgettable Family Vacation Experience

California in particular is known for its beauty and geographical diversity. In the mountains of remote northern California, the weather boasts a balanced diet of four complete seasons. The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) can help you plan the perfect family vacation to one of its 100+ accredited guest ranches.

The term ‘dude ranch’ typically brings to mind images of cowboys and cattle drives, a la the popular 1991 comedy, “City Slickers.” While dude ranches still evoke those same memories and are rooted in American tradition, they are much, much more. There is a broad spectrum of guest ranches across North America, ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches. From valleys complete with untouched Rocky Mountain backdrops to desert sunsets across the Southwest, you can find DRA-accredited ranches throughout the Western U.S. in Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nebraska and South Dakota, as well as in California, Arkansas and Canada.

The DRA was founded to preserve and protect the unique dude ranch vacation experience and identity. It requires its members to uphold top quality and service standards. The DRA’s experienced staff helps families of all ages customize their experience, guiding them to the perfect ranch that suits their needs and desires. Priced competitively with respect to other similar all-inclusive vacation options, almost all meals, activities and special events are included in the cost of a ranch visit. “The Dude Ranchers’ Association takes great pride in all of our ranches, and we know families will have an unforgettable trip, regardless of which guest ranch they choose,” said Colleen Hodson, executive director of the DRA. “One of the best things about a dude ranch vacation is that it makes family travel easy: from working with our experts to plan and customize your trip, to airport pickup, to on-site activities and meals once you arrive, it’s easy and hassle-free and most importantly, fun.”

No matter which guest ranch you choose, a dude ranch vacation guarantees plenty of time to bond and spend time as a family, creating memories that will last a lifetime and a family vacation destination you’ll want to return to time and time again. Many dude ranches have special programs and events tailored to children of varying ages, including customized horseback riding lessons based on experience and ability level. Activities can often be done solo or as a group, giving guests the option to spend time as a family and individually. Like the ranches themselves, accommodations vary from luxurious and elegant to rustic and cowboy-chic, from private cabins that can sleep entire families to lodge rooms that share common space. All DRA-accredited lodging options will soon feel like your “home away from home.”

A complete listing of DRA-accredited dude and guest ranches can be found online. Visitors can search for ranches by location or activities and amenities. For assistance planning your dude ranch vacation, contact the Dude Ranchers’ Association at (866) 399-2339.

Deep Canyon Ranch Family Vacation

Deep Canyon Ranch Family Vacation

About Dude Ranchers’ Association Dude ranches are the original Western vacation. The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) was founded to preserve, protect and promote this unique vacation experience and its identity. Though guest expectations have changed and ranchers have had to change with them, the core principles of dude ranching remain the same: horses, hats, hospitality, heritage, honesty and heart. DRA was founded in 1926 and currently has more than 100 accredited members, all of which are required to uphold the highest quality and standards within the dude ranching industry. For more information on the DRA or individual ranches, visit www.duderanch.org. The DRA can also be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DudeRanchers and Twitter @DudeRanchers.

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Lone Mountain Ranch Hosts Family with the Jack & Jill Foundation

"The best part of memories is making them" - Jon Albert, Founder of the Jack & Jill Foundation The Dude Ranchers' Association and the Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation shares a partnership, connecting families to ranches across the West. Please take a look at the video below to see how a ranch vacation at Lone Mountain Ranch was a great way to spend final moments with loved ones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnA01aFJi68 If you would like to know more about the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation and how you can get involved, please contact Jon Albert at jalbert@jajf.org, 404.537.5253 or Colleen Hodson at colleen@duderanch.org, 307.587.2339

 

About the Jack & Jill Foundation

JAJF has become exceptionally—even profoundly important because of the lives we are ALL truly impacting across the United States. When a parent is diagnosed with late-stage cancer, a family’s world is immediately turned upside down. Our supporters appreciate these children who are facing the imminent loss of their Moms and or Dads deserve a timeout from cancer to create cherished, lasting (indispensable) memories as a family… while they can. For JAJF to be “prescribed” by Oncologists across the United States as part of the treatment process and protocol is extraordinary. JAJF has now treated families from 44 states. Sadly, it is just too easy for us to find young Moms and Dads in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s dying from cancer (despite the advances in research) leaving behind their children. We gain our families strictly from Oncologist referrals. See the JAJF Family Photo Gallery and enjoy a few of the thousands of family photos. There is no cancer in these images. Smile as you see the smiles and happy moments each JAJF family enjoyed on their WOW! Experience. Smile knowing your support provides directly for families to create lasting, cherished memories together… while they can. Dads and Moms passed away knowing their children will always have the fun, positive memories as their greatest inheritance. Thank you for helping JAJF be the only organization in the country: Treating the families; not the cancer®. The White Stallion Ranch, Colorado Trails Ranch and Tanque Verde Ranch have also hosted families with the Jack & Jill Foundation.

Lone Mountain

Labor Day Dude Ranch Stays

Last minute Labor Day dude ranch stays are nearly always available. With over 100 ranches in the Dude Ranchers' Association no matter where you are trying to go or what time of year, give us a call and we will help you find a ranch to suite your personality and time line. Reach someone directly at 307.587.2339 or browse the ranches below for this year's labor day trip.

All-Inclusive Stay

Lost Valley Ranch Spring Break & Labor Day Dude Ranch Stay

Lost Valley Ranch is an all-inclusive AAA Four Diamond Resort located just approximately 90 minutes from Colorado Springs in the front range of Colorado. This all-inclusive dude ranch rates cover your lodging, all of your meals at the ranch, guided horseback riding, use of all our facilities (swimming pool, tennis courts, etc.), children's and teen supervision, special evening programming and access to 26,000 acres of Pike National Forest. The only additional costs you may encounter are optional activities and purchases, including Fly Fishing clinics and excursions with an Orvis-certified guide, trap shooting, archery, buying items from our Trading Post, transportation assistance or in-cabin massage therapy services

Al-la-cart for Labor Day

Tumbling River Ranch Singles Labor Day Dude Ranch

Tumbling River Ranch offers a fantastic opportunity to experience a Colorado dude ranch for a long weekend! The weekend package is set up “bed and breakfast” style: providing comfortable mountain cabins, all meals and facilities. Your family can simply enjoy being in the mountains, or add some dude ranch activities for an additional cost. Take advantage of the heated pool and hot tub, or invigorate yourself with a spectacular hikes in Pike National Forest! There’s great spin cast fishing in our stocked pond, but don’t miss out on a professionally guided fly fishing excursion on one of Colorado’s blue ribbon rivers. Or, if escaping the city is enough, you’ll enjoy luxurious cabins with fireplaces and private baths, plus two historic lodges with spacious rooms and suites. We are well-known for our exceptional home-cooked meals, friendly atmosphere, and standout service.

Annual Labor Day Festival in Creede, Colorado

4UR All-American Cowgirl Labor Day Dude Ranch Stay

At the 4UR Ranch you can have a ranch vacation and be apart of the community of Creede, Coloradofor the Labor Day festival. The town of Creede goes all out for this holiday, with annual festivities such as soap box races, hot air balloon rides, and a half marathon mountain run. There is always a Salsa Fest, where local folks compete against one another for the title of best salsa maker (and we get to have fun tasting it). Labor Day Weekend is one of those special times when everyone at our family dude ranch really gets to experience the community of Creede.   Save Save

Specialty Retreats - Montana Cowgirl Quilt Retreat

Nine Quarter Circle Quilt Retreat

Piecing together inspiration and friendship

at the Montana Cowgirl Quilt Retreat

Quilting was both an essential skill and form of art on the frontier. That’s why, starting more than 20 years ago, the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch  celebrates with the annual Montana Cowgirl Quilt Retreat.  For a week each fall, the ranch is open to quilters to join international artists who teach techniques while sharing new patterns and ideas. Each year the instructors design a pattern associated with the ranch and its surrounding beauty.You can quilt to your heart’s content, drawing inspiration from the retreat classes as well as from the magnificent mountain surroundings. Wednesdays are reserved for a field trip into Bozeman for a “quilt crawl,” the fiber-fabric-antique equivalent of a pub crawl. The “cowgirl” element of this retreat is that you’ll have plenty of time to ride horses, hike, fish, explore, relax on the porch or whatever you wish. If you bring your non-quilting partner, never fear. They’ll have more things to do than you’ve got fabric scraps. Nine Quarter Circle Ranch

Ranch Vacation

Can you imagine a vacation a combination of quilting, horseback riding, fishing hiking and just plain relaxing?  Classes are taught in the morning, leaving afternoons free for your choice of activity. And most evenings find us back quilting in the lodge. In addition to the onsite activities, Wednesdays you will venture to Bozeman.  Here, you will visit local quilt shops and all the wonderful, unique stores in the historic downtown. Camaraderie, sharing of tips and ideas, and making new friends are wonderful experiences shared by many quilters, a good many returning every year.

International Known Quilt Instructors

The adult-only retreat features international quilt teachers Charlotte Warr Andersen and Georgia Bonesteel.  Come join us for a wonderful week of quilting, riding, friendships and wonderful scenery. Bring your husband or friends. They can enjoy the riding and fishing while you are left to your sewing machine and fabric! Please e-mail the ranch directly for further information on this retreat.
Nine Quarter Circle Quilt Retreat Nine Quarter Circle Quilt Retreat Instructor

Instructors from left to right Georgia Bonesteel and Charlotte Warr Andersen

4 Different Horsemanship Clinics

The Dude Ranchers' Association is home to many ranches who offer many specialty experiences. Horsemanship clinics are one of those specialties. All of the ranches have their lively hood invested in their horse program for their guests. Ranging from a mighty few horses to herds over two hundred, each horse is well known and cared for as an individual.  There are a few ranches listed that would love to bring you into, or take you deeper into your understanding of how horses operate and how we can effectively communicate with them.  Often times you might realize and understand just as much about yourself as you will the horses. Every location, clinician and horse has something to show you. I hope you will find the perfect journey to a clinic below, and even further, attend all of them. If you have any questions about your ranch stay give us a call here at the office. 307.587.2339

Western Pleasure Ranch Horsemanship

Youth Horsemanship

Western Pleasure Ranch

Kids staying with family at the ranch have the opportunity to be involved in one of the most educational and fun dude ranch children's program available today. It is designed for kids age 8 – 18 with hands on experiences with their horse. The program starts on Sunday evening and is concluded on Thursday evening with a horse show, complete with trophies and ribbons. Children will be responsible for their own horse and equipment. They learn horse husbandry skills and equipment care. Every morning they will help prepare their horse for the day’s activities.


 

Zapata Ranch Cameron Schyver Clinic

Cameron Schryver, Thatcher School Director

Zapata Ranch

Join the Zapata Ranch for a week long natural horsemanship experience with 27-year director of the Thacher Riding School, Cameron Schryver. Cam is invited to clinics around the country on horsemanship and is a two-time World Champion Extreme Cowboy. Days are spent with one-on-one horsemanship instruction, educational demonstrations, rides throughout the surrounding meadows and sand dunes as well as opportunities to work cattle and bison. By applying working ranch horsemanship and riding by feel, you will leave the week feeling a deeper connection to the horse and will better understand how to communicate with them.


Rocking Z Bareback Jumping

Parelli Natural Horsemanship

Rocking Z Ranch

Experience Parelli Natural Horsemanship put to a purpose.  Whether new to horses or highly experienced, you will have the opportunity to expand your skills.  Learn to work cattle from the back of a horse, ride long trails or play at liberty in a round pen - we do it all.  Horsemanship lessons are always available upon request with no extra charge. Those who are Experienced Riders have opportunities to work with and ride a variety of horses to suit their desired goals.  Riding at the Rocking Z is independent - our well-trained horses go where they are told, when they are told to and at exactly the speed that is requested of them.   Beginning Riders will find that they learn a huge amount just by spending plenty of hours each day with and on the horses. This is a great place to start, so be bold!


McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch Libby MT Horsemanship

Buck Brannaman Style

McGinnis Meadows Ranch

We ride strictly in the vein of Buck Brannaman style horsemanship. Shayne heads up the program, and has ridden in over 300 clinics with Buck over the last 17 years. All of the wranglers at the ranch are on the same page and most of us have been riding this way for several years now.

Horsemanship isn’t just practiced in an arena. We practice it while working cattle, roping cattle, driving cattle over timbered mountains, or riding up a trail. Not many places give you the opportunity to expand your horsemanship in so many varied environments.

 


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A Week in the Wide Open Spaces

Those of us living in urban areas... ...are frequently glamorized by the idea of wide open spaces, which explains why I found myself in Sheridan, Wyoming last month. With an itinerary that would have been hard to resist, I booked my airline reservations and pulled out my Western wear. It would be an eclectic trip, including everything from horseback riding to a spin in a 2016 Rolls Royce. Personally I was happy to forgo anything that involved getting on a horse, but I was chomping at the bit, you should pardon the pun, for a ride in a Rolls.  Other enticements included a day of plein air painting, a Native American pow wow, a scenic flight over the area in a small plane and a visit to at least one authentic western dive bar. How could I resist? Never mind that I don’t do horseback riding, I still love dude ranches, and Eaton’s, a family-owned ranch in Wolf, fit the bill perfectly. Much to my delight, I was assigned a stand-alone cabin with a tiny front porch and a .... Read the rest of the story here. by Ellen Clark at Travelscope.net   More Information on the Ranch

Eatons Ranch Wide Open Spaces
Eatons' Ranch

Eatons' Ranch, founded in 1879, is on the old Bozeman Trail along the eastern slopes of the Big Horn Mountains, 18 miles west of Sheridan, Wyoming. This 7,000 acre dude and cattle ranch, operated by the Eaton family, has miles of horseback riding trails & adjoins the million acre Big Horn National Forest. Over 200 horses provide mounts suited for every type of rider. Excellent trout fishing. Overnight pack trips. Heated swimming pool and hot tub. Cabins for individuals and families. Family-style meals. Reservations required. Brochure and rates on request. Save

Hollywood Meets the Wild West

Forget Hollywood: many dude ranches have had Hollywood come to them to film some of the most notable classic Western movies ever to hit the big screen over the years. Take for example, White Stallion Ranch. This family-owned 3,000-acre dude ranch located outside of Tucson, Ariz., has been attracting Hollywood filmmakers to its unspoiled desert and rugged mountain landscape for more than 70 years. Notable Western movies filmed on-site include the 1939 legendary film, “Arizona,” as well as “Winchester 73,” “Apache Ambush” and “Backlash.” And the list doesn’t stop at just Western films. Scenes from “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” starring George Clooney were filmed on the ranch. The 2007 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue even used this desert setting for its hugely popular annual photo shoot!

White Stallion Ranch Wagon Ride Horses

White Stallion Ranch

Another guest ranch known for its movie history is Circle Z Ranch. Also located in Arizona, Circle Z Ranch is the oldest continuously operating guest ranch in the state and has served as the backdrop for movies and TV shows including “Gunsmoke” and John Wayne’s “Red River.” Most recently, the 2006 movie “Flicka” was filmed at Eaton’s Ranch in Wyoming. Upon arriving to the ranch’s 7,000 acres of beautiful open country with rolling hills, grassy meadows and hidden valleys, you too will see why the setting was perfect for the big screen. Whether you’re a movie buff looking to visit the settings of some of your favorite movies or searching for a thrilling adventure in an off-the-beaten-path locale, guest ranches provide you with the full on star treatment. Thanks to their warm Western Hospitality and full lineup of daily activities and programing, you’re guaranteed to have the experience of a lifetime…straight out of a Hollywood Western. For more DRA accredited dude ranch options or to plan your next dude ranch vacation, visit the Dude Ranchers’ Association website at www.duderanch.org.

Circle Z Dude Ranch Cat Post Historical

Circle Z Ranch

Eatons Ranch Horses Sunset

Eatons Ranch                                                      


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2017 Eclipse - View from a Dude Ranch

The first total eclipse to span the United States in nearly four decades – The Great American Eclipse – will take place on August 21, 2017. The center of the eclipse path – where the moon completely blocks out the sun, creating a few minutes of night in the middle of the day – will pass slightly south of Dubois, WY. 

Moose Head Tetons to View the Eclipse

Moosehead Ranch's View of the Tetons

The most dramatic scenery for the eclipse can be found in Wyoming. Grand Teton National Park is squarely centered in the eclipse path. Countless visitors will no doubt flock to the area to try and find a prime viewing spot. The BEST destination for eclipse viewers is one of the area’s dude ranches. Why? Wyoming’s dude ranches are located in some of the most tranquil, untouched areas of the country. Away from the hustle and bustle of big cities, you’re that much closer to nature. And there is a very good chance for clear skies in Wyoming in August. All five of the below Dude Ranchers’ Association ranches are located in or near Grand Teton National Park:

  • Moose Head Ranch is the last privately owned guest ranch located completely within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park.
  • R Lazy S Ranch is located on the southern boundary of Grand Teton National Park, walking distance from your cabin. Most of the views of the ranch look directly upon the Teton Mountain range.
  • Heart Six Guest Ranch is located just three miles from Grand Teton National Park. You will actually travel through Grand Teton National Park on your way to and from the ranch.
  • Lazy L&B Ranch is nestled in a valley that is less populated now than when it was homesteaded over 100 years ago and surrounded by 80,000 acres of wildlife habitat.
  • CM Ranch, one of the oldest dude ranches in the country, dates back to 1927 and is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Rocky Mountains meet the High Plains in the state of Wyoming. This is true cowboy country, with few people and vast, open spaces. It is a land that inspires dreams of riding horseback across the plains. Wyoming luxury Dude Ranch vacations help guests realize that dream.

The bulk of Yellowstone National Park is in Northwest Wyoming. Grand Loop Road provides a wonderful overview of the park, from the steaming geysers to majestic waterfalls and deep canyons. Hundreds of trails traverse the park, providing access to deep backcountry areas, remote lakes, and scenic overlooks. Many Wyoming Dude Ranch vacations include excursions into Yellowstone. Grand Teton National Park is also in Northwest Wyoming. The first glimpse of the jagged mountains that explode out of the Jackson Hole Valley may take away the breath. Pristine lakes and grassland dot the valley floor. Glaciers slide down steep rocky peaks from elevations of more than 12,000 feet. Moose, elk, and bear inhabit this stunning area, and are frequently spotted during guided dude ranch excursions. Jump to eastern Wyoming and find Devil's Tower, a massive, monolithic volcanic neck that rises out of the Black Hills. Visitors circumnavigate the tower and try to spot climbers - of which there are many - or play hide and seek with the prairie dogs that reside within the park boundaries.

Wyoming Dude Ranch vacations may be rustic or luxurious. Guests may ride all day and herd cattle, or soak in a hot tub and enjoy a massage. Activities may range from angling to river rafting and hiking, or lounging on a porch with a book. Wyoming Dude Ranches strive to create the perfect vacation for guests, whether that means non-stop activity or sleeping late.   Save Save

Girlfriend Getaway - Anything but Ordinary

Skip Vegas and plan a girlfriend getaway that’s anything but ordinary at the original all-inclusive vacation destination: the dude ranch. Enjoy spa treatments, horseback riding, mountaintop yoga classes, outdoor adventure, wine tastings and, of course, girl talk in some of the most spectacular areas in the country. No matter what type of getaway you and your girlfriends have in mind, there’s the perfect dude ranch out there for you. There are a broad spectrum of guest ranches that are perfect for girlfriend getaways, ranging from rustic working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches. Whether you’re staying in your own private cabin or in a lodge room, rest assured you’ll sleep on comfortable beds, in superbly kept rooms, with all the amenities you’ll need for a pleasant and relaxing stay. So grab you mom, your sister and or your best friends and check out these great ranches for the perfect girlfriend getaway…

Girlfriend Getaways

Skip Vegas and plan a girlfriend getaway that’s anything but ordinary at the original all-inclusive vacation destination: the dude ranch. Enjoy spa treatments, horseback riding, mountaintop yoga classes, outdoor adventure, wine tastings and, of course, girl talk in some of the most spectacular areas in the country.

Bonanza Creek Guest Ranch, Montana

  • Rancho de los Caballeros in Arizona is a historic ranch resort with the soul of a bed and breakfast. Girlfriends can ride the rugged trails, relax at the luxurious spa or pool, or play a round of golf at one of Golf Digest’s Top 100 U.S. courses. With 200,000 acres of open range, 100 saddle horses and a team full of wranglers, it will be an experience you and your girlfriends will never forget.
  • Located in Montana, Bar W Guest Ranch offers an all-inclusive package for women to “Cowgirl Up” and take over the ranch. This package combines the simple beauty of nature with the unmatched Western hospitality of the ranch for a trip that will refuel your mind, body and spirit. Activities include a horsemanship clinic, cocktail receptions, “two-stepping” and a much-needed hot tub.
  • Also located in Arizona, White Stallion Ranch offers several “Cactus Cowgirls” getaway packages each year. These getaways include a margarita welcome party, one-hour massage, guided hikes, country western dance lessons, daily riding lessons, team penning, hay ride, wine tasting ride, and even a trip to a local rodeo. Girlfriends can surround themselves with the breathtaking scenery that has brought Hollywood filmmakers to the ranch for more than 70 years.
  • For an all-inclusive vacation with the girls full of highly-praised gourmet meals, experienced hiking guides, horseback riding tours, equestrian lessons, live music and roaring campfires at night, The Home Ranch is the perfect dude ranch for you. Don’t lift a finger from when you leave the airport to when you arrive with lodging, activities and delicious meals all in one place for you to enjoy.

White Stallion Cowgirl Cactus

Photo: White Stallion Ranch

  • Another gem in Montana for an unforgettable girlfriend getaway is the Bonanza Creek Country Guest Ranch with their “Cowgirl Retreats.” Running from June to September, Bonanza Creek’s Cowgirl Retreats are the perfect way to bond with your girls as you travel along the countryside on horseback together. The day is started with a good hearty breakfast, followed by a spectacular ride through the countryside. After a long day on the saddle, a massage and dinner awaits you and your girlfriends, ending your day relaxed and rejuvenated for another fun-filled day riding.
  • Located east of Yellowstone National park in Shell, Wyo., The Hideout Lodge and Guest Ranch has state-of-the-art girlfriend getaways that guarantee a fun-filled, adventure-packed week with the girls. For an all-inclusive vacation, lodge, dine and experience all of what Wyoming has to offer with the numerous activities available at your disposal at the Hideout. Start your day learning from the in-house expert cowgirls and kick up your heels with your girls as you ride through the countryside and end your day sipping cocktails and enjoying gourmet meals with a spectacular backdrop of the Wyoming countryside.

 

Skip Vegas and plan a girlfriend getaway that’s anything but ordinary at the original all-inclusive vacation destination: the dude ranch. Enjoy spa treatments, horseback riding, mountaintop yoga classes, outdoor adventure, wine tastings and, of course, girl talk in some of the most spectacular areas in the country.

Bring Your Own Horse to these Dramatic Dude Ranch Spaces

Updated 4/24/2018

Do you take your four legged, 1,000 pound equine family member on vacation with you?  Why not make your next trip to a nationally accredited dude ranch where you can bring your own horse?  Members of the Dude Ranchers' Association invite you and your horse to experience the 'Original Western Vacation.' Be sure to bring the proper ‘foot wear’ for your horse (you’ll most likely be in the mountains) and the proper vet papers, especially if you are crossing state lines. But, most importantly, make sure your trusty steed can is in shape and can handle the extra hours under the saddle. With the comfort of having your own with you these dude ranch locations will inspire you with the beauty of the American West.  Ranches offer three types of experiences you can look for; spectacular trails, informative clinics and true cowboy cattle work. Take your pick of these horse friendly ranches below and bring your own horse to these locations.

 

Extraordinary Trail Rides

At these ranches you are going to find freedom in the sunshine and wide open spaces. It’s the sort of trip where you forget to worry about all the different troubles in your life.

Sundance TrailGreenhorn Creek Guest Ranch, Rancho de los Caballeros

   

Informational Clinics

Attend a clinic with your horse to build your relationship skill set as horse and rider partners.

McGinnis Meadows, Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

 

Cowboy Cattle Work

Take your horse to these ranches for arena work, cutting, cattle drives, roping, the original old western style cowboy vacation.

Black Mountain Ranch, Zapata, Hunewill Guest Ranch, Latigo Ranch

 

 For more information give us a call at 307.587.2339. 

 

Bring Your Own Horse to Spotted Horse Ranch in Wyoming

Bring Your Own Horse to a McGinnis Meadows Buck Brannaman Clinic

Bring Your Own Horse on a Zapata Ranch Cattle Drive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring Your Own Horse - Pin this for later!

 

Do you take your four legged, 1,000 pound equine family member on vacation with you?  Why not make your next trip to a nationally accredited dude ranch where you can bring your own horse?

 

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For A Holiday Wrapped in Western Hospitality, Make Your Dude Ranch Reservation Today!

For many, holiday’s come wrapped with “to-do lists.” Extra chores without additional time can seriously dampen what’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year.” That’s why more and more families are tossing out the lists and giving each other the very special gift of time. It seems travelers are discovering a DRA guest ranch an ideal place to give thanks and make merry with friends and family. Some ranches you might consider for that perfect stress free holiday are listed below:

Flying E Ranch for the Holiday

Warm Arizona Holiday at the Flying E Ranch

Flying E Ranch in Arizona brings families together for a good old fashioned cowboy Christmas complete with making ornaments for the tree, caroling by the fire, and a Christmas morning breakfast ride. Chef Sergio and the kitchen crew at Tanque Verde Ranch are already planning the Christmas dinner. The pastry kitchen crew is also busy preparing all those holiday treats we love to eat! Families can find luxury including their own personal Christmas tree, Santa arriving by horse-drawn sleigh, gourmet Christmas dinner, and lots of snowy adventures at Colorado’s C Lazy U Ranch. Another snowy option is in British Columbia at Echo Valley Guest Ranch’s Winter Getaway complete with mulled wine, cross country skiing, ice fishing, Thai yoga, spa treatments, and more. Perhaps the family would like to try a little skiing in Montana over the holidays. If so than Lone Mountain Ranch is the place for you. Always a guest favorite, the Discovery Package features an array of pursuits from robust to relaxing. It’s everything you and your family might want for an unforgettable getaway in the mountains of Montana. 4 night minimum.

Lone Mountain Winter Sleigh Ride Snow

Winter Sleigh Ride in the Snow at the Lone Mountain Ranch

Whether your dream getaway is a warm weather paradise that lets you escape from the cold, or a snowy wonderland that helps you embrace the magic of the season, DRA ranches have you covered. With over 100 member ranches, found in the deserts and mountains of the American West and Canada, your family can spend the holidays at a ranch best suited to your interests and lifestyle. What’s more, many of the DRA’s all-inclusive ranches offer special holiday packages, making them a smart holiday choice. But best of all, a DRA dude ranch offers your family something not found in a shopping mall: precious time spent together making memories that will last a lifetime. The Dude Ranchers Association


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Short on Cash and Time off From Work?

Dog days of summer got you down?  Had enough of summer’s whirlwind social scene?  Uh, oh. Broke the budget at fabulous July swimwear sales and shunned the office for showing off your fabulous finds?  Take heart!  Western dude ranches typically offer lower rates mid August through September as well as a shorter duration of stay.  There are hundreds of cool mountain retreats to choose from, courtesy of The Dude Rancher’s Association.  Since 1926, the organization has worked to maintain the authenticity of the Western ranch vacation.  Each DRA ranch has its’ own special activities and services, and each meets the quality standards enforced by the national association for the dude ranch industry.

Many ranches offer stays for adults only or exclusive getaways for girlfriends at this time of year.  So, let your horse be the guide through gentle meadows.  Dip your toes in an icy mountain stream. Indulge yourself with a relaxing massage.  Savor Rocky Mountain gourmet meals paired with fine wines and cordials. Take a yoga class or a raft down a river with a backdrop of dramatic fall color. Ahhhhh..This is the tonic for girls who had way too much fun this summer. The ranches below are some great dude ranch locations.

Cherokee Park Swimming Creek Smaller

Triple R Ranch

Keystone, South Dakota Phone: +1 888-777-2624

The Triple R Ranch is located within the 27,766 acre Norbeck Wildlife Preserve, 3 miles from the 10,700 acre Black Elk Wilderness Area, and in the middle of the Black Hills National Forest. We center the activities around lots of horseback riding into the scenic back country.

63 Ranch

Livingston, Montana Phone: +1 888-395-5151

"Montana's Magic" happens to you on your 63 Ranch Vacation. A mountain ranch located 50 miles north of Yellowstone National Park at the foot of the magnificent Absaroka Mountain Range. Unmatched scenic grandeur. Owned and operated by original founding family since 1929.

Cherokee Park Ranch

Livermore, Colorado Phone: +1 970-493-6522

The Cherokee Park Ranch is a family owned dude ranch nestled in the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains. We cater to families with kids of all ages, horse back riding, river rafting, rodeos, fishing, music, dancing, cow wrangling, swimming, ropes/challenge course, skeet shooting and mountain biking.

Crossed Sabres Ranch

Cody, Wyoming Phone: 307-587-3750

Open since 1898, Crossed Sabres Ranch is one the oldest dude ranches in the country, and located a short 8 miles from the East entrance to Yellowstone. We are a family run operation that specializes in creating custom vacations of a lifetime for you, your family or group.    

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.

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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


 

Snow Free Spring Break Dude Ranch Vacation

The spring break push for vacation venues is here, but Mother Nature shipped most all of the West Coast snow to Boston! What to do if the family doesn’t want to spend Easter holiday skiing on rocks at Tahoe or boarding over mud at Mammoth? Consider swapping your snow boots for cowboy boots and visit one of the Dude Ranch Association ranches that are open during Spring break.

Try looking at an Arizona ranch or any lower elevation mountain dude ranch – Like Rancho de Los Caballeros, Flying E Ranch or California's Marble Mountain Ranch! Spring in Arizona offers some spectacular desert trail riding. The cooler spring climate makes time on the Arizona trails comfortable. Most visitors to the sunshine state consider the Spring season to be one of the most beautiful while the cactus and wildflowers are in full bloom. At Rancho de Los Caballeros you could spend your afternoons exploring the desert on a Jeep or ATV tour or riding horseback through the colorful high Sonoran Desert. While the kids are swimming or on scavenger hikes, Mom and Dad can relax at the spa or play a round of golf at the Los Caballeros Golf Course, which was named one of Golfweek's "Best Courses to Play."

Rancho de Los Caballeros

At the Flying E, a dude and working cattle ranch, the casual and relaxed atmosphere is as natural as our gorgeous sunsets. The calendar may say winter, but that has a whole new meaning in Arizona. Winters are warm and dry, averaging temperatures in the mid-70s. The nights are cool and refreshing, illuminated by a canopy of brilliant stars. Clean air, warm sun, good horses, breathtaking scenery and genuine cowboys as your guides will fill your hearts with memories to treasure for the rest of your life.

Flying E

Marble Mountain's low elevation mountain trails are open for spectacular horseback trail riding and their covered arena is running full swing with barrel racing and other thrilling riding challenges. The spring river flows on California’s Klamath River are ideal for rafting and kayaking and the covered shooting stations at the shotgun trap course are ready for action. The “saddle and paddle” vacation is in Northern California, and is another viable alternative to a vacation venue that has been diminished by disappointing snow levels.

Marble Mountain Rafting

So, if you can wrap your mind around an Arizona riding adventure, or a California raft-n-ride vacation, pack away the snow boots for the season. Visit an Arizona dude ranch or come explore a piece of Northern California that most people don’t even know exists. When the fog burns off the forest floor with the morning sun, you will discover a lush and verdant Klamath National Forest, abundant wildlife, and legend hospitality from your hosts in either California or the Sunshine state.

The Cowboy Way or So They Say

By Tatyanna Zaleski, Wrangler You found a job posting for a wrangler and you thought, “Sure, why not?” So you took a leap of faith and found the one thing that makes you love life just a little extra. You found the dream job; you just wish it wasn’t so seasonal.  You applied, got hired and now, you’re here. Your suitcase is unpacked and you’ve hung up what little reminders of home you’ve brought with. You’ve met the boss and tomorrow you’ll start the greatest adventure of a lifetime. This is what it was like my first summer at a Dude Ranch. I’m on my third summer and I don’t know if I can give it up just yet. Being a wrangler, working in such breathtaking places and with incredible animals, it’s an addiction.

Paradise Guest Ranch

They tell you it will be the worst best summer of your life. After those words, most people would turn around and run, because this job isn’t for most people. It’s for people who love horses more than any other mammal, who love to meet people, who love the outdoors, who love hard work, and who love to wake up early. This job is for people who want to learn about themselves, make friendship that will last a lifetime, and become staycationers in the most beautiful places on Earth. So if you checked yes too all the above, then you are ready to experience life on the ranch. Here is the reason why I think this is the best job ever, in addition to the above mentioned items:

1. I ride horses all day long

2. I get to listen to my own voice for equally as long

3. I get to wake up every morning to the views you see on postcards Can anyone else tell me a job where you get to do all that and eat gourmet food and pick your family? At the ranch, the food was great, alright, it was better than great. So, my thoughts were there goes my figure.  Why worry about your figure and just go for those homemade peanut butter chocolate bacon cookies. Where’s the fun in life if you can’t eat more sweets than actual meals? Plus, where else are you going to get such delicious food for free and served to you? As far as the picking your family part, it might be the best part of the whole summer. You all come here looking for something. A summer adventure, a reason to get away, a change in scenery, experience, but none of us come here knowing how close we all become. We all came from somewhere else. We all have gypsy souls. So we bond, we complain about work, we share our love for this place, we swap stories about our past, we get closer… we become a family. It was fun. It was amazing. It was the greatest summer of my life. It was the greatest time of my life. You pour your heart and soul into something, this place, this job, the horses, the RIDE. You love the horses like their your own and you praise them like they are your children. Sometimes people question if you love the horses more than people. You rarely deny it.

Paradise Guest Ranch

Each horse is so different, with different pasts and personalities, but they all do the same job and they do it with such grace and precision. They’re our silent partners. They’re the stars. They’re what everyone comes here to see. And yet, they ask they only ask for our unconditional love and admiration. And sometimes you find that horse, the ONE that makes every day better and every ride very special. You use up your photo storage on your phone taking photos of them, you spend every day off  hanging out with them, every moment of down time feeding them extra grain just to spend more time being their friend. You come for the horses, but you soon realize, it’s the people you meet who you stay for. The guests and your work companions make you think, they make you want, and mostly they help you realize how much you have to offer. I came out here to wait out a summer after graduation from college with no life plans and no clear direction. Then I met these amazing guests and colleagues with these successful lives and they gave me hope, they helped me out. They gave me their time, connections and insights then all of a sudden I’m less hopeless and lost, I’m suddenly full of plans after these three short months.  Plus I’ve made an unexpected friend and ally in this crazy world we live in.

Paradise Guest Ranch

There are so many moments that keep you going each and every day and not get bored or tired of working long hours, they are… a group day off on the back of a speed boat taking infinite pictures of everyone falling off the tube; making dinner for ten in the “dank kitchen” that should only fit three people max; it’s fishing and being able to share it with the friends you made; cooking it; it’s a 25 person family dinner at your favorite restaurant in town where everyone who works there knows your name;  it’s jumping off a 30 foot cliff into freezing cold water just to say you did it and waiting 20 minutes in the water while the rest of your friends teeter on the edge; it’s going back to these places after the summer is over and feeling all those same feelings over again and missing all those people even more. It’s an adventure to another state to see the “Daddy of them All” – the state of Wyoming.

So you came for the horses, you stay for the people, and miss the views. There is no place like this! {I almost said home, but that was taking it a little too far} How they find this isolated place with views rarely seen by humans is amazing. The first time you climb to the top of the mountain and the trail really opens up, your breath will leave your chest. There are mountains that are so tall they look like they touch the sky, they are hidden in the cloud and always covered in snow. These giant rocks cover the entire landscape and surround every part of this place. The skies are so blue and clear they make you wonder if it’s real. The air is so fresh and thin that it makes you wonder if it’s the beauty of it all or the altitude that makes it hard to breathe. And that is what makes every day so epic. A Wrangler’s job is hard, but at the end of every day you wash the dirt, or what we hope is dirt, off your hands, it feels like you live in paradise and no place can beat paradise. We end every day feeling like we taught someone something new, we learned more about ourselves, and we got do what we all love. Ride.


 

9 FAQs of Dude Ranching

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) of Dude Ranching

G Bar M Ranch

1. Why choose a Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) ranch? With more than 100 DRA  accredited ranches, the perfect ranch experience is out there for you. The DRA’s expert staff helps travelers and travel agents customize the experience, guiding visitors to the perfect ranch to suit their needs and desires. The DRA requires its members to uphold the highest quality and standards within the dude ranching industry. Membership into the DRA is obtained only after a rigorous two-year inspection and approval process.

2. What are some of the typical activities for those visiting a dude ranch? While most people usually associate dude ranches with cowboys and cattle drives, they are so much more. Dude ranches are the original all-inclusive vacation, committed to preserving and sharing the Western way of life. Guests are able to customize their ranch experience to plan their ideal vacation. From yoga and cooking classes, to fly fishing and hiking, to swimming and bird watching, a vacation to a DRA accredited guest ranch guarantees a memorable experience unlike anything else. Horseback riding is a top activity at most DRA accredited guest ranches, as is fishing. Many guest ranches have added spa offerings and other luxury amenities to their properties for guests’ enjoyment. Other activities include whitewater rafting, hay rides, western dancing, golfing, ATV riding, trap shooting, hiking, mountain biking, baseball games and more. Almost all DRA accredited ranches of-fer evening activities such as campfire cowboy singers and s’mores, casino nights, Western movie nights and stargazing.

3. What does “all-inclusive” mean?

Vista Verde Ranch Snow Trail Ride Family Square

The “all-inclusive rate” concept originated at dude ranches – rooms, meals and most activities have been included in the rate since the late 1800’s. Dude ranch vacations are priced competitively with respect to other similar all-inclusive vacation options. Ranch vacations are a great value and make it easy to stay within a budget. There are no hassles because everything is taken care of, from transportation to lodging to meals to activities. All-inclusive does not mean watered down drinks or sub par food. It simply means everything is included in the price.

4. Where are DRA accredited ranches located? Dude ranches are located in some of the most spectacular areas in the country, from valleys complete with untouched Rocky Mountain backdrops to desert sunsets across the Southwest. Member ranches are located in 12 Western states and two Canadian provinces: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wyoming, Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.

5. What transportation options are available to a dude or guest ranch? Guests should discuss their travel plans with the ranch they’ll be visiting. Most guests travel by commercial airlines, and the ranches provide shuttle service to and from the nearest airport. For those guests within reasonable distances or wishing for more of a “road trip” experience, driving is another option.

6. What should I consider when planning a dude ranch vacation? We recommend taking four main things into consideration:

  • Style of Riding – Choose the riding environment that appeals most to you: open meadows, prairies, mountain trails or southwestern desert. The location of the ranch determines the terrain.
  • Accommodations – Guest ranch accommodations vary depending on the ranch from luxurious and elegant to rustic and cowboy-chic. Whether you are staying in your own private cabin or in a lodge room, rest assured you will sleep on comfortable beds, in superbly kept rooms, with all the amenities you will need for a pleasant and relaxing stay.
  • Time of Year – May to October is peak dude ranch season. Some dude ranches are open year-round and some seasonal ranches offer special holiday activities. You’ll find the southern ranches are more popular in the winter months, while the northern ranches are the most popular in the summer months. Any time of the year is a great time to visit a dude ranch!
  • Ranch Size – Smaller ranches may only be able to host several families at one time, while larger ones can host a couple hundred people.

7. How do I choose the perfect ranch for my vacation?

Colorado Cattle Company

The best way to start narrowing your options is to go online to the Dude Ranchers’ Association website. You can search for ranches according to a variety of criteria, such as activities/amenities or location (state or province), or even by proximity to national parks. Modify your search until you find exactly what you’re looking for. You can even put your favorite ranches into your “saddle bag” for side-by-side comparison. As you narrow down your choices, call one of the DRA’s expert staff members at (866) 399-2339 to help guide you to the perfect ranch selection based on what’s most important to you.

8. How authentic is the ranch experience? Most DRA accredited ranches are multi-generational owned and operated, so they are the real deal.

9. How can I learn more about the DRA? Visit us online at any of the following places: Website: www.duderanch.org Blog: www.duderanch.org/blog Facebook: www.facebook.com/DudeRanchers Twitter: https://twitter.com/duderanchers YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/DudeRanchers


 

Spring Break is Upon Us - Let's Go!

What is your family doing for Spring Break? Stormy weather is upon us and for many, the passing of Valentine’s Day and the shortest month of the year means more than candied hearts and roses. For many, the passing of January and February signal the perfect excuse to plan your next big break and welcome a spring vacation. Luckily, as the country’s original all-inclusive adventure vacation, guest ranches offer effortless options to satisfy any taste this spring. Whether it’s a warm family getaway that breaks the cliché of bikinis, tequila and crowds or a ski trip with friends, guest ranches can handle any request. Guest ranches offer value and numerous advantages over other all-inclusive vacation options, including no planning once you arrive, flexibility to customize your itinerary, and no additional costs while you enjoy your stay. Ranches located in warmer climates like Arizona allow guests to escape the winter cold and bask in the sun while horseback riding or enjoying luxury spa services. Vacationers wishing to cozy up to the fire can enjoy ranches located in cooler climates, like Colorado and Montana, where guests get the opportunity to bundle up and have one more romp in the snow before spring.

Tombstone Monument Ranch  

Warm Escapes

  • Under the Tucson SunTanque Verde Ranch, located in Tucson, Ariz., offers an abundance of activities for all ages. Whether you’re seeking to explore the desert and mountains, relax and reconnect with yourself, satisfy a creative craving, or burn up some energy with a challenging game, Tanque Verde offers a variety of activities to help you make the most of your guest ranch vacation. Spring break activities include horseback riding, guided hiking and biking, swimming, dancing, fishing or relaxing at the spa.
  • Western Adventure – Treat yourself to an historic Wild West adventure while enjoying all of the comforts and conveniences of the modern world at Tombstone Monument Ranch. Set up like an 1880’s Western frontier town, this guest ranch is situated amidst ancient bolder formations and the Dragoon Mountains, located three miles outside of Tombstone, Ariz. in the heart of Cochise County. Ride miles of trails where historic cowboys rode in the Tombstone hills, along old, abandoned railroad grade, in and out of dry gulches and washes, and along old dirt roads. Afterward, guests can step back in time through the swinging doors of an Old West-style bar and enjoy fun evening entertainment after a hearty dinner. Or, get to know the West’s most iconic town, Tombstone, which is home to more history of cowboys, Indians, silver mining and gunfights than any other destination in the West.  Tombstone is owned by the same operators as White Stallion Ranch – another warm-weather ranch in Tuscon, Ariz., featuring unspoiled desert mountains and cactus that have brought Hollywood filmmakers and generations of visitors to the ranch for more than 70 years.
  • Home Ranch

Winter Weather Getaways

  • Family Style – Taking a spring break at The Home Ranch is a perfect idea for families that want to truly unwind, play in the snow, and still get all the sunshine a spring break vacation requires. Located just outside Steamboat Springs in Clark, Colo., visitors enjoy skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding in the snow, sleigh rides, cooking classes and more. This guest ranch is known for its cuisine, offered family-style at long ranch tables. Rates include all meals, ranch activities, equipment, lessons, guides, and transportation to the Steamboat ski area and Hayden airport.
  • Snow on the RangeThe Medicine Bow Lodge And Guest Ranch is located in the Snowy Range of the Rocky Mountains set within the Medicine Bow National Forest. While the closest town is about 22 miles West, in Saratoga, Colorado, guests will find plenty of bustling activity during their stay. The Snowy Range, with its alpine terrain, is unique in its beauty and splendor. Old mining and logging towns can be seen on horseback rides within just a few miles of the lodge, along with the hundreds of lakes, ponds, and streams that fill the valleys. Snowmobiling is at its all-time best here, where guests can enjoy trails painted with fresh, untouched powder along the back country. Afterward, guests can enjoy cross country skiing or snow shoeing, then cozy up by the huge stone fireplace in the lodge to await their homemade meal.

       

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.


   

Don't Squat with Your Spurs On

By Danielle Ottis Some of our guests ask, and many more wonder in anxious silence, "How do I answer the call of nature while on a trail ride?" Here are a few tips from a seasoned trail guide and trail rider.

#1 Go before you leave. Remember that time when you were a kid, headed out on a road trip with the family, only minutes after departing and you declare "I gotta go!" Likely Dad's response was, "Why didn't you go before we left?" This is a good scenario to learn from when preparing to head out on a long trail ride.

#2 When nature calls, don't answer it. Put nature on hold until the ride is over.

#3 Sometimes you just can't put nature on hold. Believe me I know. I spent one summer guiding trail rides while pregnant and the call of nature was just NOT going to wait. In this situation, choose a nice secluded spot with lots of brushy coverage. You don't want your fellow riders to see more of nature than they were expecting. For those of you riding in those un-natural places without trees, good luck to you!

#4 Choose a spot carefully. Don't make the rookie mistake of leaving the trail you're on only to find that you are relieving yourself in another trail...with other riders coming up the trail behind you. Becoming the butt of wrangler jokes for years to come, and inadvertently christening said trail with its new name, Full Moon Trail, probably isn't on your vacation bucket list. True story.

#5 Leave your horse with your guide or tied to a tree. You don't need your mighty steed getting ...well...nosy.

#6 Bury it. This might be getting just a little too personal, but learn from the boy scouts and bury it.

#7 "How do I bury it? It’s not like I have a boy scout along with his little collapsible shovel and all." Well I don't know, get creative!

#8 Don't use the "toilet paper" you think nature has provided for you. It's just not going to end well. That leafy green may look as soft as Charmin but likely it will leave you wishin' you weren't a itchin'.

#9 And last but not least, don't squat with yer spurs on. Saddling up and heading out on horseback, whether it is for an hour or for a week, is something I look forward to rain or shine. Sharing that experience with someone else makes it even better. Now you can join me on the trail just a little more prepared for your next horseback adventure into the woods.

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch


 

Life on a Jackson Hole Dude Ranch

By Adriene Henderson Photo Credits - Tom Rafalovich Three years ago I made the decision to pack up my life and move to a Jackson Hole Dude Ranch. It was the best decision I have ever made! I knew I would have fun, make new friends, and try new things during a summer adventure. However, what I didn’t know was that I would have the most amazing summer of my life, make lifelong best friends, learn countless new skills, and my summer adventure would quickly become a permanent lifestyle change.

Gros Ventre Dude Ranch

After three summers—and one winter!—working on the ranch, I am sure of one thing, each summer will begin with a group of young people from all over the country who will quickly transition from strangers, into friends, and finally into a perfectly dysfunctional and incredibly loving family. Words can’t describe the types of relationships that I have developed on the ranch, and have sustained throughout the years. Each summer I have spent working on the ranch has been different, yet perfect in its own unique way. Sure, there have been similarities between the three, wonderful returning guests, our same beautiful herd of horses, and four months of hectic life full of fun, hard work and laughter. However, I have learned to embrace each season as its own, not comparing one to another. As I work on the ranch through this winter, and we begin to prepare for what will be my fourth summer, I am constantly reminded of the joy that this lifestyle has brought me.

Gros Ventre Adriene Henderson

It is difficult to describe my appreciation for the experiences that I have had living on the ranch. This is a life changing adventure that I would suggest every college student or post-grad consider. It is a wonderful way to learn about the western culture, meet people from all over the country and the world, make lasting friendships, and learn so much about yourself during the process. I can’t imagine my life without my Jackson Hole Dude Ranch!


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4 Reasons to Host Your Next Corporate Meeting at a Dude Ranch

With the participants sequestered in remote locations, wrapped in spectacular scenery, and free from distractions, Western dude ranches are becoming an increasingly attractive venue for corporate meetings and conferences. Not just any ranch, but a member of The Dude Ranchers’ Association. For anyone assigned the task of finding a place to hold a company event, be assured a DRA membership guarantees the ranch is a superior ranch, maintaining the highest standards of quality in the industry. There are more than 100 DRA Ranches in the Western US and Canada. They are only granted membership after a rigorous inspection and trial period. In business since 1926, the DRA keeps the bar held high for the entire industry. Horses, hats and hospitality are our hallmarks. 

Bar W Guest Ranch Corporate Meeting Space

The Bar W in Montana has plenty of space for your group. 

 

Why You Should Host Your Next Corporate Meeting at a Dude Ranch

 

Facilities

Many DRA ranches have conference facilities comparable to or better than those found at local hotels.Wouldn't you enjoy this view (pictured below) at the  Red Reflet Ranch in Tensleep, WY? What one won’t contend with at a ranch are numerous add-on charges for equipment, tacked on service fees, exorbitant taxes and a harried staff. Although most DRA ranches are best suited for a corporate meeting of 50 people or less, chances are good it will be the only meeting “in-house.” We do however have some ranches that can accommodate up to 200 people.

Red Reflet Corporate Meeting

Meeting Space at the Red Reflet Guest Ranch in Wyoming.

Technology

Ranches come with high-tech boardrooms, wi-fi, and high-speed Internet connection. Microphones, podiums, multi-media equipment are available for use. Some DRA ranches have meeting planners on staff. Others facilitate award-winning programs designed to teach managers and CEO’s new skills. Add to this gourmet food, luxury accommodations, fitness facilities and in most cases exclusive use of the property and it’s difficult to find a more appealing site for corporate retreats, training seminars, incentive trips, and strategy sessions.

 

All-inclusive Rate

Package at an all-inclusive rate making meeting the budget a breeze. And, the “exclusive use” policy guarantees every corporate meeting held at the ranch receives the full attention of the conference service staff. And don't forget the important time for making yourself at home in your room. You definitely would feel cozy at the Tanque Verde Ranch in a room like the one at their ranch in the picture below.

 

Tanque Verde Corporate Meeting Room Accommodations

Room accomodations at the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch in Arizona.

Team Building Activities

Dude Ranches offer groups the best in team-building activities that are quintessential parts of the ranch experience. Groups work together to learn the ins and outs of being a cowboy, such as how to throw a lariat and how to herd and move cattle. Other team-building activities include horsemanship classes, scavenger hunts, tee-pee building competitions, rope course and much more. Throw your self into trust building at the C Lazy U Ranch (pictured below).

    C Lazy U Activities Swinging Corporate Meeting Team Building

The ropes course at the C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado.

Corporate Meeting at a Dude Ranch

With the participants sequestered in remote locations, wrapped in spectacular scenery, and free from distractions, Western dude ranches are becoming an increasingly attractive venue for corporate meetings and conferences. Not just any ranch, but a member of The Dude Ranchers’ Association.

Fishing + Dude Ranches = A Great Family Getaway

Casting a line through a baby-blue sky scattered with cotton-puff clouds, then watching it settle into the crisp-cold babble of a mountain stream somehow symbolizes an ideal vacation for almost anyone—especially when Dad knows that his family is relishing the trip as well. Members of The Dude Ranchers’ Association offer a wonderful combination of plenty of pristine fishing moments for avid fishermen along with captivating activities for every other family member as well. 

Since DRA dude ranches are far from big crowds, located in gorgeous natural settings, and mostly on private land, the rivers, lakes and streams on these properties provide some of the finest fishing available in the country. Relatively untouched, each fishing hole offers a prime chance to experience fishing at its best.

The High Lonesome Ranch Fishing View

 

Many DRA member properties border national parks, such as the Spotted Horse Ranch next to the Grand Teton National Park. This makes for a setting for each fishing moment is spectacular. And with bountiful numbers of trout, browns, cutthroat, and rainbows around, fishermen can choose their favorite bait, pick a spot, and count on some of the best fishing of their career.

 

Many of The Dude Ranchers’ Association members feature Orvis-endorsed lodges, which means their operations and guides are continually reviewed by the Orvis staff and offer the latest in fishing techniques and client services. The C Lazy U Ranch is such a ranch. The fish you catch here you will remember for a lifetime. Whether you are here for the day, multiple days, or the entire week, you will always want “one more day.”

4UR Ranch Fly Fishing Boat

Many ranches carefully manage their fishing locales, run catch-and-release programs, and even have stocked ponds, ensuring that every fisherman meets success—from the beginner to the most expert. In fact, a vacation at a DRA dude ranch is ideal for first-time fisherman or children just learning the sport. The Bar Lazy J Ranch offers a free fly fishing clinic at the beginning of your vacation. If you are looking for the most expertise in fly fishing guides look no further that the Diamond D Ranch's Dave Tucker and his guides from Dreams on the Fly. This, affordable lessons and ample stock make those first fishing attempts rewarding and exciting.

But this vacation doesn’t have to just make Dad happy. While fishermen are experiencing the best fishing available, other family members are creating their own treasured vacation memories. Whether they are hiking, biking, horseback riding, or participating in one of the many carefully planned kids’ programs at the 4UR Ranch, everyone is having the best family vacation ever.  And don't forget about the evening activities for the family to gather together at the High Lonesome Ranch. This is the time to share the day’s activities, and create even more memories—only this time getting to know each other better and spending quality time strengthening family ties.

 

Fishing + Dude Ranches = A Great Family Getaway

 

Casting a line through a baby-blue sky scattered with cotton-puff clouds, then watching it settle into the crisp-cold babble of a mountain stream somehow symbolizes an ideal vacation for almost anyone—especially when Dad knows that his family is relishing the trip as well. Members of The Dude Ranchers’ Association offer a wonderful combination of plenty of pristine fishing moments for avid fishermen along with captivating activities for every other family member as well.

Never Too Late To Be a Cowgirl

Goosewing-Ranch-Sittin-in-the-LodgeBy Jay Wright

I have spent my adult years raising children and working a full-time rewarding office job. The kids were very active and participated in rodeo events; everything from barrel racing to bull riding. Life was full of driving across the state, spending time with my kids, feeding horses and of course those occasional trips to the emergency room. Such a bonding experience to spend time together getting stitches or a cast!

My tribe grew up, went off to college and became very responsible adults. My job was still good but I was just tired of the same ol’ thing. Fortunately, I had reached the age to retire and had been with the company long enough to be eligible to do so. But after being so busy for many years, what would be rewarding and fun enough to fill my time. I KNOW! Ever since I was a child, I wanted to work at a dude ranch. Now I have reached the point in my life that nothing was going to stop me. Well, except for my age and aching muscles. Who would hire someone my age? Turns out, I actually had a couple of offers. I made a decision and it was definitely the right one. Did I mention most of my friends felt I was in the early stages of dementia.

Goosewing Ranch in Jackson Hole seemed to be the right fit. Two years later, I haven’t regretted the decision to finally be a cowgirl. So I loaded my horse and traveled half way across the United States. It was the beginning of an amazing journey. The road to the ranch provided the most incredible views. Scenery that had only been observed in pictures was now surrounding me. The road was rough so I had to drive slowly, but why would I want to go fast, I might miss something.

Arriving at the ranch, I was greeted by outgoing managers and a friendly group of staff members. I was shown to my room (home away from home) and given the opportunity to settle in to my new surroundings. Every few days more employees would arrive. Such an interesting mix of young people; with a variety of reasons and stories for wanting to work on a ranch in Wyoming. It was like having my kids and family around again. They even picked up on what friends of my children called me, Mama Jay. The employees were from all over the world. Language seemed to be the only barrier between them, which was quickly worked out or overlooked. Communication became easier each day. We all worked together for several weeks to open the ranch and prepare for guest. What would that be like? You form such bonds, with your ranch family, how would it be when strangers arrive! Well, it was great.

Guests were as excited as we were to be in this majestic area. Like the employees, the guests were from all over the world. It was our own United Nations. We shared with them what we had learned about the area, they shared their hopes and expectations from their mountain adventure. Employees brought different skills and were hired for their unique areas of expertise. It was an amazing experience for all of us.

However, let me say my horse Sassy was not quite as enthusiastic about the whole experience as the rest of us. Sassy has never been in a pasture of more than about 10 head of horses. Now she was one of sixty. She was not a happy girl. She was born and raised in the flatlands of the Midwest, climbing some of these mountains was just not as gratifying to her as it was for me. There would be times she would just stop and turn her head as if to say, “are you kidding, you expect me to climb that, WHY”. In her defense, she would do whatever I asked.

In the evenings you could see the excitement in the faces of the guest, as they told you about their day of adventure. The wildlife they had seen, water crossings, climbs to scenic ridges overlooking the Gros Ventre valley. That time was also filled with the eager anticipation of tomorrow. Going on rides, I learned so much from the wranglers. The area is full of history and amazing stories of mountain men, trappers and homesteaders. How their courage and toughness settled this wilderness. For me, as I have gotten older, there is an enthusiasm to learn about this beautiful country and the strong people who forged the trail for me. Meeting new people and listening to their stories, enriches our own lives. This has been an amazing experience, one I’m glad I pushed myself to try. There are no regrets for following my dreams or perhaps marking off items on my bucket list. What an amazing experience, what wonderful forever friends. And when I’m sitting around the old folk’s home, in my jeans and cowboy boots, swapping stories, who will be able to top this one.

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--The Dude Ranchers Association represents over 100 ranches with anywhere from 15 to over 100 of mostly seasonal employees. When a guest stays a full week at a ranch they are able to get to know the crew. This is an insider view of the personalities and experiences they have. There's more where this came from! Stay tuned.--


 

Fall Adult-Only Getaways a Growing Trend at Dude Ranches

Dude and guest ranches are ever - popular as family vacation destinations, but members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association recognize that adults also value time to themselves. When the kids get back on the bus it’s time for parents to get back in the saddle for a classic Western getaway. From the latter part of August through October, dude ranches are a couples’ best bet to rekindle romance and replenish the spirit. And the price is right too! The height of summer finds most ranches filled to capacity with families. In fall couples have their pick of dude ranches with September being traditionally a time for adults only. No need to break the bank for airfare, car rentals or a dozen tanks of gas, since for many American’s and Canadians, a ranch is found within less than a day’s drive. And with rates including meals, riding, activities, and accommodations, it becomes an even more attractive getaway. Spectacular dude ranch scenery is at an all-time high in autumn when aspens sport yellow cloaks and icy mountain streams swirl with fat trout. These are the conditions found at Northern California’s Hunewill Ranch. Just East of Yosemite National Park. The only traffic passing Waunita Hot Springs Ranch is an elk or two. Perched high in the Colorado Rockies, surrounded by Gunnison National Forest, time is measured only by shadows cast by the sun.  Add to the remote location an immense swimming pool, bathhouse and hot tub fed by natural hot springs. Cares and worries melt away. “An outpost of unpretentious comfort” is how folks describe the Spotted Horse Ranch in NW Wyoming. An Orvis affiliate, and host to a trout fishing school, The Spotted Horse draws riders and angler from all over the world. Sixteen miles from the Western resort town of Jackson Hole, it’s far enough away from the action that guests can enjoy solitude, but get a taste of city amenities like art galleries, fine shopping and sizzling nightlife. Western Pleasure Ranch in Sandpoint, Idaho offers a five-day Adult Horsemanship Week Sept. 7-12, this is their tenth year. Leave the kids at home and enjoy five nights of grown up fun! Allow the beauty of North Idaho to rejuvenate you as you trail ride through open meadows, quiet forests, and slow moving creeks. Cowboy up with team cattle sorting, cattle drives, arena games or, if you wish, private and semi private lessons in the arena. Take a morning to enjoy a relaxing spa treatment or try your hand at skeet shooting. Evening activities may include archery, wagon rides, a scenic boat cruise on Lake Pend Oreille, or old fashioned cowboy music around the campfire. Here adults develop solid, fundamental skills that focus on both the rider and the horse. Wyoming’s diverse terrain is the focus during the month of September at the Lazy L & B Ranch in Wind River country. The week of Sept 7th is set aside for adults who are looking for a true western experience in the land of Jim Bridger and the mountain men, the Arapahoe and Shoshone Indians, Lewis and Clark, Sacajawea, Chief Washakie, and Buffalo Bill. Guests can ride for miles through some of the most varied terrain imaginable: cottonwood river bottoms, tall rangeland grasses, colorful bad-land country, mountain meadows or alpine country where herds of elk, deer or moose may be seen. Other activities include excellent fishing, hiking, swimming in the solar heated ranch pool, riflery, and more.


 

5 Cattle Drives not to Miss

McGarry-Ranches-Cowboy-Team'I should've been a Cowboy

I should've learned to rope and ride

Wearing my six-shooter riding my pony on a cattle drive

Stealing the young girl's hearts

Just like Gene and Roy Singing those campfire songs

I should've been a cowboy'

Well, unlike the song says, you still can be a cowboy. Take your next vacation to another level. Here are 5 cattle drives on a working cattle ranch you are sure to enjoy as an authentic cowboy.

55,000 acres is the amount of land at the McGarry Ranches. That's more than a few miles of fence line to monitor and maintain for 2,000 head of cattle. Here the cattle are organized in units and usually they visit more than one unit a day. Tracking and gathering strays are usual occurrences. Trailing them back is now a part of your job. 1,500 pounds of cow has to be convinced to go where you and your horse want them to. Don't worry, that's why you have a guide and probably his trusty cow dog to help.   

  Or maybe spending all day in the saddle is your thing. Moving cattle from pasture to pasture is just as exciting as it sounds. Can you feel the sense of awe and wonderment in this picture of the Klondike Ranch's guests moving 650 cow/calf pairs to the high pastures of the Big Horn Mountains?     

Since the 1870's Bonanza Creek Ranch hands have roamed the range and worked cattle along the banks of Bonanza Creek. A century later, very little has changed...the only difference is now there is a place set at the table for you. Personal attention is the norm with only 8 - 12 guests per week. The demand to conform to a strict routine simply floats away on the Montana breeze. Hospitality, responsive horses, challenging cattle work, tasty home cooking, and comfortable cabins will make you want to come back year after year. 

  You might be wondering what it was like for Gus and Captain Call in Lonesome Dove when they took several months to move their herd of cattle from Texas to Montana. The Burntwell Guest Ranch offers a three or four night taste of this life. Five to ten hours a day are spent in the saddle. Hot meals are cooked in a Dutch oven over an open fire. You will camp out under the stars in a bedroll like the ones the cowboys used in the olden days.    

Our Association has many ranches that offers that authentic cowboy experience. Some others are Focus, Rowses 1+1, Zapata, Lonesome Spur, Hubbard's Six Quarter Circle.

For a more detailed description of this type of vacation give Leah or Colleen a call at the Dude Ranchers Association. 307.587.2335. Thanks

  You still can be a cowboy. Take your next vacation to another level. Here are 5 cattle drives on a working cattle ranch you are sure to enjoy as an authentic cowboy.

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Dude Ranch - The Cure for Nature Deficit Disorder

Richard Louv, child advocate and writer of the bestselling books The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods, has coined the term Nature-Deficit Disorder. He explains a growing body of research indicating the lack of nature in today's online generation. This term parallels the lack of nature to the growing trends of childhood obesity, attention disorders and depression. He explains, "Direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults"(richardlouv.com). At a dude ranch your are guaranteed to get your nature fix and spend the majority of your vacation outdoors in some of the most beautiful locations West of the Mississippi. With three square meals a day planned out carefully by a professional chef, you won't have to worry about feeding your children fast food on the road. Once you know your kids are eating right, what kind of outdoor activities will they be doing all week? There is something for all ages at a guest ranch, balancing quality time together and apart. For the little tikes there is a children's program, equipped with a weeks worth of activities including pony rides, field days, crafts and all sorts of toddler friendly activities. Look at this little girl (pictured left) riding for the first time at the A Bar A Ranch in Wyoming.  

For the kids old enough to go out on trial ride, I’m sure they will team up with the other children and tackle every hill and trail with their new favorite wrangler. Pictured Right is a young cowgirl racing around the barrels in the arena activities at the Tumbling River Ranch in Colorado. The older teens might end up fishing or going on an all day hike, hanging out with the crew and other guests their age. They won't even realize how much time they'll spend in nature, except for the repeated application of sunscreen. A vacation this summer will inspire them to go outdoors and explore. Who knows- when they become of age they might end up working a summer or two for a ranch. No matter how much time you spend at a dude ranch physically and emotionally you and your whole family will leave refreshed and full of memories. If you're seeking a healthy, active outdoor vacation to combat Nature-Deficit Disorder take a look at the following ranches with activities designed with the whole family in mind. R Lazy S Kids Program

R Lazy S Pictured left is the Kid’s Wrangler, Will, jamming to Musical Chairs during Gymkhana. Along with Musical Chairs, they had fun riding horses while balancing an egg on a spoon, a 3-Legged race, and the famous M&M’s hidden in whip cream race. This, followed by a hamburger/hot dog barbecue, makes for a perfect day.  

Cherokee Park The Cherokee Park Ranch is a family owned dude ranch nestled in the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains. We cater to families with kids of all ages, horse back riding, river rafting, rodeos, fishing, music, dancing, cow wrangling, swimming, ropes/challenge course, skeet shooting and mountain biking.    

Greenhorn Creek 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!    

Three Bars Three Bars Guest Ranch 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 vacation activities available anywhere. Voted Canada's #1 Dude Ranch in 2012.    

Drowsy Water Winner Tripadvisor Travelers' Choice Awards #1 All Inclusive Vacation. For over 90 years Drowsy Water Ranch has been providing folks from around the world with Western vacations. Under the same owner/management for 35 years, we promise nothing less than real down home hospitality and memories.    

Lone Mountain Endless recreational possibilities at this historic ranch offering horseback riding, hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, fly fishing and Outdoor Youth Adventures just 18 miles from Yellowstone National Park. Cozy, comfortable log cabins with western furnishings.  

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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Where will I Stay, What will I Eat and What will I do at a Dude Ranch?

  A Dude Ranch Vacation is all about YOU the guest. All member ranches of The Dude Ranchers’ Association are committed to making sure you have the vacation of a life time. With our warm western hospitality, our outstanding horses, great food, accommodations and our spectacular locations, we guarantee a vacation you and your loved ones will not soon forget.. Come experience the Original Western Vacation at its Best.  

Where will I Stay?4ur Food

Imagine yourself sitting in a big overstuffed chair with your favorite book by a crackling fire. Now, imagine glancing out the big picture window to a view that simply takes your breath away. No noisy streets, no high-rise buildings, just you, your book and that spectacular view. Dude Ranch accommodations will vary from ranch to ranch from luxurious to elegant rustic to Cowboy Chic. Whether you are staying in your own private cabin or in a lodge room, rest assured you will be sleeping on comfortable beds, in superbly kept rooms with all the amenities you will need.

What will I Eat?

You will discover that dining at a dude ranch will be one of the most memorable parts of your vacation. Whether you are dining around a camp fire, under the stars, enjoining a pool side barbecue or sitting at an elegant candlelit table, the food is simply amazing. The fare will range from home-style cooking to the finest western cuisine you will find anywhere. Ranches offer freshly baked pastries and breads, fresh fruits and vegetables (often grown right on the ranch) and some of the most delectable desserts you have ever imagined. Your dining experience is truly one of our highest priorities; special dietary needs are always accommodated upon request.    

What Will I Do? 

The pace at all dude ranches can be as leisurely or as active as you would like it to be. While unlimited Horseback riding is the main focus of all DRA ranches the other activities you can experience are endless. Hiking in National Parks and forests, white water rafting, world class fly fishing on private waters, overnight pack trips, trap shooting, golf, children’s programs, evening entertainment, cattle work and much, much more….There really is something for everyone.  

Area Attractions:

Many of our ranches are located next to National Parks, National Forests and monuments. Many are located on or near rivers and lakes all having world class fishing. Some of the many activities included are of course world class horseback riding and fishing, white water rafting, hiking, trap shooting, children’s programs, cattle work, evening entertainment, campfires, star gazing, bird watching and overnight camp trips just to name a few.

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