Find Your Frontier

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


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


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


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


  Save

The Dude Ranchers' Association

When the stress and strain of modern life frays your nerves too thin, it's time to start dreaming up your next vacation. It's time to dream big - as big as the spacious skies, wide-open plains, and mountain spires of the rural West. Leave it all behind - traffic snarls, cell phones, laptops - and come live a big dream way out in the heart of nature in the welcoming comfort of an authentic Western dude ranch. Ever since the late 1800's, real working ranches have been opening their doors to friends and families and showing them what Western hospitality is all about. These ranches originated the concept of the dude ranch with lodging, dining, and guided trips into the surrounding countryside, all rolled into one vacation package. Modern dude ranches range from historic working ranches to upscale resort ranches affording hot tubs on private decks, gourmet dining by candlelight, and cozy rooms with moss rock fireplaces and contemporary Western decor. What all these guest ranches have in common is that they handle everything - from big hearty breakfasts in the morning to entertainment in the evening for friends and family gathered in the lodge. Dating from 1926, The Dude Ranchers' Association has overseen quality control for its industry and provided invaluable assistance in pointing guests toward a ranch with activities and amenities that suit their needs and interests. The screening process to become a DRA member is rigorous and demanding, including references from guests, on-site inspections, and a probationary period for new members of at least a year. Each of the association's 100 member ranches across the western United States and Canada have passed its tests for safety, proper care of horses and equipment, clean rooms in good repair, and dedication to the preservation of the traditional dude ranch experience. This stamp of authenticity is your assurance that you'll get the real thing. The Dude Ranchers' Association publishes a yearly brochure and trip planning information is available online with easy ways to narrow down your search. Telephone inquiries are always encouraged!  For more information, visit www.duderanch.org, email info@duderanch.org of call 307-587-2339. Three Bars Gather

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

 

    Elkhorn Ranch Tucson, Arizona Phone: +1 520-822-1040 Sunny winter season Sonoran Desert guest ranch in scenic Baboquivari Mountains southwest of Tucson, Arizona. Family owned and operated since 1946. Comfortable living and excellent horseback riding for singles, couples and families of all ages and abilities. Adventure, relaxation, friendship.

 

    Circle Z Ranch Patagonia, Arizona Phone: +1 888-854-2525 Join us at Circle Z Ranch for an old-time ranch adventure! From the moment you arrive you feel a sense of stepping back in time.

 

    Colorado Trails Ranch Durango, Colorado Phone: +1 800-323-3833 Fun and adventure in the San Juan Mountains near historic Durango include horseback riding, fly-fishing, rafting and shooting sports. Special programs for children, evening and other activities, freindly staff, excellent food, cozy cabins and spectacular location make this a vacation of a lifetime.

 

    Drowsy Water Ranch Granby, Colorado Phone: +1 800-845-2292 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.

 

    Red Horse Mountain Ranch Harrison, Idaho Phone: +1 888-689-9680 Located on 300,000 acres, the ranch is 1.5 hour drive from the Spokane International Airport, near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Full service, all-inclusive vacation is available from June through October.

 

    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.

 

    Mountain Sky Guest Ranch Emigrant, Montana Phone: +1 800-548-3392 Just 30 miles from Yellowstone National Park, we have spent over 80 years perfecting our rustic elegance on nearly 9,000 acres of beautiful rugged countryside in the heart of Montana's Paradise Valley. We invite you to explore the vacation of a lifetime here at Mountain Sky Guest Ranch.

 

    Lost Creek Ranch Moose, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-733-3435 Nestled between towering mountains just north of Jackson,Wyoming,the Lost Creek Ranch & Spa is a family-owned Western-style guest ranch that belies all expectations with would-class luxuries, gourmet meals and a state-of-the-art spa facility. The service is exceptional.

 

    Vee Bar Guest Ranch Laramie, Wyoming Phone: +1 800-483-3227 The Vee Bar, located near Laramie Wyoming, is a family-friendly vacation destination that is sure to please the horse loving cowboy or cowgirl in you. A variety of activities, ranging from horseback riding to river tubing, will suit each member of your group. Experience true western hospitality!

 

     

At the Heart of every Dude Ranch Vacation is the Horse

 At the heart of every Dude Ranch vacation is the horse. However, novices need not be overwhelmed with visions of straight backs, dress coats and bouncing up and down on tiny saddles, the whole ethos of Western riding is based on comfort and control. Those old time cowboys would be on the go all day and Western saddles reflect this being higher in the back, with pommels in the front and wide long stirrups. The horses are also schooled to stop, go and turn with the minimum of effort which basically means you do not need to be an Olympic standard equestrian to enjoy this style of vacation. Equally, those with riding experience are more than well catered for as one guest explains, ‘having horses of my own and riding on regular basis for the past 30 years I thought I would find the riding a little regimented and more geared to just the beginner rider. Well was I wrong! They truly can accommodate any riding level from the most inexperienced to the most experienced.’ Furthermore , ‘the wranglers at Dude Ranches are some of the most well rounded, diverse people I have ever been around,’ she laughs. ‘You may get a kid who grew up on a cattle ranch working cows since he was four, or a kid that just graduated from Cornell and was on the polo team, and everything in between. The one thing they all have in common is their love of horses and people.’ 

With the vast array of different experiences on offer, the Dude Ranch experience can be pretty much tailor-made. Further considerations therefore must also be given to the type of environment you want to ride in, i.e. meadows, mountains or prairies (as this will dictate the geographical location) the type of riding you would like to do and the level of comfort of the ranch itself. Accommodation is a lot simpler to choose from and basically consists of three different types. A working ranch, which will let you experience some real cowboy activities rounding up livestock, a Classic Dude Ranch which again will emphasis the riding but is usually combined with outdoor activities and last but not least, the resort Dude Ranch where western riding is obviously a feature, but also offer a diverse selection of activities and onsite facilities.

DRA ranches offer excellent diversification of accommodation, terrain and conditions. Where the Rocky Mountains meet the high plains providing breathtaking backdrops for your adventure on horseback. From the world famous Yellowstone and Grand Tetons national parks with their steaming geysers, stunning waterfalls and deep canyons. DRA ranches offer a choice ranging from the rustic to the luxurious with a range of activities both on horseback and off, as diverse as the stunning landscape.   

Guest expectations may have changed  over the years and ranchers have had to change with them, but the core principles and foundation of every Dude Ranch remain the same HORSES, HATS,HISTORY, HEART, HONESTY  and HOSPITALITY. There is a little cowboy in all of us come find yours at DRA Dude Ranch.  

Lone Mountain Cowgirl Loping Dusty Adventure

Three Ranches - Book Review

Life on a ranch can be lonely, hard, breathtakingly beautiful, often ironic, and sometimes downright hilarious. Welcome to one family’s three ranches. From the Jacket Cover: "How, in this day and age in the United States, do you run a successful guest ranch, manage thousands of acres of land for livestock and wildlife, and raise top quality beef cattle? This is the story of three Western ranches, two in southern Wyoming and in northern Colorado. They have been owned since the 1960s by the extended family of Charles C. Gates Sr. One is a guest ranch; the other two are working cattle operations. All three confront a daily challenge to survive and thrive." By Will and Deni McIntyre, with an introduction by ranch managers Lissa Howe, Justin Howe, and Mark Dunning. Will and Deni McIntyre have photographed at the A Bar A guest ranch almost every year since 2002. For this project they brought in their scope to include the Big Creek and State Line Ranches as well, recording a year in the life of all three spreads. “For the text, we had access to wonderful archives both private and public,” Deni McIntyre says. “They held documents going back to when these ranches were homesteaded. I selected excerpts that helped tell the story, and they became the background of the book.”

Book Reviews The Western ranch is an American icon that few people experience first-hand. In Three Ranches, Will and Deni McIntyre present an intimate, well-researched, visual story that includes historic photographs and excerpts from the personal memoirs of people who have called these ranches home. The McIntyres bring their sense of humor, friendship, and personal appreciation of these ranches to this wonderful book. If you only buy one photo book about ranching in the West, this should be it. For more information please visit: www.abararanch.com/three-ranches/

A Bar A Creek Fishing Boat

Summary of Dude Ranching’s Core Principles

Dude ranches are the original Western vacation.  Our first ranchers introduced the unique beauty of the American West to “dudes” from all over.  All this happened in the best way possible: from the back of a horse.  This horseback adventure was surrounded by honest and real Western hospitality that these dude ranch pioneers considered a part of the code of the west. The Dude Ranchers’ Association was founded to preserve, protect, and promote their 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. The following six words beginning with H represent the ideas that summarize those principles.  The notes clarify how these principles apply to any ranch that is a member or seeks to become a member of the DRA.DRA White Large

Horses

  • Horses are central to any dude ranch experience.
  • There must be adequate stock, tack, facilities, and trails for the riding program.  All will be well cared for.
  • Attention will be paid to horse and rider safety.

Hats

  • Hats symbolize the special emphasis on Western atmosphere and appearance.

Hospitality

  • A genuine friendly Western welcome with staff, food, accommodations, facilities, and activities to authenticate it.

Heritage

  • Dude ranch vacations began as long stays where relationships developed and guests had an exclusive and complete ranch experience.
  • Dude ranch guests will be on an American plan.
  • Even amidst today’s pressures for quick visits and short vacations, ranches should encourage week-long stays (6 or 7 nights.)
  • Regular multi-day dude ranch guests should not be significantly or adversely affected by any non-dude ranch business.

Honesty

  • You are at least a good as you advertise, if not better.
  • You operate your business with integrity.

Heart

  • You have a heart for developing friendships with your guests and demonstrate it in your actions.

Meet Your Host - Colleen Hodson of the Dude Ranchers’ Association

Meet Colleen Hodson, Executive Director of the Dude Ranchers' Association (DRA), located in Cody, Wyoming. It is her job to ensure that the more than 100 ranch members of the association provide the most complete and memorable experience possible to guests. From Arkansas to California and all the way through British Columbia, Colleen has traveled to evaluate each ranch, ensuring that guests receive the type of experience they seek.

Equitrekking: You have visited a lot of ranches in your career with the Dude Ranchers’ Association. What’s been your favorite part of the experience and has it made you a better rider?colleenhodson_e6ryef

Colleen Hodson: I have visited over 110 ranches and being able to see the amazing places these ranches’ are located in is probably the best thing about my job. That being said, the ranchers, ranch managers and the entire staff at every DRA dude ranch goes way above and beyond to make sure your stay is exactly what you want it to be. Having horses of my own and riding on regular basis for the past 30 years I thought I would find the riding a little regimented and more geared to just the beginner rider. Well was I wrong! They truly can accommodate any riding level from the most inexperienced to the most experienced. The wranglers at dude ranches are some of the most well rounded, diverse people I have ever been around. You may get a kid who grew up on a cattle ranch working cows since he was 4, or a kid that just graduated from Cornell and was on the polo team, and everything in between. The one thing they all have in common is their love of horses and people. Their ability to take a novice rider on day one of their stay and turn them into a good, if not great, rider by day three is amazing to watch. So to answer your question, yes - I have learned more about riding and the horse in general in these past 10 years than I ever thought I would and that has made me a much better rider.

Equitrekking: The Dude Ranchers’ Association has been around for a long time, since 1926, what is the mission of your historic organization?

Colleen Hodson: The association was started to help promote, protect and preserve not only the western way of life a dude ranch offers, but also to protect and preserve the places and the land that these ranches operate in and around. Our mission has not changed much over the years, we still want to help the ranches stay viable so that people who might not otherwise get the chance to experience the wonders of the west can still do so. The ranches truly do consider themselves stewards of the land.  (read more)

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Review our privacy policy for more information.