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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DRA celebrates 91st convention and welcomes new members

Dude Ranchers ConventionMany member ranches from across the Western U.S. and Canada, along with associate members and vendors, are expected to attend the Dude Ranchers’ Association’s (DRA) 91st convention at Tanque Verde Ranch on Jan. 18-21, 2017. The DRA is also proud to welcome three new members to its existing roster of ranches: Bull Hill Guest Ranch in Kettle Falls, Wash.; Horses N Courage in Judith Gap, Mont.; and Rankin Ranch in Caliente, Calif. Each year, convention attendees come together to exchange ideas about how to continue exceeding the highest standards within the dude ranching industry; promoting the Western ranch vacation experience; and preserving parks, forest and wildlife.

Panels and breakout sessions will discuss topics related to various aspects of the dude ranching and hospitality industries, such as new vendor introductions, marketing initiatives and operations.  This year’s keynote speaker is Ron Marks, author of the best selling book entitled, “Managing for Sales Results.” Ron has gained great perspective and credible experience on how to sell and manage sales people during his work in a number of industries over the past 35 years.

Other speakers will include Nancy Schretter, founder and managing editor of Family Travel Network; Les Douma, former superintendent with the Iowa School System; Amanda Esch, business consultant and partner in the law firm of Davis & Cannon, LLP; and Matthieu Corrand, founder of RanchBookings.com. There will also be opportunities for networking and socializing, including a pigeon racing contest and the annual Dude Ranchers' Auction.

“The Dude Ranchers’ Association has dedicated the past 90 years to preserving and protecting the Western way of life. Our annual convention is a fantastic opportunity for learning and fellowship among our member ranches as we look to continue doing so for many more years,” said Colleen Hodson, Executive Director of the DRA.

The DRA represents a broad spectrum of guest ranches across North America, ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches offering five-star cuisine and spa treatments. Established in 1926, the DRA was founded to preserve, protect and promote the unique experience and identity of a dude ranch vacation. With the addition of the three new members, there are now a total of 100 DRA-accredited ranches. Bull Hill Guest Ranch, located in northeastern Washington State, sits at the foothills of the majestic Rocky Mountains near British Columbia, Canada. Sweeping panoramic views of neighboring Idaho, Lake Roosevelt and Canada provide a backdrop setting that is one of the most picturesque in the Pacific Northwest.

Bull Hill Guest Ranch opened as a guest ranch in 1995 and is part of a large working cattle ranch that dates back to 1903. Horses N Courage is a family owned and operated, working guest ranch located in central Montana. The ranch – which accommodates eight guests – offers horseback riding, trail riding, wall-tent accommodations, cattle drives, dummy roping and healing retreats, all set amidst 2,000 acres of private, breathtaking mountain scenery and Montana wildlife. Rankin Ranch is located in the beautiful valley of Walker’s Basin, deep in the heart of California’s Tehachapi Mountains and at the southern end of the Sequoia National Forest. It has been a working cattle ranch for over 150 years – guests can enjoy tasty Rankin Ranch beef during their stay – and is one of the oldest and largest (31,000 acres) family-owned ranches in California.

Dude and guest ranches applying for membership to the DRA go through a rigorous two-year inspection and approval process. Membership identifies a ranch as meeting the highest standards of the dude ranching industry. Guests at a DRA-accredited ranch can expect genuine, Western hospitality combined with the lodging industry’s latest standards.  Save Save

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Dude Ranchers' Association Kicks Off 90th Anniversary Celebration with Annual Convention in Cody

More than 60 member ranches from across the Western United States and Canada, are expected to ride into Cody, Wyo., to attend the 90th anniversary of the Dude Ranchers' Association. 

The DRA was founded in Cody in 1926 and has since grown to more than 100 members. The Convention will kick off a yearlong celebration of the DRA’s 90th anniversary. Guest and dude ranches have played a significant role in Wyoming’s history for more than 100 years. High demand for a nostalgic frontier experience offered first at Wyoming ranches, and then other ranches throughout the region, led to the founding of the DRA in Cody.

Attendees at this year’s Convention will exchange ideas about how to continue exceeding the highest standards within the dude ranching industry and promote the Western ranch vacation. Seminars will discuss topics related to the various aspects of the dude ranching and hospitality industries, such as new vendor introductions, marketing initiatives and risk management.4-Print-0011

The DRA has scheduled an impressive line-up of speakers for this year’s convention, including David Pollard, professional speaker with Fred Pryor Seminars; Jon Albert, Founder, Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation; Rainer Jensen, Founder, Family Travel Association; Nancy Schretter, Publisher, Family Travel Network; Larissa Milne, travel writer and business consultant; Leah Knepper, Associate Vice President, French/West/Vaughan; M. Cole Bormuth, Estate Planning Law Specialist, Bormuth Law; and Sarah Bachman, Lawyer, Bormuth Law.

True to the spirit of authentic Western hospitality, the convention's programming includes plenty of opportunities for fun, with a ‘50s and ‘60s-theme dinner at Bud’s Drive in Sock Hop, a special reception at the Educational Trust Museum and dining and dancing at the Historical Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel. The convention will also host the annual Dude Ranchers' Educational Trust Auction, which seeks to preserve the history of Dude Ranching by maintaining a museum, archives and scholarships for educating the public on the historical nature of the dude ranching industry.

“We look forward to our annual convention every year, but this year is extra special for us since we are celebrating such a significant milestone,” said Colleen Hodson, Executive Director of the DRA. “We are proud to have spent the past 90 years introducing guests from all over the world to the Western way of life and look forward to continue doing so for years to come.”

Created in 1926, the DRA is the official governing body of the West's dude ranch industry and was founded to preserve, protect and promote the unique experience and identity of a dude ranch vacation. In September of 1926, the first official association meeting was held and attended by 32 ranchers, railroad and national park officials. During the two-day meeting, attendees discussed initial objectives including standardizing dude ranch practices, transportation and proper care of guests.

Over the past 90 years, vacation expectations have shifted, and the DRA and its member ranches have evolved their offerings to fit with changing times. All of the Association’s 100+ member ranches have completed a rigorous two-year inspection and approval process. Members represent a broad spectrum of guest ranches across North America, ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches offering five-star cuisine and spa treatments.

True to the spirit of authentic Western hospitality, today’s guest ranch experience includes plenty of opportunities for fun and entertainment for families of all sizes, ages, ability levels and interests. This “original Western Adventure vacation” introduces the unique beauty of the American West and seeks to foster dude ranch heritage and passion for wild nature. From horseback riding to overnight pack trips, hunting trips to cattle drives, there are plenty of ways to explore the outdoors at a dude ranch. Guests can also enjoy hiking and nature walks, interacting with the ranch’s animals at their petting zoos, fishing, archery and more.

Today’s guest ranches also offer plenty of activities for those interested in going beyond the saddles and cowboy boots, including programs catered to photographers, foodies, artists, wine aficionados and more. Guests can even mix their love for the rustic outdoors with luxury amenities such as massage services, hot tubs, and workout facilities and classes.

About the 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. The 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, Twitter @DudeRanchers and Instagram @duderanchersassociation.

Navigating Your Dude Ranch Search

At the National Dude Ranchers' Association we are proud of everyone of our members and their commitment to cleanliness, hospitality and wonderful horseback riding adventures. Ride the West with the Best and make sure you book your vacation with an accredited member of the National Dude Ranchers' Association. Find out more about our standards here. When planning your (or your clients) vacation it can be a momentous task to navigate you search of all the available dude ranches in North America. Let us help make your planning a breeze. Take some time to brain storm about your trip and ask yourself a few questions.

CM Guest Ranch

What type of riding would you like to do? Different ranches offer different experiences. They range from all day in the saddle working cattle to short, beautiful summit rides with your kids.

What kind of accommodations would you like? Cleanliness and quality are high standards at all ranches. When you visit you can be assured your accommodations are freshly cleaned and stocked. If you prefer chocolates on your pillows and fluffy robes to wear to the spa after your ride a resort ranch would be your style. If you prefer the classic log cabin and ranch homestead feel, a traditional dude ranch would suite you just fine.

When would you like to go? Consider the weather and geographic location. The weather often coordinates when the ranches open, close or transition their seasonal activities. The West is wide open for all sorts of geographic preferences: States, National Parks, Mountain Ranges, birding, foliage, wildlife, etc. Explore your options and then narrow your choices. With these questions answered you are ready to find the ranch you are going to book for your next vacation.

Use our Find by Amenity search engine.

Keyword Search

You can just dive on in if you're feeling lucky with a keyword search like "dancing" or "skiing." Those searches would pull up 22 and 6 ranches respectively. Or you can search our blogs. They are listed by category or you can use the blog search box at the top right of the categories.

Check a few Amenity Boxes

Select a box out of each of these categories and it will help eliminate a lot of ranches who offer a different experience than the one you are expecting. Don't worry if your search comes back with too many (or too few) ranches. Keep checking more (or less) boxes for each consecutive search. When choosing a dude ranch go with your guy feelings; go with the unique experience that you've always imagined it to be. Our personal favorite categories to select are:

  • Capacity
  • Dates Open
  • Length of Stay
  • Ranch Policies
  • Specialty Events

Collect your Favorites in the Saddle Bag

When you see a ranch that catches your eye add it to your "Saddle Bag." This is your dude ranch term for shopping cart. This icon is found to the right of each ranch’s profile. Once you click on ‘View Saddle Bag’ this will take you to a table of the ranches you have selected for easy viewing and narrowing your search. Here you can also send a message to all of them at once to ask about pricing and availability.

Book your Vacation with your Favorite Ranch

Once you have completed your search and found the perfect fit for your vacation needs call and book the ranch directly. Don't forget to ask about travel arrangements to and from the airport!

Additional Help If you would like additional help in planning your vacation please give us a call or send over an email to our office. We can help point you in the right direction! 307.587.2339 info@duderanch.org    

What Type of Dude Ranch Fits you?

Are you planning a dude ranch vacation for the first time? When it comes to vacation options, there are lots of questions to ask yourself and those traveling with you. One of the ones you might not have considered before is, “What type of dude ranch fits me?” The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) represents more than 100 guest ranches in North America (two in Canada), 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., as well as in California, Arkansas and Canada.

Bonanza Creek Ranch Type of Dude Ranch - Family Style Traditional Dude Ranch

 

What Type of Dude Ranch Fits You?

 

1) How often do you pull out your Wranglers and Justin's?

a) Every chance I get

b) Mainly when country concerts and the rodeo comes to town

c) What are Wranglers and Justin's?

 

2) How adventurous are you?

a) I’m up for just about anything!

b) Middle of the road – let’s not get too crazy…

c) As long as it doesn’t involve going fast, jumping out of anything, jumping off of anything, swimming with something with large teeth…

 

3) What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘cowboy?’

a) Herding cattle and tending ranches

b) Cowboy boots, the Wild West and horseback riding

c) I’ve seen a few actors play cowboys in Western films but don’t know much about them

 

4) Which of the following activities sound the most fun to you?

a) Fishing, hunting and riding

b) Hiking, mountain biking and ATV riding

c) Pool time, spa and yoga

 

5) How do you feel about horses?

a) I’d ride them all day, everyday if I could

b) I’ve ridden a few times in the past – would love to do it more often

c) I love to look at them from afar

 

6) What’s your idea of a relaxing evening at home?

a) Catching up on yard work or other things around the house

b) Tackling the DIY project I found on Pinterest that I’ve been putting off

c) Sofa. TV. Enough said.

 

7) What is your idea of the perfect meal?

a) Steak and potatoes – don’t give me any of the fancy stuff

b) Doesn’t matter to me, as long as it’s tasty

c) A least three courses, please…and don’t forget the wine

 

8) What does “team penning” mean to you?

a) Bring it on – I’m the best

b) Sounds interesting – I’d be up for trying it

c) Does it have to do with penmanship?

 

9) What kind of group do you normally travel with?

a) Usually just me, or one other adult

b) The whole gang – kids, grandparents, etc.

c) Usually just me and the significant other, or a group of girlfriends/guys

 

10) Which of the following best describes your vacation style?

a) No frills

b) Comfortable

c) Luxury

 

If you answered mostly a’s: A working ranch might be right up your alley. These rustic, no-frills ranches will provide you with a traditional dude ranch experience, during which time you’ll work alongside ranch hands and owners doing daily ranch activities like cattle working and cattle drives.

If you answered mostly b’s: You’re in luck, because the majority of ranches accredited by the Dude Ranchers’ Association are traditional, family-style ranches. They specialize in offering a variety of activities for groups of all ages, abilities and interests, and many of them feature outstanding kids’ program.

If you answered mostly c’s: You like to travel in style, and you’re not ashamed to admit it. A luxury resort-style guest ranch is just the place for you: picture some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, gourmet food, award-winning spas and golf…and that’s just the beginning.

 

What Type of Dude Ranch Fits You? 

Are you planning a dude ranch vacation for the first time? When it comes to vacation options, there are lots of questions to ask yourself and those traveling with you. One of the ones you might not have considered before is, “What type of dude ranch fits me?” Fill out this questionnaire to find out.

 

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


 

5 Ways the DRA Facilitates Your Travel Planning Experience

We are often asked how The Dude Ranchers Association can help the potential guest with the planning stages of their dude ranch vacation. Below are 5 real ways that either the DRA web site or the DRA office can help in your search. Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions or need any help.

Customized Searchability The DRA’s advanced search capabilities eliminate the stress of having to research and compare hundreds of ranches individually. With the click of a button, you’re able to refine your search by selecting the activities and amenities on your vacation wish list. Or, if you’re looking for a ranch in a specific geographic area, you can narrow your search by state/province, or even proximity to National Parks.  

One-on-One Guidance Personalized help is important to the DRA both on and off the ranch. If you’re still stumped as to which ranch the best is fit for you, the DRA wants to hear about it. They have a toll-free number staffed with experts that are knowledgeable about each one of their distinct member ranches. They’re available to talk through any and all questions you may have. Warning: they may even offer an unsolicited tip or two!  

Dude Ranch Experts If it’s your first time (on a dude ranch), you’re sure to have a list of questions and concerns about just how this whole guest ranch vacation is going to play out. What should I wear? Do I need to know how to ride before I get there? What kind of food will there be? Will there be plenty for my kids (and me) to do? From riding and ranch offerings, to travel insurance and what to pack, the DRA is your go-to source for dude ranch insider information.  

Get a Second Opinion There’s an entire section on the DRA’s website dedicated to what other people have to say about us! This section features accounts from national and regional travel writers and bloggers who have visited a DRA-accredited ranch to see what it’s all about for themselves, providing you with unbiased, second opinions, and answers to many of the same questions you may have.  

Experience the ‘Best of the West’ The DRA has been preserving, protecting and promoting dude ranches and the Western way of life since it was founded in 1926. All of its member ranches are required to uphold the highest quality and standards within the industry (membership is actually a two-year process!), so you and your family can rest easy knowing that a trip to one of the DRA’s member ranches will be filled with authentic, Western hospitality and the core principles that haven’t changed for nearly a decade: horses, hats, heritage, honesty and heart.

Focus Ranch-Riders on the Mesa

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