What is a Dude Ranch?

What is a dude ranch? A dude ranch is a vacation destination that hosts guests to share in their Western lifestyle activities. For dude ranches who are members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association this is an all-inclusive immersive vacation that includes lodging, meals, horseback riding, fishing, hiking and more. With more than 100 members in the Association the experience is unique at every ranch with a specialty in horseback riding over unique terrain, cattle work and/or luxury amenities. From small, intimate ranches to large resort style ranches there is a ranch to fit every budget and dream vacation. 

Take a look at the sampling of ranches below to get a better understanding of what is a dude ranch. 

Allen's Diamond 4 Ranch What is a dude ranch

Allen’s Diamond Four Ranch, Wyoming

Snapshot: Allen's Diamond 4 Ranch is located in the rugged Wind River Mountain Range and is Wyoming's highest wilderness guest ranch offering log cabins, mountain trail riding, fly fishing, wilderness pack trips and hunting in Shoshone National Forest. 

Capacity: 8

Dates Open: June 15 - September 15

Activities: At the ranch you can explore the nearby Wind River Indian Reservation, historic gold mining towns, Yellowstone Park or go white water rafting. Friendly and informal, the Diamond 4 Ranch has only 4 guest cabins, assuring you a personalized and relaxing wilderness experience.

Click here to view all ranches in Wyoming

 

Rancho de los Caballeros lawn Golf What is a dude ranch

Rancho de los Caballeros, Arizona

Snapshot: 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. 

Capacity: 140

Dates Open: October 1 - May 15

Activities: Explore the serenity of the high Sonoran desert terrain on a horse chosen to match your riding ability, tee off on the 18-hole championship golf course, relax at The Spa, take a breathtaking tour of the desert by jeep or ATV, mountain bike or hot air balloon, trap and skeet shooting, tennis lessons, guided nature hikes, swimming and team penning just like the real cowboys.

Click here to view all ranches in Arizona

 

McGinnis Meadows Ranch What is a dude ranch

McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch, Montana

Snapshot: McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch is a first class working dude ranch in Northwest Montana offering cattle drives all season long, Buck Brannaman horsemanship and non-head-to-tail horseback rides for all levels.

Capacity: 15

Dates Open: January 1 - December 22

Activities: Riding horses and working cattle is what McGinnis Meadows is all about. You'll experience full days in the saddle, or the ranch will tailor the day to fit you. Authentic cowboys will teach you all you need to know about their horses. From there you can head out and drive cattle on 75,000 acres of summer range, further your horsemanship skills, ride and explore new country and work steers sorting, cutting and ranch penning. Just relaxing is always an option too. There’s also a first class fly fishing outfitter nearby.

Click here to view all ranches in Montana

 

Eatons Ranch Trail Ride Family What is a dude ranch

 

Eaton’s Ranch, Wyoming 

Snapshot: For over 138 years Eatons’ Ranch has been a Wyoming dude ranch and working cattle ranch located on the magnificent, pine covered eastern slopes of the Bighorn Mountains in northeastern Wyoming. 

Capacity: 120

Dates Open: June 1 - September 30

Activities: Eatons' offers guests the unique opportunity to ride one of their 220 horses unescorted with the permission of the Ranch. This allows guests the remarkable freedom to fully explore this beautiful 7,000 acres of country into the Big Horn Mountains. The ranch also offers excellent trout fishing, overnight pack trips, a heated swimming pool and more. 

Click here to view all ranches in Wyoming

 

Hunewill Guest Ranch in California What is a dude ranch

 

Hunewill Circle “H” Guest Ranch, California

Snapshot: Hunewill Ranch is a family owned and operated cattle and guest ranch located near Yosemite National Park in the beautiful Bridgeport Valley of California. Horseback riding and cattle work are the featured attractions for a vacation experience suited to families, singles or couples.

Capacity: 45

Dates Open: May 25 - November 10

Activities: Hunewill offers you a full ranch experience starting with horseback riding and includes evening activities such as talent night, family dance night, barbecues on the creek, or watching as young foals and yearlings are being trained. There is world class trout fishing in the nearby East Walker River, and in the many lakes and streams in the adjacent Toiyabe National Forest.

Click here to view all ranches in California

 

Follow up questions? Click on the links below or contact the Dude Ranchers’ Association to talk to a Ranch Vacation Expert. 

 

What type of dude ranch fits me? 

 

What will I do on a dude ranch? 

 

Why DRA ranches? 

 

Ever wonder what is a dude ranch? A dude ranch is a vacation destination that hosts guests to share in their Western lifestyle activities. Ranches are located in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Arizona, California, Idaho. For dude ranches who are members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association this is an all-inclusive immersive vacation that includes lodging, meals, horseback riding, fishing, hiking and more.

Pin for later - What is a dude ranch? 

The Best Multi-Generational Dude Ranches

Family Reunions at Dude Ranches Offer Fun for Everyone. There is something for everyone to enjoy at a dude ranch and the best part is DRA dude ranches are all-inclusive. Meals, lodging, horseback riding and much more are included in one rate, making it simple to plan and budget for your next family reunion. Surrounded by spectacular beauty, far from the noise and crowds of fast-paced cities, serenity comes easy to each multi-generational family.

Private family time. If your family is just looking to spend time with each other where you can totally reconnect a small intimate ranch where you are the only guests might be just the ticket. Where you ride together as a family, have meals together as a family and just get to know each other again.

Dude Ranches Are Fun for Kids. Most ranches have daily activities offered for kiddos 3+ and many ranches can accommodate infants as well.

Teens Enjoy Dude Ranch Adventures. The teens in the family will have the time of their lives as they zip down a mountain zip line, tube down a rushing creek, or enjoy a ‘teens only’ ride up to a cookout lunch or an overnight camp out.

Adults Have Fun, Too. Adults will find they can do as much or as little as they would like. Unlimited horseback riding, river rafting, superb fishing, fine dining the list goes on and on.

So what are you waiting for? Book you next great multi-generational adventure today!

#MultiGenerationalRanchVacation


Western Pleasure Multi-Generational Ranch Vacation

Wyoming

Eatons' Ranch - For over 137 years, our Wyoming dude ranch has offered guests a western experience and shared with them a way of life.

Lazy L&B Ranch - At the Lazy L&B Ranch there’s nothing we like better than seeing grandparents hanging with grandkids, siblings catching up with each other and cousins exploring that special relationship that friends just can't compete with.

Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch - The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch is an all-inclusive upscale working cattle, riding, fly-fishing and adventure guest ranch in Shell, WY (east of Cody and Yellowstone National Park).

California

Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch - Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch is a rustic western resort located in the High Sierra of northern California on 600-acres of pine forest and pasture land, creeks and ponds.

Marble Mountain Ranch - Our goal is to provide a battery of exciting interactive experiences that are based in western traditions, and in outdoor adventure sports.

Idaho

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch - Escape, explore and experience the beauty and wonder of the outdoors with your family at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch.

Arizona

Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch - Our guest ranch is dedicated to providing you with the best family reunion experience you can imagine.

White Stallion Ranch - Family Vacations have become rare opportunities to leave the demands of your everyday life behind, relax, regroup and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company.

Colorado

High Lonesome Ranch - High Lonesome Dude Ranch Generations Experience – Exactly as wild as you. To help keep sporting traditions alive within family generations, we invite grandparents to come FREE while passing the torch to their next generation.

C Lazy U Ranch - Located in the heart of Colorado’s stunning Rocky Mountains, C Lazy U is the premier luxury guest ranch getaway.

Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch - Named "Best Family Vacation" by Frommer's Colorado guidebook and rated among the "Top Ten Colorado Dude Ranches" by True West Magazine, Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch offers year-round outdoor adventure.

Colorado Trails Ranch - At Colorado Trails Ranch, the vacation experience is all-inclusive from the accommodations, to the meals, to virtually all the activities and the gratuity.

Elk Mountain Ranch - Located in the heart of the Colorado Rockies with off-the-beaten path charm.  Colorado’s Highest Guest Ranch at 9,600 feet.

Latigo Ranch - The best way to enjoy your family vacation is care-free, and that’s what Latigo is offering this season. Forget worrying about finding something for everyone to do or meals which suit every dietary restriction, Latigo has it all

Montana

Elkhorn Ranch - Located at the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park in the upper Gallatin Canyon, the Elkhorn has been a family oriented ranch since 1922.

Lone Mountain Ranch - Lone Mountain Ranch has set the standard for luxury ranch destinations in the West for over a century. Located a mere 18 miles from Yellowstone National Park, our ranch offers authentic accommodations in newly renovated private cabins featuring the finest modern amenities (and a few curated decor moments inspired by the old West).

 Bar W Guest Ranch - The Bar W is open year round and treats you with true Western hospitality - from the moment you arrive until long after you have left.

New Mexico

Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch - Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch is a small family run ranch. We have just 4 cabins and take a maximum of 12-16 guests.

Surrounded by spectacular beauty on a ranch vacation, far from the noise  of fast-paced cities, serenity comes easy to each multi-generational family.

Save Save Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Ranch Activities - So Much to Do, So Little Time

A Western ranch vacation is your one stop shop for a vacation where you and your travel companions (young or old) can safely scatter into the mountains on your adventure of choice.


Horseback riding, hiking, fishing, etc.


And by "etc." we mean there are so many ranch activities you will be hard pressed to get all the exploring and experiencing done in just one week. While you’re there you'll get into the rhythm of the western way of life specific to each family operation.  You’ll certainly get to "get Local” at these ranches. But, it's not roughing it like you might imagine. It's living it. It's an experience that is high class, polished and refined. There is so much to do in a week that every minute will seem important to get the most of the experience. Time flows from one adventure to the next, with only as much, or as little free time as you like.

 

 

eatons-kids-activities-softball

Eatons' Ranch offers a family game of softball on the ranch lawns for an afternoon actvity.

 

So Much to Do


There is so much to do and so little time it makes one week seem so short. It’s like trying to jam pack a whole summer into a week. The cabins are well appointed with your own private bathrooms, or the lodge has your own personal room with shared living spaces to meet and really connect with other travelers looking to experience the same thing as you. For some, this might be the bucket list trip, for others it’s going to be your next great adventure.

 

 The High Lonesome Wild Horses

The High Lonesome Ranch offers a half day trip with a picnic lunch to go visit the wild horses, decendants of Native American and Spanish horses.

 

Ranch Safari


You might think of it as a ranch safari - because you’re riding out into the wilderness, into the mountains, or into the plains. This is where the wildlife lives. But this is also where the ranchers live. Where the summer cowboys and girls live. Where you’ll live for a week. It’s not kind of immersive, it’s fully immersive. You’ll be squeezing and jamming so many memories into one week you’ll leave feeling like a week was just the start. This is one of the reasons our ranches have so much repeat buisness.

 

Western Pleasure Cattle Team Penning

With Western Pleasure Ranch's summer dude ranch package you'll get an opportunity to do some cattle sorting.


Trust me, you can stay still in one location and experience a wide variety of things on the ranch. You'll have a home base to launch into the wild, to explore trails, learn about horses, about each other and find away to turn off your phone for a little while. You won't miss it. Each day you’ll see something different for the first time. You might see a bald eagle, or hear an elk bugle for the first time, or i don't know, get on top of the continental divide.

 

Get Going


So what am I saying? Get going! Go do something that has a week full of activities. Something you can sit around in the evening and swap sorties, so many stories, with other guests, with the employees, with your family. Where you will eat great food and drink great wine with great company. I am not even kidding, on a ranch vacation there are so many things to do and so little time.

 

Triangle C Ranch Gather

 After your trail ride at the Triangle C Ranch you can stick around for horsemanship demonstrations to learn to better connect with your horse.

 

Ever wonder if there are enough ranch activities to entertain on a ranch vacation? Yes! Actually there are too many activities for just one week.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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                                                      


Save

Romance & Horses, Your Dude Ranch Vacation


'A feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.' - definition of romance Riding horses with your partner is, surely, full of excitement and mystery. Consider a ranch stay to put some extra special romance into your relationship. It is as easy as picking out your geographic setting(mountain range of choice) and paring your personalities with a ranch. Then, hop on a plane and arrive at your secluded cabin for an 'all-inclusive' destination experience. Don't worry, there are plenty of activities to inspire other than saddling up and riding into the sunset at a dude ranch; morning fishing trips, spa afternoons, hot tub evenings and nights full of fine dining pared with excellent wine. Valentine's day is a great motivator to book you and your partner a vacation full of romance and connection - away from the monotonous crowd of chocolates and teddy bears. Experiences turn into memories, and those memories turn into a lifetime of togetherness.

Ranches for Romance

The ranches below are just a few options for your choosing. If you don't find one that you connect with, give the Dude Ranchers' Association a call. We can help. 307.587.2339.  


The Heart of the Rockies, Colorado

Elk Mountain Couple Hill Side Romance

Elk Mountain Ranch Fall is for adults only - Enjoy the mountains during the peak of the fall colors in the Colorado Rockies. The already spectacular scenery at the Ranch unveils more glory in the Autumn. Aspens crown the mountainside in golden grandeur. Fall is exclusively for adults at this Colorado dude ranch. The tranquility and stillness are uninterrupted, whether you’re riding through the aspen forests…or curling up with a favorite book by an crackling fireplace.


The Ruby River, Montana

Upper Canyon Fishing Couple Romance

Upper Canyon Outfitters One of the best uncrowned waters in Montana - "My wife and I ventured to Upper Canyon this summer to enjoy the ranch, fishing, horseback riding and hiking and preview where I had booked an elk and mule deer hunt this fall. After returning from the fall hunt all that I can do is reinforce the previous comments complimenting the complete operation of Upper Canyon Outfitters, from the facilities to the staff. It seems like they are all extended family." - Roland


7,000 Acres in the Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming

Eatons Gather Sunset Romance

Eaton's Ranch Freedom to ride into the sunset - Eatons’ offers our guests the unique opportunity to ride one of our 220 horses unescorted with the permission of the Ranch. This allows guests the remarkable freedom to fully explore this beautiful 7,000 acres of country. Guests can ride out from this Wyoming Dude Ranch twice a day Monday through Friday, choosing among morning, afternoon and evening rides. Also, there all-day rides into the Bighorn National Forest as well as breakfast and dinner rides.


Yellowstone Country, Montana

Mountain Sky Romance

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch A rare treat - After a day filled with ranch activities, dinner is always a highly anticipated event. Kick things off with hors d'oeuvres and drinks in the saloon, where friends share stories of the day's adventure next to a crackling fire. What follows is an unforgettable three- to five-course dinner featuring carefully crafted and regionally-inspired dishes prepared by Chef Brian Bielen and his talented team. Complement your dinner with a bottle of wine from a fine selection, and do try to leave room for that slice of chocolate decadence or Basque cake.


     

What About Dude Ranch Horses?

Elkhorn Ranch Horses

Horses are the magnificent, noble center piece of which dude ranching is built around. Horses have been carrying riders for centuries and provide the most in depth way to experience and explore the historical American West. Members of the Dude Ranchers' Association offer the best and most reliable horses you and your family could want. Please take a look at the following ways to enjoy different horseback riding programs. There are many ways to find your perfect horses: From the way the horses are raised, riders experience levels and to the locations or types of riding you want to do. Be specific and select the ranch that matches you and your family's dude ranch vacation dreams. There is perfectly fitting ranch for everyone.

Ranch Raised Horses

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in Standpoint, Idaho is very proud of their four-legged working partners. They maintain a herd of about 40 registered Quarterhorses, Appaloosas, and Paints for their saddle horses. Two teams of Belgian, two teams of Percherons and one team of Shire-cross are used for their sleigh and wagon rides. Most of the horses are either born and raised on the ranch or born on one of the owners' brothers’ ranches. The horses are worked with and handled at an early age to begin adapting them to their future uses. As two-year olds, their official training begins, getting them used to the saddle and working them in the round pen. They then graduate to the arena. And then to some short trail rides. A training system called the “Basic Handle,” founded by Monte Forman and Pat Wyse is used. This system creates a safe, responsive, and sensible horse. As three- and four-year-olds, these horses are used as mounts for the trail guides. Then, as five-year-olds, they begin their career as mounts for our guests. They use both mares and geldings and rotate mares in and out as they produce more offspring for our future string. Click here for more information about Western Pleasure's individual horses.

Riding for All Levels - Experienced Riders to Can't-a-lopes

With relaxed instruction from our capable wranglers, you will soon feel safe and comfortable on horseback at Elkhorn Ranch in Montana. As the terrain permits, more experienced riders will lope their horses from time to time.  Wranglers are always happy to instruct any guest who needs a little extra help sharpening their riding skills. Grown-ups, fossils or can’t-a-lopes as they are affectionately known, will be offered a variety of horseback trips each day designed to suit their interest and ability. They will get them into the high country as the week and their confidence progress.  Rides are small, normally with less than eight guests in a group. Our youngest, the Peanuts, ride, play and eat together.  On the trail, they go for carefully supervised rides.  may include a river swim, a visit to an old cowboy fort or a trip to the Bear Caves.  Teenagers also band together, and invariably have spirited rides full of adventures that always seem to grow in the retelling.  Whether you choose short and relaxing or long and challenging, sharing a mountain trail seems to build friendships for guests of every age.  As you brush your horse down before heading back to your cabin, you will  smile at the prospect of returning to the barn tomorrow – well-fed, well-rested, and ready to enjoy another spectacular summer day on a high country trail in the Montana Rockies.

Mountain Trails and Arena Events

Paradise Ranch Horses

Paradise Guest Ranch's riding program is very flexible, and features a number of choices. They offer two hour rides as well as both half-day and full-day rides. Some day rides include lunches packed on mules & cooked along the trail. Horsemanship classes are available.  Hook up with one of our seasoned wranglers and spend a morning riding through the wildflower strewn mountain meadows in the surrounding Bighorn National Forest. You’ll ride trails through mountain scenery that will take your breath away. Or spend an afternoon in our private rodeo arena practicing team penning or barrels and poles. These are timed events and competitive with fun for all. Special team penning classes are available. And the week ends with a special kids' rodeo featuring the ranch's most kid friendly horses. Unescorted Explorations Eatons' Ranch offers our guests the unique opportunity to ride one of our 220 horses unescorted with the permission of the Ranch. This allows guests the remarkable freedom to fully explore this beautiful 7,000 acres of country. Guests can ride out from our Wyoming Dude Ranch twice a day Monday through Friday, choosing among morning, afternoon and evening rides. We also have all-day rides into the Bighorn National Forest as well as breakfast and dinner rides. Riding is a bit more limited on weekends; there are only morning and afternoon rides on Saturday, and on Sunday there is only a morning ride as the rest of the day is our horse holiday. Wranglers are always available to guide rides and offer instruction. Watch this video about Eatons' Ranch and their riding program.

Rowses 1 + 1 Cattle Drive Horses`

Work Cattle in True Cowboy Style When you stay at Rowse’s 1+1 Ranch, you’ll live a real ranching life, and experience the simple pleasures of our western American heritage. It’s a land where neighbors have lent a helping hand for generations. A place where the front door is always open and fresh coffee’s waiting.  Spring, Summer or Fall…Each season is different and special at the 1+1 Ranch. No matter the season you’ll get plenty of time in the saddle on the best of our ranch horses. Spring brings the excitement of calves and foals being born, working cattle, cattle drives, and brandings. Summer brings long pasture rides checking cattle, cattle drives, working cattle, cowboy socials, team roping, and team penning. October is fall Round-Up, which involves long cattle drives on horseback, team roping, and penning.


 

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.