Horseback Riding Vacations

The Dude Ranchers’ Association recommends the best horseback riding vacations in North America. At one of these carefully selected dude and guest ranches groups will experience equestrian activities and all sorts of outdoor adventures on a short stay of three or four nights, or a full week immersed in a Western trail riding destination. Guests have everything provided for them on all-inclusive stays including lodging, dining and activities. With lodges and cabins preserved and restored from when they were built many decades ago, guests experience riding horses in a uniquely Western environment. It’s no wonder dude ranch vacations have been popular since the early 1900’s! 

At these ranches guests have a horse personally selected for each person’s riding ability and personality. Because horseback riding is a daily or twice daily activity there is an opportunity to get to know the horse on hundreds, if not thousands of acres of trails in the mountains and plains of the slimly populated West. And after guests climb out of the saddle there’s always plenty of options like relaxing by the pool, fly fishing on private lakes and streams, hiking to scenic vistas or rocking their cares away on the porch in a classic rocking chair. 

Here are some of the best riding ranches for your next vacation. 

 

Crossed Sabres Ranch, Cody, Wyoming

All Day Rides on 2.2 Million Acres

For guests looking to cover some ground, the charming Crossed Sabres Ranch is one of the oldest dude ranches in the country located outside of Cody, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. This is a family run operation that specializes in custom horseback riding for individuals or groups of up to 30 people. Knowledgeable wranglers take guests out on well trained and trustworthy horses whether they have no experience or years of experience on horses. Each horse is paired specifically for each guest to match not only personality, but also riding ability. The ranch offers lessons for those looking to get individual instruction on riding in a comfortable arena environment. There are short morning and afternoon rides or all-day rides into the Shoshone National Forest’s 2.2 million acres for guests to enjoy truly spectacular scenery. 

Horseback Riding

 

Medicine Bow Lodge, Saratoga, Wyoming

Overnight pack trip in the Medicine Bow National Forest

High up in the Snowy Range of the Rocky Mountains the Medicine Bow Lodge Adventure Guest Ranch offers just what their name implies - adventure. With a very diverse riding program each guest can determine what kind of adventure they would like to have. First time riders will become more and more confident on each ride at their own pace with a personal wrangler. With this instruction and getting to know their trusty steed, the horses will earn the trust of newbie riders throughout the week. Guests who have experience can ride out on fast rides, loping and trotting their way through the mountains of Wyoming. The ranch offers all day rides and even an overnight pack trip in the hills. Kids of all ages have something to do at the ranch as well. Kids 5 and under will be led around the ranch and taught about horse care and ages 6 and up can head out on the trail. Here families can literally ride off into the sunset on the appropriately named Sunset Ride

Horseback Riding

 

Focus Ranch, Slater, Wyoming

Move 1,300 head of yearling cattle 

On the border of Wyoming and Colorado the Focus Ranch is a working cattle ranch, inviting guests to embrace the authenticity of ranch life on their vacation. At this ranch, “cowboy” is both a noun and a verb. Riding here entails managing the health and grazing patterns of the heart and soul of the ranch - cattle. The ranch can adjust the length and speed of rides to accommodate a wide variety of riders, and the work that needs to be done varies throughout the summer. One of their most exciting endeavors for guests is to move the entire herd of 1,300 yearling cattle from one pasture to the next within three days! This happens several times throughout the season. Sometimes, guests enjoy it so much they might hire on to work at the Focus Ranch! 

Horseback Riding

 

Badger Creek Ranch, Canon City, Colorado

Natural Horsemanship is a photographer’s dream

Badger Creek Ranch is located in an area rich in natural beauty and history. This area has been well traversed by the Ute Indians, Spanish Conquistadors, pioneers, miners and cowboys of the old West, but is now occupied by a relatively small number of people. Photographers enjoy secluded trails in the mountains and meadows of Colorado. As a working cattle ranch the guests are also offered a chance to ride out with the cowboy crew to check fence, doctor and sort cattle. Before heading out, guests start their relationship with their horse with ground work following the feel of natural horsemanship and continue in the saddle in a location that can only be described as a photographer’s dream. 

Horseback Riding

 

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, Gallatin Gateway, Montana

Ranch bred, raised and trained Appaloosas

The Nine Quarter Circle Ranch is not only a premier family destination with luxury log cabins, activities for all ages and very delicious meals, but also an unforgettable horseback riding destination. The ranch boasts a herd of 120 Appaloosa horses that were born and will live their whole lives on the ranch. This is an uncommon feature of a dude ranch to know all the history of every one of their horses. Their select breeding program is a reflection of the Appaloosa breed, chosen for their stamina, sweet temperament and suitability to mountain riding. Every spring a new crop of foals are born on the ranch, and guests enjoy watching the brand-new foals jump and play around the ranch. These horses will eventually be trained and added to their remuda of trail riding horses. 

Horseback Riding

 

Want to know more about a particular type of dude ranch? Take a look at the Dude Ranchers’ Association’s Working Cattle Ranches, Luxury Resort Ranches and Family Style Ranches here

 

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The Dude Ranchers’ Association recommends the best horseback riding vacations in North America. At one of these carefully selected dude and guest ranches groups will experience equestrian activities and all sorts of outdoor adventures on a short stay of three or four nights, or a full week immersed in a Western trail riding destination. Guests have everything provided for them on all-inclusive stays including lodging, dining and activities.

The Wildest Trail Rides of 2018

The National Dude Ranch Association (DRA) has over 10,000 trail rides throughout the Western United States and Canada. Travel across National Forest, BLM, private acreage and hundreds of miles of waterways that traverse high and low altitude, valley and mountain, desert and coast, with the wranglers of the DRA. However, of all these options, which is truly the wildest in 2018?

Border Ride—THE WILDEST TRAIL RIDE

Rancho de la Osa, Sasbe, Arizona

It’s both scenery and the current political state of the country that makes this trail ride at the remarkable ranch, quite possibly, the wildest ride in the West! Rancho de la Osa houses Arizona’s oldest continually used building, constructed in an Indian village around 1720 by Jesuit missionaries.

In 1812, the ranch was part of the Ortiz Brothers Spanish land grant and with Mexican independence from Spain, the ranch became part of Mexico. In 1916, Pancho Villa raided and attempted to take Rancho de la Osa and a cannon ball from the attack was found embedded in the adobe wall of the Hacienda, which is on display today.

Once you’ve taken in the enormous breadth of Rancho de la Osa’s history, saddle up and choose the Ranch’s U.S.—Mexico Border ride. Yes, you read that correctly, guests of all riding abilities can see and even touch The Wall.

Start on horseback through wooded mesquite trails and low sandy washes. Next, the wranglers will take you past the Ranch’s cemetery, dating from the early 1800s. From here, the horses leave the ranch, cross into La Mirador Ranch and continue to the border with Mexico, about a 20-minute ride. You travel directly to the fence separating the countries. There, wranglers can describe the scenery that unfolds. They can explain the reason for the black jugs piled feet high in some places, the blankets, clothes and more.

After all questions are answered, and there are many, wranglers will continue on with the ride reemerging at the ranch. For those who are curious, the wall ends abruptly in the desert. Draw your own conclusions, but history and reality is present, evident and relevant!

Click here to see other Arizona Dude Ranches

trail rides

 

The Other Border Ride

Bar W Guest Ranch, Whitefish, Montana

For the second wildest ride, the DRA is going to take you to our northern border with Canada. At Bar W Ranch, there is a full-day horseback trail ride that will take guests to an extremely wild site. Throughout the day the terrain changes, and riders can walk, trot, or lope through open meadows and lush forests before exploring Lake Koocanusa. Riders think they’ve entered a postcard with a majestic mountain backdrop and long sandy beaches as far as the eye can see. Lake Koocanusa signifies the cooperation between two friendly neighbors, “Koocanusa” is an abbreviation of KOOtenai River and the first three letters of CANada and USA.

The “wildest” part of this ride is traveling along the three-wire fence separating the two neighbors, USA and Canada. The fence can be seen for miles stretching in a straight line across rolling hills before disappearing into the distance. A small stone obelisk distinguishes the border and makes for a prime photo opportunity for guests who dare to put a leg on each side and claim being in two countries at once. 

Click here to see other Montana Dude Ranches

trail rides

 

Get Lost in the Lower 48’s Largest Protected Wilderness

Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch, Winston, New Mexico

The Gila National Forest expands over 3.3 million acres, is the largest federally protected landmass in the lower 48, and is also the first wilderness area designated in the United States.  

The terrain is wild, and the history won’t disappoint either. In one canyon alone, Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch takes riders through 1,000 years of history from Mimbres to Apaches to Basque and tin miners. Aptly named Dwelling Canyon, this location has been a geologically unique stopping place for years marked with pictographs, cliff dwellings, Basque structures, and mining equipment. Sitting in a cave that demonstrates humanity for thousands of years, now that’s wild. 

The ranch will also take you on trail rides through Taylor Creek Canyon, Beaver Canyon, Whitewater Canyon, Hoyt Canyon, just some of the spectacular canyons that are truly awe-inspiring and jaw dropping. Gaze up at canyon walls as you ride through creeks fed by warm spring waters.

Click here to see other New Mexico Dude Ranches

trail rides

 

Private Elk Pastures

Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge, Flathead Lake, Montana

Horseback ride through a 500-acre Montana elk preserve. Guests are led into the ranch’s private elk preserve where they will be able to view mature bull and cow elk in their natural habitat. Depending on time of year riders view the Lodge’s heard in full velvet or mature growth. In the fall guests can watch from a distance as the bull elk spar with each other testing their strength for the rut. 

Click here to see other Montana Dude Ranches

trail rides

 

Moose in Moose, WY

Gros Ventre River Ranch, Moose, Wyoming

Grab a cup of cowboy coffee and a glance at one of America’s largest mammals along this wild breakfast ride. Gros Ventre River Ranch in Moose, WY, has riders leave by 7 am from the barn to get the best in at dawn when wildlife are active before bedding down for the day. Exciting sightings include moose, elk and eagles. The Jackson Hole area is notorious for iconic wildlife and this particular ride allows guests to see the ranch’s valley during a serene time when most are still sleeping.

The final destination is a picnic spot by the Gros Ventre River. There, breakfast is prepared in cast iron pots over the fire. The menu includes biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, fruit tea, juice, hot chocolate, and, of course, more cowboy coffee. 

Click here to see other Wyoming Dude Ranches

trail rides

 

Wild Horses

Lazy L&B Ranch, Dubois, Wyoming

There are few spots left in America where you can view wild horses. Luckily, the horses on staff at Lazy L & B Ranch know where to find them. The ranch offers a three-hour round trip ride where wranglers will bring you atop a mesa behind the ranch. The view is spectacular, and more often than not, guests will have the opportunity to see at least one of the herds of wild horses that inhabit the area. It’s remarkable to be on horse and take in the noises and sights of their wild cousins.

trail rides

 

Click here to see more about dude ranch vacations!

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The National Dude Ranch Association (DRA) has over 10,000 trail rides throughout the Western United States and Canada. Travel across National Forest, BLM, private acreage and hundreds of miles of waterways that traverse high and low altitude, valley and mountain, desert and coast, with the wranglers of the DRA. However, of all these options, which is truly the wildest in 2018?

 

A Dude Ranch Family Vacation - Fun for All Ages

A dude ranch is one of the best options for your next family vacation. With programs centered around horseback riding and western lifestyle activities, you’ll have more fun with your family than you ever thought possible! Parents and children will get to relax and enjoy their vacation in a way that, even though your day is full of activities and outdoor adventures, the mental exhaustion of traveling is not there. Best of all, parents are free from planning entertaining activities for the kids, the only decision making you’ll have to do will be whether to lounge by the pool, go for a horseback ride or hike up to a scenic vista for the afternoon. All the details are taken care of by your ranch hosts, such as meals, activities and housekeeping. With ranches offering family centered activities or an all-day supervised kids program, you’ll be able to find the ranch that is tailored to fit exactly what you are looking for in your family vacation. 

Dude Ranches for a Family Vacation

 

7D Ranch - Cody,WY

The 7D Ranch has been known as a premier Wyoming family guest ranch since 1958. Their kids program is designed to introduce kids to the world of livestock and horses by patient wranglers who take great care to build the children’s confidence. The program is geared for ages 3 – 12, but children of all ages enjoy participating in the activities. All scheduled activities are optional and kids can pick and choose to be with parents or with the group. 

 

Drowsy Water Ranch - Granby,CO

For 90+ years the Drowsy Water Ranch in Colorado has been known for real down-home hospitality and making fond memories on your family vacation. For kids 6 – 13 the ranch has an instruction-based horseback riding program where they practice skills before setting out on the trail. The activities progress to higher levels as the kids advance. For ages 5 and under kid’s counselors take care of the individual needs of your little ones, while you get to enjoy the adult oriented activities at the ranch. 

 

Vee Bar Ranch - Laramie,WY

The Vee Bar Ranch is a family-friendly ranch, and most definitely, a kid friendly dude ranch. With a variety of activities from horseback riding to river tubing, everyone in the family is sure to have fun. Children 6 years and up are able to ride with their family on the trail. Younger children are invited to be at the barn for a nice lead around ride in the barn area before and after the big trail rides. While baby sitting is offered at the ranch, most families choose to enjoy the activities as a family unit. 

 

CM Ranch a great dude ranch for a family vacation!

Kids enjoying arena activities at the CM Ranch in Wyoming. 

Elkhorn Ranch - Gallatin Gateway,MT

Children thrive at the Elkhorn Ranch in Montana, enjoying their independence while under the watchful eye of a kid’s counselor. With a combination of family and individual activities, your family vacation at this ranch will ultimately be one of shared experiences and wonderful memories. For ages 6 – 12 there is a kid’s program from breakfast until 8:30 at night, where the kids usually choose to ride, eat and play together.  

 

Sweet Grass Ranch - Big Timber,MT

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 family vacation. This ranch truly understands and facilitates the magic that happens between kids and horses. While the ranch doesn’t offer a formal program for kids, the young ones are welcome to participate in all aspects of ranch life at this family-owned and operated working cattle ranch. 

 

CM Ranch - Dubois,WY

As an ideal location for family reunions, the CM Ranch has been providing western vacations for 100+ years. The ranch loves to host children and family vacations of all ages. For kids 5 and older there is a supervised riding program to learn western horsemanship skills and experience ranch traditions. The staff at the ranch works hard to provide activities for children and teenagers for the most enjoyable ranch experience possible. 

 

Rankin Ranch - Caliente,CA

Children are never bored at the Rankin Ranch in Southern California. With planned activities during the day for ages 4 – 11, parents and grandparents appreciate watching their children explore nature in the traditional ranch setting. After dinner the children head down to Sarah’s Farm to help bottle feed the baby animals, throw hay to the lambs and goats and hold the chickens. Following the excitement at the farm, children meet up with their parents for the family style evening activities.

 

Looking for more great dude ranches and advice for a family vacation? Check out these blogs – 

10 Great Dude Ranches Vacations for Families

The Best Multi-Generational Dude Ranches

How to Choose the Right Dude Ranch for your Family

 

 

Pin this for later to remember your favorite dude ranch family vacation!

A dude ranch is one of the best options for your next family vacation. With programs centered around horseback riding and western lifestyle activities, you’ll have more fun with your family than you ever thought possible! All the details are taken care of by your ranch hosts, such as meals, activities and housekeeping. With ranches offering family centered activities or an all-day supervised kids program, you’ll be able to find the ranch that is tailored to fit exactly what you are looking for.

Down at the Ranch

In an age of digital overload, polarized politics, and the overwhelming rush of modern life, there are dude ranch vacations to recharge, rejuvenate, reconnect and embrace a more simple time. There’s a dude ranch waiting for you out there, and more than likely it’s close to a national park if you want the best of both worlds (ranch and park worlds, that is). Whether it’s the high mountain range or vast desert valleys, grab your boots and hat and spend the morning in the saddle, the afternoon with a drink by the pool, and a quiet evening of reflection in front of a raging fire. You’ll be tired, but it’s a good tired, by the time the sun sets behind the wild hills.

These are all-inclusive vacations, from small outfits to large spreads, with plenty to do: hiking, fishing, swimming, white-water rafting, rodeos, western dances, and even campfire sing-a-longs. And of course, there’s boots and saddles, riding the range and lariats. And for the kids, it’s a chance to become a cowpoke, explore the ranches, play games, and make new friends. It’s the perfect cure for the modern world. While finding the right ranch might sound onerous, it doesn’t have to be if you rely on the Dude Ranchers’ Association’s members. Formed in 1926, the DRA ensures that guests are treated right, with lodging and service at the highest standards. The DRA’s six foundations for members are, “Horses, Hats, Hospitality - Heritage, Honesty and Heart.” It’s the perfect getaway, and as comfortable as a well-worn pair of pointy boots.

 

Geronimo Trail Ranch

New Mexico at the Geronimo Trail Ranch

You could head south to the Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch in Winston, New Mexico, in the Black Range Mountains. The sun provides the electricity and cell service is an hour’s drive away. It’s untouched country with high meadows, archaeological sites, and you’ll see it all from the backs of gentle horses. You’ll eat well after a day in the saddle with ranch-style cooking and outdoor barbecues, and the skies are not cloudy all day. With only four guest cabins, it’s intimate and you’ll become part of the family and ranch-life.

Tanque Verde Ranch

Arizona's Tanque Verde Ranch

One state to the west, in Arizona, spend time at one of America’s oldest ranches, the Tanque Verde Ranch near Tucson.  Located in the Rincon Mountains, it has a rich history of Native American and Spanish civilizations. Settled in 1868, the ranch has been offering an oasis for families since 1957. There are more than 150 horses to choose from, but it’s not all work in the saddle, as guests can enjoy the tennis courts and a swimming pool after a relaxing ride. And Saguaro National Park is right next door. At day’s end, dust off your chaps, kick back and watch an Arizona sunset stretch across the sky.

California's Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch

California's Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch

Out in Quincy, California, the Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch will treat you right. Just an hour from the Reno airport, it’s a Western paradise, with the nearby Feather River and high peaks are yours to explore. Along with the requisite horseback riding, you can swim, hike, mountain bike, and just take a break in this tranquil setting. It’s pure magic.

Colorado's Rainbow Trout Ranch

Colorado's Rainbow Trout Ranch

In southern Colorado, the Rainbow Trout Ranch has trophy fly-fishing, legendary trail riding, and down-home hospitality. Spend the day in the saddle, land a lunker, or just take in the beauty. Nestled at 9,000 feet along the Conejos River, guests can ride the historic Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad as well.

Lazy L&B Ranch

Wyoming's Lazy L&B Ranch

As the weather warms to the north, check out the Lazy L&B Ranch in Dubois, Wyoming. Known for its cowboy culture and snowy peaks, relax in these well-furnished log cabins with their Western flair, and private baths. There’s an outdoor sitting area to just gaze at the Wind River and Absaroka mountain ranges, and you can swim in the heated pool after a trail ride, or just dive into the river. You’ll work up a thirst and hunger for the hearty meals. This is a family operation, and you’ll feel so welcome, it’ll be difficult to head back to the “real world.”

Wyoming's Crossed Sabres Ranch

Over the mountains to the north, the Crossed Sabres Ranch in Cody has been hosting visitors since 1898. Just eight miles from Yellowstone National Park’s east entrance, Crossed Sabres is smack dab in the middle of some of the wildest, most pristine mountains in the world. Along the North Fork of the Shoshone River the fishing is superb for the wily Yellowstone cutthroat trout. And you’ll have the chance to watch moose, elk, and deer graze the creeks and hillsides, and even see an occasional bear along the ridges. There’s a large, comfortable lodge, 19 cabins, and even a saloon where you can practice your best John Wayne imitation. It’s a great place for families, as the kids hold reins instead of electronic devices. Head to Cody for the nightly rodeo after a day of white water rafting, or a long trail ride, and you may just fantasize about riding a bucking bronc.

Wyoming's The Hideout Lodge Dude Ranch Vacations

Wyoming's The Hideout Lodge

Across the Bighorn Mountains, in Shell, Wyoming, the Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch is an upscale, working cattle ranch, where adventure is on the schedule. It’s a 650,000-acre adventure paradise. Learn horsemanship from the experts, and become the rider you’ve always wanted to be. Bond with your mount as you head up the trail to the high country for a view from the top of the peaks. You can take a turn working the stock, and then take a turn with trapshooting, archery, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, biking, and even 4x4 tours. Limited to just 25 guests per week, there are visitors from around the world looking for just such an authentic experience. Its high-end culinary offerings will entice and astound you.

Bar W Ranch

Montana's Bar W Ranch

In Montana take a trip to the Bar W Ranch in Whitefish. Snow-capped peaks surround you, and you’ll gallop across lush, green meadows. You’ll have 3,000 acres to ride and hike, not far from Glacier National Park. Stay in these comfortable lodges with all of the modern amenities, and an elegant western flair. It’ll take you back to this country’s roots and the beauty of nature is all around you. So bring your boots (smooth-soled, of course, to get in and out of stirrups), and let loose your inner cowboy or cowgirl at one of America’s premiere dude ranches. It’ll change your perspective, and maybe even your life.


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Riding Lessons Before My Ranch Stay?

The Dude Ranchers' Association often receives inquiries about riding lessons before going on a dude ranch vacation. Recently, Philip W asked,

"Should I attend a Western riding school here in England before? Or, would it be better to wait till I am at the ranch in case the teaching here is not as good as (or would conflict with) that which I would receive on the ranch?"

In short, I responded "I think it would be a great idea to take riding lessons before you go." The long explanation below has a little more information. English and Western riding styles vary but the essential muscles used are the same. Taking lessons from a quality location will teach you about basic interactions with horses and help get you in shape for a weeks worth of riding. However, please understand that horse training and styles of riding can be related to intense perspectives. The more flexible you are at learning different viewpoints the more you are apt to benefit from the dude ranch experience and independent riding lessons. Each dude ranch in this association has policies and guidelines in place to keep riders safe. Adaptation to each location will be essential. Most riding lessons will occur in an enclosed arena and most dude ranches ride over hills, mountains and National Parks. If you can imagine these differences of locations you can imagine why the instructions might be different.

Should I Take Riding Lessons Before My Ranch Stay?

  • Introduction to Equus Caballus, the modern day horse

A horse weighs anywhere from 840 - 2,300 pounds, 4.7 - 6 feet at the shoulders and has as many different breeds as dogs. There are lots of different things you can learn about this animal and the equipment used in your lessons. The physical characteristics, proper etiquette and basic grooming techniques. Each horse you meet is different from the next; the more interactions you have with them the more you can discover.

  • Physical Fitness

Horseback riding does not require extreme athleticism, but like learning any new sport or exercise, new muscles can be "discovered" by soreness. Taking lessons would be an accurate, if not the most accurate, way to identify these muscles. Preventing soreness would definitely make your ranch stay more enjoyable.

  • Coordination, Balance and Stability

First time riders may soon realize that riding a horse is tougher than it looks. It requires coordination, balance and stability. There are a lot of parts and pieces to keep up with. A lot needs to happen simultaneously to get a horse to pick up speed or even walk in a circle without wandering off. Riding lessons will begin this learning journey, that even the most experienced of riders continue to improve upon.

Riding is definitely not as hard as walking a tight rope at the circus, but it does require you to straddle the horse and stay in the middle. Balancing and stabilizing your weight in your seat and in the stirrups gets easier with practice. And the better you are at this the easier it will be on the horse.

All this being said, dude ranches are accustomed to and enjoy sharing their love of horses and horseback riding with novice riders and can accommodate all experience levels. You can ride for as long as you like each day and your down time is flexible. Did you know that most dude ranches offer riding lessons as well? All in all I would say riding lessons are a good idea before, during and even after your dude ranch stay. Make sure the location is a quality one and learn all you can. Call the office at 307.587.2339 if you have any questions. Be inspired by this quote from Denis Diderot

"There are three principal means of acquiring knowledge... observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation. Observation collects facts; reflection combines them; experimentation verifies the result of that combination."
Sundance Trail Arena Rodeo Barrel Race Riding Lesson
Sundance Trail Ranch in Colorado Offers Riding Lessons and Rodeo Activities

Read more about the Sundance Trail Guest Ranch

Rocking Z Arena Round Pen Riding Lessons
The Rocking Z Ranch Teaches Lessons from Pat Parelli

Read more about the Rocking Z Ranch

McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch Riding Lessons
 
Learn about cattle work at the McGinnis Meadows Cattle Ranch

Read more about the McGinnis Meadows Cattle Ranch

 

Do I Need Riding Lessons Before a Dude Ranch Vacation?

The Dude Ranchers' Association often receives inquiries about riding lessons before going on a dude ranch vacation. Recently, Philip W asked, "Should I attend a Western riding school here in England before? Or, would it be better to wait till I am at the ranch in case the teaching here is not as good as (or would conflict with) that which I would receive on the ranch?" Read more about why we think it may be a good idea to take riding lessons before your stay.

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The Western dude ranch rejuvenates & boosts health

According to experts, taking a vacation is good for your health.  Despite this fact, Americans and Canadians tend to shortchange their vacation time, often leaving earned time on the table or taking a day here and a day there instead of a week or more at one stretch. The Western dude ranch rejuvenates & boosts health.

Since 1926 the Dude Ranchers’ Association shaped and established the highest quality standards in the guest ranch industry. A DRA (as it’s known,) guest ranch is the epitome of a Western holiday and providing both the time and environment to foster good health. Surrounded by spectacular beauty, far from the noise and crowds of fast-paced cities, serenity comes easy to each guest.

According to the career website, Workopolis, “Psychologists say that it takes five to seven days to de-stress from work, so doing it piecemeal can be counter productive. Most of the studies show people need about two weeks in one block a year to feel the benefits of a vacation.”  During summer the majority of DRA guest ranches operate in week-long increments, allowing guests the time to unwind, settle in and savor the experience. In addition to horsemanship, ranches offer activities satisfying the recreational and social needs of each generation. Tennis clinics, mountain biking, rock climbing, zip-lining, bird watching, crafts, hiking, whitewater rafting, and golf; each can be enjoyed during a  Western ranch vacation. Some ranches also offer known stress reducers like yoga, meditation, massages and other soothing spa treatments.

The Home Dude Ranch Yoga Retreat for your health

Dude ranches are ideal places for kids and families to re-connect.  Without the typical distractions of TV, phones, computers and electronic games, families spend quality time together sometimes just hanging out on the porch swing or sitting around the campfire. There are more than 100 members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association in the Western US and Canada.  Each is a little different but each DRA dude ranch vacation is the most potent tonic to combat the stress caused by the uncertain times we live in.  Check out our website at www.duderanch.org or e-mail us at colleen@duderanch.org.


 

Book before January!

As families get together for the holidays and consider past celebrations, vacations and shared moments, the conversations often move to the topic of “Where are we going to book our next family holiday destination?” The Thanksgiving through New Years holiday season is a busy time of vacation inquiries for dude and guest ranches. That being said, most small venue dude ranches have a guest capacity under 50 persons. An extended family group that incorporates 2-4 family units might mean that an inquiring party is looking at reserving greater than half of the ranch capacity. This means that you must select a date that has minimal prior reservations in order to book for your family group size. To book last minute at these smaller venue vacation destinations is extremely difficult, since the prime dates often fill-up a year in advance. If you are considering a dude ranch or guest ranch vacation, and you hope to travel during the months of June, July, or August, then firming up your travel plans by the prior January is not too early. In fact, many of the prime weeks will already be filled by January. Small venue size, loyal returning clients, restrictive travel dates, and competing advance planners all add-up to a call to action for prospective dude ranch vacationers. Don’t Wait! Choose your ideal ranch, and make the call now, before you are disappointed by having your only available travel date blocked-out with a filled to capacity ranch. Below are some great ranches you might choose from. By Doug Cole, Marble Mountain Ranch


Book a Stay with Rawah Ranch

Colorado high country To the mountain tribe of Ute Indians, “Rawah” was the word meant for “abundance.” Nestled at 8,400 feet, just south of the Wyoming border neighboring the snow capped peaks of the rugged Rawah Wilderness, Rawah Ranch and Fly Fishing Lodge occupies a magical setting in the still undiscovered Big Laramie River valley.


  Book a Stay at Elk River Guest Ranch

The Elk River Valley, within the historic ranch lands of Steamboat Springs, Colorado Bordered by the 2.2 million acre Medicine Bow - Routt National Forest (clear up into Wyoming) and offering 2,000 feet of private river frontage, the Elk River Guest Ranch offers a unique blend of outdoor activities, town proximity, and mountain solitude.


  Book a Stay at Deep Canyon Ranch

The foothills of the Rocky Mountains Nestled in the Teton Canyon, our 1,200 acre ranch offers a diversity of riding experiences. From the foothills of the Rocky Mountain Front to the canyons entering the Bob Marshall Wilderness, you can enjoy the magnificence of nature at it's best at the Deep Canyon Ranch. A capable and experienced staff, with room for 20 guests, and owner operated, we have made this our home and business since 1958. Enjoy your free time in our spacious lodge or dining room with-a-view, or in your comfortable, modern cabin with it's porch overlooking the valley.


Book a Stay at the Sweet Grass Cattle Ranch

Sixth generation, family-owned cattle operation and guest ranch With miles of Sweet Grass Creek winding through the ranch, alpine forests, pristine lakes, and rolling foothills dotted with vibrant wildflowers, Sweet Grass Ranch offers spectacularly diverse terrain beckoning to be explored.  Our family welcomes guests to join us for exceptional horseback adventures, authentic cattle work, and to experience the area’s abundant recreation opportunities; including hiking, plentiful wildlife viewing, and lake, stream or pond fishing.


 

There's a Dude Ranch for Everyone

Enjoy a taste of the authentic American West where horses, hats, history and hospitality 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 Heaven. Want to gaze into a crackling fire instead of a computer screen? Then, it’s time you discovered the majestic beauty of the land and got reacquainted with your family and friends. Join us any time of year for genuine western hospitality. Prices, programs and activities vary. We guarantee the lodging industry’s highest standards whether staying in a rustic cabin or top end ranch resort. Once you’ve had a taste of a dude ranch, you may never want to go anywhere else on vacation again. These ranches below offer unique, personalized experience. Find the one that fits you and yours below.


Elkhorn Family Reunion

Elkhorn Ranch - Montana

The Elkhorn Ranch is one of the few remaining traditional dude ranches where outdoor activities are the focus each day. We are a family-oriented guest ranch with guests of all ages enjoying time with their friends, new and old, without sacrificing the very special feeling of shared family time.    

Medicine Bow Western Family Vacation

Medicine Bow Lodge

The Medicine Bow Lodge And Guest Ranch is located at approximately 8500 feet in the Snowy Range of the Rocky Mountains. The closest town is Saratoga, Wyoming which is about 22 miles to the west. The land on which the Guest Ranch sits is located in the Medicine Bow National Forest.    

Red Reflet Ranch Lodges

Red Reflet Ranch

The Red Reflet is both Working Ranch and Luxury Resort where guests are treated like family. Super inclusive of ATV use, all riding, lessons, all beverages, snacks, stocked kitchen, all activities.      

Triangle X Grand Teton National Park

Triangle X

Triangle X Ranch is an authentic working dude ranch located in the heart of Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Established in 1926 by the Turner family, Triangle X offers unparalleled horseback riding and one of the most complete outdoor recreational packages of any facility in the Mountain West.  


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Splash into Summer with a Dude Ranch for Teenagers

When the kids are little you try to make sure the parents have their space, but as teenagers, they would like some activities geared towards them. Plan a dude ranch vacation next summer where everyone has an equally great time. Each family member, regardless of age can experience a little bit of freedom and a chance to do something unique at the ranch. There is plenty of flexibility at a dude ranch to appreciate things individually, as a family or with new friends you meet along your stay. As an all - inclusive destination you might find yourself doing any number of outdoorsy activities, horseback riding, hiking, rock climbing, white water rafting, zip lining, fishing, etc. There are so many things to do! Careful, time flies when you are having fun, so be sure to book your stay long enough to enjoy everything!

Swim Your Horse

Sweet Grass Teenager

Sweet Grass Ranch, Big Timber, Montana 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. Sweet Grass started out as a kids’ camp years ago, hosting kids ages 9 to 19 for the entire summer; This ranch understand the magic that happens between a kid and a horse.  Without a 'formal' teenager program everyone is welcome to participate in all aspects of ranch life.  Teens often go on their own rides, swim their horses, and participate with cattle work.  The ranch 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.

Sail Away 

Averills Teenagers

Averill's Flat Head Lake Lodge, Big Fork, Montana Located only 35 miles from Glacier National Park, Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge offers the ultimate family vacation with unlimited horse & water recreation.  The lakefront is always a popular spot for teens. Popular among beach communities all over the country, Stand Up Paddle Boarding has become a favorite activity for teens at the Lodge. In addition, teens can spend the afternoon wake boarding, water skiing, or knee boarding off the ski dock, a great opportunity for experienced or first time skiers! The pool is always a great spot to lounge on hot afternoons as are the canoes and kayaks that are always available. Enjoy unmatched Western hospitality by the Averill family and staff and a truly priceless family experience…Montana style!

Your Day, Your Way!

Vista Verde Hot Air Balloon Teenager

Vista Verde Ranch, Steamboat Springs, Colorado What makes a ranch vacation at Vista Verde unique is the flexibility and personalized attention that goes into each experience. The diverse selection of activities can make it hard to choose what to do each day, but the planning is made easy as the staff simply comes around each evening and ask “What do you want to do tomorrow?”  Your day, your way! The wranglers and guides will go out of their way to tailor each experience to your interest, ability, and fitness level. Top-notch gear and equipment are provided, and you’ll get plenty of instruction to help you master a new skill, or build on existing skills fly fishing, rock climbing, paddle boarding, photography, yoga, culinary adventures, rafting & kayaking.

There's More!

Don't see your teen's favorite sport or activity? Give us a call here at the National Dude Ranchers' Association. We represent 100+ Dude Ranches West of the Mississippi. There's sure to be the perfect ranch for you. 307.587.2339

 

Dude Ranch for Teenagers

 

When the kids are little you try to make sure the parents have their space, but as teenagers, they would like some activities geared towards them. Plan a dude ranch vacation next summer where everyone has an equally great time. Each family member, regardless of age can experience a little bit of freedom and a chance to do something unique at the ranch.

Anytime is the Best Time to Go to a Dude Ranch

Dude Ranches are the original western adventure vacation. They are locations in the wilderness that 'haven't had all the rough ridden off of it.'  While at the same time still being the perfect vacation spot will all the amenities you could need or want. Often clients of the Dude Ranchers' Association ask when is the best time of year to go to a dude ranch. The answer is always, 'Anytime you would like.' In all four seasons there are ranch destinations available to meet your expectations. Even if your are traveling through the holidays!  There are ranches open year round with exclusive spots catering around special seasons of the year. Summer is the peak season for our Northwestern Ranches. It's the high time to enjoy nice warm sunny days in the mountains. At the end of the summer season for these ranches life in the mountains slows down to almost a halt. Some destinations are snowed in until spring and the only way in or out is by snow mobile.  At these ranches, this means only a select few employees are allowed to stay and maintain, while other ranches invite you into their winter wonder land,  full of winter adventures of all types. What happens when you live in a cold place and you would like to warm up a bit? Well, you head south of course. Where the dry dessert winter has plenty of warm sunshine to melt away your winter blues. Leave your parka's at home. Put on your cowboy boots and jeans and head out for a few days or a week to our Southern Ranches.  This is their time to shine as an adventure vacation destination.  The weather here has reached the peak of enjoyment.

No matter where you are or what kind of weather you are looking for, the Western United States and Canada is home to your preferred western adventure ranch. Below are highlighted few winter and summer destinations.

Vista Verde Drive Cattle

Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado

June - October, December - March

K diamond Krcrossing the river

K Diamond K Guest Ranch, Washington

Year-Round

Seven Devils Snow Snowmobiling

Seven Devils Lodge & Guide Service, Council, Idaho

January - November

Hideout AZ

Hideout Guest Ranch, Portal, Arizona

Year-Round

Circle Z Ranch

Circle Z Guest Ranch, Patagonia, Arizona

October ~ May

 

Best Time of Year for a Ranch Vacation 

     When is the Best Time for a Ranch Vacation

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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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Celebrating 90 Years of Preserving, Protecting and Promoting the Western Way of Life

Historic Dude Ranch

Created in 1926, the National Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) was founded to preserve, protect and promote the unique experience and identity of a dude ranch vacation. And 90 years later, the association has stayed true to its mission – while also evolving to offer guests the ultimate, all-inclusive Western vacation experience. While its core values and emphasis on horsemanship have remained the same, the DRA has continued to strengthen its presence and purpose each year through promoting new member experiences and innovative ideas within the industry. Nearly a century ago, the DRA was created as the official governing body of the West’s dude ranch industry. In September of 1926, the first official DRA 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.

Paradise-Ranch-Historic

2016 officially marks 90 years of introducing guests from all over the world to the Western way of life. Over the years, vacati on expectations have shifted, and the DRA and its member ranches have evolved their offerings to fit with changing times. The association is currently made up of more than 100 ranch members, all of whom have completed a rigorous two-year inspection and approval process, and over 150 affiliated members. 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. 

Triangle-X-Historic-2

This “original Western 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 and 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. For those interested in activities beyond the saddles and cowboy boots, many guest ranches offer 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.

The DRA will kick off its yearlong anniversary celebrations at the 90th Annual Dude Ranchers’ Association Convention on January 19-23, 2016, in Cody, Wyoming, where more than 60 member ranches are expected to attend the four-day event. 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. We hope you will join us in celebrating the legacy built by the DRA. Its 90th anniversary milestone not only represents a history of success for dude ranches, but also looks forward to a future of upholding the ultimate Western vacation. By Wrangler Network contributor, the Dude Ranchers’ Association


 

Red White and Blue ~ 4th of July at a Dude Ranch

The 4th of July is all about family, BBQ’s, Rodeos, Parades and our Freedom. Why not celebrate in 4th of July style every day of the week with  a vacation that involves riding horses in the great open spaces of the American West and the Canadian Rockies. Dude Ranches are located in some of the most breathtaking areas of the U.S. (and Canada), dude ranches can handle any request, from horseback riding and fly fishing to yoga and cooking classes to zip lining and hiking, campfire cookouts, BBQ's, line dancing and much more.

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. 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 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.”

Below are a few ranches you should consider this summer for your “All-American Family Vacation”

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch Red White and Blue`

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch - Arkansas

Stagecoach Trails Red White ad Blue

Stagecoach Trails Ranch - Arizona

Hunewill Guest Ranch Red White and Blue

Hunewill Guest Ranch - California

Black Mountain Ranch Red White and Blue

Black Mountain Ranch


Plan Your Dude Ranch Family Reunion

When asking yourself how to plan your dude ranch family reunion it may be helpful to follow this question guide. The ranches listed here are great examples of places to take your family for your next family reunion. They are all accredited members of the Dude Ranchers' Association. As such they are held to the highest industry standards and are kept accountable to provide unforgettable destination vacations. Find your ranch today. Let us help.

Sylvan Dale Reunion

A Sylvan Dale Ranch Reunion

When would you like to go?

Planning ahead is essential. We recommend that the larger size the group the farther in advance you should book your stay. Ranches fill up quick during their peak season. Are you planning a vacation during the spring time? Then you should probably start looking the summer before and asking about availability.  You can do this for multiple ranch at once using our Favorites Feature.

 

Where would you like to be geographically?

Maybe somewhere near a National Park or National Monument? How about a climate specific location? Or elevation? Oh, and what about Grandpa's siblings who live out West somewhere?  For example, if Yellowstone National Park is at the top of your list, please look at these ranches for your next reunion: Rimrock Ranch, Elkhorn Ranch and R Lazy S Ranch.

 

How many people will be there?

No matter how big or small your reunion will be there are ranches who can accommodate. If the whole family would like to be in one large cabin that can hold up to 10 -20 people that can be arranged. Or maybe the older adults would like to be in a more secluded, quiet part of the ranch while the younger generations can have a cabin right in the middle of all of the action. Rich Ranch, Paradise Guest Ranch and the Red Reflet Ranch are great locations with many different housing options for your next reunion.

Elkhorn Family Reunion

Elkhorn Ranch Trail Ride

What would you like to do?

Would you prefer to take only the adults on your vacation and ride in the saddle all day working cattle with cowboys who center your reunion around their cattle operation? Use the Search by Amenity Page to discover these ranches.  Or maybe turn loose the whole family on a variety of activities during the day? For starters that would include horseback riding, white water rafting, hiking fishing, mountain biking, or zip lining.  What about your less active relatives? For them they can relax by the pool, enjoy the spa services or swap stories in the saloon.  Have no concern for the youngest, they will be included as well.  At the Red Horse Mountain they are famous for their extensive kids program starting at age 3. Babysitting serves are generally offered at an additional cost or ranches may offer a steep discount for a nanny.

 

How long would you like to stay?

In hearty dude ranch tradition some ranches require a full week stay in order to really experience life on the ranch. However, we realize you may not be able to spend 6 nights and 7 days at the ranch. Please consider Medicine Bow Lodge, Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, Majestic and Covered Wagon Ranch for your shorter stay requirements.

 

Ranch Pictures

The Cabins at Paradise Guest Ranch

 

If you would like more personal assistance planning your vacation please contact us (Leah and Colleen) at the Dude Ranchers' Association. We are able to provide a more concise and tailored list of ranches to choose from. We understand that navigating through all 104 ranches in our Association is a little overwhelming. Sketch out the details of your trip and let us help with the rest. You can call 307.587.2339 from 8 - 4:30 MST or email info@duderanch.org anytime you like. We look forward to hearing from you.  Happy trails!


     

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.


 

3 ways Dude Ranches Offer Best Value for Travel Dollar

Due to the cost of travel a vacation to any destination may seem like a “pipe dream.” But don’t rule out a summer getaway completely until you’ve considered a stay at a Dude Ranchers’ Association member dude ranch. These quintessential Western getaways have always offered tremendous value for the money. Below are 3 ways Dude Ranches offer best bang for your buck.

Your Dollar Buys More at Home - To keep cost down many travelers are looking for vacation destinations within the USA. For the same reason, so are many European and other foreign travelers. The dude ranch has always been popular overseas for its quintessential American flavor. So, even if you forgo a British Isles trip this season, your kids may very well get the opportunity to mingle with kids from another country at a Western DRA member dude ranch. When you are ready, head out to the Cowboy State - Wyoming and visit the Rimrock Ranch  and Medicine Bow Lodge & Guest Ranch. Visit with the Rocking Z family operated ranch in the big sky country of Montana.    

All-inclusive - DRA ranches are typically all-inclusive operating under the American plan. At Marble Mountain Ranch you can enjoy their saddle and paddle program - riding horses and white water rafting all for one price. Most activities don’t come with extra charges, including extra costs for dining out. Ranches are notorious for hearty wholesome meals – many catering to guests request and special dietary needs. At the Red Reflet Ranch you are provided with farm raised produce and beef excellently prepared by the executive chef.       Red-Horse-All-Inclusive

There’s A DRA Ranch to Fit Each Lifestyle, Each Budget - While each DRA ranch guarantees an authentic Western experience, each offers different amenities and activities. A carefully selected ranch can satisfy the entertainment needs for each member of the family. Ranches come with hot tubs, rifle ranges, swimming pools, spas, fishing guides, tennis and basketball courts, whitewater rafting and more. Red Horse Mountain Ranch is one with a very extensive list of family fun adventures.  While each DRA ranch is a quality destination, rates do vary. For the budget minded there are ranches offering stays of shorter duration. At Three Bars Guest Ranch you can stay for three nights or indefinitely.  And, don’t forget it’s possible to pay off-season, reduced rates for periods just before and following the “high season” of Mid June through late August and September. Today, there are more than 100 DRA member ranches in the Western US and Canada, and at least one of them has all the elements making it an ideal and affordable getaway for your 2015 summer vacation.


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.

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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Find Your Frontier

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


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


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


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


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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.  

Dude Ranches Come With Multi-Sport Family Adventures So You Don’t Have to Create Your Own!

There’s a new term popping up for the action-packed modern family vacation. It’s known as the “multi-sport adventure,” and it calls for multi planning as well. Long before anyone lifts a paddle or laces-up hiking boots they must first create an itinerary calling for frequent stops, hiring a local outfitter, and arranging for suitable food and shelter along the adventure. Linking together the components of the multi-sports adventure can get complicated. But it doesn’t have to be. There’s one vacation category where sports loving families can simply park the car, unpack their bags and settle in for a week of jam-packed action. It’s the Western dude ranch, a place where folks don’t have to think about what comes next. All the details are in place to let the good times roll! Sure, horses and riding are paramount to any Western dude ranch experience, but in addition to riding (or sometimes in place of) they ride the rapids, paddle a canoe, play golf or tennis, hike in the wilderness, cycle the back roads and mountain trails, go caving, hot air ballooning or rock climbing. Many ranches have recently added ropes courses, zip lines, climbing walls and 3 dimensional archery. 

"Another beauty of multi-sporting at a dude ranch is when parents want to take time for themselves, Dad can play a round of golf and Mom can relax with spa treatments.” That’s an apt description for Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge, a 2,000 acre, family operated Montana dude ranch, nestled on a bay on the east shore of Flathead Lake just south of Glacier National Park. Here, guests are just steps away from the largest freshwater lake West of the Mississippi. A waterfront staff leads activities at the main dock daily, including sailing, water skiing, and wake boarding. Instruction for beginners and private lessons are available. The ranch volleyball, tennis, and basketball courts see a lot of action each day as do the horses. Riding can get competitive here as well. There are team penning and barrel racing events all week ending with a family rodeo. And yes, there’s a top-rated Jack Nicklaus Jr. golf-course just minutes away as well as an on-site professional masseuses skilled in therapeutic massages from hot stone to rejuvenating deep tissue.

  Arkansas’s Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is another paradise for families on multi-sport adventures. Tucked into the Buffalo River Wilderness of Northern Arkansas, sporting adventures include “Frisbee” golf, skeet shooting, the state’s longest zip line course, and of course, rock climbing. One of the finest climbing courses in the state was developed on ranch property. The zip-line carries many a thrill seeker moving at breakneck speed above a deep gulch. For some, paddling the Buffalo River, trout fishing, or exploring old Indian caves provides enough action.       

"Glamorous Camping" has come of age at the Bar W Ranch. You get the best of both worlds - being and feeling a part of nature while staying in an elegant setting at the same time. The Bar W offers two luxurious canvas tents decorated Bar W style - simple elegance blended with western informality. Each tent is decked out with a queen size bed, full sized futon, private porch, kitchenette and chic Western décor. Both tents have a private bath located just a couple of feet away. Your glamping experience is nestled in a pasture with wild flowers, a string of horses and all sorts of wildlife right outside. You'll never think of camping the same way again.   As you can see there really is something for everyone at a Multi-Sport Dude Ranch, so what are you waiting for??

Horseshoe-canyon-activities-Rock-Climbing

Ecotourism and Sustainable Practices Happen Year Round at Dude Ranches

 

Did you know that the UN World Tourism organization predicts that there will be a whopping 1.6 billion eco-inspired trips taken by 2020? While ecotourism is an up-and-coming trend, DRA-accredited guest ranches have been the pioneers of green living and sustainable vacations for decades. From growing organic food and using energy-efficient appliances to making their own biodegradable fuel, dude ranches offer guests the ability to enjoy travel while reducing their “footprint.”

 Besides offering green living, a dude ranch vacation provides you with the ability to reconnect with nature in some of the most tranquil and pristine areas of the country. You’ll learn to “live off the land” with fishing trips, bird watching, hikes, wildlife viewing and much more.

 Below please find a sample of some of the DRA’s accredited ranches that are particularly well suited for those in search of a more sustainable vacation.

Smith Fork Ranch - Crawford, ColoradoSmithfork-Gardening

Celebrating farm-to-table cuisine is an important part of Smith Fork Ranch. Their own farmstead garden cultivates over 80 varieties of herbs, fruits and vegetables without the use of synthetic fertilizers or chemicals.  Additionally, with the ranch’s access to 1.3 million acres of the Gunnison National Forest and West Elk Wilderness, the ranch has a nearly unlimited and untouched outdoor kingdom.

Wilderness Trails Ranch – Durango, Colorado

This Colorado guest ranch collects bottles, cans, plastic and paper from approximately 45 guests and 35 staff members that stay at the ranch each week and loads a larger trailer to take into town 30 miles away. While staying at the ranch, guests can enjoy an exceptional horseback riding program, unsurpassed wilderness and lake access, phenomenal fishing, an award-winning Never Bored Kids Program, mountain biking opportunities, overland tours, indulgent spa treatments, taste-bud tantalizing cuisine, specialty events and more.

Rocking Z Ranch – Wolf Creek, Montana

Utilizing recycled vegetable oil, this guest ranch first started powering a stationary diesel motor to pump water for irrigation. It worked so well, the ranch now uses vegetable oil to make biodiesel after taking out the fatty acids. They use this to run the tractors, loaders, an excavator, dozer and diesel pickup during the summer months.

Diamond D Ranch - Stanley, Idaho

Situated in the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states and family owned, Diamond D Ranch is completely cut off from the power grid as electricity is provided by the ranch’s very own hydro-electric generator. At the ranch, there is an endless amount of country and wildlife to see, streams to fish and mountains in which to hike or horseback ride.

Eaton’s Ranch – Wolf, Wyoming

This Wyoming dude ranch and working cattle ranch is located on the magnificent, pine covered eastern slopes of the Bighorn Mountains. Just eighteen miles west of Sheridan, the ranch consists of 7,000 acres of beautiful open country with rolling hills, grassy meadows and hidden valleys.  A historic Wyoming dude ranch for 135 years, it offers guests a true western experience and way of life. Many new ranches have embraced and implemented modern elements into their ranches. Conversely, Eaton’s Ranch has managed to preserve its authenticity, with cozy cabins, many of which date back to the early 1900s.

Black Tail Ranch – Wolf Creek, Montana

Come discover the beauty and partake in new adventures on a historic guest ranch near the continental divide. Explore majestic mountain trails on horseback or by hiking accompanied by our experienced guides. Try your hand at fly fishing on one of Montana's premiere rivers, enjoy bird watching, cave exploring, incredible wildlife viewing, go for a swim in the creek or spend the afternoon in the shade of the big Cottonwood trees. This well-appointed working guest ranch on 8000 acres of spectacular Big Sky country is perfect for individuals, family vacations and gatherings of all kinds.

 

 

Dude Ranches Pioneer Educational Travel

The Travel Effect Campaign reports that adults who took educational trips as kids are 12 percent more likely to graduate from college and earn more than those who didn’t. Statistics  have more parents searching for family vacation options that make learning fun. Filled with experiences rooted in local culture and history, two items that 77 percent of respondents in the Travel Effect Campaign cited as having a lasting impact, we are dedicated to preserving and promoting the genuine western way of life. By offering kids the ability to experience this way of life, dude ranches are helping future generations appreciate nature, wildlife and Western culture.

A dude ranch vacation offers a variety of programming for kids of all ages, with daily schedules that are so engaging kids won’t realize they’re learning along the way. Kids programs and activities, many of which are overseen by dedicated wranglers and staff members, are designed to educate and entertain with activities ranging from ropes courses, scavenger hunts, horseback riding, panning for gold, wildlife excursions, overnight camping trips, campfire sing-a-longs, capture the flag, hay rides and much more. “I think one of the best parts about our kids programs is that it really engages kids’ adventurous spirit and teaches them about many things they wouldn’t learn within the four walls of their classrooms,   the experience has a lasting effect on the child. You can ask any kid the name of the horse they rode while vacationing at a dude ranch in a month or even a year and they will be able to tell you as well as the names of the kids and wranglers. It’s a unique memory that stays with them for many years. To embark on your next educational adventure go to www.duderanch.org/listings_search.php and search for the kids program that is right for you and your kiddos. Below are a few ranches with great kids programs to get you started: Horseshoe Canyon Fall Colors

4UR Ranch

Vista Verde Ranch

Wind River Christian Dude Ranch

A Bar A Ranch

Wilderness Trails Ranch

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

Elkhorn Ranch

Lost Valley Ranch

Three Bars Guest Ranch

Averill’s Flathead Lake Ranch

CM Ranch

 

Vacation of a Lifetime 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, outstanding horses, great food,  inviting accommodations and our spectacular locations, we guarantee a vacation you and your loved ones will not soon forget. Dude ranches are ideal places for kids, families and couples to re-discover each other, without the typical distractions of this fast paced world we live in. Families spend time together enjoying horseback riding, hiking, fishing, river rafting, working cattle, children’s programs, evening programs and much more.              Immerse yourself in the welcoming atmosphere of the Southwest while horseback riding at White Stallion Ranch or golfing at the world class golf course at Rancho de los Caballeros.                Whether you are a seasoned angler or simply want to give it a try,  stake out some private shoreline for amazing fly-fishing in Wyoming at Red Rock Ranch or Paradise Ranch.                In Montana, Glamping or “Glamorous Camping” has come of age at the Bar W Ranch and there isn’t a more fitting place to explore the wilderness of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem than at Lone Mountain Ranch.                Looking for a little more adventure while learning how the “real cowboys” made a living?  Check out The Hideout Ranch and the Red Reflet Ranch during their cattle weeks.                For some spectacular views of Teton National Park, you can’t beat Moose Head Ranch located at the base of the Tetons. Ride the high meadows of Goosewing Ranch and The Gros Ventre River Ranch while gazing at the spectacular views of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.                At Eatons’ Ranch in Wyoming and the Latigo Ranch in Colorado, they honor their heritage by providing a traditional dude ranch experience. Both ranches are family owned and operated offering great food, amazing horseback riding and, of course, true Western Hospitality. So what are you waiting for, come experience the Original all-inclusive Western Vacation at its Best!!

An Authentic Experience at a Working Dude Ranch

 Bonanza-Cattle-Lodge

Agritourism – otherwise known as agriculture-related tourism – is a growing trend in a variety of destinations. These rustic getaways allow tourists to sample the day-to-day lifestyle of the people who work in these unique, hands-on vacation spots. The idea of relaxing in awe-inspiring locales while assimilating into a different kind of life regimen is part of the appeal for vacationers looking for a rewarding getaway. In fact, Travelmarketreport.com, recently reported that “creative tourism” is one of the growing travel trends in 2014 as many people are looking for authentic experiences.

 So where can agritourists go to find this one-of-a-kind vacation experience?

 Look no further than an all-inclusive vacation at a working dude ranch: the perfect destination for agritourists – paired with thrilling adventures, opportunities to recharge and a chance to explore the “Wild West.” Think horses, hats, hospitality, heritage, honesty and heart. And that’s just the beginning. At a working dude ranch, guests can choose from a variety of activities to sample the day-to-day lifestyle of the people who tend to the livestock such as cattle drives, branding, gathering and sorting cattle, roping, checking on windmills in the wide open pastures, pack trips, team penning and much more. Below are some great examples of what to expect at an authentic Working Dude Ranch Vacation..

At Bonanza Creek Ranch cattle work is usually done once or twice a week. Moving herds from pasture to pasture, bringing the bulls home, checking for sick or injured cattle, or moving the cattle to better grass and water is all great fun. It’s great to have a job to do on horseback.

For cattle work, riders should be proficient enough to ride on their own without a wrangler by their side. However, don’t worry that you need to already be an experienced cowboy. Our wranglers, who grew up in this country working with horses and cattle, will give you instruction on how to work with cattle and how to accomplish the specific task.  

At Klondike Ranch, 90% of their spring, summer and fall work is spent horseback and working cattle every day. And every day is a new adventure. While you help them get their job done, you also get to experience beautiful Wyoming scenery with the luxuries of a guest ranch without riding in single-file lines. Every time there is a job to do you will be riding with the owners of the ranch or a full-time ranch hand. If you like trail riding, you will love riding for a purpose.

During various seasons of the year McGarry Ranches invite you to join the cowboy crew in activities to include, calving, doctoring , branding, gathering, the move to the mountains from the valley ranch and the drive from the summer range to the fall range.'Day to day activities also include roping, driving cattle to new pastures, fence mending and never ending odd jobs, all of which maintain the integrity of the herd, which numbers the better part of 2,000 head of cattle. We do our work with the cattle as the need arises, not a specific activity at a specific date. Most of the week is spent scattering cattle on the range, doctoring cattle, packing salt for cattle, trailing cattle to a new pasture on the mountain, and gathering up stray cattle in some of the most scenic mountain country of Idaho. Almost all of the work is performed from the backs of ranch broke Quarter Horses. You will be matched with one or two horses to be used by you for the duration of your stay at the ranch. We maintain approximately thirty horses for use in cattle operations. A saddle will be provided for your usage or feel free to bring your own.    

Step back into the Old West and satisfy the cowboy in you as you come alongside the cowboys of the Rowses 1+1 Ranch. Their 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 their 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 our ranch raised quarter horses that you can call your own during your entire stay. Ride away from the city, and embrace the laid back atmosphere of the old west. No hassles, no schedule, no worries. Arrive as a guest, leave as family.

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!

 

     

The Western Dude Ranch Rejuvinates & Boosts Health of Each Guest

According to experts, taking a vacation is good for you health. Despite this fact, Americans and Canadians tend to shortchange their vacation time, often leaving earned time on the table or taking a day here and a day there instead of a week or more at one stretch. Since 1926 The Dude Ranchers' Association has shaped and established the highest quality standards in the guest ranch industry. A DRA (as it's known) guest ranch is the epitome of a Western holiday and providing both the time and environment to foster good health.  Surrounded by spectacular beauty, far from the noise and crowds of fast-paced cities, serenity comes easy to each guest. According to the career website, Workopolis, "Psychologists say that it takes five to seven days to de-stress from work, so doing it piecemeal can be counter productive. Most of the studies show people need about two weeks in one block a year to feel the benefits of a vacation."  During summer the majority of DRA guest ranches operate in week-long increments, allowing guests the time to unwind, settle in and savor the experience. In addition to horsemanship, ranches offer activities satisfying the recreational and social needs of each generation. Tennis clinics, mountain biking, rock climbing, zip-lining, bird watching, crafts, hiking, whitewater rafting, and golf; each can be enjoyed during a Western ranch vacation.  Some ranches also offer known stress reducers like yoga, meditation, massages and other soothing spa treatments. Dude ranches are ideal places for kids and families to rec-connect. Without the typical distractions of TV, phones, computers and electronic games, families spend quality time together sometimes just hanging out on the porch swing or sitting around the campfire. There are more than 100 members of The Dude Ranchers' Association in the Western US and Canada. Each is a little bit different but each DRA ranch vacation is the most potent tonic to combat the stress caused by the uncertain times we live in. Check out our web site at www.duderanch.org or e-mail us at info@duderanch.org.  

    7D Ranch Cody, Wyoming Phone: +1 888-587-9885 The 7D Ranch is Wyoming's premier family guest ranch since 1958. Extensive trail riding in a pristine mountain setting. Fly-fishing with instruction. Supervised children's program. Western cuisine. Hiking from the ranch as well as in the Beartooth Mountains. Weekly trips into Yellowstone NP.

 

    A Bar A Ranch Encampment, Wyoming Phone: 307-327-5454 This is a magical place, where generations of families and friends create summer memories together. Ride with a wrangler or on your own, fish 26 miles of private streams, bring your kids to our children's program, swim in our pool and more. We invite you to share in this extraordinary experience.

 

  Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch Parshall, Colorado Phone: +1 800-396-6279 Opened since 1912, BAR LAZY J is considered the oldest continuously operating guest ranch in Colorado. The ranch is located just southwest of Rocky Mountain National Park and nestled in a peaceful valley along the banks of the Colorado River. Recreation and Relaxation is what we offer at Bar Lazy J.

 

  CM Ranch Dubois, Wyoming Phone: +1 800-455-0721 The CM Ranch is a fine dude ranch with a history of providing quality western vacations for over 100 years. The CM offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including horseback riding, fishing, hiking, pack trips, weekly rodeo, cookouts, and more. All ages welcome. Ideal for family reunions.

 

  Diamond D Ranch Stanley, Idaho Phone: 800-222-1269 The Diamond D Ranch is Idaho's premier all-inclusive guest ranch nestled in the Frank Church Wilderness and surrounded by the Salmon River Mountains. We offer several wonderful activities including horseback riding, fly-fishing, hiking, gold panning, swimming, and many evening festivities.Diamond D Cat Post Trail Family

 

    Elk Mountain Ranch Buena Vista, Colorado Phone: +1 800-432-8812 Unique for its spectacular location, horseback rides of unmatched beauty, quality horses, variety of activities, superb menu, intimate capacity and off-the-beaten path charm. Families encouraged to ride and raft together. Adults-only in September. Only 2.5 hrs from Denver Airport.

 

    Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch McLeod, Montana Phone: +1 877-496-7848 Enjoy a Montana ranch vacation in a remote pristine wilderness north of Yellowstone. Small guest capacity and unique activities. Horseback riding; Fly fishing on private frontage along the Boulder River; Jeep ride to ghost town and historic gold mines; Hiking; Scenic raft float; Campfires/cookouts.

 

      Nine Quarter Circle Ranch Gallatin Gateway, Montana Phone: +1 406-995-4276 Adjacent to Yellowstone Park, the Nine Quarter Circle is "magical" thanks to our remote location which provides incredible scenery and excellent riding opportunities. Our family-oriented vacations feature riding for all ages and levels of horsemanship while awesome blue-ribbon fly-fishing can be found on-site and in nearby rivers. Traditional activities such as campfires, cookouts, hayrides and more are a big hit, as are our dedicated kids' programs. And this all comes served with the West's BEST hospitality! Come to the palce where "Time Stands Still", just south of the beautiful resort town of Big Sky and just north of West Yellowstone and Yellowstone Park! Remember to ask about our "Specialty" weeks.

 

    Rimrock Ranch Cody, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-587-3970 Rimrock Ranch is nestled on the banks of Canyon Creek, halfway between Cody and the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Our 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.

 

    Western Pleasure Guest Ranch Sandpoint, Idaho Phone: +1 888-863-9066 With ranch adventures for families, couples or singles, Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, rich in history and family heritage, is Idaho's most northern ranch. Activities include horseback riding, skeet shooting, cattle sorting, mountain biking, hiking, children's programs, adult only weeks and more.

 

   

Hunger Games Adventures at Dude Ranches

 Countless fans will flock to movie theaters across the country starting tomorrow to cheer on Katniss and her admirable and enviable archery skills as biggest movie of the fall, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,  opens nationwide. And while some fans might not know of the outcome of the epic Quarter Quell yet, one thing is certain: the second installment is sure to leave fans across the country wanting more.

 Experience a bit of the “Hunger Games” yourself (minus the gut-wrenching battles) by visiting a dude ranch to try your hand at archery, along with many other Hunger Game-inspired skills such as fishing, zip lining, skeet shooting and navigating the wilderness.

 With 95 ranches in North America (two in Canada), we are positive that there is a ranch that will fit all your needs.  Below is a sampling of ranches perfect for those in search of a Hunger Games-inspired experience.

 Red Horse Mountain Ranch, Idaho, Adventure for the Whole Family!Red Horse Lake Activities Kayak

Whether it’s riding horseback to breathtaking vistas, conquering the climbing wall, practicing your aim at the shooting range, or simply relaxing in the tranquility of a Rocky Mountain dude ranch, you decide how to spend your week at Red Horse Mountain Ranch. Red Horse Mountain Ranch offers a Western dude ranch vacation experience with a wide variety of seasonal activities…View ranch website.

 

Black Mountain Ranch, Colorado

Rather than a rigid itinerary we strive to offer our activities in the most flexible way possible.  Click here if you want to see exactly what Colorado Dude Ranch Vacations are like.  We want you to choose what you want to do, when you want to do it, and whom you want to do it with.  We encourage families to ride together but also offer kid's programs and activities.  Teens will never be bored here and singles will find this is a great place to hang out and make new friends.  View ranch website.

Wilderness Trails Ranch, Colorado We pride ourselves in creating perfect Colorado dude ranch vacations and AdvenTours (adventure tours) for our guests. Whether you are seeking adventure or R&R, we can customize a vacation for you, and we have something for everyone - from our exceptional horseback riding program, unsurpassed wilderness and lake access, phenomenal fishing, award-winning Never Bored Kids Program, incredible mountain biking opportunities, overland tours, indulgent spa treatments, taste-bud tantalizing cuisine, specialty events and more! View ranch website.

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Arkansas

In addition to our scheduled activities other things to try include campfires, hiking, cave trips, elk viewing, cookouts, skeet shooting and .22 target shooting, a petting zoo, fishing pond, archery, disc golf, wagon rides, games in the lodge and barn and more. There’s no need to leave the ranch if you need a quick dip. Cool off in the pool in the summer, or relax those muscles in the hot tub and let your cares melt away. Spend some time alone: Several cool springs, cascading streams, and quiet pools await you on hikes and nature walks. The rock outcroppings and caves along the bluffs are there to be explored and arrowheads are waiting to be found. View ranch website.   Save

Top 8 Reasons to Take Your Family to a Guest Ranch for the Holidays

 By: PJ Wirchansky Did you know that Guest Ranches offer similar amenities and benefits to all-inclusive resorts and hotels? Whether your family is looking for a working dude ranch, luxury ranch, or spending the holidays at a Guest Ranch, there is likely a ranch that fits your needs. As the holiday season approaches, many families are looking for different and unique ways to spend time with their loved ones. Here are the top 8 reasons to take your family to a Guest Ranch this holiday season.

You know the price up front. Most Guest Ranches are all-inclusive so you know the price before your arrival. Typically holiday ranch packages include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks throughout the day. Most ranches include holiday festivities such as tree trimming, a kid’s holiday program, sleigh rides, cookie decorating, visits from Santa, and caroling with crew and other guests. Knowing what is included in your package gives you peace of mind for your holiday budget.

It’s not always about the horses. When people think of a Guest Ranch, horses are often the first thing that comes to mind. Some ranches do offer trail riding during the winter; however, many Guest Ranches do not offer winter horseback riding. With that being said, there are so many other activities for everyone to enjoy. Some of the winter activities offered at ranches include cross country skiing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, ice skating, dog sledding, and nearby downhill skiing. There is always something for all ages and skill levels to enjoy.  

Holiday Children’s Programs. There are many Guest Ranches that offer a children’s program during the holiday season. This gives kids the opportunity to meet other children from around the world, interact with counselors and learn new things about the ranch. Children will often take part in activities such as cookie decorating, visiting with Santa, reindeer tracking, sledding, building igloos, cross country skiing, learning about wildlife and so much more.    

Family Time. We all know that family time can be limited in our everyday lives. Parents are working, children are in school, and grandparents live in different states. Holidays always seem to bring families together from all over the country and what better way to enjoy this Christmas then at a cozy, inviting Guest Ranch. This gives families a chance to reconnect with one another, spend time away from their busy lives, and appreciate each other’s company.

Connect with Nature. Whether you live in a metropolitan area of the northeast, in a warm, humid southern city, or live along the west coast, there is a Guest Ranch for you. Are you looking for beautiful majestic mountains, a white Christmas, and pristine snow-laden forests? Spending time away from your home town can be a great way to disconnect, and experience the natural world. Many guests do not spend much time in their cabins, but rather enjoy the fresh air and the wonderful offerings a Ranch provides.

Unplug from technology. So often in today’s world, technology is a way of life. Many guest ranches do not have television, phones or internet service (unless you really need it J). This gives families a chance to unplug from technology and enjoy spending the holiday season with their loved ones without distractions.

Meet other families. One great thing about traveling to a Guest Ranch is the opportunity to meet families from all over the world. Ranches will host guests from New York, California, Georgia, as well as England and Australia. Many guests coming from another part of the world want to experience the holiday season and meet other families from the United States. Learning about different cultures can be so rewarding and often times, families will make lifelong friends.    

Great food. Who doesn’t love great food? Guest ranches are known for providing guests with wonderful, hearty food and the holiday season is no exception. Many Guest Ranches have a fabulous Christmas Eve Dinner, a huge holiday spread for Christmas Brunch, and another Christmas Dinner. Don’t worry!  You will be able to burn off those delicious holiday calories with the many activities that Guest Ranches offer.        

Flying E Dude Ranch Wickenburg, Arizona Phone: +1 888-684-2650 With 20,000 acres to ride and roam there is seldom a day without sunshine. The Flying E Dude Ranch is a working cattle ranch and the ideal place to take a step back in time.Enjoy delicious home cooked meals, great horses and a comfortable place to relax at the end of the day.Open Nov 1 to April 30.  

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.      

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!  

Vista Verde Ranch Steamboat Springs, Colorado Phone: +1 800-526-7433 Located just north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Vista Verde Ranch offers a luxurious ranch vacation with a top notch riding program, but also so many other activities that it is much more than just a riding ranch. Adventures await both summer and winter.     Latigo Ranch Kremmling, Colorado Phone: +1 800-227-9655 Latigo was voted Colorado's Best Dude Ranch by "Colorado's Best: The Essential Guide to Favorite Places". Why? Latigo guests rave about Latigo's caring staff, solid horse program, fun activities, sumptious meals, and majestic scenery. It's a family vacation filled with memories to last a lifetime.  

Lone Mountain Ranch Big Sky, Montana Phone: +1 800-514-4644 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.    

Vista-Verde-Drive-Cattle

Dude ranch makes for a blue-ribbon family roundup

The

Minneapolis Star Tribune recently wrote a wonderful article about Tumbling River Ranch.  I have included a short piece of the article along with the link. Be sure to click through to read the complete story!

Article by: Tony Jones , Star Tribune

Updated: October 26, 2013 - 4:07 PM

You probably wouldn’t take me for a barrel racer, and surely not for a blue ribbon-winning, rodeo barrel racer. But I am, and no one can take that away from me. Many years ago, my parents took my brothers and me to a dude ranch in Montana. It was almost universally commended as our best-ever family vacation. As my mother’s 70th birthday approached, she hoped to re-create that magic as a present to herself. But 30 years later, this trip would include spouses and a new generation, her grandchildren. All told, 17 of us from three generations converged on the Tumbling River Ranch, just up a dirt road from the tiny burg of Grant, Colo. That’s two grandparents, three sons, three spouses and nine grandchildren, ranging in age from 4 to 72. We arrived for our weeklong stay on Sunday afternoon and were met by Megan Dugan, who owns the ranch with her husband, Scott. As Megan showed us around, she told us that she’d grown up on the ranch, which her parents purchased in 1975. In their teens, Scott and Megan were both on summer staff. They re-met, married and eventually bought the ranch when her parents retired. Now they’re raising their own three kids there. The Dugan family, and their home at the center of the ranch, brought a family feel to the whole experience, as did something we heard at orientation that night. The ranch was full to capacity on our week, with six families totaling 49 guests. Of those six families, three were making return visits to Tumbling River, two of them on their fourth visit. Clearly, Tumbling River engenders some serious loyalty. At orientation, the entire staff of wranglers, cooks, servers, kids’ counselors and housekeepers sat up front, dressed in their cowboy duds, explaining the ins and outs of the week. Turned out that the stellar staff — most of them college kids on a summer job — became one of the most memorable elements of Tumbling River; our kids are still talking about them. (Read More)

Dude and Guest Ranches: The Affordable Family Vacation

 Have you ever dreamed of going to a place where you can experience the beauty of the outdoors and leave “real life” behind? Do you dream of an affordable family vacation destination where you can take the whole family and feel confident that there will be something that appeals to everyone? You need not look any further than then a Dude Ranch Vacation. Many people have this dream but are often under the assumption that a unique Dude Ranch getaway for the whole gang is too expensive and not doable. Another misconceived notion is that all-inclusive Dude Ranch vacations often have hidden fees and that paying for items a la carte is a more affordable option. While that may be the case for some vacation options, you can rest assured that an all-inclusive stay at a DRA-accredited  Dude or Guest ranch is truly all-inclusive, and there are no hidden fees. At a dude or Guest  ranch, everything is included in the rate so you know exactly what you are going to pay for upfront and can plan your budget accordingly. There are never any additional charges for valet parking or resort fees. Plus, the forests and deserts these ranches are located in never charge you for the beauty that will surround you. The fresh air and the joyful noises of nature are priceless.     Following is a cost comparison between what an average Dude Ranchers' Association Dude Ranch and Guest ranch  might cost for a week for a family of four (not including airfare, taxes and gratuity) and an a la carte trip where the same family would take part in all of the same activities:  DRA Ranch 

  • Lodging  - Included
  • Meals - Included
  • Horseback Riding (everyday) -  Included
  • River Rafting - Included
  • Rodeo -  Included
  • National Park Trip/Tour  - Included
  • Evening Entertainment -  Included
  • Car Rental/Gas -  N/A

Total Average Cost: $8800.00 A La Carte

  • Lodging  - $2500
  • Meals  - $2200
  • Horseback Riding  - $2000
  • River Rafting  - $600
  • Rodeo -  $300
  • National Parks Tour  - $620
  • Evening Entertainment  - $800
  • Car Rental - $1500

Total Average Cost: $10520.00 As you can see, you can make your dream a reality with a dude ranch vacation! In addition to the budget-friendly price tag, dude ranches offer much more. There is such a wide variety of activities  there will be something the kids, parents and grandparents will enjoy. And with all activities happening on the ranch property, you don’t have to worry about getting lost or arranging transportation. The atmosphere is also hard to beat as you can’t put a price on the personal interaction and sense of family you feel at a  Dude  or Guest ranch. Many guests will leave the ranch at the end of their stay having made lifelong friends with the owners, staff or even other guests. I have heard stories of several families that met on a ranch vacation years ago and continue to see each other once a year on that annual trip to what many families consider to be their second home. Dude ranches pride themselves on going the extra mile to make their guests feel special which is why over 60% of all dude ranch guests are repeat customers. So the next time you are planning a vacation consider the value of a dude ranch and the memories that you will take home that will last a lifetime.  

Culinary Chic at Dude and Guest Ranches

With food tourism being one of the fastest growing sectors in travel and one of the biggest travel trends of 2013, I want to talk about a vacation many foodies may not consider, but would be pleasantly surprised with a dude or guest ranch vacation.   You are probably thinking “culinary chic at a dude ranch?”  And I am here to tell you yes, as a stay at a DRA guest ranch is sure to take your taste buds on a culinary adventure. Below is a list of  the “Top 5 Culinary Facts You Wouldn’t Expect at a Dude Ranch,” as well as a few highlighted ranches where you are sure to experience flavorful, savory cuisine crafted using fresh, high-quality ingredients morning, noon and night.   

1). Renowned Chefs When some people think of a dude ranch vacation they picture a guy named Cookie whipping up bacon and beans in the sagebrush. In reality, guest ranches are home to many award winning and experienced chef’s such as Chef Mike Rosenberg at Zapata Ranch who has been a  personal chef to the Carnegie family, catered JFK Jr.'s wedding, owned his own restaurant and brings over 40 years of experience to the table.  

2). Farm to table Many DRA dude ranches grow, raise and serve their own produce and meats and items that cannot be reaped from their own land are sourced locally. Take High Lonesome Ranch which in many instances raises the meat right on the ranch. Their eggs are fresh from their chickens and ranch’s signature Black Angus beef graces the menu when the timing and aging process is complete. As for produce, the ranch’s gardens and orchards enjoy ideal conditions for growing apricots, apples, peaches, pears and plums as well as an abundance of vegetables like corn, peppers, lettuces, cucumbers, squash, beans, peas, carrots, radishes, pumpkins and onions.

3). Recognized Globally Besides having a wide breadth of talented and innovated chefs, the creations they serve have been praised globally such as The Home Ranch which is a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux and has been recognized by Bon Apetit, Gourmet, Food and Wine, among others.    

4). Exceptional Wine Lists A culinary exploration wouldn’t be complete without wine pairings and dude ranches have you covered there too. Smith Fork Ranch has won the Wine Spectator’s Award for Excellence two years in a row and has assembled an eclectic wine mix. Ranging from wines from their private cellar, specific vintages from wineries they admire and wines from the premiere growing regions of France, Italy, Australia and America's West Coast.    

5). Cooking Classes/Workshops Besides enjoying delicious food, many dude ranches encourage you to learn about the food as well. At Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, one of the best seats in the house is at the kitchen counter where their Master Chef provides ranch resort guests with cooking demonstrations, tips and techniques.  There is also the opportunity to explore the concepts of Eating Right for Your Blood Type - a healthful way of eating that promotes overall good health including good digestion, cholesterol counts, weight loss and more.  

 

Lone Mountain Culinary Food Steak

Vacationing at an Eco-Friendly Dude Ranch

 

As more people are becoming aware of environmental issues, vacationing green is a growing travel trend. Families are seeking vacation options that offer activities that respect the earth, and experiences that create cherished memories and a renewed connection to nature.

Dude Ranches are the original Eco-friendly Tourism destinations and a great way to bring your family closer on your next vacation. People come to enjoy the outdoors, have an adventure and relax in nature. After they leave, they often have a renewed appreciation for the environment.

Successful ranching depends on a positive relationship with the earth, therefore all ranchers know that they need to treat it with care. This relationship influences a visitor’s experience at a dude ranch and often brings them a deeper appreciation for the environment in which they live.

For example, Rocking Z Ranch in Montana uses a stationary diesel motor that is powered by recycled vegetable oil to pump water for irrigation. This worked so well, the ranch took the idea one step further by using the vegetable oil to make biodiesel after taking out the fatty acids. They use this to run the tractors, loaders, an excavator, dozer and diesel pickup during the summer months.Rocking-Z-Bareback-Jumping

Another great example is the White Stallion Ranch which went solar. On January 3, 2011 construction began and on Tuesday March 22, 2001 the first solar panels began to operate. We have three separate sites where the electricity comes from solar panels into the meters for the ranch; the well, staff area and our main lodge buildings plus west side rooms. This is the largest amount of solar power that we are allowed to install and use based on the program that we entered. When last checked, one of the meters (the one for the main lodge)  had delivered 5,360 KWH, bought 104 KWH and sold back 7 KWH. The system is designed to power 35% to 40% of the electricity for the ranch, a very exciting prospect indeed.

Recycling is another aspect that dude ranches are embracing. Keep in mind, with some ranches being far from major cities where a recycling program might exist, it’s a bit harder than simply putting items in a bin and putting it at the end of the driveway every week. Wilderness Trails Ranch in Colorado collects bottles, cans, plastic and paper from the approximately 45 guests and 35 staff that stay at the ranch each week and loads a large trailer to take into town 30 miles away.

A ranch offers activities for the whole family. Maybe your daughter loves horses and has always dreamed of lopping across a grassy meadow, or your son wants to learn how to rope a steer. While your wife enjoys sometime in the spa, why not try some fly fishing? Then you better rest up so you can all go whitewater rafting the next day.

So if you are looking for a vacation that will leave your family with memories to last a lifetime and a closer relationship with Mother Nature then a vacation at a Dude Ranch might be just the ticket for you and your family.  For more information about vacations where your family can embrace the great outdoors visit www.duderanch.org.  

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American Adventure Month

As we are in the midst of American Adventure Month, a month-long celebration to honor vacationing in the Americas, I wanted to share with you the original all-American, all-inclusive destination where adventure and outdoor enthusiasts can both challenge and revive their body, spirit and mind in breathtaking off-the-beaten path locales in the country: the dude ranch.

At a dude ranch, guests can enjoy fly fishing, white water rafting, hiking, rock climbing, golf, cattle roundups, ATV trips, water sports, horseback riding and much more. A dude ranch vacation is perfect for much needed time away. From valleys complete with untouched Rocky Mountain backdrops to desert sunsets across the Southwest, you’re sure to experience an unforgettable getaway.

The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) represents a broad spectrum of 100 guest ranches across the U.S., ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches. Experience the ultimate American adventure by visiting a DRA-accredited ranch. The DRA takes great pride in the quality and standards it requires its ranches to uphold.

4UR

Experience the Beauty of Fall at a Dude Ranch

Don’t just walk through the leaves, ride through the leaves as dude ranches are the original all-inclusive destination for fall travel, and it’s never too early to start planning your getaway. Imagine horseback riding under a canopy of technicolor fall foliage ranging from glorious reds, bright yellows, and vivid oranges.  Some of the nation’s best leaves can only be seen when you get off the major highways and head out to the winding country roads. Choose from guest ranches in Arizona or Colorado where fall changes the Aspen leaves or book a getaway to a dude ranch located near or within a National Park such as Triangle X Ranch located in Grand Teton National Park or Horseshoe Canyon Ranch which borders Buffalo River National Park in the Ozark region of Arkansas.

As the air cools down and the days get shorter on a dude ranch, fall fishing, hiking, and of course, horseback riding  are popular outdoor activities among guests to enjoy and take in the beautiful colors of fall. Many ranches also offer fall photography workshops to help guests capture the natural beauty of the autumn season. For those dude ranches that are actual working ranches, fall means cattle drives, and guests are often invited to join these memorable and one-of-a-kind drives.

Triangle X Ranch Sunset Creek fall

 While many people tout the benefits of “all-inclusive vacations,” few realize the variety of choices out there and that not all are created equal. Guest ranch getaways offer numerous advantages such as no planning once you arrive, flexibility to customize your itinerary and no hidden fees. In addition, dude ranches are the ideal all-inclusive destination for families of all types and sizes, especially multi-generational families with a wide variety of interests and abilities.

 The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) can help travelers and travel agents choose the perfect guest ranch for their fall getaway from its more than 100 DRA-accredited guest ranches in North American (two in Canada). Ranging from luxury resort-style ranches to working ranches, all of these dude ranches uphold the highest quality of services within the industry.

 

Dudes Flock to Guest Ranches

The Santa Barbara Independent By Barney Brantingham

The Old West still lives at dude ranches sprinkled through the saguaro-studded deserts of Arizona. Actually, they’re known as “guest ranches” these days and are magnets for Europeans who hanker for a dusty taste of the cowboy life, strong cowboy coffee, and getting astride a horse. I found tourists from England, Ireland, Germany, Scandinavia, and thereabouts on a recent visit to horse country at the White Stallion Ranch and Tanque Verde Ranch, both near Tucson. The High Chaparral TV series (1967-1971) is still being shown in Europe, spurring interest to see the country where it was filmed. “I’m not disappointed,” said Ann Reid of Stratford-on-Avon, daintily digging into scrambled eggs while on a breakfast ride at the White Stallion. (READ MORE)

CookoutOutdoor

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

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

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

Crossed Sabres Horses View

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Live a Movie Moment through Real-Life Working Cattle Drives

For a truly memorable vacation, nothing beats a Western cattle drive. Straight from the big screen, these working cattle drives, offered through various members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association, transform a movie moment into a real-life vacation experience unlike any other.

The cattle drive experience varies from ranch to ranch, with some ranches providing only two drives (one in the spring and one in the fall) while others offer cattle drives almost every day. The purpose of the drives, however, is universal—move cattle from one location to another without losing any animals along the way. Guided by expert wranglers, cattle drive participants shoulder important responsibilities as they keep the herd together, chase down stragglers, and stay on the move.

For just a taste of the cowpoke life, dude ranch visitors can participate in cattle drives that last only a few hours. When cattle need fresh water, new grass, or simply a change of pace, a cattle drive is the answer, and on working dude ranches, guests saddle up with the hired hands to make things happen.

Days-long cattle drives fill the urge for the morFocus Ranch-Riders on the Mesae adventurous to taste the true Western experience. These drives often include river crossings, mountain riding, and range roaming as the herd travels miles from one location to another. Of course, long days of riding are rewarded with evenings of fly fishing, card playing, and other rest and relaxation—just like in the cays of the real cowboy.

Cattle drives appeal to riders of all levels, although some riding experience is obviously beneficial. However, there’s no better way to improve riding skills and abilities than to spend a day in the saddle riding with a purpose. The exhilaration of combining real work with real pleasure is impossible to ignore, and nothing beats riding herd in the board expanse of the Wild West.

 Of course, no cattle drive is complete without plenty of good grub, and every DRA member provides outstanding cowboy cooking. After a day on the range, ranch guests love the hearty meals, down home entertainment, and cozy lodging that are the hallmarks of every dude ranch experience. 

Since 1926 The Dude Ranchers' Association has been helping folks find quality ranch vacations by establishing and enforcing high standards for its members. The association’s original membership of 35 ranches from the Yellowstone area has now grown to 100-plus member ranches in 12 western states and 2 Canadian provinces. In spite of this growth, the Association today remains dedicated to preserving the beauty, natural resources, and the original western ranch experiences that attracted the first visitors.

For more information about a real working cattle drive or any of the other unique features of a dude ranch vacation, or to request a brochure, call 1-307-587-2339 or visit www.duderanch.org.

Hunewill Circle H Guest Ranch

Bridgeport, California Phone: +1 760-932-7710 Hunewill Ranch is a family owned and operated cattle and guest ranch located near Yosemite National Park in the beautiful Bridgeport Valley. Horseback riding and cattle work are our featured attractions for a vacation experience suited to families, singles, or couples.    

McGarry Ranches Rexburg, Idaho Phone: +1 866-593-4455 A working ranch with a herd of approx 2,000 head, managed on approx 55,000 acres in the Big Hole Range of the Rocky Mountains. If you wish to experience the lifestyle of the working cowboy while riding daily in scenic mountains we invite you to cowboy up with the ranch crew. Major Credits Accepted    

Klondike Ranch Buffalo, Wyoming Phone: +1 800-362-2982 Klondike Ranch is a working cattle ranch with accommodations for 6 to 10 adult guest 14 years and older. We trail the cows and calves to the mountains the end of June and back home the end of September. Throughout the summer we move them from pasture to pasture. Our guests are welcome to join.    

Rowses 1+1 Ranch Burwell, Nebraska Phone: +1 308-346-5530 The 1+1 Ranch invites you to experience the old west & life as a Cowboy on a Real Working Ranch. Guests can participate in all ranch activities & can expect up to 6 hours a day in the saddle. New log cabins, delicious meals, great horses & tack await you. Dont Just Dream the Cowboy Dream... Live It!    

G Bar M Ranch Clyde Park, Montana Phone: +1 406-686-4423 An Authentic Ranch Experience -AGRITOURISM G Bar M is a Working Ranch, which means we are an operating horse and cattle ranch that encourages guests to share in our lifestyle.    

Focus Ranch Slater, Wyoming Phone: (970)583-2410 A traditional ranch, guests contribute to the successful yearling cattle operation. Ride for a purpose in beautiful landscapes. Fly fish in the Little Snake. All ages enjoy participating and experiencing the cultural heritage. Since 1938, generations have embraced the authenticity of Focus Ranch.

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

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

Experience the Outdoors on a Pack Trip!

Have you ever dreamt of horseback riding for miles in wide open spaces? Then a pack trip might be the perfect adventure for you!  Pack trips allow you to experience amazing landscapes, wildlife and pristine fishing waters that you can only get to from the back of a horse.  Most dude ranch pack trips can be customized and tend to include guides and staff that take care of all of the details for you including camp set up and cooking.  The trips tend to range from 3 days to 10 or more and can be designed around novice riders as well as those with more experience.  Please check out The Dude Ranchers’ Association ranches below for more information  or call us here at the office at 866-399-2339.

 

 7D Ranch

Cody, Wyoming Phone: +1 888-587-9885        

Absaroka Ranch

Dubois, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-455-2275    

Broken Arrow Lodge and Outfitters Alder, Montana Phone: +1 406-842-5437        

CM Ranch Dubois, Wyoming Phone: +1 800-455-0721      

Covered Wagon Ranch Gallatin Gateway, Montana Phone: +1 800-995-4237                

Diamond D Ranch Stanley, Idaho Phone: 800-222-1269        

JJJ Wilderness Ranch Augusta, Montana Phone: +1 406-562-3653        

Paradise Guest Ranch Buffalo, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-684-7876      

Seven Lazy P Guest Ranch Choteau, Montana Phone: +1 406-466-2044      

T Cross Ranch Dubois, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-455-2206        

Triangle X Ranch Moose, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-733-2183      

Dude Ranches and National Parks

Moosehead-Kids-Lake-Swimming_edited-1In honor of National Parks Week, I wanted to share with you a great summer vacation idea located nearby some of most visited national parks in America, according to a recent study released by the National Park Service: a dude ranch vacation. As ecotourism is becoming more popular than ever, the Dude Ranchers’ Association’s dude and guest ranches have been the pioneers of green living and green vacations for decades. At a guest ranch you can reconnect with nature in some of the most tranquil, pristine areas of the country and learn to “live off the land” with fishing trips, bird watching, hikes, wildlife viewing and more. Below, please find a sample of DRA-accredited ranches located right in the heart of or near some of the country’s top national parks.

  • Glacier National Park in Montana is one of the 20 largest national parks in the United States. There are two DRA ranches located within an easy drive of the park, which is known for its abundance of wildlife and more than 700 miles of hiking trails. A day trip to Glacier National Park from Averill’s Flathead Lake Ranch and Bar W Guest Ranch is highly recommended.
  • Several DRA-accredited guest ranches are either located in or bordered by national parks. Both Moose Head Ranch and Triangle X Ranch are located completely within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park, a location that attracts nearly four million visitors per year to northwestern Wyoming. White Stallion Ranch borders Arizona’s Saguaro National Park, while Tanque Verde Ranch – the largest DRA-accredited ranch in terms of acreage – is less than a 10-mile drive. The Buffalo National River – America’s First National River – runs through Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, which borders Buffalo River National Park in the Ozark region of Arkansas.
  • Many dude and guest ranches are located within an easy day trip from national parks. Located in the north-central region of Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park is a short, scenic drive away from not one but four DRA-accredited ranches: Drowsy Water Ranch, Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch and C Lazy U Ranch. Pikes Peak – a mountain in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains – is within an hour drive of Tarryall River Ranch. Dude ranch guests can drive to the top, take the Pikes Peak Cog Rail (the world’s highest cog railroad), or enjoy a panoramic view of Pikes Peak from one of Tarryall’s trail rides.

Many Dude and Guest Ranches are Offering Spectacular Savings During their Shoulder Guest Seasons

Shoulder seasons are the weeks before and after the main season begins and ends.  A ranch will sometimes offer added values like a massage, private riding lessons or a fine bottle of wine upon check-in etc. They may offer a repeat guest discount, a group of more than 20 people discount or an early bird booking discount.  Some ranches will  offer special packages during these times as well like fishing packages, riding only packages, horse clinic packages, shorter stay packages,  pack trips packages,  overnight camping and much more. We know finding the perfect ranch match for your family can sometimes be hard so The Dude Ranchers Association wants to help, give us a call at 866-399-2339 or shoot us an e-mail and we will do all we can to help you find that perfect ranch for your family. Any time is a great time to make memories with your family so what are you waiting for let us help you make memories that will last a lifetime!!!

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch Red Feather Lakes, Colorado Phone: +1 (800) 357-4930 Family dude ranch vacation in the Colorado Mountains; Smallest smallest of the CO member ranches. Western Horseback Riding; NOT nose-to-tail; we love teaching beginners! A relaxed, stress-free, hassle free, easy going atmosphere that only a very small family dude ranch can enjoy. Sundance-Trail-Arena-Rodeo

Smith Fork Ranch Crawford, Colorado Phone: +1 855-539-1492 Smith Fork Ranch is a private luxury destination nestled in the Colorado Rocky Mountains amidst thousands of acres of the West Elk Wilderness and the Gunnison National Forest. SFR offers unique western adventures, gracious hospitality, superb farm to table cuisine and an award winning wine list.

Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch Quincy, California Phone: +1 (800) 334-6939 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!

Goosewing Ranch Jackson, Wyoming Phone: +1 888-733-5251 Here at Goosewing Ranch, we combine the lifestyle of ranching in the Wyoming wilderness with many of the modern refinements that make your visit with us especially enjoyable. Remote with spectacular scenery overlooking and close proximity to Jackson Hole and Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Excellent horseback riding, fly fishing, newly remodeled outdoor heated pool and hot tub, and kids activities.

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.

Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch McLeod, Montana Phone: +1 877-496-7848 Enjoy a Montana ranch vacation in a remote pristine wilderness north of Yellowstone. Small guest capacity and unique activities. Horseback riding; Fly fishing on private frontage along the Boulder River; Jeep ride to ghost town and historic gold mines; Hiking; Scenic raft float; Campfires/cookouts.  

THREE BARS CATTLE & 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.

Echo Valley Ranch & Spa Jesmond Clinton, British Columbia Phone: 1.800.253.8831 Echo Valley Ranch & Spa is located in the pristine Cariboo region of British Columbia. Surrounded by wide open spaces and tranquil wilderness, Echo Valley offers horseback riding, hiking, fly-fishing, gold panning, bird watching, rafting, golf and a world class spa.

Dude Ranch Dining - an Incredible Experience

When some people think of a dude ranch vacation they picture a guy named cookie whipping up bacon and beans in the sagebrush. Sorry to disappoint but 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.

A few of the DRA ranches that really stand out in the “Gourmet Food” category  are:

The Home Ranch, Colorado

4UR Ranch, Colorado

Tanque Verde Ranch, Arizona

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, Montana

Red Reflet Guest Ranch, Wyoming

A Bar A Ranch, Wyoming

For more info on Dude Ranches that lean toward gourmet cooking go to www.duderanch.org  click on gourmet food then click search. You will be amazed….

home ranch Dining

Dude Ranches are Nothing Like Reality TV

For a truly memorable vacation, nothing beats a Western cattle drive. Straight from the big screen, these working cattle drives, offered through various accredited members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association, transform a movie moment into a real-life vacation experience unlike any other. Please do not confuse the “Big Screen” with “Reality TV” as it is my opinion that a recent reality TV show inaccurately portrayed what vacationing at a DRA “working ranch” is all about.  All DRA working ranches are about YOU, the guest, having the time of your life while learning skills that cowboys use to be successful ranchers. 

The wranglers that work on these ranches are some of the most knowledgeable folks in this field.  Having been in the business for over 11 years, I know firsthand that “Western Hospitality” comes first and foremost on any DRA-accredited ranch, and as such I can assure you there will be no yelling, no name calling and no belittling.  All these ranches have made the decision to add the guest experience to their working ranch operation so they can share this wonderful way of life with folks who would not normally get a chance to experience it. They love what they Rowses-1-1-Cattle-Drive-001_edited-1do and it shows. What a guest will really experience on one of these ranches is nothing short of amazing.

The cattle drive experience varies from ranch to ranch, with some ranches providing only two drives (one in the spring and one in the fall) while others offer cattle drives almost every day. The purpose of the drives, however, is universal: to move cattle from one location to another without losing any animals along the way. Guided by expert wranglers, cattle drive participants shoulder important responsibilities as they keep the herd together, chase down stragglers and stay on the move. For just a taste of the cowpoke life, dude ranch visitors can participate in cattle drives that last only a few hours. When cattle need fresh water, new grass or simply a change of pace, a cattle drive is the answer, and on working dude ranches, guests saddle up with the hired hands to make things happen. Multi-day cattle drives fill the urge for the more adventurous to get a taste the true Western experience. These drives often include river crossings, mountain riding and range roaming as the herd travels miles from one location to another. Of course, long days of riding are rewarded with evenings of fly fishing, card playing, and other rest and relaxation—just like in the days of the real cowboy. Cattle drives appeal to riders of all levels, although some riding experience is obviously beneficial.

However, there’s no better way to improve riding skills and abilities than to spend a day in the saddle riding with a purpose. The exhilaration of combining real work with real pleasure is impossible to ignore, and nothing beats riding herd in the broad expanse of the Wild West. Of course, no cattle drive is complete without plenty of good food, and every DRA member provides outstanding cowboy cuisine. After a day on the range, ranch guests love the hearty meals, down home entertainment and cozy Cowboy Chic lodging that are the hallmarks of every dude ranch experience. The next time you are looking for an adventure, a unique experience or a time to reconnect with nature, we invite you to explore our accredited working ranches which are sure to both challenge and revive your body, spirit and mind. 

The Dude Ranchers' Association was formed in 1926 to preserve this special way of life and the wonderful environment in which dude ranching takes place. When you vacation at a Dude Ranchers' Association Dude Ranch, you can be sure of a quality vacation. Membership in the Association is a rigorous two year inspection and approval process, to assure that guests are treated to genuine western hospitality combined with the lodging industry’s highest standards. Our Dude Ranches offer all-inclusive vacations that are perfect for everyone, from the littlest rancher to Grandpa and Grandma.  Horseback riding, hiking, petting zoos, swimming holes, rodeos, fishing, games, skeet shooting, archery, art classes, cooking classes and more await your discovery on your next Dude Ranch Vacation.  Horses, Hats, History and Hospitality - they're the foundation of every ranch. There is a little cowboy in all of us... come find yours...

Go White Water Rafting at this Colorado Dude Ranch

Rafting or white water rafting is the challenging recreational outdoor activity of using an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other bodies of water. This is usually done on white water or different degrees of rough water, in order to thrill and excite the raft passengers. The development of this activity as a leisure sport has become popular since the mid-1970s

For the first time, Rainbow Trout Ranch, a dude ranch located deep in the southern Colorado Rockies, is offering whitewater rafting included in their rates.

The Rainbow Trout Ranch has been in operation for over eighty years, the last twenty under the ownership of the Van Berkum family. Summer guests are mainly families looking for a western vacation in the spectacular scenery of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The ranch rates are based on a per person/per week scale and have always included all meals, accommodations and ranch activities such as riding, fishing, kids and teen programs, trapshooting and evening entertainment. In the past, guests paid extra for the whitewater rafting trip on the Rio Grande River near Taos, NM. (read more)

Dude Ranches for Family Vacations - Spring Break

Family Travel Magazine wrote a great article about Dude Ranches being a great option for Spring Break.  Enjoy the article and know that there is a ranch for every occasion! While many of our spring break picks have involved beaches and warm weather, there are lots of other spring break ideas that may work better for your family.  One of the family vacations that I’m hoping to do one year is a dude ranch family vacation.  Most of them are located in gorgeous areas of the United States, and include lots of different activities including horseback riding, fishing, whitewater rafting, yoga, and cooking classes.  Events, meals, and activities are generally included in the cost of your spring break dude ranch family vacation! If you are interested in trying out one of the more than 100 dude ranches for your family vacation, the Dude Ranchers’ Association is where you want to start.  Ranches accredited by the DRA uphold a high standard of services and you’ll know that you are staying at a quality ranch. (read more)

 

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Enjoy Every Opportunity for Family Fun at White Stallion Ranch

Michelle McCoy is a blogger for Trekaroo.  Michelle was kind enough to share her latest blog about her family's wonderful trip to White Stallion Ranch with us and I wanted to make sure to pass it on for you to enjoy as well. Going on an all-inclusive guest ranch vacation is now at the top of my family’s list of All-Time Fun Vacations! For the kids, they were absolutely thrilled to eat cookies out of the bottomless jar, drink lemonade, ride horses, swim in the pool, play air-hockey, and shoot pool in the game room all day long. For us parents, there was nothing better than feeling the freedom to enjoy all those things with our kids. There was no worry about where we were going to eat next, what we were going to do with our time, and how we would get there. I so enjoyed playing a game of chess with my boys while hanging out in the cozy lodge waiting for dinner that I knew would be spectacularly delicious. White Stallion Ranch did everything with excellence. The food was amazing and healthy. The horses were well cared for and the wranglers were gentle and helpful. Our kids were never bored and had an abundance of fun things to enjoy. The True family has established a guest ranch with a personal touch that made every guest we talked to feel welcomed and happy. We can’t wait to go back!  (Read More)

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Dude Ranchers' Association Holidays

CODY, Wyo.- This holiday season travelers are trading stress for spurs while enjoying all-inclusive dude ranch stays. Everything from decorations and activities to cooking and cleaning are taken care of so guests can kick back by the fire or tackle new adventures. The Dude Ranchers Association can help travelers choose a ranch based on location, amenities, activities, and riding style. A few ideas to help get in the holiday spirit: Vista-Verde-Snow-Trail-Ride-Family-Square

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. Families can find holiday 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.

Couples looking for a romantic escape have warm and cold holiday options. At Arizona’s Rancho de la Osa, couples can sip margaritas in the historic Cantina, horseback ride through the peaceful Sonoran Desert, and indulge in a southwestern turkey feast.

A snowy option in British Columbia is Echo Valley Guest Ranch’s Winter Getaway complete with mulled wine, cross country skiing, ice fishing, Thai yoga, spa treatments, and more. Want to give the gift of a stress-free holiday season? Gift certificates are available at some ranches such as Sundance Trail Guest Ranch in Colorado and The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming.

Learn more about ranch holidays by visiting the Dude Ranchers Association website www.duderanch.org.

 

Dude Ranches: Beyond the Stables

  Anyone that’s been on a dude ranch vacation or retreat knows how much fun they have to offer.  From arena games to family rides to pony rides for the kids, there’s truly something out there for everyone.  Still, with all of the fun horse-riding activities and “ranch” related things to do, it’s sometimes easy to forget how many other great activities are offered on America’s Guest Ranches.  Here is a list of five activities offered on various DRA Dude Ranches that you may not have known existed, but should make sure not to miss…  Western Dancing – While you’re out on the ranch, why not delve into a little dancing?  There’s nothing like a sunset hoedown, and there are 51 different DRA certified ranches that offer such shindigs!  Next time you’re out on a guest ranch vacation, throw on your dancing shoes and a cowboy hat and let the good times roll.          Zip Line – While riding around on the ground can be fun, zip lining through the sky can bring your trip to a whole new level.  Guaranteed fun for both adults and kids, there are dude ranches in Arkansas, Colorado and Idaho that each offer zip lines.  Get out there, and get ready to fly!          Fishing – Take your rec time from the stables to the lake for some good old-fashioned dude ranch fishing.  There are 87 Dude Ranches that offer fishing activities, so there’s no excuse not to pull out the hook, line and sinker and catch tonight’s dinner!          Yoga – Vacations are all about relaxing, and when it comes to relaxing, there is nothing like a little bit of yoga.  Whether you want to start your day with a short session before you head out into the wilderness, or you just want to finish the day off with a nice calming activity, yoga has what you’re looking for.  There are fifteen different dude ranches that offer yoga, so if this is something that interests you, you’re in luck!          Archery – When you think of a dude ranch you don’t necessarily think of archery, but there are thirty different DRA ranches that offer such activities.  Nothing’s more fun for the family then a little bit of friendly competition, and archery is the perfect outlet for this.  Take a break from horses and test your skills and coordination, archery can be more fun than you might expect!     As far as fun non-riding activities offered on dude ranches, this is a great start, but the list is by no means exhaustive.  Bird watching, mountain climbing, river rafting and more are all available at guest ranches across the country.  Next time you visit a guest ranch, make sure to take advantage of all the activities they have to offer, and you’re sure to have the time of your life.  

Ride Horses Off Into the Sunset at These Great Family-Friendly Dude Ranches

I came across this great article from May 2010 issue of Travel & Leisure Magazine  and wanted to share it with you! From May 2010 By Lee Magill

It’s a little past dawn as you and your family lead horses through a still-damp Colorado meadow, the awakening sun turning distant mountains a gorgeous shade of purple. The Continental Divide appears, and soon you arrive at a dramatic overlook, the Western wilderness stretched out before you. You dismount to find breakfast sizzling over a charcoal fire, and chow down in awestruck wonder. Riding horses at a dude ranch is one of the West’s iconic experiences, and the Latigo Ranch in Kremmling, CO, has been saddling up families for the past 82 years. But Latigo’s hardly the only one. Dude ranches exist all over America, offering the opportunity to combine a trip into the great outdoors with some quality family time. Dude, of course, is the original slang for “city slicker,” and dude ranches’ collective history dates back to the 1880s, when families who’d recently moved out west would invite friends to visit their cattle ranches. Once the practice spread, thanks to the expansion of the railroad (and the enthusiasm of visitors), ranch owners realized they’d better start charging for room and board. The business model proved so successful that many converted their cattle operations into guest ranches in the early 1900s—a tradition that continues today. “It’s one of the last vacations out there where you get to relax and not be so plugged in,” says Colleen Hodson, executive director of the Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA).

And indeed, a number of ranches, including Wyoming’s premier A Bar A, purposely leave TVs and phones out of their guests’ otherwise well-outfitted rooms. “We are all about riding and getting to know the outdoors,” says longtime manager Justin Howe. By definition, a dude ranch is a family-friendly guest ranch offering horseback riding, though only DRA members—those that have undergone the DRA’s rigorous three-year horse-safety program—are certified as such. Historically, their emphasis has been squarely on horses, and that’s still true of most on our list, including the exceptional Hideout at Flitner Ranch, in Shell, WY, which offers all the riding you could want, plus the rare opportunity to do actual cattle work, such as herding cows to new pastures. But according to Hodson, the newest trend is ranch resorts, among them Montana’s spectacular Ranch at Rock Creek, where getting away no longer means roughing it—in any way. Instead, the focus is on pure relaxation, whether it’s fly-fishing, spa treatments, or riding. All ranches are, like any business, driven by the bottom line. Still, there’s something grand and ineffable about what the best of them offer: a quintessential experience of the American frontier, whose reality and myths have obsessed Americans—and a great portion of the world’s citizens—for centuries. One look at the relaxed, tuned-in faces of your kids after a week in the wild and you realize how very important these places are.  (Read More)

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Dude Ranches: The Affordable Family Vacation

Have you ever dreamed of going to an affordable family vacation where you can experience the beauty of the outdoors and leave “real life” behind for a while?  The noises of construction and sirens…and your boss…are left at home and replaced with the sounds of a gurgling stream, birds chirping, children laughing and even silence.  If you have ever fantasized about leaving commute traffic behind and replacing it with horses on the trail or cattle being guided to summer pasture, then a Dude Ranch is the place for you! Lots of people have this dream but think it’s too expensive for them.  Many of these same people have the misconceived notion that a cruise or a trip where they pay for items a la carte will be more affordable. 

The one thing you can be assured of is that when our DRA ranches state all-inclusive it means just that.  The rate at our ranches includes your lodging, meals, horseback riding and most of the other activities offered.  There are no additional charges for valet parking or resort fees and the forests and deserts these ranches are located in never charge you for the beauty that will surround you because fresh air and the joyful noises  of nature are priceless. The following is a cost comparison between  what an average DRA ranch would cost for a week for a family of 4 (not including airfare, taxes and gratuity) and a an a la carte trip where the same family would take part in all of the same activities and pay and plan for everything separately: **Prices updated for 2017**

  DRA Ranch A La Carte
Lodging Included

$1750

Meals Included $2000
Horseback Riding (twice daily) Included $2640
Rodeo Included $100
National Park Tour Included $740
Evening Entertainment Included $500
Car Rental/Gas N/A $900
     
     
Total $7200 $8630

 

 As it turns out, a dude ranch vacation is a bargain!

Additionally there is so much more to a dude ranch than a cold hotel room with a bed and a restaurant in the lobby.  The part of a dude ranch vacation you can’t put a price on is the personal interaction and sense of family you feel at a ranch.  Many guests will leave the ranch at the end of their stay and will have made lifelong friends with the owners, staff or even other guests.  I have even heard stories of several families that met on a ranch vacation years ago and continue to see each other once a year on that annual trip to what many families consider their second home. Dude ranches pride themselves in going the extra mile to make their guests feel special which is why over 60% of all dude ranch guests are repeat customers.  If the ranches weren’t doing it right, the guests wouldn’t come back year after year…some for 2,3 and even 4 generations.

So the next time you are planning a vacation consider the value of a dude ranch and the memories you take home will last a lifetime. For more information about the 100+ ranches in The Dude Rancher's Association or if you need assistance in choosing the perfect ranch for YOUR affordable family vacation, please visit www.duderanch.org or feel free to give us a call at 866-399-2339.

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What Should I Pack for Summer Dude Ranch Vacation?

What to wear on a ranch vacationChoosing what to pack for your dude ranch vacation can be a bit overwhelming, especially if it is your first time visiting one of these great ranches.  Most ranches are very laid back and casual attire is the name of the game.  Occasionally you will find a ranch that has a dress code for the dining room, so make sure you look into this as you pack. Whether you are going to Arizona in January or Montana in July, jeans and comfortable shirts are absolute essentials on a ranch.  Temperatures can vary, so make sure you bring a variety of layers to stay comfortable.  Sunscreen is always a must and it is also a good idea to bring a hat.  Most ranches will have a gift shop with those little items you forget and many ranches also have guest laundry facilities. Following is a list of suggestions to include in your packing list:

Horseback Riding -Jeans -Lightweight, breathable shirts -Riding boots with a 1" heel and smooth sole (we also have boots available to borrow) -Light windproof jacket and fleece jacket -Long socks for riding, wool or wool blend is ideal -Rain jacket -Riding helmet (we also have helmets to borrow) -Cowboy/ cowgirl hat

Fly Fishing -Lightweight shirt (no cotton preferably) -Polarized sunglasses -Synthetic base layer (Patagonia® or Smartwool) for under waders -Rain jacket -Warm jacket or fleece jacket -Gloves and hat (for cooler days)

Hiking -Lightweight breathable shirt and shorts or pants -Hiking Boots -Water Bottle

Teens -If interested in the overnight backpacking trip, backpack, sleeping pad & sleeping bag (we also have these items to borrow)

Accessories and Other Items -Sunglasses -Hat -Day pack -Swim suit -Comfortable clothing (yoga or relaxing) -Socks (wool or wool blend; no cotton) -Gloves and warm hat (chilly mornings and evenings) -Sunscreen -Insect repellent -Lip balm with sunblock -Flashlight or headlamp (and extra batteries) -Binoculars -Camera and memory card Additional Tips -If you are unable to fit everything, try sending us some of your items in advance to the ranch.  Contact the ranch for the best method of shipping and the appropriate shipping address. -Wear your cowboy boots or hiking boots the day you travel, as it leaves more room for other items if you are wearing the larger, heavier items

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10 Great Dude Ranches for Families

Saddle up at one of these dude ranches for families

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

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

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

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch for Families  

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

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

THe Home Ranch for Families

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

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

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

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

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Dude Ranch Family Vacations

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

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

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

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

Ride the Outlaw Trails of Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid!

Whether on horseback or hiking you will enjoy some of the most beautiful, untouched country in America here at Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch. Ride the outlaw trails of Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and visit Native ruins where the Mimbres people of 750-1150 AD, and later Geronimo and the Apaches once roamed. Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch is a small ranch with a relaxed and personal atmosphere, located in the mountains in the beautiful Gila National Forest of SW New Mexico. Horseback riding here takes you through open meadows, tall ponderosa forests, up on high hills where the views go on forever across the 3.3 million acre National Forest, and down into deep canyons with sheer cliffs and crystal clear streams. We have wonderful gentle and responsive horses good for any ability to see it all by. The trails start at our backdoor and we have millions of acres to discover. Our main focus is on riding and making this a special vacation for you. No lines or schedules here! You can ride as much as you want or not at all.... the choice is yours. Other activities that our guests enjoy are campfires at night with s’mores and fantastic stargazing, musical entertainment around the campfire or in our rec hall, barbecues, outdoor and indoor games, roping lessons, photography, rodeo games and riding lessons in our arena, swimming in our small pool or the creek, or just reading a good book on one of our bench swings. We have two miniature paint horses and two mini donkeys that are fun to groom, pet, and just watch trying to be bigger than they really are! Since we are in the mountains we have moderate temperatures all year round. One great bonus of living at this altitude is that we are almost bug free so it's the perfect place for all outdoor activities. We have lots of sunshine with turquoise New Mexico skies that invite you to spend your time outside.

Top Reasons we are a Great Place for a Family Vacation! 

We are a small family run ranch. We have only 3 cabins and take a maximum of 12 guests. Because of this we are able to cater to our guests desires. You tell us what you want the schedule to be with your family! 

This is a great place to spend quality time with your family having fun! In today’s busy world it can be hard for families to have time to spend together. Everyone has their own schedule and often it is not even possible to have a meal together. Here at the ranch families can ride horses, eat meals together, relax around a campfire, hike, swim in the creek, play games, line dance, and make memories together that will last a lifetime!

Getting back to nature! We are located in the middle of the 3.3 million acre Gila National Forest. This is a great place for families to get away from the hustle and bustle of town and city life. Wildlife is plentiful here including large herds of elk, many types of birds, mule deer, javelina, eagles, and much more.  It is a great place to learn and experience the beauty of our natural world. We love sharing our knowledge of the flora, fauna and wildlife with our guests! And the scenery is unparalleled: deep canyons, views from up high, open meadows, ponderosa forests, the variety is endless.

History! The Mimbres people were in this area from 750-1150AD. Right in our area there are remains of pit houses, cliff dwellings and pictographs (rock paintings) that we take guests to explore. This is unique because these are not part of a National Park and there will be no one else there! Later, the Chiricahua Apaches were also in this area and Geronimo’s birthplace is within 15 miles of our ranch! Even more recently Cowboys and Basque Sheepherders stayed in the area and made shelters which remain today.

The price is all-inclusive! Comfortable cabin, 3 full meals a day, horseback riding, hiking and all other activities and entertainment are included in the price!

This is a great place for a family reunion! If there are between 10-15 people in your group you will have the ranch to yourselves and our undivided attention!

Ask about packages for groups of 7-9! For more information please call 575-772-5157 or visit www.geronimoranch.com  

Geronimo Trails Creek Crossing

Dude Ranches CAN Make a Difference!

We recently received a letter, here at The Dude Ranchers' Association office, from a family expressing thanks for the wonderful trip they had received as a gift from Colorado Trails Ranch and The Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation.  The Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation is a national resource providing WOW! Experiences for children and families who have a Mom or Dad with late stage, limited life expectancy cancer. The Foundation was inspired by Jill and Jon Albert’s real life story. With years of executive experience in the corporate world, Jon found himself, his wife, Jill, and their two young children, Jake and Jamie, facing Jill’s Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. Jill and Jon realized early on in Jill’s fight the disease was not just attacking her body, but it was affecting their entire family. Jon took his marketing and operations expertise and combined it with their drive to formulate something positive and meaningful out of the unfair and cruel. The Alberts knew that for their kids, strong memories of special times together would be their greatest inheritance. From this notion and inspiration, the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation was born. This is where Dude Ranches such as Colorado Trails Ranch come in.  Dude Ranchers understand family and back to basics fun better than anyone and in many cases are run and/or are owned by families that have been in the industry for generations.  Family means everything and so it just seems logical that we would partner with an organization such as the Jack and Jill Foundation.  Colorado Trails Arena Kid

The following excerpts from a family who visited Colorado Trails Ranch in August of this year says it all: "Thank you and all those involved for the most amazing family vacations, We just returned from an incredible time out west. We all are still smiling just thinking about our time together. We spent our final week this summer away from hospitals, doctors, bills, pharmacy runs and medical research looking for the miracle cure. Instead, we were tucked away in the cool rocky mountains enjoying sights we had never seen before. Jeannie and Mike rolled out the “red plaid” carpet for us at the ranch. Chef Brian was OUTSTANDING making sure to keep me well nourished and supplied with all the  veggies I needed to help battle my illness. I know it wasn’t easy for him and he is a saint in my eyes for taking a special effort to cook special nutrient packed vegetarian meals for me. You could tell Jeannie set the bar pretty high for all her staff. Every single person there went out of their way to make sure we were having a great time and getting to do what we wanted to do even if it meant adjusting their schedules, and they did it graciously. From riding horses, learning to fly fish, hiking & picnicking around the beautiful Spud Lake, mountain climbing, touring the Mesa Verde national park, square dancing to just relaxing and enjoying each other’s company, the week will forever be sealed in our hearts as a time of respite in an otherwise turmoiltuous summer; 2 craniotomies, 8 weeks on IV antibiotics to fight off a brain infection and meningitis, repairing a cerebral spinal fluid leak and plastic surgery for scalp reconstruction on top of the cancer battle. This was supposed to be my quiet summer at home with all the kids and instead a few bad scans changed that and all I did was go to the hospital or doctor with the exception of our week at The Colorado Trails Ranch. Thank you for that special time." "We found out 18 months ago I had brain cancer, grade IV glioblastoma and given 12-15 months. Our life since that day is indescribable; one minute you are so hopeful and the next minute after a bad scan or test you feel yourself being sucked down that black hole. As the patient, you look around and sometimes all you see is the collateral damage you and your illness are causing those you love. With the medical bills piling up and no end in sight, we never would have been able to take a trip like this without the help of Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation. With heartfelt thanks, we are forever grateful to all those that make trips like ours possible. Life is truly full of angels here on earth and we are thankful for those angels that were led togive to Jack & Jill so that families like ours can make memories, laughing, smiling and hugging each otherwhen at times we find it hard just to breathe and process the reality of our situation."

The Dude Ranchers' Association wants to express our gratitude to The Jack & Jill Foundation for allowing us to participate and also to thank all of our amazing ranches who participate in such a worth while cause.  We applaud you! If you or anyone you know would like to donate or find out more about The Jack & Jill Foundation Late Stage Cancer Foundation, please go to their web site at www.jafa.org.

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.

Horse Vacations

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

Western Wear – What to Wear to a Dude Ranch

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

What to wear on a ranch vacation

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

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

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

Top picks for Womens western jeans for horseback riding:

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

Top picks for Mens western jeans for horseback riding:

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

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

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

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

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

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Dude Ranch Vacations Five things to know before you go

April 4th, 2011 | by Jamie Pearson

1. Find the right ranch I know you wish the ranch fairy would fly down and just tell you which ranch is perfect for your family.  I wished that too, but it didn’t happen.  So I made a list of all the things we wanted (not too many guests at a time, a high staff to guest ratio, riding clinics at no extra cost, luxury accommodations, and river rafting), and then researched until I was cross eyed. After talking to some horsey friends and Googling myself silly, I chose Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.   If you don’t know a working ranch from a guest ranch and have no idea what you’re looking for in terms of amenities, I highly recommend you start with The Dude Rancher’s Association website. Knowing your family helps.  If you have shy kids, don’t choose a ranch with mandatory separate kid and adult activities every day.  If you don’t care about anything but riding, don’t pay extra for activities you won’t try. Vista-Verde-Drive-Cattle

2. Book the right week Once you’ve decided on a ranch, the next step is choosing a week to book.  Weather is obviously a consideration and holiday weeks (such as July 4th) may cost more.  We went the third week in July and were lucky to be able to participate in a cattle drive.  Had we gone in June, it would have been too wet and boggy. Also, call the ranch and ask who has already booked the week you’re considering.  Ideally you want there to be kids your kids’ ages.  I’d also recommend avoiding weeks with big family reunions—these groups tend to be very self-contained, which limits socializing opportunities.

3.  Bring a sports bra I won’t go into too much detail on this one, but suffice it to say there’s a lot of trotting and galloping at dude ranches.  Hours and hours of trotting and galloping, in fact.  And running around with your kids.  And mountain biking.  And rock climbing.  You get the point.

4.  Pack more clothes than you think you’ll need I travel extensively, often, and all over the place with my kids and I flatter myself that I know how to pack.  I could have done a lot better on our dude ranch vacation, however.  Every time we stepped outside the door of our cabin, we got really, really dirty.  My husband and I could have used another two or three outfits each.  The kids were so perpetually filthy (and happy) that I’m not sure that would have helped. Dinners were casual, but I wished I had cuter clothes.  Not to mention clothes that weren’t covered in dust and horse slobber.  Laundry service was convenient and inexpensive, but I wasn’t willing to part with my favorite jeans to have them washed. If you choose a ranch in Colorado, throw in a rain jacket for everyone too.  It rained briefly (or threatened to) nearly every afternoon.  

5. Don’t expect to relax too much There are so many exciting things to do at dude ranches that it can be hard to relax.  I wasn’t able to just sit down with a book and read because I felt like I’d be missing something fun.  Worse, I felt like I’d be paying to miss something fun. If you’re the kind of person who prefers to lounge around a pool or on a beach doing nothing for seven consecutive days, this might not be the right vacation for you.  There are evening activities too, like campfires, rodeos, and barn dances, so you won’t go to bed early very often.  Even the kids got a little worn out by the end of the week.

 

What To Consider When Taking a Dude Ranch Vacation

Since every ranch is a direct reflection of the family operating it, there are no two dude ranches alike. For our first time guests, we've created a list of basic questions. We encourage you to visit the ranch web sites and The Dude Ranchers' Association web site  For guest comments, try looking the ranch up on tripadvisor.com or a similar web site. Call or e-mail the ranches that you are interested in and ask them to help you. If they don't offer everything you're looking for, they will recommend a ranch that does. Association dude ranches work together in a spirit of cooperation to insure that your next vacation is your best vacation, a ranch vacation!

How do we get there? When making your reservations, discuss your travel plans with the ranch. They will gladly advise you. Most guests travel by commercial airlines and have the ranch pick them up at the nearest airport. Ranches are frequently located near regional airports which accommodate private aircraft. For those of you within reasonable distances or wishing to explore more of the West, driving is always an option. (Although, you won't use your car once you get there.)

Where are most ranches located? Member ranches are located in the following 12 Western states and 2 Canadian provinces: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wyoming, Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.

Who takes ranch vacations? People from all walks of life enjoy ranch vacations. Because they are a family -oriented, intimate environment, they are perfect for people traveling alone. Staff and guests are quick to include you as part of the group. Families enjoy ranch vacations for the wholesome environment which fosters quality time and valuable learning experiences. Children experience an amazing sense of freedom on a ranch. It's a safe haven where the only people they will come in contact with are staff and guests. Active adults enjoy ranch vacations for all the outdoor activities and the unique socializing. Many ranch guests form lasting friendships and plan their vacations together. The love of horses and the wilderness brings people together from all over the world, to create a unique and diverse group of friends.

Are there ever discounted or special rates? Dude ranches are similar to hotels and resorts in the sense that they have busy periods and quiet times. It is quite possible that you will receive a discounted or special rate if you are traveling during a slow period. If you have some flexibility in your travel plans, be sure to ask the ranch for details. You will often see their "specials" highlighted on their web sites.

When should we make our reservations? Ranches enjoy a large percent of returning guests each year, but you should be able to make your reservations in the same time-frame as any other vacation. Just remember that ranches are small, (compared to most hotels and resorts) and you will want to choose a busy or a quiet time based on your expectations. School vacation periods are typically busy - perfect if you're traveling with children. For more of an "Adults Only" experience, just ask the ranch to recommend a quiet time, or inquire about special programs for adults.

When are they open? You can plan a ranch vacation any time of the year. You'll find the southern ranches are most popular in the winter months and the northern ranches are the most popular in the summer months - some ranches are open year round and some seasonal ranches offer special holiday activities.

What are the rates and what is included? The "all inclusive rate" concept originated at Dude Ranches. Rooms, meals and activities have been included in the rate since the late 1800's. Typical Full American Plan rates are inclusive of food and lodging. With the exception of one or two ranches, the riding program is included as well. You may find extra charges for riding lessons, alcoholic beverages, airport transfers, river rafting, pack trips and cattle drives. But, for the most part, you will find that your rate includes a full day of activities as well as your meals and lodging. Ranch vacations are a great value and make it easy to stay within a budget. Because of the high ratio of staff to guests, a gratuity is usually added to the final bill and distributed to all employees. Rate cards for all ranches clearly state what is included and any additional charges that may apply.

Bar-Lazy-J-Campfire-Kid-Indian

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