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

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

 

 Flyfishing-Rawah-Ranch

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

 

What if my knee flares up?

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

I voted “yes’ reluctantly.

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

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

 latigo-guest-ranch-view

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




  

6 Great Dude Ranch Activities Beyond Horseback Riding

 

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

 

1. Practice your Photography

 

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

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

 Zapata-Cattle-Drive

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

 

2. Listen to Traditional Music

 

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

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

 

3. Try Something Completely Different - Glamping!

 

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

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

 

4. Relax and Unwind at a Dude Ranch Spa

 

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

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

 

5. Dine and Wine

 

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

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

 

6. Tour Area Attractions

 

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

 

mt-rushmore-south-dakota

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

 

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

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

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

 

Author: Cathy Bennet Kopf, TheOpenSuitcase.com

 

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

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The Great American Family Holiday – on a Dude Ranch

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

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

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

Bar W Dude Ranch Vacation

Picnic at the Bar W Guest Ranch in Montana

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

Diamond D Ranch Fishing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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10 Best Things about a Ranch Vacation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 Best Things about a Ranch Vacation

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

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Straight from the Horse's Mouth about Ranch Vacations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5 Reasons a Ranch Vacation Is Better Than Disney

There’s no denying that a Disney vacation is at the top of most children’s list of travel wishes. Unfortunately for parents, a Disney vacation often means long lines, overcrowded parks and high expenses, all without much time for genuine family bonding. While amusement and theme parks are an easy, go-to solution for family vacations, there are other magical travel options that can offer exposure to new activities, interaction with nature, and discovery of culture and history outside of most families’ normal comfort zones. As the original all-inclusive destination for families, a dude or guest ranch vacation guarantees plenty of time to bond and spend time as a family, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Dude ranches give families the opportunity to challenge and revive their bodies, minds and spirits in some of the most breathtaking areas in the U.S., with a myriad of outdoor adventures such as rock climbing, cattle roping, horseback riding, zip lines, ATV riding and whitewater rafting. Here are 5 reasons a dude ranch vacation is better than Disney:

Explore, play and more – Located along the banks of the North Platte River in the heart of southern Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Mountains, A Bar A Guest Ranch is one of the oldest and largest dude ranches in the country, with nearly 100,000 acres for guests to explore. The ranch is a paradise for children, with activities including horseback riding, fishing, soccer, arts and crafts, music and drama, swimming, tennis, and educational games, such as cork boat and sack races. Teenagers can enjoy inner tubing down the river and golf before settling down with their family to enjoy dinner cooked outside over an open fire.

Reconnect with nature on horseback – If your family is in need of reconnecting, then you’ve found the right place. Rustic yet replete with all the modern amenities you’ll ever need, Rainbow Trout Ranch caters to children of all ages. Located near several historic Spanish land grants in Antonito, Colo., Rainbow Trout is surrounded by the spectacular San Juan Mountains. Ride horses, catch some trout, hike to an overlook with your kids, relax and more. Kids ages six and older – fondly known on the ranch as “Cowpokes” – are given their own horse for the week, and “Buckaroos” – children age’s three to five – are led on short rides by ranch counselors.

Drowsy Water Ranch Vacation Better than Disney

Learn to work as a teamDrowsy Water Ranch, situated 90 miles west of Denver, Colo., has programs for children of all ages, from infants to teenagers, along with plenty of activities for parents and grandparents. Capture the fun and your children’s hearts when you help them lasso a steer-head. Ditch technology for outside activities like obstacle courses, zip lining, swimming, hiking, archery and rafting. Afterward, head to the main lodge to enjoy playing cards, browsing the library or just visiting with new friends while drinking lemonade.

Relax, rejuvenate and reconnect in styleMountain Sky Guest Ranch sits on over 10,000 operational acres of unspoiled wilderness in the heart of Yellowstone Country in Emigrant, Mont. The ranch combines outdoor adventure for the entire family and the comforts of an upscale resort in the region’s most spectacular location. There’s no doubt your family will enjoy the breathtaking views, fine dining and luxury environment. From a crisp morning hike, to rafting down the Yellowstone River, to horseback rides through acres of meadows, there’s something for every member of the family. End the day with a mealtime horseback ride, where you’ll be treated to tasty barbecue, learn to dance with the wranglers and sing your favorite western songs around the campfire.

One-of-a-kind fishing adventures4UR Ranch provides an all-inclusive family vacation adventure in Mineral County, Colo. Try your hand at fly fishing with access to some of the finest waters around, including one of the only entirely private tail-water trout streams in the American West, trophy ponds, and both sides of the legendary Rio Grande River. Grab one of the ranch’s guides for a personal introduction to the area’s waters and trout. Whether you’re a family of anglers or not, no one will be bored on this vacation. Here, kids and adults can enjoy their own level of adventure. The ranch’s staff sees to the kids’ needs while the parents are off hiking, horseback riding or fishing. From nature explorations, to soaking in the hot springs, to a round of golf at the nearby Rio Grande Club – there’s plenty of adventure to suit everyone’s tastes.

5 Reasons Ranch Vacations are Better Than Disney

5 Reasons Ranch Vacations are Better Than DisneySave

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Bob Marshall Wilderness Adventures

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

JJJ Wilderness Ranch offers Bob Marshall Wilderness Adventures

JJJ Wilderness Ranch in the Bob Marshall Wilderness

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

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

RIch Ranch offers Bob Marshall Wilderness Adventures

Rich’s Montana Guest Ranch in the Bob Marshall Wilderness

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

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


 

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Specials near the Border for Cinco de Mayo

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

Giddy-Up Gals Package

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

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

 

Discounts for Veterans, Active Service Members and Law Enforcement Officers

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

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

 

 3 for 1! Visit Three Ranches in One Week

Tombstone Monument Ranch for Cinco de Mayo

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

 

 The Art of Marriage Ranch Experience

Burnt Well Ranch the Art of Marriage for Cinco de Mayo

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

 

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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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10 Awe-Inspiring Panoramas That Define Rustic Luxury

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

 

Smith Fork Ranch Panoramas That Define Rustic Luxury

Smith Fork Ranch — where the rainbow ends?

 

Smith Fork Ranch Panoramas

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

 

Smith Fork Panoramas That Define Rustic Luxury

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

 

Smith Fork Horse Panoramas That Define Rustic Luxury

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

 

Smith Fork Ranch Luxury Panoramas

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

 

Smith Fork Ranch Vacation Wine And Dine

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

 

Smith Fork Shooting Ranch

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

 

Smith Fork Ranch View

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

 

Smith Fork Ranch Fly Fishing Panorama of Rustic Luxury

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

 

Smith Fork Ranch Camping Glamping all inclusive guest ranch vacation

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

 


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



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Kids and Cattle Drives on a Family Vacation

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

 

Ages 8 & Up

 

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

 

Bonanza Creek Ranch Kids and Cattle Drives

Bonanza Creek Ranch, Martinsdale, Montana

 

Ages 7 & Up

 

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

 

Laramie River Ranch Cattle Drive with Kids

Laramie River Ranch, Jelm Colorado

 

Ages 6 & Up

 

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

 

Black Mountain Cattle Drive with Kids

Black Mountain Ranch McCoy, Colorado

 

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

 

Bull Hill Cattle Drive Kids

Bull Hill Guest Ranch, Kettle Falls, Washington    

 

 

 

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

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Love Letters to the Ranch

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


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


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

Low Altitude Spring Break Vacation in the South West

For many travelers staying at a low altitude destination is a must, especially if you only have a week to get acclimated to your destination. Fortunately, there are many dude ranches located below 5,000′ that would be a great South Western haven for spring break. Each ranch is a unique destination ranging from the type of activities offered to the particular family and ranch history. Don't just visit one, visit them all!  

Burnt Well Guest Ranch is a low altitude working cattle and sheep ranch in Roswell, New Mexico

Burnt Well Guest Ranch

Profile        Website Lodge Altitude: 4,200' Nearest Airport: Roswell Nightly Price Range: $239 - $301 About: Burnt Well Ranch is a working cattle/sheep ranch. They take a few guests to supplement their ranching income and are open year round. Whether you are an avid rider wanting to participate in actual ranch work, a beginner wanting to work on your riding or anything in-between this ranch can accommodate.  

Circle Z Ranch is a low altitude dude ranch in Patagonia, Arizona

Circle Z Ranch

Profile        Website Lodge Altitude: 4,000' Nearest Airport: Tucson Nightly Price Ranch: $195 - $265 About: The Circle Z Ranch offers all inclusive vacations; 3 delicious meals/day, horseback riding, heated pool, hiking, bird watching, nature walks and guided star gazing. Relax in one of our seven adobe cottages, meticulously detailed for your stay.  

 

 

Flying E Ranch for the Holiday

Flying E Ranch

Profile      Website Lodge Altitude: 2,400' Nearest Airport: Phoenix Nightly Price Ranch: $192 - $252 About: With 20,000 acres to ride and roam the Flying E Ranch is the ideal place to take a step back in time at a working cattle ranch.  Your stay here will fill your heart with memories.  

Elkhorn Ranch is a low altitude ranch in Tucson, Arizona

Elkhorn Ranch

Profile        Website Lodge Altitude: 3,700' Nearest Airport: Tucson Nightly Price Ranch: $264 - $415 About: Elkhorn Ranch is a 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 and friendship await you at Elkhorn Ranch.  

 

Rancho de los Caballeros is a low altitude dude ranch in Wickenburg, Arizona

Rancho de los Caballeros

Profile       Website Lodge Altitude: 2,500' Nearest Airport: Phoenix Nightly Price Ranch: $202 - $232 About: Saddle up and make a perfect getaway to the warm heart of the Old Southwest! Rancho de los Caballeros is the resort with the soul of a bed and breakfast offering full resort amenities and privacy, yet with the charm and intimacy of yesteryear. It's the kind of place where everyone knows your name.  

 

Tombstone Monument Ranch

Profile         Website Lodge Altitude: 4,541' Nearest Airport: Tucson Nightly Price Ranch: $332 - $470 About: Tombstone Monument Ranch is surrounded by miles of rugged, open country, with views of the Dragoon Mountains. This was Apache territory and is rich in history. We are just 3 miles from downtown Tombstone, the Town Too Tough To Die. Walk the streets that Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday and outlaw Curly Bill Brocius once walked. It has been said that our guests don’t just feel like they got away, they feel like they traveled back in time.


At the Dude Ranchers’ Association we are always here (during MST business hours) to help with your vacation plans. Please give us a call with reference this blog low altitude post. The number is 307.587.2339.   Save Save Save Save

Namaste on the Ranch

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Home Ranch Namaste Yoga

Photo Courtesy of The Home Ranch

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

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Secrets to the Best Family Reunion

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

Red Horse Mountain Ranch Family Reunion

Photo courtesy of the Red Horse Mountain Ranch

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

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

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

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

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

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


Article originally posted here by Cory Inouye

The Extended List of Family Reunion Ranches

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Family Travel and Dude Ranches

One of the most meaningful comments we’ve read about family travel and dude ranches is this: Dude ranches reconnect adults to a simple and innocent part of their childhood and introduce their children to these same experiences.

Western Pleasure Ranch Family Travel Destination

At dude ranches, everyone can discover magic. Photo courtesy of Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

There’s something uplifting and joyful about that. Like when parents momentarily forget themselves and regress with their kids – revisiting beloved animated cartoons from their youth, or unabashedly belting out favorite ballads from bygone (to their kids) times. Now picture horses and corrals, Stetson hats and western boots, cookouts and wide open landscapes straight out of cowboy movies and novels. Your heart goes pitter-patter, just a little bit. Or a lot. Because in today’s era of quick-paced modernization, invasive technology and growing detachment from nature (and one another), the ranch appeal is arguably more potent — for all generations — than ever before. “Perhaps it is the allure of the Western lifestyle that people long to experience. Perhaps it is the adventure that draws guests to a ranch in the first place. Most likely, it’s a combination,” believes Kari Kilmer, Manager of Vee Bar Guest Ranch. Perhaps. Whatever the case, when on a dude ranch, “The feelings that awaken inside of you are something that most people never imagine. It’s the magic!” agrees Tammy Yurich, Activities Director of Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch.

Latigo Ranch Family Travel Destination

Living in a dream. Photo courtesy of Latigo Ranch

Exploring the Magic “Dude ranches are a perfect fit for family travel simply because the dynamic shifts,” suggests Ashley Ducharme, Marketing Coordinator of Bar W Guest Ranch. “Everyone within the family is on an authentic adventure because everyone is trying new things (archery, horseback riding, square dancing, skeet shooting and more). This equalizes the parents and the children and fosters open communication. The kids say ‘Do you know what we did today?’ and the parents respond ‘Well do you know what we did today?’” That level playing field wasn’t created by accident. It has taken a lot of work and requires diligent vigilance to maintain. All the more so as it’s increasingly difficult to find other family-focused vacation experiences that so consistently “bring families together naturally,” as Kerstin Auer, Marketing & Sales of Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, sees it, all by placing careful and balanced emphasis on providing “unique adventures and educational experiences that the whole family will enjoy,” says Janice Schoonover, Owner of Western Pleasure Guest Ranch. Over the years, plenty of visitors have predictably compared their dude ranch adventures with the famous magic of other standard-bearing activity providers like Disney. How do dude ranches stand up? Incredibly well! “When you come to a dude ranch, the only lines you’ll find are the strings of horses and riders on the mountain trails. Every moment with your family will be spent finding real adventures, not being herded through fabricated ones. Without crowds of people to fight against, the buzz of this modern world will fade into serenity and wildness,” says Spencer George, son of the owners of Latigo Ranch.

Geronimo Trail Ranch Family Travel Destination

A Chance to slow down and get in touch with natures. Photo courtesy of Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch

Take Things a Little Slower There really is a lot to be said for excitement without overstimulation, and activation without commercialization. “Dude ranches give families… a place to slow down from the fast pace of daily life and reconnect with each other,” observes Meris Stout, Owner of Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch. There are two important elements to this. First, “Free of television, phone calls, texts and push notifications, family members can discover the magic that has captivated ranch guests for a hundred years,” enthuses RC Townsend, Assistant General Manager of Mountain Sky Guest Ranch. Second, “Learning together through nature and animals is a powerful thing for families to share,” says Tyler Beckley, Owner of Three Bars Guest Ranch. Of course, a readiness to make family time together just that much more engaging is stoked by freedom from one another during part of each day. This is aided by the safe environment dude ranches work to create, allowing parents to relax while their kids do their own things. “Kids have freedoms on a dude ranch that most cannot experience in today’s world,” says Jeanne Ross, General Manager of Colorado Trails Guest Ranch. Doug Cole, Owner of Marble Mountain Guest Ranch concurs: “Once you arrive at a dude ranch, you are by default in a more secure environment that has a known and fixed population during the time of your stay. Kids are more enabled to ‘free range.’”

R Lazy S Ranch Family Travel

Photo courtesy of R Lazy S Ranch

Step into the Dude Ranch Mindset Predictably, “A dude ranch offers so much… by providing very unique opportunities,” says Kelly Stirn, Owner of R Lazy S Ranch. So let’s explore some them. Keep in mind, however, that “The hardest vacation to describe is one based on an experience. For those of us that live this wonderful, rewarding, down-to-earth lifestyle, it is hard to tell a family on the phone what a wonderful time they will have,” advises Kilmer of Vee Bar Guest Ranch. “They simply have to take our word for it, then try it for themselves.” Let’s do that. Let’s put ourselves briefly in dude ranchers’ shoes by reading their words and imagining how amazing a dude ranch holiday can be. Then let’s all go try it out ourselves, remembering that, as Doug Van Berkum, Owner of Rainbow Trout Ranch likes to point out, “There truly is something for EVERYONE!” To read the extended quotes from the ranchers visit the blog post here. This blog was originally written by the Family Travel Association. Visit them on the web here. Save Save Save Save Save Save

6 Outstanding Summer Travel Destinations

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

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

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

Home Away from Home in Oregon

Long Hollow Ranch Summer Travel Destination

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

Paradise in Wyoming

Paradise Guest Ranch Summer Travel Destination

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

Climbing High Mountains in Montana

Hawley Mountain Ranch Summer Travel Destination

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

  Blacktail Ranch Summer Travel Destination

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

Luxury in Colorado

Ranch at Emerald Valley Summer Travel Destination

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

Smith Fork Summer Travel Destination

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


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

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Pass the #TravelSauce While Vacation Planning During the Holidays

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

  • There's plenty of room

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

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

  • There's plenty to do for everyone

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

Cherokee-Park-Cabin

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

 

  • There's easy planning at every step

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

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


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Working Cattle Ranches Are Great For Young Adults

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Nebraska

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

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

Book your Western Adventure Vacation Today


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An Equine Photographer's Paradise

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

What your week includes

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

Ultimate Dude Ranch Photography Retreat

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

Stephen Weaver Photography Retreat

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


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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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From Babies to Teens - Bring Your Children to the Ranch

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

Bring your children of all ages

Wind River Ranch Baby Riding a Pony

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

Wind River Rock Climbling Kids Program

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

Tumbling River Ranch Kids Program

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

tumbling-river-kids-barrells-001

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

Tumbling River Ranch  

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

Wind River Guest Ranch

Estes Park, Colorado

970.586.4212

ranch@wrrnet.com

Open May through September  

Tumbling River Ranch

Grant, Colorado

303.838.5981

info@tumblingriver.com

Open May through October    

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

 

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First Impressions of the Sylvan Dale and Vee Bar Dude Ranches

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

Sylvan Dale Ranch Visit

Sylvan Dale Ranch Welcome Sign Ranch Visit

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

sylvan-dale-susan-jessup

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

Sylvan Dale Ranch Cabin

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

Sylvan Dale Ranch Clint the Donkey

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

Sylvan Dale Ranch Valley View

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

Vee Bar Ranch

Vee Bar Ranch Driveway

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

Vee Bar Ranch Cabins

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

Vee Bar Ranch Creek View from the Cabin

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

Vee Bar Ranch Arena

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

Vee Bar Ranch

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


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Dude Ranches Guarantee an Unforgettable Family Vacation Experience

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

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

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

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

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

Deep Canyon Ranch Family Vacation

Deep Canyon Ranch Family Vacation

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

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So you want to work at a Dude Ranch

Dude ranches. Guest ranches. Whatever you call them, they offer incredible experiences with potentially life-changing benefits. And we’re not just talking about for the guests. For the people who come to work, there are tremendous opportunities and experiences as well. If you’re doing it right, being a part of a guest ranch staff is being part of a whole new family—a RANCH family—who share a common goal of providing an unforgettable vacation for others, while having an unimaginable adventure of their own. Here are the best tips for aquiring dude ranch employment.

Bar Lazy J Work at a dude ranch

Can you picture it? Waking up on a cool morning to the sounds of horse feet (unless you’re one of the wranglers and then uhhh…YOU’RE LATE!) coming in, getting a hearty breakfast from the kitchen and then spending your days laughing and sharing with the ranch guests you’ll want to keep in touch with for years to come? Eating your lunches out on the trail with your horse?  Spending evenings listening to music and relaxing by a warm fire with others equally exhausted from the fulfilling day of hard work and fresh air? Do you love the outdoors?  Lounging by the pool on your breaks? Getting served 3 meals a day? Being surrounded by beautiful countryside just waiting for you to explore it? Sounds pretty good, huh? So maybe you answered yeses to all the questions above, but let’s check out these ones, too. Really think about these ones. Can you work long hours and be counted on to do your part? Can you smile even when you’re having a bad day and leave your personal problems outside of work? Can you stop whatever you’re doing to make time for guests’ needs at the drop of a hat? Can you give the same genuine smile from morning til night?

Ok, so who’s still with me? If you are—GREAT!!!! It’s possible you’re a good candidate for potentially the BEST job you’ll ever have. You might be thinking, “I would love to come to the mountains! I have a great work ethic!” And that’s awesome. That’s step one. But I mentioned before that the competition is thick and the positions open are few. Every ranch is different, but we personally get hundreds of applications every year for just a handful of open positions. So when an application comes in, most ranches will likely be filing them or deleting them according to a couple of specific qualifications. And I’m going to do you a favor—I’m going to tell you how we do that. The following are essential to consider when you’re filling out that application though-- so listen up!

1) Availability

Bar Lazy J Work at a Dude Ranch

We ask you when you’re available to work. It should be noted that some ranches stay open year-round and have a rotating staff while others are only open a few months. So BE FAMILIAR with the availability needs of the ranch you’re applying for.

2) Position Applied For At Bar Lazy J we ask you to put your top three choices. That doesn’t mean you have to put three things if you don’t have three things you could do for us. If you’re only applying for wrangler, then it’s ok to put just that. Those other spaces are for people who legitimately could work in positions other than their first choice. And it’s possible if we aren’t hiring for your first choice, we might need you for your second.

3) Experience and qualifications for the different positions If you made it past 1 and 2, this is where one of the major final cuts gets made. For good reason. Almost anything can be taught and a willingness to be able to learn is essential in any job, but experience will trump eagerness almost every time. Almost.  So let’s talk about the main kinds of job available through the majority of ranches.

A.  The first category we’ll mention is our wranglers. Let’s be real. Fudging your horse experience will be of no benefit to anyone. Trust us. It’s easily revealed and dangerous to you, your co-workers and our guests. So wrangler positions are carefully chosen and extensively combed over to find the very best.

B.  If you don’t have horse experience, but you love to work with people and want to work in a guest ranch atmosphere, a crew position might be right for you. Here’s where other ranches will probably vary a great deal, but essentially the jobs are similar. Some have an extensive amount of guests and may therefore hire specific individuals for housekeeping or wait staff, kitchen help and laundry.

C.   Those with culinary and kitchen experience would find room to express their artistic love of food in our kitchen assisting our chef and helping to prep the delicious meals we serve here at the ranch. Then of course there’s the almost full-time job of keeping our bottomless cookie jar actually bottomless.

D.   If you’re handy, it would be handy (see how I did that?) to know what maintenance positions are available.  There may or may not be multiple areas of building maintenance, mechanical maintenance or grounds maintenance. It is understood this is an area experience is going to be necessary.

E.  Office workers who are the front line of every guest ranch. Office staff make reservations, answer questions, phones and emails and are often people’s first interaction with the whole guest ranch experience. You are who the guests will rely on to know all the answers, so be ready to think on your feet with a desire to serve and always with a smile.

4) Tell Us Why WE Need YOU. Most applications have an area to write additional notes about why you’d be  a great candidate to work at their ranch. We know ours does, so please USE that space to sell yourself! If you grew up riding horses and fixing tractors on your uncle’s ranch, but you never worked in an actual paid position doing that,  tell us! Write it up once and copy and paste it to multiple ranches if you’re applying to several, but don’t cheat yourself in this area. We want to know why you would be great for us---not why we’d be great for you.  A lot of personality comes out in the way people write, so let us “hear” it! Just that taking some time to thoughtfully articulate your desire to add your talents to a ranch’s program is far more impressive than not.

Bar Lazy J Work at a Dude Ranch - Campfire

Be prepared to have a lot of fun, but be prepared for all the responsibility that comes with making EVERY week the BEST week of the season. From your first day until your last day, there must be diligence in proudly presenting yourself as the face of Bar Lazy J’s excellent program.  Jerry and Cheri are incredible people to work for and will literally treat you like family while you’re here and even well beyond your summer job here when you’ve done your best for them. So if you’re lucky enough to come and work in the mountains—make the most of it by living up to the standard we saw you at.  Any job worth doing, is worth doing right.

 

Dude Ranch Employment 

 For the people who come to work, there are tremendous opportunities and experiences as well. Here are the best tips for acquiring dude ranch employment.

 

Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch Best Tips for Dude Ranch EmploymentSave Save Save

Lone Mountain Ranch Hosts Family with the Jack & Jill Foundation

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

 

About the Jack & Jill Foundation

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

Lone Mountain

Labor Day Dude Ranch Stays

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

All-Inclusive Stay

Lost Valley Ranch Spring Break & Labor Day Dude Ranch Stay

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

Al-la-cart for Labor Day

Tumbling River Ranch Singles Labor Day Dude Ranch

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

Annual Labor Day Festival in Creede, Colorado

4UR All-American Cowgirl Labor Day Dude Ranch Stay

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

4 Different Horsemanship Clinics

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

Western Pleasure Ranch Horsemanship

Youth Horsemanship

Western Pleasure Ranch

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


 

Zapata Ranch Cameron Schyver Clinic

Cameron Schryver, Thatcher School Director

Zapata Ranch

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


Rocking Z Bareback Jumping

Parelli Natural Horsemanship

Rocking Z Ranch

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


McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch Libby MT Horsemanship

Buck Brannaman Style

McGinnis Meadows Ranch

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

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

 


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A Week in the Wide Open Spaces

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

Eatons Ranch Wide Open Spaces
Eatons' Ranch

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

Hollywood Meets the Wild West

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

White Stallion Ranch Wagon Ride Horses

White Stallion Ranch

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

Circle Z Dude Ranch Cat Post Historical

Circle Z Ranch

Eatons Ranch Horses Sunset

Eatons Ranch                                                      


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All-American Dude Ranches in the West

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.

Cattle Ranches Dressed in the All-American Cowboy Tradition

Rowses All-American Cattle Ranch

Rowse’s 1+1, Burwell, Nebraska

Klondike Ranch, Buffalo, Wyoming


Family Owned and Operated - Generation after Generation

4UR All-American Cowgirl

McGarry Ranches, Rexburg, Idaho

4UR Ranch, Creede Colorado


Mount Rushmore - the All-American US Presidential Monument

Triple R Mount Rushmore USA

Triple R Ranch, Keystone, South Dakota


Rocky Mountain Range - Home of the Tetons

Moosehead Ranch in Rocky Mountains USA

Goosewing Ranch, Jackson, Wyoming

Moose Head Ranch, Moose, Wyoming

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.


 

The One and Only Wyoming

When you think about traveling in mountains, on rivers or wide open spaces think about Wyoming. Out here the air is fresh, the scenery spectacular and the people have a western hospitality about them you won’t find anywhere else. There are ranches, dude ranches, cattle operations and cowboys of all sorts... professional rodeo cowboys, ranch hands on hundreds of thousands of acres and cowboys that pack horses into places like the Thorofare, the most remote location in the lower 48, located in the greater area Yellowstone National Park. This wonderful state is home to recreation of all kinds, not just ones on horseback.  Yellowstone National Park anyone? Yes, that is here in Wyoming and the state is very proud of it. Let your compass take you in all the cardinal directions and you will find vast amounts of beautiful lonely highways leading to historical places and clear, crisp streams packed with trout waiting to take your fly. You could be on your way to the Big Horn Mountains, Devil’s Tower, Cheyenne Frontier Days, the high and mighty Tetons or the next small western town with a population of 200 or less. Winter is a great time to be here as well. Trust me. It truly is. The quiet snow is ready to be disturbed by snowshoeing, downhill skiing and snowboarding, and snowmobiling. There are ice climbing festivals, ice fishing derbies or your winter recreation of choice. If you’re not yet convinced that Wyoming is the place to be, consider this; whether you are an avid participant in one type of recreation or a general adventurer a dude ranch just might be the right fit. Each ranch listed below has a general list of activities that will accommodate your wants for a week long break. With a closer look each individual ranch has its own flair of personality and specialty. Find the one that matches you and your travel companions. If it is not on the list below, don't fret. There are more Wyoming Ranches than these. Pick up the phone and call the Dude Ranchers' Association to inquire about the extent of ranches in the state.  

R Lazy S Wyoming Vacation Trail Ride Family

R Lazy S Ranch, Teton Village, Wyoming

R Lazy S Ranch specializes in the real meaning of vacation: You can be as active or inactive as you please.

 


Red Rock Ranch Vacation Wyoming

The Red Rock Ranch, Kelly, Wyoming

The Red Rock Ranch takes great pride in serving excellent food, whether on a cook-out BBQ, lunch ride or in our main dining room. The food is a fabulous mix of ranch cuisine with a gourmet flare.


Triangle C Ranch Wyoming Vacation

Triangle C Ranch, Dubois, Wyoming

The Triangle C Ranch takes pride in being a true Wyoming Ranch- where their handshake is our bond and the coffee pot is always on!

 


Vee Bar Ranch Wyoming Vacation

Vee Bar Ranch, Laramie, Wyoming

The Vee Bar Guest and Dude Ranch specializes in small Wyoming conferences and retreats, with space for up to 40 guests for day conferences and 25-30 guests for overnight retreats.

 


Lazy L&B Ranch Wyoming Vacation

Lazy L & B Ranch, Dubois, Wyoming

The Lazy L & B Ranch offers a great kids program. Aside from the riding program kids love the petting zoo, the tree house and the freedom to go wherever they want, whenever they want.

 


Rimrock Ranch Wyoming

Rimrock Ranch, Cody Wyoming

Rimrock Ranch is nestled on the banks of Canyon Creek, 24 miles west of Cody and 27 miles east of the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park.


More Ranches Here Save Save

Western Dancing Found on these Dude Ranches

What dude ranch experience would be complete without a little bit of western dancing? Western dancing is a fun, evening dude ranch activity that the whole family can enjoy. At these ranches odd numbers and resistant teens are no challenge. There are female and male wranglers waiting to sweep your teenagers off their feet (only in the literal sense). They have been trained in the ways of western dancing. Some ranches offer a variety of styles for your dancing entertainment. You might find some combinations of line dancing, square dancing, the country swing, the polka or just some silly kicking up of the heels. Even if you have two left feet, it doesn’t matter. The ‘callers’ or dance instructors will help you learn the steps at a fun pace. Any kind of dancing you participate in or learn is energetic, full of laughs and a great way to make memories with your group and meet other families staying at the ranch.

Vista Verde Western Dancing

If you would like, take a look at the different styles of Western Dancing and ask your hosts how the ‘get down’ at their ranch.

Line Dancing - Everyone stands in a line in rows and does the country version of the Cha Cha Slide.

Square Dancing - 4 couples gather in, you guessed it, a square. There is a caller that tells you what's next. There are also square dances that include everyone in a big circle, but there is still the caller who says things like ‘do-SE-do with your partner’

Swing Dancing - Individual couples swing around the dance floor. Just be light on your feet and let your cowboy or cowgirl 'swing' you around the dance floor.

Polka Dancing - Please see Swing Dancing.

Fun filled family vacations are what dude ranches are all about. Western dancing is only a part of what your host will offer. There will be a variety of other nightly activities such as talent shows, camp fire sing-alongs for the kids, live music, cultural presentations and star gazing.  During the day you can enjoy horseback riding, hiking, river trips, fishing, etc.

The all inclusive family vacations available at the dude ranches listed below will satisfy even the most active among your family. The kids and teens program will keep everyone in the family having fun with age-appropriate activities, while giving mom and dad a much-needed rest. Even if the kids decide not to tag along when you head to the Western dancing, it will be because they’ve been tired out from a long, fun day in the beautiful outdoors.

Dude Ranches with Western Dancing

Latigo Ranch, Kremmling, Colorado Drowsy Water Ranch, Granby, Colorado Vista Verde Ranch, Steamboat Springs, Colorado Goosewing Ranch, Jackson, Wyoming Paradise Guest Ranch, Buffalo, Wyoming Triangle C Ranch, Dubois, Wyoming Cherokee Park Ranch, Livermore, Colorado Colorado Trails Ranch, Durango, Colorado


 

Ride for the Adventure

Would you like to ride out on the open prairie shoulder to shoulder with your family?  If so there are great ranches who offer advanced horseback riding opportunities as the terrain permits. At the member ranches of the Dude Ranchers' Association safety is always first.  Trail guides are knowledgeable of horsemanship and teaching basic riding skills.  So take off on your next vacation and enjoy some advanced riding at a dude ranch. You are sure you would like some riding in the West, but maybe, not so sure about selecting the right ranch with the right personalities for your travels. No worries, the ranches listed below are carefully selected to provide you with the most adventure. They are listed by two separate categories, a working cattle ranch experience focusing on teaching you the ways of the cowboy and a traditional dude ranch experience focusing on trail riding and all sorts of other kinds of adventure. Once you have made it that far in your decision, further narrow in on your perfect match by looking at the terrain of the ranch, the time of year you are traveling and the scale of luxury you prefer.

 

Advanced Riding on a Working Cattle Ranch

Working cattle ranches would like guests to help them with their cattle work, so nose to tail  riding is discouraged while trailing a herd of 100+ cattle on a cattle drive.  You will find adventure around everyday cattle work well.

 

 

McGinnis Meadows Advanced Horseback Riding

McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch, Libby, Montana

McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch is an authentic working cattle ranch located in the northwest corner of Montana. Beginner riders to experienced leave here with more knowledge about horses, horsemanship, and cattle, than they've experienced anywhere else. With approximately 15 guests per week, we can better know you, work with you individually, and tailor each day to you.

 

 

Burnt Well Advanced Horseback Riding

Burnt Well Guest Ranch, Roswell, New Mexico

Burnt Well Guest Ranch is located in warm, sunny, southeastern New Mexico. Guests have said "This is John Wayne country!" Our riding is in open pasture unless you opt for a mountain trail ride for your day trip, with a 6 day package.

 

 

MCgarry Ranches advanced Horseback Riding

McGarry Ranches, Rexburg, Idaho

If you wish to experience the lifestyle of the American Cowboy with a legitimate cattle outfit, riding daily on an American Quarter Horse then here is what we are and what we offer. Upon arrival at the ranch you will be given the firm handshake or welcoming hug after which you will lose the guest handle and become one of the McGarry Ranches Family of Wranglers. In other words, just one of us.

 

Advanced Riding on a Traditional Ranch

 

Traditional style ranches are equipped to offer adventure for the whole family, whether that's advanced riding for the horse enthusiast or an all day fly fishing trip or a children's program with water activities. Visit these ranches' websites to see which one offers your families style.

 

Colorado Trails Advanced Horseback Riding

Colorado Trails Ranch, Durango, Colorado

Family fun abounds at Colorado Trails Ranch located in the beautiful San Juan Mountains just outside of historic Durango, Colorado. Rides are grouped by ability (and desire). The rides range from scenic walk rides to loping through trees and meadows.

 

 

Vee Bar Advanced Horseback Riding

Vee Bar Guest Ranch, Laramie, Wyoming

The Vee Bar located near Laramie, Wyoming just 2 1/2 hours north of Denver, Colorado is a world-reknown family guest and dude ranch with a relaxed atmosphere sure to feel like home to your entire family. You will find a variety of terrain to suit your entire group. Loping rides are offered and we can comfortably accommodate riders of ALL abilities.

 

 

 

Blacktail Adventure Ranch

Blacktail Ranch, Wolf Creek, Montana

The Blacktail Ranch is a Historic 8,000 acre jewel, located where the prairie meets the Rockies in Wolf Creek Montana. Sign up for our two night three day "Divide Ride" where we stay in our upper camp and then ride to the top of the Continental Divide where you will experience expansive views of the Majestic Rocky Mountains from every direction.

 

Would you like to ride out on the open prairie shoulder to shoulder?  If so there are great ranch vacations offering advanced horseback riding opportunities as the terrain permits all across the Western United States. Read about them here.

More Advanced Horseback Riding?

Have more questions?  Please reach out to the DRA office  where more than one hundred ranches are represented across the Western United States and Canada.

 

 

Discover Dude Ranching

Discover the  taste of the authentic American West where horses, hats, history, heart and hospitality abound. With over 100 carefully chosen member ranches, we know there is a ranch that will fit you and your family– 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 discover the brightest shining stars peaking out from Heaven. Want to gaze into a crackling fire instead of a computer screen? Then, it’s time to discover the majestic beauty of the land and got reacquainted with your family and friends.  Join us anytime 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.

Discover Blacktail Ranch

Traditional Ranch

Blacktail Ranch – Montana The Blacktail Ranch is a Historic 8,000 acre jewel, located  where the prairie meets the Rockies in Wolf Creek Montana.  Our Grandfather first came this valley back in the late 1800's and our family has lived and worked here ever since.  We have been operating as a guest ranch since the 1950's.  


Discover Vista Verde Resort Ranch

Resort Ranch

Vista Verde Ranch - Colorado What makes Vista Verde special is the combination of all the great amenities, dining and service of a great resort that are delivered in a down to earth, relaxed and homey setting.  The activities included in your stay range from mountain biking to riding clinics, cooking classes and wine tastings, and back country skiing and sleigh rides in the winter months.    


Discover Focus Ranch - Working Cattle

Working Cattle Ranch

Focus Ranch - Wyoming Focus Ranch is a traditional working cattle ranch that invites guests to share in the day-to-day operation of the ranch. From mid-May into September, we run 1300-1400 head of yearling cattle and another 100 head of cows and calves. Running cattle is the basis of our agricultural operation and holistic grazing has been practiced for over 20 years.  


 

Family Bonding – Dude Ranch Style

There is much to be said about children getting too much screen time in today’s tech-saturated world. But look around most playgrounds and you will see that parents are just as guilty. Too often, we’re reaching for our phones rather than focusing on what’s truly important – strengthening family bonds and making memories that will carry us well into the future.

As the original all-inclusive destination for families, a ranch vacation guarantees plenty of time to bond and spend time as a family sans technology, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Try a warm family getaway that breaks the spring break cliché of crowds and beaches or, a special trip designed to include the extended family. Dude ranches can accommodate and entertain family members of all ages. This vacation promising a one-of-a-kind vacation with opportunities for the young and young at heart, and everyone in between. Families can challenge and revive their bodies, minds and spirits in the most breathtaking areas in the US. You'll experience outdoor adventures such as; rock climbing, cattle roping, horseback riding, zip lines, ATV riding and whitewater rafting.

Take a gander at just some of these dude ranch options from the Dude Ranchers’ Association. They’re sure to leave the kids clamoring to tell you all they’ve done for the day over dinner, served family-style, of course.

 

Family Wagon Ride at Rainbow Trout Ranch Colorado

Imagine horseback riding with your family through meadows dotted with wildflowers, while the Rocky Mountains tower around you. If you and your family are in need of reconnecting, to each other and to the land, then you’ve found the right place. Rainbow Trout Ranch is rustic with all the modern amenities you’ll ever need. It caters to children of all ages. Located near several historic Spanish land grants in Antonito, Colo., Rainbow Trout is surrounded by the spectacular San Juan Mountains. Ride horses, catch some trout, hike to an overlook with your kids, and relax. Let the land and each other remind you of the important things in life. Kids ages six and older – “Cowpokes” – are given their own horse for the week. “Buckaroos” – children ages three to five – are led on short rides by ranch counselors.

A Bar A Kids Ride at a Family Dude Ranch in Wyoming

On horseback, on foot, or in vehicles – expedition guests at A Bar A Guest Ranch experience a privately guided, customized, small-group adventure. Located along the banks of the North Platte River in the heart of southern Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Mountains, A Bar A Guest Ranch is one of the oldest and largest ranches in the country.  Located on nearly 100,000 acres surrounded by National Forest and Wilderness Area for guests to explore. The ranch is a paradise for children, with riding, fishing, soccer, arts and crafts, music and drama, swimming, tennis, and educational games such as cork boat and sack races. Teenagers enjoy inner tubing down the river before joining their parents for dinner cooked outside over an open fire.

Drowsy Water Family Dude Ranch

Drowsy Water Ranch, situated 90 miles west of Denver, Colo., has programs for children, from infants to teenagers, with plenty of activities for parents and grandparents alike. Capture the fun and your children’s hearts when you help them lasso a steerhead. Ditch your tablets for outdoor group activities, such as; obstacle courses, zip lining, swimming, hiking, archery and rafting. Afterward, head to the main lodge to enjoy playing cards, browsing in the library or just visiting with new friends while drinking lemonade.  

Colorado Trails Family Dude Ranch Vacation

Who needs a video game when you can focus on capturing the real thing in person! Colorado Trails Ranch provides an all-inclusive family vacation adventure in the San Juan Mountains. Families will enjoy a one-of-a-kind fishing vacation with access to some of the finest trout fishing around. You’ll find more choice spots than you can fish in a week, with specialists trained at introducing beginners to the sport. Whether you’re a fishing fan or not, no one in your family will be bored on this vacation. Here, kids and adults can enjoy their own level of adventure. Counselors see to the kids’ needs. The parents can go off exploring by foot or horseback. From whitewater rafting to swimming in the heated pool – there’s enough tech-free adventure to suite everyone’s tastes.

The Dude Ranchers' Association - Search for family bonding

With more than 100 accredited ranches, the Dude Ranchers’ Association can help you find the perfect ranch for your family bonding vacation. Several accredited ranches offer customized packages tailored to families in search of a hassle-free family getaway. No matter which ranch you choose, a dude ranch vacation guarantees plenty of time to kick-back, spend time with friends and family and create memories that will last a lifetime.

 

As the original all-inclusive destination for families, a ranch vacation guarantees plenty of time to bond and spend time as a family sans technology, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Try a warm family getaway that breaks the spring break cliché of crowds and beaches or, a special trip designed to include the extended family. Dude ranches can accommodate and entertain family members of all ages.

So Many Things to Do

“I had no idea there would be so many things to do ” or “There just isn’t enough time to do everything” are two common comments heard on dude ranches throughout the West. Most folks think of horses when they think of a dude ranch which is natural since horses are the primary focus. What many people don’t realize is that ranches offer a wide variety of activities for those who want more than riding.

Hawley Mountain Ranch - Things to do - Hiking Summit

Hike to the summit at Hawley Mountain Ranch

Like hiking, for instance? Ranches are usually located in the most beautiful, natural areas of the western states and typically offer fantastic hiking opportunities in the adjacent national parks, forests or other public lands. Experience gorgeous arrays of brilliant wildflowers, the fragrance of a pine forest, or the excitement of sighting an undisturbed elk or mule deer in a misty mountain meadow as you tread where few others have been before you. If wetting a fly line is your passion, you’re in luck again. Many ranches are located along private stretches of world famous trout streams and rivers. Others are within easy reach of cold, clear mountain lakes and streams that see little action, except from ranch guests. Many ranches offer fly fishing lessons and expert guides that can help you find that perfect spot. Some even have Orvis endorsed fishing programs. Almost all have a stocked fishing pond right on the premises.

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch - Things to do - Cast a line

Cast a line at the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch

Learn about our natural history, hunt for arrow heads, or even find a dinosaur bone! You can do it on a dude ranch. Try out Native American crafts or skills, join one of the ranch trips to nearby historical or archaeological sites, or pack a lunch and spend a day on a guided 4X4 trip touring gold mines, ghost towns or your favorite national park. Don’t forget your camera! Looking for a more relaxed pace? No problem. Wile away the day lounging by the pool or hot tub, read a good book in the shade of a stream-side tree or see how many of the abundant and colorful birds you can identify from your cabin porch swing. Evening walks in the meadow with family or friends are good for the soul - - and you might even see that doe and fawn coming to the stream for a drink. Don’t forget the optional overnight pack trip, river rafting, mountain biking, tennis, cookouts, hayrides, campfires sing-a-longs and line or square dancing offered by many ranches.

Diamond D Ranch - Things to Do - Pack Trips

On the way to your pack trip at the Diamond D Ranch

Remember, no cooking, cleaning or chores of any kind on a ranch vacation (unless you want to help the cowboys round up a few strays or feed the horses), just more fun and relaxation than you can imagine. Can’t fit it all the things to do in to one week? Don’t worry, there’s always next year to look forward to.

Find more things to do

Search www.duderanch.org for more things to do on our Find a Ranch by Activities and Amenities interactive search page.  

Sun and saddles in Southern Arizona

'Sun and saddles in southern Arizona' By Larissa Milne, originally posted on Philly.com If you're looking for a midwinter break with a twist, consider a dude ranch in southern Arizona. With sunny days and cool clear nights, the area offers glimpses into the Arizona Territory of years gone by, when the likes of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday were becoming legends. Dude ranches have evolved from the days when working cattle ranches hosted a few paying guests from back East to help with ropin' and ridin'. Modern guest ranches still raise cattle, but they offer comfortable lodging, gourmet meals, and as much (or little) horseback riding as you want. southern Arizona

Photo Credit - Larissa Milne

Read more here to find out about the Tombstone Monument RanchWhite Stallion Ranch, and how the Dude Ranchers' Association can help plan your Western dude ranch vacation at the other great Arizona ranches.    

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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.


 

Dude Ranches During the Winter: Here's Where and Why

Freshly-fallen snow, sleigh rides and skiing make these dude ranches a magical winter getaway By Lyn Mettler Travel Expert December 7, 2015 Originally Posted on 10Best.com Set in some of the most beautiful scenery in the American West and covered in blankets of snow for months, these dude ranches offer a secluded yet active winter getaway for all ages. Whether for skiing or enjoying seasonal activities like sleigh rides and snowmobiling, these ranches have it all when the weather turns cold.

 

C Lazy U Winter

C Lazy U Ranch | Granby, Colorado While the ground might be covered in white, count on plentiful sunshine and clear blue skies at C Lazy U Ranch. Take advantage of private skiing with no lift lines where the Snowcat delivers guests back up the hill or pop the kids on a tube or sled for a wild downhill ride. Other winter options include back country snowmobiling, horseback riding or snowshoeing, and there’s even ice hockey on the ranch's pond. C Lazy U also provides fine dining and luxury accommodations to refuel and recharge for the next day's adventure.

Latigo Winter

Latigo Dude Ranch | Kremmling, Colorado Located along the Continental Divide in Colorado, Latigo Dude Ranch caters to skiers during the winter months with some of the state's best snow conditions (about 18 feet every winter) and nearly 40 miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiing. Other winter activities at the ranch, which is approaching 100 years old, include snowshoeing, tubing, biking on snow or simply taking in the quiet and seclusion from the front porch of the historic log lodge with panoramic mountain vistas.

Bar W Winter Sleigh

Bar W Guest Ranch | Whitefish, Montana The Bar W Guest Ranch in Whitefish, Montana gets up to 300 inches of snow every year. The ranch offers terrain for every level of skier, including cross-country, downhill and backcountry skiing. Kids love dog sledding, taking a sleigh ride with ranch horses Duke and Dutch, and ice skating or hockey on the ice rink. You can even try ice fishing for trout, perch and more in area lakes or joining in a square dance. End the day with down-home cooking Montana style.

Western Pleasure Winter

Western Pleasure Ranch | Sandpoint, Idaho A favorite activity of visitors to Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in North Idaho is a scenic horse-drawn sleigh ride by one of the ranch’s draft teams. A two-mile loop trail takes passengers through a forest and offers snow-covered views of the nearby Selkirk Mountains. There's also snowmobiling and plenty of scenic skiing for all levels. When the day is done, cozy up by the lodge fire and then head back to one of the ranch's log cabins or lodge rooms.

Home Ranch Winter

Home Ranch | Clark, Colorado Nestled in Colorado's Elk River Valley, just north of Steamboat Springs, the Home Ranch becomes a winter wonderland when its legendary snowfalls begin each season. Considered one of the most beautiful cross-country skiing resorts in Colorado, the ranch has top-notch Nordic skiing, a world-class chef and rustic accommodations. Guests can even help feed the ranch’s herd of more than 100 horses while visiting.

Lone Mountain Winter

Lone Mountain Ranch | Big Sky, Montana Voted the No. 1 Nordic Ski Resort in North America by Cross Country Skier magazine, and located just six miles from some of the country's best skiing, Lone Mountain Ranch is a skier's paradise. Guests can also take a short shuttle ride to explore Yellowstone National Park or Gallatin National Forest by skis or snowshoes. If you're feeling daring, try out winter fly fishing too. Cap it all off with a sleigh ride under starlit skies to the North Fork cabin for a family-style prime rib dinner, lit by oil lanterns and warmed by a hundred-year-old cookstove.

Seven Devils Winter

Seven Devils Lodge Guest Ranch | Council, Idaho  Just south of the Seven Devils mountain range, Seven Devils Lodge Guest Ranch sits on 18,000 acres among canyons, high desert and mountains. A working ranch since the early 1900s, it is one of the most sought after destinations for backcountry snowmobiling ("boondocking") because of its widely varied terrain, which begins right out the front door. The lodge has six individually-themed bedroom suites and serves family-style ranch meals in the dining room.

Waunita Winter

Waunita Hot Springs Ranch | Gunnison, Colorado Set high in the Colorado Rockies at nearly 9,000 feet of elevation, Waunita Hot Springs Ranch is filled with snow-covered mountain views at every turn. Surrounded by Gunnison National Forest and 10 miles from the Continental Divide, the ranch is close to two popular ski areas and abundant terrain for snowmobiling. Most accommodations are in the main lodge, which boasts two fireplaces, a library and billiard room, as well as weekly square dancing and live Western music performances.

Vista Verde Winter

Vista Verde | Steamboat Springs, Colorado Vista Verde offers guests an upscale, all-inclusive winter experience with plenty of activities for all interests. Spend days frolicking in the snow on skies, snowshoes, by sled or tube or even by fat tire bike. Enjoy a sleigh ride led by ranch horses or take a horseback ride through softly packed snow. There are even yoga classes and private hot tubs in guest cabins to soothe aching muscles after the day's snowy adventures.

Sundance Winter

Sundance Trail Guest Ranch | Red Feather Lakes, Colorado Head out on horseback into winter's crisp morning air for a ride through Roosevelt National Forest at Sundance Trail Guest Ranch. A small horse ranch with a lodge and cabin suites for accommodations, Sundance Trail even welcomes dogs to join owners during winter months. An outdoor Jacuzzi lets guests stay warm as the snow softly falls.

What can you expect at a dude ranch in winter? When the weather turns cold, dude ranch fun is just getting started. Snow sledding, skiing, sleigh rides, and other winter activities. Plus tips for winter vacation planning.


   

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Happy Thanksgiving!!

DRA White LargeAt the National Dude Ranchers' Association we are so thankful this Thanksgiving to be a part of such a wonderful organization that dates back to 1926.   We are proud to be  supported by our member ranches, clients in search of a dude ranch and all of the associate members who make commerce and networking successful. On a day such as this we are reminded of Theodore Roosevelt when he said, "Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds." As we embark on the next 90 years for the association we would like to promise our continued perseverance in promoting and protecting the dude ranch industry.  In pursuit of this we are launching a new website in 2016 as well as enhancing our marketing efforts to connect to all of our stakeholders.  We are excited to expand our current markets in North America and abroad. Again, thank you for being apart and we look forward to many more years of success and celebration. Happy Thanksgiving, From all of us at the DRA office and the Board of Directors.  

5 Extraordinary Dude Ranches for Families

There’s one vacation category where extraordinary 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 because all the details are in place to let the good times roll!  Sure, the horse and riding are paramount to any Western dude ranch experience. The Dude Ranchers’ Association is the first to confirm riding is at the heart of any ranch getaway. But, according to DRA Executive Director, Colleen Hodson, there are folks who wouldn’t dream of hopping on a saddle that choose a DRA Western dude ranch for active family vacations. In addition to riding or sometimes in place of riding, guests 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. She says active parents usually participate in the same sports as their kids, and she adds, “Another beauty of multi-sporting at a dude ranch is when they want to take time for themselves, Dad can play a round of golf and Mom can relax with spa treatments.”  The ranches listed below offer extraordinary opportunities for families.  The information listed for each ranch is only the beginning. To find out more follow the links or give the Dude Ranchers' Association a call at 307.587.2339.

All Day Kids Program

A Bar A Ranch - Encampment, Wyoming

A Bar A Kids Horse

The ranch is a paradise for children, and our Children’s Program helps them explore it with fun and safe activities. Children ages 3 through 12 can choose to participate in the Children’s Program from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., including lunch, dinner, and snacks. Riding, fishing, soccer, arts and crafts, music and drama, swimming, tennis, and educational games are just a few of the activities offered by caring and fun children’s counselors.

 

 

Visit Local Petroglyphs

CM Ranch Dubois, Wyoming

CM Arena High Five

Children of all ages are welcome at the CM. For children 5 years and older there is supervised riding with the kiddy wrangler, who makes sure they have a lot of fun while learning western riding skills. Children will experience flavorful ranch traditions and may spend an afternoon exploring nearby ancient Indian petroglyphs or visiting the local fish hatchery. Our large recreation building provides an abundance of space for crafts, games and music. The CM staff works hard to make sure everyone has the most enjoyable ranch experience possible.

 

 

Saddle & Paddle Program

Marble Mountain Ranch Somes Bar, California

Marble Mountain Family Vacation

Our signature all inclusive "saddle and paddle" or raft and ride vacation joins our superb dining experience and our youth buckaroo program to create the best and most complete family dude ranch vacation. Our horseback trail riding and equestrian programs are spectacular, but our defining feature is our ability to keep whole families engaged with our variety of outdoor Western adventures. No other ranch can duplicate our all inclusive summit to sea experience with mountain trail riding, white water rafting, steelhead fly fishing, or jet boat tours to the Pacific Ocean!

 

 

Bring Your Own Babysitter for Free

Cherokee Park Ranch Livermore, Colorado

View More: http://oneoakphotography.pass.us/cpr

We pride ourselves on our kids programs which are for 2-12 year old. We will keep them busy with arrow head hunting, bow and arrow shooting, boat building, critter petting, crafting, horseshoe painting, kickball playing, panning for gold, fort making, hiking, scavenger hunting, s’more making, & tee pee camp outs and of course, daily horseback rides! If you like, you may even join in on the kid’s ride! For young ones under three, we offer a unique opportunity: bring your own full-time baby-sitter, free of charge.

 

Yellowstone's "Boiling River" - Offsite Adventure Trip for Teens

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch Emigrant, Montana

Mountain Sky Dude Ranch Family

Why should the little ones get to have all the fun? Our energetic teen counselors are here to ensure that our guests 13 and older have the vacation experience of a lifetime! Activities include gourmet teen dinners, hilarious talent show skits, and off-site adventures like trips to Yellowstone’s “Boiling River”, rock climbing in Yankee Jim Canyon, and clay target shooting in Paradise Valley.

 

Dude Ranches for Families

   

There’s one vacation category where extraordinary 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 because all the details are in place to let the good times roll!

Yellowstone Dude Ranch Vacation

Yellowstone Entrance Sign

Yellowstone is proud to be the nations first National Park founded in 1872. This was even before Montana, Wyoming and Idaho were granted statehood. President Teddy Roosevelt legally protected this rich, 2.2 million acres of mountains, wildlife and famous geological monuments. This is a place for seeking adventure and exploration that's truly a living American history. In your travels to Yellowstone National Park consider staying at a historical dude ranch, with an industry heritage starting in the early 1900's. 

Dude rancher's were authentic western settlers of the west and operate today to share the charismatic personality of the 'true' West. Who would want to stay in a regular hotel on their way to Yellowstone anyway? At one of these nationally accredited dude ranches you can experience your own personal Western views on horseback while staying at a ranch full of adventurous activities.

Yellowstone Old Faithful

North Entrance

At the North entrance of Yellowstone you can participate in herding cattle over the Gallatin Mountains at Hubbard's Six Quarter Circle Ranch.  Here you can enjoy remarkable views of Paradise Valley and the Yellowstone River. Their approach is both upscale and personal with a small capacity of only 12 guests. They are open June 15th - September 30th and are only 25 minutes from the park.

South Entrance

If you are going to make a be line into the park to see the famous Old Faithful Gyser head up through the South Entrance with the Moose Head Ranch.   They offer a guided tour of the Southern Loop of Yellowstone.  You will see waterfalls, hot pots, mud volcanoes, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and, of course, Old Faithful.  They offer  summer and winter packages and with a capacity of 45 they can host your larger family and corporate groups.

Yellowstone Elk

East Entrance 

Crossed Sabres Ranch is not only 8 short miles from the East Entrance, but also in part of the 2 million acres of the Shoshone National Forest.  During the summer season this ranch will show you some wild and western wilderness. Along with their outstanding horseback riding they offer impressive fishing with Orvis gear on 40 miles of the Shoshone River, white water rafting and dynamic hiking. Billings International Airport is one of many airports used by Yellowstone explorers. Here it is easy to rent a car and head towards the Northeastern Entrance.

The 7D Ranch is off the beaten path between the two. This ranch is the perfect way to connect with family and nature. As a family ranch, your kids will have a blast here experiencing the Western way of life with children's counselors and a wide variety of activities. 

West Entrance 

There are three great dude ranches that are about 40 miles from the West Entrance to Yellowstone that are outstanding dude ranches. Take a look at the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, Elkhorn Ranch and the Covered Wagon Ranch

Find more DRA ranches near Yellowstone National Park here.      

 

 

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In your travels to Yellowstone National Park consider staying at a historical dude ranch, with an industry heritage starting in the early 1900's. Dude rancher's were authentic western settlers of the west and operate today to share the charismatic personality of the 'true' West. Who would want to stay in a regular hotel on their way to Yellowstone anyway?

Perfect Winter Holiday ~ Arizona & New Mexico Dude Ranches

Arizona is home to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and the Painted Desert. There are high ponderosa pine forest, rolling grasslands, and stark desert landscapes. In New Mexico there is the wondrous Carlsbad Caverns, the Black Range Mountains and the brilliant gypsum of the White Sands National Monument. Between the Cottonwoods, the Oak trees and the many various grasses, sage and vines the brilliant colors of autumn will take your breath away.

Flying E Trail Arizona Dude Ranch

Flying E Ranch

The Dude and Guest ranches of Arizona and New Mexico take advantage of their spectacular surroundings; horseback riding outings explore the canyons and forested ridges. What a great cure for the winter blues this year, so for the perfect winter holiday grab your family and friends and head to one of these truly amazing family friendly dude and guest ranches.

Geronimo Trail New Mexico Dude Ranch

Geronimo Trail Ranch

Geronimo Trail Ranch is all about Real "Old West" adventure! A Small family ranch with a relaxed and personal atmosphere, located in the breathtaking untouched Gila National Forest of SW New Mexico. Geronimo Trail Ranch features Pithouses, Cliff Dwellings and rock art of the early Mimbres.

Get your real Cowboy on at Burnt Well Guest Ranch, located in warm, sunny, southeastern New Mexico. Guests have said "This is John Wayne country!" "I can't believe how far you can see sometimes 50-60 miles!!"

Immerse yourself in the welcoming atmosphere of the Southwest at White Stallion Ranch. You will experience the aura of a real Western ranch combined with present-day comforts and conveniences.

Or step back in time at the Circle Z Ranch were guests have ridden their ranch-bred horses on 165 miles of trails through the foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains and along the ever flowing Sonoita Creek for over 83 years. They are recognized worldwide for birding.

Fifty-one miles southwest of Tucson, in its own valley where mountains and desert meet, lies the Elkhorn Ranch. Since 1945, three generations of the Miller family have owned and operated this ranch, offering exceptional riding and comfortable living for thirty-two guests. Riding is the main interest with gentle or loping rides through the desert and more vigorous trips along the many mountain trails. Saddle up and make a perfect getaway to the warm heart of the Old Southwest!

Rancho de los Caballeros is the resort with the soul of a bed and breakfast offering full resort amenities and privacy, yet with the charm and intimacy of yesteryear. It's the kind of place where everyone knows your name. 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.

Located just east of Tucson, Tanque Verde Ranch Resort is one of the premier, all-inclusive dude ranch resorts in the country. You will find the perfect blend of western adventure, solitude and luxury amenities to make your next getaway unforgettable.

Rancho de los Caballeros Arizona Dude Ranch

Rancho de los Caballeros


 

7 Things You May Not Know About Dude Ranches

Three Bars Guest Ranch - Things to know about dude ranches

What comes to mind when you think of dude ranches? Putting on cowboy boots and saddling up your steed for a trail ride? You’re halfway there. Now picture this: indulging in a luxurious spa treatment and eating a gourmet cuisine after an action-packed day of whitewater rafting and archery. While dude ranches (also known as guest ranches) are known for providing guests with authentic, one-of-a-kind Western adventures, many have also expanded their offerings to cater to a diverse crowd of travelers – from families to couples to singles – with activities, attractions and services that extend far beyond the trail. Read on for seven surprising things you may not know about a ranch vacation.

 

Surprising Things You May Not Know About Dude Ranches

 

Dude Ranches Span The Country

Accredited DRA ranches are located in numerous states from Montana and Wyoming down to New Mexico and Arkansas. Many are located in some of the most scenic areas of the country, each offering a unique guest experience.

Find ranches by state

 

Dude Ranches Pamper You

Just because you’re on vacation at a ranch and not a five-star hotel, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice luxury amenities.

Find resort ranches

 

Dude Ranches Indulge Your Taste Buds

Gourmet farm-to-table cuisine is an important part of the culture at the Flat Creek Ranch where they use local and organic meat whenever possible. They also include fresh vegetables form their garden.

Find ranches by culinary experiences

Flat Creek Guest Ranch Dining

Dude Ranches Teach Yoga

The “Experience Yoga and Horses Retreat” at The Home Ranch, led by two fabled Cowgirl Yoginis, prioritizes health and wellness through gentle and soothing yoga, restorative horseback riding, fine wine and relaxation – serving as the perfect girls getaway.

Find ranches that offer yoga

 

Dude Ranches Host Weddings

With picturesque mountain views and luxurious accommodations, a dude ranch is the perfect spot to say “I do.”  Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch offers romantic nuptials atop the breathtaking Rocky Mountains.

Find ranches that host weddings

 

Dude Ranches Test Your Limits

Outdoor and adventure enthusiasts will feel right at home on a dude ranch with a variety of high-endurance activities to choose from. Three Bars Guest Ranch offers weekly whitewater rafting tours, along with fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, archery and ATV tours.

Find adventure ranches

 

Dude Ranches Welcome Children

Kids can come too! Programs catering to young children and teens are available at Rainbow Trout Ranch. Children ages three and older are supervised by qualified counselors during daytime activities such as riding, nature study and Western crafts. Teens are given more independence and can embark on day trips to an abandoned gold mine or the Colorado Gator Farm.

Find ranches for family vacations with kids

Rainbow Trout Ranch Children's Program - Things to know about dude ranches

 

7 Things You May Not Know About Dude Ranches

 

What comes to mind when you think of dude ranches? Putting on cowboy boots and saddling up your steed for a trail ride? You’re halfway there. While dude ranches (also known as guest ranches) are known for providing guests with authentic Western adventures, many have also expanded their offerings to cater to a diverse crowd of travelers with activities, attractions and services that extend far beyond the trail. Read on for seven surprising things you may not know about a ranch vacation.

A New Twist on an Old Trend Seen By Dude Ranch Owners

“Same time, same place next year,” is a promise often heard on the trail and around the campfire of a dude ranch.   The remote, peaceful setting lends itself to easy camaraderie, so it’s not uncommon for lifetime friendships to develop during a ranch vacation.   Statistics bear out this phenomenon with dude ranch owners reporting more than a third of all reservations each season made by repeat visitors. Colleen Hodson reports a similar yet different pattern among the daily inquiries she receives at the headquarters of the Dude Rancher’s Association in Cody, Wyoming. Hodson, Executive Director of the DRA, as it’s known, says she’s starting to hear from folks she refers to, (tongue in cheek,) as “ranch junkies.”   These are travelers loyal to the Western ranch destination but preferring to explore a different DRA ranch each trip.

The traditional pleasures of Western living - riding, hiking, camping and fishing are still the major draw of a ranch escape.  And guests can always count on any DRA member ranch meeting the highest industry standards as well as being authentic and accurately portrayed in all of its’ advertising. But that’s where the commonality ends. Travelers considering a dude ranch destination only need to glance at the DRA website or member brochure to get a sense of the many types of ranches and menu of activities offered. One finds special ranch getaways for cowgirls or adults only, while many are a virtual “Disney World” for kids of all ages. Some ranches focus on the culinary experience serving the finest wine and food pairings along with cooking instructions by noted chefs. Others attract devotees to fitness by offering yoga, meatless menus and spa treatments.  Still more are known for birding, astronomy, and special eco-tours. And, photography classes, tennis clinics, and painting workshops are just a few options for guests looking for a Western styled learning adventure.

Hodson says, "the great thing about the diversity of DRA member ranches is no matter what ranch people choose they’ll experience the same wonderful western hospitality we’ve been promoting for 90 years.” See the ranches below for a warm, welcoming hospitality and a sense of belonging with your dude ranch owners.

Blacktail Ranch

Blacktail Ranch

The Blacktail Ranch is a Historic 8,000 acre jewel, located  where the prairie meets the Rockies in Wolf Creek Montana.  Our Grandfather first came this valley back in the late 1800's and our family has lived and worked here ever since.  We have been operating as a guest ranch since the 1950's.


Hawley Mountain Ranch

Hawley Mountain Ranch

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.


McGarry Ranches

McGarry Ranches

A working cattle ranch with cattle managed on approx. 55,000 acres in the Rocky Mountains. We only accept 10 guests per week, a chance to get to know everyone. If you wish to experience the lifestyle of the American Cowboy while riding daily in scenic mountains we invite you to come ride with us.


Nine Quarter Circle

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch

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!


Upper Canyon Outfitters

Upper Canyon Outfitters & Guest Ranch

Upper Canyon Outfitters is nestled on the banks of the Ruby River, between three mountain ranges. Our family has been exploring these beautiful and wildlife-rich mountains since 1910. We are proud to offer a truly unforgettable Western Montana experience.


 

Live your Western Vacation Dream in Wyoming

Think all inclusive holidays are an invention of the big tour operators? Then think again. The Dude Ranch Association (DRA) has been leading the way for years. There is a broad spectrum of DRA-accredited 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 US, as well as in California, Arkansas and Canada. If ever a state lends itself to this type of vacation, it's Wyoming.

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

Yellowstone National Park

The bulk of Yellowstone National Park is in Northwest Wyoming and the Grand Loop Road provides a wonderful overview of the area, from the steaming geysers to majestic waterfalls and deep canyons. Hundreds of trails traverse the park, providing access to deep back-country areas, remote lakes, and scenic overlooks.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park is also in Northwest Wyoming. The first glimpse of the jagged mountains that explode out of the Jackson Hole Valley have been known to take the breath away. Pristine lakes and grassland dot the valley floor and glaciers slide down steep rocky peaks from elevations of more than 12,000 feet.

Jump to eastern Wyoming and find Devil's Tower, a massive, monolithic volcanic neck that rises out of the Black Hills. Visitors circumnavigate the tower and try to spot some of the many climbers,  or play hide and seek with the prairie dogs that reside within the park boundaries.

Wyoming Dude Ranch vacations can be anything from rustic to luxurious, with guests spending all day in the saddle herding cattle, or soaking in a hot tub and enjoying a massage. Activities may range from angling to river rafting and hiking, or lounging on a porch with a book. ‘The Dude Ranchers’ Association takes great pride in all of our ranches and we are particularly fond of the adventures and warmth that guests can enjoy during the winter months at our Southwest ranches, says Colleen Hodson, executive director of the DRA. ‘These ranches offer a scenic escape from the bleak winter conditions many people are experiencing at this time of year and guarantee a vacation that is anything but ordinary.’

Check out these genuinely lovely Dude Ranch Locations of the Cowboy State...

7D Couple Trail

7D Ranch

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. A weekly trip into Yellowstone is offered.  

Heart Six Guest Ranch

Heart 6 Wedding Horseback

Heart Six Guest Ranch is located in Beautiful Jackson Hole Wyoming. With great views of the Grand Teton Mountains the scenery is second to none. Our main activity is horseback riding, but we have lots to offer guests of all ages - from very young to very young at heart!    

Lazy L&B Ranch

Lazy L&B Kid Moment

The Lazy L & B Ranch has a quality horse program for all ages and abilities with extensive riding through wildlife habitat, forest, river gorges and high desert in small groups. There's also great fishing, hiking, swimming (pool or river) and just hanging out.    

Vee Bar Guest Ranch

Vee Bar Cattle

The Vee Bar Ranch, 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 here!  


 

Short on Cash and Time off From Work?

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

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

Cherokee Park Swimming Creek Smaller

Triple R Ranch

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

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

63 Ranch

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

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

Cherokee Park Ranch

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

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

Crossed Sabres Ranch

Cody, Wyoming Phone: 307-587-3750

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

Paradise Guest Ranch

Buffalo, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-684-7876

Celebrating 100 years of FUN in 2007. Tucked away in the scenic Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Luxury log cabins with fireplaces, outdoor decks & spacious living rooms.

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3 Cattle Drive Vacations Out West

For those looking for that working ranch experience of a cattle drive, there are certain weeks working cattle ranches invite guests to experience the original cowboy life. At these ranches guests have the opportunity to learn firsthand 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.

Each ranch is unique, with different breeds of cattle, size of the herd and the terrain. Because each one is so unique, when you experience one ranch you might end up on a journey to discover as many as your can. Please be aware that the length and location of these cattle moves will vary depending on grass, weather, and cattle health. It’s important to plan and book your vacation far in advance to be sure to reserve your space at these events. If you are late in planning for this year please still stop by the ranches for a vacation doing cattle work.

The cattle are there year-round and require lots of unique opportunities to be apart. You might enjoy a few days of cattle work, some fishing, hiking and trail riding. You might also consider another special event at ranches called branding. This is a big community event and it is an honor in the cowboy code to be invited. Whatever activities you get involved in at a working ranch will be an incredible vacation experience all your friends will be jealous to hear. Call the National Dude Ranchers’ Association with questions or any of the ranches below for more information.


Drive cattle through miles of alpine forests, crystal clear lakes and rolling foothills of Montana at the Sweet Grass Ranch

Sweet Grass Cattle Drive


Tent Camp along your route in the Plains of New Mexico with the Burnt Well Guest Ranch

Burnt Well Ranch Cattle Drive


Drive cattle to and from high in the Mountains of Washington State with the K Diamond K RanchK Diamond K Cattle Drive


 

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


 

Navigating Your Dude Ranch Search

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

CM Guest Ranch

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

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

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

Use our Find by Amenity search engine.

Keyword Search

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

Check a few Amenity Boxes

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

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

Collect your Favorites in the Saddle Bag

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

Book your Vacation with your Favorite Ranch

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

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

The Comfort of Luxury at the Finest of Dude Ranches

The Dude Ranchers' Association offers you and yours luxury vacation opportunities fit for a king. I mean, our Past President Teddy Roosevelt loved his dude ranches and we would like to connect you to the finest of them all. The alluring nature of these vacation destinations couples very nicely with the culture and hospitality of the American West. You will ride horses, see the beautiful countryside and fill your soul with the warmth and kindness of your cowboy hosts.  These ranches are spick-and-span. So take out your white gloves for a quality inspection. You won't be disappointed.

 

Stay in Hand Built Cabins from the 1920's

 

Cm Ranch Cabin Luxury Dude Ranch

Welcome to the CM Ranch, Hunter and Mollie Sullivan's gorgeous home and historic dude ranch, specializing in summer vacations since 1927. The logs for the ranch buildings were cut in the upper Jakey’s Fork canyon in the 1920’s, and hauled to the ranch by teams of horses and wagons. Several of the old wagons are still on the ranch property. The charming old buildings are spaced along the stream.  The ranch’s proximity to Yellowstone Park and Jackson Hole, Wyoming make it an ideal destination to hang your hat and get acquainted with the beautiful, wild West.

 

 

Experience Recreation at Its Finest

 

Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge Luxury Dude Ranch

The Averill family has been hosting guests from around the world for over 65 years at the Flathead Lake Lodge. They invite you to come vacation at this historic guest ranch home and experience the all-inclusive Montana dude ranch vacation of a lifetime! Located only 35 miles from Glacier National Park, the Lodge offers the ultimate family vacation with unlimited horse & water recreation. Why not go sailing, fly fishing, golfing, white water rafting, and then settle down for a message? Enjoy unmatched Western hospitality and a truly priceless family experience…Montana style!

 

 

Escape to Luxury in the Clouds

 

Emerald Valley Ranch Luxury Dude Ranch

The Ranch at Emerald Valley combines a unique retreat offering refined luxury with the rustic charm and inspiration of a wilderness enclave. It is surrounded by over 100,000 acres of the Pike National Forest, where you can indulge in your own private escape. While you may be 3,000 feet above The Broadmoor at the Cloud Camp, you are still connected to every amenity at the resort. Dining, golf, spa and meeting space are all accessible via shuttle with a single phone call. Cue the classical music and see for yourself about the Broadmoor’s luxury experience.    

 

 

Engage in a Themed Vacation

 

Zapata Painting Workshop Luxury Dude Ranch

The Zapata Ranch is a 103,000-acre bison and guest ranch in Southern Colorado.  Are you not sure what you are going to do at this ‘working’ ranch vacation? Attend one of Zapata’s specialty weeks for a solid calendar of events. You can either learn about the real cowboy work of calving and branding or ‘work’ at your photography, painting, and poetry skills on the different themed weeks throughout the summer. These cowboys truly understand the finer things in life. 

 

 

Luxury Ranch Vacations

 

The alluring nature of these luxury ranch vacation destinations couples very nicely with the culture and hospitality of the American West. You will ride horses, see the beautiful countryside and fill your soul with the warmth and kindness of your cowboy hosts.  These ranches are spick-and-span. So take out your white gloves for a quality inspection. You won't be disappointed.

 

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What Type of Dude Ranch Fits you?

Are you planning a dude ranch vacation for the first time? When it comes to vacation options, there are lots of questions to ask yourself and those traveling with you. One of the ones you might not have considered before is, “What type of dude ranch fits me?” The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) represents more than 100 guest ranches in North America (two in Canada), ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches. From valleys complete with untouched Rocky Mountain backdrops to desert sunsets across the Southwest, you can find DRA-accredited ranches throughout the Western U.S., as well as in California, Arkansas and Canada.

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

 

What Type of Dude Ranch Fits You?

 

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

a) Every chance I get

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

c) What are Wranglers and Justin's?

 

2) How adventurous are you?

a) I’m up for just about anything!

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

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

 

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

a) Herding cattle and tending ranches

b) Cowboy boots, the Wild West and horseback riding

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

 

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

a) Fishing, hunting and riding

b) Hiking, mountain biking and ATV riding

c) Pool time, spa and yoga

 

5) How do you feel about horses?

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

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

c) I love to look at them from afar

 

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

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

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

c) Sofa. TV. Enough said.

 

7) What is your idea of the perfect meal?

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

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

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

 

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

a) Bring it on – I’m the best

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

c) Does it have to do with penmanship?

 

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

a) Usually just me, or one other adult

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

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

 

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

a) No frills

b) Comfortable

c) Luxury

 

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

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

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

 

What Type of Dude Ranch Fits You? 

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

 

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.


 

5 Ranch Activities to Connect with Your Family

Drowsy Water Zipline

There is much to be said about children getting too much screen time in today’s tech-saturated world. But, look around most playgrounds and you will see that parents are guilty too. Too often, we’re reaching for our phones rather than connect with what’s truly important – strengthening family bonds and making memories that will carry well into the future. In fact, making time for your family to connect does more than provide a fleeting moment of happiness: it can make you healthier. Studies have indicated frequent family dinners lead to higher levels of emotional well-being and satisfaction. The only requirement? Keep your phones turned off. As the original all-inclusive destination for families, a dude ranch vacation guarantees plenty of time to connect as a family. Families can challenge and revive their bodies, minds and spirits in the most breathtaking areas in the U.S. Listed below are the top 5 ranch activities to connect with your family. They are sure to leave the kids clamoring to tell you all they’ve done over a family style dinner.

Colorado Trails

1. Ride out of town – Imagine horseback riding with your family through meadows dotted with wildflowers, while the Rocky Mountains tower around you. You and your family are in search of that reconnection, to each other and to the land, and you’ve come to the right place: Rainbow Trout Ranch. Rustic with all the modern amenities you’ll ever need, Rainbow Trout Ranch caters to children of all ages. Located near several historic Spanish land grants in Antonito, Colo., Rainbow Trout is surrounded by the spectacular San Juan Mountains. Ride horses, catch some trout, hike to an overlook with your kids, relax, and let the land and each other connect you of the important things in life.

2. Take an expedition – On horseback, on foot, or in vehicles – expedition guests at A Bar A Guest Ranch experience a privately-guided, customized, small-group adventure. Located along the banks of the North Platte River, in the heart of southern Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Mountains, A Bar A Guest Ranch is one of the oldest and largest in the country, with nearly 100,000 acres for guests to explore, surrounded by National Forest and Wilderness Area. The ranch is a paradise for children, with riding, fishing, soccer, arts and crafts, music and drama, swimming, tennis, and educational games, such as cork boat and sack races. Teenagers enjoy inner tubing down the river and golf before connecting with their parents to a dinner cooked over an open fire.

3. Work as a teamDrowsy Water Ranch, 90 miles west of Denver, Colo., has programs for children, from infants to teenagers, with plenty of activities for parents and grandparents alike. Capture the fun and your children’s hearts when you help them lasso a steer - head. Ditch your tablets for team building group activities outside, such as obstacle courses, zip lining, swimming, hiking, archery and rafting. Afterward, head to the main lodge to enjoy playing cards, browsing in the library or just connect with new friends while drinking lemonade.

Lost Creek

4. Fish in trout heaven – Who needs a video game when you can focus on capturing the real thing in person! Colorado Trails Ranch provides an all-inclusive family vacation adventure in the San Juan Mountains. Enjoy an awesome fishing vacation with access to some of the finest trout fishing around. You’ll find more choice spots than you can fish in a week, with specialists trained at introducing beginners to the sport. Whether you’re a fishing fan or not, no one in your family will be bored on this vacation. Here, kids and adults can enjoy their own level of adventure. Counselors connect with the kids’ needs while the parents are off hiking, horseback riding or fishing. From whitewater rafting, to swimming in the heated pool – there’s enough tech-free adventure to suite everyone’s tastes.

5. Relax in styleLost Creek Ranch Lodge & Spa is nestled between Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The ranch combines outdoor adventure for the entire family and the comforts of a world-class resort in the region’s most spectacular location. Yours may be the first footstep in a pine forest that day. Or you may be the first person of the day to say hello to a wandering deer. Every aspect of the buildings, log cabins, corrals, spa and other facilities ensures you connect to the beauty and solitude of the Grand Tetons.


 

Snow Free Spring Break Dude Ranch Vacation

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

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

Rancho de Los Caballeros

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

Flying E

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

Marble Mountain Rafting

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

9 FAQs of Dude Ranching

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) of Dude Ranching

G Bar M Ranch

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

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

3. What does “all-inclusive” mean?

Vista Verde Ranch Snow Trail Ride Family Square

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colorado Cattle Company

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

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

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


 

Spring Break is Upon Us - Let's Go!

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

Tombstone Monument Ranch  

Warm Escapes

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

Winter Weather Getaways

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

       

Life on a Jackson Hole Dude Ranch

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

Gros Ventre Dude Ranch

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

Gros Ventre Adriene Henderson

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


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Fall Adult-Only Getaways a Growing Trend at Dude Ranches

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


 

5 Cattle Drives not to Miss

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

I should've learned to rope and ride

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

Stealing the young girl's hearts

Just like Gene and Roy Singing those campfire songs

I should've been a cowboy'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dude Ranch - The Cure for Nature Deficit Disorder

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

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

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

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

Greenhorn Creek A truly all inclusive guest dude ranch vacation, we provide the perfect location for family vacations, reunions, weddings, corporate and business retreats, meetings, special events, equine guided education and so much more. Still serving up the best hospitality in the west!    

Three Bars Three Bars Guest Ranch The adventure ranch of the Canadian Rockies invites you to experience the ultimate horseback riding vacation. Located just south of Banff National Park, Three Bars Ranch offers the most diverse vacation activities available anywhere. Voted Canada's #1 Dude Ranch in 2012.    

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

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

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