Down at the Ranch

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

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

 

Geronimo Trail Ranch

New Mexico at the Geronimo Trail Ranch

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

Tanque Verde Ranch

Arizona's Tanque Verde Ranch

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

California's Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch

California's Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch

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

Colorado's Rainbow Trout Ranch

Colorado's Rainbow Trout Ranch

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

Lazy L&B Ranch

Wyoming's Lazy L&B Ranch

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

Wyoming's Crossed Sabres Ranch

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

Wyoming's The Hideout Lodge Dude Ranch Vacations

Wyoming's The Hideout Lodge

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

Bar W Ranch

Montana's Bar W Ranch

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


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Riding Lessons Before My Ranch Stay?

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

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

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

Should I Take Riding Lessons Before My Ranch Stay?

  • Introduction to Equus Caballus, the modern day horse

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

  • Physical Fitness

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

  • Coordination, Balance and Stability

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

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

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

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

Read more about the Sundance Trail Guest Ranch

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

Read more about the Rocking Z Ranch

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

Read more about the McGinnis Meadows Cattle Ranch

 

Do I Need Riding Lessons Before a Dude Ranch Vacation?

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

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The Western dude ranch rejuvenates & boosts health

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

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

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

The Home Dude Ranch Yoga Retreat for your health

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


 

There's a Dude Ranch for Everyone

Enjoy a taste of the authentic American West where horses, hats, history and hospitality abound. With over 100 carefully chosen member ranches, the Dude Ranchers' Association (DRA) has one to match your dream vacation – perfectly, all while protecting lands, parks, forests and wildlife. Our Dude, Resort and Working Ranches are in the most picturesque regions of the USA and Canada near historic sites and national parks for a photographer’s heyday! Each has its own unique history, incredible horseback riding tailored to the rider’s age and ability, and exciting outdoor adventures like white water rafting, paradise fishing on scenic rivers, fun hay rides, hikes, golfing. Blue skies, starry nights and the sounds of silence are also included in your dude ranch vacation. Lounge in a hammock until the dinner bell rings and then breathe pure clean air as you rediscover the brightest shining stars peeking out from Heaven. Want to gaze into a crackling fire instead of a computer screen? Then, it’s time you discovered the majestic beauty of the land and got reacquainted with your family and friends. Join us any time of year for genuine western hospitality. Prices, programs and activities vary. We guarantee the lodging industry’s highest standards whether staying in a rustic cabin or top end ranch resort. Once you’ve had a taste of a dude ranch, you may never want to go anywhere else on vacation again. These ranches below offer unique, personalized experience. Find the one that fits you and yours below.


Elkhorn Family Reunion

Elkhorn Ranch - Montana

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

Medicine Bow Western Family Vacation

Medicine Bow Lodge

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

Red Reflet Ranch Lodges

Red Reflet Ranch

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

Triangle X Grand Teton National Park

Triangle X

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


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Splash into Summer with a Dude Ranch for Teenagers

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

Swim Your Horse

Sweet Grass Teenager

Sweet Grass Ranch, Big Timber, Montana Watching children have the freedom to run and play under Montana’s Big Sky, is one of the best parts of a Sweet Grass Ranch vacation, where children and grandchildren abound. Sweet Grass started out as a kids’ camp years ago, hosting kids ages 9 to 19 for the entire summer; This ranch understand the magic that happens between a kid and a horse.  Without a 'formal' teenager program everyone is welcome to participate in all aspects of ranch life.  Teens often go on their own rides, swim their horses, and participate with cattle work.  The ranch is well set up for kids’ entertainment with a variety of activities,  including soccer, volleyball, softball, paintball, campfires, the natural water slide, pool, cards and board games.

Sail Away 

Averills Teenagers

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

Your Day, Your Way!

Vista Verde Hot Air Balloon Teenager

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

There's More!

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

 

Dude Ranch for Teenagers

 

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

Anytime is the Best Time to Go to a Dude Ranch

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

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

Vista Verde Drive Cattle

Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado

June - October, December - March

K diamond Krcrossing the river

K Diamond K Guest Ranch, Washington

Year-Round

Seven Devils Snow Snowmobiling

Seven Devils Lodge & Guide Service, Council, Idaho

January - November

Hideout AZ

Hideout Guest Ranch, Portal, Arizona

Year-Round

Circle Z Ranch

Circle Z Guest Ranch, Patagonia, Arizona

October ~ May

 

Best Time of Year for a Ranch Vacation 

     When is the Best Time for a Ranch Vacation

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Bring Your Own Horse to these Dramatic Dude Ranch Spaces

Updated 4/24/2018

Do you take your four legged, 1,000 pound equine family member on vacation with you?  Why not make your next trip to a nationally accredited dude ranch where you can bring your own horse?  Members of the Dude Ranchers' Association invite you and your horse to experience the 'Original Western Vacation.' Be sure to bring the proper ‘foot wear’ for your horse (you’ll most likely be in the mountains) and the proper vet papers, especially if you are crossing state lines. But, most importantly, make sure your trusty steed can is in shape and can handle the extra hours under the saddle. With the comfort of having your own with you these dude ranch locations will inspire you with the beauty of the American West.  Ranches offer three types of experiences you can look for; spectacular trails, informative clinics and true cowboy cattle work. Take your pick of these horse friendly ranches below and bring your own horse to these locations.

 

Extraordinary Trail Rides

At these ranches you are going to find freedom in the sunshine and wide open spaces. It’s the sort of trip where you forget to worry about all the different troubles in your life.

Sundance TrailGreenhorn Creek Guest Ranch, Rancho de los Caballeros

   

Informational Clinics

Attend a clinic with your horse to build your relationship skill set as horse and rider partners.

McGinnis Meadows, Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

 

Cowboy Cattle Work

Take your horse to these ranches for arena work, cutting, cattle drives, roping, the original old western style cowboy vacation.

Black Mountain Ranch, Zapata, Hunewill Guest Ranch, Latigo Ranch

 

 For more information give us a call at 307.587.2339. 

 

Bring Your Own Horse to Spotted Horse Ranch in Wyoming

Bring Your Own Horse to a McGinnis Meadows Buck Brannaman Clinic

Bring Your Own Horse on a Zapata Ranch Cattle Drive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring Your Own Horse - Pin this for later!

 

Do you take your four legged, 1,000 pound equine family member on vacation with you?  Why not make your next trip to a nationally accredited dude ranch where you can bring your own horse?

 

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Horses, Hats, Hospitality, Heritage, Honesty & Heart

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

7 D Ranch

A wrangler and his horses at the 7d Ranch

Horses Horses are central to any dude ranch experience. There must be adequate stock, tack, facilities, and trails for the riding program. All will be well cared for. Attention will be paid to horse and rider safety. Hats Hats symbolize the special emphasis on Western atmosphere and appearance. Hospitality A genuine friendly Western welcome with staff, food, accommodations, facilities, and activities to authenticate it. Heritage Dude ranch vacations began as long stays where relationships developed and guests had an exclusive and complete ranch experience. Dude ranch guests will be on an American plan. Even amidst today’s pressures for quick visits and short vacations, ranches should encourage week-long stays (6 or 7 nights.) Regular multi-day dude ranch guests should not be significantly or adversely affected by any non-dude ranch business. Honesty You are at least as good as you advertise, if not better. You operate your business with integrity. Heart You have a heart for developing friendships with your guests and demonstrate it in your actions.

Take a look at these 6 H's in action on our dude ranches. Our photo gallery has content sourced from guests like you. Don't forget to #duderanch this summer!

Eatons Historical Father Son Moment

From the archives of Eaton's Ranch: Father - Son Moment


 

Plan Your Dude Ranch Family Reunion

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

Sylvan Dale Reunion

A Sylvan Dale Ranch Reunion

When would you like to go?

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

 

Where would you like to be geographically?

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

 

How many people will be there?

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

Elkhorn Family Reunion

Elkhorn Ranch Trail Ride

What would you like to do?

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

 

How long would you like to stay?

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

 

Ranch Pictures

The Cabins at Paradise Guest Ranch

 

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


     

3 ways Dude Ranches Offer Best Value for Travel Dollar

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

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

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

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


Fishing + Dude Ranches = A Great Family Getaway

Casting a line through a baby-blue sky scattered with cotton-puff clouds, then watching it settle into the crisp-cold babble of a mountain stream somehow symbolizes an ideal vacation for almost anyone—especially when Dad knows that his family is relishing the trip as well. Members of The Dude Ranchers’ Association offer a wonderful combination of plenty of pristine fishing moments for avid fishermen along with captivating activities for every other family member as well. 

Since DRA dude ranches are far from big crowds, located in gorgeous natural settings, and mostly on private land, the rivers, lakes and streams on these properties provide some of the finest fishing available in the country. Relatively untouched, each fishing hole offers a prime chance to experience fishing at its best.

The High Lonesome Ranch Fishing View

 

Many DRA member properties border national parks, such as the Spotted Horse Ranch next to the Grand Teton National Park. This makes for a setting for each fishing moment is spectacular. And with bountiful numbers of trout, browns, cutthroat, and rainbows around, fishermen can choose their favorite bait, pick a spot, and count on some of the best fishing of their career.

 

Many of The Dude Ranchers’ Association members feature Orvis-endorsed lodges, which means their operations and guides are continually reviewed by the Orvis staff and offer the latest in fishing techniques and client services. The C Lazy U Ranch is such a ranch. The fish you catch here you will remember for a lifetime. Whether you are here for the day, multiple days, or the entire week, you will always want “one more day.”

4UR Ranch Fly Fishing Boat

Many ranches carefully manage their fishing locales, run catch-and-release programs, and even have stocked ponds, ensuring that every fisherman meets success—from the beginner to the most expert. In fact, a vacation at a DRA dude ranch is ideal for first-time fisherman or children just learning the sport. The Bar Lazy J Ranch offers a free fly fishing clinic at the beginning of your vacation. If you are looking for the most expertise in fly fishing guides look no further that the Diamond D Ranch's Dave Tucker and his guides from Dreams on the Fly. This, affordable lessons and ample stock make those first fishing attempts rewarding and exciting.

But this vacation doesn’t have to just make Dad happy. While fishermen are experiencing the best fishing available, other family members are creating their own treasured vacation memories. Whether they are hiking, biking, horseback riding, or participating in one of the many carefully planned kids’ programs at the 4UR Ranch, everyone is having the best family vacation ever.  And don't forget about the evening activities for the family to gather together at the High Lonesome Ranch. This is the time to share the day’s activities, and create even more memories—only this time getting to know each other better and spending quality time strengthening family ties.

 

Fishing + Dude Ranches = A Great Family Getaway

 

Casting a line through a baby-blue sky scattered with cotton-puff clouds, then watching it settle into the crisp-cold babble of a mountain stream somehow symbolizes an ideal vacation for almost anyone—especially when Dad knows that his family is relishing the trip as well. Members of The Dude Ranchers’ Association offer a wonderful combination of plenty of pristine fishing moments for avid fishermen along with captivating activities for every other family member as well.

Head South for the Winter

If you’re planning a getaway or full-fledged vacation during the heart of the winter, consider heading South. There is wide range of options available from the member ranches of The Dude Ranchers’ Association. Winter provides an ideal opportunity in the warmer climates of the Southwest for a traditional dude ranch vacation. Across Arizona, for instance, ranches operate either year-round or seasonally from fall through spring. Horseback rides through inspiring stretches of the desert or on stunning mountain trails are just the beginning. Hiking, mountain biking, swimming, scrumptious meals, and plenty of time to kick back and relax amidst the region’s natural splendors makes for a great ending.Circle Z Icon

Want to stay in a traditional setting?  Circle Z Ranch this winter will be an enchanting vacation. This ranch has seven historic Spanish- style adobe guest cottages that dot the plateau on which the ranch lies. Accommodations vary from individual rooms to suites with living rooms or entirely private cottages, each reflecting Southwestern charm. The Casa Rosa (arch way pictured above) is an adobe building in the Spanish Revival style embracing a fountain courtyard. There are eight double rooms, each with a private bath and courtyard entrance. This is a favorite of many returning guests. Several of the rooms have connecting doors for families.

Western style horseback riding at Elkhorn Ranch provides adventure and a great way to see the incredible scenery of the Baboquivari Mountains. The ranch’s ten thousand acres provide plenty of remote canyons and mountain country to explore, a true wilderness experience. Experience gentle or loping rides through the desert and more vigorous trips up into the mountains – including all day ventures with sandwiches or a mule-packed hot lunch. You won't forget this winter vacation. Flying E Celebrate a cowboy Christmas at the ranch. Take a step back into old west days and celebrate the season. Make ornaments to decorate a real Christmas tree, eat cookies by the fire, and sing carols while waiting for Santa to arrive on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning breakfast ride offers a western breakfast at Yucca Flats. Hotcakes on the campfire griddle, ham, sausage, cowboy potatoes, eggs and the best dutch oven biscuits you have ever tasted. The best gift is the gift of family time. Additional Arizona Ranches: Rancho de los Caballeros White Stallion Tanque Verde


 

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! 

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.eatons fall (2)


 

5 Tips for Scoring a Last Minute Dude Ranch Job

By Patty Ceglio, Web Recruiting & Seasonal HR Specialist for CoolWorks.com Summer is almost here and while most dude ranches are currently staffed, there a good number still filling last minute vacancies or increasing staff to meet business demands. Cool Works, a national board for jobs in great places, has experienced a 30 percent increase in summer job listings this year and currently has 152 posts for employers pushing to fill positions in the next few weeks. While urban summer jobs may be in decline, there are more opportunities in 2014 than in recent years for last minute job seekers to land a position at a guest ranch.   Cool Works offers these five tips to job seekers hoping to land at a ranch this summer:

  • Check Your Bucket List – For job seekers who don’t know where to start, identify locations of interest or activities you’ve always wanted to try. Interested in seeing Glacier National Park or the Grand Canyon in your time off? Love the water and want to be near it? Use these interests to help narrow down focus to a few locations and start looking for ranches in those areas.
  • Think Adventurously – Don’t be afraid to explore outside your comfort zone. Sure, a dude ranch job may be across the country but it offers perks that many summer jobs won’t such as on-site housing and meals. Many employers even throw this in as part of the package.
  • Be Flexible – Consider a variety of positions and locations. Those who approach the job hunt with an open mind and a willingness to do anything are likely to score a job in a great place.
  • Exude Professionalism – Just because this is a summer job doesn’t mean you can take the application process casually. Slang and short form won’t go far with ranch employers. Fill out applications using proper grammar, spelling and punctuation and be willing to download and fill out PDFs if necessary to submit an application. Additionally, provide reputable references on each application – workers with limited experience can turn to a teacher, former employer or coach who can speak to work ethic and aptitudes - avoid using friends or peers.
  • Leverage Your Connections - Your social networks, both on and offline can be a great resource for finding the perfect summer job. Check your social media sites for friends and relatives who may be working at dude ranch and find out if their employer is still hiring.  Consider touching base with ranch where you spent your childhood years on vacation and find out if they are looking for summer counselors or to fill other positions

To check out the ranch jobs in great places available through Cool Works, visit http://www.coolworks.com/ranch-jobs. Patty Ceglio is the Web Recruiting & Seasonal HR Specialist for CoolWorks.com. CoolWorks.com has been central to the summer job and seasonal job market niche since 1995. True to the company’s mantra, the Cool Works® "home office" is located on the Yellowstone River, just outside the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, MT.

Lone Mountain Cowgirl Loping Dusty Adventure

Cody, Wyoming Dude Ranches

Crossed-Sabres-with-Logo-600x387Yesterday I had the pleasure of getting out of the office to visit Crossed Sabres, a Cody, Wyoming Dude Ranch. We took a drive down the North Fork Highway that leads right to the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. We passed the famous Buffalo Bill Damn and the Buffalo Bill Reservoir. There are some good pictures to be taken at these scenic outlooks! At just 10 miles from the East gate we pulled into the Cross Sabres Ranch. This ranch has been there for many, many years, but recently ranch ownership has changed hands. The cabins and facilities enjoyed a fresh coat of paint and care from the new owner Kenny Long. He purchased the ranch a couple of years ago and has done an amazing job restoring much of the ranch. We heartily give him a welcome into the Dude Ranchers Association and wish him and his family the best of luck. Kenny gave us the grand tour of the lodge, cabins and riding facilities, but not before feeding us a home cooked lunch of soup and sandwiches.  I have to say it was delightful and the oatmeal raisin cookies were one of the best ranch cookies I have had. Their lodge is centrally located within the ranch. There is a beautiful great room with a high ceiling and an intimate feel next to the fire place. This room leads up to a game room upstairs. There is a large dining hall and a Western style saloon that opens to the front porch. You can imagine yourself having a drink and watching the kids play off of the porch, learning to rope a calf dummy. You might also sneak away to stroll though the cabins strategically placed around Libby Creek, which meanders through the ranch. Picking out a secluded spot to read a book and letting the sounds of the creek fill your soul would be one the moments guest ranching is famous for. While horseback riding is the main focus for all DRA member dude ranches they do have a fishing guide that is happy to get you all suited up with their on- property Orvis gear and take you out to find that perfect fishing hole.  There is a small archery and BB gun shooting area.  Hiking is endless in the Shoshone National Forest so, as you can see there is something for everyone. On our visit we had the pleasure of hanging out with this guy. He was lying just outside one of the cabins, relaxing in the sunshine.  He is just an example of the diversity of wildlife you can see on your adventures in Yellowstone. After saying good bye to the buffalo and our friends at Cross Sabres we headed back towards town.  On our way we stopped at The Historic UXU Dude Ranch.  The ranch welcomed new managers Ally and Jim and we wanted to introduce ourselves.  They certainly added their personal touches and everything looked great. They are excited to welcome their first guests of the season. The cabins are decorated with beautiful western furniture done in the Moles Worth Style. The wranglers were cutting trails and getting the horses and tack ready for the season. This made for breath taking scenery with cowboys, green pasture and the warm Wyoming sun reflecting off of the North Fork of the Shoshone River. Heading back to town I was filled with thoughts of adventure not only for what these 2 ranches have to offer, but also the trails and sights along the way in the foothills of the Absaroka Mountain Range. I can’t wait to explore the other DRA dude ranches around Cody, Wyoming. Check out the list of the nearby ranches below and imagine the memories to be made at these vacation destinations.  

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

Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch in Shell, Wyoming, is 300,000-acre working cattle, riding & fly-fishing ranch. This upscale all-inclusive quality ranch is located 60 miles East of Cody, Wyoming & Yellowstone National Park. Limited to around 25 guests per week. Quarter, Paints, Gaited & Mustang horses. 4 languages.       

Rimrock Ranch Rimrock Ranch is nestled on the banks of Canyon Creek, halfway between Cody, Wyoming and the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. This dude ranch is family owned and operated since 1955. The week is filled with riding, rafting, rodeo, and an all day tour of Yellowstone. Heated pool, hot tub and fishing pond.    

   

Ecotourism and Sustainable Practices Happen Year Round at Dude Ranches

 

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

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

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

Smith Fork Ranch - Crawford, ColoradoSmithfork-Gardening

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

Wilderness Trails Ranch – Durango, Colorado

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

Rocking Z Ranch – Wolf Creek, Montana

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

Diamond D Ranch - Stanley, Idaho

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

Eaton’s Ranch – Wolf, Wyoming

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

Black Tail Ranch – Wolf Creek, Montana

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

 

 

Dude Ranches Pioneer Educational Travel

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

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

4UR Ranch

Vista Verde Ranch

Wind River Christian Dude Ranch

A Bar A Ranch

Wilderness Trails Ranch

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

Elkhorn Ranch

Lost Valley Ranch

Three Bars Guest Ranch

Averill’s Flathead Lake Ranch

CM Ranch

 

Vacation of a Lifetime at a Dude Ranch

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

An Authentic Experience at a Working Dude Ranch

 Bonanza-Cattle-Lodge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step back into the Old West and satisfy the cowboy in you as you come alongside the cowboys of the Rowses 1+1 Ranch. Their 7,000 acre ranch, set in the beautiful sand hills of Nebraska is the perfect setting for your getaway & some of the most spectacular horseback riding ever. Get involved as much or as little as you want in their daily ranch activities such as cattle drives, branding, working cattle, gathering & sorting, roping, checking cattle & windmills in the wide open pastures. Arena activities are also available as time allows - riding lessons, team penning, tracking & roping lessons.You will be matched up with one of our ranch raised quarter horses that you can call your own during your entire stay. Ride away from the city, and embrace the laid back atmosphere of the old west. No hassles, no schedule, no worries. Arrive as a guest, leave as family.

The Dude Ranchers' Association

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

    Drowsy Water Ranch Granby, Colorado Phone: +1 800-845-2292 Winner Tripadvisor Travelers' Choice Awards #1 All Inclusive Vacation. For over 90 years Drowsy Water Ranch has been providing folks from around the world with Western vacations. Under the same owner/management for 35 years, we promise nothing less than real down home hospitality and memories.

 

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

 

    63 Ranch Livingston, Montana Phone: +1 888-395-5151 "Montana's Magic" happens to you on your 63 Ranch Vacation. A mountain ranch located 50 miles north of Yellowstone National Park at the foot of the magnificent Absaroka Mountain Range. Unmatched scenic grandeur. Owned and operated by original founding family since 1929.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

     

The Western Dude Ranch Rejuvinates & Boosts Health of Each Guest

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

    Rimrock Ranch Cody, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-587-3970 Rimrock Ranch is nestled on the banks of Canyon Creek, halfway between Cody and the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Our ranch is family owned and operated since 1955. The week is filled with riding, rafting, rodeo, and all day tour of Yellowstone. Heated pool, hot tub, and fishing pond.

 

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

 

   

More than 200 Attendees from 56 Ranches to Ride into Town for Annual Convention

The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) is excited to announce that its 88th annual convention will take place on January 22-25, 2014 at The Bahia Hotel in San Diego. Attendees, consisting of top dude and guest ranch owners and operators from across North America, will trade their cowboy boots for flips flops as they head to sunny California, a twist for the convention as previous events have been held at DRA-accredited member ranches.     DRA White Large

The four-day conference will feature numerous seminars related to the various aspects of the dude ranching and hospitality industries such as new vendor introductions, fodder education, marketing updates and initiatives, horse safety seminars, moral workshops and “Dude Ranching 101.” There will be a series of roundtables moderated by subject matter experts in the areas of blogger outreach, public relations and website marketing. The annual action for the Dude Ranchers’ Educational Trust will also take place at the convention. The Trust protects and preserves the history of dude ranching by maintaining a museum and archives for educating the public on the historical nature of the dude ranching industry. The Trust also has a scholarship program which support Dude Ranching and the future of Dude Ranching by providing financial  assistance and encouragement to students pursuing an educational program that will lead to a career of benefit to them and the Dude Ranch industry.  

The DRA has scheduled an impressive line-up of speakers for this year’s event, including Nancy D. Brown, a travel writer and journalist who currently writes a travel column for the Contra Costa Times and Lamorinda Sun; Kirk Weisler, an international keynote motivational speaker; Jon Albert, founder of Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation; and Pat McCauley, President of InsideOut Solution, a hospitality marketing company.    

Networking will be an important part of the convention, as ranch owners and operators exchange ideas and experiences to help one another continue to meet and exceed the highest standards in the dude ranch industry, promote the Western ranch vacation experience, and preserve and protect parks, forests and wildlife. Programming for this year’s convention was designed to allow plenty of time to explore all San Diego has to offer such as the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, USS Midway Museum and the Gaslamp district. Attendees will also be able to take full advantage of the resort’s amenities including on-site watersports, the Bahia Belle Mission Bay Cruise, or simply relaxing by the pool or on the beach.  

The DRA represents a broad spectrum of dude and guest ranches across North America, ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches offering five-star cuisine and spa treatments. Established in 1926, the DRA was founded to preserve, protect and promote the unique experience and identity of a dude ranch vacation: the original all-inclusive vacation destination. The association is currently made up of more than 100 guest ranch members.

At the Heart of every Dude Ranch Vacation is the Horse

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

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

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

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

Lone Mountain Cowgirl Loping Dusty Adventure

This year, give the gift of shared adventure to your other half

The season of love is fast approaching and couples will begin to ask themselves two questions: Is it time to get engaged? And what am I going to get my other half for the holidays or Valentine’s Day? While the traditional gift ideas of jewelry, roses and candy may make for a touching token of love, we challenge you to think outside the box and consider some stats.

According to The Knot, 39 percent of couples get engaged during the “season of love,” the time between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. Regardless of whether you’re ready to propose – or to be proposed to – statistics like this put pressure on men and women to find the perfect gift to stand out from the crowd. According to a survey by the U.S. Travel Association, the gift of travel may be the perfect solution as 63 percent of couples think a getaway is more likely to spark romance than gifts of any size, and 7 percent think simply traveling inspires romance.

 This year, give the gift of shared adventure to your other half. Imagine a rustic romantic getaway, complete with horseback riding, outdoor adventure and bonding – the perfect backdrop for an epic proposal. Or a passionate weekend for foodies filled with delectable gourmet dishes and carefully selected wine pairings that the two of you can indulge to your heart's content. When it comes to love, a vacation at a dude ranch resort has all the ingredients necessary to make your love swoon with delight.

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Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado - Winter Romance- Whisk away your sweetheart to celebrate Valentine’s Day in a romantic winter wonderland.  Ask for the Valentine’s Day romance package, and we’ll start your Valentine’s Day off with breakfast in bed, followed by a day of as much outside activity as you desire.  In the afternoon, we’ll treat you to a private sleigh ride complete with hot toddies to keep you toasty warm.  Following that, the chefs will delight your taste buds with their Valentine’s Day aphrodisiac dinner.   The rest is up to you to enjoy the serene setting, the cozy cabin and the bubbling hot tub with views of snow covered meadows and mountains.

Red Reflet Ranch, Wyoming - Back by popular demand - Valentine’s Dining at the Red Reflet Ranch, Ten Sleep, Wyoming.  Dine in the Main Lodge and relax by the crackling fire while you enjoy spectacular views overlooking the Chugwater Formation of the Canyon.  Extraordinary dining experience and six-course meal prepared by Executive Chef Matthew Cariveau.  Overnight accommodations available in our luxuriously appointed chalets.  Offering Valentine’s Dining on two nights: Friday, February 14 and Saturday, February 15.  Now taking reservations.  $40 per person.  Make plans early – this will sell out!  Click here for online reservations.

Vee Bar Ranch, Wyoming - Winter Getaway Package - This package could be called the Deluxe Escape Package.  The package is designed for winter enthusiasts!  This is the perfect package for guests who want to experience everything.  The Vee Bar staff will make sure that you get the most out of your vacation while exploring the Vee Bar, the Snowy Range Mountains, and local attractions.  Guests will need their own transportation to and from the activities off property.  A three-night minimum stay is required to purchase this package.  See our Winter Getaway Package Sample Schedule for activity and meal details.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lone Mountain Ranch Big Sky, Montana Phone: +1 800-514-4644 Endless recreational possibilities at this historic ranch offering horseback riding , hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, fly fishing and Outdoor Youth Adventures just 18 miles from Yellowstone National Park. Cozy, comfortable log cabins with western furnishings.    

Vista-Verde-Drive-Cattle

Western Dude Ranches Appeal to Worldwide Travelers

There are some folks that drive across their home state or province to visit a dude ranch.  Others make a trans-Atlantic journey and don’t speak the same language as their hosts. Colleen Hodson, Executive Director of the Dude Ranchers’ Association says Western dude ranches (found throughout the plains, deserts and mountains of the US and Canada,) have mass appeal. 

DRA Brown Tag -1In fact, it seems they cross cultural barriers.  “I would say about 10 to 20 percent of our dude ranch guests are European, with folks from The UK and Germany representing the largest share,” notes Hodson. What is the tremendous lure of the Western dude ranch?  For starters, there’s the call to adventure, exhilarating freedom instilled by the wilderness, definite experience of place, sociability and camaraderie. 

 For more than a century, these are a few of the elements that have enticed visitors from around the globe and keep them coming back year after year. The opening of dude ranches in the American and Canadian West to paying guests has a long and illustrious history.  Media reports on the Western adventures of Teddy Roosevelt followed by the “Western” movie and prime time television shows like “Gunsmoke” and “Bonanza” fueled the public’s fascination in the US and abroad with ranching and cowboys. 

In 1926 the Dude Ranchers’ Association was formed to represent the interests of the rapidly growing industry. Today the organization remains strong.  More than 100 ranches in the Western US and Canada are members of the DRA, as it’s often called. Each DRA member ranch has its own distinct character and charm. Before selecting a ranch visitors are encouraged to contact the DRA for suggestions of ranches matched best with their own style and preferences.  

There are several factors to consider including the classification of the ranch into one of three broad and sometimes overlapping categories.

Types of Western Ranches

First is the traditional Dude Ranch, centered on the horse and horse related activities.  Guests can ride to their hearts content and try their hand at wrangling, barrel-racing and may even perform in the weekly ranch rodeo. People who prefer this category of ranch tend to love horses and other rugged outdoor activities. 

 

The Resort Dude ranch includes riding as an activity along with many other pursuits and a variety of onsite facilities in addition to the stables.  These ranches are generally larger, able to accommodate more guests at one time and often appeal to the traveler who opts for a vacation with more luxuries. 

Finally, there’s the Working Dude Ranch.  These ranches are working cattle or sheep operations, with the riding adventure dictated by the work schedule surrounding the livestock.  Visitors of these ranches are immersed in the life of a working cowboy. The decision upon which ranch to visit is a personal one.  But it’s highly recommended the ranch selected is a DRA member.  This guarantees visitors from near and far that it  meets the highest industry standards in quality, safety, and authenticity.  (Not all ranches that apply for DRA membership qualify.  In fact 30% do not meet the strict standards!)   

Ranches accepted for membership are on probation for two years.  Every DRA ranch is inspected on a regular basis to ensure high DRA standards are maintained. No matter how far folks travel to reach their DRA ranch vacation destination and no matter what language they speak they can be reassured knowing a quality vacation experience awaits them.

 

 

Dude and Guest Ranches: The Affordable Family Vacation

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

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

Total Average Cost: $8800.00 A La Carte

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

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

Culinary Chic at Dude and Guest Ranches

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Lone Mountain Culinary Food Steak

Beat the Winter Blues with a Getaway to a Southwestern Dude Ranch

Dreaming of warmth, sunshine and adventure? Leave the cold and dreary weather at home and embark on the original all-inclusive vacation at a   Southwestern dude ranch located in Arizona or New Mexico  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 U.S., as well as in California, Arkansas and Canada. Flying E Barn Gather

If you’re dreaming of a warm vacation destination this season, the DRA can help plan the perfect winter escape to a Southwestern dude ranch where activities include horseback riding, swimming, fishing, nature walks, whitewater rafting and much more. If you’re looking for a luxury dude ranch experience, Arizona’s dude ranches might be the perfect fit. The breathtaking backdrop of extraordinary landscapes like the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and The Painted Desert is just the start to a memorable vacation.

Tanque Verde Ranch, located just east of Tucson, 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 vacation unforgettable. Or escape to the warm heart of the Southwest at Rancho de los Caballeros.  This resort has the soul of a bed and breakfast offering full resort amenities and privacy, yet with the charm and intimacy of yesteryear. Additional ranches in Arizona that offer a wide range of activities and amenities include Circle Z Ranch, Elkhorn Ranch,  Ranch, Flying E Dude Ranch and White Stallion Ranch     

To experience the true cowboy life, select one of New Mexico’s dude ranches where evidence of the American Old West is visible at every turn. Explore the outlaw trails of Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy, and the Sundance Kid on horseback or head into the canyons that sheltered the great Apache warrior Geronimo in the 1800s. Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch is perfect for an “Old West” family adventure. This ranch is located in the untouched Gila National Forest of Southwestern New Mexico and offers a relaxed and personal atmosphere. New Mexico is also home to Burnt Well Ranch, a small family owned cattle and sheep ranch located in Southeastern New Mexico. Burnt Well Ranch is another great ranch to visit in the winter due to its mild winter temperatures ranging in the 60’s. As you can see there are plenty of options so let us help you find the perfect ranch for your winter getawy.  

Vacationing at an Eco-Friendly Dude Ranch

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ranch Recipe: Sinful Brownies from Rowse's 1+1 Ranch

There are few things in life more enjoyable than riding a beautiful horse all day, chasing cows and enjoying the vast outdoors.  The only way to top this type of experience is to end that glorious ride by arriving back at the ranch to the smell of fresh baked chocolate brownies made from scratch.  Tammy at Rowses 1 + 1 Ranch in Burwell, Nebraska is an amazing cook and she has kindly offered to share her recipe with us. Tammy's own chocolate brownie recipe will have you itching to visit  1+1 Ranch to get your hands on some of her delicious baked goods and if you're worried about just how sinful they are, get yourself to the ranch for a working ranch vacation and work up a real cowboy appetite for these gooey brownies! Here's the recipe... 

Ingredients

1 cup margarine

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

½ cup flour

1½ tsp baking soda

2 cups chocolate chips

Method

1. Beat together the margarine, peanut butter, white and brown sugars, eggs and vanilla, until creamy

2. Add the flour and baking soda, and mix well.

3. Finally, stir through the chocolate chips until evenly combined

4. Spread the mixture into a greased cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes in a 350F degree oven.

As long as you're careful not to overbake, the brownies will come out good and chewy!

Recipe for Brownies

American Adventure Month

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

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

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

4UR

Experience the Beauty of Fall at a Dude Ranch

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

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

Triangle X Ranch Sunset Creek fall

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

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

 

Dudes Flock to Guest Ranches

The Santa Barbara Independent By Barney Brantingham

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

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Fall is a Great Time for Couples to Visit a Dude Ranch

Flat-Creek-Fall-Tetons

 

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 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 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, other activities, and accommodations, it becomes an even more attractive getaway.

To narrow the search and ensure high quality standards, consider only ranches belonging to The Dude Ranchers’ Association.  There are more than 100 DRA, as it’s known, ranches in the Western US and Canada.  Since 1926, the DRA has kept the bar raised high for the industry.   Travelers can be assured of an authentic Western experience and high standards of quality at any DRA ranch.

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, couples have their pick of packages this fall.  There’s the “Escape to the Ranch” weekend package in early September, or in the latter part of the month an “Autumn Getaway.”  For those with a little more time the “Fall Color Ride,” September 27 - October 1 is a dramatic adventure. 

 The only traffic passing Waunita Hot Springs Ranch  is an elk or two.  Perched high in the Colorado Rockies, surrounded by Gunnison National Forest land, 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 and any cares or worries melt away.  The remote retreat caters to adults only August 25 - September 28. 

“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.  In September and October this Wyoming paradise is reserved for adults only.  

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

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

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

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

Crossed Sabres Horses View

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Live a Movie Moment through Real-Life Working Cattle Drives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hunewill Circle H Guest Ranch

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

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

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

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

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

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

All- Inclusive Dude and Guest Ranch Vacations are the Perfect Locations for Solo Travelers

While traveling alone may sound like a scary proposition, I’d like to share with you an all-inclusive destination perfect for solo travel: dude ranches. Dude ranches are the ideal vacation for those looking for much needed time alone, a new and exciting adventure, or even for those in search of making new friends. Guest ranches offer numerous advantages over other vacation options for those going solo, including:

 Intimate and Friendly Environment

When at a dude ranch, you instantly feel like a part of the family as there is great camaraderie amongst guests and staff. It instantly becomes your home away from home. Many guest ranches only accommodate up to 40 or 50 guests per week, which not only allows the staff to know your name but also results in you getting to know most of the other guests. Meals are often served family style so there are always guests to chat with throughout the day, making sure you never feel like you are on the “outskirts” if traveling alone.

 Group Activities

There is never a dull moment at a dude ranch. There are activities to keep you busy from sunup to sundown such as horseback riding, fly fishing, white water rafting, rock climbing, cattle roping, ATV-riding and much more. Plus, these activities are usually done in groups so you won’t encounter any “couples only” activities or events if you don’t want to.

 Adult-Only Weeks

Many guest ranches report fewer “couples” visiting now than in the past. As a result, many of these ranches host adult-only weeks in September. Activities during these weeks range from wine and cheese tastings, guided hikes, cooking classes, country dance instruction, cookouts, themed cocktail receptions and much more.

 Connect with Yourself

Dude ranches are a great place to spend time alone to revive your body, spirit and mind in some of the most spectacular areas in the country, from valleys complete with untouched Rocky Mountain backdrops to desert sunsets across the Southwest. Whether it’s a rejuvenating day at the spa, an adventurous hike or a relaxing day reading a book under the sun, you are sure have plenty of quality alone time.

 Dude Ranchers’ Association

The Dude Ranchers' Association (DRA) is like your own personal travel agent, minus the fees, and can help you plan the perfect solo vacation. Whether you are looking for an authentic cowboy experience or a luxury resort, the DRA can customize the trip of your dreams. There are more than 100 DRA-accredited guest ranches in North America (two in Canada), all of which uphold the highest quality of services within the industry.

Triangle C Ranch

Dubois, Wyoming Phone: +1 800-661-4928 The Triangle C Dude Ranch is located on the Wind River, nestled between Jackson Hole and Dubois, Wyoming. We pride ourselves in being a true Wyoming Ranch - where our handshake is our bond and the coffee pot is always on!    

Colorado Cattle Company & Guest Ranch New Raymer, Colorado Phone: 1-970-437-5345 Colorado Cattle Co. and Guest Ranch is located on 10,000 acres of grassland for cattle, rolling hills, canyons, streams and bluffs in Northeastern CO. This is not your typical Dude Ranch. This is a real working cattle ranch where the guests actually work cattle just as a real cowboy would.    

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

Upper Canyon Outfitters & Guest Ranch Alder, Montana Phone: +1 800-735-3973 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.    

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

White Stallion Ranch Tucson, Arizona Phone: +1 888-977-2624 Immerse yourself in the welcoming atmosphere of the Southwest. You will experience the aura of a real Western ranch combined with present-day comforts and conveniences. Varied riding program, guided hikes, full bar & excellent food. 41 rooms, heated pool, fitness center, gift shop & meeting room.  

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

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

Experience the Outdoors on a Pack Trip!

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

 

 7D Ranch

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

Absaroka Ranch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dude Ranches and National Parks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch Quincy, California Phone: +1 (800) 334-6939 A truly all inclusive guest dude ranch vacation, we provide the perfect location for family vacations, reunions, weddings, corporate and business retreats, meetings, special events, equine guided education and so much more. Still serving up the best hospitality in the west!

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

Paradise Guest Ranch Buffalo, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-684-7876 Celebrating 100 years of FUN in 2007. Tucked away in the scenic Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Luxury log cabins with fireplaces, outdoor decks & spacious living rooms.

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

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

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

Dude Ranch Dining - an Incredible Experience

When some people think of a dude ranch vacation they picture a guy named cookie whipping up bacon and beans in the sagebrush. Sorry to disappoint but you will discover that dining at a dude ranch will be one of the most memorable parts of your vacation. Whether you are dining around a camp fire, under the stars, enjoining a pool side barbecue or sitting at an elegant candlelit table, the food is simply amazing. The fare will range from home-style cooking to the finest western cuisine you will find anywhere. Ranches offer freshly baked pastries and breads, fresh fruits and vegetables (often grown right on the ranch) and some of the most delectable desserts you have ever imagined. Your dining experience is truly one of our highest priorities; special dietary needs are always accommodated upon request.

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

The Home Ranch, Colorado

4UR Ranch, Colorado

Tanque Verde Ranch, Arizona

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, Montana

Red Reflet Guest Ranch, Wyoming

A Bar A Ranch, Wyoming

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

home ranch Dining

Dude Ranches are Nothing Like Reality TV

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

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

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

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

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

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