6 Things to Do in Montana While on a Dude Ranch Vacation

With more mountains and cattle than there are people Montana is a vast and beautiful play ground for outdoor activities, especially on a dude ranch vacation. Less than a million people live in the whole state, so even in the largest of cities there is still wide open spaces and a relaxed small town feel. The people here are among the friendliest in the world and will make your vacation here the most memorable one to date. Take the opportunity to slow down long enough to experience Montana in a unique and authentic way. Here are the top 6 things to do in Montana while at a guest ranch.

 

6 Things to Do in Montana While on a Dude Ranch Vacation 

 

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch Montana Activities

1. Trail Ride

From one hour to an all day ride you'll get to share in the beauty of Montana while on horseback. If there ever was a traditional way to explore, a trail ride would be it. From wide open spaces to forest trails you can go anywhere and enjoy the ride to the sound of the hoof beats along the trail. This interaction with horses will create memories you won't soon forget. They will add a sense of personality to your trip. You'll really like to get to know the horses at the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch before taking them into the backcountry of Yellowstone National Park.

 

Upper Canyon Montana Outfitters Activities

2. Fly Fish

You won't have to get your feet wet stepping out into the crystal clear streams of Montana. Specialty fishing gear allow you to walkout to where the fish are. Your very own personal fishing guide will get you fitted into the proper gear and show you the techniques that will land you a really nice catch. The fishing packages at the Upper Canyon Outfitters are famous all over the country. You won't believe how beautiful the sunsets are on the water!

 

Deep Canyon Ranch (10)

3. Hike

There are hundreds and hundreds of miles to explore in Montana and hiking is one of the best ways to explore them. With your feet connected to the earth and stretching your legs to reach the next rise the rewards are great views and the experience of the flora and fauna along the way. I assure you, you've never smelt fresh air like what you'll get at the top of the crest on a Montana ranch vacation trail, and you won't likely have to share it with anyone else. At the edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness lies the Deep Canyon Guest Ranch and countless acres of Montana are there for you to explore.

 

 

Hawley Mountain Dude Ranch Activities 2

4. Jeep Tour

Back road jeep tours are another great way to explore many miles into remote locations of Montana. At Hawley Mountain Ranch they have an all day jeep adventure planned for you starting with the ghost town and mining remnants of Independence, a picnic lunch around an alpine lake and a short climb to the summit of Monument Peak. During the trip you reach as high as 11,000 ft! That's a lot to action for just one day.

 

5. National Park Trip

Montana is home to Glacier National Park and two entrances to Yellowstone National Park. You might as well stop while you are in town. A solid day in each park is the minimum recommended time, but you might "get lost" and stay for a summer.

 

Blacktail Ranch Divide Ride Montana Activities

6. Pack Trip

How about two nights out under the starts to experience the mountains? Head out on horseback with Blacktail Ranch for a two night trip to the top of the Continental Divide. The base camp has running water and power, so roughing it is optional. You can choose to sleep on a comfortable bed in the cabin or under the stars with or without a tent. The next day you'll be at the top!

 

Here is the complete list of all the best dude and guest ranches in Montana for you to explore.

 

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6 Things to do in Montana while at a dude ranch

With more mountains and cattle than there are people Montana is a vast and beautiful play ground for outdoor activities, especially on a dude ranch vacation. Take the opportunity to slow down long enough to experience Montana in a unique and authentic way. Here are the top 6 things to do in Montana while at a guest ranch.

 

Affordable Ranch Vacations for Your Family

Seeking an affordable and inexpensive dude ranch vacation across the West? Ranches of the DRA offer unmatched value in dude ranch vacations for families on a budget and for those who want to save money by getting all the adventure of twice daily riding, fishing, kids programs, and 3 meals a day all for one price. Imagine how much more you would pay to piece together these activities in a Western town. On top of all the excursions, these all-inclusive vacations offer a little something extra by becoming a part of the family. Here are some of the DRA picks for the best budget and cost effective ranch holidays. Want even more of a discount? Ask these ranches about rates for less traveled times, large groups and military.

1.     The Red Rock Ranch near Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a family owned western dude ranch with polished amenities. Head to this authentic Wyoming guest ranch for a six night stay and expect a flexible riding program, an outstanding kid's program, two miles of private blue ribbon fly fishing, fantastic dining, hiking programs, heated pool and corporate retreats to book the best value for your next family vacation.

2.     Majestic Dude Ranch of Mancos, Colorado next door to the Mesa Verde National Park offers an adventure vacation unique for its horseback riding locations, white water rafting and world-class mountain biking. From Sunday to Saturday you'll get an affordable action packed week of fun. Reserve your stay and they will also throw in your airport pick up for cheap and by cheap, we mean free.

3.     Hawley Mountain Ranch offers unbeatable value for a Montana ranch vacation in the remote pristine wilderness north of Yellowstone National Park. A small guest capacity promises small and individualized horseback riding excursions and more personalized vacation for your individual needs. Would you like to go hiking, fly fishing on the Boulder River, scenic raft floats and a jeep ride to a real ghost town? Book Hawley Mountain for your bargain dude ranch. Here you'll get all the bang for your buck. 

4.     Sitting on the banks of the Gros Ventre River, the appropriately named Gros Ventre River Ranch of Wyoming looks up at the major peaks of the Teton Range. Reserve this view and you'll adventure out on an all-inclusive and affordable week long horseback riding adventure, specializing in beginner through advanced horseback riding.

5.     Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas' Ozark Mountains offers an authentic value for a family vacation with a splash of Southern charm. You'll come for the horseback riding across the mountains and among other things, enjoy rock climbing, canoeing and zip lining to have a wide variety of adventures. They will even give you a bargain rate of 10% off of your next ranch vacation at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.

For more ranches vacations to suit every budget and affordable ranch holidays for your family, visit www.duderanch.org.

Affordable Ranch Vacations

Affordable Ranch Vacations

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6 Outstanding Summer Travel Destinations

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

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

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

Home Away from Home in Oregon

Long Hollow Ranch Summer Travel Destination

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

Paradise in Wyoming

Paradise Guest Ranch Summer Travel Destination

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

Climbing High Mountains in Montana

Hawley Mountain Ranch Summer Travel Destination

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

  Blacktail Ranch Summer Travel Destination

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

Luxury in Colorado

Ranch at Emerald Valley Summer Travel Destination

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

Smith Fork Summer Travel Destination

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


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

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So Many Things to Do

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

Hawley Mountain Ranch - Things to do - Hiking Summit

Hike to the summit at Hawley Mountain Ranch

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

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

Cast a line at the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch

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

Diamond D Ranch - Things to Do - Pack Trips

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

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

Find more things to do

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

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

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

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

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

Blacktail Ranch

Blacktail Ranch

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


Hawley Mountain Ranch

Hawley Mountain Ranch

Enjoy a Montana ranch vacation in a remote pristine wilderness north of Yellowstone. Small guest capacity and unique activities. Horseback riding; Fly fishing on private frontage along the Boulder River; Jeep ride to ghost town and historic gold mines; Hiking; Scenic raft float; Campfires/cookouts.


McGarry Ranches

McGarry Ranches

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


Nine Quarter Circle

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch

Adjacent to Yellowstone Park, the Nine Quarter Circle is "magical" thanks to our remote location which provides incredible scenery and excellent riding opportunities. Our family-oriented vacations feature riding for all ages and levels of horsemanship while awesome blue-ribbon fly-fishing can be found on-site and in nearby rivers. Traditional activities such as campfires, cookouts, hayrides and more are a big hit, as are our dedicated kids' programs. And this all comes served with the West's BEST hospitality!


Upper Canyon Outfitters

Upper Canyon Outfitters & Guest Ranch

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


 

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