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

Historic Dude Ranch

Created in 1926, the National Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) was founded to preserve, protect and promote the unique experience and identity of a dude ranch vacation. And 90 years later, the association has stayed true to its mission – while also evolving to offer guests the ultimate, all-inclusive Western vacation experience. While its core values and emphasis on horsemanship have remained the same, the DRA has continued to strengthen its presence and purpose each year through promoting new member experiences and innovative ideas within the industry. Nearly a century ago, the DRA was created as the official governing body of the West’s dude ranch industry. In September of 1926, the first official DRA meeting was held and attended by 32 ranchers, railroad and national park officials. During the two-day meeting, attendees discussed initial objectives, including standardizing dude ranch practices, transportation and proper care of guests.

Paradise-Ranch-Historic

2016 officially marks 90 years of introducing guests from all over the world to the Western way of life. Over the years, vacati on expectations have shifted, and the DRA and its member ranches have evolved their offerings to fit with changing times. The association is currently made up of more than 100 ranch members, all of whom have completed a rigorous two-year inspection and approval process, and over 150 affiliated members. Members represent a broad spectrum of guest ranches across North America, ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches offering five-star cuisine and spa treatments. True to the spirit of authentic Western hospitality, today’s guest ranch experience includes plenty of opportunities for fun and entertainment for families of all sizes, ages, ability levels and interests. 

Triangle-X-Historic-2

This “original Western vacation” introduces the unique beauty of the American West and seeks to foster dude ranch heritage and passion for wild nature. From horseback riding to overnight pack trips and hunting trips to cattle drives, there are plenty of ways to explore the outdoors at a dude ranch. Guests can also enjoy hiking and nature walks, interacting with the ranch’s animals at their petting zoos, fishing, archery and more. For those interested in activities beyond the saddles and cowboy boots, many guest ranches offer programs catered to photographers, foodies, artists, wine aficionados and more. Guests can even mix their love for the rustic outdoors with luxury amenities such as massage services, hot tubs, and workout facilities and classes.

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


 

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


 

Life on a Jackson Hole Dude Ranch

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

Gros Ventre Dude Ranch

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

Gros Ventre Adriene Henderson

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


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5 Reasons to Visit in the Fall

With the kids back in school, Labor Day behind us and the days getting shorter, it can only mean one thing; fall is quickly approaching and will give you 5 good reasons to visit a dude ranch. Whether you’re looking for fall break travel ideas, a long weekend away without the kids or an extended vacation, a dude ranch is an ideal destination to enjoy the fall.

Circle Z Ranch Visit in the Fall

5 Reasons to Visit a Dude Ranch in the Fall

Steals and Deals: As with many vacation destinations, summer is peak season for dude ranches. However, as the air cools down travelers can take advantage of less crowds and discounted rates. Budget-friendly offers range from a percentage off standard rates to special packages. Colorado Trails Ranch  has a 25 percent discount during the fall. During Circle Z Ranch’s Lone Star Long Weekend guests receive a discount on a four-day/three-night stay.

Adult-Only Weeks: Many dude ranches offer special adult-only weeks in the fall. This gives couples, groups and solo travelers the chance to make memories that will last a lifetime. Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, for example, offers an Adult Horsemanship Week. This is a hands-on approach where guests experience the true pleasure of caring for and learning about these noble animals. Or, guests can enjoy a little pampering here, a little adventure there, and a lot of girl talk (and maybe some wine!) with a girlfriend’s getaway to Red Horse Mountain Ranch.

Cattle Drives: For working ranches, fall means cattle drives. Guests are often invited to join in these adventurous and interactive experiences. Hunewill Ranch will embark on its 105th cattle drive this fall. Guests are welcome to take part in the ultimate Old West experience by riding with the Hunewill family for five days. This trek covers 60 miles from Bridgeport, California to Smith Valley, Nevada. Participants herd 600 cows as they are driven to their winter range.

Fall Foliage: Imagine horseback riding under a canopy of Technicolor fall foliage in glorious reds, bright yellows and vivid oranges. Some of the nation’s most spectacular leaf peeping can only be found when you head off the beaten path. Choose from guest ranches in Arizona or Colorado where fall changes the Aspen leaves. Book a getaway to a dude ranch located near a National Park such as Triangle X Ranch in Grand Teton National Park or Horseshoe Canyon Ranch which borders Buffalo River National Park.

Escape the Cold: People who live up north will be pulling out their jackets in no time.  For those looking to bask in the sun one last time, a long weekend getaway in the Southwest will do the trick. With six ranches to choose from in Arizona and two in New Mexico, travelers are sure to find the right ranch for them to ride off into the (still warm) sunset.

 

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Fall is quickly approaching and will give you 5 good reasons to visit a dude ranch. Whether you’re looking for fall break travel ideas, a long weekend away without the kids or an extended vacation, a dude ranch is an ideal destination to enjoy the fall.

 

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