Surprising Places You’ll Find Dude Ranches

Do you think a dude ranch vacation is limited to cowboy country? Think again! Although most people associate dude ranches with Colorado and Wyoming, some of the best dude ranches for families are located in some surprising places! Read on to learn about ranch adventures in some surprising places – and how your family can enjoy a dude ranch experience, no matter where you are!

Best Dude Ranches for Families

Some of the best dude ranch experiences come in unexpected places. Try some out-of-the-way ranches for an excellent adventure of your very own! Photo courtesy of The Dude Ranchers Association.

 

Blame Hollywood. Thanks to the cowboy westerns we’ve seen on the big screen, many of us think that dude ranches are strictly found in states like Wyoming and Colorado. Of course, those states do boast some great ranches, but why limit yourself? You can find some of the best dude ranches for families almost anywhere in the country from Arkansas to California – and even in Canada! Here are some great ranch experiences in some very surprising places.

 

The Arkansas Rancher

 

A vacation in Arkansas is often associated with the relaxing Hot Springs. But you can couple that relaxation with the adventure of a lifetime at an Arkansas Dude Ranch! Nestled by the gorgeous Buffalo National River wilderness, the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, Arkansas, offers a genuine dude ranch experience through beautiful Ozark Country.  At the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, experience the best of both worlds – a genuine western experience flavored with down home southern hospitality.  This family-owned, family-operated dude ranch caters to families, offering a variety of activities for all ranchers of all ages.

 

Horseshoe Canyon-zip line

Horseback riding is only the beginning at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. Visitors also enjoy rock climbing, target shooting and even zip lining! Photo courtesy of The Dude Ranchers Association.

 

A visit to the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is all-inclusive, so all the horseback riding, zip lining, rock climbing, swimming and other activities are included. Often recognized as one of the best climbing areas east of the Rockies, the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch offers over 300 rock climbing routes, ranging from beginner to expert.  If you prefer water activities, the Buffalo National River is just minutes away. Enjoy a lazy canoe ride down, peering into the clear water to watch the turtles and fish. If you want to join them, feel free! Just jump off a bluff at one of the established swimming holes.

Your adventure will continue with other activities you select. Of course, there are so many choices; it may be hard to narrow them down. Other favorites include the petting zoo, skeet and target shooting, fishing and archery – just to name a few! The large variety of activities, as well as the gorgeous wilderness location, makes this one of the best dude ranches for families, bar none!

Whatever activities you chose for the day, return to your cozy yellow pine cabin that’s the perfect blend of modern and rustic. Relax with a soak in the outdoor hot tub before being served your choice of dinner. With everything from Mahi Mahi to barbecue ribs on the menu, your meal will be just what you wanted to cap off your day.

When you want to unplug and reconnect with your family, there’s no better way than to share a western experience – southern style! 

Horseshoe Barn Fall Colors

Any season is a great time to set out on a dude ranch adventure. Photo courtesy The Dude Ranchers Association.

 

California, Here I Come!

 

California is often associated with luxury. Many vacationers head to the Golden State for the classic amusement parks, the allure of movie stars, the giant redwoods and the winding streets of San Francisco. But the amazing natural landscape of this large state makes it perfect for outdoor activities – and that includes dude ranches!

If you’re looking for a bit of luxury while enjoying the great outdoors, head to one of California’s many luxury dude ranches. One favorite is Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort, a luxury ranch nestled on 10,000 acres in the Santa Barbara wine country. This working ranch offers a telephone and television-free environment – but you won’t miss being plugged in while enjoying the comforts of your private cottage, featuring a wood-burning fireplace and touches of fine western art.

 

Alisal Guest Ranch Sunset

Luxury ranching California style is on gorgeous display at the Alisal Guest Ranch, right in Santa Barbara wine country. Photo courtesy of The Dude Ranchers Association.

 

Alisal represents the epitome of luxury ranching, with 50 miles of trails for riding and two championship-level golf courses on site. Located just minutes away from the wineries and vineyards, Alisal also offers a “sip, saddle and spa” package perfect for those wanting a complete “glamping” experience.

Of course, you can still find traditional dude ranch experiences in California. At Marble Mountain Ranch in Somes, treat yourself to the signature “saddle and paddle” package, riding the lush mountain trails one day and white water rafting the next. Do you feel the need for speed? Then book a jet boat tour to the Pacific.

Families flock to Greenhorn Creek Guest Ranch in Quincy, where activities like country western, line and swing dancing and guest rodeo events come along with the miles of horseback trails. Prove you’ve mastered the dude ranch life by competing in such events as barrel racing, pole bending and keyhole. Then have a home-cooked and hearty meal in the Chuck House.

Want a real taste of the ranching life? Try some Rankin Ranch beef, a specialty on the menu at Rankin Ranch in Caliente, CA. A working cattle ranch for over 150 years, Rankin’s western hospitality features comfortable mountain cabins, horseback riding through mountain and meadow, and trout fishing. For evening entertainment, try your luck in a foosball or horseshoe tournament. But for true relaxation, nothing beats counting constellations in the star-studded California sky.

Authenticity also rules at Hunewill Circle H Guest Ranch, just north of Yosemite National Park in Bridgeport. Emphasis here is on great horseback riding through 26,000 acres of beautiful meadow. Other activities include family dance night, a talent show, and world class trout fishing. Or you can put on your spurs and join the hands-on cattle work essential to this working ranch. After building up a hearty appetite, enjoy the Creekside cookout, complete with campfire singalong and s’mores. Next time you’re California dreaming, your mind will be filled with memories of moments like these.

 

Authentic Oregon

 

If you really want to relax, unplug and get back to the goodness of nature, take a vacation at an authentic working cattle and hay ranch. That’s what you’ll find in (surprise!) Oregon. At the Long Hollow Ranch in Sisters, OR, guests participate in cattle drives and fly fishing expeditions as well as the traditional horseback adventures.

Everything about the Long Hollow Ranch is authentic, from the century-old ranch buildings to the home cooking and family style meals. Of course, the ranch has been updated, but each room reflects the simpler, gentler time when it was originally built. Other activities include rock climbing, rafting, and simply sharing stories with new friends under the gorgeous Oregon sky.

 

Best Dude Ranches for Families

 

 Surprising places you can find dude ranches | You might expect to find dude ranches in Colorado and Wyoming, but did you know there are ranches in Arkansas? California? Canada? Oregon? Unexpected ranch destinations for family vacations.

 

Think Outside the Box in British Columbia

 

Feel the concept of “dude ranch” is strictly western Americana? Think again.  Discover dude ranches throughout Canada, our neighbor to the north. In fact, some of the best dude ranches for families are found between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains, in British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province. (See, there’s a connection to the west!)

 

Three bars ride

Visit British Columbia for a ride in Canada’s westernmost province! Three Bars Guest Ranch employees share their love of the cowboy lifestyle! Photo courtesy of The Dude Ranchers Association

 

Want an authentic vacation on a working ranch – but with plenty of amenities? Try a stay at the Three Bars Guest Ranch in Cranbrook, British Columbia. Specializing in all-inclusive vacation experiences for riders and non-riders alike, Three Bars Guest Ranch is a working cattle ranch in the Canadian Rockies just south of Banff National Park.

The Beckley family, owners of the Three Bars Guest Ranch, share their love of authentic cowboy lifestyle with their guests. Guests stay in private hand-built log cabins, complete with all modern amenities and a welcoming front porch, the epitome of laid-back relaxation. The cabins surround the Main Lodge, a gorgeous log building that houses a business center, gym and fitness center, the ranch store, recreation center and more. Upscale dining is available in the restaurant, with each meal being more delicious and satisfying than the last.  

The ranch is also home to more than 120 horses. Anyone participating in the world-class horseback riding program will be matched with a horse for the length of the stay. Your horse will be ready whenever you decide to ride the beautiful terrain of green fields with majestic mountain views.

 

Best Dude Ranches for Families

You’ll be riding more than horses during your Canadian dude ranch experience. Three Bars Guest Ranch offers a variety of activities, from white water rafting to an outdoor Jacuzzi! Photo courtesy The Dude Ranchers Association

 

Of course, the Canadian dude ranch experience isn’t just limited to horseback riding. Three Bars Guest Ranch offers a plethora of activities so visitors can enjoy a complete cowboy experience. Choices range from the excitement of mountain biking and fly fishing to the relaxation of an outdoor hot tub and Jacuzzi. Whether you want a relaxing vacation or a new adventure – or a little of both – this Canadian dude ranch aims to please!

Next time you want a taste of down home hospitality, don’t limit your thinking to traditional ranching states. Dude ranches from all over the country (and outside of it!) welcome all visitors, giving us a chance to unplug and connect with authentic living and the simple pleasures of life. What more could you want in a vacation?

By Mary Dixon Lebeau

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How to Choose the Right Dude Ranch for Your Family Vacation


Dude ranch family vacations began way back in the late 1800s, giving city slickers an opportunity to be a real cowboy and experience the Old West. Today, this American tourist attraction is still as popular as ever, especially for family vacations. With settings that encourage families to kick up their heels or kick-back, dude ranches are scattered throughout the West (and even in Canada!) and come in all shapes and sizes. Yet dude ranches are not all created equal. So how do you know which dude ranch is right for your family vacation?
 
C Lazy U Ranch Family Vacation at a Dude Ranch



Looking to get away from it all and take on a new adventure? Wanting to reclaim family time and unplug? Discover the perfect all-inclusive family vacation at a dude ranch.


What, you say, a dude ranch? I get it. Even though I live in Colorado near all those wide open spaces and grew up on an Iowa farm, I hesitated to take my totally citified city slicker children. Can’t you see the eye-rolling now when you mention that there just might not be cell service? OMG, the world that they know has just ended. Seriously.


But persevere, parents, as your dude ranch vacation will be epic.  And your kids will love it – I promise!



How Do You Know Which Dude Ranch is Right for Your Family Vacation

 

Choosing the right dude ranch for your family vacation can be a bit challenging, especially when navigating the many possibilities of destinations, types of ranches, things to do, and more. What’s a mom (or whomever in charge of the family travel recon) to do? Which dude ranch should she choose? And how does she plan a dude ranch trip for her diverse family personalities AND keep everyone happy? Here are my tips on how to choose the right dude ranch for your family vacation.
 

Stay at in a cabin at the Home Ranch during the winter.

 



Why a Dude Ranch?

 

Let’s first address the elephant in the room – or in this case, the horse. Dude ranches are popular because they offer all-inclusive vacation packages that bundle a full week of activities, such as trail rides, swimming, fishing and hayrides with fabulous food and comfortable lodging for one low price. Often this package can be more affordable than a six-day theme park vacation.

Some ranches also offer “Kids Stay Free” and even “Grandparents Stay Free” weeks; so if you plan your trip right, you can save even more. Dude ranches offer stays from a long weekend to as many days as you want, although most families opt for a 7-day dude ranch vacation.

Black Mountain Ranch Cattle Drive



What Type of Dude Ranch Fits Your Family Vacation?

 

The first step is picking a dude ranch. Since there are literally hundreds of ranches across the United States and Canada, your first decision should be which type of ranch is the best fit for your family. Dude ranch family vacations come in all different sizes and flavors. 

There are three general categories of ranches:

  1. Working Dude Ranch where a guest’s experience is as a get-your-hands-dirty, working hand. Your family will be “ranch hands” and assisting in the operation of the ranch, requiring a higher level of riding ability.
  2. Dude Guest Ranch (Standard Ranch) features primarily horseback riding and a variety of outdoor activities. Cabins are usually more rustic. Food is usually served family style. The theme is to provide an authentic family experience on a ranch.
  3. Resort Dude Ranch, usually larger ranches, offer an array of diverse activities and onsite amenities, such as full-service spa or upscale dining options. Luxury ranches step it up with four-to-five star accommodations and amenities, gourmet restaurants, spas, and lots of activities in addition to horseback riding. Accommodations range from family-style or individual cabins to elegant lodges


Where does your family fit in the above type of dude ranches? My family enjoys a hands-on approach and getting outside, although this Grandma is more the glamping type – no pitching a tent for me! Be honest as this decision could make or break your family vacation.

 

Colorado Dude Ranch Family VacationMy horse-shy daughter overcame her fear with the patient instructions of Wranglers at a Colorado dude ranch. Photo Credit: Diana Rowe, TravelingInHeels.com

 

How Many Guests at the Dude Ranch?


Just as important as the type of dude ranch is how many guests it can host. Staying at ranch that hosts eight guests will offer a very different experience than a ranch that serves 100 guests. You'll especially notice this difference during dining and social events.

Does your family prefer a more intimate setting with personalized attention? Be one of the family at Rowses 1+1 Ranch, work right alongside the family on this working ranch that only accommodates 10. 

Not into a working dude ranch vacation? Consider the Hubbard's Six Quarter Circle Ranch, an upscale guest ranch hosting up to 12 guests on the border of Yellowstone National Park in Montana.

Or perhaps your family is a little more social and enjoys meeting and bonding with other families? Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas or Colorado Trails Ranch in Durango welcomes 50 and 55 guests, offering plenty of opportunities to meet new people. Or you might prefer a ranch with capacity at 30 or fewer, such as Long Hollow Ranch (Oregon), Rawah Ranch (Colorado) or Rimrock Ranch (Wyoming).



Consider Location, Timing and Experiences for your Dude Ranch Family Vacation

 

Now that you have the type of dude ranch your family will love, consider the location of your dude ranch, the time of year you want to take your trip and the overall type of experience you want to have. Just as you would for any vacation consider your families availability, budget, and just how far you want to travel (or not travel) to start your vacation.

Prefer a dessert landscape? Or do you dream about the mountains? Is your family into road trips? Love National Parks? Dude Ranch Association make choosing a location easy with their searchable website. Research dozens of available dude ranches by State/Province, Activity & Amenity, and even location in or near National Parks.


When to Book your Dude Ranch Vacation?

 

Once you've determined where you want to go, consider the time of year to take your trip. Ranches in northern states are busiest in summer months due to their cooler climates. Experience warm weather riding during the winter in the southern states.
 

Snowshoeing at Latigo Ranch
Snowshoeing in the winter at Latigo Ranch in Colorado – priceless! Photo Credit: Diana Rowe, TravelingInheels.com



Or take your adventurous family on a winter dude ranch vacation in the Colorado Rockies, and discover snowy activities that are fun for the whole family. Bundle up and take a sleigh ride. Build a snowman or start a snowball fight with the kids. 

A few years ago, I escaped the city for a winter getaway at Latigo Ranch, staying in my own little paradise of a cabin and trekking out on snowshoes at my leisure. I can neither confirm nor deny that I warmed up with a hot toddy afterwards.

 
Vista Verde Ranch Sleigh Ride



Accommodations at a Dude Ranch



Lastly, you want to think about what sort of accommodations you'd like. Do you prefer to rough it? Or is a luxurious hotel-like stay more your cup of tea? Ranches offer a wide range of atmospheres, and any and all of these are options for you and your family. Stay at a rustic cabin with no running water, overnight in a covered wagon, or get ready for 5-star pampering and accommodations including a spa! Choose your ranch according to your family’s needs.

 


How are the Vittles?

 

Ranch cuisine ranges from family style, fill-your-gut-with-good-ol-home-cooking meals to gourmet dining experiences. Pick your poison according to what your family will (or will not) eat.
 

 

Good old’ fashioned eggs and toast breakfast – one of many options at your dude ranches.

Good old’ fashioned eggs and toast breakfast – one of many options at your dude ranches.  Photo credit: Pixabay.com



Is Horseback Riding the most important aspect of your dude ranch family vacation?

 

Horses are a big part of just about every dude ranch experience. If you’re all about getting in the saddle and exploring the ranch, you are going to be one happy cowboy or cowgirl. First time riding a horse? Beginners will be offered lessons, an appropriate skill-based horse will be provided, and then off with you, your cowboy boots and hat. Don’t worry though - ranch hands take the lead showing you their trail rides of varying lengths. Heck, if you’re feeling really adventurous, join in a cattle drive. Some ranches offer the opportunity to spend two or three days riding the range and sleeping in the open – now there’s a story your kids can share with their friends!

 McGinnis Meadows Cattle Drive

 

Are any of your kids under 6-8 years old?

 

If the answer is yes, carefully read the fine print at each of your possible dude ranches to confirm that your kids will be able to participate. Many ranches place a minimum riding age for their programs. Although some ranches may offer babysitting or childcare options, others may require an adult to skip the horseback riding to stay with the younger children.
 

Hiking at Paradise Guest Ranch

 

Beyond Riding

 

If you or someone in your family is just not into horsin’ around, forget the horse-only dude ranch stereotype. Dude ranches are not limited to horse people, providing multiple activities for those horse-shy family members. Discover activities for every age and all interests – and you’ll might even pick up a few new favorites.

Dip your fishing pole into the lake and work the line together to bring in a 10-pound trout. Sit around the camp fire, poke a stick into the flames and roast marshmallows, arm-in-arm, singing and cementing the family relationship. Take a hike up, up, up into the rugged mountains and see vistas that will be forever imprinted into your memory. Or make it a family day and go to the small town’s rodeo. Challenge each other to learn archery or skeet shooting. All this and more is waiting for you and your family at a dude ranch.


Finally, talk to your family in advance. A dude ranch family vacation will be an epic adventure, but be sure to set up expectations. If the breakfast bell rings at 7am, if you’re teen wants to eat, she will have to roll out of bed. Some ranches’ Wi-Fi signal can be weak or nonexistent. Prepare the kids (and yourself) for the possibility of an unplugged vacation. Share the schedule in advance with your family. Pick out activities to do together, but also be prepared to give the kids (and yourself) time alone.

Got more questions? Check out the Dude Ranchers' Association for resources and tips.


By Diana Rowe, TravelingInHeels.com / Traveling Grandmom at TravelingMom.com

•	Considering a dude ranch vacation? How to choose a ranch that is the right fit for your family and the ages, stages, and interests of kids and adults.

 

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Ranch Vacations for Experimental Travelers

More things to do than you have time for

Experiment for your next vacation and try a ranch vacation throughout North America. You may not label yourself as an experimental traveler, but wouldn't you like to try something new? Ranch vacations have become an alternative form of tourism with the tons of adventure activities offered, starting with horseback riding. Destinations on www.duderanch.org offer activities for your group that you might see as experimental. Ever ridden a horse to the top of a mountain in a National Park? You could do that. Ever tried a yoga class outside at sunrise? Your travel companion might try that. Either way, you could throw an arrow at the Western half of the United States and pick the ranch closest and head there for your next vacation. Trust me, or rather, trust the numerous reviews on the interwebs that you'll have great experimental travels. You might even want to come back the next year to the same ranch or throw another arrow.

You won't have to sit around bored in your cabin or lodge room, unless you want to. There are so many things to do outside with equestrian sports, water sports and adventures that you would get board if I listed them all here. The adventure profiles of the ranches below would be a good place to start experimenting with ranch vacations.

 

Majestic Dude Ranch, Colorado

Open: Year-round

Airport: Durango

Activities: Horseback riding, fishing, mountain biking, hiking, paintball, laser tag, white water rafting, archery, skeet shooting, baseball, snowmobiles, and ATVS

Swing up horseback and ride among the shimmering aspens. Follow the gold panning streams to mining towns of yesteryear. Breathe in deeply of the fresh alpine air or settle in and watch the sunset over Sleeping Ute Mountain. Get in touch with nature in the heart of Mesa Verde Country. The Majestic Ranch is only a 35 minute ride from the majestic town of Durango. Fish for trophy Colorado trout, share a horseback ride with your children and make memories to last a lifetime. The Majestic Dude Ranch is now open year round! Enjoy cozy cabins with tempur-pedic beds and hospitality this summer season.

 

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Arkansas

Open: March 12 - October 29

Airport: Fayetteville

Activities: Horseback riding, rock climbing, indoor climbing wall, archery, skeet shooting, fishing, disc golf, ziplines, camp fires, swimming pool, canoeing, hot tub, rock outcroppings and cave exploration and wagon rides

The peaceful quiet of a beautiful Ozark mountain morning is interrupted by the sound of thundering hoof beats as horses gallop through the woods. The wranglers whoop and holler as they push the stock down to the day pen. The last pony is urged into the corral, the gate is pulled shut and another day at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch and an unforgettable family dude ranch vacation has begun.

 

Red Reflet Guest Ranch, Wyoming

Open: Year-round

Airport: Worland

Activities: Horseback riding on trails and in an indoor riding arena, swimming pool, tennis, climbing walls, zip lines, gym, personal hot tub and steam showers, ATVs, dirt bikes, mountain bikes, work cattle, fishing, yoga, hiking, skeet shooting, and rock climbing

Red Reflet is a ranch for the senses. It’s where a few hardworking individuals have mastered the art of hospitality to showcase some of Wyoming’s most breathtaking scenery and recreational offerings. Year round, guests can wake up in well-appointed luxury cabins surrounded by million dollar views of the red and coral-colored Chugwater formation sandstone cliffs and the contrasting blue and white snow-capped peaks of the Bighorn National Forest.

 

Averill's Flathead Lake Ranch, Montana

Open: May 1 - October 15

Airport: Kalispell

Activities: Horseback riding, sailing, water sports, lake cruises, swimming pool, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaks, canoes, fishing, laser tag, tennis, beach volleyball, basketball, white water rafting, golf, and hiking

For over 65 years, Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge has been the ultimate location for fun family vacations in Montana.  The ranch offers the widest selection of family fun and recreational activities for one all-inclusive rate. Each day offers an abundance of activities for every age. Whether you’re interested in spending the morning on horseback and the afternoon on the water, the day is yours and there are more than enough options for the whole family. Quite simply, Flathead Lake Lodge offers the ultimate, fun family vacation with unlimited horse and water recreation for kids and adults.

 Looking for something new? Ranch vacations have become an alternative form of tourism for experimental travelers with adventure activities offered, starting with horseback riding.

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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

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. On top of all the excursions, these all-inclusive vacations offer a little something extra by becoming a part of the family.

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Dude Ranches: Activities and Programs for Millennials

Millennials are the world traveling generation; they crave excitement and unique experiences that cannot be satisfied with just any vacation. According to a recent study done by MMGY Global, millennials travel more often than any other generational group. With an influence forecasted to grow even more over the coming decades, millennials are looking for destinations that provide them with one-of-a-kind, authentic activities along with “green” and sustainable travel experiences.

With the DRA representing more than 100 dude and guest ranches that offer an abundance of unique activities to satisfy any millennial’s adventurous spirit, we think we are the perfect fit for them. From sunup to sundown, millennials can go horseback riding, fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, cattle roping, ATV riding and much more.

A dude ranch is an all-inclusive, one-stop shop with a variety of offerings that cater to the millennial set, from accommodations and scenery to lessons and excursions. Additionally, 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.”

Below please find a sampling of unique programs and experiences available at DRA member ranches that appeal to millennials.

Dude Ranches: Activities and Programs for Millennials

• Many DRA-accredited dude ranches like Rainbow Trout Ranch and the Bar W Ranch have whitewaterrafting expeditions for guests to enjoy. Experience whitewater rafting dude ranch-style at the Bar W Ranch in Montana or at Rainbow Trout Ranch in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and challenge yourself to an adventure through the wild rapids. Take in the scenic backdrops of the beautiful Rockies or rolling ridges that adorn the Montana countryside while working together as a team.

Horseshoe Canyon activities Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is offered at multiple dude ranches like Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, Arkansas. Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is known in the climbing community for some of the finest sandstone sport climbing in the world. Come experience it for yourself as you scale large cliffs and peer over the breathtaking terrain.

• Celebrating farm-to-table cuisine is an important part of Smith Fork Ranch in Crawford, Colo. The ranch’s own farmstead garden cultivates over 80 varieties of herbs, fruits and vegetables without the use of synthetic fertilizers or chemicals. Additionally, with 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 right outside its doorstep.

• Situated in the heart of the Salmon River Mountains in Stanley, Idaho, Diamond D Ranch is completely off the power grid as electricity is provided by the ranch’s very own hydro-electric generator. The ranch features an endless variety of country and wildlife to see, streams to fish, and mountains to hike or horseback ride.

• Dude ranches like Gros Ventre River Ranch and the Home Ranch offer diverse horseback riding programs. At Gros Venre River Ranch, choose between a scenic walking ride or a challenging excursion into the surrounding hills. For a different take on horseback riding, visit The Home Ranch in Clark, Colo., for a unique luxurious week of health, wellness and relaxation with its “Experience Yoga and Horses Retreat” that takes place during exclusive weeks in late May and October.

 

Dude Ranches: Activities and Programs for Millenials

With the DRA representing more than 100 dude and guest ranches that offer an abundance of unique activities to satisfy any millennial’s adventurous spirit, we think dude ranches are the perfect fit for them. From sunup to sundown, millennials can go horseback riding, fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, cattle roping, ATV riding and much more.

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

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

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

The DRA was founded to preserve and protect the unique dude ranch vacation experience and identity. It requires its members to uphold top quality and service standards. The DRA’s experienced staff helps families of all ages customize their experience, guiding them to the perfect ranch that suits their needs and desires.

Priced competitively with respect to other similar all-inclusive vacation options, almost all meals, activities and special events are included in the cost of a ranch visit. “The Dude Ranchers’ Association takes great pride in all of our ranches, and we know families will have an unforgettable trip, regardless of which guest ranch they choose. One of the best things about a dude ranch vacation is that it makes family travel easy: from working with our experts to plan and customize your trip, to airport pickup, to on-site activities and meals once you arrive, it’s easy and hassle-free and most importantly, fun.”

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

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

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch Red White and Blue`

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch - Arkansas

Stagecoach Trails Red White ad Blue

Stagecoach Trails Ranch - Arizona

Hunewill Guest Ranch Red White and Blue

Hunewill Guest Ranch - California

Black Mountain Ranch Red White and Blue

Black Mountain Ranch


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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