23 Dude Ranch Activities

When you think of a dude ranch vacation do you imagine time in the saddle and think it might be fun for a day or two, but wonder if there is enough to do for an entire vacation? Well, there is great news for travelers who would enjoy any amount of western lifestyle activities such as horseback riding and cattle work. If you look into it further, modern day dude ranches offer a lot more than just this. With scenic landscapes, great accommodations and knowledgeable staff, dude ranch activities vary for a diverse crowd - whether that is your multigenerational family, business associates or small group of best friends. 

It doesn’t matter if you would consider yourself a “city slicker” or an equestrian, everyone will get to ride horses and spend time doing what they enjoy the most. Dude ranches offer attractions and services that travel far beyond the trail. Fine dining? Well that’s just the beginning. Outdoor exercise? Any and all kinds. Relaxation? You got it. 

So, if you’re considering a dude ranch vacation and would like to fill your week with many types of activities, consider adding these activities to your to do list.

Dude Ranch Activities  

 

Trail Riding on Horseback

The best way to experience the West is most definitely horseback riding. Starting out with an orientation ride, you’ll easily determine how much adventure you’ll enjoy with your personal horse or horses for the week. You might be content with a daily stroll up to a nice view or have a need for speed on twice daily loping rides. 

Dude Ranch Activities

R Lazy S Ranch - Teton Village, WY

Bird Watching

For avid bird watchers dude ranches offer some exclusive places to find rare species of birds specific to the area. Many horseback rides at the Triple R Ranch in South Dakota explore deep into wildlife’s natural habitats especially native birds. It is almost guaranteed that on these rides you will see some type of unique species! 

Dude Ranch Activities

Triple R Ranch - Keystone, SD

White Water Rafting

Suited up in your life jacket you’ll get to race (or meander) down crystal clear water for yet another perspective on this beautiful location. Rimrock Ranch in Wyoming has an afternoon of their weekly program that is designated for a white water rafting trip for all of the ranch guests to enjoy.

Dude Ranch Activities

Rimrock Ranch - Cody, WY

Petting Zoos

Petting zoos on dude ranches are not just for children. Even adults enjoy interacting with all sorts of farm animals, from baby goats and pigs to gathering eggs from the chicken coop.

Overnight Campouts or Pack Trips

There’s no better place to see the stars than on an overnight campout or a pack trip into the mountains. In a lot of these places motorized vehicles are not allowed, so the only way to get out there is on foot or by horseback. On a pack trip with the Broken Arrow Lodge you’ll go through two mountain ranges in the spectacular Rocky Mountains!

Dude Ranch Activities

Broken Arrow Lodge - Alder, MT

Cattle Drives

Hup, hup! You’ll get to understand what life is like as a cowboy once you experience first hand what it’s like to move cattle across the range. From several hours to a full day cattle drive, this is the real deal when it comes to the cowboy lifestyle activities on a dude ranch. At the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Montana cattle ranching is not just a business - it’s a way of life. And you’ll be apart of it. 

Dude Ranch Activities

Bonanza Creek Ranch - Martinsdale, MT

Kids Activities

From 0 - 18 kids always have something to do on the ranch. With counselors for different age ranges, kids are engaged and have no need for electronics. There’s a creative activity to do every moment, from swimming pools to nature walks or even visiting that petting zoo we talked about earlier.

Massages

Why not sign up for a relaxing massage to complete your afternoon? With trained professionals in some of the most beautiful locations you’ll enjoy a lavish spa experience. You’ll really like the full body massage customized for your preferences at the Hubbard’s Six Quarter Circle Ranch in Montana. After a day in the saddle this is just what the doctor ordered.

Dude Ranch Activities

Hubbard's Six Quarter Circle Ranch - Emigrant, MT 

Shooting & Archery Sports

You’ll be given instruction and participate in a safely controlled environment to learn and practice shooting different types of firearms and archery.

ATV Rides

Cinch down your helmet and hit the road for an afternoon of exploring on ATV’s as one of the most fun dude ranch activities. 

Horse Drawn Wagon/Sleigh Rides

Riding in a horse drawn wagon or sleigh should be on everyone’s bucket list. At the K Diamond K Guest Ranch in Washington guests are given a tour of the ranch by a team of Belgian draft horses pulling a 12-passenger wagon. Experience transportation like the cowboys used to in the times of the old west! 

Dude Ranch Activities

K Diamond K Ranch - Republic, WA

Yoga

Try a yoga class with a certified trainer whenever you like. You might enjoy a class outside amongst the aspen trees or in a quaint cabin studio.

Fly Fishing

Whether you are an expert or a beginner your own personal fly-fishing guide will help you catch various types of trout on super private waters. The Goosewing Ranch offers twice weekly instruction on their stocked pond, allowing you to fine tune your fishing skills. Also, they offer all sorts of equipment for the guests to use and a map of all the prime fishing locations on the ranch. 

Dude Ranch Activities

Goosewing Ranch - Jackson, WY 

Glamping 

Glamping has become the new trend it seems and dude ranches are following suite. The Bull Hill Guest Ranch in Washington has 2 new glamping tents less than 5 years old! Each tent is just 100 feet from the shower house where each tent has its own private bath and shower. Both tents are fully furnished and do have electricity as well as heat. They also have beautiful porches to kick back and relax after a day full of ranch activities.  

Dude Ranch Activities

Bull Hill Guest Ranch - Kettle Falls, WA

Rustic Weddings

Picturesque settings, wide open spaces and top-notch amenities draw thousands of brides-to-be and their grooms to dude ranches each year. Whether you would like to run off and elope or prefer inviting the whole family there’s plenty of options for planning your dude ranch wedding. The Absaroka Ranch in Wyoming can accommodate 16 people in their four cabins and host up to 200 guests for the day of the wedding. There’s nothing like a reception with 360-degree breathtaking views and a mountain backdrop.

Dude Ranch Vacations

Absaroka Ranch - Dubois, WY

Talent Show

The ranch staff and guests alike are some pretty talented people and friendly competition can be found in many forms during your vacation. You’ll enjoy watching and participating in a talent night at the ranch. You can sing, tap or joke your way to local stardom in a talent show. You won’t soon forget these memories! 

Jeep Tours

At the Hawley Mountain Ranch, you’ll get to take an all-day jeep tour adventure to places where very few people can travel. Ready to see an old ghost town or visit Monument Peak at nearly 11,000 feet?? Hawley Mountain Ranch will take you there!

Dude Ranch Activities

Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch - McLeod, MT 

Zip Line 

Zoom! Your adventure guide will take you on a view of the ranch like none other. You’ll get to fly through the air for another kind of wild ride. 

Tennis & Golf 

Practice your professional swing while having a good time with friends. Some ranches have tennis courts and golf courses on site or within a close radius of the ranch. The Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley in Colorado gives their guests the opportunity to take a short ride down to the Broadmoor’s 2 different 18-hole golf courses that look like they are out of a picture book. They also have state of the art tennis courts available to guests to use, you will just have to schedule a time to go play! 

Dude Ranch Activities

The Broadmoor's Ranch at Emerald Valley - Colorado Springs, CO 

Fine Wine and Fine Dining 

Ranches have well trained (even Cordon bleu trained) chefs that take a lot of pride in offering 5-star cuisine with beautifully paired wines. There are many dude ranches that also participate in Farm to Table Cuisine programs. Beautiful vegetables and fruits are harvested just a few yards from the kitchens and have flavors like you’ve never tasted before. Several ranches also have a long list of fine wines and beer selections for guests to choose from. 

Cooking Classes

These same chefs would love to share their kitchen with you and/or your kids to teach you their secret recipes on amazing ranch cuisine. 

Team Penning

With a team of 3 riders you’ll try your hand at a seriously fun rodeo sport. With rules that can be modified to suite, the idea is to separate a cow or steer from the group and herd it into a pen. Who ever is the fastest wins! 

Hiking

From rigorous climbs to easy ambles you can get out and explore the mountains on foot. At the Flat Creek Ranch, you’ll be able to hike up to the Teton Overlook trail for a panoramic view of the Grand Teton National Park. Hike in the Bridger-Teton National Forest and the Gros Ventre Wilderness Area while at the ranch and experience some of Wyoming's most undiscovered land. 

Dude Ranch Activities

Flat Creek Ranch - Jackson, WY

These are not all the activities you can find on dude ranches. We haven’t even talked about National Park Trips, rock climbing, winter sports, and more! 

To find that dude ranch experience with the right combination of activities use the search by amenity page on duderanch.org or give a ranch vacation expert a call at the Dude Ranchers’ Association. 

Search by Amenity 

Call a Ranch Expert 307.587.2339

 

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When you think of a dude ranch vacation do you imagine time in the saddle and think it might be fun for a day or two, but wonder if there is enough to do for an entire vacation? With scenic landscapes, great accommodations and knowledgeable staff, dude ranch activities vary for a diverse crowd - whether that is your multigenerational family, business associates or small group of best friends.

Straight from the Horse's Mouth about Ranch Vacations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Get Lost in These Hidden Montana Dude Ranch Sweet Spots

Have you been wanting to find that local dive off of the beaten path?  Let yourself get lost for a few days at a hidden Montana dude ranch. With very small capacities you are sure to have a very personal and interactive experience with your cowboy hosts on your next vacation.  Pack up your cowboy boots, demin jeans, and your camera, but leave your cell phone and stress at home.  Out here Montana's natural wilderness experienced by horseback will bring you back to your connection with Mother Nature. So, go ahead and get lost for a few days. Its the vacation you'll never want to come back from.

Montana Dude Ranch

Get to the Heart of Ranching at the G Bar M Ranch The camaraderie that guests share with the ranch family and crew at the end of the day is made even better by the delicious meals that Maria serves.  You can measure the distance your food’s traveled in yards or feet. Enjoy last season’s harvest today — G Bar M’s root cellar, freezer, and pantry are fully-stocked.  This is where it all comes together because as Mike will tell you, “The heart of the ranch is the kitchen.” Recipes perfected by Maria have been in the family for generations and feature ranch-raised beef and pork, along with vegetables from the ranch garden and homemade breads made with ranch’s 100-year-old sourdough starter. The fare is hearty and the menu is diverse. Everything is served family-style on the bountiful table where guests, family and crew gather at mealtime. If the kitchen is the heart of the ranch, then the garden is the bare feet — heels and toes sinking into the fertile, living earth. Enjoy unity of all five senses as you pick your own fruits and vegetables and listen to the quiet sounds of this working ranch. Local as they can possibly be.

Ride into History at the Bonanza Creek Guest Ranch

Bonanza Creek Montana Dude Ranch

The ranch was originally homestead in 1877 by Norwegian immigrants looking for a better life. Today the Voldseth family, which are the fourth and fifth generations living on this land, own and work the ranch. It won’t take you long to see that they chose this area not only for its good water and grasses to graze cattle and sheep, but also for its beautiful scenery. More than a century later, very little has changed...the only difference is that now there is a place set at the table for you. Personal attention is the norm with only 8-12 guests invited per week. Come relax with us where unbelievable views and unrivaled adventure abound. Bonanza Creek treats you like family - - real people on a real cattle ranch.

Hideout in Paradise Valley at the Hubbard's Six Quarter Circle Ranch

Hubbard's Six Quarter Circle Ranch is located in Tom Miner Basin, apart of the greater Paradise Valley. The ranch is hidden in with a look out over the Yellowstone River towards Emigrant, MT. The ranch is tucked away 19 miles from Yellowstone Park via car, but the ranch borders the Park to the South.  At Six Quarter Circle you can ride all day, everyday, on 25 square miles of pristine wilderness on the edge of Yellowstone National Park.

Guests actively participate in ranch work, whether it’s pushing cattle to higher greener pastures, throwing salt or fixing fence.  If you prefer a gentler pace, wranglers will guide you on a two-hour ride to Ramshorn Lake at the foot of 10,000 foot Ramshorn Peak.  The basaltic cliffs that tower over the lake are home to one of the largest herds of bighorn sheep in the state.  If you are an angler, you can spend a few hours fishing for cutthroat trout before you head back to the lodge for some well deserved R & R.

Discover Horsemanship at the McGinnis Meadows Ranch

McGinnis Meadows Hidden Dude Ranch
The horseback riding program is based on the Buck Brannaman style of horsemanship, and is the central activity at McGinnis Meadows Ranch. Buck’s style is a method that is both gentle and effective and creates a unique kinship between horse and rider.  You will have more hands-on time with your horse than any place else.
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Learn horsemanship daily in a relaxed clinic style environment with ranch horses or your own in small groups. With personalized instruction from a team of experts, you can continue to focus furthering your horsemanship skills each day. Or you'll soon feel comfortable heading out on cattle drives and exploring country in any direction from the ranch.

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