Dude Ranches are Great for Those Who Love the Outdoors

Travelers that are looking for a new experience will enjoy dude ranches for a vacation centered around the West’s most iconic activity - horseback riding. Not only this, but dude ranches are located in the most beautiful destinations and offer much more adventure for all ages. Because dude ranches are privately owned, guests experience a tailored itinerary away from the crowds. Secluded valleys, mountain top cabins, and all-day excursions will put you and your family in picture-perfect moments your friends will drool over. Traditionally, dude ranches plan for a full week of Western life for their guests, but some have short stay, immersive experiences for those with limited travel time. No matter how long you stay, it is sure to be an exciting trip. Wondering what you might experience on the best dude ranches in North America? Take a look below at some of the specialties that make dude ranches more than just horseback riding in the American West, but an adventure vacation for everyone who loves the outdoors.  

1. Ranch Life 

From the time you arrive for your ranch vacation, you’ll understand that this is a completely different world from suburban life. The horseback riding, pace of life and even the people represent the Western experience that you will be a part of for the week. It is a timeless traditional lifestyle that has been a part of American history for past centuries and your group will become apart of it. Pack your cowboy boots and western hat, because you'll want to look the part!

2. Cattle WorkTravelers that are looking for a new experience will enjoy dude ranches for a vacation centered around the West’s most iconic activity - horseback riding. Not only this, but dude ranches are located in the most beautiful destinations and offer much more adventure for all ages.

Cowboys and cattle go hand in hand. At many dude ranches, cattle work is a central activity where you can jump in and have hands-on cowboy experiences. From baby calves being bottle fed to driving the herd on an all-day cattle drive, there are a lot of different ways to interact with cattle. Have you heard of team penning? It’s a rodeo event that guests love to participate in with their fellow travelers. Winning this event will definitely give you bragging rights for the year. You can also learn about how to swing a rope! 

3. Fly Fishing 

The rivers and streams of the West are calmly waiting for you to disrupt their slumber. Fly fishing is the traditional Western way of catching fish that is easy to learn but takes a lifetime to truly master. So, fly casting techniques, knot tying, trout behavior, fishing strategies and even river anatomy will be taught at ranches from a knowledgeable and experienced guide. Your guide can accommodate the beginners and also those who just need to be pointed in the right direction of the best fishing holes. Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Cutthroat Trout and Grayling are just a few of the fish you might encounter on your trip. 

4. Programs for Children

Families who love the outdoors and getting away from technology will also love dude ranches. Well qualified staff show children the Western way of life, from young toddlers to teenagers there’s something for everyone. Pony rides, volleyball, three-legged races, lawn games… the list goes on and on for what dude ranches have prepared for children to engage with each other in the outdoors. 

5. Cuisine and Dining Experience

Dining on dude ranches is more than just filling your belly. It’s a shared time to relax and enjoy the evening with great food and great company. Hors d'oevoures and cocktails start in the saloon or in the rocking chair on the porch. Birds are chirping and the sun is setting as the kitchen staff rings the dinner bell for everyone to gather for a home-cooked, farm-to-table style dinner prepared for guests that are treated like family. 

Great Dude Ranches to Choose From

Dude ranches are a great way to enjoy the outdoors in a spectacular location. You’ll be with your family in a more intimate environment than you would have milling through the crowds of people traveling to the most popular destinations. While you can still take trips to national parks and the famous destinations, dude ranches will give you the inside scoop and some even provide a personal guide. Take a look at the ranches below for some suggestions on dude ranches for your next vacation. 

Dude Ranches R Lazy S Ranch

Special Rides for Kids - The R Lazy S Ranch is a great ranch near Jackson Hole, Wyoming and offers a great program for families. Special rides for kids include instruction, gymkhana arena riding, half day trail rides and all day trail rides to mountain lakes.


Lazy L&B Dude Ranches have great evening activities

Campfire Dinners and Cowboy Poetry - For campfire dinners and cowboy poetry, you'll want to take a trip to the Lazy L&B Ranch in Dubois, Wyoming. They offer a full day of adventure with evening entertainment you'll want to experience yourself. 


K Diamond K Dude Ranches With Lots of Acres to Explore

30,000 Acres to Explore - The K Diamond K Ranch, in Republic, Washington has 30,000 acres to explore on horseback, along with cattle work for your family and travel companions. 


Moose Head Ranch Tetons View

A Grand View of the Teton National Park - Moose Head Ranch, in Moose, Wyoming is famous for their views of the Grand Teton Mountain Range. Have your picture taken on horseback with your family in a way you couldn't dream of!


Blacktail Ranch Dude Ranch Cattle Drive

Fall Roundup Cattle Drive - Have the time of your life in late August / early September at the Blacktail Ranch in Wolf Creek, Montana for their fall roundup cattle drive. The cows can't stay up on the mountain all winter, and they want your help to bring them home! 


Focus Ranch Fly Fishing Dude Ranch Activities

Fly Fishing ClinicFocus Ranch in Slater, Wyoming not only has a fly fishing clinic this summer but also specialty weeks for yoga, photography, birding and painting!


Triangle C Clinic Dude Ranches for Horsemanship

Beginner Horsemanship Instruction - The Triangle C Ranch in Dubois, Wyoming offers daily riding instruction for beginner riders looking to learn the in's and out's of horseback riding. 


Sundance Trail Guest Ranch for Weddings and Elopements

Weddings and Elopements - Along with a great dude ranch stay, the Sundance Trail Guest Ranch, in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado is well prepared to host your wedding or elopement in a spectacular location. 


Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch Rodeo Activities in Colorado

Rodeo RidingSylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Loveland, Colorado has a special rodeo week for those looking to turn up the heat on their rodeo skills. 

Hunewill Ranch in California Dude Ranches for Trail Riding-1

On the Border of Yosemite National Park - Near Bridgeport, California the Hunewill Ranch shares their way of life as a working cattle ranch. 


View the Complete List of Dude Ranch Vacations in North America


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What is a Dude Ranch?

What is a dude ranch? A dude ranch is a vacation destination that hosts guests to share in their Western lifestyle activities. For dude ranches who are members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association this is an all-inclusive immersive vacation that includes lodging, meals, horseback riding, fishing, hiking and more. With more than 100 members in the Association the experience is unique at every ranch with a specialty in horseback riding over unique terrain, cattle work and/or luxury amenities. From small, intimate ranches to large resort style ranches there is a ranch to fit every budget and dream vacation. 

Take a look at the sampling of ranches below to get a better understanding of what is a dude ranch. 

Allen's Diamond 4 Ranch What is a dude ranch

Allen’s Diamond Four Ranch, Wyoming

Snapshot: Allen's Diamond 4 Ranch is located in the rugged Wind River Mountain Range and is Wyoming's highest wilderness guest ranch offering log cabins, mountain trail riding, fly fishing, wilderness pack trips and hunting in Shoshone National Forest. 

Capacity: 8

Dates Open: June 15 - September 15

Activities: At the ranch you can explore the nearby Wind River Indian Reservation, historic gold mining towns, Yellowstone Park or go white water rafting. Friendly and informal, the Diamond 4 Ranch has only 4 guest cabins, assuring you a personalized and relaxing wilderness experience.

Click here to view all ranches in Wyoming


Rancho de los Caballeros lawn Golf What is a dude ranch

Rancho de los Caballeros, Arizona

Snapshot: Rancho de los Caballeros is the resort with the soul of a bed and breakfast offering full resort amenities and privacy, yet with the charm and intimacy of yesteryear. 

Capacity: 140

Dates Open: October 1 - May 15

Activities: Explore the serenity of the high Sonoran desert terrain on a horse chosen to match your riding ability, tee off on the 18-hole championship golf course, relax at The Spa, take a breathtaking tour of the desert by jeep or ATV, mountain bike or hot air balloon, trap and skeet shooting, tennis lessons, guided nature hikes, swimming and team penning just like the real cowboys.

Click here to view all ranches in Arizona


McGinnis Meadows Ranch What is a dude ranch

McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch, Montana

Snapshot: McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch is a first class working dude ranch in Northwest Montana offering cattle drives all season long, Buck Brannaman horsemanship and non-head-to-tail horseback rides for all levels.

Capacity: 15

Dates Open: January 1 - December 22

Activities: Riding horses and working cattle is what McGinnis Meadows is all about. You'll experience full days in the saddle, or the ranch will tailor the day to fit you. Authentic cowboys will teach you all you need to know about their horses. From there you can head out and drive cattle on 75,000 acres of summer range, further your horsemanship skills, ride and explore new country and work steers sorting, cutting and ranch penning. Just relaxing is always an option too. There’s also a first class fly fishing outfitter nearby.

Click here to view all ranches in Montana


Eatons Ranch Trail Ride Family What is a dude ranch


Eaton’s Ranch, Wyoming 

Snapshot: For over 138 years Eatons’ Ranch has been a Wyoming dude ranch and working cattle ranch located on the magnificent, pine covered eastern slopes of the Bighorn Mountains in northeastern Wyoming. 

Capacity: 120

Dates Open: June 1 - September 30

Activities: Eatons' offers guests the unique opportunity to ride one of their 220 horses unescorted with the permission of the Ranch. This allows guests the remarkable freedom to fully explore this beautiful 7,000 acres of country into the Big Horn Mountains. The ranch also offers excellent trout fishing, overnight pack trips, a heated swimming pool and more. 

Click here to view all ranches in Wyoming


Hunewill Guest Ranch in California What is a dude ranch


Hunewill Circle “H” Guest Ranch, California

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

Capacity: 45

Dates Open: May 25 - November 10

Activities: Hunewill offers you a full ranch experience starting with horseback riding and includes evening activities such as talent night, family dance night, barbecues on the creek, or watching as young foals and yearlings are being trained. There is world class trout fishing in the nearby East Walker River, and in the many lakes and streams in the adjacent Toiyabe National Forest.

Click here to view all ranches in California


Follow up questions? Click on the links below or contact the Dude Ranchers’ Association to talk to a Ranch Vacation Expert. 


What type of dude ranch fits me? 


What will I do on a dude ranch? 


Why DRA ranches? 


Ever wonder what is a dude ranch? A dude ranch is a vacation destination that hosts guests to share in their Western lifestyle activities. Ranches are located in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Arizona, California, Idaho. For dude ranches who are members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association this is an all-inclusive immersive vacation that includes lodging, meals, horseback riding, fishing, hiking and more.

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