Dude Ranches Pioneer Educational Travel

Educational Travel

Recently, a great article from afar.com How to take your kids out of school for educational travel experiences was released. There were some wonderful tips in this article for traveling families. It made me think, “what better educational travel opportunity than a dude ranch where the ranchers are dedicated to preserving and promoting the genuine Western way of life?” We are not only helping future generations appreciate nature, wildlife and the Western culture, but we are also helping families make memories that all kids deserve to have. 

A dude ranch vacation offers a variety of programming for kids of all ages, with daily schedules that are so engaging kids won’t realize they’re learning along the way! Kids’ programs and activities, many of which are overseen by dedicated wranglers and staff members, are designed to educate and entertain with activities ranging from ropes courses, scavenger hunts, horseback riding, panning for gold, wildlife excursions, overnight camping trips, campfire sing-a-longs, capture the flag, hayrides and much more.  

I think one of the best parts about dude ranch kids’ programs is that they really engage kids’ adventurous spirit and teaches them about many things they wouldn’t learn within the four walls of their classrooms. You can ask any kid the name of the horse they rode while vacationing at a dude ranch a month or even a later year and they will be able to tell you as well as the names of the kids and wranglers. It’s a unique memory that stays with them for many years.

There is only so much a child can learn from sitting in a classroom with 25 other kids. Don’t get me wrong I think traditional classroom learning is key to a great education. However, that being said, the things a child can experience while on vacation is simply something you can’t learn from a book.  You might get the “facts,” but the other things they learn along the way is impossible to recreate in a classroom.  You can get your kids involved in the planning stages of the trip, the research of where, when and how long you will be gone, what you will be doing, and more! Even let them help with the budgeting, what better way to teach them than to have them help you! Just think of all the actual conversations the above will inspire and let’s face it, in today’s world face to face conversations with your kids is priceless.

Below are several educational travel opportunities to help you and your family to start planning! 

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch:

Educational Travel

If you have a teen, the energetic teen counselors at Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Montana are there to ensure that their guests 13 and older have the vacation experience of a lifetime! Activities include gourmet teen dinners (learn how to cook), hilarious talent show skit (a real confidence booster), a night at the challenge course or clay shooting range, and off-site adventures like trips to Yellowstone’s “Boiling River.” What better place to learn about the great outdoors than Yellowstone National Park?  Talk about hands-on experiences!

CM Ranch:

Educational Travel

Children will experience traditional ranch activities such as horseback riding and will learn the importance of the horse in the Western culture here, they may learn to fly-fish or how to rope too. They could spend an afternoon exploring nearby ancient Indian petroglyphs or visiting the local fish hatchery. As you can see the educational opportunities are endless at the CM Ranch in Wyoming.

Vista Verde Ranch:

Educational Travel

At Vista Verde Ranch in Colorado, your kids will explore on horseback, learn more skills in horsemanship clinics and how to herd cows. They will learn to paddleboard at a nearby lake, and they may take a hike learning the fauna and flora of the area. Maybe most importantly they get to experience all of this while learning that it is okay to be unplugged from their devices and still have FUN!

Paradise Guest Ranch:

Educational Travel

The educational programs offered at Paradise Ranch in Wyoming are designed to reconnect kids with animals and the great outdoors. Their programs expose kiddos to the natural world and all that it has to offer. They may be involved in a kid’s rodeo, may take an overnight camping trip or they may even learn how to fly-fish.  Remember this ranch is called Paradise for a reason!

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch:

Educational Travel

If your child has a real love for horses there is no better place to be than in Western Pleasure’s hands-on kid’s horse program in Idaho. Even before arriving at the ranch your kids will receive one of the ranch’s horsemanship manuals to help expand their learning experience. The program starts on Sunday evening and is concluded on Thursday evening with an actual horse show. Participants will be responsible for their own horse and equipment; they will learn horse husbandry skills and equipment care. Talk about life educational skills, WOW.

I am pretty sure all parents want to see their kids succeed in the classroom, I know I did, but I can also assure you there is a world of learning that happens outside the classroom so why not give your kids that opportunity. Teaching your kids outside the “classroom” may be one of the best things you can do for them! There are many things that just can’t be taught in a classroom. 

For more information on dude ranch kids’ programs, contact the Dude Ranchers’ Association. They can make some great recommendations for your whole family! 

307-587-2339 ~ info2@duderanch.org

Educational Travel

Educational Travel

Exceptional Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Horse enthusiasts and equestrians who know how to ride are in love with dude ranch vacations. They have come to find that the best way to explore the beauty of the American West is via horseback. For your next vacation consider a trip to a dude ranch located in some of the most beautiful areas of the country. This is sure to be an experience that you won’t soon forget. For intermediate to advanced riders, there is a great opportunity to ride out and traverse through the mountains. Most would agree that this will bring about a sense of freedom like no other.

There are many dude ranch vacations that specifically cater to people who have advanced riding ability, and even those with a lifetime of experience with horses. There are many horses on each ranch that will be individually matched to your personality and riding style. The ranches below have been hand selected for their expertise in trail riding over a variety of terrain and giving guests the adventure of their dreams. They welcome guests who know their way around a horse. If you are looking for just the right place for your group of horsemen and women then take a look at these ranches and schedule your vacation.

Drowsy Water Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Drowsy Water Ranch

Drowsy Water Ranch

Are you looking for a spot that will allow you to ride from leisurely walks to smooth lopes and gallops? Drowsy Water Ranch might be the place for you. Experienced riders love this ranch and their 100+ horses for their vacation. The bond that guests can create with their horses will go beyond the week-long stay. Your vacation at the Drowsy Water Ranch also includes a magical breakfast horseback ride to the top of the mountain. From here you’ll enjoy a spectacular view overlooking the Rocky Mountains. Bring your camera, because you’ll want to remember these views time and time again. 

Badger Creek Ranch Dude Ranches the Experienced Rider

Badger Creek Ranch

Badger Creek Ranch 

For horsemanship and participation in the lives of working cattle ranchers, the Badger Creek Ranch in Canon City, Colorado is a great place for people serious about horses while on their vacation. Guests at this ranch are invited to ride horses trained in Natural Horsemanship and participate in that training as well. Once you are saddled up and ready to ride, each day will present a new opportunity with the herd of cattle at the ranch. Would you like to ride out and check a down fence, move cows from pasture to pasture or ride out on their semiannual cattle drive? You’ll be able to this and more at the Badger Creek Ranch.

For experienced riders, there is a great opportunity to ride out and traverse through the mountains on one of these advanced dude ranch vacations.

Cherokee Park Ranch 

With only three or four guests and a wrangler on each ride, Cherokee Park Ranch in Livermore, Colorado has a tailored horseback riding program. The small group of riders that go out on each ride is grouped according to skill level can be adapted to what the riders want to do on each excursion. At Cherokee Park Ranch there is a lot more to do than just trail riding. The ranch offers team pinning with cattle, private horseback riding lessons, practicing rodeo events, horsemanship classes and fly-fishing lunch rides. The more adventurous riders can discover what they might want to do. For example, guests may want to jump some tree logs or bushwhack/blaze a new trail. Whatever you’re looking to do you’ll be able to find it at this ranch. And with the scenery, great food and western accommodations everyone in your group will have a great time.

Cherokee Park Ranch Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Cherokee Park Ranch

The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch  

The Hideout Lodge and Guest Ranch in Shell, Wyoming is a great destination for those that are looking to spend miles and miles on the trail at a spectacular destination. The number of acres and varying terrain at this ranch is unlike any other that you can find. Experienced riders can enjoy an upscale destination that caters to adults all year round. The Hideout puts a genuine emphasis on excellent trail riding across a varied landscape. The ranch also has a relationship with a working cattle ranch close by and offers guests the opportunity to ride out and work cattle for a couple of days during their week stay.

The Hideout Lodge Guest Ranch Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch

Paradise Guest Ranch

Paradise Guest Ranch in Buffalo, Wyoming is a great family destination that can cater to families with kids and or parents with a lot of riding experience. With a considerable number of horses and extensive trails, each person in the group will be able to have as much or as little advanced riding as they desire. The riding program is very flexible and features a number of choices. Team penning, barrel racing, all day rides and fly-fishing rides are offered at the ranch as a part of their well-developed week-long itinerary. You’ll have to ask them about the roller coaster ride if you are interested in having a super fun time!

Paradise Guest Ranch Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Paradise Guest Ranch

Bonanza Creek Ranch

Every day is a new adventure at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Martinsdale, Montana. Because an intermediate level of riding ability is required at the ranch due to the rugged nature of the terrain, equestrians find this destination a place of discovery and exploration. Here, riding is most certainly the main activity with morning and afternoon rides as well as all day rides. Guests have the opportunity to climb high ridges, meander through the woods along a creek, canter across the open country, gather up a herd of cow/calf pairs and ride to an old homestead that the modern world hasn’t touched. This weeklong experience allows guest to soak up all the beauty and tradition of Montana from the best seat in the world – on horseback! Bonanza Creek also offers cowgirl retreats for that group of ladies in your life that love trail riding.

Bonanza Creek Ranch Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Bonanza Creek Ranch

Book a Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Whatever you’re riding style and personality, you will be able to express your love for horses and adventure on one of these dude ranch vacations. While at one of these ranches, you’ll be among other equestrians that will be able to match your skill set and enjoy the level of experienced riding that you are accustomed to. Find the ranch that matches your personality and desire and book your next great adventure.

Cherokee Park Ranch Dude Ranches for the Experienced Riders

Cherokee Park Ranch

Find more: 


Advanced Horseback Riding Programs

Bring Your Own Horse to these Dramatic Dude Ranch Destinations


Badger Creek Ranch View Dude Ranches for the Experienced Rider

Badger Creek Ranch


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Great Dude Ranches for Families

The ultimate family vacation has grown exponentially in terms of options and accommodations — and dude ranch vacations are no exception. In fact, there are very few resorts that emulate the offerings of the dude ranch community. “Activity options have skyrocketed. From ropes courses and ziplines to rock climbing, cooking classes, and more, some dude ranches now have more than 100 activities,” says Colleen Hudson, Executive Director of The Dude Ranchers’ Association.

The diversity and abundance of activities for families, along with stunning resort locations near national parks and public lands, solidify the Western dude ranch as one of the best family vacation experiences on the planet. 

Great Dude Ranches for Families 


1. The Home Ranch – Clark, CO

Best For: Cuisine and Cooking

The Home Ranch does many things exceptionally well, including innovative cuisine and cocktails, luxury accommodations and extraordinary programming. Nestled in Clark, Colorado, a 30-minute drive from Steamboat Springs, the ranch is one of the few Rocky Mountain dude ranches that offers four-season activities and family options for children ages 6 and over. Bonus: All meals, lodging, local transportation, fishing gear, guide services, and on-ranch activities and adventures are included in the price of your stay.

dude ranches

2. Rainbow Trout Ranch – Antonito, CO

Best For: Authentic High Mountain Experience

We love the focus on disconnecting from technology at the Rainbow Trout Ranch. None of the 16 log cabins onsite offer TVs, and the Wi-Fi isn’t strong — and that’s on purpose. They do offer cozy fireplaces, though, and some of the cabins can sleep up to eight guests. The ranch is nestled on 600 acres at 9,000 feet and surrounded by national forest lands, providing abundant terrain for riding and spectacular views. Fly-fishers enjoy the ranch’s private 1.5-mile stretch of the Conejos River, ripe with supreme-size rainbow trout. Aside from delicious meals, accommodations, and onsite activities galore, a weekly whitewater rafting trip is included in the cost of your stay.

dude ranches

3. White Stallion Ranch – Tucson, AZ

Best For: Evening Entertainment

White Stallion is one of the two largest dude ranches in the nation; yet it remains family-owned and family-focused. The True family actually has a trifecta of ranches under their Arizona chaps (White Stallion, Tombstone Monument and Ranch de la Osa). But it’s their home base and incredible Tucson property that is one of the best family dude ranches in the world! The horse program is stellar, with various riding options, educational opportunities, family-specific rides, a weekly ranch rodeo and more. The resort also does a great job with nightly entertainment, with options such as astronomy classes with telescopes, country and western line dancing and lessons, and water color lessons with the resident artist, Ute Vaughn. And if you like shopping, you’ll be glad to know this dude ranch has one of the largest onsite gift shops of any dude ranch in the nation.

dude ranches

4. Circle Z Ranch – Patagonia, AZ

Best For: Old West Experience

If your family wants an authentic Western experience, complete with Hollywood-esque desert moonscapes, rolling hills of cacti with Southwest accommodations, fabulous cuisine, and an even better atmosphere, Circle Z Ranch is for you. Open late-October through early-May each year, Circle Z is the oldest continually operating guest ranch in the state of Arizona.

Originally a sheep ranch, Circle Z was transformed into a dude ranch in the 1920s.  Numerous generations of families have connected here ever since. Movie buffs — study up on “Broken Lance” with Spencer Tracy, “Monte Walsh” with Lee Marvin, “El Dorado” with John Wayne, and the final episode of “Gunsmoke” — all were filmed on this property.

dude ranches

5. Bonanza Creek Country Guest Ranch – Martinsdale, MT

Best For: Riding in the Wide Open Country  

This dude ranch is not for the wee ones; the focus is riding and cattle work. Bonanza Creek has a maximum allowance of 12 guests at a time, but usually averages around eight people — making this one of the most intimate guest dude ranches in the nation. There are 40 guest horses on the ranch, who welcome families into their lifestyle and incredible landscape.

Guests are matched with their horses for the half-week to week-long stay. Each stay includes lodging, three meals a day, horseback riding, herding cattle, team penning, hiking, private lake fishing, wildlife watching, a breakfast ride and cookout, campfires, and wagon rides with a team of horses.

dude ranches

6. Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort – Solvang, CA

Best For: Wine Country and Activities

Easily accessible from Santa Barbara, California, Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort is a family-owned working dude ranch. The 10,500-acre ranch is consistently awarded as best luxury dude ranch for numerous reasons.

The upscale ranch offers 73 cottages, all with working, wood burning fireplaces, and all without phones or televisions. Horseback riders can access 50-plus miles of riding trails; a 100-acre, spring-fed lake; two 18-hole championship golf courses; tennis courts; a pool; and spa.

dude ranches

7. Western Pleasure Guest Ranch – Sandpoint, ID

Best For: Off-Season Vacations

Many dude ranches in colder climates close for the season come late autumn. And while Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in northern Idaho certainly welcomes visitors year-round, it’s their off-season that’s a standout. Families will be charmed by the four hand-hewn log cabins at the ranch, each one authentically decorated and super cozy. Or, guests can choose Grandma or Grandpa’s room on the main level of the lodge, or a suite on the second level.

The ranch is located on 1,100 acres in the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountain ranges. The spectacular and changing scenery of the seasons varies the activities — enjoy horseback rides in the fall (ages 8 and up), fat bike rides in the winter, and skiing and snowmobiling in the spring! What’s also unique is the cabins can be booked without meals — a rarity at dude ranches.

dude ranches

8. Paradise Guest Ranch – Buffalo, WY

Best for: Water Activities

Come summer, it’s the child in all of us who yearns to be by water. At Paradise Guest Ranch, families can participate in an extensive fly-fishing program – either on French Creek or one of the stocked, nearby trout ponds. There’s also an onsite swimming pool.

dude ranches

9. Bar W Guest Ranch – Whitefish, MT

Best For: On-Trend Vacations

The Bar W Guest Ranch, outside of Glacier National Park, recognizes the needs of millennial families. Their traditional summer offerings have exploded in recent years, with new activities and adventures for all ages. Trail rides, wagon rides and a cultural kids’ program keep families busy on the ranch. The resort is also popular for its glamping in canvas tents with wood floors and luxurious bedding. And the resort’s location in Whitefish means you’re close to cute shops and kid-friendly restaurants and breweries.

dude ranches

10. Medicine Bow Lodge Adventure Guest Ranch – Saratoga, WY

Best For: Best-Kept Riding Secret  

The Medicine Bow Lodge Adventure Guest Ranch is nestled into the Snowy Range, about 20 miles from Saratoga, Wyoming, and two hours from Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Operating since 1917, the resort was most recently purchased by new owners in 2002, who truly enhanced the horsemanship of the ranch and riding possibilities. The maximum guest count is 15.

Families will especially love the summer program, with all-day rides, breakfast rides, overnight pack trips, sunset trip rides, fish and ride scenic trips (one of the only ones in the nation!) and other options. Guests can also participate in horse grooming and feeding, or just watch or photograph.

dude ranches

11. Triangle C Dude Ranch, Dubois, WY

Best For: Getting a True Sense of Working Cattle

Featuring an 8,000-square-foot, rustic log remodeled to include a full-service spa, home theatre, library, pool and fine dining, Triangle C Dude Ranch provides a home-away-from-home while enjoying the ranch. But, forget the luxury and enjoy the ranch’s Pack Trips that provide a true sense of the working cattle in the Rockies. Following wranglers on trails on horseback, days end at campsites where you’ll gather around the fire for dinner. Back at the resort, kids may prefer the programs geared for ages 2 to 12, including nature-based crafts, sleeping in a tepee and learning the ropes in a junior wrangler program.

dude ranches

12. Three Bars Guest Ranch – British Columbia, Canada

Best For: Private Cabins and Communal Meals

Three Bars Guest Ranch, a family-owned and operated dude ranch, is located in British Columbia, just a stone’s throw from Montana and Banff National Park. Families will enjoy private cabins and daily meals in a communal setting, where guests enjoy week-long visits together and fast become friends before the trip comes to an end. Daily horseback rides for all levels are available, as well as guided and non-guided hikes, mountain biking, river rafting and more. Each night, guests gather for drinks and dinner with the staff and enjoy games and entertainment as the stars come out and bonfires glow.

dude ranches

13. Drowsy Water Ranch – Granby, CO

Best For: Young Children

Less than two hours outside of Denver, Drowsy Water Ranch has been in business since the 1920’s. About 100 head of horses, primarily quarter horses and paints, make their home at the Drowsy Water. Nine individual cabins snuggled beside the creek offer lodging for families.

The 700-acre Drowsy Water Ranch welcomes children of all ages, even infants. The children’s program is unstructured, but comprehensive. Children ages 5 and under in the Buckaroos program are led on smaller horses in a pen. For children ages 6 to 13 in the Range Riders program, rides are held twice a day. The kids are allowed to walk, lope and trot according to trail conditions and their comfort level on the horses.

dude ranches


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The ultimate family vacation has grown exponentially in terms of options and accommodations  — and dude ranch vacations are no exception; families love dude ranches!


Read the full article by Julie Bielenberg here

Why Moms Choose a Dude Ranch for a Great Family Vacation

Dude ranches make an incredibly memorable and enjoyable family vacation - for moms especially. With a sense of togetherness and shared experiences moms and the whole family are sure to love their time in the great outdoors, horseback riding and participating in a limitless number of outdoor adventures, such as hiking, fishing, white water rafting, cattle work, petting zoos, zip lining and more. Whether you’re an adventure loving mom (busy body) or a relaxation loving mom (spa and hanging out by the pool type), we’ve got you covered.  It is sure to be a blast for kids of all ages and we’re sure dads will have fun too, but here are the top reasons why moms love dude ranches for a family vacation. 

family vacation

Paradise Guest Ranch - Buffalo, WY

3 square meals are prepared daily (even for picky eaters)

Traveling moms understand the task of finding a restaurant everyone will enjoy while on the road. Who wants tacos for dinner? And you hear simultaneously, “I do!” and “No way!” and this process repeats itself until finally you order pizza and take it back to the hotel room. This just isn’t the case at a dude ranch. All the guess work is taken out of the equation and professional trained chefs make wonderful dinners for the whole family - even if someone has a special dietary need. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are all planned out for you. And the best part? Moms get to enjoy this with the whole family, not worrying one bit about clean up, grocery shopping, making sure there’s something on the menu the kids will eat. Once you let the kitchen know what you’ll need for the family, the entire week will be “all gravy,” if you will, at the dinner table. 

Chores are non-existent 

A ranch vacation goes far beyond booking a typical hotel or even staying at a vacation rental home. We all know what it would take to replace mom’s job while on vacation, an entire team of folks. And that’s just what we’ve got for you for your week stay. With a two to one guest to staff ratio moms won’t have to worry about cleaning up your cabin - a swat team of house keepers are deployed every morning, that will sweep through every room, tidying up every sock and pj’s from the day before. And what about the dishes? There won’t be any fighting over who’s turn it is. Mom certainly won’t have to do it and neither will the kids. And, not one time during the week will anyone have to vacuum dirt dragged in from the barn. If something breaks, no worries, maintenance crews are on staff with all the right tools. 

The activity planning is already done

Moms won’t have to worry about scouring the internet for things to do at your destination. Stop the hassle of worrying about TripAdvisor reviews of afternoon excursions for outdoor adventures. The ranch will have you and the whole family covered for fun things to do. The best thing about this? You won’t have to plan every step or every activity out for the week before hand. You and the family can decide in the morning what you want to do. There won’t be any need for additional transportation. Fly into the airport and someone from the ranch will be there to pick you up. There won’t be any need for a map or navigation - unless of course you go geocaching while you’re there. 

family vacation

Bar Lazy J Ranch - Parshall, CO

Everyone can be together or free to be with their own age group.  

Sometimes the adults want to have some time together, and kid’s counselors makes this easy and fun for everyone. With a full day of programing, your kids have the option to be with their peers all day playing games and learning about the Western cowboy lifestyle. And mom and dad can make some much needed memories as a couple. 

Cell phones are put away!  

Without cell service in most locations and limited WIFI, everyone in the family will be encouraged to leave their phones alone. When you think about it, if you are spending your days at the barn riding horses or fishing, your hands are full and won’t be able to carry around your cell phone. Minimal opportunities for electronics are definitely something any parent will love about dude ranches. 

Hello Fresh Air and Sunshine 

Moms will have an easy time getting kids outside. Dude ranches are known for their beautiful settings in the mountains. With every horseback ride or afternoon rodeo, kids and parents will get plenty of time in the great outdoors. The only thing to remember is your camera. Although the pictures won’t do justice of the real-life experiences, you’ll enjoy looking back on the pictures of your kids on green grass and mountain views. 

family vacation

Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch - McLeod, MT 

Crowds? What crowds? 

Dude ranches are full of wide-open spaces and an intimate number of people. Moms won’t have to worry about anyone getting lost in the crowd, or have to wait in long lines to do anything, really. With an average of 30 guests per week on most dude ranches, everybody will get to meet each other, the staff and other guests alike. By the end of the week everyone in the family is sure to have made a new friend.  Who knows? You might even book the exact same week next year to hang out with the same families.  

Moms will certainly be able to enjoy a much-needed vacation on a dude ranch. As a worry-free destination everyone will get to have fun and get to take a break from the normal day-to-day routines. Here are some great destinations to consider for your next visit. 


Family Vacation at a Dude Ranch 

7D Ranch Near Yellowstone National Park, Cody, Wyoming

Bar Lazy J Ranch Near Rocky Mountain National Park

Majestic Dude Ranch Mancos, Colorado

Tumbling River Ranch In the Rocky Mountains, Grant, Colorado 

Crossed Sabres Ranch Near Yellowstone National Park, Cody, WY

Elkhorn Ranch Near Yellowstone National Park, Gallatin Gateway, MT

Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch Near Yellowstone National Park, McLeod, MT

Paradise Guest Ranch In the Big Horn Mountains, Buffalo, WY


Looking for more options? Read about: 

Affordable Ranch Vacations for your Family  
A Family Dude Ranch Vacation - Fun for All Ages  
The Best Multi Generational Dude Ranches 


Save this Pin for Later! 

ude ranches make an incredibly memorable and enjoyable family vacation - for moms especially. With a sense of togetherness and shared experiences moms and the whole family are sure to love their time in the great outdoors. Read about all the reasons moms choose dude ranch vacations for a great family vacation.

Dude Ranch Vacations for Vegetarians and Dietary Restrictions

Venturing to a new place and experiencing the culture of its food is one of the great pleasures of traveling. But if you’re a vegan, vegetarian or have any dietary limitations, you know it can also be a challenge if you don't select the right location. At these Dude Ranchers’ Association member dude ranches the chefs delight in providing ranch cuisine for your whole family - regardless of any special dietary needs. With enough notice the ranches creatively and effectively cater for meatless diets, gluten free, dairy free and most food allergies. Foodies will even enjoy the culinary adventures on dude ranches where family style meals can be not only enjoyed by the whole family but also savored until the last bite. And what’s even more special than this? Some ranches are able to offer farm to table cuisine straight from ranch gardens. 

Here are some great dude ranch vacations for vegetarians and vegans.


Triangle C Dude Ranch for Vegetarians

Hors d'oeuvres at the Triangle C Ranch 

Black Mountain Ranch

McCoy, Colorado

Located just a few hours West of Denver, Colorado the Black Mountain Ranch is a family operated and a family oriented dude ranch. With a week long program you and your family will get to venture into the western lifestyle of horseback riding and outdoor adventures. And at meal times? The meals vary from gourmet dining in the lodge to cookouts in the wilderness (watch out for their killer Margaritas at Pack Camp). The chef will tempt you with hearty breakfasts featuring fresh home cooking and made from scratch baked goods. Dinner fare varies nightly, with several entree choices each night. Vegetarian, vegan or gluten free? Not a problem! And the Black Mountain Ranch always serves complimentary wine with dinner.


Circle Z Ranch

Patagonia, Arizona

At just an hour South of Tucson, Arizona the Circle Z Ranch offers a unique ranch vacation for guests of all ages and horseback riding abilities. You’ll get to ride on thousands of acres of the most scenic horseback riding trails in Arizona. One of the grand traditions at the Circle Z Ranch is the commitment to the highest standards for their food, and the ranch is positive you will be satisfied. In the ranch gardens, many of the vegetables served at mealtime are grown, and Circle Z honey bees are always busy making the sweetest honeys for the ranch use. Creative alternatives are available for those guests on strict gluten-free, vegetarian, lactose-free and vegan diets.  Open the end of October through the beginning of May.


Paradise Guest Ranch

Buffalo, Wyoming

Tucked away into the beautiful Big Horn Mountains - just 20 minutes from Buffalo, Wyoming the Paradise Guest Ranch offers luxury log cabins with personal fireplaces, outdoor decks and spacious livings rooms. And that’s just the accommodations! The ranch offers a long list of activities in their week long program including horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking, kids program and more. Can the kitchen accommodate special dietary requirements? Absolutely. Ranch staff will send you a questionnaire before you arrive at the ranch on which you can describe any special dietary needs that you might have. The ranch can accommodate vegetarian, vegan and most all food allergies for their hearty meals with a gourmet flair. 


Laramie River Ranch

Jelm, Colorado

In Colorado’s Rocky Mountains near the border of Wyoming and Colorado the Laramie River Ranch offers genuine western hospitality far from the tension of city life. And with their small size (capacity of 25) you’ll get the attention you deserve on your vacation. On top of all the expected dude ranch activities you can enjoy the summer rodeo season or bring out the cowboy or cowgirl in you on their annual cattle drive. These outdoor activities and fresh mountain air encourage healthy appetites. Whether it's on the trail or at the ranch, meals are an event! In keeping with informal, western tradition, meals are served family style with delicious entrees, fresh salads, ranch baked breads, fruits and vegetables, and desserts which keep you coming back for more. They are happy to accommodate special diets with advance notice and vegetarian alternatives are available at every meal.


Triangle C Ranch

Dubois, Wyoming

Nestled between Jackson Hole and Dubois, Wyoming the Triangle C Ranch prides themselves as a true Wyoming Ranch - where a handshake is their bond and the coffee pot is always on! The ranch offers adventure packed programs for families, adults and singles throughout the summer months. Folks up here spend all day working up mountain-sized appetites! Sooner or later it leads them back to the Wind River Dining Room, where the chefs serve up fresh & healthy ranch delicacies. They have been cooking homemade goodness for years – presented in true cowboy style. Let the staff know in advance if there are any special dietary needs and they'll do their very best to make sure you have a wonderful dining experience. 


Continue reading about Dude Ranch Food! 


Pin this for later - Dude Ranches for Vegetarians

If you’re a vegan, vegetarian or have any dietary limitations the chefs at these dude ranches delight in providing ranch cuisine for your family. With notice the ranches creatively and effectively cater for meatless diets, gluten free, dairy free and most food allergies. Foodies will even enjoy culinary adventures where family style meals can be enjoyed by all. And what’s even more special? Some dude ranches are able to offer farm to table cuisine straight from ranch gardens.

Fishing and Family Ranch Vacations

Fishing is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable ways to spend your time while practicing the Art of Relaxation. It helps to clear your mind, but it also provides you with something on which you can focus. And it only becomes more enjoyable when you take your kids along with you.

Family vacations offer one of the best opportunities to introduce your child to fishing, and several of the dude ranch locations offer the perfect place to do so. Although the types of fish living on or near these ranches vary from one location to the next, most ranches will harbor at least one species that is a great target for young anglers.   

But, understand that kids rarely enjoy sitting on a dock all day, staring at a bobber – they want to catch fish. So, it is important to be successful on this initial fishing trip to ensure that your child comes away smiling. Fortunately, Outdoor Empire put together a comprehensive plan for fishing with your kids, that’ll help you maximize your chances of having a successful afternoon on the water.

Why not start your kiddo out fishing at one of these amazing DRA Dude Ranches:


Paradise Ranch Wyoming

Celebrating 100 years of FUN in 2007. Tucked away in the scenic Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Luxury log cabins with fireplaces, outdoor decks & spacious living rooms.

Hubbard’s Six Quarter Circle Ranch Montana

A working cattle ranch with upscale accomodations and food featuring a very personalized riding program that includes daily cattle drives, scenic trail rides, and the chance to canter through our alpine meadows.

Lone Mountain Ranch Montana

Endless recreational possibilities at this historic ranch offering horseback riding , hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, fly fishing and Outdoor Youth Adventures just 18 miles from Yellowstone National Park. Comfortable log cabins with western furnishings.

Red Horse Mountain Ranch Idaho

Located on 300,000 acres, the ranch is 1.5 hour drive from the Spokane International Airport, near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Full service, all-inclusive vacation is available from June through October.

4UR Colorado

The top choice of five generations of returning guests, the 4UR Ranch is one of the most outstanding guest ranch experiences in the Rocky Mountain west. With a personalized horsemanship program to fit any riding ability, complete children's program, and superior amenities, this 3000 acre ranch offers a great experience for the whole family.

Three Bars Ranch British Columbia, Canada

Three Bars Guest Ranch The adventure ranch of the Canadian Rockies invites you to experience the ultimate horseback riding vacation. Located just south of Banff National Park, Three Bars Ranch offers the most diverse vacation activities available anywhere. Voted Canada's #1 Dude Ranch in 2012.



Family vacations offer one of the best opportunities to introduce your child to fishing, and several dude ranch locations offer the perfect place to do so.

Originally posted by Jon@outdoorempire.com






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


Corporate Meeting Trends for 2017

With winter in full swing, it’s now every event organizer’s "most wonderful time of the year" scheduling conferences!  If you are in charge of planning a conference or corporate meeting for your company, consider the 2017 trends shaping today’s corporate events. In regards to these trends, consider an accredited dude ranch to fit the bill. With capacities varying from ranch to ranch you might find one intimate enough for your board of directors or large enough to take the entire enterprise.

Strong WiFi Connection Even when you are planning an event in the mountains access to highly effective WiFi can be a selected option. Business travelers want to stay connected now more than ever, and many attend conferences with multiple wireless devices. A meeting space that can provide sufficient bandwidth and free, fast and reliable WiFi capabilities is one you don’t want to overlook.


Red Reflet Guest Ranch Offers WiFi in each Chalet 

Dining choices Food and beverages served throughout a meeting is instrumental to its success.  The diverse culinary offerings of a meeting space are very important. Now a days it starts with having a variety of meal options and continues with selections for those with dietary restrictions for meals and refreshment breaks.


Refreshing Breaks Yes, dining is important, but attendees also want to get moving.  Meeting trends are heading towards replacing traditional coffee/snack breaks with energy boosting sessions.  You might consider offering a 30 minuet yoga session or fly-fishing casting class within your day’s conference schedule. Planners and attendees want breaks that keep them energized for the day’s remaining sessions.


Team building activities Team building is a classic meeting trend and includes activities with unique ways to spark partnerships with colleagues. Choosing a location with a variety of scheduled team building exercises will enhance the satisfaction of attendees, especially if they have never done the activity before.


Entertaining Entertainment Make each event unique, so attendees will eagerly anticipate in the next one. Live entertainment not only helps you instigate conversation before your conference, but it can also help you retain attendance for future events. Recent trends in entertainment at conferences and corporate functions include added entertainment from the host and engaging themed activities with your group.


Increasing Demand According to the Dude Ranchers' Association annual survey of ranches reservations for ranch vacations are consistently on the rise. Though short-term bookings are still common, booking opportunities stretch into the next couple of years. For last minute events, choices can be very limited by availability, but you can contact the office for help finding a last minute location.  307.587.2339

Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save


Short on Cash and Time off From Work?

Dog days of summer got you down?  Had enough of summer’s whirlwind social scene?  Uh, oh. Broke the budget at fabulous July swimwear sales and shunned the office for showing off your fabulous finds?  Take heart!  Western dude ranches typically offer lower rates mid August through September as well as a shorter duration of stay.  There are hundreds of cool mountain retreats to choose from, courtesy of The Dude Rancher’s Association.  Since 1926, the organization has worked to maintain the authenticity of the Western ranch vacation.  Each DRA ranch has its’ own special activities and services, and each meets the quality standards enforced by the national association for the dude ranch industry.

Many ranches offer stays for adults only or exclusive getaways for girlfriends at this time of year.  So, let your horse be the guide through gentle meadows.  Dip your toes in an icy mountain stream. Indulge yourself with a relaxing massage.  Savor Rocky Mountain gourmet meals paired with fine wines and cordials. Take a yoga class or a raft down a river with a backdrop of dramatic fall color. Ahhhhh..This is the tonic for girls who had way too much fun this summer. The ranches below are some great dude ranch locations.

Cherokee Park Swimming Creek Smaller

Triple R Ranch

Keystone, South Dakota Phone: +1 888-777-2624

The Triple R Ranch is located within the 27,766 acre Norbeck Wildlife Preserve, 3 miles from the 10,700 acre Black Elk Wilderness Area, and in the middle of the Black Hills National Forest. We center the activities around lots of horseback riding into the scenic back country.

63 Ranch

Livingston, Montana Phone: +1 888-395-5151

"Montana's Magic" happens to you on your 63 Ranch Vacation. A mountain ranch located 50 miles north of Yellowstone National Park at the foot of the magnificent Absaroka Mountain Range. Unmatched scenic grandeur. Owned and operated by original founding family since 1929.

Cherokee Park Ranch

Livermore, Colorado Phone: +1 970-493-6522

The Cherokee Park Ranch is a family owned dude ranch nestled in the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains. We cater to families with kids of all ages, horse back riding, river rafting, rodeos, fishing, music, dancing, cow wrangling, swimming, ropes/challenge course, skeet shooting and mountain biking.

Crossed Sabres Ranch

Cody, Wyoming Phone: 307-587-3750

Open since 1898, Crossed Sabres Ranch is one the oldest dude ranches in the country, and located a short 8 miles from the East entrance to Yellowstone. We are a family run operation that specializes in creating custom vacations of a lifetime for you, your family or group.    

Paradise Guest Ranch

Buffalo, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-684-7876

Celebrating 100 years of FUN in 2007. Tucked away in the scenic Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Luxury log cabins with fireplaces, outdoor decks & spacious living rooms.



The Cowboy Way or So They Say

By Tatyanna Zaleski, Wrangler You found a job posting for a wrangler and you thought, “Sure, why not?” So you took a leap of faith and found the one thing that makes you love life just a little extra. You found the dream job; you just wish it wasn’t so seasonal.  You applied, got hired and now, you’re here. Your suitcase is unpacked and you’ve hung up what little reminders of home you’ve brought with. You’ve met the boss and tomorrow you’ll start the greatest adventure of a lifetime. This is what it was like my first summer at a Dude Ranch. I’m on my third summer and I don’t know if I can give it up just yet. Being a wrangler, working in such breathtaking places and with incredible animals, it’s an addiction.

Paradise Guest Ranch

They tell you it will be the worst best summer of your life. After those words, most people would turn around and run, because this job isn’t for most people. It’s for people who love horses more than any other mammal, who love to meet people, who love the outdoors, who love hard work, and who love to wake up early. This job is for people who want to learn about themselves, make friendship that will last a lifetime, and become staycationers in the most beautiful places on Earth. So if you checked yes too all the above, then you are ready to experience life on the ranch. Here is the reason why I think this is the best job ever, in addition to the above mentioned items:

1. I ride horses all day long

2. I get to listen to my own voice for equally as long

3. I get to wake up every morning to the views you see on postcards Can anyone else tell me a job where you get to do all that and eat gourmet food and pick your family? At the ranch, the food was great, alright, it was better than great. So, my thoughts were there goes my figure.  Why worry about your figure and just go for those homemade peanut butter chocolate bacon cookies. Where’s the fun in life if you can’t eat more sweets than actual meals? Plus, where else are you going to get such delicious food for free and served to you? As far as the picking your family part, it might be the best part of the whole summer. You all come here looking for something. A summer adventure, a reason to get away, a change in scenery, experience, but none of us come here knowing how close we all become. We all came from somewhere else. We all have gypsy souls. So we bond, we complain about work, we share our love for this place, we swap stories about our past, we get closer… we become a family. It was fun. It was amazing. It was the greatest summer of my life. It was the greatest time of my life. You pour your heart and soul into something, this place, this job, the horses, the RIDE. You love the horses like their your own and you praise them like they are your children. Sometimes people question if you love the horses more than people. You rarely deny it.

Paradise Guest Ranch

Each horse is so different, with different pasts and personalities, but they all do the same job and they do it with such grace and precision. They’re our silent partners. They’re the stars. They’re what everyone comes here to see. And yet, they ask they only ask for our unconditional love and admiration. And sometimes you find that horse, the ONE that makes every day better and every ride very special. You use up your photo storage on your phone taking photos of them, you spend every day off  hanging out with them, every moment of down time feeding them extra grain just to spend more time being their friend. You come for the horses, but you soon realize, it’s the people you meet who you stay for. The guests and your work companions make you think, they make you want, and mostly they help you realize how much you have to offer. I came out here to wait out a summer after graduation from college with no life plans and no clear direction. Then I met these amazing guests and colleagues with these successful lives and they gave me hope, they helped me out. They gave me their time, connections and insights then all of a sudden I’m less hopeless and lost, I’m suddenly full of plans after these three short months.  Plus I’ve made an unexpected friend and ally in this crazy world we live in.

Paradise Guest Ranch

There are so many moments that keep you going each and every day and not get bored or tired of working long hours, they are… a group day off on the back of a speed boat taking infinite pictures of everyone falling off the tube; making dinner for ten in the “dank kitchen” that should only fit three people max; it’s fishing and being able to share it with the friends you made; cooking it; it’s a 25 person family dinner at your favorite restaurant in town where everyone who works there knows your name;  it’s jumping off a 30 foot cliff into freezing cold water just to say you did it and waiting 20 minutes in the water while the rest of your friends teeter on the edge; it’s going back to these places after the summer is over and feeling all those same feelings over again and missing all those people even more. It’s an adventure to another state to see the “Daddy of them All” – the state of Wyoming.

So you came for the horses, you stay for the people, and miss the views. There is no place like this! {I almost said home, but that was taking it a little too far} How they find this isolated place with views rarely seen by humans is amazing. The first time you climb to the top of the mountain and the trail really opens up, your breath will leave your chest. There are mountains that are so tall they look like they touch the sky, they are hidden in the cloud and always covered in snow. These giant rocks cover the entire landscape and surround every part of this place. The skies are so blue and clear they make you wonder if it’s real. The air is so fresh and thin that it makes you wonder if it’s the beauty of it all or the altitude that makes it hard to breathe. And that is what makes every day so epic. A Wrangler’s job is hard, but at the end of every day you wash the dirt, or what we hope is dirt, off your hands, it feels like you live in paradise and no place can beat paradise. We end every day feeling like we taught someone something new, we learned more about ourselves, and we got do what we all love. Ride.


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