Small, Intimate Dude Ranches Make a Special Vacation Destination

Quiet, relaxing and rejuvenating vacations are highly sought after, especially with the crazy, busy world that surrounds us. Vacations, in reality, can be a bit overwhelming though, the planning and amount of people at the vacation destinations can be a lot to handle! You shouldn’t have to “handle” anything when you go on vacation, that is why small, intimate dude ranches are the perfect destinations for a quiet, relaxing and rejuvenating vacation.

Small, intimate dude ranches offer an ideal setting for guests to truly relax and escape from the real world for a bit. The Dude Ranchers’ Association represents over 100 fantastic ranches and several of them have a small capacity and create a family-like environment that you will fall in love with. A handful of these small ranches let you disconnect to the level of not having cell phone service or internet, it may sound a little crazy but once you experience being totally disconnected, you will appreciate the vacation and ranch even more! Continue reading to learn about a few small, intimate DRA ranches that would make the ideal destination for your next vacation.

Small, Intimate Dude Ranches


Allen’s Diamond 4 Ranch – Lander, Wyoming

At the end of the road and at the base of the Wind River Mountain Range is where you will find the Allen’s Diamond 4 Ranch. The Allen family has been around the Lander area for six generations and they know the true meaning of Western hospitality. With only five guest cabins on the ranch, all built by hand by the Allen’s, you truly become part of the family and experience the intimacy the ranch offers. Allen’s Diamond 4 Ranch is the highest and most remote dude ranch in Wyoming, here you will be able to escape reality and get back to your roots with no cell phone or internet service. Beautiful horseback rides through the Wind River Mountains and incredible fly-fishing opportunities await you. If you are looking for a ranch that is “off the grid”, Allen’s Diamond 4 is the place for you!

small, intimate dude ranches

McGarry Ranches – Rexburg, Idaho

At McGarry Ranches in Idaho, you will find the real cowboys of the West! This working cattle ranch will offer you the experience of working alongside the cowboys in all of the day-to-day work and chores that take place on a working ranch. This ranch is located about 90 miles west of Jackson Hole, WY, far enough away from the hustle and bustle, but close enough to enjoy the famous tourist town either on your way to the ranch or after your stay. When you are at the ranch, you will feel like you are in a different world! With a capacity of only 10 people, this is the epidemy of a small, intimate dude ranch. The ranch crew is made up almost entirely of McGarry family members so you will definitely feel like part of the family here. Quaint cabins, delicious food, hard working horses and a lot of cattle await you at McGarry Ranches.

small, intimate dude ranches

Campbell Hills Guest Ranch – Kamloops, British Columbia

Take a trip to Canada and explore the beauty of the Campbell Hills Guest Ranch and British Columbia! This ranch is a great location for a quiet and relaxing getaway with well-trained horses, delicious food and wonderful hosts added in! Located among open meadows and timbered mountains are the ranch’s beautiful cabins that provide a wonderful sense of serenity when sitting on the porch. Horses and Natural Horsemanship practices are the center of this ranch but activities such as hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, archery and more are available. Campbell Hills can only accommodate 20 guests, so again you will feel like family here. The owners do their best to ensure that everyone makes themselves feel at home so they have no worries or stress while on vacation. This ranch provides an intimate atmosphere that everyone will enjoy.

small, intimate dude ranches

Badger Creek Ranch – Canon City, Colorado

Badger Creek Ranch in Colorado is a true working cattle ranch, working alongside the cowboys of this operation will give you a whole new outlook on the Western way of life. Even though this is a working ranch, they completely understand and take pride in remembering that you are on vacation! You can choose to ride with the cowboys every day checking fence, moving cattle or doctoring and sorting cattle or you can decide to take a day off from the saddle and experience the incredible nearby fly fishing opportunities, go mountain biking or just relax with a good book and the sounds of Colorado’s Badger Creek Basin. Throughout your day you will enjoy home cooked meals and fantastic company. This ranch can only host eight guests at a time, so whether you are on vacation with a group of friends and family or if you decide to go by yourself, you will leave with lasting memories and friendships!

small, intimate dude ranches

Medicine Bow Lodge and Adventure Guest Ranch – Saratoga, Wyoming

In 1917 Medicine Bow Lodge opened as a guest ranch and ever since it has been providing memorable vacations for all its’ guests! The history runs deep in this ranch and the owners, Tim and Debbie Bishop, do a fantastic job of keeping this history alive. With the ability to host just 15 guests, the ranch is the definition of small and intimate. The horseback riding, hospitality and accommodations are family oriented, and this ranch ensures an environment that will help you disconnect from the world and reconnect with the people and amazing things that surround you. The scenery is incredible, wildlife is abundant and activities such as horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking and more are offered for guests. Medicine Bow Lodge and Adventure Guest Ranch will leave you feeling refreshed and with memories that will last a lifetime!

small, intimate dude ranches

Rawah Guest Ranch – Glendevey, Colorado

Rawah Ranch was started in 1948 to provide their guests with an original Western experience that was tailored to fulfill their guests dreams of coming West. Over 70 years later, they are still fulfilling those dreams for their guests! Rawah is an ideal vacation destination for families, couples or even solo travelers to disconnect from their busy everyday lives and reconnect with their roots and the world around them. Beautiful and well-trained horses, award-winning fly-fishing and top-notch food are just a few of the incredible things you will experience at this ranch. They can host up to 30 guests and they always do their best to meet their guests’ needs and make a personal connection. If you are looking for an incredible intimate ranch in the breathtaking Rocky Mountains, don’t overlook Rawah Ranch!

small, intimate dude ranches

For more information on small, intimate dude ranches or to learn about other types of ranches, visit or contact a ranch vacation expert at the Dude Ranchers’ Association.


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Quiet, relaxing vacations are highly sought after that is why small, intimate dude ranches are the perfect destination for a rejuvenating vacation!

6 Things to Know Before Booking a Dude Ranch Stay

A common misconception when it comes to a dude ranch vacation is that it is a working vacation, as in you are paying to work as a ranch hand. Not so, my friends. In fact, a dude ranch vacation is one of the most relaxing vacations you can take. Take it from me and my family -- who now have experienced three dude ranch vacations -- and look forward to our next!  Your dude ranch stay will move at a pace that best suits the guest, and in this fast-paced world, it is  a gift to be able to take advantage of such a schedule.


You won’t be roughing it….unless you really want to.



Take a look at one of the cabin’s at Rawah Guest Ranch Photo Credit: Allison Taylor


With three dude ranch vacations under our belts, I can safely say that my family’s experiences were the farthest thing from being rustic.

One of the dude ranches my family stayed at was C Lazy U Ranch. The cabins featured heated tile floors in the bathrooms, luxuriously high thread count sheets, and a plush living area begging for a book to be read on it’s oversized couch.

Often, ranches will offer the option of going on an overnight camping trip should you want to get up close and personal with nature. Even those aren’t terribly strenuous because a guide from the ranch helps with the entire camping experience, taking away the roughing it aspect.


The food is often the best you’ve ever had.

 The Food at Rawah Ranch

One of our favorite meals at Rawah Guest Ranch! Photo Credit: Allison Taylor 


My husband and I loved the food so much at Rawah Guest Ranch, that we have attempted to recreate some of the recipes at home. Our favorite meal was chicken fried chicken with jalapeno gravy and mashed potatoes. What’s better? The food at Rawah Ranch was so good that my kids were willing to try dishes that took them outside of their comfort zones, like lamb chops!

The food may just very well be the highlight of the three dude ranch vacations we experienced. The portions were large and hearty, a good thing because often days on a dude ranch are packed with physical activities.


Horse lover? Good news, you will love the dude ranch life!


Yes, a large component of most dude ranches involve horses, but you don’t have to be a horse lover in order to have the time of your life. A dude ranch offers a wide variety of activities that if you don’t ever want to come into contact with a horse, it is possible to steer clear!

For me, the horse component of the vacation was my favorite part. I grew up riding horses, so I am very comfortable on the back of a horse. But even for those less experienced, guests at dude ranches are matched by skill level.

When we visited Rawah Guest Ranch with our children, the staff went above and beyond helping them learn the correct techniques for riding. My oldest participated on a trail ride right away, but my youngest spent time in the arena under the watchful eye of an instructor before allowing him to join a family trail ride. Once he graduated to that level, he was so proud of all that he accomplished. 


A dude ranch vacation will broaden your horizons

 Fly Fishing on a Dude Ranch

Who Knew I would like fly fishing so much?! Photo Credit: Allison Taylor


Often, when my family takes a trip, we go to our old standby spots. This wasn’t the case for us when we chose to go to a dude ranch. We tried activities that we hadn’t ever thought of trying before. In fact, I found that I really enjoyed (and was quite good at) using a compound bow for target shooting. My boys discovered they liked fly fishing better than the typical bank fishing that they are used to, the only problem is that they have been using their fly fishing skills on our family farm!

Some ranches are so remote that you will be able to totally disconnect.


Look, I know, for some, the mere thought of not having cell service or cable results in a panic attack. Unfortunately -- and fortunately -- some dude ranches are so remote that they do not have these luxuries. In fact the dude ranch we frequented the most does not have cell service, wifi, or cable and I highly recommend giving that experience a try!

Rawah Ranch offered my family the gift of “checking out.” My husband and I played board games with the kids and I read two books while we were there. And no one missed the TV for one moment! However, if you just can’t disconnect all the way, plenty of dude ranches are close enough to civilization that your email inbox won’t get out of control.


It is sure to be a trip that your family will talk about forever.


At least once a week, one of my children tells me that they want to hop on a plane and head back to the ranch that sold us on the wonders of a dude ranch vacation. We talk about our time on the ranch often with friends and family, I am sure by now that they wish we would stop talking about it already!

If a dude ranch vacation has been on your list of potential vacations to try, it is time to move it from something you have been considering to booking the trip!

Author: Allison Taylor,


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