Dude Ranch Vacation is the way to enjoy Eco-tourism in the US West

The High Lonesome Ranch Colorado Dude Ranch Vacation

Having a vacation is great, but it is even better to enjoy a vacation that respects the environment with the help of healthy practices. What does this mean? It means to have a great time and get the most of what nature provides without ruining its balance. We need time to relax and unwind, but it is worth knowing that we can do this without triggering a negative impact on the environment. There are already enough environmental issues these days and it is worth doing anything we can to minimize the impact of these issues on our environment.

If you are looking for eco-friendly vacations, it is worth knowing that dude ranches selected by the Dude Ranchers’ Association have their entire structure based on eco-tourism. They are dedicated to offering outstanding vacations while preserving natural ecosystems and teaching people how to enjoy their time without negatively impacting nature. By simply visiting a dude ranch, you will learn how to have fun while being eco-friendly, what to do to increase your recycling rates, and what practices to adopt for keeping nature intact. These ranches have been around for a while, but ever since they appeared, they have worked in perfect communion with nature. Now that they are accepting guests, things haven’t changed much, as these ranches are determined to teach people about ecologic responsibility and enjoying spare time in a responsible manner.

 

So, would you like to give eco-tourism a chance? Most certainly you will return home not just relaxed and refreshed, but also feeling much better about yourself, knowing you did something responsible to preserve the environment. Here is a list with some of the best dude ranches that promote eco-tourism and help guests enjoy the beauty of natural landscapes without triggering negative impacts.

 

1. Diamond D Ranch, Idaho

Diamond-D-View-Valley Eco-tourism

Diamond-D-Chapel-wedding  Eco-tourism

Still a family owned and operated business, the Diamond D Ranch will make you feel like part of the family, instead of just being a guest. This ranch is famous for the fact that it produces its own electricity, with the help of a hydro-electric generator. So, this self-sufficient farm has what it takes to allow you to enjoy a relaxing vacation while adopting a responsible attitude. You can enjoy horseback riding, fishing, pleasant walks to observe the birds and flora, fishing trips, or simply lounging by their outdoor pool. At mealtime, you will enjoy food just like you do back home. Everything is made by the hosts out of fresh ingredients and cooked like the dinner is made for their family. The atmosphere is very warm and friendly and living off the grid for a while can do wonders when it comes to replenishing your reserves of positive energy.

2. High Lonesome Ranch, Colorado

High-Lonesome-Lake-eco-tourism

High-Lonesome-Garden  Eco-tourism

Back in the days, farms were capable of providing everything that was needed for a family to survive. The same happens at the High Lonesome Ranch in Colorado these days as well. Everything needed is still grown at the farm, so every dish made here contains only fresh ingredients that are grown on the premises. Following a farm-to-table philosophy, the food is slowly cooked, so that it preserves the flavor, savor, and nutritional value. But there are more reasons to visit this farm than the food it provides. This is the best dude ranch to visit if you want to vacation and learn more about environmental responsibility. While enjoying your stay at the ranch, you can acquire a lot of knowledge about the conservation of nature, sustainable development, restoration of streams, and many other valuable pieces of information. Staying at this ranch can literally change your life, once you find out what you can do to make the environment a cleaner and safer place.

3. Zapata Ranch, Colorado

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Zapata-Breakfast-Fire

The Zapata Ranch dedicates its entire activity to two main aspects. One is showing sufficient support to the ranching heritage specific to the West and the other is the conservation of natural landscapes and biodiversity in the area. If you really want to feel like being on a ranch while knowing that you’re doing something significant for the environment, you should visit the Zapata Ranch. Part of Nature Conservancy, this ranch deposits a consistent amount of effort into the preservation of ecosystems. A good example is the efforts deposited to transform a former golf course into what it once was, which means a pasture with native grass species, instead of a field of weeds. All the ecosystems and habitats from around the ranch are closely monitored and rehabilitation is done in a consistent manner. The goal is to give the area its pure beauty and maintain the local landscapes just as they were before mankind appeared in the area.

 

4. Flat Creek Ranch, Wyoming

Flat-Creek-Ranch-Trail- Eco-tourism

This particular ranch was founded back in 1921. Ever since then, the main purpose of the ranch was to preserve the local landscapes and biodiversity. It functioned in communion with nature and respecting it, still doing the same decades after. It is worth mentioning that the ranch acquired the Business Emerald Sustainability Tier for the achieved sustainability performance level. Only one more business in Jackson Hole managed to acquire the BEST distinction. In order to receive BEST, a business must follow rigorous criteria concerning environmental protection and sustainability at community and economic levels. Flat Creek is a ranch that operates entirely off the grid, so it is easy to see why sustainability is such an important aspect for them. If you want to enjoy the pure natural beauty and daily activities that are done with respect and awareness for nature’s health, this is the best place to be.

 

5. Laramie River Ranch, Colorado

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Laramie-River-Ranch-Family-Kids

Everything about this ranch is about creating a sustainable existence and limiting the impact on the surrounding environment. Electricity comes from green sources, such as wind and solar generated energy, the vehicles used are chosen to be the kind that produces low emissions, and as many materials as possible are recycled. Also, both food and agricultural leftovers are transformed into precious compost, which is later used to fertilize the ranch’s crops. The ranch also does its best to maintain clean air and water around the ranch, by choosing machines that create less pollution and adopting practices meant to maintain the quality of water at high levels. So, if you choose to stay at this ranch, you know that everything is made in a manner meant to reduce negative effects on the environment.

6. Goosewing Ranch, Wyoming

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Goosewing-Ranch-Riding-the-River - Eco-tourism

This ranch has a very healthy view of how things should be made to keep the guests and community happy while preserving the environment. The ranch’s team closely monitors the impact their settlement produces on the surrounding environment and devotes constant efforts to increase their level of sustainability. The truth is that only ranches that work hard on reducing their “footprint” on the environment are selected to be part of the Dude Ranchers’ Association. The Goosewing Ranch made it due to the fact that it is indeed environmentally sustainable. The ranch recycles used motor oil by utilizing it for heating purposes and harvests its own timber, by choosing ill or dead trees, leaving the healthy ones to reign the forest. Waste is reduced by using anything that can be re-purposed instead of just throwing it away. Also, every staff member receives proper training in order to embrace the best practices for environmental protection.

7. Rocking Z Ranch, Montana

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Rocking-Z-Ranch-Loping -  Eco-tourism

The Rocking Z Ranch is another eco-friendly dude ranch that is worth visiting. Waste management is very important here, by re-utilizing everything that is possible instead of simply throwing it away. Even the horseshoes receive a different purpose once they accomplished their purpose, becoming bridle racks for old barn wood, which are both transformed into beautiful photo frames. Besides this, the team at this ranch does everything it can to keep their daily activities clean for the environment. The irrigation pump runs on pure vegetable oil, the pump engine starts and gets cleaned with bio-diesel, and horses are fed with barley sprouted in a hydroponic system. If you want clean air and a clean environment during your vacation, this ranch has what it takes to provide all these and more.

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Did you know that you have the power to change things? The Dude Ranchers’ Association supports sustainability through the Dude Ranch Foundation, created to protect and maintain land conservation. You can also be part of this plan and get involved too through the available membership program. It is your chance to contribute to a greener and cleaner tomorrow by joining a very dedicated team.

The popularity of eco-tourism has increased in recent times, as people become increasingly sensitive to the existent environmental issues. We cannot sit around and do nothing while the environment degrades every passing year. This translates in people’s desire to enjoy a cleaner vacation, with less impact on nature. Dude ranches have always been in great connection with nature and protected it from the beginning of their activity. These days, these ranches deposit efforts in teaching their guests in leading happier and healthier lives, while offering unforgettable vacations. Time spent at one of these ranches will show you that it is possible to have fun and enjoy all the comfort you can get, without posing a threat to the environment. Yes, technology may be less present over here, but the regained connection with yourself and nature are much more valuable than an Internet connection. Try an eco-friendly vacation at a dude ranch and you will never regret it.

Eco-tourism on Dude Ranch Vacations

If you are looking for eco-friendly vacations, it is worth knowing that dude ranches selected by the Dude Ranchers’ Association have their entire structure based on eco-tourism. They are dedicated to offering outstanding vacations while preserving natural ecosystems and teaching people how to enjoy their time without negatively impacting nature. By simply visiting a dude ranch, you will learn how to have fun while being eco-friendly.

This article was written in conjunction with Olivier James at Luxurytravelersguide.com

Beginner to Advanced: Horseback Riding Lessons and Clinics Across North America

Horseback riding lessons and clinics are the quickest way to better your skills in riding, your safety and understanding of horses. The Dude Ranchers’ Association offers the best options for a vacation experience designed around your skills and abilities with horses. Are you a novice with very little experience? A seasoned horse person? There’s a dude or guest ranch with the most proficient of instructors ready to share their areas of expertise. Buck Brannaman, Pat Parelli and Chris Cox are a few of the styles of horsemanship taught at the ranches below. These teaching styles aren’t just big names, but with small class settings and personal attention, you’ll feel right at home and get the direct attention you deserve. A knowing eye can identify areas of improvement for every rider and most importantly, you’ll be spending time with the horse - the best instructor of them all. From Wyoming and Montana to British Columbia these are great locations to book a few day's or a week's worth of horseback riding lessons and or clinics. 

Horseback Riding Lessons and Clinics

 

McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch - Montana

Style of Horsemanship

McGinnis Meadows Ranch in Montana offers an immersive experience for those who are looking to study the Buck Brannaman style of horsemanship. Their head trainer Shayne has ridden in over 400 clinics with Buck over the last 20 years and is very knowledgeable, and most importantly a great teacher. Their entire program and staff consistently engages the thoughts and style of Buck, Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance. Each guest is challenged according to each situation and their own ability. From the beginner to the advanced rider, you will get exactly the instruction you would need in a small class environment. 

Setting

McGinnis Meadows does the majority of their horsemanship clinics in a heated indoor arena during the winter time, from the fall until the weather turns in the spring. The fun and learning do not stop there. The ranch also runs a cow/calf operation and you’re invited to practice horsemanship in every situation at the ranch. And every horse here is gentle, patient and well trained in very advanced horsemanship movements. You are welcome to ride one of the ranch’s horses or bring your own horse. 

horseback riding lessons and clinics

McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch - Libby, MT

Rocking Z Ranch - Montana

Style of Horsemanship 

The Rocking Z Ranch in Montana invites guests to experience Parelli Natural horsemanship put to a purpose. From the first introduction to horses to the highly experienced rider, each person will have the opportunity to expand their skills at the ranch. You can work cattle, ride long trails or play at liberty in a round pen. You can have your own private and/or semi-private horsemanship lesson with no extra charge. The Wirth family shares their very own special lifestyle and incredible herd of horses to meet every rider’s goals. 

Setting

By hosting small groups of guests, the ranch can cater to each family’s needs individually. Horse-crazy teens and the excited novice will have fun here. There are also fun activities to do in the evenings, such as playing pool or soaking in the hot tub. With spacious en-suite rooms with fireplaces and super comfortable beds, you and your family can have a blast at the Rocking Z anytime of the year. 

horseback riding lessons and clinics

Rocking Z Ranch - Wolf Creek, MT

Triangle C Ranch - Wyoming

Style of Horsemanship 

The Triangle C Ranch in Wyoming is home to Chris Cox, a well known horseman and clinician from Australia. With a practical and straightforward approach him and his staff invite guests to study a style of horsemanship with horses that gets proven results. You can learn from the group lessons and also receive personal instruction with Chris to gain an understanding of how the horse thinks and why. Communication is key and you will get to learn about the best tools to accomplish whatever you desire with horses. 

Setting

The Triangle C Ranch is only an hour from Jackson Hole and surrounded by some of the most spectacular mountain views in the world. You’ll stay in some beautifully designed cabins with western furnishings and all the accommodations needed for that perfect cowboy vacation. The ranch offers 3- and 6-day clinics and has horsemanship leadership youth camps - one for boys and one for girls. 

horseback riding lessons and clinics

Triangle C Ranch - Dubois, WY 

Laramie River Ranch - Colorado

Style of Horsemanship 

Laramie River Ranch says that having a relationship of trust with your horse is key to a safe and enjoyable experience. Using natural horsemanship methods, you can have the vacation of a lifetime. You will be able to see this in action at the ranch with weekly demonstrations on how young horses are trained to be accustomed to humans, grooming and saddling. These sessions are followed by opportunities for you to do some ground work with your horse. 

Setting

Jelm, Colorado is only a few miles from the Wyoming border and it is here that the Laramie River Ranch offers guests a glimpse of time standing still. Not much has changed over the last hundred years and your time at the ranch with your family will receive genuine western hospitality. You can fish, push cows between pastures, ride out into the open meadows or kick back on the porch with a glass of tea. 

horseback riding lessons and clinics

Laramie River Ranch - Jelm WY/CO

Campbell Hills Guest Ranch - British Columbia

Style of Horsemanship 

The Campbell Hills Guest Ranch has natural horsemanship packages suitable for the beginner and the advanced. The ranch owner, Bernadette, has a great passion and focus on building trust and harmony between the horse and rider. You’ll be in a group of 5 people at the most during your Horse Communication Course and work on energy use, rapport, connection and communication with the horse in an arena setting. When you ride here, you’ll leave the bit at the barn and get to know the ranch’s happy horses.

Setting

Located in the sunny interior of Canada in the heart of cattle country, mountains, forests and lakes the Campbell Hills Guest Ranch offers a relaxing experience. With rooms in the main lodge or your own intimate and rustic cabins you’ll be comfortable and given ample opportunity to relax. You'll even be able to look out into the forest from your cabin!

horseback riding lessons and clinics

Campbell Hills Guest Ranch - Kamloops, BC

 

The Red Rock Ranch - Wyoming

Style of Horsemanship

The Red Rock Ranch offers Martin Black clinics for all types of riders. From top horse trainers in English and Western disciplines everyone who attends will make progress for a better connection with horses. Martin will help build confidence in the horse and rider and take you to the next level. Please join the Red Rock Ranch in August for this annual exciting and educational horsemanship/cattle working clinic. 

Setting

For over 40 years the Red Rock Ranch has been owned and operated by the same family and you'll find a traditional Wyoming dude ranch vacation with the charm of the old west where your family can come for a change of pace. The ranch is located just outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming and only a short distance from Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. This ranch is known for an outstanding and engaging kids program and exceptional ranch cuisine. 

Red Rock Ranch Cattle Work Horsemanship

The Red Rock Ranch - Jackson Hole, Wyoming

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Horseback riding lessons and clinics are the quickest way to better your skills in riding, your safety and your understanding of horses. The Dude Ranchers’ Association offers the best options for a vacation experience designed around your skills and abilities with horses.

Lodging Near Glacier National Park at a Dude Ranch

You are about to embark on one of the most quintessential National Park trips that North America has to offer, Glacier National Park. With the itinerary planned for a sunrise trip on the road to the sun and the best places to stop in the park to stop and "smell the roses" you are ready for the experience of a lifetime. But, are you looking for something a little more than a stuffy hotel room on the first floor with kids running overhead and a continental breakfast that leaves something to be desired?  

At a dude ranch you can book your own peaceful cabin for the week and escape the crowds for an outdoor adventure on a ranch that pairs oh - so - nicely with a trip to Glacier National Park. Ranging from luxury resorts to intimate working cattle ranches pick out your very own local and immersive experience for your family at one of these well appointed dude ranches within a four hour drive of Glacier National Park.  

Here are the top dude ranches for lodging near Glacier National Park

 

Rocking Z Ranch

Wolf Creek, Montana ~ 4 Hours from Glacier National Park 

Enjoy great riding as a beginner or long time rider at Rocking Z Guest Ranch. You'll learn Parelli Natural Horsemanship, enjoy delicious ranch style meals and spacious home-style rooms. 

Find more dude ranches near National Parks 

Rocking Z Ranch Lodging Near Glacier National Park

Loping across the meadow at Rocking Z Ranch

 

Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge

Big Fork, Montana ~ 30 Minutes from Glacier National Park 

Located on the shores of Flathead Lake, Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge is a resort style ranch for the ultimate family vacation with unlimited horse and water recreation. 

Find more dude ranches near National Parks 

 

Averills Activities

There's a lot more than horseback riding at Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge

 

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

Sandpoint, Idaho ~ 4 Hours from Glacier National Park 

Experience the spirit of the west at the all inclusive adventure vacation at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch. The warm hospitality, country gourmet dining and the beauty of Idaho's wilderness will make your stay not just a vacation but a true western experience. 

Find more dude ranches near National Parks 

 

Western Pleasure Idaho Dude Ranch Lodging Near Glacier National Park

Interior of a cabin at the Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

 

JJJ Wilderness Ranch

Augusta, Montana ~ 1.5 Hours from Glacier National Park 

Located centrally between Yellowstone and Glacier National Park the JJJ Wilderness Ranch has outstanding horseback riding, fly fishing, and a fantastic kids program. Discover breathtaking experiences by day and relaxed western hospitality at night. 

Find more dude ranches near National Parks 

JJJ Wilderness Ranch - Lodging Near Glacier National Park

Kids love horseback riding at the JJJ Wilderness Ranch

 

Three Bars Guest Ranch

Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada ~ 2.5 hours from Glacier National Park 

As the adventure ranch of the Canadian Rockies Three Bars Guest Ranch is a working cattle ranch, but provides all comforts and full amenities of a true dude ranch. 

Find more dude ranches near National Parks 

 

Three Bars Rafting Lodging Near Glacier National Park

Rafting while at the Three Bars Guest Ranch

Deep Canyon Guest Ranch

Choteau, Montana ~ 2 Hours from Glacier National Park

Deep Canyon Guest Ranch is a family owned 1,200 acre ranch with over 55 years in the guest ranch business at the edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Pack a lunch in the saddlebags for a guided mountain top experience. 

Find more dude ranches near National Parks 

 

Deep Canyon Ranch Lodging Near Glacier National Park

Hiking to the overlook at the Deep Canyon Guest Ranch 

Hidden Hollow Hideaway

Townsend, Montana ~ 4 Hours from Glacier National Park 

As a small working cattle ranch nestled in the foothills of the Montana Big Belt Mountains Hidden Hollow Hideaway offers a tailored experience caring for cattle, viewing the local wildlife and witnessing the history of days long gone. 

Find more dude ranches near National Parks 

 

Hidden Hollow Hideaway Cattle Drive

Participate in cattle work at the Hidden Hollow Hideaway Ranch

 

Bar W Guest Ranch

Whitefish, Montana ~ 40 Minutes from Glacier National Park

Families, adults, singles and groups alike have thousands of acres to explore at the Bar W Guest Ranch. Friendly staff, scrumptious food, great riding and wonderful accommodations await you here.  

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Bar W Trail Ride Credit Danny Nestor Butts

Bring your friends - the more the merrier at Bar W Guest Ranch

Rich Ranch

Seeley Lake, Montana ~ 2 Hours from Glacier National Park 

The lodge and cabins of Rich Ranch are nestled in the trees overlooking a tranquil meadow with an awesome view of the Rocky Mountains. Three generations of the Rich family live and work on the ranch and welcome you into their home.

Find more dude ranches near National Parks 

 

Rich Ranch Pack Trip Mountains - Lodging Near Glacier National Park

Pack trips at Rich Ranch are extraordinary lodging near Glacier National Park 

 

 

Lodging Near Glacier National Park at a Dude Ranch

At a dude ranch you can book your own peaceful cabin for the week and escape the crowds for an outdoor adventure on a ranch that pairs oh - so - nicely with a trip to Glacier National Park. Ranging from luxury resorts to intimate working cattle ranches pick out your very own local and immersive experience for your family at one of these well appointed dude ranches within a four hour drive of Glacier National Park.

 

Read more stories about dude ranches near our national parks

 

 

Drive West to Montana

Variously known as "The Big Sky State" and "The Last Best Place," Montana is truly a state of vast open spaces, incredible wilderness, and stunning scenery. It seems the proper place for a dude ranch vacation; and Montana vacation ranches do take advantage of their spectacular surroundings, leading guests into national parks, through the Rocky Mountains, and across the prairie land of the northern Great Plains.

Glacier National Park lies in the northwest corner of the state, bordering the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. It draws millions of visitors annually, and with good reason. The park is home to wilderness and wildlife, over 700 miles of trails, and countless opportunities for all kinds of outdoor recreation, from horseback riding to boating.

Three of the five entrances to Yellowstone National Park are located in the state of Montana. A place long believed to be a figment of imagination or delirium, the geothermal features of Yellowstone do indeed seem fantastical. Yet it is also clearly a unique place, and it was not long after the first organized expeditions returned with reports of boiling mud, spouting geysers and mountainous lava flows that Yellowstone was designated a national park.

Some vacation Dude Ranches in Montana offer guests the opportunity to drive cattle from one part of the state to another, like a real cowboy. Others specialize in sharing the wonders of fly fishing on pristine rivers and mountain streams. Vacation ranches provide opportunities for hiking, rafting, and even hunting. Some shower guests in luxury, with spa packages and gourmet meals; others make you feel like a part of the family, with home style meals and marshmallow roasts around fire pits. Whatever your idea of the perfect Dude Ranch vacation, you will surely find it in Montana. 

Give us a call at the Dude Ranchers' Association for more information. 307.587.2339  

Montana Ranches

63 Ranch Drive to Montana 63 Ranch Livingston, Montana 63 is not simply a "Dude Ranch" but a real genuine "Working Dude Ranch." We provide a relaxing ranch atmosphere where you make the decision to help gather, work or salt ranch owned cattle. Or maybe you'd rather take a pass on "work" and just enjoy the beautiful scenery or take a gentle lope through the open meadows or sagebrush flats. 

 

 

Covered Wagon Pack Trip to MontanaCovered Wagon Ranch Gallatin Gateway, MT Four generations ago each guest arrived here at Covered Wagon Ranch by way of stagecoach and Model T. Today descendants of some of those families still come to our Montana dude ranch to experience the mythic beauty of the Old West, in a region that is very nearly the same as it was in 1925 when the guest ranch first opened. 

 

 

Rich Ranch in MontanaRich's Guest Ranch Seeley Lake, MT The Rich Ranch is located in Western Montana, adjacent to the spectacular Bob Marshall Wilderness and two hours from Glacier National Park.  Lodge and Cabins are nestled in the trees overlooking a tranquil meadow with an awesome view of the Rocky Mountains looking across the ranch meadows. 

 

 

Rocking Z Ranch MontanaRocking Z Ranch Wolf Creek, MT Horseback riding is the central activity at the Rocking Z.  We are proud of our horses and know them all well.  Through the use of Parelli Natural Horsemanship and personal experience, we have very talented and versatile horses for every level of rider.  

 

 

 

Sweet Grass Ranch Montana FrontierSweet Grass Ranch Big Timber, MT With about 20 guests a week, we are able to offer individual attention and a relaxed family atmosphere.  Our well-loved horses are primarily quarter horse or quarter horse cross, each with unique personalities, and all raised here or acquired from neighbors in the ranching community.  

 

 

 

G Bar M Ranch MontanaG Bar M Ranch Clyde Park, MT G Bar M is a Working Ranch, which means we are an operating horse and cattle ranch that encourages guests to share in our lifestyle. If you are interested in experiencing and participating it the operation of a working ranch, the G bar M is just the place to do it.  

  

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