13 Best 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. These are the best of the best.

13 Best 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Horseback Riding Vacations

The Dude Ranchers’ Association recommends the best horseback riding vacations in North America. At one of these carefully selected dude and guest ranches groups will experience equestrian activities and all sorts of outdoor adventures on a short stay of three or four nights, or a full week immersed in a Western trail riding destination. Guests have everything provided for them on all-inclusive stays including lodging, dining and activities. With lodges and cabins preserved and restored from when they were built many decades ago, guests experience riding horses in a uniquely Western environment. It’s no wonder dude ranch vacations have been popular since the early 1900’s! 

At these ranches guests have a horse personally selected for each person’s riding ability and personality. Because horseback riding is a daily or twice daily activity there is an opportunity to get to know the horse on hundreds, if not thousands of acres of trails in the mountains and plains of the slimly populated West. And after guests climb out of the saddle there’s always plenty of options like relaxing by the pool, fly fishing on private lakes and streams, hiking to scenic vistas or rocking their cares away on the porch in a classic rocking chair. 

Here are some of the best riding ranches for your next vacation. 

 

Crossed Sabres Ranch, Cody, Wyoming

All Day Rides on 2.2 Million Acres

For guests looking to cover some ground, the charming Crossed Sabres Ranch is one of the oldest dude ranches in the country located outside of Cody, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. This is a family run operation that specializes in custom horseback riding for individuals or groups of up to 30 people. Knowledgeable wranglers take guests out on well trained and trustworthy horses whether they have no experience or years of experience on horses. Each horse is paired specifically for each guest to match not only personality, but also riding ability. The ranch offers lessons for those looking to get individual instruction on riding in a comfortable arena environment. There are short morning and afternoon rides or all-day rides into the Shoshone National Forest’s 2.2 million acres for guests to enjoy truly spectacular scenery. 

Horseback Riding

 

Medicine Bow Lodge, Saratoga, Wyoming

Overnight pack trip in the Medicine Bow National Forest

High up in the Snowy Range of the Rocky Mountains the Medicine Bow Lodge Adventure Guest Ranch offers just what their name implies - adventure. With a very diverse riding program each guest can determine what kind of adventure they would like to have. First time riders will become more and more confident on each ride at their own pace with a personal wrangler. With this instruction and getting to know their trusty steed, the horses will earn the trust of newbie riders throughout the week. Guests who have experience can ride out on fast rides, loping and trotting their way through the mountains of Wyoming. The ranch offers all day rides and even an overnight pack trip in the hills. Kids of all ages have something to do at the ranch as well. Kids 5 and under will be led around the ranch and taught about horse care and ages 6 and up can head out on the trail. Here families can literally ride off into the sunset on the appropriately named Sunset Ride

Horseback Riding

 

Focus Ranch, Slater, Wyoming

Move 1,300 head of yearling cattle 

On the border of Wyoming and Colorado the Focus Ranch is a working cattle ranch, inviting guests to embrace the authenticity of ranch life on their vacation. At this ranch, “cowboy” is both a noun and a verb. Riding here entails managing the health and grazing patterns of the heart and soul of the ranch - cattle. The ranch can adjust the length and speed of rides to accommodate a wide variety of riders, and the work that needs to be done varies throughout the summer. One of their most exciting endeavors for guests is to move the entire herd of 1,300 yearling cattle from one pasture to the next within three days! This happens several times throughout the season. Sometimes, guests enjoy it so much they might hire on to work at the Focus Ranch! 

Horseback Riding

 

Badger Creek Ranch, Canon City, Colorado

Natural Horsemanship is a photographer’s dream

Badger Creek Ranch is located in an area rich in natural beauty and history. This area has been well traversed by the Ute Indians, Spanish Conquistadors, pioneers, miners and cowboys of the old West, but is now occupied by a relatively small number of people. Photographers enjoy secluded trails in the mountains and meadows of Colorado. As a working cattle ranch the guests are also offered a chance to ride out with the cowboy crew to check fence, doctor and sort cattle. Before heading out, guests start their relationship with their horse with ground work following the feel of natural horsemanship and continue in the saddle in a location that can only be described as a photographer’s dream. 

Horseback Riding

 

Nine Quarter Circle Ranch, Gallatin Gateway, Montana

Ranch bred, raised and trained Appaloosas

The Nine Quarter Circle Ranch is not only a premier family destination with luxury log cabins, activities for all ages and very delicious meals, but also an unforgettable horseback riding destination. The ranch boasts a herd of 120 Appaloosa horses that were born and will live their whole lives on the ranch. This is an uncommon feature of a dude ranch to know all the history of every one of their horses. Their select breeding program is a reflection of the Appaloosa breed, chosen for their stamina, sweet temperament and suitability to mountain riding. Every spring a new crop of foals are born on the ranch, and guests enjoy watching the brand-new foals jump and play around the ranch. These horses will eventually be trained and added to their remuda of trail riding horses. 

Horseback Riding

 

Want to know more about a particular type of dude ranch? Take a look at the Dude Ranchers’ Association’s Working Cattle Ranches, Luxury Resort Ranches and Family Style Ranches here

 

Save this pin for later!

The Dude Ranchers’ Association recommends the best horseback riding vacations in North America. At one of these carefully selected dude and guest ranches groups will experience equestrian activities and all sorts of outdoor adventures on a short stay of three or four nights, or a full week immersed in a Western trail riding destination. Guests have everything provided for them on all-inclusive stays including lodging, dining and activities.

The Dude Ranchers’ Association’s Best Outdoor Meals

From Arbuckle and bear sign (cattle-range lingo for coffee and doughnuts) over an open flame to pizza ovens and prickly pear margaritas on patios under the stars, these are the top dude ranches with the best outdoor meals and dining experiences for late summer and early autumn. Nature’s bounty is at its finest this time of year. Breakfast rides with fresh confections, four-course lunch atop a mesa and evening cuisine fireside, the DRA has some of the most intimate and exquisite land in the West with access to local food and secret dishes. Fork’s up! 

Home Ranch, Clark, Colorado

Gardens and Greenhouses Galore

Nestled in the Elk River Valley is Home Ranch, definitively one of the most idyllic settings for an outdoor brick oven rolling out over a dozen varieties of stone-fired pizzas. The Home Ranch, a Relais & Chateaux property, 30 minutes from Steamboat Springs, focuses on cuisine year-round; however, their weekly offering in summer and fall of crispy pizzas loaded from the ranch’s gardens and greenhouse is as fresh and farm to fork as one can get. The sound of horses dining on their hay in the background and views of Home Ranch’s stunning barn and cabins are worthy of a Travel + Leisure cover.

The afterclaps (unexpected event after the event is supposed to be over) are the wranglers driving the herd out for the day as you finish your cocktail and dessert. The ranch’s massive greenhouse is also open for tours throughout the evening with resident gardeners and the head Master Gardener.

best outdoor meals

Endulge in flatbread pizza cooked in a brick oven with homegrown ingredients at The Home Ranch in Colorado.

Latigo Ranch, Kremmling, Colorado

Breakfast Bliss

This ranch takes food as serious as their scenery. Surrounded by 50,000 acres of the Medicine Bow—Routt National Forest, the George family has the lay of the land to devise splendid surprises come mealtime. It’s a family business for the George’s with the owner’s son and wife running the kitchen. A crowd pleaser begins when guests are escorted to the main lodge in Latigo’s covered wagon to sally forth into a picturesque aspen glade where the kitchen crew has grilled steaks, fish, and veggies to go along with a full buffet of classic dude ranch side dishes—corn on the cob, baked beans (acclaimed by some guests to be the best in the world), sweet potato biscuits, and more. Dessert, as always, is greatly anticipated. There’s a choice between rhubarb pie and peanut butter pie, consumed while eagerly awaiting the announcement of prizes from the team penning earlier that afternoon.

There’s still the weekend! On Saturday breakfast is served at a point overlooking an impossibly expansive view of the mountains. When guests arrive via horseback, they’ll find pancakes grilled by the ranch’s owner, Randy, along with eggs, bacon, sausage, all freshly cooked and served by Hannah George along with fruit, juices, coffee, tea, and homemade banana bread. Perched on the rocks with a 360˚ view of absolute wild beauty, it’s the perfect end to a spectacular week and one of the best breakfast rides in the West. 

best outdoor meals

Ribeye steak, one of many delicious meals to enjoy at Latigo Ranch in Colorado.

White Stallion Ranch, Tucson, Arizona

Patio Utopia with Prickly Pear Margs  

With the baking hot summer that has swept through the country in 2018, autumn will bring much relief and the opportune time to try Russell True’s latest baby, White Stallion Ranch’s outdoor pizza oven and Tandoor—a cylindrical clay oven where heat is made by charcoal or wood to create radiant cooking methods.  

Dinner is served alfresco throughout the week featuring foods such as classic BBQ, brisket, pork tenderloin, steak, ribs, chuck roast and locally-sourced vegetables. 

Steamship leg of pork, corn on the grill, produce skewers, wild rice, this is just a sampling of the gorgeously presented ranch food underneath the Tucson stars.

Guests enjoy some of the best dude ranch evening entertainment in the world while finishing their wine, local craft brew or one of the ranch’s legendary margaritas, the prickly pear. Crème Brule, blueberry pie, and pineapple upside down cake have become the ranch’s legacy desserts. Each outside evening, there is a local cowboy strumming the guitar. To keep things going past dusk, lights are strung throughout the outdoor eating area and entertainment space with lighted cactus as an extra quirk. 

best outdoor meals

A warm and welcoming outdoor dining area at the White Stallion Ranch in Arizona. 

Covered Wagon Ranch, Gateway, Montana

Chef’s Special

Located a stone’s throw from Yellowstone National Park, Covered Wagon Ranch takes advantage of its location and access to quieter parts of the Park. The ranch encourages guests to take a lunch ride almost daily! Sure, lunch is always available in the main lodge, but riders know best—take the chef’s special and giddy up. With nearly a dozen trails the ranch rides weaving in and out of Yellowstone, there’s a really good chance you can wind up having the chef’s special, with a moose (it happened to us!). Each night the chef surveys his crowd and crafts a special sandwich that is available for pick-up before the daily ride. Guests always have the choice of nearly 20 items, but there’s a reason for the chef’s special.

After a gently ascending two-hour ride into the Yellowstone, our family found a quiet meadow to let the horses rest and for us to enjoy the special sandwich. Not five minutes after dismount did a giant bull moose stand up from his resting spot in the meadow and curiously circle around the meadow to get a good view of us as we kept a safe distance. Our kids knew what was up, the moose wanted the chef’s special! Three generations eating the best sandwiches while enjoying secret spots in Yellowstone with a moose overseeing the feast. Apparently, your chance of spotting a moose drastically increases if you order up the special. 

best outdoor meals

Trail rides lead to beautiful destinations at the Covered Wagon Ranch in Montana. 

Sidebar: Snacking, Sweets and Soaking

Tombstone Monument Ranch in its historic namesake town of Arizona offers a slow ride labeled  “Beer and Cheetos” for obvious reasons. This is the ultimate afternoon snack. Take a flat, scenic ride to the ranch’s Beer and Cheetos site where there is shade and bathrooms. Enjoy a cold, refreshing beer delightfully accompanied by some empty calorie, salty and delicious snack foods. Followed by a slow, scenic ride back to the ranch in time for social hour. Note, this is an adult-only ride.

Wait, what about tequila connoisseurs? No problem, the “Tequila and Cheese” ride takes guests along the same route, but instead offers up a little more sophistication with a unique selection of wines and assorted cheeses, crackers and bread. Again, this is an adult-only ride. 

best outdoor meals

A great selection of food is always avaliable at Tombstone Monument Ranch in Arizona. 

Friday is the outdoor meal extravaganza with Long Hollow Ranch in central Oregon. Early autumn offers the essential time for a morning ride to be followed by a picnic lunch along the way. It gets a little more enticing; the ranch then puts on a fun demonstration with cattle before dinner. After-dinner dessert is then served at the hot tub or fire pit, depending on weather conditions. Desserts and cocktails vary, but the scenery is always guaranteed. best outdoor meals

Snow capped mountains make for some gorgeous scenery at Long Hollow Ranch in Oregon.

If you want to keep with the hot springs theme, Bar Lazy J in Grand County, Colorado offers a half-day hot springs ride on Fridays. Guests eat lunch at one of the ranch’s favorite scenic spots—the top of Byers Canyon—before working the group into the town of Hot Sulphur Springs. There, a trailer and your previously packed bag will be waiting along with a free pass into the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort to soak in the 22 naturally heated pools. Once frequented by the Ute Indians, the skin-benefiting minerals present in the water are intense and awesome. The ranch takes the horses home while guests soak and send a van for pick up later.

best outdoor meals

Ride through some beautiful scenery to the hotsprings at Bar Lazy J Ranch in Colorado. 

 

Read more about dude ranches with fabulous food here!

 

 

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From Arbuckle and bear sign over an open flame to pizza ovens and prickly pear margaritas on patios under the stars, these are the top dude ranches with the best outdoor meals and dining experiences for late summer and early autumn. Nature’s bounty is at its finest this time of year. Breakfast rides with fresh confections, four-course lunch atop a mesa and evening cuisine fireside, the DRA has some of the most intimate and exquisite land in the West with access to local food and secret dishes.

The Wildest Trail Rides of 2018

The National Dude Ranch Association (DRA) has over 10,000 trail rides throughout the Western United States and Canada. Travel across National Forest, BLM, private acreage and hundreds of miles of waterways that traverse high and low altitude, valley and mountain, desert and coast, with the wranglers of the DRA. However, of all these options, which is truly the wildest in 2018?

Border Ride—THE WILDEST TRAIL RIDE

Rancho de la Osa, Sasbe, Arizona

It’s both scenery and the current political state of the country that makes this trail ride at the remarkable ranch, quite possibly, the wildest ride in the West! Rancho de la Osa houses Arizona’s oldest continually used building, constructed in an Indian village around 1720 by Jesuit missionaries.

In 1812, the ranch was part of the Ortiz Brothers Spanish land grant and with Mexican independence from Spain, the ranch became part of Mexico. In 1916, Pancho Villa raided and attempted to take Rancho de la Osa and a cannon ball from the attack was found embedded in the adobe wall of the Hacienda, which is on display today.

Once you’ve taken in the enormous breadth of Rancho de la Osa’s history, saddle up and choose the Ranch’s U.S.—Mexico Border ride. Yes, you read that correctly, guests of all riding abilities can see and even touch The Wall.

Start on horseback through wooded mesquite trails and low sandy washes. Next, the wranglers will take you past the Ranch’s cemetery, dating from the early 1800s. From here, the horses leave the ranch, cross into La Mirador Ranch and continue to the border with Mexico, about a 20-minute ride. You travel directly to the fence separating the countries. There, wranglers can describe the scenery that unfolds. They can explain the reason for the black jugs piled feet high in some places, the blankets, clothes and more.

After all questions are answered, and there are many, wranglers will continue on with the ride reemerging at the ranch. For those who are curious, the wall ends abruptly in the desert. Draw your own conclusions, but history and reality is present, evident and relevant!

Click here to see other Arizona Dude Ranches

trail rides

 

The Other Border Ride

Bar W Guest Ranch, Whitefish, Montana

For the second wildest ride, the DRA is going to take you to our northern border with Canada. At Bar W Ranch, there is a full-day horseback trail ride that will take guests to an extremely wild site. Throughout the day the terrain changes, and riders can walk, trot, or lope through open meadows and lush forests before exploring Lake Koocanusa. Riders think they’ve entered a postcard with a majestic mountain backdrop and long sandy beaches as far as the eye can see. Lake Koocanusa signifies the cooperation between two friendly neighbors, “Koocanusa” is an abbreviation of KOOtenai River and the first three letters of CANada and USA.

The “wildest” part of this ride is traveling along the three-wire fence separating the two neighbors, USA and Canada. The fence can be seen for miles stretching in a straight line across rolling hills before disappearing into the distance. A small stone obelisk distinguishes the border and makes for a prime photo opportunity for guests who dare to put a leg on each side and claim being in two countries at once. 

Click here to see other Montana Dude Ranches

trail rides

 

Get Lost in the Lower 48’s Largest Protected Wilderness

Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch, Winston, New Mexico

The Gila National Forest expands over 3.3 million acres, is the largest federally protected landmass in the lower 48, and is also the first wilderness area designated in the United States.  

The terrain is wild, and the history won’t disappoint either. In one canyon alone, Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch takes riders through 1,000 years of history from Mimbres to Apaches to Basque and tin miners. Aptly named Dwelling Canyon, this location has been a geologically unique stopping place for years marked with pictographs, cliff dwellings, Basque structures, and mining equipment. Sitting in a cave that demonstrates humanity for thousands of years, now that’s wild. 

The ranch will also take you on trail rides through Taylor Creek Canyon, Beaver Canyon, Whitewater Canyon, Hoyt Canyon, just some of the spectacular canyons that are truly awe-inspiring and jaw dropping. Gaze up at canyon walls as you ride through creeks fed by warm spring waters.

Click here to see other New Mexico Dude Ranches

trail rides

 

Private Elk Pastures

Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge, Flathead Lake, Montana

Horseback ride through a 500-acre Montana elk preserve. Guests are led into the ranch’s private elk preserve where they will be able to view mature bull and cow elk in their natural habitat. Depending on time of year riders view the Lodge’s heard in full velvet or mature growth. In the fall guests can watch from a distance as the bull elk spar with each other testing their strength for the rut. 

Click here to see other Montana Dude Ranches

trail rides

 

Moose in Moose, WY

Gros Ventre River Ranch, Moose, Wyoming

Grab a cup of cowboy coffee and a glance at one of America’s largest mammals along this wild breakfast ride. Gros Ventre River Ranch in Moose, WY, has riders leave by 7 am from the barn to get the best in at dawn when wildlife are active before bedding down for the day. Exciting sightings include moose, elk and eagles. The Jackson Hole area is notorious for iconic wildlife and this particular ride allows guests to see the ranch’s valley during a serene time when most are still sleeping.

The final destination is a picnic spot by the Gros Ventre River. There, breakfast is prepared in cast iron pots over the fire. The menu includes biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, fruit tea, juice, hot chocolate, and, of course, more cowboy coffee. 

Click here to see other Wyoming Dude Ranches

trail rides

 

Wild Horses

Lazy L&B Ranch, Dubois, Wyoming

There are few spots left in America where you can view wild horses. Luckily, the horses on staff at Lazy L & B Ranch know where to find them. The ranch offers a three-hour round trip ride where wranglers will bring you atop a mesa behind the ranch. The view is spectacular, and more often than not, guests will have the opportunity to see at least one of the herds of wild horses that inhabit the area. It’s remarkable to be on horse and take in the noises and sights of their wild cousins.

trail rides

 

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The National Dude Ranch Association (DRA) has over 10,000 trail rides throughout the Western United States and Canada. Travel across National Forest, BLM, private acreage and hundreds of miles of waterways that traverse high and low altitude, valley and mountain, desert and coast, with the wranglers of the DRA. However, of all these options, which is truly the wildest in 2018?

 

Five Reasons to Take Your Family on a Dude Ranch Vacation

Everything They Want, Everything You Need! Horseback riding and high-end luxury. Cookouts and craft wine. Zip-lining and line dancing. Rodeos and rafting. On a dude ranch vacation, you can have it all… and more. Indulge in the finest cuisine, pamper your senses, or satisfy your sense of adventure. Whatever you’re seeking, you’ll find it here on a dude ranch vacation.

1. Focus on the Family Your teenager’s a thrill seeker. Your little one wants to explore. And you’re caught between craving some peace and quiet, and some quality family bonding time. Dude ranches pride themselves on their ability to provide all of it: plenty of activities for all skill levels, opportunities to get close to nature, and chances to slow down, team up, and enjoy time together as a family.    

2. Delicious Food Home to cowboy barbecues, farm-to-table fresh cuisine, and elegant wine selections, dude ranches offer an impressive culinary scene to rival that of any four-star resort. The foodies in your party will definitely find something to enchant their taste buds!

Deep Canyon Ranch

Deep Canyon Ranch in Montana is a great location for your family.


3. Variety of Activities Maybe you’d like to refresh your spirit on a leisurely horseback ride, or wade in a stream and fish. Or you might want to earn your keep by working the cattle with the ranch hands. Perhaps you prefer the adrenaline rush of whitewater rafting or soaring over the treetops on a zip-line. And what if your idea of “adventure” is trying all the spa services offered over the course of your stay? Well, there’s a dude ranch vacation for you, too. You’re sure to find something that appeals to you among a ranch’s impressive range of offerings.  

The Home Ranch Family Vacation

The Home Ranch in Colorado is spectacular for a leisurely trail ride in the spring.

4. Nightlife Immerse yourself in a vibrant nighttime scene unique to the dude ranch experience. Sing and dance the night away at a saloon or a dance hall, to the tune of the fiddle and joyful laughter. Or, relax around the campfire with some s’mores after a full day of adventures, and enjoy an unobstructed view of the stars.

5. Options With over one hundred ranches to choose from, you’re sure to find one that will fit easily into your next national park trip or Western heritage adventure. Many are located near small towns boasting of local character, history, cuisine, and crafts; as well as national parks and monuments for an easy day trip. There’s plenty to make a dude ranch the perfect choice for your next vacation! This story has been created in partnership with DUDE RANCHERS’ ASSOCIATION.               

 Take your Family on a Dude Ranch Vacation

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The Western dude ranch rejuvenates & boosts health

According to experts, taking a vacation is good for your health.  Despite this fact, Americans and Canadians tend to shortchange their vacation time, often leaving earned time on the table or taking a day here and a day there instead of a week or more at one stretch. The Western dude ranch rejuvenates & boosts health.

Since 1926 the Dude Ranchers’ Association shaped and established the highest quality standards in the guest ranch industry. A DRA (as it’s known,) guest ranch is the epitome of a Western holiday and providing both the time and environment to foster good health. Surrounded by spectacular beauty, far from the noise and crowds of fast-paced cities, serenity comes easy to each guest.

According to the career website, Workopolis, “Psychologists say that it takes five to seven days to de-stress from work, so doing it piecemeal can be counter productive. Most of the studies show people need about two weeks in one block a year to feel the benefits of a vacation.”  During summer the majority of DRA guest ranches operate in week-long increments, allowing guests the time to unwind, settle in and savor the experience. In addition to horsemanship, ranches offer activities satisfying the recreational and social needs of each generation. Tennis clinics, mountain biking, rock climbing, zip-lining, bird watching, crafts, hiking, whitewater rafting, and golf; each can be enjoyed during a  Western ranch vacation. Some ranches also offer known stress reducers like yoga, meditation, massages and other soothing spa treatments.

The Home Dude Ranch Yoga Retreat for your health

Dude ranches are ideal places for kids and families to re-connect.  Without the typical distractions of TV, phones, computers and electronic games, families spend quality time together sometimes just hanging out on the porch swing or sitting around the campfire. There are more than 100 members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association in the Western US and Canada.  Each is a little different but each DRA dude ranch vacation is the most potent tonic to combat the stress caused by the uncertain times we live in.  Check out our website at www.duderanch.org or e-mail us at colleen@duderanch.org.


 

Happy Thanksgiving!!

DRA White LargeAt the National Dude Ranchers' Association we are so thankful this Thanksgiving to be a part of such a wonderful organization that dates back to 1926.   We are proud to be  supported by our member ranches, clients in search of a dude ranch and all of the associate members who make commerce and networking successful. On a day such as this we are reminded of Theodore Roosevelt when he said, "Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds." As we embark on the next 90 years for the association we would like to promise our continued perseverance in promoting and protecting the dude ranch industry.  In pursuit of this we are launching a new website in 2016 as well as enhancing our marketing efforts to connect to all of our stakeholders.  We are excited to expand our current markets in North America and abroad. Again, thank you for being apart and we look forward to many more years of success and celebration. Happy Thanksgiving, From all of us at the DRA office and the Board of Directors.  

There's a Dude Ranch for Everyone

Enjoy a taste of the authentic American West where horses, hats, history and hospitality abound. With over 100 carefully chosen member ranches, the Dude Ranchers' Association (DRA) has one to match your dream vacation – perfectly, all while protecting lands, parks, forests and wildlife. Our Dude, Resort and Working Ranches are in the most picturesque regions of the USA and Canada near historic sites and national parks for a photographer’s heyday! Each has its own unique history, incredible horseback riding tailored to the rider’s age and ability, and exciting outdoor adventures like white water rafting, paradise fishing on scenic rivers, fun hay rides, hikes, golfing. Blue skies, starry nights and the sounds of silence are also included in your dude ranch vacation. Lounge in a hammock until the dinner bell rings and then breathe pure clean air as you rediscover the brightest shining stars peeking out from Heaven. Want to gaze into a crackling fire instead of a computer screen? Then, it’s time you discovered the majestic beauty of the land and got reacquainted with your family and friends. Join us any time of year for genuine western hospitality. Prices, programs and activities vary. We guarantee the lodging industry’s highest standards whether staying in a rustic cabin or top end ranch resort. Once you’ve had a taste of a dude ranch, you may never want to go anywhere else on vacation again. These ranches below offer unique, personalized experience. Find the one that fits you and yours below.


Elkhorn Family Reunion

Elkhorn Ranch - Montana

The Elkhorn Ranch is one of the few remaining traditional dude ranches where outdoor activities are the focus each day. We are a family-oriented guest ranch with guests of all ages enjoying time with their friends, new and old, without sacrificing the very special feeling of shared family time.    

Medicine Bow Western Family Vacation

Medicine Bow Lodge

The Medicine Bow Lodge And Guest Ranch is located at approximately 8500 feet in the Snowy Range of the Rocky Mountains. The closest town is Saratoga, Wyoming which is about 22 miles to the west. The land on which the Guest Ranch sits is located in the Medicine Bow National Forest.    

Red Reflet Ranch Lodges

Red Reflet Ranch

The Red Reflet is both Working Ranch and Luxury Resort where guests are treated like family. Super inclusive of ATV use, all riding, lessons, all beverages, snacks, stocked kitchen, all activities.      

Triangle X Grand Teton National Park

Triangle X

Triangle X Ranch is an authentic working dude ranch located in the heart of Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Established in 1926 by the Turner family, Triangle X offers unparalleled horseback riding and one of the most complete outdoor recreational packages of any facility in the Mountain West.  


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Splash into Summer with a Dude Ranch for Teenagers

When the kids are little you try to make sure the parents have their space, but as teenagers, they would like some activities geared towards them. Plan a dude ranch vacation next summer where everyone has an equally great time. Each family member, regardless of age can experience a little bit of freedom and a chance to do something unique at the ranch. There is plenty of flexibility at a dude ranch to appreciate things individually, as a family or with new friends you meet along your stay. As an all - inclusive destination you might find yourself doing any number of outdoorsy activities, horseback riding, hiking, rock climbing, white water rafting, zip lining, fishing, etc. There are so many things to do! Careful, time flies when you are having fun, so be sure to book your stay long enough to enjoy everything!

Swim Your Horse

Sweet Grass Teenager

Sweet Grass Ranch, Big Timber, Montana Watching children have the freedom to run and play under Montana’s Big Sky, is one of the best parts of a Sweet Grass Ranch vacation, where children and grandchildren abound. Sweet Grass started out as a kids’ camp years ago, hosting kids ages 9 to 19 for the entire summer; This ranch understand the magic that happens between a kid and a horse.  Without a 'formal' teenager program everyone is welcome to participate in all aspects of ranch life.  Teens often go on their own rides, swim their horses, and participate with cattle work.  The ranch is well set up for kids’ entertainment with a variety of activities,  including soccer, volleyball, softball, paintball, campfires, the natural water slide, pool, cards and board games.

Sail Away 

Averills Teenagers

Averill's Flat Head Lake Lodge, Big Fork, Montana Located only 35 miles from Glacier National Park, Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge offers the ultimate family vacation with unlimited horse & water recreation.  The lakefront is always a popular spot for teens. Popular among beach communities all over the country, Stand Up Paddle Boarding has become a favorite activity for teens at the Lodge. In addition, teens can spend the afternoon wake boarding, water skiing, or knee boarding off the ski dock, a great opportunity for experienced or first time skiers! The pool is always a great spot to lounge on hot afternoons as are the canoes and kayaks that are always available. Enjoy unmatched Western hospitality by the Averill family and staff and a truly priceless family experience…Montana style!

Your Day, Your Way!

Vista Verde Hot Air Balloon Teenager

Vista Verde Ranch, Steamboat Springs, Colorado What makes a ranch vacation at Vista Verde unique is the flexibility and personalized attention that goes into each experience. The diverse selection of activities can make it hard to choose what to do each day, but the planning is made easy as the staff simply comes around each evening and ask “What do you want to do tomorrow?”  Your day, your way! The wranglers and guides will go out of their way to tailor each experience to your interest, ability, and fitness level. Top-notch gear and equipment are provided, and you’ll get plenty of instruction to help you master a new skill, or build on existing skills fly fishing, rock climbing, paddle boarding, photography, yoga, culinary adventures, rafting & kayaking.

There's More!

Don't see your teen's favorite sport or activity? Give us a call here at the National Dude Ranchers' Association. We represent 100+ Dude Ranches West of the Mississippi. There's sure to be the perfect ranch for you. 307.587.2339

 

Dude Ranch for Teenagers

 

When the kids are little you try to make sure the parents have their space, but as teenagers, they would like some activities geared towards them. Plan a dude ranch vacation next summer where everyone has an equally great time. Each family member, regardless of age can experience a little bit of freedom and a chance to do something unique at the ranch.

Anytime is the Best Time to Go to a Dude Ranch

Dude Ranches are the original western adventure vacation. They are locations in the wilderness that 'haven't had all the rough ridden off of it.'  While at the same time still being the perfect vacation spot will all the amenities you could need or want. Often clients of the Dude Ranchers' Association ask when is the best time of year to go to a dude ranch. The answer is always, 'Anytime you would like.' In all four seasons there are ranch destinations available to meet your expectations. Even if your are traveling through the holidays!  There are ranches open year round with exclusive spots catering around special seasons of the year. Summer is the peak season for our Northwestern Ranches. It's the high time to enjoy nice warm sunny days in the mountains. At the end of the summer season for these ranches life in the mountains slows down to almost a halt. Some destinations are snowed in until spring and the only way in or out is by snow mobile.  At these ranches, this means only a select few employees are allowed to stay and maintain, while other ranches invite you into their winter wonder land,  full of winter adventures of all types. What happens when you live in a cold place and you would like to warm up a bit? Well, you head south of course. Where the dry dessert winter has plenty of warm sunshine to melt away your winter blues. Leave your parka's at home. Put on your cowboy boots and jeans and head out for a few days or a week to our Southern Ranches.  This is their time to shine as an adventure vacation destination.  The weather here has reached the peak of enjoyment.

No matter where you are or what kind of weather you are looking for, the Western United States and Canada is home to your preferred western adventure ranch. Below are highlighted few winter and summer destinations.

Vista Verde Drive Cattle

Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado

June - October, December - March

K diamond Krcrossing the river

K Diamond K Guest Ranch, Washington

Year-Round

Seven Devils Snow Snowmobiling

Seven Devils Lodge & Guide Service, Council, Idaho

January - November

Hideout AZ

Hideout Guest Ranch, Portal, Arizona

Year-Round

Circle Z Ranch

Circle Z Guest Ranch, Patagonia, Arizona

October ~ May

 

Best Time of Year for a Ranch Vacation 

     When is the Best Time for a Ranch Vacation

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Bring Your Own Horse to these Dramatic Dude Ranch Spaces

Updated 4/24/2018

Do you take your four legged, 1,000 pound equine family member on vacation with you?  Why not make your next trip to a nationally accredited dude ranch where you can bring your own horse?  Members of the Dude Ranchers' Association invite you and your horse to experience the 'Original Western Vacation.' Be sure to bring the proper ‘foot wear’ for your horse (you’ll most likely be in the mountains) and the proper vet papers, especially if you are crossing state lines. But, most importantly, make sure your trusty steed can is in shape and can handle the extra hours under the saddle. With the comfort of having your own with you these dude ranch locations will inspire you with the beauty of the American West.  Ranches offer three types of experiences you can look for; spectacular trails, informative clinics and true cowboy cattle work. Take your pick of these horse friendly ranches below and bring your own horse to these locations.

 

Extraordinary Trail Rides

At these ranches you are going to find freedom in the sunshine and wide open spaces. It’s the sort of trip where you forget to worry about all the different troubles in your life.

Sundance TrailGreenhorn Creek Guest Ranch, Rancho de los Caballeros

   

Informational Clinics

Attend a clinic with your horse to build your relationship skill set as horse and rider partners.

McGinnis Meadows, Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

 

Cowboy Cattle Work

Take your horse to these ranches for arena work, cutting, cattle drives, roping, the original old western style cowboy vacation.

Black Mountain Ranch, Zapata, Hunewill Guest Ranch, Latigo Ranch

 

 For more information give us a call at 307.587.2339. 

 

Bring Your Own Horse to Spotted Horse Ranch in Wyoming

Bring Your Own Horse to a McGinnis Meadows Buck Brannaman Clinic

Bring Your Own Horse on a Zapata Ranch Cattle Drive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring Your Own Horse - Pin this for later!

 

Do you take your four legged, 1,000 pound equine family member on vacation with you?  Why not make your next trip to a nationally accredited dude ranch where you can bring your own horse?

 

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Red White and Blue ~ 4th of July at a Dude Ranch

The 4th of July is all about family, BBQ’s, Rodeos, Parades and our Freedom. Why not celebrate in 4th of July style every day of the week with  a vacation that involves riding horses in the great open spaces of the American West and the Canadian Rockies. Dude Ranches are located in some of the most breathtaking areas of the U.S. (and Canada), dude ranches can handle any request, from horseback riding and fly fishing to yoga and cooking classes to zip lining and hiking, campfire cookouts, BBQ's, line dancing and much more.

The term ‘dude ranch’ typically brings to mind images of cowboys and cattle drives, a la the popular 1991 comedy, “City Slickers.” While dude ranches still evoke those same memories and are rooted in American tradition, they are much, much more. There is a broad spectrum of guest ranches across North America, ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches. From valleys complete with untouched Rocky Mountain backdrops to desert sunsets across the Southwest, you can find DRA-accredited ranches throughout the Western U.S. in Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nebraska and South Dakota, as well as in California, Arkansas and Canada.

The DRA was founded to preserve and protect the unique dude ranch vacation experience and identity. It requires its members to uphold top quality and service standards. The DRA’s experienced staff helps families of all ages customize their experience, guiding them to the perfect ranch that suits their needs and desires.

Priced competitively with respect to other similar all-inclusive vacation options, almost all meals, activities and special events are included in the cost of a ranch visit. “The Dude Ranchers’ Association takes great pride in all of our ranches, and we know families will have an unforgettable trip, regardless of which guest ranch they choose. One of the best things about a dude ranch vacation is that it makes family travel easy: from working with our experts to plan and customize your trip, to airport pickup, to on-site activities and meals once you arrive, it’s easy and hassle-free and most importantly, fun.”

No matter which guest ranch you choose, a dude ranch vacation guarantees plenty of time to bond and spend time as a family, creating memories that will last a lifetime and a vacation destination you’ll want to return to time and time again. Many dude ranches have special programs and events tailored to children of varying ages, including customized horseback riding lessons based on experience and ability level. Activities can often be done solo or as a group, giving guests the option to spend time as a family and individually. Like the ranches themselves, accommodations vary from luxurious and elegant to rustic and cowboy-chic, from private cabins that can sleep entire families to lodge rooms that share common space. All DRA-accredited lodging options will soon feel like your “home away from home.”

Below are a few ranches you should consider this summer for your “All-American Family Vacation”

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch Red White and Blue`

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch - Arkansas

Stagecoach Trails Red White ad Blue

Stagecoach Trails Ranch - Arizona

Hunewill Guest Ranch Red White and Blue

Hunewill Guest Ranch - California

Black Mountain Ranch Red White and Blue

Black Mountain Ranch


What About Dude Ranch Horses?

Elkhorn Ranch Horses

Horses are the magnificent, noble center piece of which dude ranching is built around. Horses have been carrying riders for centuries and provide the most in depth way to experience and explore the historical American West. Members of the Dude Ranchers' Association offer the best and most reliable horses you and your family could want. Please take a look at the following ways to enjoy different horseback riding programs. There are many ways to find your perfect horses: From the way the horses are raised, riders experience levels and to the locations or types of riding you want to do. Be specific and select the ranch that matches you and your family's dude ranch vacation dreams. There is perfectly fitting ranch for everyone.

Ranch Raised Horses

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in Standpoint, Idaho is very proud of their four-legged working partners. They maintain a herd of about 40 registered Quarterhorses, Appaloosas, and Paints for their saddle horses. Two teams of Belgian, two teams of Percherons and one team of Shire-cross are used for their sleigh and wagon rides. Most of the horses are either born and raised on the ranch or born on one of the owners' brothers’ ranches. The horses are worked with and handled at an early age to begin adapting them to their future uses. As two-year olds, their official training begins, getting them used to the saddle and working them in the round pen. They then graduate to the arena. And then to some short trail rides. A training system called the “Basic Handle,” founded by Monte Forman and Pat Wyse is used. This system creates a safe, responsive, and sensible horse. As three- and four-year-olds, these horses are used as mounts for the trail guides. Then, as five-year-olds, they begin their career as mounts for our guests. They use both mares and geldings and rotate mares in and out as they produce more offspring for our future string. Click here for more information about Western Pleasure's individual horses.

Riding for All Levels - Experienced Riders to Can't-a-lopes

With relaxed instruction from our capable wranglers, you will soon feel safe and comfortable on horseback at Elkhorn Ranch in Montana. As the terrain permits, more experienced riders will lope their horses from time to time.  Wranglers are always happy to instruct any guest who needs a little extra help sharpening their riding skills. Grown-ups, fossils or can’t-a-lopes as they are affectionately known, will be offered a variety of horseback trips each day designed to suit their interest and ability. They will get them into the high country as the week and their confidence progress.  Rides are small, normally with less than eight guests in a group. Our youngest, the Peanuts, ride, play and eat together.  On the trail, they go for carefully supervised rides.  may include a river swim, a visit to an old cowboy fort or a trip to the Bear Caves.  Teenagers also band together, and invariably have spirited rides full of adventures that always seem to grow in the retelling.  Whether you choose short and relaxing or long and challenging, sharing a mountain trail seems to build friendships for guests of every age.  As you brush your horse down before heading back to your cabin, you will  smile at the prospect of returning to the barn tomorrow – well-fed, well-rested, and ready to enjoy another spectacular summer day on a high country trail in the Montana Rockies.

Mountain Trails and Arena Events

Paradise Ranch Horses

Paradise Guest Ranch's riding program is very flexible, and features a number of choices. They offer two hour rides as well as both half-day and full-day rides. Some day rides include lunches packed on mules & cooked along the trail. Horsemanship classes are available.  Hook up with one of our seasoned wranglers and spend a morning riding through the wildflower strewn mountain meadows in the surrounding Bighorn National Forest. You’ll ride trails through mountain scenery that will take your breath away. Or spend an afternoon in our private rodeo arena practicing team penning or barrels and poles. These are timed events and competitive with fun for all. Special team penning classes are available. And the week ends with a special kids' rodeo featuring the ranch's most kid friendly horses. Unescorted Explorations Eatons' Ranch offers our guests the unique opportunity to ride one of our 220 horses unescorted with the permission of the Ranch. This allows guests the remarkable freedom to fully explore this beautiful 7,000 acres of country. Guests can ride out from our Wyoming Dude Ranch twice a day Monday through Friday, choosing among morning, afternoon and evening rides. We also have all-day rides into the Bighorn National Forest as well as breakfast and dinner rides. Riding is a bit more limited on weekends; there are only morning and afternoon rides on Saturday, and on Sunday there is only a morning ride as the rest of the day is our horse holiday. Wranglers are always available to guide rides and offer instruction. Watch this video about Eatons' Ranch and their riding program.

Rowses 1 + 1 Cattle Drive Horses`

Work Cattle in True Cowboy Style When you stay at Rowse’s 1+1 Ranch, you’ll live a real ranching life, and experience the simple pleasures of our western American heritage. It’s a land where neighbors have lent a helping hand for generations. A place where the front door is always open and fresh coffee’s waiting.  Spring, Summer or Fall…Each season is different and special at the 1+1 Ranch. No matter the season you’ll get plenty of time in the saddle on the best of our ranch horses. Spring brings the excitement of calves and foals being born, working cattle, cattle drives, and brandings. Summer brings long pasture rides checking cattle, cattle drives, working cattle, cowboy socials, team roping, and team penning. October is fall Round-Up, which involves long cattle drives on horseback, team roping, and penning.


 

Ranch Accreditation

The Trade Association Promoting Dude Ranches

Why should prospective dude ranch vacationers give priority consideration to ranches accredited by the Dude Ranchers Association (DRA)? The answers are in the education and training for higher levels of hospitality, and higher standards of safety that are afforded to association members. DRA members have access to training and professional growth courses available through the association. The Dude Ranch Association offers a key path to gain ongoing training of ranch members who constantly improve their levels of service. Secondly, entrance into the association itself requires that applicant ranches are inspected and verified as meeting and maintaining DRA standards of excellence. An independent governing body has placed a stamp of approval on all ranches accepted into membership.

Marble Mountain Dude Ranch

Dude Rancher Association Members Operate At Verified High Standards

When you select a DRA member dude ranch, you be assured that the ranch is operating at the highest levels of the ranching industry. In your search for the ideal dude ranch, you will find hundreds of ranches that are quite varied, and different in almost every conceivable way. Rather than first focusing on price, or activity offerings, or location, the first step you might consider in your search, is to limit the selection to ranches that are most likely to offer you a genuine western experience and offer the highest standards of quality. This will be a Dude Ranch Association member ranch.

Marble Mountain Dude Ranch

Anybody can hang an "open for business" sign out on the ranch gate, publish a slick website, and purchase inclusion into various fee based internet ranch directories. None of these things will guarantee any level of honesty in offered services, any standard of risk management, or any quality assuredness in hospitality. The mere fact that a member ranch has gone through the association application process, has been inspected, and has been accepted into the association, should imply that the ranch is reaching for a higher standard. These are the ranches you should be considering prior to evaluating all the other parameters of location, cost, and program offerings. The dude ranch association membership is the quality seal that should be considered along with the confirming tripadvisor reviews, and the BBB ratings for the ranch. Your vacation is a significant investment. It warrants due diligence in researching and ferreting out the ranch that will surpass your quality expectations as well as meeting the unique needs of your party. Increase the likelihood that your dude ranch vacation will meet and exceed your expectations, by selecting first from the list of over 100 Dude Ranch Association approved ranches. ** Thank you to our new member, Marble Mountain Ranch for posting this content**


 

Ecotourism and Sustainable Practices Happen Year Round at Dude Ranches

 

Did you know that the UN World Tourism organization predicts that there will be a whopping 1.6 billion eco-inspired trips taken by 2020? While ecotourism is an up-and-coming trend, DRA-accredited guest ranches have been the pioneers of green living and sustainable vacations for decades. From growing organic food and using energy-efficient appliances to making their own biodegradable fuel, dude ranches offer guests the ability to enjoy travel while reducing their “footprint.”

 Besides offering green living, a dude ranch vacation provides you with the ability to reconnect with nature in some of the most tranquil and pristine areas of the country. You’ll learn to “live off the land” with fishing trips, bird watching, hikes, wildlife viewing and much more.

 Below please find a sample of some of the DRA’s accredited ranches that are particularly well suited for those in search of a more sustainable vacation.

Smith Fork Ranch - Crawford, ColoradoSmithfork-Gardening

Celebrating farm-to-table cuisine is an important part of Smith Fork Ranch. Their own farmstead garden cultivates over 80 varieties of herbs, fruits and vegetables without the use of synthetic fertilizers or chemicals.  Additionally, with the ranch’s access to 1.3 million acres of the Gunnison National Forest and West Elk Wilderness, the ranch has a nearly unlimited and untouched outdoor kingdom.

Wilderness Trails Ranch – Durango, Colorado

This Colorado guest ranch collects bottles, cans, plastic and paper from approximately 45 guests and 35 staff members that stay at the ranch each week and loads a larger trailer to take into town 30 miles away. While staying at the ranch, guests can enjoy an exceptional horseback riding program, unsurpassed wilderness and lake access, phenomenal fishing, an award-winning Never Bored Kids Program, mountain biking opportunities, overland tours, indulgent spa treatments, taste-bud tantalizing cuisine, specialty events and more.

Rocking Z Ranch – Wolf Creek, Montana

Utilizing recycled vegetable oil, this guest ranch first started powering a stationary diesel motor to pump water for irrigation. It worked so well, the ranch now uses vegetable oil to make biodiesel after taking out the fatty acids. They use this to run the tractors, loaders, an excavator, dozer and diesel pickup during the summer months.

Diamond D Ranch - Stanley, Idaho

Situated in the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states and family owned, Diamond D Ranch is completely cut off from the power grid as electricity is provided by the ranch’s very own hydro-electric generator. At the ranch, there is an endless amount of country and wildlife to see, streams to fish and mountains in which to hike or horseback ride.

Eaton’s Ranch – Wolf, Wyoming

This Wyoming dude ranch and working cattle ranch is located on the magnificent, pine covered eastern slopes of the Bighorn Mountains. Just eighteen miles west of Sheridan, the ranch consists of 7,000 acres of beautiful open country with rolling hills, grassy meadows and hidden valleys.  A historic Wyoming dude ranch for 135 years, it offers guests a true western experience and way of life. Many new ranches have embraced and implemented modern elements into their ranches. Conversely, Eaton’s Ranch has managed to preserve its authenticity, with cozy cabins, many of which date back to the early 1900s.

Black Tail Ranch – Wolf Creek, Montana

Come discover the beauty and partake in new adventures on a historic guest ranch near the continental divide. Explore majestic mountain trails on horseback or by hiking accompanied by our experienced guides. Try your hand at fly fishing on one of Montana's premiere rivers, enjoy bird watching, cave exploring, incredible wildlife viewing, go for a swim in the creek or spend the afternoon in the shade of the big Cottonwood trees. This well-appointed working guest ranch on 8000 acres of spectacular Big Sky country is perfect for individuals, family vacations and gatherings of all kinds.

 

 

The Dude Ranchers' Association

When the stress and strain of modern life frays your nerves too thin, it's time to start dreaming up your next vacation. It's time to dream big - as big as the spacious skies, wide-open plains, and mountain spires of the rural West. Leave it all behind - traffic snarls, cell phones, laptops - and come live a big dream way out in the heart of nature in the welcoming comfort of an authentic Western dude ranch. Ever since the late 1800's, real working ranches have been opening their doors to friends and families and showing them what Western hospitality is all about. These ranches originated the concept of the dude ranch with lodging, dining, and guided trips into the surrounding countryside, all rolled into one vacation package. Modern dude ranches range from historic working ranches to upscale resort ranches affording hot tubs on private decks, gourmet dining by candlelight, and cozy rooms with moss rock fireplaces and contemporary Western decor. What all these guest ranches have in common is that they handle everything - from big hearty breakfasts in the morning to entertainment in the evening for friends and family gathered in the lodge. Dating from 1926, The Dude Ranchers' Association has overseen quality control for its industry and provided invaluable assistance in pointing guests toward a ranch with activities and amenities that suit their needs and interests. The screening process to become a DRA member is rigorous and demanding, including references from guests, on-site inspections, and a probationary period for new members of at least a year. Each of the association's 100 member ranches across the western United States and Canada have passed its tests for safety, proper care of horses and equipment, clean rooms in good repair, and dedication to the preservation of the traditional dude ranch experience. This stamp of authenticity is your assurance that you'll get the real thing. The Dude Ranchers' Association publishes a yearly brochure and trip planning information is available online with easy ways to narrow down your search. Telephone inquiries are always encouraged!  For more information, visit www.duderanch.org, email info@duderanch.org of call 307-587-2339. Three Bars Gather

    THREE BARS GUEST RANCH Cranbrook, British Columbia Phone: +1 877-426-5230 Three Bars GuestRanch, 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 activities program available anywhere. Voted Canada's #1 Dude Ranch 2011.

 

    Elkhorn Ranch Tucson, Arizona Phone: +1 520-822-1040 Sunny winter season Sonoran Desert guest ranch in scenic Baboquivari Mountains southwest of Tucson, Arizona. Family owned and operated since 1946. Comfortable living and excellent horseback riding for singles, couples and families of all ages and abilities. Adventure, relaxation, friendship.

 

    Circle Z Ranch Patagonia, Arizona Phone: +1 888-854-2525 Join us at Circle Z Ranch for an old-time ranch adventure! From the moment you arrive you feel a sense of stepping back in time.

 

    Colorado Trails Ranch Durango, Colorado Phone: +1 800-323-3833 Fun and adventure in the San Juan Mountains near historic Durango include horseback riding, fly-fishing, rafting and shooting sports. Special programs for children, evening and other activities, freindly staff, excellent food, cozy cabins and spectacular location make this a vacation of a lifetime.

 

    Drowsy Water Ranch Granby, Colorado Phone: +1 800-845-2292 Winner Tripadvisor Travelers' Choice Awards #1 All Inclusive Vacation. For over 90 years Drowsy Water Ranch has been providing folks from around the world with Western vacations. Under the same owner/management for 35 years, we promise nothing less than real down home hospitality and memories.

 

    Red Horse Mountain Ranch Harrison, Idaho Phone: +1 888-689-9680 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.

 

    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.

 

    Mountain Sky Guest Ranch Emigrant, Montana Phone: +1 800-548-3392 Just 30 miles from Yellowstone National Park, we have spent over 80 years perfecting our rustic elegance on nearly 9,000 acres of beautiful rugged countryside in the heart of Montana's Paradise Valley. We invite you to explore the vacation of a lifetime here at Mountain Sky Guest Ranch.

 

    Lost Creek Ranch Moose, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-733-3435 Nestled between towering mountains just north of Jackson,Wyoming,the Lost Creek Ranch & Spa is a family-owned Western-style guest ranch that belies all expectations with would-class luxuries, gourmet meals and a state-of-the-art spa facility. The service is exceptional.

 

    Vee Bar Guest Ranch Laramie, Wyoming Phone: +1 800-483-3227 The Vee Bar, located near Laramie Wyoming, is a family-friendly vacation destination that is sure to please the horse loving cowboy or cowgirl in you. A variety of activities, ranging from horseback riding to river tubing, will suit each member of your group. Experience true western hospitality!

 

     

The Western Dude Ranch Rejuvinates & Boosts Health of Each Guest

According to experts, taking a vacation is good for you health. Despite this fact, Americans and Canadians tend to shortchange their vacation time, often leaving earned time on the table or taking a day here and a day there instead of a week or more at one stretch. Since 1926 The Dude Ranchers' Association has shaped and established the highest quality standards in the guest ranch industry. A DRA (as it's known) guest ranch is the epitome of a Western holiday and providing both the time and environment to foster good health.  Surrounded by spectacular beauty, far from the noise and crowds of fast-paced cities, serenity comes easy to each guest. According to the career website, Workopolis, "Psychologists say that it takes five to seven days to de-stress from work, so doing it piecemeal can be counter productive. Most of the studies show people need about two weeks in one block a year to feel the benefits of a vacation."  During summer the majority of DRA guest ranches operate in week-long increments, allowing guests the time to unwind, settle in and savor the experience. In addition to horsemanship, ranches offer activities satisfying the recreational and social needs of each generation. Tennis clinics, mountain biking, rock climbing, zip-lining, bird watching, crafts, hiking, whitewater rafting, and golf; each can be enjoyed during a Western ranch vacation.  Some ranches also offer known stress reducers like yoga, meditation, massages and other soothing spa treatments. Dude ranches are ideal places for kids and families to rec-connect. Without the typical distractions of TV, phones, computers and electronic games, families spend quality time together sometimes just hanging out on the porch swing or sitting around the campfire. There are more than 100 members of The Dude Ranchers' Association in the Western US and Canada. Each is a little bit different but each DRA ranch vacation is the most potent tonic to combat the stress caused by the uncertain times we live in. Check out our web site at www.duderanch.org or e-mail us at info@duderanch.org.  

    7D Ranch Cody, Wyoming Phone: +1 888-587-9885 The 7D Ranch is Wyoming's premier family guest ranch since 1958. Extensive trail riding in a pristine mountain setting. Fly-fishing with instruction. Supervised children's program. Western cuisine. Hiking from the ranch as well as in the Beartooth Mountains. Weekly trips into Yellowstone NP.

 

    A Bar A Ranch Encampment, Wyoming Phone: 307-327-5454 This is a magical place, where generations of families and friends create summer memories together. Ride with a wrangler or on your own, fish 26 miles of private streams, bring your kids to our children's program, swim in our pool and more. We invite you to share in this extraordinary experience.

 

  Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch Parshall, Colorado Phone: +1 800-396-6279 Opened since 1912, BAR LAZY J is considered the oldest continuously operating guest ranch in Colorado. The ranch is located just southwest of Rocky Mountain National Park and nestled in a peaceful valley along the banks of the Colorado River. Recreation and Relaxation is what we offer at Bar Lazy J.

 

  CM Ranch Dubois, Wyoming Phone: +1 800-455-0721 The CM Ranch is a fine dude ranch with a history of providing quality western vacations for over 100 years. The CM offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including horseback riding, fishing, hiking, pack trips, weekly rodeo, cookouts, and more. All ages welcome. Ideal for family reunions.

 

  Diamond D Ranch Stanley, Idaho Phone: 800-222-1269 The Diamond D Ranch is Idaho's premier all-inclusive guest ranch nestled in the Frank Church Wilderness and surrounded by the Salmon River Mountains. We offer several wonderful activities including horseback riding, fly-fishing, hiking, gold panning, swimming, and many evening festivities.Diamond D Cat Post Trail Family

 

    Elk Mountain Ranch Buena Vista, Colorado Phone: +1 800-432-8812 Unique for its spectacular location, horseback rides of unmatched beauty, quality horses, variety of activities, superb menu, intimate capacity and off-the-beaten path charm. Families encouraged to ride and raft together. Adults-only in September. Only 2.5 hrs from Denver Airport.

 

    Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch McLeod, Montana Phone: +1 877-496-7848 Enjoy a Montana ranch vacation in a remote pristine wilderness north of Yellowstone. Small guest capacity and unique activities. Horseback riding; Fly fishing on private frontage along the Boulder River; Jeep ride to ghost town and historic gold mines; Hiking; Scenic raft float; Campfires/cookouts.

 

      Nine Quarter Circle Ranch Gallatin Gateway, Montana Phone: +1 406-995-4276 Adjacent to Yellowstone Park, the Nine Quarter Circle is "magical" thanks to our remote location which provides incredible scenery and excellent riding opportunities. Our family-oriented vacations feature riding for all ages and levels of horsemanship while awesome blue-ribbon fly-fishing can be found on-site and in nearby rivers. Traditional activities such as campfires, cookouts, hayrides and more are a big hit, as are our dedicated kids' programs. And this all comes served with the West's BEST hospitality! Come to the palce where "Time Stands Still", just south of the beautiful resort town of Big Sky and just north of West Yellowstone and Yellowstone Park! Remember to ask about our "Specialty" weeks.

 

    Rimrock Ranch Cody, Wyoming Phone: +1 307-587-3970 Rimrock Ranch is nestled on the banks of Canyon Creek, halfway between Cody and the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Our ranch is family owned and operated since 1955. The week is filled with riding, rafting, rodeo, and all day tour of Yellowstone. Heated pool, hot tub, and fishing pond.

 

    Western Pleasure Guest Ranch Sandpoint, Idaho Phone: +1 888-863-9066 With ranch adventures for families, couples or singles, Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, rich in history and family heritage, is Idaho's most northern ranch. Activities include horseback riding, skeet shooting, cattle sorting, mountain biking, hiking, children's programs, adult only weeks and more.

 

   

More than 200 Attendees from 56 Ranches to Ride into Town for Annual Convention

The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) is excited to announce that its 88th annual convention will take place on January 22-25, 2014 at The Bahia Hotel in San Diego. Attendees, consisting of top dude and guest ranch owners and operators from across North America, will trade their cowboy boots for flips flops as they head to sunny California, a twist for the convention as previous events have been held at DRA-accredited member ranches.     DRA White Large

The four-day conference will feature numerous seminars related to the various aspects of the dude ranching and hospitality industries such as new vendor introductions, fodder education, marketing updates and initiatives, horse safety seminars, moral workshops and “Dude Ranching 101.” There will be a series of roundtables moderated by subject matter experts in the areas of blogger outreach, public relations and website marketing. The annual action for the Dude Ranchers’ Educational Trust will also take place at the convention. The Trust protects and preserves the history of dude ranching by maintaining a museum and archives for educating the public on the historical nature of the dude ranching industry. The Trust also has a scholarship program which support Dude Ranching and the future of Dude Ranching by providing financial  assistance and encouragement to students pursuing an educational program that will lead to a career of benefit to them and the Dude Ranch industry.  

The DRA has scheduled an impressive line-up of speakers for this year’s event, including Nancy D. Brown, a travel writer and journalist who currently writes a travel column for the Contra Costa Times and Lamorinda Sun; Kirk Weisler, an international keynote motivational speaker; Jon Albert, founder of Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation; and Pat McCauley, President of InsideOut Solution, a hospitality marketing company.    

Networking will be an important part of the convention, as ranch owners and operators exchange ideas and experiences to help one another continue to meet and exceed the highest standards in the dude ranch industry, promote the Western ranch vacation experience, and preserve and protect parks, forests and wildlife. Programming for this year’s convention was designed to allow plenty of time to explore all San Diego has to offer such as the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, USS Midway Museum and the Gaslamp district. Attendees will also be able to take full advantage of the resort’s amenities including on-site watersports, the Bahia Belle Mission Bay Cruise, or simply relaxing by the pool or on the beach.  

The DRA represents a broad spectrum of dude and guest ranches across North America, ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches offering five-star cuisine and spa treatments. Established in 1926, the DRA was founded to preserve, protect and promote the unique experience and identity of a dude ranch vacation: the original all-inclusive vacation destination. The association is currently made up of more than 100 guest ranch members.

At the Heart of every Dude Ranch Vacation is the Horse

 At the heart of every Dude Ranch vacation is the horse. However, novices need not be overwhelmed with visions of straight backs, dress coats and bouncing up and down on tiny saddles, the whole ethos of Western riding is based on comfort and control. Those old time cowboys would be on the go all day and Western saddles reflect this being higher in the back, with pommels in the front and wide long stirrups. The horses are also schooled to stop, go and turn with the minimum of effort which basically means you do not need to be an Olympic standard equestrian to enjoy this style of vacation. Equally, those with riding experience are more than well catered for as one guest explains, ‘having horses of my own and riding on regular basis for the past 30 years I thought I would find the riding a little regimented and more geared to just the beginner rider. Well was I wrong! They truly can accommodate any riding level from the most inexperienced to the most experienced.’ Furthermore , ‘the wranglers at Dude Ranches are some of the most well rounded, diverse people I have ever been around,’ she laughs. ‘You may get a kid who grew up on a cattle ranch working cows since he was four, or a kid that just graduated from Cornell and was on the polo team, and everything in between. The one thing they all have in common is their love of horses and people.’ 

With the vast array of different experiences on offer, the Dude Ranch experience can be pretty much tailor-made. Further considerations therefore must also be given to the type of environment you want to ride in, i.e. meadows, mountains or prairies (as this will dictate the geographical location) the type of riding you would like to do and the level of comfort of the ranch itself. Accommodation is a lot simpler to choose from and basically consists of three different types. A working ranch, which will let you experience some real cowboy activities rounding up livestock, a Classic Dude Ranch which again will emphasis the riding but is usually combined with outdoor activities and last but not least, the resort Dude Ranch where western riding is obviously a feature, but also offer a diverse selection of activities and onsite facilities.

DRA ranches offer excellent diversification of accommodation, terrain and conditions. Where the Rocky Mountains meet the high plains providing breathtaking backdrops for your adventure on horseback. From the world famous Yellowstone and Grand Tetons national parks with their steaming geysers, stunning waterfalls and deep canyons. DRA ranches offer a choice ranging from the rustic to the luxurious with a range of activities both on horseback and off, as diverse as the stunning landscape.   

Guest expectations may have changed  over the years and ranchers have had to change with them, but the core principles and foundation of every Dude Ranch remain the same HORSES, HATS,HISTORY, HEART, HONESTY  and HOSPITALITY. There is a little cowboy in all of us come find yours at DRA Dude Ranch.  

Lone Mountain Cowgirl Loping Dusty Adventure

Hunger Games Adventures at Dude Ranches

 Countless fans will flock to movie theaters across the country starting tomorrow to cheer on Katniss and her admirable and enviable archery skills as biggest movie of the fall, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,  opens nationwide. And while some fans might not know of the outcome of the epic Quarter Quell yet, one thing is certain: the second installment is sure to leave fans across the country wanting more.

 Experience a bit of the “Hunger Games” yourself (minus the gut-wrenching battles) by visiting a dude ranch to try your hand at archery, along with many other Hunger Game-inspired skills such as fishing, zip lining, skeet shooting and navigating the wilderness.

 With 95 ranches in North America (two in Canada), we are positive that there is a ranch that will fit all your needs.  Below is a sampling of ranches perfect for those in search of a Hunger Games-inspired experience.

 Red Horse Mountain Ranch, Idaho, Adventure for the Whole Family!Red Horse Lake Activities Kayak

Whether it’s riding horseback to breathtaking vistas, conquering the climbing wall, practicing your aim at the shooting range, or simply relaxing in the tranquility of a Rocky Mountain dude ranch, you decide how to spend your week at Red Horse Mountain Ranch. Red Horse Mountain Ranch offers a Western dude ranch vacation experience with a wide variety of seasonal activities…View ranch website.

 

Black Mountain Ranch, Colorado

Rather than a rigid itinerary we strive to offer our activities in the most flexible way possible.  Click here if you want to see exactly what Colorado Dude Ranch Vacations are like.  We want you to choose what you want to do, when you want to do it, and whom you want to do it with.  We encourage families to ride together but also offer kid's programs and activities.  Teens will never be bored here and singles will find this is a great place to hang out and make new friends.  View ranch website.

Wilderness Trails Ranch, Colorado We pride ourselves in creating perfect Colorado dude ranch vacations and AdvenTours (adventure tours) for our guests. Whether you are seeking adventure or R&R, we can customize a vacation for you, and we have something for everyone - from our exceptional horseback riding program, unsurpassed wilderness and lake access, phenomenal fishing, award-winning Never Bored Kids Program, incredible mountain biking opportunities, overland tours, indulgent spa treatments, taste-bud tantalizing cuisine, specialty events and more! View ranch website.

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Arkansas

In addition to our scheduled activities other things to try include campfires, hiking, cave trips, elk viewing, cookouts, skeet shooting and .22 target shooting, a petting zoo, fishing pond, archery, disc golf, wagon rides, games in the lodge and barn and more. There’s no need to leave the ranch if you need a quick dip. Cool off in the pool in the summer, or relax those muscles in the hot tub and let your cares melt away. Spend some time alone: Several cool springs, cascading streams, and quiet pools await you on hikes and nature walks. The rock outcroppings and caves along the bluffs are there to be explored and arrowheads are waiting to be found. View ranch website.   Save

Top 8 Reasons to Take Your Family to a Guest Ranch for the Holidays

 By: PJ Wirchansky Did you know that Guest Ranches offer similar amenities and benefits to all-inclusive resorts and hotels? Whether your family is looking for a working dude ranch, luxury ranch, or spending the holidays at a Guest Ranch, there is likely a ranch that fits your needs. As the holiday season approaches, many families are looking for different and unique ways to spend time with their loved ones. Here are the top 8 reasons to take your family to a Guest Ranch this holiday season.

You know the price up front. Most Guest Ranches are all-inclusive so you know the price before your arrival. Typically holiday ranch packages include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks throughout the day. Most ranches include holiday festivities such as tree trimming, a kid’s holiday program, sleigh rides, cookie decorating, visits from Santa, and caroling with crew and other guests. Knowing what is included in your package gives you peace of mind for your holiday budget.

It’s not always about the horses. When people think of a Guest Ranch, horses are often the first thing that comes to mind. Some ranches do offer trail riding during the winter; however, many Guest Ranches do not offer winter horseback riding. With that being said, there are so many other activities for everyone to enjoy. Some of the winter activities offered at ranches include cross country skiing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, ice skating, dog sledding, and nearby downhill skiing. There is always something for all ages and skill levels to enjoy.  

Holiday Children’s Programs. There are many Guest Ranches that offer a children’s program during the holiday season. This gives kids the opportunity to meet other children from around the world, interact with counselors and learn new things about the ranch. Children will often take part in activities such as cookie decorating, visiting with Santa, reindeer tracking, sledding, building igloos, cross country skiing, learning about wildlife and so much more.    

Family Time. We all know that family time can be limited in our everyday lives. Parents are working, children are in school, and grandparents live in different states. Holidays always seem to bring families together from all over the country and what better way to enjoy this Christmas then at a cozy, inviting Guest Ranch. This gives families a chance to reconnect with one another, spend time away from their busy lives, and appreciate each other’s company.

Connect with Nature. Whether you live in a metropolitan area of the northeast, in a warm, humid southern city, or live along the west coast, there is a Guest Ranch for you. Are you looking for beautiful majestic mountains, a white Christmas, and pristine snow-laden forests? Spending time away from your home town can be a great way to disconnect, and experience the natural world. Many guests do not spend much time in their cabins, but rather enjoy the fresh air and the wonderful offerings a Ranch provides.

Unplug from technology. So often in today’s world, technology is a way of life. Many guest ranches do not have television, phones or internet service (unless you really need it J). This gives families a chance to unplug from technology and enjoy spending the holiday season with their loved ones without distractions.

Meet other families. One great thing about traveling to a Guest Ranch is the opportunity to meet families from all over the world. Ranches will host guests from New York, California, Georgia, as well as England and Australia. Many guests coming from another part of the world want to experience the holiday season and meet other families from the United States. Learning about different cultures can be so rewarding and often times, families will make lifelong friends.    

Great food. Who doesn’t love great food? Guest ranches are known for providing guests with wonderful, hearty food and the holiday season is no exception. Many Guest Ranches have a fabulous Christmas Eve Dinner, a huge holiday spread for Christmas Brunch, and another Christmas Dinner. Don’t worry!  You will be able to burn off those delicious holiday calories with the many activities that Guest Ranches offer.        

Flying E Dude Ranch Wickenburg, Arizona Phone: +1 888-684-2650 With 20,000 acres to ride and roam there is seldom a day without sunshine. The Flying E Dude Ranch is a working cattle ranch and the ideal place to take a step back in time.Enjoy delicious home cooked meals, great horses and a comfortable place to relax at the end of the day.Open Nov 1 to April 30.  

Elkhorn Ranch Tucson, Arizona Phone: +1 520-822-1040 Sunny winter season Sonoran Desert guest ranch in scenic Baboquivari Mountains southwest of Tucson, Arizona. Family owned and operated since 1946. Comfortable living and excellent horseback riding for singles, couples and families of all ages and abilities. Adventure, relaxation, friendship.

Circle Z Ranch Patagonia, Arizona Phone: +1 888-854-2525 Join us at Circle Z Ranch for an old-time ranch adventure! From the moment you arrive you feel a sense of stepping back in time.      

Vee Bar Guest Ranch Laramie, Wyoming Phone: +1 800-483-3227 The Vee Bar, located near Laramie Wyoming, is a family-friendly vacation destination that is sure to please the horse loving cowboy or cowgirl in you. A variety of activities, ranging from horseback riding to river tubing, will suit each member of your group. Experience true western hospitality!  

Vista Verde Ranch Steamboat Springs, Colorado Phone: +1 800-526-7433 Located just north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Vista Verde Ranch offers a luxurious ranch vacation with a top notch riding program, but also so many other activities that it is much more than just a riding ranch. Adventures await both summer and winter.     Latigo Ranch Kremmling, Colorado Phone: +1 800-227-9655 Latigo was voted Colorado's Best Dude Ranch by "Colorado's Best: The Essential Guide to Favorite Places". Why? Latigo guests rave about Latigo's caring staff, solid horse program, fun activities, sumptious meals, and majestic scenery. It's a family vacation filled with memories to last a lifetime.  

Lone Mountain Ranch Big Sky, Montana Phone: +1 800-514-4644 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. Cozy, comfortable log cabins with western furnishings.    

Vista-Verde-Drive-Cattle

Western Dude Ranches Appeal to Worldwide Travelers

There are some folks that drive across their home state or province to visit a dude ranch.  Others make a trans-Atlantic journey and don’t speak the same language as their hosts. Colleen Hodson, Executive Director of the Dude Ranchers’ Association says Western dude ranches (found throughout the plains, deserts and mountains of the US and Canada,) have mass appeal. 

DRA Brown Tag -1In fact, it seems they cross cultural barriers.  “I would say about 10 to 20 percent of our dude ranch guests are European, with folks from The UK and Germany representing the largest share,” notes Hodson. What is the tremendous lure of the Western dude ranch?  For starters, there’s the call to adventure, exhilarating freedom instilled by the wilderness, definite experience of place, sociability and camaraderie. 

 For more than a century, these are a few of the elements that have enticed visitors from around the globe and keep them coming back year after year. The opening of dude ranches in the American and Canadian West to paying guests has a long and illustrious history.  Media reports on the Western adventures of Teddy Roosevelt followed by the “Western” movie and prime time television shows like “Gunsmoke” and “Bonanza” fueled the public’s fascination in the US and abroad with ranching and cowboys. 

In 1926 the Dude Ranchers’ Association was formed to represent the interests of the rapidly growing industry. Today the organization remains strong.  More than 100 ranches in the Western US and Canada are members of the DRA, as it’s often called. Each DRA member ranch has its own distinct character and charm. Before selecting a ranch visitors are encouraged to contact the DRA for suggestions of ranches matched best with their own style and preferences.  

There are several factors to consider including the classification of the ranch into one of three broad and sometimes overlapping categories.

Types of Western Ranches

First is the traditional Dude Ranch, centered on the horse and horse related activities.  Guests can ride to their hearts content and try their hand at wrangling, barrel-racing and may even perform in the weekly ranch rodeo. People who prefer this category of ranch tend to love horses and other rugged outdoor activities. 

 

The Resort Dude ranch includes riding as an activity along with many other pursuits and a variety of onsite facilities in addition to the stables.  These ranches are generally larger, able to accommodate more guests at one time and often appeal to the traveler who opts for a vacation with more luxuries. 

Finally, there’s the Working Dude Ranch.  These ranches are working cattle or sheep operations, with the riding adventure dictated by the work schedule surrounding the livestock.  Visitors of these ranches are immersed in the life of a working cowboy. The decision upon which ranch to visit is a personal one.  But it’s highly recommended the ranch selected is a DRA member.  This guarantees visitors from near and far that it  meets the highest industry standards in quality, safety, and authenticity.  (Not all ranches that apply for DRA membership qualify.  In fact 30% do not meet the strict standards!)   

Ranches accepted for membership are on probation for two years.  Every DRA ranch is inspected on a regular basis to ensure high DRA standards are maintained. No matter how far folks travel to reach their DRA ranch vacation destination and no matter what language they speak they can be reassured knowing a quality vacation experience awaits them.

 

 

Dude and Guest Ranches: The Affordable Family Vacation

 Have you ever dreamed of going to a place where you can experience the beauty of the outdoors and leave “real life” behind? Do you dream of an affordable family vacation destination where you can take the whole family and feel confident that there will be something that appeals to everyone? You need not look any further than then a Dude Ranch Vacation. Many people have this dream but are often under the assumption that a unique Dude Ranch getaway for the whole gang is too expensive and not doable. Another misconceived notion is that all-inclusive Dude Ranch vacations often have hidden fees and that paying for items a la carte is a more affordable option. While that may be the case for some vacation options, you can rest assured that an all-inclusive stay at a DRA-accredited  Dude or Guest ranch is truly all-inclusive, and there are no hidden fees. At a dude or Guest  ranch, everything is included in the rate so you know exactly what you are going to pay for upfront and can plan your budget accordingly. There are never any additional charges for valet parking or resort fees. Plus, the forests and deserts these ranches are located in never charge you for the beauty that will surround you. The fresh air and the joyful noises of nature are priceless.     Following is a cost comparison between what an average Dude Ranchers' Association Dude Ranch and Guest ranch  might cost for a week for a family of four (not including airfare, taxes and gratuity) and an a la carte trip where the same family would take part in all of the same activities:  DRA Ranch 

  • Lodging  - Included
  • Meals - Included
  • Horseback Riding (everyday) -  Included
  • River Rafting - Included
  • Rodeo -  Included
  • National Park Trip/Tour  - Included
  • Evening Entertainment -  Included
  • Car Rental/Gas -  N/A

Total Average Cost: $8800.00 A La Carte

  • Lodging  - $2500
  • Meals  - $2200
  • Horseback Riding  - $2000
  • River Rafting  - $600
  • Rodeo -  $300
  • National Parks Tour  - $620
  • Evening Entertainment  - $800
  • Car Rental - $1500

Total Average Cost: $10520.00 As you can see, you can make your dream a reality with a dude ranch vacation! In addition to the budget-friendly price tag, dude ranches offer much more. There is such a wide variety of activities  there will be something the kids, parents and grandparents will enjoy. And with all activities happening on the ranch property, you don’t have to worry about getting lost or arranging transportation. The atmosphere is also hard to beat as you can’t put a price on the personal interaction and sense of family you feel at a  Dude  or Guest ranch. Many guests will leave the ranch at the end of their stay having made lifelong friends with the owners, staff or even other guests. I have heard stories of several families that met on a ranch vacation years ago and continue to see each other once a year on that annual trip to what many families consider to be their second home. Dude ranches pride themselves on going the extra mile to make their guests feel special which is why over 60% of all dude ranch guests are repeat customers. So the next time you are planning a vacation consider the value of a dude ranch and the memories that you will take home that will last a lifetime.  

Beat the Winter Blues with a Getaway to a Southwestern Dude Ranch

Dreaming of warmth, sunshine and adventure? Leave the cold and dreary weather at home and embark on the original all-inclusive vacation at a   Southwestern dude ranch located in Arizona or New Mexico  There is a broad spectrum of DRA-accredited guest ranches across North America, ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches. From valleys complete with untouched Rocky Mountain backdrops to desert sunsets across the Southwest, you can find DRA-accredited ranches throughout the Western U.S., as well as in California, Arkansas and Canada. Flying E Barn Gather

If you’re dreaming of a warm vacation destination this season, the DRA can help plan the perfect winter escape to a Southwestern dude ranch where activities include horseback riding, swimming, fishing, nature walks, whitewater rafting and much more. If you’re looking for a luxury dude ranch experience, Arizona’s dude ranches might be the perfect fit. The breathtaking backdrop of extraordinary landscapes like the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and The Painted Desert is just the start to a memorable vacation.

Tanque Verde Ranch, located just east of Tucson, is one of the premier all-inclusive dude ranch resorts in the country. You will find the perfect blend of Western adventure, solitude and luxury amenities to make your vacation unforgettable. Or escape to the warm heart of the Southwest at Rancho de los Caballeros.  This resort has the soul of a bed and breakfast offering full resort amenities and privacy, yet with the charm and intimacy of yesteryear. Additional ranches in Arizona that offer a wide range of activities and amenities include Circle Z Ranch, Elkhorn Ranch,  Ranch, Flying E Dude Ranch and White Stallion Ranch     

To experience the true cowboy life, select one of New Mexico’s dude ranches where evidence of the American Old West is visible at every turn. Explore the outlaw trails of Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy, and the Sundance Kid on horseback or head into the canyons that sheltered the great Apache warrior Geronimo in the 1800s. Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch is perfect for an “Old West” family adventure. This ranch is located in the untouched Gila National Forest of Southwestern New Mexico and offers a relaxed and personal atmosphere. New Mexico is also home to Burnt Well Ranch, a small family owned cattle and sheep ranch located in Southeastern New Mexico. Burnt Well Ranch is another great ranch to visit in the winter due to its mild winter temperatures ranging in the 60’s. As you can see there are plenty of options so let us help you find the perfect ranch for your winter getawy.  

Summary of Dude Ranching’s Core Principles

Dude ranches are the original Western vacation.  Our first ranchers introduced the unique beauty of the American West to “dudes” from all over.  All this happened in the best way possible: from the back of a horse.  This horseback adventure was surrounded by honest and real Western hospitality that these dude ranch pioneers considered a part of the code of the west. The Dude Ranchers’ Association was founded to preserve, protect, and promote their unique vacation experience and its identity.  Though guest expectations have changed and ranchers have had to change with them, the core principles of dude ranching remain the same. The following six words beginning with H represent the ideas that summarize those principles.  The notes clarify how these principles apply to any ranch that is a member or seeks to become a member of the DRA.DRA White Large

Horses

  • Horses are central to any dude ranch experience.
  • There must be adequate stock, tack, facilities, and trails for the riding program.  All will be well cared for.
  • Attention will be paid to horse and rider safety.

Hats

  • Hats symbolize the special emphasis on Western atmosphere and appearance.

Hospitality

  • A genuine friendly Western welcome with staff, food, accommodations, facilities, and activities to authenticate it.

Heritage

  • Dude ranch vacations began as long stays where relationships developed and guests had an exclusive and complete ranch experience.
  • Dude ranch guests will be on an American plan.
  • Even amidst today’s pressures for quick visits and short vacations, ranches should encourage week-long stays (6 or 7 nights.)
  • Regular multi-day dude ranch guests should not be significantly or adversely affected by any non-dude ranch business.

Honesty

  • You are at least a good as you advertise, if not better.
  • You operate your business with integrity.

Heart

  • You have a heart for developing friendships with your guests and demonstrate it in your actions.
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