10 Surprising Dude Ranch Activities

Does “dude ranch” conjure images of office workers doffing their Dockers in favor of denim? Do you envision time in the saddle, or sleeping under the stars, and think it might be fun for a day or two … but you’re not sure about an entire vacation? There’s good news for travelers who would like a taste of the dude ranch experience blended with a heaping serving of other vacation-type activities. Today’s dude ranches cater to a diverse crowd – from families to couples to singles – with activities, attractions and services that travel far beyond the trail. “While dude ranches still provide that one-of-a-kind ‘cowboy-style’ vacation you can’t find anywhere else, many have also expanded their offerings to appeal to the diverse and discriminating tastes of today’s traveler. So if you’re considering a dude ranch vacation and would like to spend time out of the saddle, consider these 10 surprising things to do on today’s dude ranches:

1. Get a massage or spa treatment Hotels and resorts around the world have hopped on the spa bandwagon, spending millions to build lavish facilities or offer massage, salon and spa services. Many dude ranches now offer comparable services, like White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona where guests can indulge in a massage and much more.

2. Take a yoga class Many ranches that offer spa services also provide yoga classes and training. Before a long day in the saddle, guests can have a relaxing limbering-up session with certified trainers.

Smith Fork Wine Tasting

3. Indulge in a wine tasting Gourmet cuisine and wine paring are gaining popularity at dude ranches and the wine list at the Smith Fork Ranch offers varied choices. They have chosen some favorites from their private cellar as well as other specific vintages from wineries they admire. Wines from the premiere growing regions of France, Italy, Australia and America's West Coast are represented, as well as Colorado's own fine wine country just a short distance northwest of the ranch. Above all we want you to enjoy a wine that is a perfect match with the cuisine our chef prepares for you.

4. Get married Picturesque settings, wide open spaces and top-notch amenities draw thousands of brides-to-be and their grooms to dude ranches each year. Some dude ranches even offer personal wedding planners to assist couples in planning every facet of their special day – a leading-edge service you would expect to find in the finest hotels or resorts. At Sylvan Dale Ranch, you can even rent the entire ranch for your event.

5. White Water Rafting Three Bars Guest Ranch offers weekly white water rafting tours on the St. Mary’s River. Rafting down this unspoiled natural stone stream allows you to explore the river from a unique perspective. They put in only a 10 minute drive from the ranch. After a quick safety talk you will board the rafts and travel eight miles down this Class II and Class III River. The trip winds through the St. Mary's Valley and past the ranch to the pull out location, just a 5 minute drive from the ranch.

Three Bars Ranch

6. Shooting Sports At Red Horse Mountain Ranch, you’ll be given instruction and will be participating in a safely controlled environment. Shooters will be provided with the opportunity to have a lot of fun, to learn some things about shooting, and be challenged. There are 5 stations, each providing their own unique targets. The routine is much like golf; shooters will be starting in small groups, which move from station to station. Our Sporting Clay course has made good use of thick brush, steep terrain and other natural features to make the shooting both difficult and realistic. Our Sporting Clays course will have everything to fit your needs, including shells, different shotguns, shooting glasses, ear protection, vests, pouches, and of course a guide and trapper.

7. Perform in a Talent Show Friendly competition can be found in many forms on dude ranches, from roping contests to talent shows. If lassoing a speeding calf isn’t your forte, you can sing, tap or joke your way to local stardom in a talent show.

8. Ride a Zip Line The Bar Lazy J Ranch has one of Colorado's longest and fastest zip lines and is the only one that crosses the Colorado River. The zip line starts on a steep bluff overlooking the Colorado River dropping 82 feet in elevation as it crosses the river, through the trees and across a pasture to the landing platform. You will be zipping along at speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour. This activity is for guests ages 13 and up.

Bar Lazy J Ranch Activities Zipline


5 Ways a Dude Ranch Vacation Can Heal You

The U.S. Travel Association reports a strong correlation between leisure and a person’s overall well-being and even attributes annual vacations to improved health. With that in mind, it makes sense that a trip solely planned around healing would yield powerful restorative results. While the term ‘dude ranch’ usually brings to mind images of cowboys and cattle drives, dude ranches are surprisingly perfect destinations for reviving your mind, body and spirit. Below, please find an overview to help you discover the healing power of dude ranches on your next vacation. In keeping with the belief that wellness starts from within, many DRA-accredited ranches offer a variety of rejuvenating activities and programs specifically designed to heal what ails you.

Yogi in the Rockies: Now in its ninth season, the “Experience Yoga and Horses Retreat” at The Home Ranch, led by two fabled Cowgirl Yoginis, is the ultimate girlfriend getaway. The retreat invites adventuresome cowgirls of all ages to a legendary all-inclusive week of restorative horseback riding, soothing yoga, fine dining, wine pairing and relaxation. With a million acres of Rocky Mountain Wilderness at your doorstep, you’re sure to have the most memorable experiences of your life.

Change you’re Pace: C Lazy U Ranch, a premier luxury guest ranch getaway located on 8,500 acres in Grand County, Colo. and easily accessible from Denver, recently launched its Outlaw Fitness and Wellness program. Guests can enjoy 60-minute yoga classes, personal training sessions and fitness activities that incorporate the ranch’s natural surroundings, as well as area activities such as hiking and mountain biking. The wellness sessions are designed to rejuvenate mind, body and spirit as guests retreat from everyday life, and complement the traditional ranch stay through stretching and guided fitness regimens.

Step into Zen: Smith Fork Ranch is the perfect destination for not only fun and adventure, but also relaxation and wellness. After an arduous hike or an exhilarating mountain bike or horseback ride, indulge in various selections at The Spa at Smith Fork Ranch, including healing massages, renewing facials or soothing foot treatments. Enjoy massages in one of their tranquil rooms or creek-side at the ranch’s Massage Outpost, situated among the serene beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Trained and attentive staff melt your pains away and take care of all the details, so all you have to do is relax.

Practice Your Balance: If there was one phrase to capture Echo Valley Ranch & Spa’s wellness philosophy, it would be “Sabai Sabai,” a Thai term used to describe balanced harmony of mental, physical and spiritual health and wellbeing. Everything at this destination wellness resort and luxury spa in British Columbia sets the stage for the perfect wellness retreat. The water you drink is even taken from one of the five natural springs located on the ranch! Echo Valley also offers two types of spa experiences: a Thai-style spa offering a range of authentic Thai therapies and a Western-style spa offering contemporary aesthetic services.

Harmonize with Horses: Tanque Verde Ranch is one of America's old time cattle and guest ranches. Nestled amongst the Rincon Mountains and adjacent to Saguaro National Park and Coronado National Forest in Tucson, Az., Tanque Verde Ranch offers a unique opportunity to enhance your ranch vacation. Harmony with Horses will provide you with extensive horsemanship skills, improved riding ability, better self-understanding, and one of the most unique vacation experiences amidst 60,000 acres of Tucson's most breathtaking desert landscapes.



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