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The National Dude Ranchers’ Association Celebrates 92 Years

More than 50 member ranches from across the Western United States and Canada, as well as many associate members and vendors, are expected to ride into Denver, Co., to attend the 92nd annual convention of the Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) on January 17-20, 2018. The DRA was founded in Cody in 1926 and has since grown to more than 100 members. This year is a special year as we will be joining The Colorado Dude & Guest Ranch Association (CDGRA) to welcome all of our other members to the beautiful state of Colorado.


Guest and dude ranches have played a significant role in Western history for more than 120years. High demand for a nostalgic frontier experience offered first at Wyoming ranches, and then other ranches throughout the region, led to the founding of the DRA in Cody, Wyoming.

This conference will include a trade show of 38 vendors and will feature keynote speaker Lauren Rikleen who will be discussing: “You Raised US – Now Work with Us: Millennials, Career Success, and Building Strong Workplace Teams.”


Why Are These Organizations Important to Dude Ranching?

The Colorado Dude & Guest Ranch Association was established in 1934 and was created with the primary purpose of promoting the western way of life, providing quality ranch vacation experiences for guests of the member ranches of the Colorado Dude & Guest Ranch Association and enabling the ranches to achieve their individual goals by doing collectively that which cannot be done individually. In other words, we are a small but mighty group keeping the cowboy lifestyle alive and available for others to experience! Both the national DRA and the Colorado association have a long history of finding ways to overcome challenges facing our industry and banding together to keep the old west alive and thriving yet constantly evolving to make the guest experience the best it can be. Furthermore, to be a part of one of these organizations is a mark of excellence. Both associations have strict qualifying standards for our ranches in order to ensure we are offering the best vacations possible to our guests. You can be sure a CDGRA or DRA ranch will have the best hospitality, accommodations & cuisine, and horseback riding available! 

“We look forward to our annual convention every year, but this year is extra special for us since we are co-hosting with the CDGRA said Colleen Hodson, Executive Director of the DRA. “We are proud to have spent the past 92 years introducing guests from all over the world to the Western way of life and look forward to continue doing so for years to come.”

Over the past 92 years, vacation expectations have shifted, the DRA and the CDGRA and their member ranches have evolved their offerings to fit with changing times. All of the Association’s 100+ member ranches have completed a rigorous two-year inspection and approval process. Members represent a broad spectrum of guest ranches across North America, ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches offering five-star cuisine and spa treatments.

True to the spirit of authentic Western hospitality, today’s guest ranch experience includes plenty of opportunities for fun and entertainment for families of all sizes, ages, ability levels and interests. This “original Western Adventure vacation” introduces the unique beauty of the American West and seeks to foster dude ranch heritage and passion for wild nature. From horseback riding to overnight pack trips, hunting trips to cattle drives, there are plenty of ways to explore the outdoors at a dude ranch. Guests can also enjoy hiking and nature walks, interacting with the ranch’s animals at their petting zoos, fishing, archery and more.

Today’s guest ranches also offer plenty of activities for those interested in going beyond the saddles and cowboy boots, including programs catered to photographers, foodies, artists, wine aficionados and more. Guests can even mix their love for the rustic outdoors with luxury amenities such as massage services, hot tubs, and workout facilities and classes.


Our 25 Colorado Dude Ranches offer a variety of guest experiences from Working Dude Ranches, to Traditional Dude Ranches, to Luxury Ranch Resorts. We have easy fly/drive access from Denver International Airport as well as multiple regional airports throughout the state. Our ranches are in the heart of the Rocky Mountains with access to many National Parks such as: Rocky Mountain National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Visit for a complete list of ranches and offerings. The CDGRA can also be found Instagram: @coloradoranch, Twitter: @colorado_ranch, FB: /CDGRA


Dude ranches are the original Western vacation. The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) was founded to preserve, protect and promote this 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: horses, hats, hospitality, heritage, honesty and heart. The DRA was founded in 1926 and currently has more than 100 accredited members, all of which are required to uphold the highest quality and standards within the dude ranching industry. For more information on the DRA or individual ranches, visit The DRA can also be found on Facebook at, Twitter @DudeRanchers and Instagram @duderanchersassociation.