As the railroads expanded in the 1920's, dude ranches spread across the west and as far south as Arizona. The cattle industry was struggling and many ranchers were faced with financial hardship. Ernest Miller of Elkhorn Ranch in Montana convinced Max Goodsill of the Northern Pacific Railway that there was an opportunity for a mutually beneficial relationship. Goodsill passed the idea along to A.B. Smith, passenger traffic manager for Northern Pacific who arranged a meeting at the Bozeman Hotel. This became the first official meeting of the Dude Ranchers' Association on September 27 and 28, 1926. Ranchers, railroad officials and national park officials attended the two-day event to discuss the five objectives set forth:
1. Establish cooperation among ranchers and railroad officials
2. Discuss the transportation and proper care of guests
3. Create advertising and publicity for the association
4. Standardize practices
5. Create an efficient sales organization
Having agreed to all five objectives, the ranchers added a sixth - the organized protection of fish and game.
The Dude Ranchers' Association Today
The Dude Ranchers' Association is the governing body of the West's Dude Ranch industry. Created in 1926, it provides an organized structure for members, in which they are able to exchange ideas and experiences in an effort to uphold the highest quality of services within the industry. The Association promotes the western ranch vacation, while continuing to build a strong working relationship with Federal and State land agencies in order to preserve and protect parks, forests and wildlife.
You will find that not all Dude Ranches are members of the DRA. There are a number of strict by-laws which must be followed in order to become (and remain) a member ranch. Approximately 70% of the ranches that apply meet the high standards of the association and go on to become members.
We have been helping people find quality dude and guest ranch vacations since 1926. When you book your vacation at a member ranch, you can be assured of a genuine, western experience. We are not hotels with horses out back; we are The Original Western Vacation.