From lakeside retreats in Montana to high desert views in New Mexico, the Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) has something for everyone. This comprehensive collection of America’s finest guest ranches helps travelers understand what a ranch vacation entails and how to book one. They are a fantastic resource for inspiration when it comes to living out your City Slicker dreams! So whether you’re traveling with family, friends, or by yourself, find out why a dude ranch vacation is the perfect trip this year.
This story was created in partnership with the Dude Ranchers’ Association.
Header photo from Bull Hill Guest Ranch by J Lee Photography.
Latigo Ranch, Colorado – J Lee Photography
1. There are Plenty of Wide Open Spaces
Ranches in the American West—whether they’re working ranches, dude ranches, or guest ranches that can accommodate larger groups—are defined by wide open spaces. That makes social distancing easy, and fresh air free of charge. No matter which activity you elect to focus on during your visit, horseback riding, fly-fishing, bird watching, hiking, or something else, you’re almost guaranteed to be outside enjoying a beautiful day. If you’re anything like us, you’ll want to do it all! (Although we won’t blame you for spending an afternoon in the spa if your ranch of choice offers one.) When the dinner bell rings and calls you in from a day outside, you can rest assured that spacing will be adequate (see number three on our list).
Eatons’ Ranch, Wyoming – J Lee Photography
2. You Can Work While You’re Away (If You’d Like)
While we always encourage travelers to unplug when they can, we understand that sometimes it’s necessary to check your inbox. If you’ve never tried a workation (working while on vacation), this could be the year to start. There’s never been a better time to work remotely. In fact, many DRA destinations are more than happy to oblige and offer high-speed internet for guests. Send the kids off on a trail ride and be productive back at the lodge. Or work all morning, play all afternoon! So go ahead and extend your dude ranch vacation, knowing that you’re just a click away from the “real” world. (You can also “accidentally” drop your cell phone in the creek and extend your trip, anyway.)
Circle Bar Ranch, Montana – J Lee Photography
3. Reservations Are Required
Sure, there are a number of ways to experience the great outdoors. But unlike national parks and other public areas (which we do believe have their advantages!), dude ranches aren’t open to everyone. Many offer accommodations for fewer than 20 guests, ensuring a personalized experience with a maximum amount of elbow room. Craving that national park stamp? You can actually get the best of both worlds by booking a stay at a DRA ranch that is conveniently located right next to one of our nation’s most popular parks. Use the search tool to find destinations close to Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and many more. After your visit, you might be ready to embrace the sound of crickets.
Bull Hill Guest Ranch, Washington – J Lee Photography
4. You’ll Skip Traditional Travel Hiccups
Anyone who has tried to book a trip since the beginning of 2020 is aware of what a nightmare canceled events and changing travel regulations can be. Minimize potential downsides by booking an all-inclusive dude ranch vacation, where all you need to worry about is getting to and from. Once you’re there, the only thing you’ll need to worry about is remembering the name of your horse—and wrangler!
Latigo Ranch, Colorado – J Lee Photography
5. You Might Just Boost Your Immune System
We’re no experts, but there’s something about increased time in the outdoors that tends to improve wellbeing. There’s all the Vitamin D you’ll soak up while casting for trout and exploring rugged trails by horseback, plus the wholesome three square meals you’ll enjoy each day. And we all know that learning to trot burns at least a few calories. Add in a few rounds in the square dance after the sun goes down…and you get the idea. The moment your head hits the pillow at night, you’re sure to get the best sleep of your life. You may just want to book next year’s trip early. Doctor’s orders!
Contact the Dude Ranchers’ Association at email@example.com, 307-587-2339 and www.duderanch.org.