Tired of the usual vacations you have recently taken? How about saddling up to a Dude Ranch for old west fun and a different experience? Each Dude Ranch is different and you have to do some homework in order to decide which ranch would fit your vacation requirements.
Some offer full resort amenities and privacy, yet with the charm and intimacy of times past, it’s the kind of place where everyone knows your name and your favorite horse and what you like and don’t like. You might even try one for a weekend to see if a particular Dude Ranch suits your requirements.
What is a Dude Ranch all about? Each is rather different, but generally you will find good accommodations, tasty meals as found in a bed and breakfast, horseback riding, and some are even so-called working ranches. A working ranch is one where guests can tend chickens, collect the eggs each morning and even milk the cows, put out feed a couple times each day and tend to the cattle or just watch.
Some Dude Ranches are more sophisticated than others and again you can decide which work for you and the family.
Ranch mornings begin rather early and to fully experience this time on a real ranch you should go along to see how ranch life is actually lived. However, since this is a vacation, you don’t have to “pitch-in” at all if you don’t want to.
I suggest you find a ranch that is not too far from home unless you are looking for dramatic scenery that can only be found in another state. Most folks at least want to do some horseback riding. Make sure in your investigation of the ranches that they have horses that aren’t too frisky and ones that city dudes can ride with safety.
When you arrive, probably one of the first things that will occur is meeting the staff of the ranch and then you will be taken to your quarters to unpack. If you have any special dietary needs, these should be given to the ranch several days in advance of your arrival giving them time to prepare.
Some vacationers choose Dude Ranches for special holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s, birthdays, anniversaries and so on.
Some ranches will be located on good fishing rivers, giving you the opportunity to catch a few for dinner if you want.
There are actually quite a few Dude Ranches to choose from. What you select will be those that offer activity suited to your vacation wishes. Some will even allow you to bring your own horse.
A few of the activities that may interest you are: barbecues, birding, cattle drives, cowboy cookouts, dancing, falcon flying, fall pheasant hunts, sight seeing, golf on premises or nearby, hiking, horseback riding, nature trails, overnight horse trips, pack trips, programs for children, sauna, sleigh rides, snow shoeing, spa services, fishing, swimming, tennis, wheelchair accessible, white water rafting, wildlife viewing, wilderness setting, mountain setting, rural setting and more.
The best thing to do in your investigation is to contact The Dude Ranchers’ Association, which represents more than 100 of the best Dude Ranches and Guest Ranch vacations in the west. To be a member, the ranch must pass a rigorous, two-year inspection and approval process. The address is: Dude Ranchers’ Association, P.O. Box 2307, 1122 12th Street, Cody, Wyo. 82414 or phone 1-866-399-2339.
The Sugar & Spice Ranch in Wyoming is taking reservations now for 2013.
Most will be doing the same right now.
You should also look at the Arizona Dude Ranch Association and contact them at P.O. Box 603, Cortaro, Ariz., 85652 or phone 1-520-823-4277. They can give you information on quite a few dude ranches in Arizona. Some of them include the Apache Spirit Ranch, Circle Z Ranch, Elkhorn Ranch, Flying E Ranch, Hidden Meadow Ranch, Hideout Ranch and more.
Rancho de los Caballeros isn’t your average Dude Ranch. It claims to be an historic ranch resort with the soul of a bed and breakfast. The ranch offers full resort amenities and privacy, yet with the charm and intimacy of yesteryear. Everyone will know your name and your favorite horse and perhaps the friendly staff will feel like family. Around the ranch are rugged trails, or you can tee off at one of Golf Digest’s Top 100 U.S. courses or luxuriate in a spa treatment featuring local desert ingredients. They offer evening cookout feasts with good food and wines or you may choose to make new friends in the lodge.
As stated earlier, it might be wise to visit one of the ranches for a long weekend to see if this is what you really want in a vacation of a week or more down-line.
Another family oriented ranch is Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch. You may contact it by writing to P.O. Box 580, 19965 South Holliday Rd., Yucca, Ariz. 86438 or, phone 1-866-444-4471.
We just want you to experience the dude ranch that seems to suit your desires. As we stated, they are all rather different. Happy vacation and Hi Ho!