There’s something extraordinary about the unique and authentic experiences that only the American frontier can provide. Think wide open plains, horse riding across ridges to the backdrop of a setting western sun, finishing around a campfire, with a night sky full of shimmering stars. Best yet Dude Ranches offer an array of adventures that can be tailored entirely up to you.
Want to learn how to ride a horse or join in on some fly fishing? Interested in a working holiday that gives you the total cattle driving and fence fixing experience? Or are you more into slowing it down with a hike, followed by a spa treatment, gourmet cuisine and luxurious accommodation?
Dude Ranches have been giving city dwellers and urbanites an intimate escape since the 1880s. With any on this list guaranteed to showcase the Great American Outdoors in its true spectacular form.
Triangle X Guest Ranch – Wyoming
Triangle X will make sure your wilderness experience is a hoot. Located in Jackson Hole, the centre of the majestic Grand Teton National Park, you’ll probably spot Elk, Biso, Coyotes and maybe even grizzlies, wolves and beavers as you ride across these stunning open plains. Either stay in their high-class log cabins or rough it on a pack trip and sleep in your tent under the stars. A scenic trip down Snake River or fishing off its banks is a great way to have all your troubles float away.
Brush Creek Ranch – Wyoming
Look no further than the remote Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyoming, for a luxurious ranch stay. Your staple horse riding through unspoiled terrain becomes even better when you include rejuvenating spa treatments, gourmet cuisine from the Farms’ distillery, creamery and bakery, cooking events and wine weekends. Wintertime even brings private downhill ski trails and snowga, or yoga in the snow.
Wildcatter Ranch & Resort – Texas
In the heart of beautiful North Texas hill country is the Texas cowboy and cowgirl experience you’re looking for. Ride along the Brazos River during the gorgeous Texan sunset, and feel like you’re part of a classic western movie. Try something new and bold with tomahawk throwing, jeep tours, and clay shooting. Finish off the day with a Texan BBQ at the Wildcatter Steakhouse before sitting by the fireplace in your cabin to while away the evening.
C Lazy U Ranch- Colorado
This famous Colorado resort in the heart of the Rocky Mountains has welcomed guests for over 100 years. C Lazy U Ranch offers the best of both worlds with its high-end amenities and down-to-earth experiences. In summer, enjoy horse riding among wildflowers and catching fish in Willow Creek. In winter, a blanket of snow over the mountainside opens up a world of skiing and tubing. Join in some archery, trapshooting, and mountain biking. Or explore the grounds at your own leisurely pace.
White Stallion Ranch – Arizona
The sight loved by many Hollywood filmmakers, White Stallion Ranch is all the rugged mountains, untouched desert and cacti you could hope for in an epic Dude Ranches stay. Recognised for their service and value, onsite amenities include hot tubs, tennis courts and a charming bar. While outdoors, get into the action with rock-climbing, hiking and leatherwork. This is one of the more unique ranches due to its Spanish, Mexican and Western influences found in Tucson, Arizona, and should be on your Dude Ranches list!
The Ranch at Emerald Valley – Colorado
If open plains aren’t your style, a ranch nestled amongst the picturesque pine trees of Pike National Forest in Colorado Springs will give you the rustic wilderness vacation you desire. Glide over the mountain lakes in a kayak or canoe, wander the peaceful forest by foot or horseback, or go mountain bike riding on some spectacular trails. To relax, sip a glass of wine in an outdoor hot tub. Or take on some of the nearby Broadmoor’s best attractions, including world-class golf, tennis and dining.
Bitterroot Ranch – Wyoming
For real horse lovers, this is the ranch for you. Bitterroot Ranch prides itself on offering various adventurous and stunning horse riding trails in the remote area northwest of Wyoming’s Wind River Country, 30 miles from the closest town. See their many homebred horses, help drive and round up their cattle, and explore beautiful landscapes, from pine-clad mountains to high plains deserts.
320 Guest Ranch – Montana
Celebrating the pioneer spirit of Montana, 320 Guest Ranch, located between Big Sky and Yellowstone National Park, shares its rich history with guests. Stay in log cabin accommodation, eat at McGill’s restaurant and saloon, take up fly fishing are just some of the ways to explore this region. The luxury accommodations, function rooms and incredible Montana scenery make it an excellent destination for weddings, too.
Sundance Trail Guest Ranch – Colorado
Surrounded by sensational Rocky Mountain views, enjoy immersing yourself in unique activities, such as rock climbing and frisbee golf, alongside beautiful hiking trails for all levels and river rafting down the Cache La Poudre River. Soak in the jacuzzi, or learn some dance moves in the Recreation Barn. With seven accommodation options, there’s room for any budget. For those that want to experience the great outdoors, Sundance Trail Guest Ranch is another excellent choice.
Zapata Ranch – Colorado
Based nearby the Great Sand Dunes National Park, guests have the opportunity to help out wranglers and ranch hands in a variety of activities. Think helping maintain a herd of 2000 wild bison by horseback! In your own time, take up some whitewater rafting or hiking in the nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains. If you want to get into the thick of ranch life, Zapata is the place to be.
Looking for more inspiring Vacations & Travel stories? Try these…