Experience Dude Ranches

What Will I Do? Explore the dude ranch activities that you’ll experience at our member dude & guest ranches. Dude ranch activities include horseback riding, programs for children, bird watching, nature walks and, most important, relaxation!

Dude Ranch Activities Begin & End with Horseback Riding – Ride the West with the Best

The most important activity on a dude ranch is the riding. First time riders, intermediate riders and those who have ridden all their life will find a variety of riding activities to choose from. Anyone with an interest in horses and riding will fit right in, so don’t be concerned about your riding experience.

All DRA ranches offer riding instruction for guests who have never ridden or would like to improve their skills. Horse safety is a priority, so you will be matched to the appropriate horse and given all the necessary instruction to make your riding safe, comfortable and fun.

Often, the ranch location dictates the type of riding activities offered; overnight pack trips, hunting trips, all-day rides, breakfast or lunch rides, cattle drives, team penning, cutting, guest rodeos, gymkhanas, nature rides, mountain rides, as well as a variety of daily trail rides. If you are interested in a specific riding activity, please click on the “Ranches” directory to your left, or refer to the chart in our brochure.

Children’s Dude Ranch Activities
Many ranches offer a structured Children’s Program staffed by counselors. Other ranches offer unsupervised activities that children can do with friends, parents or siblings. Consider the appropriate level of supervision to make the most of your family vacation.

Other Dude Ranch Activities
For those not riding, the range of activities may include; hiking, nature walks, bird watching, petting zoos, mountain biking, river rafting, swimming pools, hot tubs, exercise rooms, massage services, pool tables, card games, rec rooms, hay rides, western dancing, campfires, cookouts, tennis, volleyball, basketball, softball, fishing (there are Orvis approved programs), canoeing, rock climbing, skeet shooting, archery, art classes, cooking classes, and many have nearby golf, historic sites and national parks.

The second most important activity to consider is the “art of relaxation.” When you find yourself surrounded by natural beauty, slow down, breathe deeply and appreciate it. Dude ranches are located in the most pristine wilderness areas in America. Watch a sunset, wait for the cattle to come to water, go bird-watching, take a walk through the wildflowers, nap in a hammock, listen to the livestock, read a good book or just sit quietly and let your mind wander. Blue skies, clean, fresh air, starry nights and the sounds of silence are all included in your dude ranch vacation.

Choosing A Ranch
Imagine yourself taking the best vacation of your life at a dude ranch. The fresh mountain air, the open spaces, the feel of a steady horse beneath you as you top the next rise, the flash of color from the dark pool as the monster trout rises to your offering, the warmth of the setting sun as you wait for the dinner bell’s call and best of all – shared time with family and friends.

How do you go about choosing a ranch to match your dreams?
Riding should be your first consideration – choose the riding environment that appeals to you; open meadows, prairies, mountain trails or southwestern desert. The location of the ranch determines the terrain.

Then, choose the type of riding you’d like; working livestock, cattle drives, pack trips, team penning and arena games or daily trail rides. All ranches fall into one of the following categories – which will help you make the best choice:

Choosing a Ranch by Riding Type

Working Dude Ranch: These are working cattle operations. Your horseback riding adventures will be determined by the ranch’s livestock and the work related to them. Be prepared to experience these activities first hand.

Dude Ranch: Horseback riding is central to these ranches. The cowboy in you will experience Western riding and a variety of outdoor activities.

Resort Dude Ranch: Horseback riding is featured along with an array of diverse activities and onsite facilities. These are apt to be the larger ranches with added luxuries.

Your next consideration should be the time of year – typically, the ranches in the northern states (and cooler climates) are the busiest in the summer months, while the southern ranches offer warm weather riding in the winter months.

The number of guests that a ranch can host will also be something to think about – a stay at a ranch with only eight guests is a dramatically different experience than choosing a ranch that serves eighty or one hundred guests. The difference is most noticeable in the dining and social experiences.

Your accommodations are also an important consideration – ranch atmospheres range from rustic to luxurious, and everything in between. Ranches are always extremely clean and comfortable, but if you need hair dryers, TV’s, Jacuzzi tubs, a daily massage and wireless Internet to make your dream vacation, just choose your ranch accordingly.

With over one hundred unique ranches in the Association, we have one to match your dreams – perfectly. As you narrow your choices down to a couple ranches, call and explain to them what’s most important to you – they’ll help you make the best choice.

Courtesy of Dude Ranchers Association
You can also contact the Dude Ranchers Association to talk to a ranch vacation expert at 307-587-2339 or