Just "Dude" It – The Dude Ranchers' Association Blog
Helping People Find Quality Dude Ranches and Guest Ranch Vacations Since 1926

Find Your Frontier at a Classic DRA Dude Ranch

July 28th, 2014 by Leah Bright

T Cross Ranch Cat PostFind you frontier at this classic Wyoming Dude Ranch, the T Cross Ranch, with a timeless magic. The T Cross Dude Ranch lies inside the Shoshone National Forest at an elevation of 7,800 feet. Surrounded by an untouched country of pine forests and open meadows, trout-rich streams and small lakes, with endless vistas rising well over 11,000 feet – it is scenically magical. Through the T Cross gate you will discover a pristine wilderness. In the backyard, the Washakie Wilderness Area of Wyoming covers 704,274 acres, adjoining the southeastern boundary of Yellowstone National Park and the Teton Wilderness in one huge chunk of very wild country. From atop well-trained horses, guests discover rugged mountain trails revealing a myriad of wildlife seen only in the greater Yellowstone area. Most guests, however, remember the T Cross for its familiar atmosphere that blends the color of the West and the relaxing comforts of home.

 

Three Bars RanchLooking for the perfect riding ranch? While Three Bars Guest Ranch offers a variety of activities; their horseback riding program is in a class of its own. Nowhere else will you find this combination of such great horses, beautiful riding terrain, and world-class horsemen with generations of experience.
Three Bars Guest Ranch is home to over 110 head of horses. The horse-to-guest ratio is over 2-to-1, allowing for horses suited to each rider’s individual ability and experience level. Horses range from “bomb proof” kids’ horses all the way through to young horses suitable for experienced riders. So, whether you’re an old hand or someone who needs a helping hand, you can be sure to enjoy your time in the saddle. Your horse will be just that – YOUR horse for the week. He will be ready and waiting for you every morning of your stay, along with the saddle that suits you most.

Sweet Grass RanchThe opportunity to work with the cattle at Sweet Grass Dude Ranch is what brings many guests back year after year. Since the cattle graze on Sweet Grass Ranch lands for most of the summer, guests have the opportunity to learn first-hand about the challenges and joys of caring for a herd of grass-fed range cattle, monitoring their health and moving them to new grazing grounds as water and grass vitality dictates. You may do some cattle work on any given week, and are often checking fences, grass conditions, and putting out salt and minerals. On these working rides guests are always invited to get a true taste of the cowboy life.
For those looking for that working ranch experience of a cattle drive, there are certain weeks to move cattle. Here’s a chance to drive cattle from one ranch to another or over to different grazing lands. These dates may change slightly from year-to-year, so it’s best to check with the ranch when planning your trip.

 
Spotted Horse Ranch Fly FishinWith many of our ranches located on private pristine waters fly fishing is one of the activities that is sure to make any angler happy. Spotted Horse Ranch in Jackson Wyoming is no exception. There is a one acre spring-fed pond holding Snake River Cutthroats – a unique strain of cutthroat and the only native trout to Jackson Hole. A resident since the last ice age, this gem of a fish sports a golden bronze body speckled with black spots, accented by a scarlet slash under each gill plate. In the spirit of preservation please be gentle with these fish, should you be fortunate enough to make their acquaintance. Land them quickly and send them on their way.  Spotted Horse Ranch has some of the best streams and rivers for spawning and growing trout. Vigorous and hungry, Snake River Fine-Spotted Cutthroat, Rainbow, and Brown Trout thrive in the cool waters in their backyard. The ranch offers virtually every level of fly caster a satisfying experience. Free casting lessons are offered on Monday afternoons.

Put on your boots and cowboy hat and travel to a classic DRA ranch. Where time passes slowly and life remains consistent. Find your frontier amongst ranchers and crew who have made the West a historical way of life.

Dude Ranch – The Cure for Nature Deficit Disorder

July 16th, 2014 by Leah Bright

Richard Louv, child advocate and writer of the bestselling books The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods, has coined the term Nature-Deficit Disorder. He explains a growing body of research indicating the lack of nature in today’s online generation. This term parallels the lack of nature to the growing trends of childhood obesity, attention disorders and depression. He explains, “Direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults”(richardlouv.com).

At a dude ranch your are guaranteed to get your nature fix and spend the majority of your vacation outdoors in some of the most beautiful locations West of the Mississippi. With three square meals a day planned out carefully by a professional chef, you won’t have to worry about feeding your children fast food on the road. Once you know your kids are eating right, what kind of outdoor activities will they be doing all week?

ThA Bar A Ranch Kids Children Horse Ridingere is something for all ages at a guest ranch, balancing quality time together and apart. For the little tikes there is a children’s program, equipped with a weeks worth of activities including pony rides, field days, crafts and all sorts of toddler friendly activities. Look at this little girl (pictured left) riding for the first time at the A Bar A Ranch in Wyoming.

 

Tumbling River Ranch Kids Children Barrels

For the kids old enough to go out on trial ride, I’m sure they will team up with the other children and tackle every hill and trail with their new favorite wrangler. Pictured Right is a young cowgirl racing around the barrels in the arena activities at the Tumbling River Ranch in Colorado.

The older teens might end up fishing or going on an all day hike, hanging out with the crew and other guests their age. They won’t even realize how much time they’ll spend in nature, except for the repeated application of sunscreen.

A vacation this summer will inspire them to go outdoors and explore. Who knows- when they become of age they might end up working a summer or two for a ranch. No matter how much time you spend at a dude ranch physically and emotionally you and your whole family will leave refreshed and full of memories. If you’re seeking a healthy, active outdoor vacation to combat Nature-Deficit Disorder take a look at the following ranches with activities designed with the whole family in mind.

R Lazy S Kids ProgramR Lazy S

Pictured left is the Kid’s Wrangler, Will, jamming to Musical Chairs during Gymkhana. Along with Musical Chairs, they had fun riding horses while balancing an egg on a spoon, a 3-Legged race, and the famous M&M’s hidden in whip cream race. This, followed by a hamburger/hot dog barbecue, makes for a perfect day.

 

Cherokee Park Rafting Family Cherokee Park

The Cherokee Park Ranch is a family owned dude ranch nestled in the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains. We cater to families with kids of all ages, horse back riding, river rafting, rodeos, fishing, music, dancing, cow wrangling, swimming, ropes/challenge course, skeet shooting and mountain biking.

 

 

4th of July Kids Children Greenhorn CreekGreenhorn Creek

A truly all inclusive guest dude ranch vacation, we provide the perfect location for family vacations, reunions, weddings, corporate and business retreats, meetings, special events, equine guided education and so much more. Still serving up the best hospitality in the west!

 

 

Three Bars Kids ChildrenThree Bars

Three Bars Guest Ranch The adventure ranch of the Canadian Rockies invites you to experience the ultimate horseback riding vacation. Located just south of Banff National Park, Three Bars Ranch offers the most diverse vacation activities available anywhere. Voted Canada’s #1 Dude Ranch in 2012.

 

 

Drowsy Water Kids LakeDrowsy Water

Winner Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards #1 All Inclusive Vacation. For over 90 years Drowsy Water Ranch has been providing folks from around the world with Western vacations. Under the same owner/management for 35 years, we promise nothing less than real down home hospitality and memories.

 

 

Lone Mountain Ranch FamilyLone Mountain

Endless recreational possibilities at this historic ranch offering horseback riding, hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, fly fishing and Outdoor Youth Adventures just 18 miles from Yellowstone National Park. Cozy, comfortable log cabins with western furnishings.

 

Dude Ranches Come With Multi-Sport Family Adventures So You Don’t Have to Create Your Own!

July 2nd, 2014 by Leah Bright

There’s a new term popping up for the action-packed modern family vacation. It’s known as the “multi-sport adventure,” and it calls for multi planning as well. Long before anyone lifts a paddle or laces-up hiking boots they must first create an itinerary calling for frequent stops, hiring a local outfitter, and arranging for suitable food and shelter along the adventure. Linking together the components of the multi-sports adventure can get complicated. But it doesn’t have to be. There’s one vacation category where sports loving families can simply park the car, unpack their bags and settle in for a week of jam-packed action. It’s the Western dude ranch, a place where folks don’t have to think about what comes next. All the details are in place to let the good times roll!

Sure, horses and riding are paramount to any Western dude ranch experience, but in addition to riding (or sometimes in place of) they ride the rapids, paddle a canoe, play golf or tennis, hike in the wilderness, cycle the back roads and mountain trails, go caving, hot air ballooning or rock climbing. Many ranches have recently added ropes courses, zip lines, climbing walls and 3 dimensional archery.

Averills sailing boat lake

“Another beauty of multi-sporting at a dude ranch is when parents want to take time for themselves, Dad can play a round of golf and Mom can relax with spa treatments.” That’s an apt description for Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge, a 2,000 acre, family operated Montana dude ranch, nestled on a bay on the east shore of Flathead Lake just south of Glacier National Park. Here, guests are just steps away from the largest freshwater lake West of the Mississippi. A waterfront staff leads activities at the main dock daily, including sailing, water skiing, and wake boarding. Instruction for beginners and private lessons are available. The ranch volleyball, tennis, and basketball courts see a lot of action each day as do the horses. Riding can get competitive here as well. There are team penning and barrel racing events all week ending with a family rodeo. And yes, there’s a top-rated Jack Nicklaus Jr. golf-course just minutes away as well as an on-site professional masseuses skilled in therapeutic massages from hot stone to rejuvenating deep tissue.

Horseshoe Zipline Activities

 

Arkansas’s Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is another paradise for families on multi-sport adventures. Tucked into the Buffalo River Wilderness of Northern Arkansas, sporting adventures include “Frisbee” golf, skeet shooting, the state’s longest zip line course, and of course, rock climbing. One of the finest climbing courses in the state was developed on ranch property. The zip-line carries many a thrill seeker moving at breakneck speed above a deep gulch. For some, paddling the Buffalo River, trout fishing, or exploring old Indian caves provides enough action.

 

 

Bar W Glamping

 

“Glamorous Camping” has come of age at the Bar W Ranch. You get the best of both worlds – being and feeling a part of nature while staying in an elegant setting at the same time. The Bar W offers two luxurious canvas tents decorated Bar W style – simple elegance blended with western informality. Each tent is decked out with a queen size bed, full sized futon, private porch, kitchenette and chic Western décor. Both tents have a private bath located just a couple of feet away. Your glamping experience is nestled in a pasture with wild flowers, a string of horses and all sorts of wildlife right outside. You’ll never think of camping the same way again.

 

As you can see there really is something for everyone at a Multi-Sport Dude Ranch, so what are you waiting for??

4th of July Dude Ranch Celebrations

June 16th, 2014 by Leah Bright

4th of July White Stallion Ranch

With the 4th of July fast approaching what could be more American than a cowboy vacation at a Dude Ranch.  With all our dude ranches located “out west” you can be assured of an old fashioned 4th of July celebration. Barbeques, parades and rodeos are just the beginning. Hay rides, cattle drives, river rafting and sightseeing at a national park such as Yellowstone or Glacier would put you well on your way to independence day. The night might end with fireworks, bonfires and maybe even traditional Western street dancing.

 

4th of July Cupcakes Gros Ventre RanchDude ranches are ideal places for kids and families to re-discover each other. Without the typical distractions of TV, phones, computers and electronic games, families spend time together recharging and re-connecting. Days are spent in the saddle, enjoying stunning scenery and breathing fresh country air, and evenings enjoying tasty down home cooking and ranch entertainment. Today, as it did over a century ago, the western dude ranch experience offers relief for both the body and spirit of those seeking refuge from the pressures and routine of everyday life.

 

Here’s the schedule for HHunnewil 4th of July Parade Flagunewill Guest Ranch‘s 4th of July:

Spend the week riding through our breathtaking meadows, enjoy a breakfast ride, and take cows up to the high country on Wednesday. On Friday, you will be able to ride horseback with us in the 152nd Bridgeport 4th of July parade, the oldest continuously run parade in the US(pictured left). July 4th is always a memorable time at Hunewill’s, as the parade is followed by a special barbeque back at the ranch. The day is topped off by watching Bridgeport’s spectacular fireworks show against the silhouette of the rugged Sierra.

Bordered by Grand Teton National Park, Bridger Teton National Forest and the Gros Ventre Wilderness Area the Gros Ventre River Dude Ranch offers something extra special, check out the antique car show and a live band at the Gros Ventre River Ranch.

 

Gros Ventre antique car 4th of July

 The following ranches also have some pretty great 4th activities.

T Cross Ranch, Paradise Guest Ranch, White Stallion, Diamond D, Goosewing Ranch, Covered WagonHorseshoe Canyon, Red Rock Ranch, JJJ Wilderness Ranch

The great thing about dude ranches is the above activities take place at ranches all season not just over special holidays. While staying at a ranch everyday will feel like the 4th of July.


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