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Archive for the ‘Family Vacations’ Category

Dude ranch makes for a blue-ribbon family roundup

October 28th, 2013 by Kim Jacobs

The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently wrote a wonderful article about Tumbling River Ranch.  I have included a short piece of the article along with the link. Be sure to click through to read the complete story!

Article by: Tony Jones , Star Tribune

Updated: October 26, 2013 – 4:07 PM

sunny and goats 136You probably wouldn’t take me for a barrel racer, and surely not for a blue ribbon-winning, rodeo barrel racer. But I am, and no one can take that away from me.

Many years ago, my parents took my brothers and me to a dude ranch in Montana. It was almost universally commended as our best-ever family vacation. As my mother’s 70th birthday approached, she hoped to re-create that magic as a present to herself. But 30 years later, this trip would include spouses and a new generation, her grandchildren.

All told, 17 of us from three generations converged on the Tumbling River Ranch, just up a dirt road from the tiny burg of Grant, Colo. That’s two grandparents, three sons, three spouses and nine grandchildren, ranging in age from 4 to 72.

We arrived for our weeklong stay on Sunday afternoon and were met by Megan Dugan, who owns the ranch with her husband, Scott. As Megan showed us around, she told us that she’d grown up on the ranch, which her parents purchased in 1975. In their teens, Scott and Megan were both on summer staff. They re-met, married and eventually bought the ranch when her parents retired. Now they’re raising their own three kids there.

The Dugan family, and their home at the center of the ranch, brought a family feel to the whole experience, as did something we heard at orientation that night. The ranch was full to capacity on our week, with six families totaling 49 guests. Of those six families, three were making return visits to Tumbling River, two of them on their fourth visit. Clearly, Tumbling River engenders some serious loyalty.

At orientation, the entire staff of wranglers, cooks, servers, kids’ counselors and housekeepers sat up front, dressed in their cowboy duds, explaining the ins and outs of the week. Turned out that the stellar staff — most of them college kids on a summer job — became one of the most memorable elements of Tumbling River; our kids are still talking about them.

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Dude and Guest Ranches: The Affordable Family Vacation

October 23rd, 2013 by Colleen Hodson


Have you ever dreamed of going to a place where you can experience the beauty of the outdoors and leave “real life” behind? Do you dream of a vacation destination where you can take the whole family and feel confident that there will be something that appeals to everyone? You need not look any further than then a Dude Ranch Vacation.

Many people have this dream but are often under the assumption that a unique Duder Ranch getaway for the whole gang is too expensive and not doable. Another misconceived notion is that all-inclusive Dude Ranch vacations often have hidden fees and that paying for items a la carte is a more affordable option. While that may be the case for some vacation options, you can rest assured that an all-inclusive stay at a DRA-accredited  Dude or Guest ranch is truly all-inclusive, and there are no hidden fees. At a dude or Guest  ranch, everything is included in the rate so you know exactly what you are going to pay for upfront and can plan your budget accordingly. There are never any additional charges for valet parking or resort fees. Plus, the forests and deserts these ranches are located in never charge you for the beauty that will surround you. The fresh air and the joyful noises of nature are priceless.



Following is a cost comparison between what an average Dude Ranchers’ Association Dude Ranch and Guest ranch would might cost for a week for a family of four (not including airfare, taxes and gratuity) and an a la carte trip where the same family would take part in all of the same activities:

 DRA Ranch 

  • Lodging  - Included
  • Meals – Included
  • Horseback Riding (everyday) –  Included
  • River Rafting – Included
  • Rodeo –  Included
  • National Park Trip/Tour  - Included
  • Evening Entertainment –  Included
  • Car Rental/Gas –  N/A

Total Average Cost: $6300 0

A La Carte

  • Lodging  - $1600
  • Meals  - $2200
  • Horseback Riding  - $2000
  • River Rafting  - $300
  • Rodeo –  $100
  • National Parks Tour  - $620
  • Evening Entertainment  - $500
  • Car Rental – $900

Total Average Cost: $8220

As you can see, you can make your dream a reality with a dude ranch vacation! In addition to the budget-friendly price tag, dude ranches offer much more. There is such a wide variety of activities that there will be something the kids, parents and grandparents will enjoy. And with all activities happening on the ranch property, you don’t have to worry about getting lost or arranging transportation.

The atmosphere is also hard to beat as you can’t put a price on the personal interaction and sense of family you feel at a  Dude  or Guest ranch. Many guests will leave the ranch at the end of their stay having made lifelong friends with the owners, staff or even other guests. I have heard stories of several families that met on a ranch vacation years ago and continue to see each other once a year on that annual trip to what many families consider to be their second home. Dude ranches pride themselves on going the extra mile to make their guests feel special which is why over 60% of all dude ranch guests are repeat customers.

So the next time you are planning a vacation consider the value of a dude ranch and the memories that you will take home that will last a lifetime.


Culinary Chic at Dude and Guest Ranches

October 8th, 2013 by Colleen Hodson

With food tourism being one of the fastest growing sectors in travel and one of the biggest travel trends of 2013, I want to talk about a vacation many foodies may not consider, but would be pleasantly surprised with a dude or guest ranch vacation.


You are probably thinking “culinary chic at a dude ranch?”  And I am here to tell you yes, as a stay at a DRA guest ranch is sure to take your taste buds on a culinary adventure. Below is a list of  the “Top 5 Culinary Facts You Wouldn’t Expect at a Dude Ranch,” as well as a few highlighted ranches where you are sure to experience flavorful, savory cuisine crafted using fresh, high-quality ingredients morning, noon and night.


1). Renowned Chefs

food-header-1When some people think of a dude ranch vacation they picture a guy named Cookie whipping up bacon and beans in the sagebrush. In reality, guest ranches are home to many award winning and experienced chef’s such as Chef Mike Rosenberg at Zapata Ranch who has been a  personal chef to the Carnegie family, catered JFK Jr.’s wedding, owned his own restaurant and brings over 40 years of experience to the table.



2). Farm to table

Blog High Lonesome (2)Many DRA dude ranches grow, raise and serve their own produce and meats and items that cannot be reaped from their own land are sourced locally. Take High Lonesome Ranch which in many instances raises the meat right on the ranch. Their eggs are fresh from their chickens and ranch’s signature Black Angus beef graces the menu when the timing and aging process is complete. As for produce, the ranch’s gardens and orchards enjoy ideal conditions for growing apricots, apples, peaches, pears and plums as well as an abundance of vegetables like corn, peppers, lettuces, cucumbers, squash, beans, peas, carrots, radishes, pumpkins and onions.


3). Recognized Globally                               

blog home ranchBesides having a wide breadth of talented and innovated chefs, the creations they serve have been praised globally such as The Home Ranch which is a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux and has been recognized by Bon Apetit, Gourmet, Food and Wine, among others.



4). Exceptional Wine Lists

Blog - smith fork (2)A culinary exploration wouldn’t be complete without wine pairings and dude ranches have you covered there too. Smith Fork Ranch has won the Wine Spectator’s Award for Excellence two years in a row and has assembled an eclectic wine mix. Ranging from wines from their private cellar, specific vintages from wineries they admire and wines from the premiere growing regions of France, Italy, Australia and America’s West Coast.



5). Cooking Classes/Workshops

Blog Echo ValleyBesides enjoying delicious food, many dude ranches encourage you to learn about the food as well. At Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, one of the best seats in the house is at the kitchen counter where their Master Chef provides ranch resort guests with cooking demonstrations, tips and techniques.  There is also the opportunity to explore the concepts of Eating Right for Your Blood Type – a healthful way of eating that promotes overall good health including good digestion, cholesterol counts, weight loss and more.


Beat the Winter Blues with a Getaway to a Southwestern Dude Ranch

September 27th, 2013 by Colleen Hodson

Dreaming of warmth, sunshine and adventure? Leave the cold and dreary weather at home and embark on the original all-inclusive vacation at a   Southwestern dude ranch located in Arizona or New Mexico

cowgirl - Tanque

There is a broad spectrum of DRA-accredited guest ranches across North America, ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches. From valleys complete with untouched Rocky Mountain backdrops to desert sunsets across the Southwest, you can find DRA-accredited ranches throughout the Western U.S., as well as in California, Arkansas and Canada. If you’re dreaming of a warm vacation destination this season, the DRA can help plan the perfect winter escape to a Southwestern dude ranch where activities include horseback riding, swimming, fishing, nature walks, whitewater rafting and much more.

If you’re looking for a luxury dude ranch experience, Arizona’s dude ranches might be the perfect fit. The breathtaking backdrop of extraordinary landscapes like the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and The Painted Desert is just the start to a memorable vacation. Tanque Verde Ranch, located just east of Tucson, is one of the premier all-inclusive dude ranch resorts in the country. You will find the perfect blend of Western adventure, solitude and luxury amenities to make your vacation unforgettable. Or escape to the warm heart of the Southwest at Rancho de los Caballeros.  This resort has the soul of a bed and breakfast offering full resort amenities and privacy, yet with the charm and intimacy of yesteryear. Additional ranches in Arizona that offer a wide range of activities and amenities include Circle Z Ranch, Elkhorn Ranch,  Ranch, Flying E Dude Ranch and White Stallion Ranch



geronimo trails b

To experience the true cowboy life, select one of New Mexico’s dude ranches where evidence of the American Old West is visible at every turn. Explore the outlaw trails of Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy, and the Sundance Kid on horseback or head into the canyons that sheltered the great Apache warrior Geronimo in the 1800s. Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch is perfect for an “Old West” family adventure. This ranch is located in the untouched Gila National Forest of Southwestern New Mexico and offers a relaxed and personal atmosphere. New Mexico is also home to Burnt Well Ranch, a small family owned cattle and sheep ranch located in Southeastern New Mexico. Burnt Well Ranch is another great ranch to visit in the winter due to its mild winter temperatures ranging in the 60’s.

As you can see there are plenty of options so let us help you find the perfect ranch for your winter getawy.