Ever wanted to ride into the sunset on horseback like they do at the end of those Wild West movies? There are over 100 ranches, declared and listed by the Dude Ranchers Association, dedicated to giving you the full cowboy experience and preserving a cowboy way of life. There are three types of ranches across North America and Canada: dude ranches, resort dude ranches and working cattle ranches. The first allows visitors to partake in ranch activities such as horse riding, the second provides guests with luxurious facilities, while the third focuses on getting people to get down and dirty by participating in ranch-related work. Once you have decided which of these three cowboy experiences you want rid yourself of technological distractions and kick back in a time and place other than the here and now. Here are five of the 100+ Dude Ranch vacation locations that we recommend:
You will find Howley Mountain Guest Ranch under vast blue skies in The Big Sky State of Montana. What better place than this open space to re-adjust your judgment of depth of field? Conveniently placed between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains, this ranch is perfect for cattle-driving, campfires and cookouts.
British Columbia, Canada:
For those who view vacations as a luxury and not an opportunity to work harder than what they do at home, Echo Valley Ranch and Spa is ideal for quiet bird-watching, a skilful game of golf and a relaxing day at the spa. The name might prove to be prolific in that the peace and tranquillity creates an environment quiet enough for sounds to travel and bounce back across the rolling landscape.
If you are looking for variety in geographical layout, historical background and cultural foundation, Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is an ideal getaway. Forming part of America’s Wild West and a region from which many draw inspiration for blues and folk music, this area offers an abundance of varying activities such as: rock-climbing, exploring caves and soaking in the hot springs.
Any holiday destination in the same region as the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon cannot disappoint. This is true for the White Stallion Ranch; nestled in an array of landscapes ranging from arid desert to lush grasslands, from rolling valleys to high-rise pine forests. As if this wasn’t enough of a selection in various geographical locations, in winter the area combines rustic with luxury in offering snow-related activities such as skiing, snowboarding and, of course, horse-drawn sleigh rides.
At the center of the country on the Great Plains lies Rowses 1+1 Ranch. Being a real working ranch, this is not for the fainthearted. This is cowboy country: saddle driving, cattle-roping, historically rich cowboy country. The difference between this ranch and the one mentioned above in Arkansas is that there you imagine what it must have been like for pioneers to trek through the grasslands, whereas here you experience the history firsthand. With a heritage dating back to the gold rush in the 1880s, the Missouri River that slithers through the rise and fall of the sand hills, this is the perfect location for the ultimate cowboy experience.
Originally, the word ‘dude’ was used to refer to someone who was overly concerned with his clothing and appearance. It then became used in relation to city-dwellers who escaped to cattle ranches, also known as ‘dude ranches’. These ranches preserve a cowboy way of life and offer visitors a variety of activities to participate in in order to authenticate the experience further.