What sounds better than turning off your phone and rediscovering the beauty in nature around you? Nothing? Then start researching your trip to a mid-west dude ranch immediately. Ecotourism is a growing industry in the midst of the digital revolution because it gives travelers a slice of serenity to ease them of their busy, hectic lives. So, the Dude Rancher’s Association has brought together some of the country’s best dude ranches that offer a variety of activities, so there is something for everyone.
What is a dude ranch and what does it entail, you ask? Excellent question. A dude ranch is a ranch run specifically to entertain guests and give them an authentic ranching experience. Every dude ranch has their own unique activities to offer, but overall, there are some major attractions that one can expect at almost all dude ranches. Some of these activities include, “living off the land,” fishing, swimming, riding horses, hiking and viewing wildlife.
There are different types of dude ranches that can offer different activities depending on their locations. If one is looking for mountains, forests, rivers or valleys, there is a dude ranch in the perfect location to fit anyone’s needs. The Dude Rancher’s Association has a collection of ranches that cater to travelers’ different preference in activities, environments, sizes, budgets and length of stay.
Some of the most popular dude ranches within the Dude Rancher’s Association are within a very close proximity to national parks all over the US. This allows the ranches to accommodate their activities to visitor’s interests.
One can not only chose a ranch by region, but by state or national park. For example, if one was looking for a ranch in Montana near Glacier National Park, they could go to Averill’s Flathead Lake Ranch.
What can you expect to encounter on a perfect day at one of these amazing ranches? Every park has unique activities, amenities and events to offer. Since they are all different, we have created unique itinerary examples for a couple ranches in different regions of the country.
Averill’s Flathead Lake Ranch in Big Fork, Montana
This particular Ranch is in Big Fork, Montana, on the outskirts of Glacier Park.
If you are looking for hiking in a mountainous, glacial setting, Averill’s Flathead Lake Ranch is perfect. The ranch is located a quick drive away from Glacier National Park, where there are mare than 700 miles of hiking trails for nature lovers all around the country. Averill’s Flathead Lake Ranch not only offers day trips with guided tours to Glacier National Park but they also offer many other activities.
Here is an example itinerary for a distinctive dude ranch experience at Averill’s Flathead:
Since the ranch is so close to Glacier Park, it would be a waste to not experience the beautiful nature within that park. You could spend most of the day in the park either exploring though the vast variety of hiking trails, or endeavor on a toured hike. Hiking is a unique experience in Glacier Park because hikers encounter diverse settings of both mountainous and rainforest terrain. During the hike, travelers should break at the top of a peak and eat a little packed picnic and soak in the gorgeous views in Glacier Park. (INSERT PICTURE?) After lunch, you can cool off down in the water by either a canoeing or rafting expedition down Flathead River. After an exhausting day of hiking and rafting, travelers can relax together and take part in some twilight fishing.
Another nearby and highly recommended ranch is the Bar W Guest Ranch.
Triangle X Ranch in Moose, Wyoming
Another northwestern getaway Dude Ranch is located in Moose, Wyoming. Since it is just a short ride away from Teton National Park, Triangle X Ranch is extremely desirable for either families, or just adults.
Most ranches offer childcare, but Triangle X Ranch offers both childcare and children’s programs for ages 6-17. Aside from child programs though, most activities are very kid friendly. Another aspect that sets this dude ranch aside from others is the fact that this ranch is open year round and offers various winter snow activities!
An ideal itinerary for either a family fun vacation, or a romantic getaway would look a little something like this:
Since this ranch is open during the winter, we recommend that travelers visit during the winter season so they can experience an authentic dude ranch experience in the snow.
With that said, you should spend most of the day outside, playing in the snow and trying each of the ranch’s wide variety of snow based fun!
Spend the day in the snow where one can try snow sports, unlike standard skiing and snowboarding. Triangle X Ranch offers uncommon winter activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling!
However, if snow sports aren’t your cup of tea, you can practice your photography skills around the ranch or inside Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park (both located near Triangle X Ranch.)
After a day of fun outside in the snow, travelers can relax in the Jacuzzi then attend an authentic rodeo. Finally, you can end the experience by dancing the night away, western style, by learning how to line dance and square dance!
Also, check out nearby Moose Head Ranch.
Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, Arkansas
This mid-western ranch is located right off of the Buffalo National River and is a family owned dude ranch. The Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is perfect for not only nature lovers but also for extreme sport enthusiasts.
A perfect day in Horseshoe Canyon would include the following:
Start off your day with a morning horseback trail ride to see the gorgeous, rocky terrain around Buffalo River. Horseshoe Canyon offers not only morning rides, but also a variety of different riding activities. These depend on not only the rider’s age but also their riding level and what kind of riding experience they are looking for. After lunch you should take the opportunity to try all of the unique extreme sports that Horseshoe Canyon offers!
Guests can find their inner Katniss Everdeen by learning and mastering archery in the woods. Aside from archery, visitors can also hop around from a variety of rock walls and climbing walls that Horseshoe Canyon offer. The climbing walls have over 300 routes for all levels or climbers, ranging from children to experienced climbers. Finally you can try a variety of zip lines, include the highest, longest and fastest zip line in Arkansas; which is almost half a mile long and gains speed to almost 50 miles per hour!
Tarryall River Ranch in Lake George, Colorado
Tarryall River Ranch is located right outside of Rocky Mountain National Park and is only one of four DRA- accredited Ranches. It is also family owned and they firmly believe in giving an authentic dude ranch experience to all of their visitors. Therefore their ranch is also extremely kid friendly, complete with kid programs, a petting zoo and a game room.
Tarryall River Ranch is within an hour drive to Pike’s Peak, a mountain in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. You can drive to the top of the mountain and take the Pikes Peak Cog Rain, which is the world’s highest cog railroad! You can also enjoy a gorgeous panoramic view of the Pikes Peak from one of the Tarryall’s many trail rides.
What is an ideal day at the Tarryall River Ranch?
Visitors cannot only go on trail rides, but they can also learn how to do cattle work on the ranch. After doing a little authentic ranching, visitors can go gold mine exploring, or do some infamous Colorado white water rafting. You can also play sand volleyball or ping-pong and billiards in the ranch’s game room. Finally, if visitors are interested they can even go fly fishing or hunting for elk and deer. After a busy day, you can relax by taking a hayride out to a campsite, having a bonfire cookout, and then learn how to line dance, square dance and barn dance!
If any of these ranches sound appealing to you, be sure to check out the Dude Rancher’s Association website. There they have an endless supply of ranches with even more variety of activities and terrains. Also, be sure to check out the amazing pictures they have that portray what your stay would be like at each ranch. One look at any of these homey, cozy ranches and your mind will be made about your upcoming adventure at one of the Dude Rancher’s Association’s ranches!