Smoke Signals newsletter

    The West Today

Dude Ranches — Undeniably the ultimate experience merging land, nature and animal

Dude Ranche - Horses Running
Photos courtesy Dude Ranchers’ Association

Some call it “glamping” and if it were the 1990s, we would be seeing Robin Leach, horse-mounted, touting the wonders of these resorts on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.  If it were the 1980s, we would equate dude ranches to the most amazing multi-generational experiential vacation of its time complements of Disney World and Epcot Center. But it’s 2017 and a whole new type of experiential vacation has taken and shaken the getaway world to, yes, a whole new level. But in reality but it’s truly going back to mother nature and the natural wonders she provides.

It can be 5-star luxury with world-renowned chefs preparing your cuisines. It can be a romantic simple get-away or honeymoon experience. It can be the true cowboy experience of a real cattle drive. It can be the perfect opportunity to gather the entire family from grandparents to grandchildren. It can be your chance to learn to ride, hunt and fish. In short, it can be whatever you want it to be because there are hundreds of these amazing ranches dotted across the West and the country, created exclusively to quench your thirst for the experience of a lifetime — a genuine merging of the spectacular beauty of this country’s landscape with the magic of the animals that inhabit it. And it’s not just for the rich and famous, it’s for everyone and every budget.

Dude Ranch - Mountains in Background

How did centuries of a way of life that has been the cornerstone to America’s history become the new vacation destination, drawing people by the hundreds of thousands each year? The answer seems to lie in a renewed desire for domestic travel, perhaps a flashback to “see America first.” But it’s not just “see the USA in your Chevrolet.” That was so 1960s. This is really more about actually living it, not just viewing it from the rim.  

Over the past several decades, families have become scattered across the country and the convenience of the all-inclusive model that many ranches offer make it the perfect chance for a family reunion coupled with absolutely magnificent experiences for everyone of all ages.

Dude Ranch - Boys on Horseback

The first thing to do when beginning to choose your type of Dude Ranch vacation is be honest about the level of luxury or simplicity you want. Do you want to camp in a tent or retreat in the evening to your private lodge after a massage at the spa? Do you want to teach your kids to fly fish then gather for an outdoor barbecue around a campfire or do you want to your blackened salmon served along with a fine bottle of wine amid the glow of candlelight? Do you want to experience the rich history of hiking in on the same trail as Lewis and Clark or would you prefer to arrive on the private landing strip? Do you want to look out your teepee in the morning and see the vast meadow of green rolling hills or do you want to fling open your French doors to view the expanse of the snowcapped mountains?

Do you want ride and even learn to rope and try your hand at becoming a true cowboy? Or would you prefer a gentle canter on a well-guided trail? The world and the choices are your proverbial oyster here. Anything is possible and the experiences are endless.

Dude Ranch - interior

There are a number of comprehensive websites that will be invaluable as you begin to create your experiential dude ranch vacation. In reality, once you start to investigate, it will be hard to choose as the options, amenities (or lack thereof) will get your juices flowing. You’ll begin to smell the wood burning, feel the breath of the horses and envision the magnificence of the landscape before you even leave your home.

A few website that Smoke Signals found very helpful are:

Now get out there are make us proud and do what it is we lovers of the Western lifestyle do best! Ride!

Dude Ranch Barrel Race

—Jayne Skeff


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Mission Statement

Smoke Signals blows your way from High Noon Western Americana of Los Angeles, California, producers of the High Noon Antique Show & Auction for 25 years (1991-2014). Smoke Signals eMagazine was founded in 2010 from a desire to share thoughts and facts with the High Noon community and look at what is going on in the Western world while feeding our readers with great recipes and giving advertisers a chance to blow their own smoke.

And hopefully we educate along the way.

Linda Kohn Sherwood, Editor

Copyright © 2016 L A High Noon, Inc. All Rights Reserved.