What’s a Dude Ranch?

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Dude ranches are ranches that cater to paying guests for vacationing and ranching-related activities. The practice began in the late 1800s, and today, hundreds of ranches offer dude ranching experiences. There are different types of dude ranches, including working ranches, horse ranches, resort ranches, and hunting ranches. Visitors should consider the type of experience they want and choose a ranch accordingly.

A dude ranch is a ranch that accepts or caters to paying guests, depending on how the ranch is set up. This practice dates back to the late 1800s, with the term “dude ranch” itself dating back to the 1920s. People generally visit this type of ranch for the purpose of vacationing, to enjoy the natural beauty of relatively undeveloped regions, and to participate in a variety of ranching-related activities.

Dude breeding began in the United States, as a natural outgrowth of the romanticization of the West. Wealthy Easterners, known as dudes, traveled West to experience ranches, and ranches seized an opportunity and started paying for it. The phenomenon has spread throughout the West, and today, hundreds of ranches offer dude ranching experiences; the concept has also spread to Australia, another nation famous for its breeding.

There are different types of dude ranches. At a working ranch, visitors can stay on an actual working ranch, participating in activities related to the running of the ranch. Some people like to visit working ranches to get a taste of what ranching is like and to experience the culture of the West. Typically, people who visit a working ranch are expected to do some work, participating in things like livestock handling and gardening.

A horse ranch is one that focuses specifically on horse riding. Riding ranches offer instruction to people at all skill levels. Bikers can take rides, work in the ring, and enjoy the ranch’s natural surroundings. Another type of dude ranch, the resort ranch, offers a more resort-like atmosphere that promotes relaxation and offers a range of activities from horseback riding to singing. Other ranches that offer hunting opportunities, with both native and imported animals.

Because dude ranches are so varied, people who want to vacation on such a dude ranch should think about the type of experience they want to have and look for a dude ranch that meets their expectations. If relaxation is a primary goal, a ranch resort is definitely the way to go. People who like a little work during the holidays may want to look into a working ranch.

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