Dude Ranch Vacations That Will Unlock Your Inner Cowboy

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You've been to both coasts, explored the Midwest, and celebrated Mardi Gras in New Orleans. What's next? Perhaps you're looking for a unique RV vacation experience that combines adventure and relaxation with a taste of the old American West. Guess what? A dude ranch vacation might be just what you're looking for!

From scenic trail rides to cozy campfires and more, dude ranch vacations offer something more than the average getaway: They're a chance to connect with nature, learn new skills and history, and - above all — create lasting memories with your loved ones!

With so many great ranches to choose from, how to know which to pick? Not to worry: Thanks to Cruise America, you're about to discover the seven best dude ranch vacations in America that’ll help you unlock your inner cowboy!

Why You Should Go on Dude Ranch Vacations

Why do people go on dude ranch vacations? There are a number of reasons why, with one of the biggest being that dude ranch vacations are family-friendly experiences. Dude ranches usually offer a wide choice of activities suitable for guests of all ages: For example, mom and the kids can go horseback riding, dad can go fishing, and the whole family can go hiking and swimming together.

Another reason to go on dude ranch vacations is to leave your comfort zone and learn new skills. Sure, lassoing cattle might not come in handy in your everyday life — but you never know! What if learning how to fly fish on a dude ranch instills a lifelong love of fly fishing in you? A new hobby could be waiting for you to discover on a dude ranch vacation!

Last but not least, another great reason to go on dude ranch vacations is the chance to reconnect with nature. Chances are that you are a city slicker, but if you're also a seasoned RV traveler, you know the value of escaping the hustle and bustle for greener pastures. Dude ranch vacations offer a place to unplug and appreciate the natural beauty around you.

The Seven Best Dude Ranch Vacations for 2023

Whether you're a seasoned horseback rider or a city slicker looking for a taste of the cowboy life, these seven dude ranch vacations offer something for everyone. It's time to saddle up and hit the trail! Yee-haw!

  1. Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort (Solvang, California)

This historic ranch, sitting on 10,500 acres in the heart of California Wine Country, offers visitors a taste of vintage Old West — and a taste of vintages from local wineries in the Oak Room Bar. Of course, as a dude ranch, there are a variety of outdoor activities available, such as horseback riding, archery and air rifles, bike rentals, fishing, hiking, and swimming. There is also a spa and a fitness center.

One thing you don't want to miss is the Alisal Rodeo, held each Wednesday from Memorial Day through Labor Day at 5:30 p.m.

  1. C Lazy U Ranch (Granby, Colorado)

Located in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, C Lazy U Ranch offers traditional dude ranch activities, such as horseback riding and fly fishing, along with a variety of other outdoor activity options.

You can take an archery course, get a buzz from a beehive tour, participate in a cattle-pushing clinic, try your hand at hatchet throwing, or even go on a guided hiking tour.

At the end of a long day, relax in the restaurants with fine dining — and wine!

  1. White Stallion Ranch (Tucson, Arizona)

The Tucson area is renowned for its laid-back atmosphere, and White Stallion Ranch is your perfect chance for relaxing Sonoran Desert dude ranch vacations. Old Pueblo summers can get pretty hot; if you're going down for some horseback riding, be prepared for early morning and late afternoon rides (but no riding on Sundays — that's the horses' day off!).

In addition to horseback riding, there are other activities to enjoy at White Stallion Ranch, such as a shooting range, rock climbing, fat-tire bike riding, archery, and a weekly rodeo!

  1. The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch (Shell, Wyoming)

The Hideout Lodge and Guest Ranch, situated in Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains, is an ideal hideout from the outside world. Aching to reconnect with nature and a simpler, calmer town vibe in a big way? Well, The Hideout offers horseback riding and lessons, fly fishing, trap shooting, archery, access to local rodeos, and a relaxing pool with a beautiful view.

Fancy a little adventure? Take a tour of Shell, Wyoming — population: 74!

When your stomach is rumbling, enjoy a hot breakfast in the morning, or take a sandwich with you on a horseback ride. At the end of a long day outside, sit inside and have a sip during cocktail hour while the kids nosh on the evening's dinner (meals vary depending on the day).

  1. Western Pleasure Guest Ranch (Sandpoint, Idaho)

This ranch, located in the Idaho Panhandle, offers dude ranch vacationers two-hour tours of the area on the back of one of their 70+ ranch horses. There's also the chance to channel your inner archer, enjoy a cowboy movie on their lawn, experience a Dutch Oven cookout, or even go on a horse-drawn wagon ride and more!

You can also take aim at clay pigeons and take a self-guided mountain bike tour around Western Pleasure's 1,300 acres, too.

One reason Western Pleasure Guest Ranch is particularly awesome is that it offers a Youth Horsemanship Program for kids!

Many dude ranch vacations boast of their warm weather settings and activities, and that's the focus here. However, it would be a disservice to Western Pleasure Guest Ranch not to mention they're also proud of their winter activity offerings, like horse-drawn sleigh rides, as well! Oh, what fun! Ho, ho, ho!

  1. Triple Creek Ranch (Darby, Montana)

When you think of Montana, you probably don't think of luxurious experiences, right? But that's exactly what you'll get at the Triple Creek Ranch, set in the Bitterroot Mountain Range of the Montana Rockies. They offer what they call a "refined rustic elegance" for visitors, with fine dining on gourmet cuisine and a curated wine list.

Lest you think Triple Creek Ranch put the "dude" in "dude ranch," the outdoor activities will set your mind at ease. You can go horseback riding, go on a cattle drive (from June to September on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), take fly-casting/fly fishing lessons, and experience whitewater rafting, trap shooting, archery, and more!

  1. Bonanza Creek Country Guest Ranch (Lennep, Montana)

Many guest ranches cater to and focus on, well, the guests; they operate as little more than unique hotel experiences. There's nothing wrong with that, but sometimes you crave something a little more rugged with your dude ranch vacations.

You can get exactly that at Bonanza Creek Country Guest Ranch, which is a working cattle ranch offering visitors one of the most unique experiences around. You need to know how to ride 'cause there are no lessons — and you have the chance to go on a cattle drive with experienced ranch hands.

That's not all, though: There's fishing and hiking, too. If you're feeling a bit lost in life, you can get some life coaching from a certified equine gestalt coach; if in pain or need of a recharge, take advantage of the many kinds of massages (sports, foot, deep-tissue, etc.) available.

Why Take an RV on Dude Ranch Vacations?

Since a great many dude ranch vacations involve staying on-site, often in a cabin, why take an RV on a dude ranch adventure? The fact is that riding in an RV to a dude ranch, and staying overnight on the property in your vehicle, is often an option! Guest/dude ranches are usually blessed with thousands of acres, and depending on the ranch, they can be quite accommodating.

A good rule of thumb is to call ahead to see if the ranch you're heading to allows you to park or stay in your RV overnight. Even if you can't do that, dude ranches are all too often situated close to national parks that do offer RV parking. Keep in mind that not all dude ranch vacations come with a need to stay on-site; why not stay in the cozy comfort of your RV in between dude ranch activities?

Go on the Best Dude Ranch Vacations with Cruise America

Now that you know about some of the best dude ranch vacations in the country, it's time to get rollin', rollin', rollin' to your next great adventure in the great outdoors. If you fancy the cowboy life and think you're ready to "move 'em on, head 'em up" and "ride 'em in, let 'em out" behind the wheel of an RV, then it's time to get in touch with Cruise America.

Thanks to Cruise, getting out and experiencing the great outdoors and your next dude ranch vacation behind the wheel of an RV is easier than ever. Don't waste a moment: Keep "movin', movin', movin'" on to Cruise America today to find the wheels that'll help get you to a dude ranch and on a saddle sooner!