Ever wondered what dude ranches have to offer? Staying at a dude ranch in Wyoming adds a layer of Western adventure hard to find in our modernized world. From horseback riding to fishing, each ranch has a unique experience to provide their guests. We sat down with Bryce Albright, Executive Direction of Dude Rancher’s Association, to find out more about dude ranches and the adventures they have to offer. Here’s what you can expect when planning a dude ranch vacation.

Is there a difference between dude ranches, guest ranches and working dude ranches in Wyoming?

There is not a difference between dude and guest ranches, but working dude ranches give guests the opportunity to work alongside the cowboys of the operation. This could include moving cattle, fixing fences and other involvement in day-to-day operations. The extent to which guests want to be involved is completely up to them, but working dude ranches are a great destination for people wanting to see and participate in the behind the scenes activities of a ranch.

A man on horseback guiding cattle at a dude ranch in Wyoming
A Bar A Ranch

Should travelers expect to do ranch work while staying at a dude ranch?

The beauty of dude ranches is the autonomy they possess. Guests can be as involved or uninvolved as they please. Ranches have certain schedules and activities lined up during the week and guests can choose what they want to participate in. For most ranches, these activities include things like horseback riding and fishing.

Some ranches allow guests to be involved in the ranch work while at the ranch, but it does depend on the ranch. Most of the time, working dude ranches is where you will find guests involved in the day-to-day chores and operations of the ranch.

A man and a woman on horseback with cattle behind them at a dude ranch
Klondike Cattle Drive

What should a traveler expect while staying on a dude ranch that is different from a bed & breakfast, cabin rental or hotel stay?

Dude ranches are different from B&B’s, cabin rentals and hotel stays because of the fact they are all-inclusive and offer activities as well as three meals a day. They also are usually 6–7-night stays, which is the perfect length to really take advantage of these types of accommodations. Many ranches have a required 3-night stay as a minimum.

A group of people around a campfire at a dude ranch
Gros Ventre

How do dude ranches differ from typical all-inclusive stays?

Most people think of a cruise line or Disney resort as an all-inclusive stay, and they are similar, but dude ranches are obviously much more Western-focused and themed and offer the experience of living the life of a cowboy.

A man grilling food outside a dude ranch in Wyoming
Crossed Sabres

How much privacy can a visitor expect to have on a dude ranch?

A visitor can expect to have a great amount of privacy at a dude ranch. Since most ranches do not allow off-property traffic onto the ranch, it is a very secluded experience. Individual cabins and lodge rooms offer great privacy. Many even include their own porch to sit on and relax.

A cabin on a dude ranch in Wyoming

What kind of activities are offered on dude ranches?

Each ranch offers different activities, but horseback riding is the main activity. Other activities can include fishing, hiking, archery, yoga, water sports and more. You can go here for an inclusive list of activities offered on most dude ranches, but the specific activities offered is dependent on which ranch you book. The Wyoming Dude Ranchers

Group of people on a boat fishing in Wyoming
Triangle X Ranch

Should a traveler have previous experience to try the activities offered at dude ranches?

Dude ranches are perfect for any and all travelers! Especially if they want to try something new. Dude ranches cater to beginners and experts and all levels in between in all activities, so prior experience is not necessary.

Man and little girl on horseback high fiving on a dude ranch in Wyoming

Do most dude ranches offer the same type of vacation experience?

Most dude ranches offer the same type of vacation experience in terms of activities. They all offer outdoor and Western-focused activities for guests to participate in. However, accommodations and meals can differ from ranch to ranch due to a ranch being either a working, traditional or luxury dude ranch.

Live music performance on a dude ranch in Wyoming
A Bar A Ranch

What type of food is served at dude ranches?

Food varies between ranches, but at most ranches, you will find traditional ranch and Western-style food that is family-friendly and hearty. Some ranches do offer gourmet food options. All ranches can accommodate special diets and even the pickiest of eaters with advance notice.

Person grilling meets on a dude ranch in Wyoming

Are pets allowed at dude ranches?

Very few ranches allow pets but can make recommendations for boarding facilities nearby if necessary.

When is the best time to stay at a dude ranch? How far in advance should a visitor book their stay?

Wyoming dude ranches have limited seasons due to the winter weather. The best time to stay at a Wyoming dude ranch is between May and September. There are some Wyoming ranches that are open year-round and offer different activities in the wintertime. It is recommended to book a dude ranch stay six to nine months in advance, as dude ranch vacations are becoming increasingly popular every year.

People on horseback through greenery in Wyoming

Why should someone book a stay at a dude ranch?

The experience and atmosphere are what truly make dude ranches unique. There are no other all-inclusive vacations that give guests the opportunity to participate in an array of Western-themed activities and be as involved or uninvolved as a guest would like. Ask anyone that has been to a dude ranch and they will describe this certain kind of “magic” that people feel on a ranch.

A dude ranch is where the outside world melts away and you start to reconnect with yourself, your family and nature. Someone should book a stay at a dude ranch because it is a great value, offers new experiences, allows families to reconnect and it is a vacation like no other!

Horses grazing during sunset on a dude ranch in Wyoming
Kara Creek

To learn more about dude ranches in Wyoming, visit the Wyoming Dude Ranchers’ Association.

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