When backtracking for information regarding my last post, I couldn’t help but notice one of the disclaimers on the website that adamantly indicated that the Lazy F Ranch was a WORKING ranch and NOT a dude ranch. I thought this was an interesting and important detail that someone must have overlooked at some point. Apparently there are 4 different types of ranches; working ranch, guest ranch, dude ranch, and luxury resort ranch. And in fact, the website goes onto explain the different types of ranches, which you will find helpful as you search through the internet for your next ranch vacation. Below is my assessment of the different types of ranches available for adventure and western seekers.
I checked a couple of ranches that specifically call themselves a “working ranch” and true to their name, a working ranch is literally a ranch where they make their living breeding and raising cattle. That means, as a guest at a working ranch, you have the opportunity to live the life of a cowboy, or cowgirl. You may herd cattle, help with deliveries, feedings, branding etc. Be prepared to get down and dirty at a working ranch if this is something you are interested in learning and doing. Or you may choose to just go horse-riding like we did.
An example of a working ranch is the Lazy F Ranch. You may refer to my experience at LFR here.
Dude ranches are similar to working ranches in that the property may be shared with a working ranch. The guests have an option to participate in the chores of a cowboy however, there is usually an itinerary for the guests during the day over the course of their stay. It’s kind of like camp for adults and families where activities and entertainment are planned and scheduled and may be inclusive of the rates. You will have to confirm the details and rates with each dude ranch.
An example of a dude ranch is *Dixie Dude Ranch.
Guest ranches provide guests with private and separate lodgings that include full bathroom, kitchen, living space, and sleeping quarters. Even though most lodgings provide guests with a kitchen, meals are usually inclusive of rates. Horse riding is the main activity however other Western related activities may be available on a less formal basis if you’d like to do more than just riding and relaxing in an open country setting. Please don’t hesitate to inquire about other activities with the host of the guest ranch you are considering for your next vacation destination.
An example of a guest ranch is *Western Pleasure Guest Ranch.
And then there are luxury resort ranches, which tend to be destination resorts with a Western theme located in beautiful settings. Guests are not only offered a Western experience but these resorts will typically have a spa, golfing, or tennis courts if what you’re looking for is just a relaxing getaway with a Western backdrop. And when guests are hungry, resorts typically offer guest two types of dining experiences, gourmet restaurant, or casual dining.
An example of a luxury resort ranch is *Sorrel River Ranch Hotel & Spa Resort.
Again, I cannot over emphasize on the importance of contacting the ranches you are interested in vacationing to clarify any details and activities offered if you want to get the most out of your cowboy or cowgirl vacationing experience. If you’ve never ridden a horse, it is best to inquire if the ranch can accommodate beginners. Not all ranches do. If you have your own horse, ask if the ranch will be able to accommodate your animal. Sorting these details before you arrive will make for less stressful and more enjoyable experience, whether you want to immerse yourself in a cowboy lifestyle or just want a simple Western feel getaway.
(*) Indicates that I have not personally stayed there and this is not an endorsement. I am not responsible if you decide to book your vacation after reading this post and have a bad time.
Here are some links to some more information about dude ranches.
- The Dude Ranches
- The Dude Ranchers’ Association
- Guest Ranches of North America
- Working Ranches
- Working Ranches Cowboy Association