WHILE THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC has changed or canceled many people’s travel plans, it also has encouraged people to stay closer to home, get outside, avoid large groups and connect with family. Dude ranches offer safe and inviting ways to experience the great outdoors in small groups and with strict safety guidelines, possibly within a day or two of driving.
The Dude Ranchers’ Association, established in 1926, has more than 90 dude ranches under its umbrella throughout the United States and in British Columbia, Canada. The organization also offers services and advice through its website (duderanch.org) to anyone wanting to book a dude ranch vacation. Here are three things the DRA recommends considering when choosing a dude ranch.
- TIME OF YEAR: Depending on where you want to go on your dude ranch vacation, consider the optimal time of year to visit certain geographical areas. For example, in the heat of the summer consider a ranch in the north or northwest with warm days and cool nights. Conversely, wintertime is a prime time to escape the cold weather and head south.
- ATMOSPHERE: The DRA categorizes its member ranches into luxury, traditional and working ranches. Luxury, resort-type ranches offer posh accommodations, chef-prepared cuisine, and an array of guided recreation and spa services. Traditional ranches are usually family-friendly with comfortable lodging, homestyle comfort food, and a range of activities for all ages. Working ranches are for those travelers who want to experience the realities of ranch life, from moving cattle to feeding animals and fixing fence. Accommodations are rustic yet comfortable, and hearty meals will keep you going.
- ACTIVITIES: Compile a list of horseback and other activities your group wants to do—from birding, hunting and fishing to golfing, hiking and photography. It will help narrow your options and ensure everyone enjoys their dude ranch vacation.