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How do I choose the best western vacation?


You are ready to begin planning your dude ranch vacation, but you want to know, “How do I choose the best western vacation?”   With hundreds of dude ranches spread across the western United States, your options are vast and diverse.  With options ranging from the rugged to the luxurious, how do you begin to plan your summer western vacation? Here are a few tips for preparing for that western vacation experience.

What type of western vacation are you envisioning? Do you dream of gourmet meals, spa treatments, morning yoga and a relaxing horseback ride? Or do you envision cattle drives, campfire coffee, and a bedroll under the stars at night?  Guest ranches cover every level of this spectrum, so it is essential to understand the three classifications of ranches and to choose which one you want.  The Dude Ranch Association classifies ranches as follows:

  • WORKING DUDE RANCH
    • These are working cattle or sheep operations. The ranch’s livestock and the work related to them will determine your horseback riding adventures. Be prepared to experience these activities first hand.
  • DUDE RANCH
    • Horseback riding is central to these ranches. The cowboy in you will experience Western riding and a variety of outdoor activities.  Western Pleasure Guest Ranch falls into this category.
  • RESORT DUDE RANCH
    • Horseback riding is featured, and these ranches offer an array of diverse activities and onsite facilities. These are apt to be the larger ranches.

Once you understand the type of ranch you are looking for, you can begin to narrow your search down by location.  Is there a particular region or State of the US or Canada that you are particularly interested in visiting? Some things that may affect your location decisions are travel (will you fly or drive?) and elevation (some ranches are located at high altitudes and this can be an issue for some people).  Be sure to take into consideration the riding environment.  What type of scenery do you hope to enjoy from the back of your horse?  Is it a flowering desert, the Rocky Mountains, high desert mesas, vast plains, or quiet meadows? The landscape may affect the location you choose for your vacation.

Family-focused or adult only.  Will you be traveling as a family or are you looking for an outing away from children?  If you are looking for an adult only getaway, search for ranches that are either strictly for adults or offer “adult only” weeks.  Are you traveling with the family? Great! Many ranches offer children’s programs included in your all-inclusive package.  Each ranch is different and so are their programs so ask questions about what these include.  Is it an educational program, strictly fun, or is it a little combo of both?

Guest Capacity. Another thing to consider is the guest capacity of the ranch you will be visiting. Capacity can range from 10 to 110. How many people do you envision sharing your western vacation experience with? Decide ahead of time what maximum or minimum number of guests you would like at your ranch vacation and be sure to ask your potential ranch destinations about their capacity.

Other Activities.  Are you hoping to spend all your time in the saddle or are there other activities that you are looking to experience? Some of these activities will be included in your all-inclusive price while others will be an additional cost. The list of activities varies from ranch to ranch. Activities may consist of mountain biking, fishing, golfing, swimming, wagon rides, boating, dancing, campfire, musical entertainment, geocaching, and rodeos.  For a complete list of the activities at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, visit our All Inclusive Guest Ranch Adventure page.

No matter the destination, a western dude ranch vacation will immerse you in the culture of the West, the Spirit of the Cowboy and the quiet of nature.

If you are ready to book your western vacation at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, you can book online or call (888) 863-9066.

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