Hey, dudes! Still dreaming about a ranch reunion? Or have you already made the trip? Share your ranch reunion stories with our readers. E-mail us.
Consider a western dude ranch
The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA), formed in 1926, is the chief organization for guest ranch owners. More than 100 member ranches are in the Western US and Canada. The DRA promotes Western dude ranch vacations and works closely with government agencies to preserve and protect public lands. It’s not uncommon for ranches of several thousand acres to border sizeable national parks or forests, forming a vast parcel of remote wilderness and making ranchers unofficial stewards of the land. DRA ranches offer special children’s programs, pools, tennis courts, health and fitness programs, a menu of treatments and every amenity associated with resort destinations.
The all-inclusive reunion is a good option for the budget-minded. Dude ranch guests enjoy three meals a day in the all-inclusive price and aren’t charged for assorted activities and extras typically tacked on to a bill at other accommodations. And dude ranches reward those who plan ahead. Book early and save big is common policy of DRA member ranches. Ask about group rates. When costs are split between families sharing space, savings can be considerable.
Another option for stretching travel dollars is to take shorter trips. The traditional full-week stay is no longer mandated at most ranches. Finally, those who can carve out time during the off-season are in the best position to snag a dude ranch deal.
DRA member ranches offer genuine western hospitality along with the lodging industry’s latest quality standards. Visit www.duderanch.org.
Happy trails: choosing the right ranch Working cattle ranches: This is the landscape that shaped America. Rise early. Join the cattle drive. Mend fences. Gather eggs. Western-style relaxation rodeos, square dancing, hayrides a timeless way of life.
Dude/guest ranches: A guest when you arrive, a friend when you leave. Often hosted by owners, personalized ranch activities forge lasting friendships.
Many guests return year after year
Resort ranches: Golf, tennis, swimming, spa, mountain biking, hiking, skeet shooting and children's programs along with traditional ranch activities.
Naturally, ranches are located in most Western states and Canadian provinces, but you can jump into the saddle (and lifestyle) in unexpected places like New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Iowa or Arkansas. Do you picture riding Old Paint through sagebrush, cactus or pine forests? Climbing mountain paths or loping through meadows? Location will determine an assortment of other adventures, too, fly-fishing or just exploring national parks, dinosaur bones, geological formations, Native American ruins, old mines, ghost towns and abandoned forts. The Internet is a great place to compare ranches, their locations and activities.
from a dude ranch
Horseback riding – fast rides, short rides, lunch rides, dinner rides, all-day rides, arena riding, family rides.
White water rafting
Family fishing contests
Family team building games
Families play together at their reunions
Your family reunion can be the “all-inclusive” vacation of your dreams. Just think, a family reunion on a dude ranch like Sundance Trail Ranch, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado (sundancetrail.com)!
Dude ranches are great places for family reunions. Kids can ride horses and play in a safe environment, with acres and acres of room to roam. Wranglers will provide a mix of structured activities and unstructured free time.
Moms can relax and even play because the ranch does all the cooking, dishes and cleaning! Most ranches can satisfy just about any kind of special diet. Many ranches are wheelchair-friendly. Some ranches are even pet-friendly!
At Sundance Trail Ranch, there are separate suites for each family for quiet times, and comfortable common areas for visiting. A family dude ranch reunion can be compared to summer camp, with activities and adventures shared together by the whole family. Get pretty dirty during the day, then enjoy modern bathrooms, hot showers and clean warm beds at night!
Denver International Airport, in the heart of the US, is easy to reach from just about anywhere in the world. Usually not far from an airport, most ranches are situated in the quiet beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Most ranches provide transportation to and from the airport.
Sundance Trail’s summer dude ranch schedule includes structured activities every couple hours, mixed with unstructured time to explore, do your own activities or relax. All structured activities are optional – this is your family vacation; you might enjoy doing nothing for a couple of hours!
Think you might need the help of a planner? Your chosen ranch will be happy to help you plan!
Paradise Ranch focuses on kids It doesn’t take long for it to be just a boy and his horse at Paradise Ranch!
Ranches are places where families can unplug from electronics in gorgeous surroundings. And Paradise Ranch in Buffalo, Wyoming (paradiseranch.com), is known for having great ranch programs for children. Infants to teens have their own programs, with age-appropriate activities supervised by specially trained kid wranglers. Preschoolers enjoy pony rides, while ages six and up have daily horseback-riding. Babysitters watch guests up to age three, while kids over three can participate in a full-day program (parents pick them up for lunch). The kids program includes Horse Day (roping and calf feeding), Fishing Day (making fishing poles, talent show practice and teen social of movie and ice cream), Native American Day (making dream catchers, headdresses, and totem poles), Tie-Dyeing Day, Nature Day (hikes, treasure hunt, rock painting, cookie making and a chuckwagon dinner) and Rodeo Day (chicken-chasing competition, bookmark and bird-feeder making and, of course, a rodeo).