How Dude Ranches Work

How to Choose a Dude Ranch

Children pet a lamb at a ranch in Montana.
Children pet a lamb at a ranch in Montana.
Ralf Nau/Getty Images

As w­e discussed on the previous page, dude ranches offer a rich array activities for all kinds of people. In order to tailor the perfect dude ranch experience to you and your family, you'll want to consider the location of your dude ranch, the time of year you want to take your trip and the overall type of experience you want to have.

The first thing you'll want to consider is the location of your trip. Dude ranches endorsed by the Dude Ranch Association are located in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, and Alberta and British Columbia, Canada. The states offering the most ranches are Wyoming, Colorado, Montana and Arizona. Additionally, dude ranches can be found in Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

Once you've determined where you want to go, you'll want to consider the time of year to take your trip. Ranches in northern states are busiest in summer months due to their cooler climates. You can experience warm weather riding during the winter in the southern states.

Another thing that you'll want to take into consideration is the number of guests at the ranch. For example, staying at ranch that hosts eight guests will offer a very different experience than a ranch that serves 100 guests. You'll especially notice this difference during dining and social events.

Lastly, you want to think about what sort of accommodations you'd like. Ranches offer a wide range of atmospheres. You can stay at a rustic cabin with no running water or a luxurious hotel-like establishment. While all Dude Ranch Association ranches meet standards of cleanliness and comfort, if you want your stay to include a Jacuzzi and wireless Internet service, you should choose your ranch according to your needs.