Dude Ranch - Best Tours & Trips 2019
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Relaxed A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers.
Full on For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included.
Mixed You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included.
Group Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Tour Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ship Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Guided Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Self Guided / Independent Tour A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ship Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.
Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.
Price Per Day
Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.
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Rivers & Seas
Cities & Attractions
Flights & Transport
Continents & Regions
Stride Gives Back Stride Gives Back This trip visits a destination impacted by climate change. When you opt in to the Stride Gives Back program, we will donate 10% of our net revenue to organizations that help mitigate climate change in these destinations and across the globe. Learn more
Impacted by Climate Change
- Explore Nez Perce National Historical Park in Spalding
- Visit the world’s largest fish hatchery at the Dworshak Dam
- Enjoy a ride in the Clearwater National Forest
- Enjoy drive about two hours to our put-in on the Salmon River
- Visit an ancient Chinese rock house
- Enjoy the guided hike to visit the ruins of a Japanese Internment camp
- Experience the Hike in the Bitterroot
- Opportunity to hike up trail on National Forest land
- Hike up Smith Creek from your cabin and you might see moose, elk or black bear.
- Grand Canyon Rafting on the Colorado River
- Explore Redwall Cavern & Nautiloid Canyon
- Hike to Nankoweep & explore Native American ruins
- Raft 19 major rapids like Unkar, Hance, Sockdolager & Grapevine
- Lees Ferry rafting to Phantom Ranch ends with a hike out on Bright Angel Trail
- Work with cattle under the guidance of experienced cowboys
- Ride horses with experienced and skilled wranglers
- Learn how to fly-fish
- Enjoy canoeing and kayaking
- Hike in the Big Horn Mountains
- Learn the art of fly-tying
- Receive personalized casting lessons and riverside instruction from outstanding guides
- Pull up your waders and venture into the stream for a one or two-hour fishing adventure on Rock Creek.
- Explore Montana waterways
- Enjoy solitary
- Explore and relax in the unique setting of Muktuk Ranch
- Three nights of spectacular outdoor Aurora viewing
- Get outside with dog sledding and snowmobiling adventures
- Try out snowshoeing and ice fishing
- Enjoy a seven-day vacation with abundance of recreation
- Experience Family style western cuisine
- Spend your family vacation in cozy lodge atmosphere
- NYE countdown and fireworks on the Las Vegas strip<br/>
- One night stay in Grand Canyon West<br/>
- BBQ Ribs Dinner Included
- Set out on gentle horseback trail rides amid your striking surroundings
- Visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and see more than 300 live animal species and 1,300 species of plants in their natural habitats
- Gaze at the stars with a local expert and sing cowboy songs around a bonfire
- Enjoy special week’s art focus with a wonderful instructor
- Discover the vast mountain ranges, ride alongside a creek, or lope across a meadow
- Take guided nature hikes in the mountains and forests
- Try your hand at archery
- Shop at Durango’s many charming boutiques and galleries
- Guided trek
- Spectacular scenery; unique on Earth
- Hike takes you along the Colorado River
- Enjoy hiking the beautiful Clear Creek and River Trails
- Ascent the Bright Angel Trail to the Grand Canyon South Rim Village
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Top Dude Ranch Experiences
Riding horses through classic American west landscapes
Golfing in the warm summer sun
Gourmet meals after a long day of activity
Attending an authentic rodeo with events like barrel racing and calf roping
Trying your hand at handling a lasso
Learning how to take care of horses and spending time around the stable
Attending a ranch wide BBQ and learning how to line dance
Taking a western-style jumping class
Getting up early for a “breakfast ride” where a classic western breakfast awaits after a beautiful horse ride in the sunrise
Dude Ranch Trip Reviews
Dude Ranch Tours and Travel Guide
Dude Ranch Attractions & Landmarks Guide
For families, nothing quite beats the Dude Ranch experience. You get all the perks of living out your wild west fantasies without the pitfalls of mucking out stalls. There are tons of activities geared toward kids, where they will be supervised, allowing adults a chance to relax, play a round of golf, or just enjoy a glass of wine on the veranda of your private bungalow.
Dude Ranch or Guest Ranch - What’s the Difference?
While the lines are fairly blurred, the main difference to be aware of when searching for a ranch trip is that Guest Ranch typically implies more luxury and more varied activities available - both for kids and adults. A Dude Ranch tends to be more heavily focused on horse and ranch activities, accommodations will be nice but on the more rustic side.
The Experience of the American West
Dude Ranches are not just the most fun a kid (or adult) could ask for - they are a window into the old west - albeit a romantic one. Many ranches will put on rodeos, featuring classic events like barrel racing, herding and lasso contests, and bucking broncos.
Many ranches have historical roots - having hosted cowboys, visitors, and travelers making the proverbial and legendary “move west” since the 1800s. This dose of authenticity contributes to the entire aura when you stay at a Dude Ranch. Line dancing, BBQs, cowboy poetry, and classic western country music may also play a role during your visit. On trail rides, guides will point out local wildlife, and provide historical context to the ranch.
Popular Dude Ranch Destinations
California: While many may not think of California when they think of the stereotypical American West, there is a wealth of cowboy heritage to be found. California attracted the seekers of manifest destiny as well as experienced the boom of gold seekers in the 1880s. It is the pinnacle of “west” being that it’s the furthest west these explores could venture (on the mainland at least).
Colorado: The truly intrepid faced the Rocky Mountains and decided they could be climbed. But a fast majority (understandably!) settled in the lands east of the imposing mountain range. A rich cowboy heritage is alive and well in Colorado, where you can ride in view of the mountains.
Wyoming: Wyoming is one of the only states that still seems largely untouched. It’s somewhere to go to really get a sense of what the landscape would have looked and felt like for travelers across the plains. Perhaps a few less buffalo graze there today, but other than that, you’re sure to get a very authentic glimpse into the historic American West lifestyle.
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