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11 dude ranches where you can ride horses, go skeet shooting, or try fly fishing — and most meals are included

FAQ: Dude ranch vacations

What is a dude ranch?

A dude ranch is a Western-style resort typically featuring rustic-chic accommodations and a wide range of outdoor-centric activities, including horseback riding, fishing, hiking, roping, roasting marshmallows, chuckwagon dinners, and more. 

Dude ranches are often set on hundreds (or thousands!) of acres of land offering plenty of wide-open spaces and on-site trails, ponds, lakes, and more. Many dude ranches are all-inclusive resorts where all meals, drinks, and activities are included. However, other guest ranch stays have a la carte options. Some dude ranches require minimum stays of anywhere from two nights to a week, but others allow you to book just one night.

How much does a dude ranch vacation cost?

Dude ranch vacation costs can vary quite a bit. It depends heavily on the season (peak summer dates will be the most expensive), as well as whether it’s all-inclusive or not.

Though all-inclusive options can come with an initial sticker shock, it pays off to do the math on how much meals and activities will cost at other dude ranches since sometimes the all-inclusive route can actually come out cheaper in the end.

Dude ranches span a wide range and there are budget options available for under $200 per night all the way up to decadent luxury stays packed with amenities and perks that can start from over $1,000 per night. 

What do you do at a dude ranch?

Horseback riding is the main attraction at most dude ranches, but there are plenty of additional activities, including fishing, swimming, archery, and even lounging at on-site pools to keep non-equestrians busy.

Expect wholesome entertainment like toasting marshmallows under a starry sky, or listening to a chorus of cowboys singing country music hits by the campfire at night. Food options can also range from casual barbecues to gourmet meals depending on the ranch. 

Are ranch vacations safe?

The CDC has stated that travel within the US is safe for fully vaccinated travelers, and experts say hotels are safe with the proper precautions taken. 

Dude ranches also often present an even safer and more attractive vacation option right now since many offer standalone cabins and most ranches feature plenty of space for social distancing and focus on spending time outdoors. 

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