Howdy Ya'll! Every year the fourth Saturday of July marks the National Day of the Cowboy – yee-hah! According to the National Day of the Cowboy organisation this is 'a day set aside to celebrate the contribution of the cowboy and cowgirl to America’s culture and heritage.
Written by: Gemma Walsh / 14 July 2016
Cowboy culture plays such a key part in American history so in honour of National Day of the Cowboy this Saturday 23rd July we have decided to pay tribute to the cowboy way and what better way to experience life as a cowboy than a ranch holiday
The USA has copious amounts of ranches on offer, ranging from luxurious dude resorts with all mod-cons included to the simpler working ranches where you can eat breakfast with the cowboys and help herd the cattle. But with so many ranches to choose from are you unsure of which one is right for you? Well fear not because we've put together a helpful guide to help you pick your dream ranch experience. The hardest decision you’ll have to make after reading is what cowboy boots to get! So the next question to ask yourself is which ranch is right for you?
Working ranches are the most basic of ranches and offer the most authentic ranch experience. Guests can get involved in the day-to-day tasks such as raising the livestock, driving the cattle and horses and carrying out any required chores. Lodging is basic but comfortable and meal times will be spent with the rest of the ranch employees and wranglers. If you’re looking for a hands on ranch experience then a Working Ranch is the one for you.
If you want to learn all about life on the ranch as well as taking part in a wide range of activities then a Dude Ranch is a good option. You will be taught how to ride and take care of horses as well as completing an action packed itinerary partaking in anything from hiking and fishing to country dancing and barbecues! A stay at a Dude Ranch is usually in rustic but spacious lodges or cabins which make the perfect choice for family getaways!
Guest Ranches offer a classic ranch atmosphere with a little more added luxury than a typical dude ranch. Horse riding is the main focus and anyone can take part, novice or pro. The vibe is more relaxed and the schedule is less hectic, guests can tailor-make their stay by picking and choosing from daily activities or simply just relaxing by the pool. A Guest Ranch is great for those wanting to experience the cowboy life at a more relaxed pace.
Resort Ranches are the most grand and luxurious of all the ranches. They’re a combination of dude and guest ranches and offer hotel style amenities and accommodation – some even have tennis courts, hot tubs and spas! Horse riding, fishing and biking are just some of the daily activities guests can get involved in, as well as a fully supervised children’s programme making it an ideal choice for families looking for a more upmarket ranch experience!
Our top ranch picks
Now you’ve picked your style it’s time to pick your destination. Here’s our Top Ranch Holiday Picks…
Mayan Dude Ranch - Bandera, Texas
Texas has a lot to shout about and the Mayan Dude Ranch is no exception. From the Medina River to the panoramic views of the valley far beyond, this rustic ranch is ideal for nature lovers looking to experience life as a true Texan Cowboy. Guests are encouraged to release their inner "rootin' tootin' cowboy" (and cowgirls of course!) so a typical day starts with a hearty breakfast, followed by a trail ride and cattle herding and finished off with evenings spent around the campfire, country dancing and listening to cowboy stories. Those looking to get stuck into traditional working ranch life should look no further - it doesn’t get much more authentic than a stay in the cowboy capital of the world!
Dixie Dude Ranch - Bandera, Texas
This traditional working ranch makes for the perfect Western getaway to share with friends and family. Life on the Dixie Dude Ranch is like a home away from home – guests are invited to join in as part of the family from the moment they arrive. The vibe is relaxed and guests can set their own pace. Situated on the spectacular Texas Hill Country, there’s plenty of room to relax, catch a magnificent sunset or kick up your heels. Day-to-day activities can range from exploring hiking trails by horseback to campfire sing-a-longs and country dancing and a busy day of Western fun always ends with a good ol’ home cooked Texan meal! Why not double up your ranch adventure with a stay at The Mayan Dude Ranch?
Moore Ranch - Kansas
Moore Ranch is a family-run working ranch set amongst 1,400 acres of wide open Kansas prairie, rolling hillsides and beautiful countryside. It welcomes guests into the family and invites them join in with the day-to-day running of a traditional working ranch life. Guests can awake at sunrise to sound of roosters crowing and get stuck in with the morning chores before enjoying a hearty breakfast and setting off for a typical day of saddling up the horses, herding and branding cattle and heading out on prairie wildlife rides. Evenings are spent around the campfire enjoying delicious home cooked meals and staring into the starry night sky. Life is simpler here at the Moore Ranch, but perfect for those wanting to experience the true cowboy way of life.
Tanque Verde Ranch - Arizona
This award-winning Arizona ranch is one of America’s old time cattle ranches and comes with an objective to give guests the ultimate old-fashioned ranch experience. Nestled beneath the magnificent Rincon Mountains guests have 60,000 acres of incredible desert outback to explore - this is probably one of the most unique ranching experiences out there! Offering an abundance of activities for all ages from mountain biking to fishing - there is never a dull moment at Tanque Verde Ranch; guests can explore the vast landscape by horseback in the day, come back and unwind in the luxury spa before grabbing a pre-dinner prickly pear margarita at the Doghouse Saloon! Tanque Verde Ranch is the perfect mix of classic wild-west and upscale luxury.
Rockin' R Ranch – Antimony, Utah
The Rockin' R Ranch is a real pioneer ranch with a history as intriguing as the West was Wild! This is a real old-western working ranch where cowboys brand cattle, grow and harvest crops, and more importantly, know how to have fun when the work is done! Utah's beautiful rolling hills, meadows and creeks make the perfect settings for outdoor adventures. Daily activities include horseback riding, hay wagon rides and tubing down the river and at the end of each working day guests can sit around the campfire and gaze into the stunning star-filled night sky! After a taste of western hospitality and everyday adventures, your Rockin’ R Ranch stay won’t be forgotten easily! Zion National Park is close by so why not team your ranch holiday with a national park stay?
Bar W Ranch – Whitefish, Montana
The Bar W Ranch is a small ranch nestled in between two pine covered ridges at the base of Spencer Mountain. Being a smaller ranch means guests receive a more hands on experience and activities will be tailor made to them. Horse riding is the main activity here and with nearly a million acres to roam guests will never tire of the variety of terrain and wildlife that Montana has to offer. In addition to trail rides guests can test their horsemanship skills with barrel racing and cattle herding as well as partaking in fly fishing, skeet shooting, archery lessons and wagon riding. After a busy day of activities guests can kick up their heels and stomp their feet during a night of square dancing! Bar W Ranch is great choice for active explorers and wildlife lovers.
Zapata Ranch – Mosca, Colorado
This award-winning ranch is owned by The Nature Conservancy and comes with a mission to sustain the surrounding environment. Set amongst 103,000 acres of Southern Colorado’s stunning Sangre de Christo Mountains nature is in abundance! Guests will get the opportunity to learn about the daily operations of a working ranch as well as how the surrounding land and cattle are managed – there’s even the opportunity to work alongside the wranglers on various ranch projects. The extensive activity programme ranges from horseback riding, cattle moving, nature hikes and wildlife watching to weekly relaxation and yoga sessions. Zapata Ranch is perfect for anyone looking for a more hands on ranch experience with some added luxury.