The “Modern” Dude Ranch Experience

As they developed, guest ranching has developed some certain common characteristics.

  • The ranch is the year-round home of the owner, where the visitor is considered a guest of the family.
  • The ranch is located in the western states or provinces, in a location remote from crowded areas, with the sights and pleasures of the west
  • The ranch offers food, rustic lodging, and horseback riding, most often packaged at one price (i.e., the American Plan), with reservations required.
  • The main activities of the ranch are riding, hiking, sightseeing, and simple relaxation; some, usually in the north, still offer hunting and fishing.
  • The key ingredient of the ranch is its atmosphere, informal in manners and dress, a genuine hospitality, with guests known on a first name basis.

The Dude Ranch Experience Compared to the large Theme Park, Amusement Park or Cruise

Modern dude ranches provide a quiet alternative to the theme or amusement park. Learn about working at a theme park, including Disney careers, in another section of JobMonkey.

Imagine a vacation experience where:

  • There are no crowds
  • There are no lines – We never make our guests wait! Never!
  • The rides are on real, live, not plastic animals
  • Guests don’t need to pull out their wallets to pay for something every few hours
  • Guests are not surprised by unexpected hidden expenses
  • Guests are thought of as “friends of the family.”
  • The view is not acres of asphalt and concrete parking lots, and thousands of people standing in those ever-snaking lines, but unbelievably beautiful vistas of snow covered mountain peaks, horses running in pasture, the goats playing behind the lodge
  • Cowboys and Cowgirls are real people not fake fiberglass heads
  • Instead of sitting passively and having things done to them, guests actually participate and interact – we used to call this “play”
  • Imagine having fun and getting dirty, really dirty, and tired – this applies to both guests and staff!
  • Guests eat healthy food – nothing deep fried or “supersized”
  • Kids are safe – an atmosphere where mom can turn her back for a few minutes (or a few hours!) – and not worry about her kids’ safety.


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