5 reasons Americans need a dude ranch vacation NOW: Adventure and romance

19590022Romance, adventure, and tradition. That’s how the guest ranch (aka dude ranch) got its start—as an entry into the West we dream about, and the way of the cowboy.  As Tim Singewald, at Wyoming’s DC Bar Guest Ranch and Bridger Wilderness Outfitters reminded us, yesterday’s kids saw Roy Rogers, John Wayne, and even Spin and Marty (Disney’s cool ’50s teen cowboys) on television daily—every little boy in America wanted to be a cowboy.  Yet that image of the cowboy is missing from TV today and some of today’s kids don’t quite ‘get’ what’s so thrilling about being on a ranch and playing cowboy for a week. Or just playing in the great—really wild—outdoors.

“Many city kids don’t really know what a dude ranch is—and how much fun it is,” Tim says. “They think of a ranch vacation as rocking on a porch and looking out at the sunset” and they think: BORING. Or they think a guest ranch is only for an accomplished rider. So not true. “They don’t realize there’s so much action and adventure here, and so much to try: Learn to fly fish, learn to ride a horse, learn how to camp outdoors, learn to watch (or track) animals,” Tim notes. And at some ranches, the list goes on to include learning to rope a calf, raft a river, shoot a bow and arrow, pilot a canoe, mountain bike ride, take photographs, try new yoga postures, and maybe even learn to be a little stronger, healthier, and more fit.

And the old view of a ranch is, well, so five minutes ago. Now you can find a ranch with a candlelight dining rooms, even golf courses and spas and fitness centers where the ‘rents (parents, in kid lingo) can learn a few handy  things, too, like tips on handling stress back in the real world. At places like Lost Creek Ranch, classes on yoga, hiking, and cooking are a part of packages offered regularly. At California’s Highland Ranch, you can learn clay pigeon shooting, take a yoga class, or brush up on your musical skills (the parlor piano is always in tune). Many ranches have Internet hookups for guest use, so you’re never that far out of touch.

But the timeless thrill and romance? Well, it’s still here, in the horses galloping through the pastures (with you in the saddle), the froth of whitewater on an untamed river (with you paddling the raft),  and the tangerine glow of a campfire (reflected in your kids’ shining faces). And the adventures a child and the kid in all of us adults can have in the open air. Good times.

Right now, we’re all feeling the pull of nostalgia, the remembrance of easier, better, more honest times. What easier way to recapture, no, to LIVE those good times than to go off and play cowboy for a while? Take the plunge. Jump on that horse (or into that river raft). Make a new tradition for your own family, by following the traditions of America’s guest ranches and the romance of the cowboy way. Along the way, you’ll find romance, action, and adventure you never dreamed possible in this age of cold computers and blaring iPods. Thanks for the reminder, Tim.

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series, 5 reasons Americans need a dude ranch vacation NOW, a part of  the ongoing “Discover Ranch Vacations Campaign”.


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