Dude ranches. If you haven’t heard of them by now, you must’ve been hiding under a rock. A dude ranch is a type of guest ranch. But what’s the difference between a dude ranch and a guest ranch then? Well, the difference is all in the type of guests they attract. So here’s the background story in a nutshell. We basically owe it all to Theodore Roosevelt, who was a weak, sickly child. When he grew up, he wanted to visit some ranches and play cowboy. Back in those days, the word ‘ dude’ was considered to be an insult for rich, flashy city folk, who were unaccustomed to the wild west lifestyle. This is how the word ‘dude ranch’ came about.

But thankfully, the meanings of words change over time. These days, a dude refers to simply ‘a guy’. The term is used prolifically in surfer and skateboard culture as well. In the context of a ranch, a dude ranch is simply a ranch that attracts guests that want to live the cowboy lifestyle for a little while, as a form of recreation, without having to face any of the risks and dangers that a real cowboy would have faced in the long forgotten days of the wild, wild west. You’re not longer considered to be a elitist oaf when you visit a dude ranch. It’s become an accepted recreational getaway for everybody.

Most people think about horseback riding when they hear the term ‘dude ranch’. And it’s true that lots of horseback riding goes on at dude ranches. But the funny thing is (and many people don’t even know this), that there are many more type of activities organized at dude ranches. So you won’t have to just sit on horseback for hours per day, many days in a row. You can get some real variation in your dude ranch visit. So without further ado, let’s have a look at what dude ranches offer these days in terms of activities.

1. Riding A Zipline

There’s no rush quite like having your life hanging on by a thread. And that’s what you’ll literally (and voluntarily) be doing at the Bar Lazy J dude ranch in Colorado. This isn’t just any zipline. It just so happens to be one of the longest and fastest ziplines the USA has to offer. And it’s the only one that will take you across the Colorado River. This zipline starts at a steep bluff that will have you drop well over 80 feet as you swoosh across the Colorado River, through some trees and over a pasture. This one is not for the faint of heart, as you will be going at around 35 miles per hour. Is it any wonder that the required age is 13?

2. Talent Shows

Don’t worry, you don’t have to do karaoke if you don’t want to. Dude ranch talent shows don’t care much about the world’s current obsession with finding the best singers everywhere. Besides, it’s much more fun to try and lasso a running horse. Who knows, you might become the world’s next Clint Eastwood. How who wouldn’t want that?

3. Shooting Activities

If shooting is right up your alley, then you may want to consider a visit to the dude ranch at Red Horse Mountain. This one is really good for people who have never touched any kind of shooting device before in their lives. The people at Red Horse Mountain will provide you with really great instructions and they will ensure that you are participating in their shooting activities in a controlled environment, where you can feel safe.

This ranch has 5 stations, all of which have their own unique targets. As you progress, you move from one station to the next. The stations are set up in various terrains, so that you’ll have to deal with realistic shooting conditions, such as steep terrain and thick brush. It can get pretty difficult at times, so you’ll have to be ready for a challenge. On top of that, there are various kinds of shotguns available, so to each his own. The ranch also offers shooting glasses and ear protection.

4. White Water Rafting

If you’re fond of water and water related activities, then you’ll want to pay a visit to the Three Bars dude ranch. These guys will allow you to go white water rafting down the St. Mary’s River. This beautiful river offers unspoiled stone streams, so you can enjoy them the same way a cowboy living in the 19th century would have done so, if he had had a raft.

Rafting isn’t without risk, especially if you’re going into high class rivers. In rafting, difficulty classes go from 1 to 6. Class 1 is a calm river that any newbie can easily take on. Class 5 is so wild that it requires full mastery. Class 6 is so insane that even a person who has fully mastered rafting, is not guaranteed to survive the trip. Thankfully, the rafting classes in St. Mary’s River will vary between 2 and 3. This is safe for well instructed newbies.

5. Getting Married

If you and your boy/girl friend have been wanting to get married and you also had half a mind of visiting a dude ranch, then you might as well combine the two and visit Sylvan Dale dude ranch. Thousands of couples get married here every year, and you can be one of them. If you always wanted to have your marriage photos taken against a picturesque backdrop, then this ranch is the place to be. There are many wide open spaces here for you and your groom/bride to roam. The amenities are of the highest level, as is the service. Heck… you can even rent the whole darn ranch for your event.

6. Wine Tasting

If you want to live the lifestyle of an old fashioned rich ‘dude’, then you can indulge in the distinguished activity of wine tasting at the Smith Fork dude ranch. These guys have their cellars loaded with nothing but the best wines from all over the world: Australia, Italy, France and the West Coast. Colorado itself also has a very fine wine country. These wines are also represented here. Naturally, you will be enjoying the finest cuisine that goes along perfectly well with your wine of choice.

7. Yoga Class

Some ranches offer yoga classes that are spearheaded by certified trainers that will take you from a stressed out yoga nubcake to a very mellowed out yoga bad-ass. It can definitely help to get all chillaxed before you get up into the saddle for a horseback ride, later that day. Yoga has been scientifically shown to have very real health benefits. It decreases stress, relieves anxiety, fights depression and increases your overall life quality. It may also have the benefits of increasing your heart health, decreasing your inflammation and reducing pain from migraines.

8. Spa Treatments

A long time ago, every hotel and resort all across the globe has given in to the rising demand in treatments that will increase your wellbeing. Spas that offer massages and whatnot are popping up like mushrooms all over the world. The White Stallion dude ranch in Tucson, Arizona is no exception. At their spa, you can undergo a really nice massage and other wellness treatments. You can disengage from work, friends and family for a while. You’ll feel more calm and relaxed. Your blood circulation will be improved and you will feel better overall. Is there any reason why you wouldn’t want to experience a feelgood treatment like this while you are visiting a dude ranch?

About the Author Brian

Hello, I'm Cindy. I’m a super duper mega hiking enthusiast, with a love for everything that has to do with outdoors, hiking, gear, footwear and more.

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