Dude Ranch

Dude Ranches Wyoming: What Do You Do At A Dude Ranch?

Dude ranches in Wyoming offer dream opportunities of a happy lifetime to be built upon, when you visit with friends and family members.

Looking for a holiday that is an alternative that will provide memories for a lifetime? Maybe you want a short break for you as a couple. Whatever the reason, a dude ranch experience for couples and families can be a time of adventure and excitement. Regardless of your ages or abilities, there are opportunities on dude ranches you cannot miss.

If you are looking to vacation in Wyoming, you probably don’t want to stay too long in a city hotel. The state is full of mountains, prairies, and wildlife and is almost a natural wonder in itself. If you’re fortunate enough to visit a dude ranch, you will be able to see why Wyoming can be considered emblematic of the Old West. But what do you do at a dude ranch? This article will explore some common activities at dude ranches in Wyoming — and interesting vacation ideas that are fun for the whole family.   

What Is A Dude Ranch?

First things first: what is a dude ranch? A dude ranch is a tourist-friendly area of herding (or farm) land intended to allow visitors to experience life as a western rancher (or farmer or cowboy). 

Closely associated with the American expansionist period of the 1800s, dude ranches were originally an opportunity for eastern visitors, or “dudes,” to pay to experience ranchers and cowhands’ lifestyle. 

Nowadays, dude ranches are geared for tourists and families from all places, with a wide array of western-style activities for everyone.     

Are Dude Ranches Fun?

Yes! Dude ranches are a great place for recreation and fun things to do. You can experience western-style activities like horseback riding, cattle drives, hayrides, and campfire barbecues at a dude ranch. 

If you are looking for activities that will bring you closer to nature, dude ranches may include opportunities for camping in the wilderness, hiking in the mountains, and rafting on nearby lakes and rivers. 

Some dude ranches have designated walking trails or fishing spots — great places to experience the fish, large mammals, and birds particular to Wyoming. 

To summarize, dude ranches are fun, and there is no shortage of things to enjoy there. Let’s explore some traditional dude ranch activities in more detail. 

Horseback Riding

There might not be a more western-style activity than horseback riding. There is almost nothing more relaxing than the slow clop-clop of your mount, the trekking on trails through the mountains, or the calm breezes blowing grass as you ride through the plains. 

Wyoming’s dude ranches offer horseback riding in a variety of ways. You can go for a shorter one or two-hour rides or be guided for half or full-day tours. If you are feeling adventurous, packages for multi-day trips are also available.

You might take rides that emphasize ranch history, or you might take a tour of the natural scenery. In all, there are plenty of ways to enjoy this mainstay of cowboy culture at dude ranches in Wyoming, so bring your family — and make sure they bring their hats!  

Cattle Drives

A cattle drive is the task of leading cattle to new areas (i.e., grazing pastures). This was the traditional work of cowboys, and care for the cattle in this process was their main objective. 

Fortunately, this activity is not limited only to cowhands anymore. You can participate in large, horseback-oriented cattle drives at several Wyoming dude ranches as if you were a cowherd in the Old West. You can even participate in groups, so your whole family can learn about and enjoy the pace of a traditional cattle drive. Great team-building opportunities exist for those who enjoy this aspect.

Hay Rides and Covered Wagons

If you have children that are too small for horseriding, you might consider taking them on a hayride. Wyoming’s dude ranches sometimes offer these wagon-centered journeys to and from different cabins or locations. 

A more traditional ride would be one in a covered wagon, which pioneers used to travel the prairies. Fortunately, some dude ranches offer rides in exactly this type of vehicle, keeping you out of the sun and the elements.  


Many dude ranches offer hiking opportunities. If you want to explore the nearby hills and valleys, go birdwatching, or take an afternoon walk, look into any dude ranch with trails and plenty of room to explore the wilderness. 

Wyoming has many native mammals such as bison, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, black bears, mountain lions, and Rocky Mountain elk. Depending on your location, you might be able to see moose, wolves, coyotes, beavers, bald eagles, or bighorn sheep. 

The state has a diverse environment, including snow-covered mountain ranges, short grasslands, and pretty sizable lakes and rivers. If you want to explore any one of these ecosystems, definitely look for a dude ranch with expansive, safe, and scenic trails.


Dude ranches in Wyoming can offer guided fishing tours of nearby lakes or rivers. The state is known for its various trout and other fish species, and designated fly fishing areas are not uncommon. 

If you are fishing at a dude ranch in Wyoming, make sure you have the permits needed to fish. Fortunately, you can find these for purchase at cabins on-site, as well as supplies, bait, and other equipment.

Lake and River Trips

Some dude ranches in Wyoming offer day trips on large rafts — in order to explore the nearest river or large lake. 

If you are looking for a smaller, less-structured boating excursion, look for dude ranches that have kayak, canoe, and rowboat rentals. 

Camping and Lodging

Many dude ranches in Wyoming offer different types of guest accommodations. Some accommodate tent campers, dry (or RV) campers, and those interested in staying in cabins with modern amenities. 

Some ranches have pools, televisions and are electronic-friendly. Others are completely the opposite. Ensure you know what type of vacation you want, and seek out the best place to stay.

What is the difference between a dude ranch and a guest ranch?

A dude ranch generally will have all meals and activities included within the price being Pais. A guest ranch will have the meals and activities available as extras when there. Take a moment to check which type is best for you and consider what is being offered. An all-in offer is generally better than picking and choosing whilst at a location.

How much does it cost to stay at a dude ranch?

A holiday outing to a dud ranch will normally cost in the region of $5000 to $8000, but this will depend on certain specifics. These would be the number visiting the ranch, length of trip, and any extras added. A little research will provide a more accurate figure, and if you are going as a large group, you may be able to get a good discount.

What do you wear, and what should I bring to a dude ranch?

This will depend on the activities you wish to get involved with but here are a few considerations to keep in mind:

These unique experiences you will gain are certainly something to look forward to. As you pull out the suitcase and dust off your cowboy boots, you might wonder what all you should be bringing on this vacation. Don’t worry; here is a list of items you should consider packing.

General Clothing items:

  • Boots
  • Hats
  • Breathable Jeans
  • Breathable Shirts
  • Rain Jacket
  • Long pajamas
  • Windproof jacket/Fleece jacket (during cooler months and for mountain dude ranch destinations as night temperatures can drop any time of the year)
    Hat & Gloves (during cooler months)
  • Swimsuit if you swim
  • Cameras for doing some shooting
  • Phone/Camera Chargers
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect Repellent
  • Lip Balm with sunscreen
  • Sunglasses

 For horseback riding:

  • Riding boots (preferably with a 1″ heel and smooth sole)
  • Long socks for horseback riding (preferably wool or wool blend)

For fly fishing:

  • Lightweight shirts (Avoid cotton)
  • Synthetic base layer for under wader (Patagonia® or Smartwool)

For hiking:

  • Hiking boots
  • Flashlight or a headlamp
  • Binoculars
  • Backpack
  • Sleeping bag (if you are interested in an overnight backpacking trip)
  • Reusable water bottle

Before you go, here are a few items which may be of interest:

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There are plenty of things to do at a dude ranch in Wyoming. Whether you want to get back to the Old West by riding horses or going on a cattle drive, or want to relax on a scenic hiking or lake tour, you can do it all on a dude ranch. Plan your trip so that you can get to everything you want to do — and bring yourself, your family, and an open mind.

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