A dude ranch vacation? Say yes, but don’t go into it expecting City Slickers. From outdoor excursions to horseback adventures, the fun quotient at a dude ranch is off the charts. Guests looking for a nature-centric, outdoors vacation are guaranteed to love the views and the diversity of activities. Knowing what to expect is key to finding the right ranch. So here are 8 reasons to choose a dude ranch vacation.
If you’ve never taken a dude ranch vacation, just ask someone who has. They will probably have many stories and likely will rave about it…for good reason! Find out these 8 reasons to choose a dude ranch vacation. Then we hope you’ll consider Goosewing Ranch in Jackson Hole for this adventure. Don’t be surprised if it becomes the family’s new go-to destination.
8 Reasons to Take a Dude Ranch Vacation
1. Location, location, location.
Consider where your dude ranch is located. If the ranch is close proximity to national parks, plan to take advantage of this either before or after your dude ranch vacation.
Our ranch is about 40 miles northeast of the town of Jackson. You will need about 30 minutes for the first half, through beautiful Grand Teton National Park. The last 20 miles will take about 45 minutes, driving along a scenic dirt road through the Bridger Teton National Forest. Goosewing Ranch is about 90 miles from the south entrance of the Park. Allow at least 2 hours for driving through Grand Teton Park and wilderness and along the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway to reach the South entrance of Yellowstone.
Study up on your ranch ahead of time. Know what it’s close to and what activities it offers. This helps everyone go in with realistic expectations. Pamela from California took this advice to heart: “We researched guest/dude ranches for months trying to find the right ranch for us. We loved the fact that Goosewing Ranch is a smaller more intimate ranch!”
Our ranch is also in a prime location with views of the Grand Tetons. Located deep in the Gros Ventre River Valley in the Jackson Hole, Wyoming area. Goosewing Ranch marks the entry point to a protected, pristine wilderness. The south entrance to Yellowstone National Park is located just 90 miles north, and you are within minutes of the majestic mountains of Grand Teton National Park, one of three mountain ranges surrounding the high valley of Jackson Hole.
2. The experience feels like family.
So may dude ranches are owned by families or have been in their family for years, so it translates that a dude ranch vacation feels like staying with family. It starts early because the staff get to know all the guests. Additionally, the warm hospitality also spills over to fellow guests who are sharing the same experiences.
One guest compared it to old friends: “Staff were extremely friendly and helpful! Felt like we were old friends and enjoyed meeting them.”And Jayne from London gives credit to the staff: “But most of all we enjoyed the people, who were all warm, charming and willing to bend over backwards to give us a great experience.”
We highly recommend read the reviews of previous guests. Our ranch is happy to share guest feedback because it both gives an unbiased review of our property…and because they have great things to say!
3. Prepare to be surprised at what your family can do.
A dude ranch is a liberating experience for the entire family. Kids may discover skills they didn’t know they had; grown-ups may try something for the very first time.
Some of the new-to-you activities might include: target shooting with .22 rifles or BB guns, Geo-caching, hatchet throwing, archery, horse games, fishing instruction, themed trail rides, wagon rides, team penning, unguided tubing the river, unguided hiking, unguided mountain biking, and roping practice.
As an added bonus, we also have a glamping site with covered wagons as accommodations. Be the envy of your friends and family when you return home with grand stories of horseback riding, wildlife spotting, hiking, fishing, explorations, and much more.
The Goosewing glamping site is located about four miles northeast of the ranch and sits at about 8,400 feet. This is a unique western experience perfect for those seeking adventure without sacrificing comfort. You will have many opportunities to search for wildlife, learn survival skills, learn about Dutch oven cooking, learn how to tack and care for your horse, fish, ride, hike, and explore the Gros Ventre area. This is a remote location and the main focus is for you to have a unique Western experience in a one-of-a-kind location.
Guests from Arlington, Virgina found glamping to be the highlight of their vacation:”The covered wagon, in particular, was awesome. We were the only guests there and wrangler Wayne and cook Jim were super hosts. We spent both days riding horses all day, learning how to tend for them, taking the ATV up the mountain, eating and drinking around the campfire, and enjoying some space and time out in nature with virtually no other contact or modern life. It was the highlight of our ten-day trip to Wyoming.”
4. While on a Dude Ranch, Enjoy Everything It Has to Offer
Dude ranches hit the mark with amazing activities. We offer fly fishing, archery, skeet shooting, cattle herding and pinning, target shooting, hatchet throwing, driving our Utility Terrain Vehicles, and tubing. Not to mention the special events like cookouts, s’mores by the fire, and hayrides. And don’t discount enjoying the pool and hot tub after a day in the saddle.
Keep in mind that many ranches are isolated and it will take some driving to get to any off-site activity. Translation: Once guests arrive at our ranch, they don’t want to leave!
Here’s how Jodi D. described it: “As many activities or as little as you want – fly fishing, trip to rodeo, horseback riding (several trips to choose from) swimming pool, skeet shooting, Rangers to explore…..Absolutely LOVED it!”
While it’s not included in our packages, we will gladly arrange excursions to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks; Rafting or floating trips on the Snake River; Guided Fishing trips; Golf outings; Hot Air Balloon Rides; Guided Hiking Tours; or a Night at the Rodeo.
5. Dude Ranches are heavy on horseback riding.
The heart and soul of a dude ranch is its horseback riding. This becomes obvious when one of the very first things guests do is get fitted for a horse. Simply put, a dude ranch vacation is more enjoyable if guests are willing to ride. All levels are welcome as Bonnie from Illinois commented: “As far as horseback riding, you could take beginner, intermediate or advanced riding lessons all included in your week. The staff at the stables were awesome and very patient with you. They offered 2, 3, or 6 hour rides.”
One of our guests from Alameda, CA commented: “We rode every day, and never repeated a trail. These trail rides are not at all like trail rides you have ever taken…or at least not like the tourist trail ride where you ride an hour to a waterfall, have lunch, and ride back. Sometimes we weren’t even on a trail…just rode where we wanted to go. We had beautiful views from our lunch spots, as we gained altitude during the ride. We also rode through shallow rivers. It was breathtaking wherever we were. The vistas never got tiring. The fall foliage was really starting to come into its own, mostly with the aspens. We took far too many pictures, as it just seemed so pretty at every turn we made.”
Guests from London raved about the horseback riding options: “We did one ride a day, 4 and 6 hour duration. For the longer rides, the kitchen provides packed lunches which you order in advance. The rides were fun – we passed the loping test and were able to lope (canter) on the trails. The scenery was spectacular – we haven’t been anywhere like this. Two of our rides allowed us to have amazing views of the Tetons – nothing like it.”
6. Freedom from Devices.
Most ranches like ours have limited wifi and cell phone service. We like to call it the “dude ranch bubble.” And consistently we hear that families are happy to be in the bubble and free from electronics. Families can instead focus on their adventures and each other.
A guest from Jupiter, Florida said: “You really go off the grid. No cell service. Wifi is pretty much non-existent. Just go with the mindset that you are disconnecting. Was wonderful to have our full family unplugged for a week!”
7. Choose a Ranch that Serves Great Food
Activities and riding are great, but one thing that guests comment about it the quality and variety of food. Some of the options include Prime Rib Night, Southwest Night, French Night, Cowboy Night (steaks), and Angler Night (trout and salmon). Depending on the cuisine, meals may be served plated or buffet style. We offer two choices for dinner each night as well as accommodate dietary restrictions, requests, and a kids option. Once a week we do an open fire cookout in dutch ovens.
One guest raved: “We can’t say enough about the food. It’s simple, but outstanding. Lots of choices per meal and all were hearty, fresh and very appreciated. The chef even made whip cream for our daughter to have on top of the chocolate chip pancakes. THANK YOU. All of the servers were friendly and took the time to get to know all of the guests.”
8. Exploring Nature and Seeing Wildlife
Dude ranches are all about the outdoors and usually located in peaceful spots with scenic views. An isolated retreat deep in the Gros Ventre River Valley, Goosewing marks the entry point to a protected, pristine wilderness. We are located 40 miles northeast of Jackson, Wyoming in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, bordering the Gros Ventre Wilderness. Our remote location allows for excellent horseback riding, fantastic scenery, and many opportunities to spot wildlife.
One guest wrote: “Each cabin is allocated with a Ranger for your personal use. There are endless roads, trails and areas to explore at your convenience. We had a blast packing up a small lunch and visiting the river, the lake and the overlooks per the staffs recommendations. Our daughter loved this part of the trip and we would love to have explored more of the area if we hadn’t spent so much time on the horses!”
So share with us in the comments: what would be most appealing about a dude ranch to you and your family or group?