Is A Dude Ranch Right For You?
Dude Ranch Vacations - What Kind of Dude Ranch is Best?
By Wilma Jenkins
There are dude ranches and then there are DUDE RANCHES - and there can be major differences between the two. Dude ranches range from sleeping under the stars to Five-Star accommodations complete with wine cellars and high dollar chefs. You can find just about anything you want within the range of dude ranches. I like to think of dude ranches in three categories - working ranch, luxury ranch, and educational ranch. Don't get me wrong - there is still a pretty wide range in each type, but these are the basic types of dude ranches.
Working Dude Ranch
These tend to be more rustic and less structured dude ranches. They are what they say - working ranches, generally cattle ranches. Guests are another crop- along with beef- and that is not meant to be derogatory in any sense. Guests can participate in ranch chores- feed and wrangle horses, ride fence, move cattle, pack salt, even castrate calves. These are everyday ranch chores for the cowboys who work on the ranch, but a real and frequently challenging task for a novice. Generally, working ranches aren't highly regimented. Guests are informed what the day's work is and can choose to help or not as they wish. Meals tend to be simple and hearty and are frequently eaten with the ranch owners and ranch hands. You are more likely to have a cold beer by the fire at night than fine wine served at your candlelit table. The amenities tend to be natural things - beautiful scenery, the satisfaction of a good day's work, a solid horse to ride, and the chance to live a few days as a cowboy.
Luxury Dude Ranch
Now a luxury dude ranch is a different critter. You probably won't be sleeping in a tepee or wall tent. You most likely will have a cabin that a cowboy would consider a mansion, complete with a Jacuzzi, central heat and air, big screen TV, and telephone service. You may have chocolates on your pillow, fresh flowers on the table and a maid to keep things tidy. There may be complimentary Turkish robes and comfy slippers, a fire laid ready to light in the fireplace, and real down comforters on the king size beds. Guests are the main business, and great care is taken to make sure everything is just about perfect. Luxury dude ranches tend to be more regimented. Horse rides may be offered at 9:00 am and 4:00 pm. Guests may choose the length of the ride with 1 or 2 hour rides being the most popular. Meals are sumptuous and served at set times. Five course meals with items like standing rib roast with fire roasted vegetables and baked Alaska are served at a table with a linen tablecloth and real crystal. The wine steward suggests wine to compliment the food. Martinis and brandy are available. Then there are the amenities. Guests may get a facial or a Swedish massage, play a round of golf, work out with a private trainer, or lounge by the swimming pool. The scenery is beautiful - but you don't have to be outside all day. There are plenty of indoor activities and amenities available.
Educational Dude Ranch
An educational dude ranch is the third - and newest- option. You can sign up for a three-day to week-long course in your favorite pastime. Birding, photography workshops, yoga, art classes, quilting, wilderness survival, animal tracking, and environmental workshops are only a few of the education options at this type of dude ranch. Frequently, guests can sign up for a class- say a three-day art class - and then spend the rest of the week being a cowboy on a working ranch or enjoying being pampered on a luxury ranch. Educational dude ranches are kind of a hybrid, the "mule" of dude ranches. They are a wonderful blend of learning and vacationing. Guests can increase their skills or learn an entirely new skill. Educational dude ranches can be at a working ranch or a luxury ranch depending on your preference and maybe your checkbook.
So there is a wide variety of dude ranches. Some are so far apart in scale that they don't even seem like the same thing. Remember - there is no right or wrong dude ranch. If you want to learn about working cowboys, go to a working ranch. If you want to unwind after a stressful month at the office and be catered to, a luxury dude ranch is hard to beat. If you want to brush up on your photography and have fabulous scenery to shoot, sign up for workshop or class at an educational dude ranch - and don't forget to book a few extra days to enjoy the ranch.
The Double Circle Ranch is an historic 50,000-acre working cattle ranch in the White Mountains of Eastern Arizona that focuses on sustainable ranching practices for their herd of Texas Longhorn steers. It is an authentic working and educational dude ranch that offers opportunities for small groups of visitors to participate in cattle drives and other interesting day-to-day ranch work. They also offer classes and workshops on birding, ranch photography, cowboy art, plein air painting, sustainable ranching practices, wilderness survival, cowgirl skills, and more! Whether you're interested in herding longhorns or participating in one of their many workshops, you can plan on having a great time soaking up lots of sunshine under blue skies and breathing the fresh clean air while exploring the wide open spaces on this beautiful historic ranch. Bring your own horse, or use one of ours. Stay by the night, or the week, or...? Doug and Wilma will make you feel right at home and help you make your stay a memorable experience. Plan your next dude ranch vacation at the Double Circle Ranch. http://DoubleCircleRanch.com.
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