In this digital modern age, John Wayne’s dusty Wild West seems like a novel, old fashioned place. And while the Gold Rush may be over, it’s comforting to note that this gun-slinging, iPhone-less cowboy lifestyle is still alive and well on dude ranches across the U.S.
More than just tumbleweeds and cowboy hats, these ranches have amenities that would spoil even the toughest ranch hand. Swimming pools, live country music, wine cellars, and river rafting trips are all becoming dude ranch standard with fine dining, lavish spa treatments, and tennis courts rounding out some of the more luxurious offerings. Central California’s Alisal Ranch, for example, asks guests to “dress” for dinner and boasts a wine club with three levels of membership.
Whether you’re a seasoned horseback rider or got inspired by watching Rio Grande, the activities and itineraries available at each dude ranch can be tailor-made to fit your every whim. Wyoming’s storied A Bar A Ranch offers everything from fly fishing to skeet shooting and from horseback riding to golfing, ensuring you’ll earn your stripes in no time. And nothing goes with saddling up better than a fresh, epicurean meal.
Montana’s Triple Creek Ranch offers mahi-mahi ceviche, braised Guinea fowl, and organic chicken with seasonal vegetables in their main dining room while Colorado’s Vista Verde Ranch has scheduled seasonal wine tastings and cooking classes throughout the year.
Harking back to the old West, these ranches let you get a taste of life out West without actually making you wake up to do farm work at 5 a.m. Here are nine great dude ranches worth visiting all across the U.S.; go for the horses, stay for the food.