Types of Dude Ranches
All dude ranches strive to provide their guests with a legitimate Western experience and top-of-the-line ranch vacation. They emphasize personal service, maintain links to the frontier past, and highlight a home-style, back-to-nature approach for guests' enjoyment and relaxation. With more than a hundred guest ranches in the country, however, significant differences also exist between businesses. It pays to research the style and approach of each property, and weigh their take on ranching with your particular needs and wants.
Size, for instance, plays a huge role in the overall atmosphere and management of a dude ranch. Some cater to as few as 10 guests per week, while others accommodate over 100. This will obviously determine things such as number of staff, flexibility/variety in positions, and the types of facilities and activities available.
Larger ranches provide a greater influx of new people, bring in bigger groups, and generally offer more choices across the board, but they may lack the character and personal charm of a smaller endeavor. Likewise, smaller ranches convey a unique intimacy between staff and guests and may present more learning opportunities, but this can also mean higher expectations and dirtier work.
Like its size, the ambience of a ranch determines much about the experience that it offers. Dude ranches range from adults-only luxury resorts, complete with spa, yoga, tennis, golf and heated swimming pool, to rustic and comfortable lodges that specifically provide for kids, pets and families. Some continue to operate as working ranches, while some devote every minute to the pampering of their guests. Theme ranches add a twist to their operations with a religious or regional emphasis, and others specialize in pack trips, whitewater rafting, rodeos or fishing competitions. A ranch's location often dictates these features and also lends each property its own particular panoramic. The type of ranch determines, to an extent, the employee living conditions on the ranch, too.
Speaking of location, the degree of isolation differs among ranches as well. For some, town is a brief half-hour jaunt; others require weeks of travel and the stamina of a bull to catch a movie or hold down a barstool. The distance to civilization and extent of that civilization vary wildly, and should definitely be considered.
So, do you prefer serving cocktails by the pool or painting faces by the fire? Do you thrive on orchestrating the perfect wedding, or shudder at catering a conference? Is 500 miles from the nearest shopping mall a veritable nightmare, or not quite far enough away? Dude ranches ride the spectrum of simplicity and splendor. With so many options, make sure to find one that meets your ranch job criteria.