Work at a Dude Ranch!

What To Bring To The Ranch

Packing for the Experience...

You found a ranch that you love, endured the application process, kicked butt in the interview, cleaned your car, and broke out the duffel bags. Now, what do you need to pack for your dude ranch work experience?

Think layers. Weather changes quickly, frequently and dramatically at high altitudes and in mountainous regions (this author personally experienced a July 4 snowstorm on her first ranch vacation in Wyoming.) Even if it's summer, long underwear may not be a bad idea and at least one wool garment will guarantee your warmth if it gets wet. A raincoat and mid-weight jacket are musts, as are gloves and a hat.

Of course, you'll also want gear for those sweltering days off, so don't forget casual shorts, tees, a bathing suit and towel.

If your dude or guest ranch doesn't supply you with uniform shirts, you may need to stock up on western-style apparel. Most require long sleeves and a collar, with bonus points for cowboy/girl styling and pearly buttons. A couple pairs of jeans serve just fine for the bottom half. Cowboy boots or good hiking boots will keep your feet happily in their stirrups (ranches prohibit sneakers when riding), and a wide-brimmed hat will complete the ensemble and keep the sun from your eyes. Some ranches also host one or two dressier evenings a week, so something slightly nicer (skirt, dress pants, etc) will show off your ability to clean up in style.

In terms of stuff, the usual list applies:

Stock up on items such as contact lenses and medication beforehand, as they may be hard to acquire while at work. A sleeping bag is a good idea for backpacking trips (check with your ranch for other linen requirements). Depending on the ranch and the season, you may also want:

Pack your passport, too, as some ranches lie enticingly close to the Mexican or Canadian border.

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