While many dude ranches tend to emphasize on their horseback riding packages, they do offer more amenities and activities to please all their guests. If you haven’t booked a dude ranch holiday yet simply because you don’t want to go horseback riding, here are seven activities that you can enjoy sans horses.
Fishing at dude ranches is special because you get to indulge in your favorite hobby in a wide, open space or near the mountains. You also get to experience the thrill of watching fish rise to your offering through the clean, clear waters of nearby springs or ponds. If you’re a fishing enthusiast and want to fish this holiday, the following dude ranches are great.
The Hideout Lodge and Guest Ranch – An upscale working cattle in Shell, WY, The Hideout boasts 10 miles of creeks, casting ponds and challenging streams of the Cody and Yellowstone Park. If you’re in the mood for brook trout, brown, Yellowstone Cutthroat and rainbow, this is where you should be.
Vista Verde Guest Ranch – If you’re planning on visiting the Rocky Mountains, head to Vista Verde and get the chance to be engulfed in serenity while fishing for rainbows, mountain whitefish and grayling. The ranch also offers high quality gear, including Sage rods and Simms boots, but you’re welcome to purchase equipment from the Fly Hut.
Spotted Horse Ranch – Located in Jackson Hole, WY, the Spotted Horse is perfect for fly fishing as it has access to some of the best streams and rivers for trout. You can also choose to go on a guided fishing trip or attend a casting lesson on Monday afternoons.
Bar Lazy J – Nestled on ¾ mile of the Colorado River, Bar Lazy J provides its guests with a memorable fly fishing experience. You can also cast your lure in the stocked trout pond, go on a fly fishing guided tour, or attend the Fishing Clinic lessons to improve your technique.
The Bar W Guest Ranch – This dude ranch offers ranch fishing at the Spencer Lake during summer, allowing you to catch small bass fish and even pikes. As one of Montana’s finest, The Bar W also provides access to the best fly fishing facilities and can hook you up with lake fishing within Flathead Valley.
Colorado Trails Ranch – A self-proclaimed Trout Haven, Colorado Trails has over two miles of private water on the Florida River, offering its guests excellent fishing spots on cold mountain streams. You can opt for a half-day fishing trip or a full-day one.
Crystal Waters – If you want to fish year-round in British Columbia’s Cariboo Chilcotin, Crystal Waters Ranch is perfect. You can fish at Crystal Lake between May and mid –July and again from September to late October. Once the lake freezes over, you can go on an ice fishing trip and catch rainbows as well as other local fish.
#2) Wall Climbing and Obstacle Courses
If you have adventure flowing through your veins but don’t want to ride horses any time soon, you can get thrills and chills while climbing walls or challenging yourself at a dude ranch’s obstacle course. Some of the ranches which offer this facility are:
Red Horse Mountain Ranch – Idaho’s prominent dude ranch offers a challenge course and climbing wall which will keep your mind and body fit. While challenging, the 63 ft. climbing wall, 30 ft. platform, and 300 ft. zip line are checked and maintained regularly for your safety.
Red Reflet Ranch – In addition to guiding you to explore several climbing sites, you can flex your shooting skills at the rifle range or go skeet shooting.
Vista Verde – Offering a twice weekly trip to climbing areas in the National Forest, the ranch will take you on a short hike up the climbing rock, where you can even learn climbing and rappelling.
White Stallion Ranch – If this is your first time climbing, White Stallion’s certified instructors will help you against the boulders located at the eastern end of the ranch. The ranch offers eight 25′ to 35′ climbs, but will expand to 125’ – 150’ climbs in the future.
Archery is one of the popular non-riding activities at dude ranches, especially on days when you want to be outdoors but not out on the range. If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games or DC’s The Arrow, you can perfect your archery skills at the following ranches.
Red Horse Mountain Ranch – This dude ranch provides an archery course where you get to build or improve your shooting abilities at 12 shooting stations. Perfect for both families and group events, this activity will ensure that you feel adventurous.
The Hideout Lodge and Guest Ranch – The Hideout invites you to its newest archery range, which feature professional archery mats instead of bales of hay and straw. The wranglers promise to “help you and set you up for a great Robin Hood time.
Bar W Ranch – Offered during summer, the archery program at Bar W focuses on teaching using recurve and compound style bows. Rest assured that you’ll hit a bulls eye every time in the future.
#4) ATV Rides
If you’d rather ride an ATV, many dude ranches will deliver. In fact, this experience will stand out since you’ll be riding through scenic trails surrounding the ranch. Here are some places where you can rent ATVs on the side.
Crystal Waters Ranch – The ranch offers to book you a tour with the nearby Cariboo ATV Tours. While on their tour, you’ll discover the natural beauty of British Columbia and explore remote lakes during your breaks.
Red Reflet Ranch – Red Reflet has 20 ATVs, four of which are for children. After instructing you on how to use the vehicle safely, you can explore the nearby trails via tours or groups.
Bar 10 Ranch – Bar 10 offers the most exciting ATV adventure, allowing you to ride through the Grand Canyon’s 217-mile-long, 6250-foot-deep gorge. You can pick between 90 minute tours to full day ones to truly explore the place.
#5) Bird Watching
Most dude ranches are far away from civilization. As a result, you get to explore different flora and fauna than you do in the city. Even if you don’t want to leave the ranch, you can see different species as they hop on nearby branches and chirp their hearts out. And this is what Howard Creek Ranch has to offer. The ranch has a list of local species sorted out by the months you can watch them in. For instance, of you want to catch a glimpse of robins or scrub jays, visit the ranch in June.
#6) Cooking Classes
If you want to make your vacation a special one, learn a new skill such as cooking. Dude ranches are known for creating delicious dishes with special flavors you can’t copy without chef’s recipes. At Vista Verde Ranch, you can enroll in the ranch’s weekly cooking class to learn the secrets of bread baking, formal dinner recipes and much more. By the time you go home, you’ll know much more than microwaving meals. You can also join wine tasting classes to learn about wines and develop your knowledge on the topic.
Though you may want to rough it up during your vacation, you can’t expect to transform from a city slicker overnight. This is where a spa treatment will be valuable. Not only do spas offer the perfect balance to ranch life, but they also give you a chance to enjoy indoors while others are out on the trails. One of the relaxing ranch spas in British Columbia is Echo Valley Ranch, which specializes in Thai skin care, massages, and scalp and hair therapies. The authentic Baan Thai spa also offers western style treatments which you can try during your stay.
To enjoy these activities, book your next vacation at any of the suggested dude ranches or search through our database for facilities which offer them.