Horse Destinations: Part 1 Dude Ranches

If you’re like me, you can barely contain your excitement for the upcoming show season. Only one more month and the activity will start picking up here in the Midwest. Depending on how often and how long you show throughout the year, we all know that about half way through the season you are your horse can get a little burnt out. This may call for a nice long relaxing trail riding weekend. Taking a little time off will not only revive your sanity but give your horse a break from going around and around…and around in the show pen.

I have never traveled very far with my horse for a trail ride but I have been to a few dude ranches around the country. My mom is currently planning another one of those trips for our friends and family this fall. This peaked my interest to research places to trail ride our own horses as well. I am not naïve to the fact that not all horses are cut out for the trail scenarios. Those blowing leaves can be frightening and the boogey monster is always hiding in that trashcan along the way. For this reason I will be doing a two part series. One week I will feature popular dude ranch destinations and next week I will focus on trail ride locations in each of the five regions of the United States.  

Western US
A Bar A Ranch

Encampment, WY


This ranch is one of the oldest in the country and was founded in 1926. National Forest and Wilderness Area surround the entire 1,000-acre estate. This ranch lies in Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Mountains and is very family friendly. If you want to make this a family affair and not everyone is super thrilled about the idea of riding horses all day long, they offer a variety of activities. These include fly fishing, hiking, water activities, tennis, golf and shooting. The ranch offers cabin style lodging and a delicious restaurant for everyone to enjoy.  


Southeast US
Clear Creek Guest Ranch

Burnsville, NC

This ranch can be found in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest. They are open for guests April through Thanksgiving. Trail rides are in small groups of no more than seven people and they are available for children ages five and older. 


Southwest US
Mayan Dude Ranch

Bandera, TX

This ranch covers 358 acres near the Medina River in the Hill Country of Texas. It is a family owned establishment still run by the Hicks family. A normal day includes two trial rides and you will be served breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the compound. They frequently showcase local western musicians at dinnertime. Children under six are not allowed to participate in trail rides but don’t fret because at certain times the wranglers will lead them around the corral in the saddle so they can take part in the fun as well. 

Midwest US
Triple R Ranch

Keystone, SD

Triple R is nestled in the Black Hills National Forest within the Norbeck Wildlife Reserve. Your six-day trip would include one full day ride along with many shorter trail rides. Unique to this location are activities like the Mount Rushmore lighting ceremony and a trip to the Crazy Horse memorial. You can enjoy clear skies with never ending stargazing and a relaxing yet adventurous atmosphere.

Northeast US
Rocking Horse Ranch

Highland, NY

Toolie and Gloria Turk started Rocking Horse Ranch in 1958. If you are looking for a place to take a large group with varied interests this is the place for you! You can enjoy softball, basketball, shuffleboard, archery and even an indoor water park. There is a spa on the grounds as well as an exotic wildlife exhibit. They offer riding for all ages and experience levels from pony rides to advanced level rides.  


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