Exploring Big Sky Country at a dude ranch in Wyoming is a fantasy family vacation. But what if someone in your group doesn’t ride horses? Not to worry. Dude ranches offer a wide range of activities so non-riders will have plenty to do while the rest of the gang is clip-clopping along gorgeous mountain and meadow trails.
Visiting a Dude Ranch in Wyoming
One of my bucket list travel plans is to round up the family and head to a dude ranch in Wyoming. Why? Like other epic family vacations we’ve taken – a trip to Paris and an amazing Alaskan cruise, for example – it’s an opportunity for my nearest and dearest to spend some quality time together in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Simply flying in to ooh and aah at Grand Tetons National Park doesn’t seem right. A dude ranch vacation gives families the chance to have a complete cowboy experience.
Exploring Big Sky Country on Horseback
But I still haven’t booked a Wyoming dude ranch family vacation. And the reason isn’t because I think my city slickers can’t handle the rigors of ranch life in Big Sky Country. No. It’s because one or more of my family members won’t ride a horse. That’s the primary activity at a dude ranch and one I’d really enjoy. I’ve done casual trail rides but nothing that would compare with learning to ride from professionals in the Jackson Hole Valley. From pictures, it looks like paradise!
Do Non-Riders Feel Left Out on a Dude Ranch? No Way!
Since I’m not getting any younger (hopefully Elon Musk is working on reversing the aging process while he’s launching rockets!) and neither are my parents or kids, I did some investigating to see what other activities are available for guests taking a dude ranch vacation in Wyoming.
I spoke with Amy Worster, General Manager of Goosewing Ranch, to ask about whether or not non-riders feel left out of the dude ranch experience. Because of the wide range of additional activities offered at dude ranches, she said there’s something for everyone to do. Mothers and daughters might choose to go on a long trail ride, while fathers and sons hang back at the ranch to try their hand at archery or hatchet throwing. If Grandma and Grandpa are along for the vacay and physically can’t ride, they can still explore the great outdoors. Goosewing provides guests with mechanical “horses” – Polaris UTVs!
What to Do at a Dude Ranch When You’re Not Riding
Although trail rides are hands down the most popular activity, ranch managers understand the needs of non-riders and offer many other things to do during a dude ranch family vacation. Some of the choices include:
Soak in a Hot Tub
Picture a steaming hot tub set in a grand mountain valley. Picture you in that hot tub. While everyone else is out exploring trails on horseback, you can unwind. A relaxing soak is one of life’s real treats. And your family members will hop in and join you when they get back from their ride. TravelingMom Cindy Richards said that she needed a hot tub soak badly after all of that horseback riding!
Learn a New Skill
Ever shot a bow and arrow? Or tried skeet shooting? Dude ranches offer a variety of classes in what I like to refer to as “the outdoor arts.” On my future fantasy family Wyoming dude ranch vacation, I will definitely try my hand at fly fishing. At Goosewing Ranch, for example, they offer fly-fishing instruction twice a week in the stocked pond, so even newbies might land a big one! For the pros, like fellow TravelingMom Dana Zucker, Wyoming’s Gros Ventre River meanders through lovely meadows and has a large fish population including native cutthroat trout.
Relax – Isn’t that What Vacations are For?
While your family and fellow dude ranch guests are out on the trails, take advantage of the quiet time to sit and read, wander around and snap some photos or take a nap. During my regular 9-5, 24/7 at home, I rarely get a chance to lounge around and just be. If you’re not horseback riding on your dude ranch vacation, take a least an hour to simply relax and breathe in the soothing mountain air.
Make Plans for Family Time
Let your family members who don’t ride plan the togetherness activities for the rest of the day. Dude ranches offer so many different things to do, your group will definitely need an Organizer in Chief. Maybe there’s a local rodeo in town? TravelingMom Diana Rowe went with her family and had a blast. Or, perhaps, your dude ranch offers a horse-drawn wagon ride to a cookout. It would be a real treat for me to come back from a trail ride, take a hot tub soak and then get together with the whole clan for a fun activity that I didn’t have to arrange!
Create Forever Memories at a Dude Ranch
For me, the primary appeal of a dude ranch vacation is the opportunity to step out of the craziness of my regular routine and spend quality time with my family. Amy says it’s a common reason why guests choose a dude ranch vacation. “You are here to disconnect with the daily distractions of the world and reconnect with your inner soul and family. We provide a peaceful place where families can be together and enjoy a variety of adventures and experiences together without cell phones getting in the way.”
So, whether you ride or not, everyone will have an experience during a dude ranch day that they can share with their family when you come together. And it’s the sharing and laughter that will make the memories you’ll have for the rest of your life.
Archery, Line Dancing or Fly Fishing – What Would You Like to Try?