Many families are now looking for more adventure
oriented destinations as part of a
Travelling with older children and teenagers brings a
whole new aspect to the Family Vacation. Adventure vacations are
becoming a popular way for families to enjoy time together, broaden your
horizons with new experiences and meet many fascinating people.
The experience of riding on the open range, sharing a
campfire meal, getting to know your horse and enjoying a real western
vacation is something your family will never forget.
Activities at a dude ranch can include horseback riding,
hay rides, learning to rope, cattle herding, campfires, rodeo and
These tips are designed to encourage families to
consider a dude ranch vacation as a holiday destination that can offer
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Planning a Dude Ranch Vacation
Dude Ranch vacations allow families a chance to experience some of what
the early pioneers and cowboys of the west experienced during the days
of the Wild West. The chance to ride on the open range, view
spectacular unspoiled scenery, enjoy some down home cooking and spend
time away from the pressures of modern life have lead to a resurgence of
this vacation option for families.
It is important
to take the time to plan and research your dude ranch destination.
Each dude ranch is decidedly different, with their own special character
and facilities. Choosing the right ranch can give your family a once
in a lifetime vacation that you will treasure for years to come.
Some tips to consider when planning your Dude Ranch Vacation:
Use the internet to
research dude vacations. Doing this will allow you to check out the
different dude ranches, see what they have to offer and develop a list of
questions that will help you to decide on a destination. Check with
area Dude Ranch Associations. See Web Links for Dude Ranch
Decide what type of dude
ranch vacation your family is looking for - do you want a really rustic
ranch where guests will be expected to pitch in with cattle herding or are you looking for a
ranch that includes a pool, supervised children's programs, tennis and
other activities. Many ranches focus on the riding as the central
activity while others have the horseback riding as just one of available
Check ages for riders.
Typically ranches will not let children under 6 go on horseback riding
expeditions. If this is the case, are your children old enough to
take part or do you need to look at child care or supervised activities
It is a good idea to
know what other activities are available so that you can plan on bringing
the necessities for those activities.
Ask what the typical
weather conditions are and also what the usual extremes are.
Are you flying or
driving to your ranch destination. This may affect where and how far
from home you want to go. Find out where the nearest airport is.
Will you be able to take a direct flight or do you need to transfer to a
regional airline? Will the ranch pick you up at the local airport or
do you need to make arrangements such as renting a car?
Many ranches are located
in very scenic areas that may be far from any stores or shopping.
It is a good idea to find out how far away the nearest town is and plan on
what you need to take with you to the ranch.
Geographical areas can
add very different elements to a dude ranch vacation. Do some
research into the area's history, climate, flora and fauna. For
example, if you would like an opportunity to maybe see a moose, you would
want to select a dude ranch in a region that is more northerly located -
say in North Dakota as opposed to Arizona, where you are more
likely to see an armadillo. This will also give your family some
insight into the region before going there.
If your family has any
special dietary needs it is a good idea to check with the ranches directly
to see if they can accommodate your requirements.
Find out what is
included in the ranch vacation package - are all meals and activities
Do accommodations have
some cooking facilities or are all meals included.
Many dude ranch
proprietors have a very hands on approach to running their ranches.
Their personalities form an integral part of the ranch's activities and
atmosphere. It is also their homes and as such you will be spending
time with them. You may even want to talk directly to the ranch
owner before making your decision.
Have the ranches that
you are interested in send you brochures and even ask if they have a guest
guide to send you.
if there are any times when a local rodeo may be
taking place as an outing during your vacation.
Check out dude ranch web
sits - see Dude Ranch Vacation Links
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Preparing Your Family for a Dude Ranch
Getting ready to spend a week riding, roping and experiencing cowboy
life can be quite a change for most people. Here are some tips
that can help prepare you and your family to make the most of your wild
President's Tip: While it isn't necessary and most ranches are
very good at taking green riders and teaching them the basics, I wanted
to be a bit more prepared. I took the time to have my sons
become familiar with horses by giving them riding lessons. This
gave them an opportunity to become comfortable with the horses, their
movements and their workings. I also took some lessons in the
months leading to our dude ranch vacation - while I rode a lot as a
youngster it had been a few years and I wanted to remind my muscles what
Remind children that horses can be unpredictable and that they must
follow instructions from the wranglers at all times.
Children should never be near the horses or other animals unsupervised.
Discuss the vacation with your family. That means all aspects of
the vacation, from meals, the horses, your expectations of their
behavior, facilities - and if you are camping out - using the washroom
in the wilds can be a new experience that may require some adjustment,
to safety issues such as wearing helmets and safety procedures around
the horses and nature situations that you may encounter.
Helmets are a very important piece of safety equipment and should not be overlooked. Many ranches may provide them or you
will want to bring your own. When you think about it, you are
riding much higher than on your bike and you wouldn't want to ride your
bike without a helmet.
Everyone should have a pair of boots that have a heel, a hat or
preferably a riding helmet to wear for riding. Long pants are a
must as well. Most ranches will provide rain slickers and some
have helmets available.
It is great if you can get some books from the library that can teach
your family about the gear you will be using - for example the parts of
the saddle, bridle and horse.
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Packing for a Dude Ranch Vacation
Here is a list of some of the must haves to pack for your dude ranch
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This is something that a lot of parents
are not aware of. Altitude Illness occurs when the
body does not adjust well to having less oxygen to breathe
at higher altitudes. Anyone can be affected by it,
not just children. To reduce the risk of this
affliction, consider ascending to high altitudes in
gradual steps to allow the body to adjust. Dehydration can
increase the risk of altitude illness, make sure everyone drinks plenty
of fluids. If any
member of the family has a predisposed illness, check with
your doctor before you go on holiday. Medicines are
available to help prevent this illness and you should
consult your doctor.
Common symptoms of Altitude Illness are
headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and
Other symptoms can include poor appetite,
vomiting, and trouble sleeping as well as pale, cool skin.
Watch for changes in behaviour in
children. Children can exhibit symptoms more quickly
and become much sicker than adults.
An unusual and uncommon form of Altitude
Illness causes fluid to collect in the lungs. If a
family member exhibits a cough that becomes wetter,
breathing becomes difficult and faster as well as a faster
heart beat, IMMEDIATELY SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION.
If you suspect Altitude Illness, SEEK
MEDICAL ATTENTION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. You
may need to descend to a lower altitude to relieve
symptoms or mild symptoms may be relieved by rest and
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Dude Ranch Vacation Links
Some of the tips on this page are courtesy of the following web sites.
These websites can provide you with more information on planning a dude
www.veebar.com - we
gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Lefty Cole and all those at the
Vee Bar Guest Ranch for their assistance in making these tips possible
and for giving us an opportunity to test them.
Click here to
learn more about the Vee Bar Guest Ranch.
All Tips are offered as suggestions only
While we have tried to provide you with
a list of suggestions to help parents when travelling with
children to keep them safe, unfortunately, we can’t
think of everything and it is the responsibility of
parents to ensure their children’s safety.
THIS PAGE IS SPONSORED BY
... Vee Bar Guest Ranch for a taste of "True Western Hospitality" and
Adventure - Lefty Cole Style, a Laramie, Wyoming Guest Ranch
Travelling with Teenagers
Tips From Safe Kids Canada to
Encourage Children to Wear Helmets
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