Utah's Dude Ranches
Find yourself in a hidden canyon preferred by the likes of Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch. The Old West is still alive in Utah. Come experience ranches with free ranging cattle, cowboys and cowgirls to tend, and surroundings full of beautiful scenery, forests, rivers, and wildlife. These experiences can include tours of ancient Native American archeological sites, petroglyphs and pictographs, horseback riding through forests alive with Utah's abundant wildlife. You could also find home cooked meals, cozy guest cabins, and breathtaking vistas of deep red rock canyons, and river valleys. Visitors can take a step back in time and share in the experience of the life of time-forgotten simplicity. A life connected to nature, its hardship and beauty.
Dude ranch vacations in Utah offer a variety of activities well beyond horseback riding on winding trails. From learning the basics in ranch skills, cattle driving and chores from ranchers, to experiencing tales of the old west around a flickering campfire under brilliant starry skies, Utah's dude ranches offer activities to suit any desired travel experience, from the rugged to the plush. Some of our dude ranches are like resorts, offering swimming pools, spa treatments, yoga, canoeing, mountain biking, fishing and motorcycle touring—however you like to relax.
From the New York Times to Vogue Magazine, countless world-famous publications have sung the praises of Utah's dude ranches, which can be vacations unto themselves or can be incorporated with extra time into Utah itineraries through The Mighty 5® national parks or on the great American road trip called The Road to Mighty®. For example, Utah's Southwest Silver Screen itinerary includes many highlights of the Old West, including iconic Monument Valley. Visitors seeking that authentic dude ranch experience should plan to focus on the ranch itself, or add several extra days at the beginning or end of the 5-day Southwest Silver Screen.
Read about some of Utah's dude ranch vacations below, or explore additional outfitters and ranches on the attached Cowboy one-sheet to start planning your getaways in Utah. (PDF. Some contacts may not be current.)
The American West’s roots in cattle ranching run deep, but not many traditional-style ranches remain. These days Tavaputs Ranch, which has been passed down through six generations since it was founded in 1889, is one of only a few of its kind in Utah. Each summer, Tavaputs — just three hours north of Green River — opens its doors to visitors, providing a rare glimpse into a historic American lifestyle. It’s a wonderfully Western addition to your family trip if you have a few extra days of vacation and don’t wish to spend all of it touring the scenic roads of Southern Utah.
The ranch sits on eastern Utah’s Tavaputs Plateau at the rim of Desolation Canyon — known for being one of the most remote places in the U.S. Despite the harsh winters the ranch endures, thanks to its 9,000-foot elevation, early homesteaders first came to the canyon in the 1860s, lured in by the clear streams and fertile soil. Most of the ranches these homesteaders established have since been abandoned. Read more about Tavaputs Ranch.
Rockin' R Ranch
Located near Bryce Canyon National Park, with rolling hills, ponds, and meadows all around, the 1,000-acre Rockin’ R Ranch is in an idyllic setting, and attracts both international tourists and Utah natives alike. Your stay at the dude ranch will be in a Western-themed suite, complete with wooden beds, living rooms with pull-out sofas, and even microwaves and mini-fridges (one mustn’t live strictly to the old way of life when on vacation, right?). Read more about Rockin' R Ranch.
Defa's Dude Ranch
The address gives you an idea what you're in for: Ashley National Forest, 16350 N Country Rd 7, Hanna, Utah. Situated squarely in a national forest on a country road in Northern Utah (aka 355 Forest Road 144), Defa's Dude Ranch is a high country retreat owned and operated by the Defa Family since the 1940s. Open May through October, escape to the forest for a few days of discovery, including horseback riding, camping, hiking and fishing with an option to overnight in one of 18 hand-built cabins. Additional improvements include a 1950s-style cafe, cowboy bar and dance hall, a 17-stall RV park, horse stables, two shower facilities buildings and an outdoor picnic pavilion.