Horses are a great way to get in the backcountry and into the mountains.

Just picture it: you’re gently swaying to your horse’s rhythmic walk as it picks its way up the trail, past a shimmering stream, under the flashing light of quivering aspens, and across a flower-filled meadow.

Wind River Country’s horse vacations are suitable for all riding abilities and most ages. You can venture out on your own if your horse is your traveling buddy. Eighty-five percent of Wind River Country is public land, making it your—and your equine partner’s—land.

You can also choose from luxurious dude ranch vacations to something a little more rustic. Even if you are only passing through and don’t have time for a dude or guest ranch stay, some outfitters offer day rides to give you a taste of the Western experience.

Dude & Guest Ranch Vacations

Cowboying is a way of life in Wind River Country. You can be a cowboy or cowgirl at any of our dude and guest ranches. Round up and rope the cattle, and after a long day enjoy a home cooked meal and sit by the campfire. Each ranch experience is unique: Trail riding, fishing, ranch rodeos, kids’ activities and training clinics are all complemented by  a personalized touch.

There is an abundance of dude and guest ranches in Wind River Country and they provide the perfect place to immerse yourself in the Western lifestyle.

Small ranches, many family-owned and in operation for generations, personalize your stay. Explore the vast trails and big country on overnight pack trips offered by some ranches or hone your skills in horsemanship or cattle-moving clinics. Many have structured lessons to learn how to ride, or, if you are already a seasoned rider, improve your horsemanship.

A group of guest ranch guests gather around a campfire for songs and stories.

Your hosts have mastered the art of matching horses to riders so that you’ll be challenged in a way that is fun. And horses can cover a lot of territory in one day, allowing you to explore a lot more country than you could on foot.

There are a variety of additional activities if you get your fill of riding for the day. Hike nearby trails or simply explore the ranch. Fish private streams or go with your seasoned host, who might just show you a few of his or her favorite spots nearby. Go wildlife watching and learn about the area’s plants and geology.

So go ahead and fulfill your dream.  Ride the range and feel like a rugged cowboy—right down to spending the afternoon fishing or swimming or simply taking in the view.

CHOOSE YOUR GUEST RANCH

Just as cowboys are a varied lot, so too are the dude and guest ranches where you can give the cowboy life a shot.

If you’re ready to get comfortable in Wranglers, get a little dirty while working cattle, and learn a lot about the operations of a Wyoming ranch, a working ranch is your style. This is your chance to live out that childhood dream of being a cowboy or cowgirl. Don’t worry—you won’t be responsible for any cooking or cleaning, so it will still be very much a vacation.

Cowboy sings with a guitar on the range.

If you’re bringing family and like to have activities to keep everyone entertained and occupied, a traditional, family style ranch will feel like home to all of you. Saddle up together and go trail riding, catch the big one thanks to personal fly-fishing lessons, and watch the kids play freely with new friends in the wide-open spaces of Wind River Country.

Or maybe you’re thinking, “Hey, it’s a vacation,” and as much as you’re eager to get away from it all and breathe in some fresh air, you’re also yearning some gourmet meals and pampering. A luxury, resort-style guest ranch offers the package you crave. You’ll return to the hustle of your life refreshed by the peace and relaxation of a scenic, glamorous ranch getaway.

 

My Wind River Dude Ranch Experience

By Flash Parker

If there are ten people in a room anywhere in North America, chances are good that six have been on an American road trip. Of those six, one or two have likely been to Wyoming—but other than rolling through Yellowstone with a camera pointed at bubbling geysers and streaking buffalo, or admiring the Grand Tetons, how many folks have really experienced Wyoming’s fabled cowboy country and gone full yeehaw at a working dude ranch? Wind River Country, tucked into the heart of Wyoming, offers myriad ranch experiences that range from the active to the historical to the family friendly. Each experience is so seminally American West, you’ll wonder why you haven’t saddled up sooner.

Get Your Boots On

Wind River Country has an unmistakable cowboy verve that sets it apart from other western destinations—some of the dude ranches here were first built in the 1920s, and they retain an air that is both genuine and refreshing. But you don’t have to be a real cowpoke to appreciate everything Wind River Country has to offer. Some ranches offer programs that allow guests to live out their fantasies of becoming a ranch hand and rounding up the cattle, while others offer a glimpse at a Western way of life, but allow you to keep one foot firmly entrenched in modern, luxurious living. Most of the ranches in Wind River Country are family owned, and have been that way for generations—so you can expect fully personalized, customizable escapes that can be tailored to your every Western whim, whether that has you up at the crack of dawn branding cattle, sitting ringside at a rodeo or learning how to rope.

Adventure everywhere

A Wind River Country ranch experience is unlike any other, and the perfect family getaway for groups looking for an experience that exists just on the periphery of ordinary. Campfire singalongs, cookouts under the stars and horseback riding lessons are but a few of the activities families can expect. These ranches often serve as outdoor outfitters for adventures further afield—in the summer months, when the mountains have fed the rivers and water runs high, Wind River Country becomes one of Wyoming’s premiere fly fishing destinations, where guides can show you how to land the catch of your dreams – maybe even that elusive golden trout. Adrenaline junkies can race up and over mountain trails on ATVs, outdoor enthusiasts can hike all day in the Absaroka Mountains (where you can picnic near thundering waterfalls, spy on bighorn sheep, moose and more), and hunters can stalk game in wild backcountry that is as fierce as any predator. In the winter, visitors can snowmobile in powder at 9000’ on the Continental Divide backed by towering snow-capped peaks or snowshoe among the pines and sit around the fireplace as cowboys tell tall tales late into the night. All this while enjoying the modern amenities of guest ranches that fuse rustic charm with contemporary style.

Spectacular mountains

And oh, those mountains! The Absaroka and Wind River Mountains are some of the most impressive in the country and every bit as stunning as the Grand Tetons. Severe peaks cradle scoops of snow most of the year and rock spires carve up fast-flowing clouds. Wind River Country ranches can outfit overnight trips into the backcountry as many employ their own guides and naturalists, each adept at helping you get the most out of your mountain expeditions.  Drop trips for your own expedition can be arranged also.

Wind River Country has a way of sinking into your bones and staying with you—and bringing you back out for more. The ranches in this most quintessential cowboy country are among the country’s finest, and a gateway to remarkable western adventures.

Saddle up and plan your dude ranch experience in Wind River Country!