How to Pick a Dude Ranch

Tips on Picking the Best Dude Ranch For Your Family or Group

Trying to select a dude ranch or guest ranch from the many that are available can be a bit daunting. Most can offer a vacation that will renew your spirit and get you into the real outdoor world away from the pace of your workday life, and all the distractions. We will try to offer a few pointers that might make the ranch choice easier.

Select the ranch that has the best fit of horseback riding, activities, guest capacity, and surroundings to your tastes. Our goal is for you to have the best vacation of your lives, which is what makes this such a fun business for us.

Determine Your Vacation Preferences

Choosing a working cattle ranch versus a vacation-oriented ranch will offer you different experiences. Cattle drives are offered at certain times during the season at some ranches giving guests an experience of “life on the range.” Expect some rather intensive riding on these. Others choose to enjoy the outdoor activities during the day, come back to the lodge for a hearty meal, and relax in their surroundings with family or friends.

Going to a luxurious ranch resort or to one with a more rustic atmosphere is part of your decision-making process. In most cases, the more rustic ranches are smaller in size and offer a more personalized experience where you are part of the ranch family for a week and leave with long lasting friendships. The larger resort ranches usually offer more amenities and options to guests who are interested in swimming pools, hot tubs, and tennis courts.


best montana family vacations

Working Ranch

guided horseback riding montana guest ranch


luxury dude ranch

Pick a Dude Ranch Size

Size or guest capacity varies a great deal. Some ranches take only a dozen or so guests per week, while the resort-oriented ranches can accommodate over a hundred people. At a small ranch you will have a more personalized experience with staff and other guests, while there are usually more amenities at the larger ranches.


small dude ranch


medium dude ranch


large dude ranch

What Kinds of Dude Ranch Activities Are Your Interested In?

Type of horseback riding and where you will be riding differ at dude ranches. Are you a beginner rider needing additional support or an experienced rider ready to try anything offered? Some ranches have majestic mountain scenic trails with limited trotting or loping, others have terrain that allows for more. There may be weight limits for riding. You might have the same horse for your week stay, while other ranches may switch horses daily. Dependable horses which have been used at the ranch for many seasons are normal.

Fishing in the quiet solitude of a mountain stream is often the wish of a person seeking the perfect dude ranch. Some ranches have excellent waters for catching fish, and fly fishing instruction is part of the package. Some will put you in contact with a fishing guide. You may be able to catch your own fish for dinner.

The Cost of a Dude Ranch Vacation

Cost is usually important in determining a vacation spot. Guest ranches vary considerably in price because of the type of accommodations, meals, and extra amenities such as swimming pools, hot tubs, and tennis courts. Don’t forget to inquire about seasonal rates, as some ranches offer better deals during certain times of the season.

best hiking in montana

Location: Remote Ranch or Closer to Cities?

Choosing a ranch in a remote location or one that is close to cities depends on the needs of the people planning a vacation. For those seeking an outdoor experience in what seems to be unlimited acres of wilderness, a ranch farther from civilization would fit the bill. On the other hand, if shopping or hitting the night spots is what you need, a location closer to city life would be better.

best horseback riding dude ranch vacations
Montana's Affordable Dude Ranch

Book Your Montana Dude Ranch Experience Today

Discover Montana’s untamed beauty at Hawley Mountain Ranch! Leave the city behind and immerse yourself in vast open spaces, untouched landscapes, and authentic Western hospitality. Enjoy unforgettable horseback riding, fly-fishing in pristine streams, and more at Montana’s top affordable dude ranch.

Scroll to Top
Hawley Mountain Ranch

Let's plan the perfect Montana Dude Ranch vacation!

Our dedicated team is ready to support you throughout every stage of the planning journey.