By Dalia Colon for the Orbitz Travel Blog
If the closest you've come to a dude ranch is watching The Pioneer Woman on Food Network, then consider this your summer to experience one of the most American vacations imaginable. Whether you prefer glamping (a.k.a. glamorous camping) or catching your own dinner, one of these dude ranches will fit you like a pair of your favorite pair of Wrangler jeans.
The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch: Saratoga, Wyo. Tucked into Wyoming's Platte River Valley, this all-inclusive resort is the epitome of glamping. The log cabins are so inviting -- with their high ceilings, fireplaces and decor worthy of a furniture catalog -- that you may not want to venture past your porch. But when you do, you'll be met with a buffet of Western-inspired activities such as fly fishing, shooting sports, ropes courses, a Lil Wranglers program for kids and more.
Photo credit: Courtesy of The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch.
Westgate River Ranch & Rodeo: River Ranch, Fla. Welcome to the wild, wild east. Located about 90 miles south of Orlando, Westgate is the largest guest ranch east of the Mississippi River. The centerpiece of the ranch is a 1,200-seat arena, where the Saturday night rodeo showcases bull riding, barrel racing and other don't-try-this-at-home feats. After a day of airboat rides, ziplining or fishing on the Kissimmee River, retire to your outdoor glamping tent, where your personal glamping concierge will start your campfire and arrange the next day's activities.
Glamping at Westgate River Ranch. Because life is hard enough, without having to start your own fire. Photo credit: Westgate River Ranch.
Waunita Hot Spring Ranch: Gunnison, CO Located about 200 miles southwest of Denver next to Gunnison National Forest, this family-friendly ranch is big on activities. From rafting excursions and overnight horseback riding trips to movies and square dancing, there's something for every age and energy level. The giant swimming pool and adjacent hot tub are fed by the property's natural hot spring -- perfect for soothing sore muscles after a long day on the trail.
At Waunita Hot Spring Ranch, the kid-friendly activities include panning for gold and helping to feed the animals. Photo courtesy of the Colorado Dude & Guest Ranch Association.
Rancho Cortez: Bandera, Texas If you're gonna eat like a cowboy, then you've gotta move like a cowboy. This dude ranch about 60 miles northwest of San Antonio offers a Cowboy Fitness Ranch program for folks looking for down-and-dirty weight loss. As the website states, "We are not an expensive foo-foo spa." Rather, the program centers around activities like hiking, horseback riding and even farm chores, combined with traditional exercises like Zumba and water aerobics. There are also nutrition classes and even hypnotherapy, which should help you resist the lure of s'mores around the campfire.
Want to lose weight? The extra pounds will take a hike at Rancho Cortez. Photo credit: Rancho Cortez.
Marble Mountain Guest Ranch: Somes Bar, Calif. The signature program of this Northern California ranch is its "Saddle Paddle" package, a day that combines morning trail rides with afternoons of white water rafting or kayaking on the Klamath River. The excursions are guided by ranch staffers, not third-party companies, so you'll feel like you're among family as you keep an eye out for otters, eagles and other wildlife along the way. Nearly everything is included in the daily rate, from cozy cottage lodging and arena riding lessons to the Young Buckaroo program and meals. Be sure to save room for the to-die-for desserts.
Midway through your rafting trip with Marble Mountain Guest Ranch, you can hike the Karuk tribal lands and go for a dip in the pool underneath a waterfall. Photo credit: Marble Mountain Guest Ranch.
Express UU Bar Ranch: Cimarron, N.M. Don't let the satellite TVs and queen-size beds fool you. This New Mexico property is a working cattle ranch. Serious outdoorsy types will appreciate the multi-day hunting packages with guides, field dressing and transportation of your catch. Then there's the fishing, with multiple trout and pike lakes available to licensed fishermen and women. If you'd rather just relax and enjoy the food, well that's fine, too.
UU Bar Ranch is the place for serious hunting and fishing, not glamping. Photo from Facebook.com/UUBar.
White Stallion Ranch: Tucson, Ariz. A trip to this Southwestern resort is like two vacations in one. With the all-inclusive "Ride Arizona" package, you'll start out at White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, where you'll enjoy activities ranging from wine-and-cheese horseback rides (or if you prefer, beer-and-Cheetos rides) to watercolor classes with the resident artist. Halfway through your stay, you'll board a van and head out to White Stallion's partner ranch, Tombstone Monument Ranch, where you'll complete your vacation at this Old West-style resort.
White Stallion Ranch owns one of the largest private herds of horses in Arizona. Photo credit: White Stallion Ranch.