When Texans say “It’s like a whole other country,” they really mean it. Texas is such a vast land, that you really can experience every form of outdoors. There are the south plains, the hill country, the beach, and even the woodlands. Most people think of Texas as the dry land with cactus, coyotes, and horses roaming free. There are many areas in Texas that are true to this belief. One way to experience this side of Texas is to visit a dude ranch.
History of Dude Ranches
Dude ranches began in the 1800s. Wealthy foreign travelers wanted to come to see the west and take hunting trips. One of the famous early dude hunters was Teddy Roosevelt. In the 1920s and ’30s, these ranches became tourist attractions. The cowboy was romanticized and people began to wish for the open range. As the country became more industrialized people wanted to see wildlife and the open scenery.
Therefore they went to dude ranches and got the chance to experience this new/yet old way of life. Dude ranches quickly found this as a great way to supplement their income and teach people about their way of life. Some have even become tourist attractions only and are no longer fully functioning ranches.
How to Make the Most of Your Dude Ranch Experience
Enjoying the dude ranch experience will not be hard for most. Getting to see the landscape, eating the foods of the range, and staying in a dude ranch lodge are only a few of the amenities that most offer. Some ranches include hot tubs under the stars, while others focus on Indian customs. Each dude ranch has different things to offer. In order to make the most of your stay be sure to call ahead to make sure the daily schedule of the ranch.
See what times they require the dudes to be at breakfast. And check to see if there are daily activities such as guided horseback riding, or trails to go on. Planning ahead and checking to see what is offered will make it much easier to enjoy your dude ranching experience.
12 Best Dude Ranches in Texas
There is a great array of ranches in Texas to choose from. They are in all areas of the state and come in all types. Some cater to families, others to couples, while some are there to teach individuals how life on a ranch is run. It is important to note that some ranches are mainly used for hunting. Bandera, Texas is well known for its dude ranches.
It is located in the hill country of Texas and boasts beautiful green rolling hills and trees. There are websites dedicated to helping individuals find the dude ranch that fits the experience they are seeking the best. A great way to learn which ranch fits you best is to read people’s comments on search sites and see what their likes and dislikes were.
Twin Elm Guest Ranch in Bandera
Twin Elm Guest Ranch, 810 Farm to Market Rd 470, Bandera, TX 78003, (830) 796-3628
Twin Elm Guest Ranch is a wholesome family guest ranch and a classic Hill Country vacation. Located on one of the highest peaks in Bandera, overlooking the Medina River and Indian Creek, this ranch is a true Texas Hill Country Dude Ranch experience. Horseback rides, rooms & cabins, hearty meals, a swimming pool, tubing, fishing, hiking, and primitive camping are all available right onsite. Enjoy great group activities like campfires, hayrides, fossil hunting, searching for critters domestic and wild – all at a low family-friendly price. The Cowboy Capital of the World provides the perfect cowboy vacation, and Twin Elm Ranch puts you just three miles from downtown Bandera. -twinelmranch.com
Hill Country Equestrian Lodge in Bandera
Hill Country Equestrian Lodge, 1580 Hay Hollar Rd, Bandera, TX 78003, (830) 796-7950
Located at the 100+-year-old headquarters of the original Britsch family ranch in Bandera County, Texas, Hill Country Equestrian Lodge offers the ultimate horseback riding or nature vacation in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. Abundant open space surrounds our guests with exquisite vistas and a quiet, private environment like no other. Here, trails wind through 6000 acres of live oaks, yucca, and wildflowers, while deer, wild turkey, rabbits, and other wildlife share the surrounding countryside. Our authentic yet luxurious accommodations, our personalized approach to service, and our interactive, educational riding program set our ranch apart from the rest. -hillcountryequestlodge.com
Y.O. Ranch Headquarters in Mountain Home
Y.O. Ranch Headquarters, 1736 Y O Ranch Rd NW, Mountain Home, TX 78058, (830) 640-3222
Y.O. Headquarters, a historic Texas Hill Country destination, offers a premier wildlife experience through hunting, corporate and family retreats, tours, weddings, and other activities. Whether you are looking for a day trip to meet our famous giraffes and other amazing wildlife or a weekend adventure in one of our beautiful cabins – we offer true Texas hospitality. -yoranchheadquarters.com
Rancho Cortez in Bandera
Rancho Cortez, 872 Hay Hollar Rd, Bandera, TX 78003, (830) 796-9339
The ranch is great for a family vacation or holiday, fitness vacation, company retreat, church retreat, family reunion, or another group event. Saddle up and live your dreams for an hour, day, week, month, or longer. You are always welcome!. The Cortez family is proud to extend to our guests the true flavor of a Texas Hill Country dude ranch vacation or ranch holiday, one of the best San Antonio attractions. -ranchocortez.com
Flying L Ranch Resort in Bandera
Flying L Ranch Resort, 675 Flying L Dr, Bandera, TX 78003, (830) 796-7745
Located in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, The Flying L Golf Club is enjoyable for players of all skill levels. This award-winning course totals 6,646 yards. With majestic hills as a backdrop, the remarkable terrain, rolling hills, and large oak trees paint each individual hole as a distinct memory. Test your skills on our championship layout. -flyingl.com
The Inn at Dos Brisas in Washington
Inn at Dos Brisas, Champion Drive Washington, Texas 77880, (979) 277-7750
Nestled between Houston, Austin, and College Station, Texas lies a culinary oasis where luxury meets rusticity. Upon the hills of Washington County, at the end of a winding road framed by lakes, wildflowers, and pecan trees, you’ll find the only Forbes five-star restaurant and Relais & Châteaux property in the state–The Inn at Dos Brisas. -dosbrisas.com
West 1077 Guest Ranch in Bandera
West 1077 Guest Ranch, 9061 Bandera Creek Rd, Bandera, TX 78003, 830-796-5675
West 1077 isn’t the typical dude ranch: no mass tourism, no schedule to follow! Our ranch is small by design and you won’t find crowds at West 1077, just a peaceful and refreshing atmosphere in a stunningly beautiful setting. But peaceful does not mean boring. Study wildlife, hike, run trails, go mountain biking, try horseback riding, take part in our special seminars, and meet new friends. There is always something to do. -west1077.com
Dixie Dude Ranch in Bandera
Dixie Dude Ranch, 833 Dixie Dude Ranch Road, Bandera, Texas 78003, (830)796-7771
For over 75 years, a Texas Hill Country vacation at Dixie Dude Ranch in Bandera, Texas has been a tradition for visitors from all over the world. Our Texas guest ranch is the perfect Western getaway to unwind, relax, and simply put the stresses of everyday life on hold. You’ll enjoy horseback riding, delicious meals, comfortable accommodations, and our long tradition of dude ranch hospitality. -dixieduderanch.com
Prude Ranch in Fort Davis
Prude Ranch, 201 Prude Guest Ranch Rd, Fort Davis, TX 79734, 432-426-3201
Historic Prude Guest Ranch has combined the best of the modern world with old west wilderness to create a fun-packed western vacation for children or the entire family. Prude Ranch was established over 100 years ago as a cattle ranch. For the last eighty years, six generations of Prudes have run the ranch as both guest ranch and working cattle ranch. -prude-ranch.com
Mayan Dude Ranch in Bandera
Mayan Dude Ranch, 350 Mayan Ranch Rd, Bandera, TX 78003, (830) 796-3312
You can be a part of the Western Tradition that has produced seven world champion rodeo cowboys. There is a “Rootin’ tootin’ Cowboy” in all of us. We will help you fulfill those dreams. Picturesque trails wander over 348 acres, from the lowlands of the Medina River, that horseshoes through the ranch, to high in the hills for a panoramic view of the valleys beyond. -mayanranch.com
Wildcatter Ranch in Graham
Wildcatter Ranch & Resort, 6062 TX-16, Graham, TX 76450, (940) 549-3500
Just ninety minutes from DFW International Airport and right around the corner from Possum Kingdom Lake, come to experience Wildcatter Ranch and Resort. A unique escape from the city, Wildcatter Ranch is located in the heart of the beautiful North Texas Hill Country. With nature and history surrounding the ranch, experience a one of a kind stay with upscale western accommodations, guided activities with local Texas cowboys, and enjoy hand-cut mesquite-grilled steaks at Wildcatter Steakhouse. Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, family vacation, conference, or wedding venue, Wildcatter Ranch is an unforgettable destination. -wildcatterranch.com
Silver Spur Guest Ranch in Bandera
Silver Spur Guest Ranch, 9266 Bandera Creek Rd, Bandera, TX 78003, (830) 796-3037
Adventure is waiting for you at The Silver Spur Ranch. Get ready for serene hill country vistas and to be immersed in nature’s beauty, fresh, clean air, and spectacular sunsets. Relax and rejuvenate while enjoying a rustic Texas ranch experience that only Silver Spur can deliver. -ridesilverspur.com