Dude Ranch vs Guest Ranch? What’s the difference?

TL;DR Version: All dude ranches are guest ranches. Not all guest ranches are dude ranches 🤠. The primary difference involves amenities included in the base rate. Dude ranch vacations often include 3 aspects in their base rate:

  • 3 prepared meals a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner + cookouts)
  • Activities (horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking, more)
  • Lodging

Guest ranch vacations occasionally delve outside the traditional ‘dude ranch’ definition, and often include private guest ranches for rent, where meals & activities are the responsibility of the guests (the ranch owner often has 3rd party contracted services available for additional rates). Guest ranches can also include hunting ranches, where guests utilize outfitters to hunt for elk, deer, etc.

Do note, though, the term ‘guest ranch’ and ‘dude ranch’ are frequently used simultaneously to describe a dude ranch vacation experience. If you’re researching this industry as a potential vacation option, be sure to inquire whether meals are included; whether activities are an extra fee, and if there are any additional fees with lodging.

Best of luck in your travel planning : )