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11 Best Dude Ranches in the US | #vacation | #seniors | #elderly

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  • As states continue phased reopenings, many travelers will be looking for vacation options that offer wide-open spaces and plenty of outdoor activities.
  • A dude ranch resort is a western-style vacation with horseback riding and other outdoor recreational pursuits from fishing to campfire sing-alongs.
  • We’ve searched the country and rounded up top dude ranches across the US suitable for budget-conscious travelers, families, couples, and seniors. They all offer quality riding programs led by experienced wranglers.
  • Read all Business Insider travel reviews here.

A dude ranch vacation is a low-tech, western-themed adventure that doesn’t sit on its high horse. Though some ranches are quite luxurious, with guests dressing for dinner and indulging in local wines. No matter your choice, most offer a downhome way to unplug and reconnect with nature. 

As many states continue slow, phased reopenings following the COVID-19 lockdown, travelers are leaning towards domestic vacation choices that allow for social distancing. Dude ranches are typically remote and secluded, with wide-open spaces and plenty of fresh air, making them a popular and timely vacation option.

However, keep in mind that coronavirus cases are now spiking in many states and without a vaccine, there’s no guarantee when it comes to safety. You should always follow state and CDC guidelines and assess your own personal risks when it comes to making travel plans.  If you’re wondering how safe travel is right now, start with our guide where experts weigh in on the risks associated with flying, renting cars, staying in hotels and Airbnbs, and more.

Many hotels have overhauled their policies and implemented new guidelines in light of the pandemic. Many of the dude ranches on our list have followed suit, and we’ve noted updated policies where applicable. For more information on potential risks and safety precautions to take when staying at hotels, you can find expert advice here.

All that said, we’ve scoured the US for the best dude ranches for every type of adventurer. We’ve broken our list into categories, with options for travelers on a budget, as well as families, couples seeking a romantic getaway, and active seniors. Our top picks are based on our own travel experiences, as well as incorporating feedback from trusted review sites like Trip Advisor and Booking.com.

Additionally, horseback riding is the main attraction at our favorite dude ranches, but there are plenty of additional activities, including fishing, swimming, and archery, to keep non-equestrians busy. Once the sun sets, expect wholesome entertainment like toasting marshmallows under a starry sky, or listening to a chorus of cowboys singing country music hits by the campfire. 

These are the best dude ranches in the US, sorted by category and price, from low to high.

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