What is a Dude Ranch? The word dude has had many meanings, but in the 19th century “dude” generally referred to men – often rich, and always urbanites from the Eastern US – who would come West looking for a taste of the cowboy life. The term was similar in meaning to city slicker – as in the movie of the same name.
Dude ranches, then, were working ranches that welcomed guests to expose them to the Western lifestyle, including horseback riding and wrangling. That’s the original dude ranch definition, also called a cowboy guest ranch.
So what’s the difference between dude ranch and guest ranch?
In short, not too much these days.
In the past a dude ranch holiday often meant more of a focus on horse-oriented activities. Now, of course, you’re just as likely to find a luxury dude ranch that offers other amenities. They’re often more kid-friendly than 100 years ago, too! Just about every dude ranch is a family dude ranch.
Dude ranch is more commonly used in the US, but for the most part, the terms are interchangeable. Guest ranch is a much more common term here in Canada. Either way, all of the BCGRA members offer horseback riding activities and instruction, and promote a total package inclusive of food, accommodation, horseback riding and all other ranch activities.
Whatever you call it – dude ranch or guest ranch – our member hosts will provide you with an authentic Western Canadian experience that you’ll never forget.