Guide to Dude Ranch Jobs

Do you like camping? Horseback riding? Outdoor activities? The allure of the Wild West? Being a cowboy? All these things are what make dude ranches so cool.

Dude ranches are resorts located in the western United States where people can experience the outdoors and associate with Mother Nature like they did in the good old days.

Lovely Meadow and Mountains at Dude Ranch in Wyoming

Most dude ranches today are set up in remote locations in western states on a family’s land. The family provides food, lodging, sightseeing, hunting, fishing, off-roading, bonfires, rafting, hiking, children’s activities, and a family friendly atmosphere to people that want to kick back and relax. Horses are one of the main activities. Dude ranches are laid back places, where everyone wears comfortable clothes is on a first name basis. It’s a nice escape from the tedious workdays of the big cities.

Working on a dude ranch is an exciting job. If you like the Great American West, no lines, healthy food, family atmosphere, live animals, and the great outdoors, it is a job you should really consider. It’s a better experience and resume builder than working at the mall for the summer. Plus you really get a taste of the old West. On the following pages learn about:

The lifestyle is informal, casual, and friendly. You live with a family that owns the land and you work for them. Most dude ranches take on 30 guests at a time and some up to 90. The guests usually stay for a week. It is a very personable, interactive experience for both you and the guest. You’ll meet plenty of people and make life long connections.

In Focus: A Day in a Wrangler’s Life

One of the first things you need to consider is if you are ready for an informal outdoor lifestyle? You’ll be working outside with people all day long and that means long, hard hours. If you’re ready for all this, consider a job at a dude ranch.

First see if the ranch you’re interested in is part of the Dude Ranchers Association. Membership ensures higher standards, better practices, and better pay. Then consider what type of job you may want to do at the dude ranch. You could be a horse wrangler, children’s coordinator, maintenance worker, naturalist, cook, kitchen staff, office staff, bartender, waiter, nanny, swim instructor, massage therapist, lifeguard, fly fishing guide, or reservation agent. Some jobs are easier than others to get, so if the dude ranch lifestyle appeals to you, be open to work any job available.
Dude Ranch Staff photo
Dude ranches are great places to spend a year, a season, or a summer vacation. The work is fun and most likely you’ll return every season because you won’t be able to get enough of the western lifestyle.


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