For more than 25 years, Gene Kilgore has been visiting North America's ranches and describing them in detail in his book Ranch Vacations.
This richly illustrated seventh edition features 90 ranches complete with full color photos. As you might expect, most of the ranches are located in the western United States along with a couple in British Columbia. Surprisingly, Alberta, strongly situated in Canadian cattle range country, has been given a miss, but, lo, the book does include one listing for Tennessee, and one for Michigan. Come to think of it, why not?
Ranch life ain't necessarily what it used to be. The rustic setting might remain, but many so-called "dude" ranches are really resorts that feature horses and cows along with all sorts of other value-added activities ranging from bird-watching to fly-fishing, to golfing, to spa treatments, to white-water rafting. Non-riders welcome.
This book helps sort out the differences. Travelers can pick from upscale ranches, family-friendly ranches, working dude ranches, those that include cattle round-ups, or those that offer "adult only" weeks.
Prefer bike riding to bronco busting? No problem. Balloon riding? You got it. If your idea of a dude ranch stay must include room service, Gene Kilgore's Ranch Vacations points you in that direction in a "Special Ranch Features" appendix.
Another useful appendix is an extensive list of "Annual Western Events in the United States and Canada," to help schedule arrival to coincide with special happenings.
For greenhorns, Kilgore includes tips on being a "good dude" and what questions to ask in order to select the ranch that best suits your style and budget. Daily rates range between US$100 and US$400 per day.
Of course as a single, your first question will always be: Is that the rate per person based on single, or double, occupancy?
Details: Ranch Vacations by Gene Kilgore.