The Dude Ranchers’ Association (DRA) came into being in1926. This January the Association held its 91st annual convention at Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. Through its history dude ranching has been concentrated in the states of Wyoming, Montana and Colorado. Dude ranches can also be found in smaller numbers in other states, like Idaho, Washington, Arizona, California, as well as in western Canada. Our state of Oregon has a very few ranches that host guests, and our very own Long Hollow Ranch is the only DRA ranch in the state.
Membership in the Dude Ranchers’ Association has benefits that range from advertising and publicity to support and sharing of community – a shared culture. Benefits to guests include set standards for housing, riding and food service. A few of the member ranches have been in business since the beginning of the association. They really know the ropes, and they are willing to share their knowledge with the rest of us. Some of the ranches are huge, able to accommodate up to 200 guests at a time. Many are smaller, hosting 30 to 40 guests at a time. Then there are a few, like Long Hollow Ranch, who host no more than 20 or so at a time. Each ranch has its own unique history, accommodations, activities, seasons of operation, and cultural emphasis. But the central, unifying characteristic is that of a vacation centered on horseback riding.
The Dude Ranchers’ Association recently adopted a list of qualities that truly define the unifying culture of dude ranches:
- Horses – the main aspect of a dude ranch vacation
- Hats – the symbol of Western atmosphere and appearance
- Hospitality – a genuine friendly Western welcome
- Heritage – ranch vacations have typically lasted a week or so, long enough for meaningful relationships to be formed
- Honesty – the business operates honestly and with integrity
- Heart – the goal is developing friendships
I quote, “The Dude Ranchers’ Association was founded to preserve, protect, and promote their unique vacation experience and its identity. Though guest expectations have changed and ranchers have had to change with them, the core principles of dude ranching remain the same.”