|Kate Wyland, author|
by Kate Wyland
Cowboys, horses, wide open spaces, John Wayne movies – the American West has fascinated people for generations. Add the current interest in ecology and nature and you have a resurgence in dude ranches as vacation destinations. The ranches vary widely in what they offer. Some are set in spectacular locations, such as Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, while others are located in genuine ranching areas with the cowboy experience rather than the scenery as the focus. Some offer luxurious accommodations and gourmet meals, and others have more basic rooms or even camping tents. Working ranches let visitors take part in ranch activities, ala the movie City Slickers, while most are set up to take care of beginner riders. Depending on how active or pampered you want to be, you can find one to suit your tastes.
|Looking toward the ranch|
The dude ranch in my book Wyoming Escape is loosely modeled after Eaton Ranch in Wolf, Wyoming. Our week-long stay there was so delightful that I wanted keep its memory alive, so I used it as the inspiration for my story. None of the characters or events is based on reality, but some of the scenery and attitudes are. And I did use one name I encountered there.
Eaton Ranch is arguably the first American dude ranch. Started in 1879 as a cattle ranch by the three Eaton brothers, it was originally based in North Dakota. So many of their Eastern friends wanted to visit that one guest suggested the brothers charge for room and board so they could stay for long periods without guilt. And a new business was added to the ranching enterprise. In 1904, the Eatons left North Dakota and moved to Wolf, Wyoming, just outside Sheridan. With the impressive Big Horn Mountains as a backdrop, their new ranch provided a more interesting riding experience for their guests. 134 years later the Eaton family still welcomes guests to their ranch and ensure they have a delightful time. Most people become enthralled and return year after year. At our table, the other diners had been coming between ten and twenty-five years. We even met a man in his nineties who had first stayed there when he was eleven.
If you haven’t already, perhaps you should consider a dude ranch vacation. Which type would you like? Luxury, working, trail oriented, or beginner? Comment below to win a copy of Wyoming Escape and see a picture of life at one type.
One lucky commenter will receive a Smashwords coupon for a digital copy of Wyoming Escape. This is good for any ereader. If you don’t have a reader, you can download a free app to read the book on your computer.
Don’t forget to include your name and email address, so we can contact you if your name is drawn. Drawing will be held Saturday, February 9, at 9pm Pacific Time. Comment on this post or Kate's Monday post enters you to win. Comment on both posts for two chances. Good luck!