Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dude Ranches by Kate Wyland

Kate Wyland, author
Dude Ranches
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.
Cabin
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.
Trail friends
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.


Wyoming Escape is available at Amazon, BN.com, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo

Free Book!
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!

15 comments:

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  2. I live in Hawaii and the town of Waimea proudly displays the western theme. It also hosts the island's annual cherry blossom festival which we just celebrated this past weekend. Parker Ranch is Hawaii's famous and prosperous ranch. The hawaiian name for cowboy is "paniolo". Thank you for sharing this interesting article.

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    1. my email: micheleghao@yahoo.com

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    2. Glad you enjoyed the article.

      We visited Parker Ranch many years ago. At the time, I believe it was considered the biggest ranch in the US. Don't think of cowboys in Hawaii!

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  3. Riding in a group is SO fun. When I was a very young girl my folks sent us to summer camps that had group rides daily, and I loved that. Later my folks had their own horses and ponies, and yes, a rideable large donkey too. We used to do Sunday family rides around our property, and that was even more fun than the camps had been.
    The donkey's jerky gait required more riding skill than the smooth horses canters did. Delores Goodrick Beggs, gfadelores@verizon.net

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  4. I'd wondered how Dude Ranches came about. Very interesting post, Kate.

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    1. The funny thing is it was my husband who wanted to go to a dude ranch. I thought he was weird. We got our trip through Brenda Novak's Diabetes Auction. Turned out to be a great week and got a bit of history at the same time.

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  5. Going in a group can be lots of fun. I've never ridden a donkey, but I did ride a Tennessee Walking mule (jenny) one time. Except for the ears and tail, you would have thought she was a horse. Very nice gaits for an all day ride.

    A unique thing about Eaton Ranch is you don't have to go with a group if you don't want to. After they check you out, you can go completely by yourself or with a guide, whichever you like. Nice.

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  6. Kate, my husband and I took our two girls to the Mayan Dude Ranch near Bandera, Texas many years ago. The girls and I loved it, my husband not so much, but he was a good sport. I'd love to go to another dude ranch sometime. Thanks for sharing.
    caroline@carolineclemmons.com

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    1. I've always wanted to visit genuine Texas cowboy country. Must have been fun. Saw a "cattle drive" through Old Town Fort Worth one time. Put on for the tourists, of course, but still fun.

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  7. Love the pictures. I live in Kentucky now and miss the mountains. I love reading stories set in the west.

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    1. I've lived most of my life in CA and do love the mountains. Got to see a bit of Kentucky one time when we drove from Cincinnati to the Kentucky Horse Park. Really lovely.

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  8. I've been considering a Dude Ranch vacation for years, but as I'm getting older, I'm not sure how much I would accomplish for the ranch. It will be a pleasure reading about your experience as told through the eyes of your mystery, which is one of my favorite ways to read about a new place.

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    1. Most Dude Ranches are set up to handle beginners just fine. If you've always wanted to give it a try, why not do it? Go for 2-3 days and see how you like it.

      Hope you do enjoy Escape. I had fun writing it. If you want to try for the free copy, you need to leave your email.

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