Oregon Dude Ranches
History of Dude Ranches
The Dude Ranch is an uniquely American phenomena that intersected two American Cultures and led indirectly to the development of the United States. Today they act as a means of ecological preservation, a vacation destination, and a way for people to relive “the Wild West” in a safe environment.
The word “Dude” itself has some pretty deep etymological bonds, going back to the earliest days of America. During the 1850’s hunting parties from the Eastern United States would come to the west (those days defined as pretty much anything west of the Mississippi River,) for big game hunting. Characters such as Buffalo Bill Cody would escort rich hunters and setup up semi-permanent camps. In time these camps became permanent, demonstrating a niche that needed to be filled.
At the same time, the code of the west, meant that many ranchers in the west would give a place to sleep and food to eat free of charge to travelers, frequently in return for the company and any news the traveler could provide. After a few hard particularly hard winters, ranches found this practice to be financially unfeasible and some of the more popular destinations began charging money.
In addition, actions such as the creation of the US’s first National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Teddy Roosevelt’s ranching activities excited the American Public’s imagination even more. Travel to the west, for hunting, for leisure, or just to get away from the “big city” grew even more.
Still though, the modern “Dude Ranch” didn’t really come into being until the early part of the 20th Century. During World War I Europe became inaccessible for American Tourists, and interest in travel turned towards the middle of the continent. Dude Ranches sprung up across the entire Western United States. Another surge in post World War II America with it’s new found interest in the West through numerous TV shows and pulp fiction novels about the west and the “manly men” who lived there.
Since then, the Dude Ranch business had dropped significantly. But, lucky for us here in Oregon, we still have a bit of the Wild West to enjoy. Below is a list of Dude Ranches in our state. As far as I know all of these are “working ranches,” so you will get the best of both worlds. If you know of any not on this list, please feel free to comment below!
Oregon Dude Ranch List:
Aspen Ridge Retreat – near Bly, Oregon. For my money, located in one of the most beautiful parts of the state.
The Big K Guest Ranch – near Elkton, Oregon on the Umpqua River. Good for large groups, and fishing!
Green Springs Box R Ranch – near Ashland. Great place for Weddings
Long Hollow Ranch – near Sisters Oregon. A historic ranch going back 100 years.
Rock Springs Ranch – near Bend, Oregon. Great location for access to Central Oregon’s other outdoor activities.
Rogue River Doubletree Ranch – near Grants Pass, Oregon. Old Homestead along one of the most scenic rivers in Oregon.
Steens Mountain Guest Ranch – Located in Diamond Valley in South Eastern Oregon. Possibly the most “authentic” dude ranch as guests actually help work the ranch under the direction of a buckaroo!
Wilson Ranches Retreat – near Fossil Oregon. Bed and Breakfast, and historic ranch near the John Day Fossil Beds.