Riding into the mesquite. Fly fishing in a rushing mountain stream. Mountain biking down an alpine slope. Getting a mani-pedi in the spa by the pool. Whether you’re planning a dude ranch vacation that includes lots of lounging or lots of miles in the saddle, you’re going to have to pack accordingly. Yep, a guest ranch vacation is different, and all of those options require a little planning, and we at Ranchweb have talked to lots of ranchers to get the best packing list.
First, understand that you’re going to be outside. A lot.
So know what kind of climate and elevation you’ll find and check (and double check) local weather forecast. Arizona dude ranches can be in mountains or desert (or both). Colorado, Montana and Wyoming ranches are often at high altitudes. At any of these locations the weather can change quickly.
All of which means: layering, hats, and sunblock. If you’re traveling with children, you have to think about protecting their tender skin from sun with long sleeves, hats, and jeans (like the children shown above). Packing is easy if you remember that they’re always casual at the ranch; jeans, khakis, sweaters and wind and rain-proof jackets are all good. But some ranches are more upscale than others, however, and casual there might mean ‘cruise casual’.
For sun, choose a higher-rated sunblock and SPF-rated lip balm; hats are a must as are kerchiefs (especially if you’re riding the last horse in the string). Bring a daypack for those trail daytrips. And sorry, guys, but a ballcap doesn’t offer the protection of a wide-brimmed hat.
If you can bear the added expense, SPF-rated shirts and pants (found at sporting goods stores and even Costco) are worth the price. Choose hand washable and drip dry (if you’re really having fun you’re going to get a little dirty).
For riding, Gene Kilgore has a favorite tip for to a comfy week of riding: wear a pair of panty hose underneath your jeans to prevent chafing. Of course you want well broken-in jeans (pre-washed with fabric softener).
You’ll be on your feet a lot (if you’re having fun outdoors-that’s a given), so broken in hiking boots, tennies, and for riding, boots with about a ½” heel. Throw in the flip flops for when you want to give your feet a break. Shorts, t-shirts, swimsuit, and extra socks are a must.
Find out what kind of evening activities the ranch offers (you may want some nice slacks/shirt for that square dancing party).
Pack a jacket for sitting out beside the campfire, and don’t forget the just-in-case items: aspirin, Band Aids, bug spray, Pepto, and the like. And if you forget your camera, to record all the precious memories you’re making, you’ll be kicking yourself for years.
But at the end of the day, don’t stress it: a lot of ranches have small gift shops where you can pick up emergency items.
Baseball cap or cowboy hat
Camera (and batteries or charger)
Cool looking shades (and a holder to make sure they stay on your face)
Heeled boots for riding
Hiking/ walking shoesJacket
Long sleeved shirt (with SPF rating)
Slacks for evening