Finding Your Inner Dude in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country
CODY, Wyo., April 30, 2015 – Guest and dude ranches in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country have been helping travelers from around the globe discover their inner cowboy (and cowgirl) for more than a century. And they’ve gotten pretty good at it.
Dude ranches have been a staple of the American vacation experience since the early 1880s, when Howard Eaton started the Custer Trail Ranch in the Dakota Badlands to accommodate travelers from the East, whom the Westerners called “dudes.”
The Eatons eventually moved operations to Wyoming where the Eaton Ranch is still in operation today. The Eatons ran horse packing trips to Yellowstone National Park, and the Howard Eaton Trail runs roughly parallel to the Grand Loop inside the park and has been used by countless hikers, riders and cross country skiers through the years.
Fittingly, Cody is the home of the Dude Ranchers Association, which was established in 1926
when several ranch owners established standards to accommodate the growing numbers of travelers whose trek to the West had become increasingly easier with railroad expansions. The membership roster listed 26 ranches that first year and 40 the following year. Today, more than 100 ranches belong to the association. Modern-day ranches include working dude ranches, traditional dude ranches and resort dude ranches.
The Association has established strict criteria that must be met to be a member. Dude ranches require a minimum stay, usually four nights to a week. All activities, meals and lodging are included in a fixed price which requires a deposit in advance. A guest ranch on the other hand offers the same type of lodging and activities but travelers can stay just one night with meals and horseback riding optional. Lodging, meals and activities are priced separately and paid for at the end of the stay.
No matter what type of ranch experience travelers choose, they will be treated to an authentic and memorable Western experience.
“Dude and guest ranches, then and now, have always been a place for travelers to leave their workaday world behind and get a little dirty, all while enjoying the pristine Western landscape of Wyoming,” said Claudia Wade, director of the Park County Travel Council, the marketing arm for Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country. “And hopefully while visitors are enjoying the free-spirited fun of a ranch they will also discover two important facts of Wyoming life: we all put on our chaps one leg at a time, and everybody looks good in a cowboy hat.”
Today the roads between Cody, Wyo. and Yellowstone National Park are home to a high concentration of guest and dude ranches. Here are just a few of the ranches welcoming travelers today:
UXU Ranch in the Shoshone National Forest offers horseback riding, fly fishing, side trips to Yellowstone and Cody, hiking, cookouts and more. 1-307-587-2143.
7D Ranch offers 10 rustic cabins tucked into the Sunlight Basin an hour from Yellowstone. The ranch offers riding, fishing, hiking and children’s programs. 1-307-587-9885.
Rimrock Ranch is 26 miles from Yellowstone. The ranch offers modern cabins, outdoor pool and hot tub. Activities include trail rides, fishing, cookouts and float trips. 1-307-587-3970.
Crossed Sabres Ranch is located eight miles from Yellowstone and offers all-inclusive three- and six-day packages. 1-307-587-3750.
Absaroka Mountain Lodge is located 39 miles west of Cody and 12 miles from Yellowstone. This ranch features 15 cabins accommodating between two and eight people. 1-307-587-3963.
Bill Cody Ranch was once operated by Buffalo Bill’s grandson and is a full-service horseback riding resort. It is located halfway between Cody and Yellowstone. 1-307-587-2097.
Blackwater Creek Ranch, built in 1915, is 15 miles from Yellowstone. The ranch offers 15 cabins and ranch-style meals. 1-307-587-5201.
Elephant Head Lodge is 12 miles from Yellowstone and offers plenty of family-friendly activities. Pets are welcome. 1-307-587-3980.
Creekside Lodge is 10 minutes from the park. The lodge offers private Western cabins, guided fishing trips, horseback rides and chuckwagon dinners. 1-307-587-9795.
Pahaska Tepee is the location of Buffalo Bill’s original hunting lodge two miles from Yellowstone. Listed on the National Historic Register, Pahaska Tepee offers cabins, rooms, restaurant, gift shop and gas as well as horseback rides, fishing and hiking. 1-307-527-7701.
Rand Creek Ranch is between Cody and Yellowstone and offers cozy cabins with a private pond for fishing, a kayak and paddle boat, horseback riding and barbecue dinners. 307-587-3200.
Shoshone Lodge & Guest Ranch is five miles from Yellowstone. It features authentic Western cabins in the woods, trail rides, pack trips and relaxation. 1-307-587-4044.
Hunter Peak Ranch is located 30 minutes from Yellowstone. Based around an early-1900s lodge, the ranch offers Western accommodations, riding, hiking, swimming/tubing and photography. 1-307-587-3711.
KBarZ Guest Ranch & Outfitters accommodates up to 30 guests in private cabins in a pine forest. Activities include riding, pack trips, fishing, side trips and gduided hunting. 1-307-587-4410.
For a more information about dude ranches and guest ranches visit www.codyyellowstone.org or https://www.duderanch.org/.
Yellowstone Country is comprised of the towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse as well as the valley east of Yellowstone National Park.
The area of Park County is called “Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country” because it was the playground of Buffalo Bill Cody himself. Buffalo Bill founded the town of Cody in 1896, and the entire region was driven and is still heavily influenced by the vision of the Colonel. Today its broad streets, world-class museum Buffalo Bill Center of the West and thriving western culture host nearly 1 million visitors annually.
The Park County Travel Council website lists information about vacation packages, special events, guide services, weather and more. Travelers wishing to arrange vacation can also call the Park County Travel Council at 1-800-393-2639.