Last Updated on April 3, 2024

Both U.S. national and international travelers have always been fascinated with our country’s Wild West history. Rightly so.

Richly layered, the “cowboy” figure isn’t just about a white guy roping a horse (though many Hollywood movies have portrayed it as such), but also includes Black cattlemen, Indigenous ranchers and Latino vaqueros all adding to the myth and reality of the American West.

Add in wide open spaces, big blue skies that seem to go on forever contrasting rugged red rocks and soaring mountain ranges, and you have all the elements to fuel the imagination and feed the restless, rascal soul.

The good news for “wanna-be” cowboy travelers is that there are dude ranches and other places to stay and play, rodeos to attend, and open-fire cooking opportunities just like they did on the prairies and plains of the Old West.

Here are vacation rental guest ranches that offer a whole lot of breathing space along with horseback riding, cattle drives, fly-fishing, star-gazing and a place to hang your Stetson.

Cozy Cabin on Private Dude Ranch: Belt, MT

Horseback riding at Montana dude ranch.
Horseback riding at Montana dude ranch. Photo courtesy of VRBO

This lovely two-bedroom cabin is situated on the bluffs of a private dude ranch named The Ranches at Belt Creek. Guests overlook an equestrian facility, horse pastures and picturesque Belt Creek.

The cabin can sleep six with a master bedroom and loft with two full beds. The décor is luxuriously Western-inspired, but the fun is outdoors with endless ranch activities including horseback riding, ATV excursions, fly fishing, hiking, archery and pheasant hunting.

Winter offers skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and more.

Other fun includes game walks and birdwatching.

Sprawling 4 D Guest Ranch Barndominium: Waelder, TX

This fascinating property situated on 260 rolling acres borders the picturesque Texas Hill Country and boasts 300 animals on site. These include Gemsbok, elk, several deer species, antelope, llamas, sheep, goats, horses, and cattle that are a cross between Corinthian and Texas Longhorn. Fisherman will love the two ponds on-site stocked with catfish.

The barndominium vacation rental here is an amazing, unique, rustic, but elegant place to stay that includes five bedrooms and three full bathrooms and can sleep up to 14 guests.

The patio area has plenty of seating and three flat screens to enjoy while you barbeque on the large wood/charcoal smoker pit and enjoy the gorgeous countryside with your friends and family. Guests will love the swimming pool to cool off and relax in along with a wood-burning fire pit enjoyed under a star-studded sky.

And let’s not forget that cooking on an open fire for those who enjoy that type of thing along with six-seater mules, Hummer and self-guided property tours available.

Twin Oaks Guest Ranch: Nashville, TN

Pony up to the barn and get a taste of Southern hospitality at this sprawling 10-acre ranch with amazing views of the rolling Tennessee countryside.

Twin Oaks has everything a horse-loving family could ask for including riding and roping lessons, hayrides, helping with daily chores and an actual saloon with saddle seats.

The 2,600-square-foot Southern log home includes four bedrooms and a den room that can sleep up to eight guests, two baths, a dining room that seats six, a porch with rocking chairs, an outdoor hot tub and hammocks and campfires for starters. Guests will also have access to a heated swimming pool, a pond, mountain bikes/trail rides and more. This place is ideal for a family or friend getaway.

Additional accommodations on the property include a 600-square-foot Twin Oaks LoneStar Suite with one bedroom and bath with a separate entrance.

Though you’ll find lots of privacy here, the ranch is conveniently located on Music City’s doorstep a mere 30-minute drive away.

Madera Dude Ranch: O’Neals, CA

Madera Dude Ranch.
Madera Dude Ranch. Photo courtesy of VRBO

Situated in the Sierra foothills of Northern California, this amazing family or friend rural retreat can accommodate up to 10 guests with four-bedrooms, 3.5-baths.

The ranch includes 1.5 square miles of private land with miles of available hiking, biking, fishing and horseback riding. Several ponds are stocked with largemouth bass. The property grounds are incredibly beautiful and include Adirondack seating, a garden, fire pit and playground area.

Guests will love the privacy and serenity, yet are within nine miles of Westbrook Wine Farm, Sierra National Forest, and more.

Don’t be surprised to see buffalo and longhorn cattle grazing through and around the property grounds.

Working Cattle Ranch: Rogerson, ID

Cattle farm near Twin Falls, Idaho.
Cattle farm near Twin Falls, Idaho. Photo courtesy of VRBO

Located a little more than a 30-minute drive outside of Twin Falls, this secluded chalet at the foot of Elk Mountain is a rustic retreat lover’s dream.

The four-bedroom, 2.5-bath accommodating up to nine guests is situated on several hundred acres of working cattle ranch land and countryside. The views are spectacular and guests have easy access to top areas for hiking, mountain biking, skiing and taking in all the joys of nature. Stay up late for incredible star-gazing opportunities.

Guests have reported waking up to horses, cows and sheep grazing just outside their windows. There’s a nearby dam for swimming, a creek to explore and two nearby lakes with great fishing and swimming.

If you’re looking for a unique and special vacation this year, why not consider taking off your cowboy hat and boots at one of these fun, cowboy-inspired properties? You won’t regret it.

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