For your next vacation why not consider a working ranch. A working ranch differs from your typical guest ranch in that guests can choose to take part in a hands-on ranching experience as well as other fun activities. If you have ever dreamed of being a cowboy or cowgirl then this is the ideal vacation choice for you. So grab a pair of cowboy boots and a cowboy hat and take a look at these two working ranches and book your vacation today!
Burnt Well Guest Ranch, Roswell, New Mexico
Burnt Well Guest Ranch is an authentic working cattle and sheep ranch. They take on a few guests per year on the side to help supplement their ranching income. Because they can only accept small numbers this means that your vacation will be tailored to your needs. Whether you are an avid rider who would like to participate in actual ranch work or whether you are just a beginner who wants to work on your riding skills Burnt Well can accommodate you. If you are looking to take part in a cattle drive be sure to contact the ranch in advance to see which dates are programmed for these events. They offer two types of working ranch vacations: Dude Ranch Style and Authentic “Old West” Style On the Dude Ranch style cattle drive any number of cattle are driven from point A to point B. This drive could be from one to ten miles. You will typically sleep and eat most, if not all, meals at the ranch house. You may have the occasional sack lunch in the saddle bags. Since they are a working cattle ranch on 15,000 acres there is always plenty of cattle work to be done. The need to round up cattle and drive them various distances to pastures or pens could have you in the saddle from many miles and/or hours a day. The ranch can take about any age and any level of riding experience. This type of cattle drive is very common, if not the norm, at Burnt Well with most regular ranch stays.
The Authentic “Old West” Style drives are a little more active for guests as you will camp out on the trail for at least three nights; however it can be four or five nights depending on the drive. You are usually in the saddle between five to ten hours a day. They start early, driving cattle by sun up and will try to be at camp by early afternoon. This drive can be between ten and fifteen miles a day depending on the location. Burnt Well provide a “cowboy” bedroll very similar to the ones cowboys had to use on cattle drives. The bedroll is a three inch mattress made up with sheets and blankets and rolled in a tarp. (Those cowboys probably didn’t use sheets, but they did have a padded bedroll with blankets which was rolled up in a tarp to keep out the dust and rain). They also provide cots for those who are a little squeamish about being right on the ground. Burnt Well has plenty of “cowboy” teepees in case of inclement weather and an outdoor privy. Your comfort is in their best interest.
Hot meals are cooked in a Dutch oven and over a campfire for breakfast and dinners. You pack your own lunch right after breakfast from the wide variety of choices laid out for .Nightly campfires, a blanket of twinkling stars on a New Mexico black velvet sky and sweet fiddle music are some of the things to be enjoyed on these drives. The Authentic “Old West” Style cattle drives are adult drive only and for those who are in fairly good shape since you will be out on the range land for the duration of the drive. You will be actually driving cattle for miles and living out under the stars just as the cowboys did before trains and trucks came to being. At times the weather can be trying and unpleasant. This drive is for adventurous adults with plenty of stick-to-itiveness! The stuff memories, stories and bucket lists are made of.
Laughing Water Ranch, Fortine, Montana
During selected weeks in May and September adults can sign up for a cattle drive at Laughing Water Ranch. For the first few days you will only be trail riding so that you can get acquainted with your horse and make any needed adjustments. There will also be a “Cattle Clinic” to prepare you for what to expect once you join the herd. This is a great opportunity to see some breathtaking Montana scenery. Then it’s time to get to work. Depending on the week you come out to the ranch, you will be rounding up, sorting, branding and moving cattle from their winter pasture to summer range in May or from summer range to the home ranch in September. The horses really love it and you'll love it too. It gets you off the beaten path - chasing cows and calves that have their own ideas of when to stop, and where to go.
You will be working approximately 170 head of cattle. The cattle belong to their local Judge and rancher, Terry Utter. Terry will be joining everyone on the drives and he is as helpful as he is entertaining. After a day of working cows your appetite will be hearty and the camp cook will put out a spread like you can only get out west. When the workday is done you will gather round the campfire for some entertaining story- telling and lots of laughter while you discus the day’s events. Guests will have the choice of either staying at night at cow camp, or returning each evening to the comforts of The Ranch. Cow Camp will be set up with spacious wall tents with comfortable cots. Remember to bring your sleeping bags, slickers, and sense of adventure!!!
So make sure to head to a dude ranch before its upcoming cattle drive. Search our extensive list of ranches by defining the ‘cattle drive’ criteria and book your spot before someone else nabs it.