On a dude ranch, real-life ranchers open their homes to groups and individuals looking to taste the spirit of the Old West. All-inclusive pricing, personalized service and heaps of activities translate to excellent value. Some ranches provide all the amenities one would find in a resort and are priced accordingly, but those more dedicated to an authentic experience will offer less frills in exchange for affordability.
At the Jasper, Ark.-based Horseshoe Canyon Ranch (501-791-2679; gohcr.com), rates for the spring and fall seasons for a group of 28 or more are just $144 per person, per night. That includes all meals, use of the facilities and activities. Owner Martha Johnson stresses her team's ability to personalize itineraries, if flexibility is paramount. "If you require less, we'll take that into account when it comes to the price," she says. "We will work with you." Horseback riding is the ranch's primary activity, though archery, rock climbing, cave exploring, bird watching and zip-line riding also are available. Meeting facilities include an AV-equipped room that will hold up to 40 people.
Jasper is approximately 84 miles from Springfield, Ark., and 100 miles from Little Rock.
A bit more expensive, but a value for a more business-intensive group, is the White Stallion Ranch (520-297-0252; wsranch.com) in Tucson, Ariz. This 3,000-acre working cattle ranch lies at the foot of the Tucson Mountains. Wrapped up in the price per attendee, per night, which hovers around the $200 mark, are three meals a day, horseback trail riding, a heated pool, lighted tennis courts, and use of a 27-seat movie theater and the 2,600-square-foot Longhorn Meeting Center. A projector, flip charts, wireless Internet throughout the ranch and meeting breaks all are included.
Nightly entertainment varies, with cowboy singers and poets, line dancing and nature programs among the highlights. Some services, including riding lessons and massage treatments, cost extra, but cattle penning, rodeos and hayrides are complimentary.