What to Pack for a Dude Ranch

We are getting ready for a Family Adventure to a Dude Ranch in a few weeks and I usually get a few questions about packing for the trip. This trip feels so different than a beach vacation or even than going to visit family. The packing is certainly different too. We fly which which requires a level of efficiency and organization that can be a challenge. This is our fourth year going and I have picked up some great advice along the way. Here is the only list you will need for what to pack for a dude ranch.

What to pack for a Dude Ranch

Getting Started

Although It is tempting to jump right into packing clothes (which you will need a lot of) I would start with the other stuff first. This may require checking the website of the dude ranch where you are staying or, if possible, speaking to someone (preferably a mom) who has been a guest there before. Try to find out:

  • Do they offer laundry service or have a laundry facility to use on property? Is it done by the housekeeping staff or by guests (if you will do it you may need to bring your own detergent or laundry bag)
  • Other than riding what activities will your family do? Hiking, Fishing, shopping in town, Tennis, yoga, swimming, playing in a creek, trap shooting? Are there evening activities such as a square dance, happy hour, or concert you will want to dress up for?
  • What do the cabins offer? Some Ranches are very rustic and some are much more luxurious. You may want to ask about hair driers and toiletries. If you have young children (or high maintenance sleepers like me) you might want ask about pack and plays, cribs, sound machines, night lights, travel black out curtains)
  • Finish by asking “What do people typically wear, bring, and pack at your dude ranch?”
What to pack for a Dude Ranch

Layers for cool morning like the “shacket” are perfect. Jeans and boots are a must

Dude Ranch Packing Essentials List:

  • Water Bottle
  • Lip Balm (with SPF)
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect Repellant
  • Sunglasses
  • GoPro/ Camera/ Phone with external charger
  • Bear Spray
  • Mesh Laundry bag and laundry detergent
  • Riding gloves
  • Other good lotion like aquaphor (it’s super dry in the mountains of Colorado in the summer)
  • Small backpack or fanny pack for hiking or just walking around the ranch
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Baseball cap, or even better and wide brim cowboy hat
  • Fishing gear
  • Small first aid kit and some basic medications like Advil, Benadryl etc.
  • Kid Sleep/ Cabin needs -sound machines, night lights, travel blackout curtains if you are prone to early risers if the light comes early
  • Simple games like Uno, checkers a puzzle , or at least a good book
What to Pack for a Dude Ranch

Dude Ranch Packing Clothes:

Now the fun Part: I kind of feel like the whole week is getting to go to a western theme party. I love the bandanas, boots, and kids in overalls. If you are going for western chic or just going here is what you should take:

  • Jeans- number will depend if you can do laundry or not. I typically wear a pair to dinner and the evening activity with a fun top then rewear that same pair the next day for riding/ outdoor activities then put them in the wash.
  • Long sleeve shirts- Shade is scarce on rides and a light colored long sleeve shirts will keep you cool and protected from the sun. Denim shirts, Columbia PFG or other fishing style shirts are great too.
  • Tall socks to wear with boots
  • Underwear
  • Hats or helmets
  • Layers – a vest, jean jacket, or a barn coat will keep you warm on cool mornings.
  • Nicer top or dress for evenings events
  • Shoes – I take a pair of cowboy boots, a pair of sneakers and a pair of water sandals like Chaco or Merrill sandals (we use them to walk to the pool and play in the creek) for each person in our family.
  • Pajamas
  • Clothes for other activities (shorts and T shirts for hiking)
  • Belt – bonus points for a big belt buckle
  • Other Cowboy gear (bandanas, bolo ties, fun jewelry)
What to pack for a dude Ranch

I hope you have a wonderful time on your Dude Ranch vacation. This was one of our favorite family experiences we’ve ever had! If you have any other questions feel free to comment below or email me at myfriendmeg.com

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