What to Pack for a Dude Ranch Vacation

Most vacations don’t require a specialized packing list, but a dude ranch vacation certainly does. If you don’t have the correct gear and clothing, you might find yourself regretting your choices. A dude ranch vacation is all about the outdoors, but there might be some dressier activities. Don’t miss these essentials when you pack for a dude ranch vacation.

What to Pack for a Dude Ranch Vacation

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Packing the Essentials for a Dude Ranch Family Vacation

There are hundreds of dude ranches throughout the US and Canada, but most of them feature similar programming. If you pack mostly casual clothes with a couple of nice outfits for the evening, you should be covered for your week at the dude ranch.

Many destinations will be cool in the evening and warm during the day, so it’s essential to pack layers. Here are the items you simply must pack:

Dude Ranch Packing List

1. Base layers

Depending on the time of year, it can be helpful to wear a thin moisture-wicking layer to keep warm. They can also double as pajamas if you don’t need to wear them outdoors.

2. Tall socks

When wearing boots or hiking through the woods, we recommend multiple pairs of tall socks to protect from bugs and poison ivy.

3. Denim top

If you want to fit in on the ranch, consider bringing along a plaid or denim button down blouse.

Tumbling River Ranch Dude Ranch in Colorado

4. Western hat, a baseball cap, and/or beanie

The dude ranch might have hats you can borrow, but if you own a western hat, now is the time to bring it along. Those who don’t have a cowboy hat can make do with a baseball cap.

If it’s going to be chilly, you might want to consider packing a beanie to keep your head warm.

Dude ranch vacation

5. Jeans and yoga pants

Assuming you’ll be riding horses, we definitely recommend packing several pairs of jeans. Some ranches offer alternatives to trail rides, like yoga, rock climbing, and archery, so bring some yoga pants for those activities.

6. Cozy wrap or sweatshirt

Stay warm around the fire-it with a cozy wrap, pullover, or sweatshirt.

7. Rain jacket

Activities at a dude ranch happen rain or shine, so be prepared for the occasional shower with a waterproof rain jacket.

8. A vest

The nice thing about a vest is it has a lot of pockets and it is not as warm as a jacket. You can use it on a trail ride to hold your phone or any other items you want to bring along.

9. A bathing suit

Most dude ranches have swimming pools and cooling off in the pool at the end of the day is one of my favorite things to do.

Best Shoes for a Dude Ranch

It’s important to bring the right types of shoes for a dude ranch vacation. We brought regular tennis shoes and the following:

10. Cowboy boots

This is your chance to wear those boots that have been sitting in the closet! We visited Tumbling River Ranch and they provided western boots for all guests in their boot barn. Bring a pair of boots for adults and a pair of boots for kids.

Cowboy boots

11. Hiking shoes

When not riding horses, you will be hiking and exploring the ranch. A couple of pairs of hiking shoes are essential. Make sure to grab a pair of good hiking shoes for kids too.

Must Pack Accessories for the Dude Ranch

12. A bandana

A bandana is a must for keeping the dirt and dust out of your mouth.

13. Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a non-negotiable in our house. There will be long days in the sun, so apply it in the morning and then again throughout the day as needed.

Tumbling River Ranch Dude Ranch in Colorado

14. Insect repellant

Bugs are pretty much a given around horses, so be prepared and bring some bug spray.

15. Lip Balm

Being out in the wind and sun all day, will really chap your lips. Bring plenty of lip balm to keep them from cracking.

16. Hair ties

If your hair is longer, don’t forget to bring hair ties to keep it in place and out of your face.

17. Sunglasses

Protect those eyes with sunglasses since you’ll be out in the sun all day.

Kid at a dude ranch

18. Collapsible water bottle

This is essential for all members of your traveling party. Bring a water bottle since you will be drinking a ton of water!

19. GoPro

Record the special memories of your dude ranch vacation with a GoPro. Use it while riding horses, rock climbing, swimming, or rafting. There’s sure to be plenty of activities where you can catch great action shots!

20. Flashlight

Most dude ranches are far from city lights, so bring a flashlight in case you need to navigate your way in the dark.

21. Travel laundry bags

Since many dude vacations are a week long, they probably have on-site laundry. Bring travel laundry bags to make it easy to take clothes back and forth between buildings.

22. External battery

Days are long on the ranch, so consider bringing a portable charger just in case.

Horses on a fence

23. Binoculars

Many dude ranches will have binoculars available, but in case you have some, feel free to bring your own binoculars.

24. Belt bag

If you don’t want to bring a best, consider bringing a waist bag to carry your phone while you ride.

25. Card game

Dude ranches try their best to keep guests busy at all times, but in case you have some free time, consider bringing a deck of cards or a card game. If you need more fun ideas, don’t miss our favorite games to play with family.

Preparing for a dude ranch vacation can be a challenge, but use this dude ranch packing list to make it easier!