What is a dude ranch? Dude ranches are the original Western vacation! Back in the late 19th century, ranches allowed visitors from the East Coast and Midwest to escape the crowds of their suburban lives to experience the unique rejuvenation of spirit that ranches had become known for. Ranches quickly became a “home away from home” as returning guests became lifelong friends with the staff and guests. It’s a quality that still exists today, as dude ranch vacations continue to provide that special brand of western hospitality that nourishes body and soul.