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How much does a ranch vacation cost? Budget is one of, if not, the most important factors when travel planning, so we've gathered together 11 good questions for you to ask our Top50 Ranches before taking the plunge and making that booking!

What to ask about dude ranch vacation rates and packages


What is the cost of the ranch vacation package and what does it include?

Of course you'll want to know if it's an affordable dude ranch vacation for your budget, but make sure you find out what this price includes: it may seem expensive at first, but may be all-inclusive or on the 'American Plan' (see below).

Some dude ranches may include meals, lodging and activities in the price, while others may have additional charges for certain amenities.

Riding at The Bar W Guest Ranch

Bar W Guest Ranch, Montana USA

Always check before you book, that your desired activities are available and if there's an extra charge, you don't want a nasty surprise when heading off on a thrilling adventure at the ranch!

What does ‘all-inclusive’ mean on a dude ranch vacation?

As with any vacation, at a dude ranch, an 'all-inclusive' rate simply means that all rooms, meals and most activities have been included in the advertised price.

Dude ranch vacations are priced competitively in comparison to other vacation options and considering all you get for the price tag, a ranch vacation can often turn out to be a great value, affordable vacation, as it's easy to stay within budget while there.

Another bonus of an all-inclusive ranch vacation is that when you arrive, everything is taken care of, from transportation to accommodation, adventures and meals.

And there's no need to worry about low-quality, mass-produced buffet food on an all-inclusive ranch vacation, many ranch vacations offer incredible homegrown, organic, farm-to-table fare, so no soggy fries or sad bread!

What is ‘The American Plan’?

'The American Plan', commonly referred to as 'AP' in guest ranch or resort listings, is a well-known U.S. system that simplifies the cost of a vacation for the traveler and includes breakfast, lunch and dinner in the ranch's nightly rate. The meals are prepared on the ranch and served in the dining room.

Enjoy a modified American Plan at The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort, California USA

Will I need to pay a deposit to secure my ranch vacation?

As with many vacation destinations, guest ranches will usually require a deposit to secure your booking.

How much is a deposit for a ranch vacation, you may ask? That depends entirely on the ranch and the cost of the trip.

Each guest ranch will have its own policy and payment schedule so again, contact your preferred ranch directly to find out what needs to be paid up front. 

Be sure to ask about cancellation fees, too as you may lose some of your deposit if cancelling your ranch vacation before going.

Do you tip at a dude ranch?

Tipping at a dude ranch can vary hugely from country to country and ranch to ranch, so be sure to check what's expected at your ranch before you go, so you can plan ahead (and save embarrassment!).

For example, on a U.S. ranch vacation, an average tip would be between 15-20% of the ranch vacation package price.

Do you have special ranch vacation rates for kids, seniors, service people, off-season, non-riders, corporate retreats?

It's always worth checking if the dude ranch of your choice offers concessions, or discounted ranch vacations.

Cowgirls on a dude ranch vacation

If you're looking for a ranch vacations discount, special event or cowgirl week for example, check out our Top50 Ranches ranch vacation specials and events page – it's updated regularly with exciting new adventures!

Is there a minimum length of stay on a dude ranch vacation?

Some ranches do ask that you stay a minimum number of nights, so if you're only looking for a short dude ranch stay, it's best to check first. 

What is the cancellation policy for a dude ranch vacation?

Again, these vary from ranch to ranch, so it's best to call and talk to your chosen ranch before booking.

Does the ranch take cash or cards when I’m there?

This is extremely important as your lovely wilderness-based guest ranch could be a very very long way from the nearest ATM, with no access to cash for gratuities etc, and they may not even have a credit card machine option.

Is alcohol included with the meals, or is it extra?

Wine tasting at Auberge Collection's Primland Resort

Auberge Resorts Collection Primland Resort, Virginia USA

If you enjoy a tipple while on vacation, it's wise to check your dude ranch's policy on alcohol, as some provide it in abundance, all day every day; some offer it only at meals, while others may operate a paid bar and some don't provide it at all, and advise you to bring your own.

Are there any additional costs that I should be aware of, such as taxes or gratuities?

Again, each ranch approaches taxes, gratuities and 'extras', like ranch vacation spa treatments for example, differently, so ask your ranch before going, so that you are clear what's expected.

You may want to venture off-ranch for a day and try out some local sights, so these non-ranch experiences would, of course, cost extra.

It's always wise to bring extra money in the form of cash on any vacation, to cover any unexpected and unforeseen costs or adventures.

Thanks to The Lodge at Blue Sky, Utah USA for the beautiful banner image.

Written and created by Kate Hammaren; luxury and adventure travel writer, editor and world traveler.

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