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With so many ranches to wrangle, consult the dude ranch bible, Gene Kilgore’s Ranch Vacations, or his website, ranchweb.com, to narrow the field. Plan to book your visit a year in advance. Here are a few standouts from the herd. (Prices are per adult, per week.)
Spotted Horse Ranch, Jackson, Wyo.
Home to the famous appaloosa horses bred by the Nez Perce Indians, Spotted Horse has endless trails near Yellowstone National Park. Wednesday is “Trout School” followed by a scenic float trip. $2,200; spottedhorseranch.com
63 Ranch, Livingston, Mont.
This National Historic Site has been a family ranch since 1863. “The 63” provides the chance to move cattle and learn to lasso. Overnight among elk, moose and bighorn sheep at the Bear Wallow camp. $1,350; sixtythree.com
The Home Ranch, Clark, Colo.
Play cowboy, then enjoy world-class gourmet dining at this Relais & Chateaux ranch just north of Steamboat Springs. $5,285; homeranch.com
Hunewill Guest Ranch, Bridgeport, Calif.
The sixth-generation Hunewills have rides for every ability, plus the chance to learn cowboy skills like roping, branding, tracking and “doctoring” livestock on 26,000 acres east of Yosemite National Park. $1,373; hunewillranch.com
Three Bars Guest and Cattle Ranch, Cranbrook, B.C.
A stunning 35,000-acre spread in the Canadian Rockies means no one gets bored. The ranch offers blue-ribbon flyfishing, plus a kids petting zoo, a pool and a fort. $1,470; threebarsranch.com